Have I Told You Lately…By Lisa Burkhardt Worley

Almost 30 years ago, God and I connected on the love song, Have I Told You Lately. I was a rededicated Christian, reporting for ESPN and driving to Boston to do a story on the Celtics. I popped in a Rod Stewart tape and the song Have I Told You Lately played. I began to sing that at the top of my lungs to God: Have I told you lately that I love you? Have I told you there’s no one else above you? And I belted out the song to Him all the way to Boston.

After that that Have I Told You Lately played everywhere I went—the grocery store, the drug store, the band at the restaurant played it—and I knew my heavenly Father heard me singing out of love to Him. He was telling me He loved me too.

This week, I had a morning where my love tank was running on fumes. I was cleaning the house and had my playlist going, when at my lowest moment Have I Told You Lately popped up. It was perfect timing and I know God was reminding me of how much He loves me. I also realized it’s still our song.

Lamentations 3:22 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases” (ESV). In 1 Corinthians 13:8, Paul said, God’s love never ends while other things like knowledge and prophecies will cease to exist. God loves us forever!

The Lord has been speaking to me a lot about His love lately. As believers, it is all we are required to do—to love God and love one another. We are not called to judge. We are not called to punish. We are not called to hate. If we are not loving unconditionally, we need to check our relationship with God. 1 John 4:8 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (ESV).

So today, I think I’m supposed to say, “Have I told you lately that God loves you?” He loves you more than you can mind can comprehend, and if you remain connected to Him, He’ll remind you of His love just at the right moment. Maybe that moment is now.

The Divine Appointment

Do you believe in divine appointments?

I am wrapping up a trip to one of my favorite cities in the world, New York City.

It’s a place where I worked in broadcasting for several years, and lived just north of the city in New Rochelle, New York back in the 90’s.

Tuesday night we celebrated the theatrical premiere of my friend Jenn Gotzon’s movie, The Farmer and the Belle: Saving Santaland.

But I was also up here to tape an interview for a documentary to fight antisemitism. I felt like this assignment flowed directly from God, and now all of the pieces of the documentary are ready to edit. I know the project had God’s hand on it because it came together so quickly.

I enjoy shopping, so after the movie premiere and documentary taping day I decided to spend some down time checking out the Nordstrom’s at Columbus Circle. It’s difficult to travel to the shopping capital of the world without bringing home at least one trophy! I had a dollar number in mind to spend, and because I am a jewelry lover I headed to that department first where I came upon a trunk show featuring Freida Rothman Jewelry.

Freida Rothman

To my surprise, the designer, Freida Rothman, was actually there. I told her why I was in New York City, and shared with her about the documentary. She responded by saying that both sets of her grandparents were Holocaust survivors. She then gave me a hug for what I was trying to do through my documentary titled “The Resurgence of Antisemitism: How Did We Get Here and What Do We Do About It?”

She led me to a pair of earrings that represented her grandparents’ journey to Brooklyn, a place where they felt safe from the horrors they experienced in the concentration camp. Rothman told me the etchings and the steel on the jewelry were highly indicative of Brooklyn. For many reasons I knew I had to purchase them. One was to support Rothman in the remembrance of her grandparents. Another was to provide a reminder of the journey I have had back to my own Jewish roots; and third, as a tangible visual representing this period of time where I’d received a personal call on my life to fight antisemitism.

It was a divine appointment orchestrated by God.

However, the earrings purchase took up all of my self-imposed budget. I was short one sweater for this trip, and had planned to find something at Nordstrom’s, but everything was more than I wanted to spend. When I told Rothman I loved jewelry she said, “Yes, you can buy a sweater at TJ Maxx and you’ll look a million bucks with a beautiful piece of jewelry.” I had passed a TJ Maxx on the way, so went back to that store and bought a sweater for $25 that will go perfectly with my new earrings.

I did not think this meeting with Freida Rothman was a chance encounter. I believe God placed me in Nordstrom’s as a confirmation that the documentary and the journey I am on is of Him, for Him, and that I am a messenger not afraid to defend His people. It was a beautiful divine appointment that He prearranged.

What about you? Are you paying attention to your divine appointments?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Hurry Up and Wait by Dr. Lynnette Simm

So I’m here at another doctors appointment for my loved one. I rushed this morning to meet up, and make the hour drive to the appointment. As of now, we have been here for four hours. Yes, it’s part of the “hurry up and wait” that we all have to do in life. However, I remember this is not new, we are not alone, and there is a purpose in the waiting.

“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary”‭‭ Isaiah‬ ‭40:31.‬ ‭

During this time, as our country works on how to “reopen,” it feels like we are told, again, to hurry up and wait. But, yes, there is a purpose and reason for the wait. Each person, business, town, county, state, country, and region of the world has to figure out what is the next move for them. Each one needs to find the strength and resources they will need. Some of us will be able to jump into “life as it was” yet others will have to take each step more slowly.

Only God knows what will happen tomorrow, next week or even next year. We do have many in the medical, science, and economy fields trying to explain how things will play out, but ONLY GOD knows for sure. So during this amazing time of HURRY UP AND WAIT, I ask you to have patience with others. Do not judge one another. But most of all, BE KIND TO EACH OTHER. WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER, differently, but together.

P.S. If you need a giggle, check out MercyMe’s new song, “Hurry Up and Wait.” Yes, it was the inspiration for this blog.

Patient Perseverance by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

When is this going to end?

I know a lot of us are asking this question right now. While the state of Texas, where I live, is emerging from the “Stay-at-Home” order, it still doesn’t feel right. I feel like I’ve staggered out of a thick never-ending fog or a nuclear meltdown, and as I ventured out to survey the damage this week, nothing looked or felt the same. Many stores and restaurants are still closed. People are still masked.

This week, I tried to do some “normal” things. I helped one of our Pearls of Promise team members record a video “Pearl of Encouragement” at her home, then three of us from our Pearls Team went to one of the open restaurants and had lunch, but practiced social distancing. It was good to be together but we were at a large table with chairs in between us. Nothing was plated. The food was all in plastic containers. We had to request condiments. Silverware was packaged. Weird.

Last night, my husband and I went out to eat at a restaurant. It felt good to be there but all servers were masked and there were empty tables between us and other people.

Do you want to snap your fingers and make everything go back to the way it was?

I’ve had several conversations this week with friends who are getting restless, and are feeling cooped up. They long for a change of venue, but travel is still considered a risk right now.

As I struggle with my own feelings, what comes to mind is that we need God’s help to persevere. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the definition of “persevere” is “to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement.” But this is easier said than done. That’s why we need divine help.

We must pray to persevere in God’s strength, because most of us need a little extra help. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

As we persevere, we have to trust that God is working on something in us in the midst of the stillness or trial. “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” (Romans 5:3–4).

There are two types of perseverance. Perseverance with angst, or perseverance with peace and patience. We are rewarded when we patiently persevere. When speaking to the church at Philadelphia in Revelation 3:10, the Lord said, “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” Jesus went on to promise, “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”

I believe this ground-stop as a result of COVID-19 represents a hard shift into a new season, the beginning of the last days that we’ve waited for and longed for as Christians. If that’s the case, we are going to have to patiently persevere, because there will probably be more trials, and daily ask for the strength we need to endure until Jesus returns. We have to remember that it’s a privilege and honor to be alive at this time in history, and no matter what happens, God is with us. He infuses us with what we need to persevere. We are not alone.

I want to end with a prayer over you that the Apostle Paul said over the believers in Colossae:

“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:11–12).

Tears Can Talk by Kim Cusimano

Today’s guest blogger is Kim Cusimano. Kim is a wife, mother, writer and teacher. Kim has taught in public and private schools, and spent a few years homeschooling her own children. Her love for teaching has been extended beyond a school setting, leading numerous women’s Bible studies and small groups at churches and in her home.

As a mother to two special needs, young adults, she has a passion for encouraging everyone around her to live life to his or her fullest and use the abilities God has given them.

Kim is married to her supportive husband, Joe, and they have four beautiful children. In the early years of marriage, they made a decision to build their family through international adoption. Years have passed since parenting toddlers and toting diaper bags so they are living in a new season of ushering their children into young adulthood. 

Kim is the founder of Full Joy Ministries. Her vision was to create a space that brings joy and hope to other special needs families through words of encouragement. Visit her at Fulljoyministries.com

One evening a few years ago, I sat around a table with friends. One friend had always been an encourager to everyone around her. Countless times she had specifically spoken helpful words to me. But, on this evening, my usually strong, well put together friend let down her guard. She began to share from a deep place of vulnerability, about her mistakes, fears and things out of her control. Tears flowed down her face. The rest of us sat in silence, a little taken back. I had known her for years, but learned so much about her in those brief moments. I felt a sensation of being comforted, a feeling of not being so alone in similar struggles. As I left her home, it was apparent she had encouraged me in that expression of vulnerability on a much deeper level than any words she had ever spoken to me. It wasn’t that she cried, even though that was unusual for her, it was that she let us see she was much like each of us around the table.  We had always respected her strength, and often feared she had more of it than us. On this night, we still recognized her strength, but it looked much more like what it looked like in each one of us.

To my special needs mom friends, I see even more how we can give such a gift to each other by being honest and authentic. Not that we don’t keep privacy boundaries to honor our families, but we shouldn’t hide behind an “I got this” mentality. Most of us “don’t got this.” Oh, we may have a fleeting under-control moment, but it is fleeting and other not-so-controlled moments will come. With our trusted circle of people, with other special needs moms and with ourselves, we should let our strength be reflected in authenticity and honesty. 

Tears Can Talk

Most encouraging words go unheard,

unbelieved, unused.

We let the enemy continue to steal,

kill and accuse.

We let well intended words fade away.

But, that day, you had something we could use.

Tears opened your heart in a fresh way.

What flowed out wasn’t a funny or empty muse.

Your painful honesty had much to say.

A deep need in your eyes spilled down your face.

You’re like me I could hear and see.

Now a different, more honest you,

could make for a different, more honest me. 

The story on your red, wet face,

spoke to me about God’s grace.

A grace I couldn’t argue was only for you,

but one I forget is for me and others too. 

God in love reminding me He took my place.

Feeling our pain, baggage and insecurities,

we can trade for seeking His face.

Your tears so raw, looking for relief,

authentic encouragement I found in your grief.

Like a reflection of my needs and own false beliefs, but-

What is true for you is true for me.

We have to choose His eyes to see!

1 2 3 135