Never In A Million Years

Never In A Million Years.

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Never In A Million Years

“Life can turn on a dime,” I heard a speaker say recently. How true, I thought, reviewing  my own past experiences.

For me, life changed completely ten years ago when my husband passed away quite suddenly. I’ve had to do a lot of things that I never would have imagined in a million years: run his contracting business, move back to Iowa (then back to Arizona), return to teaching college, and make a myriad of decisions–alone.

Moonlight on Fountain8X10

Over the years I’ve written a host of articles in various genres for publication. I’ve done numerous jobs from working for the IRS to caring for special needs kids. Not withstanding, my passion has always been for writing and teaching…but sometimes “life can turn on a dime.”

With retirement lurking just behind the closest cactus, I knew a career change should be considered…immediately. I wrestled with leaving all that I loved, writing and teaching. Finally, my heart and mind began to grasp the idea of working in real estate.  It all seems surreal, but here I am, an Arizona licensed real estate “Sales Executive.”

Now, I don’t sell swamp land anywhere on the planet, but I will help clients find the home of their dreams. Who knows? Maybe you will find yourself doing something you never imagined in a million years.

Tell me your story. Have you had a vision or a dream that changed the course of your life? How did it turn out?

Visit my website (currently  under construction) http://www.FountainHillsWelcomeHome.com

PHOTO: Courtesy of MCO Realty; Fountain Hills, AZ 85268

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Got Manners?

Ashlee, Mynita "Angel," Serraya, "Bubbe"

Tea Party At Its Finest~~Pella, Iowa

What do you have when you combine a Bavarian china tea set, mother,  grandmother (“Bubbe”), and twin girls? Sounds like a tea party to me. Add manners and you’ve got the perfect social event, lessons and laughter.

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High Tea with the Queen

Once I offered to pay one dollar to the granddaughter who had her napkin on her lap without being told. If I said, “Napkin check,” and they had it on their lap, they collected on my offer. This could not go on forever or I’d be broke. But after five years, they continue to use their napkins properly (most of the time). Pretty good use of a dollar, wouldn’t you say?

I’m currently working on a devotional book, Code of Conduct, based on etiquette…for adults. Each day will focus on a different rule intended to make others feel comfortable. Good manners stem from respect for other people, even those of a different background, race, or creed. It’s about more than which fork to use.

When thinking about ethics, etiquette, and manners, the most basic source of teaching is in the Bible. The Golden Rule and Jesus’ teachings are the foundation of proper manners.

In my preliminary research I’ve discovered that many devotionals are tied to ethics, proper behavior, decorum, and etiquette. Some have been published in print or electronically by various authors over a period of years. As early as 1898, a “Good Manners” chart was issued to Queensland schools by the UK’s governmental education department.

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Emily Post (1872 – 1960) taught the world how to behave politely. More than ever, our rude and crude culture needs the lessons she taught. Proper behavior never goes out of style. Post’s books are in high demand today, even 53 years after her death.

The Bible is in high demand, too, as our primary source for civility in an uncivilized world. So, show your manners in such a way that no one will need to ask, “Got manners?”

How do you teach manners to your children? In what situation were you glad you knew proper etiquette? Remember, good manners are not just for the elite; they are for everyone who cares about people.

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The Gates are Open

The Gates are Open

Every January, I print out my prayer list and put it in my Bible. The items listed include prayers for myself, and I’ll have to admit that those items are high on top. Next, I pray for my children and grandchildren, then family, friends, acquaintances, government, missionaries, police/sheriffs, doctors, teachers, employers, and even attorneys. I have attended a few churches since becoming a Christian at age 13, so I pray for each of them. I pray for my neighbors in the friendly cul-de-sac where I live, and sometimes I’ve been known to pray for the family pets. Routinely, I pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).

My list could go on-and-on, but I try to keep it narrowed down to one typed page. Of course I jot down more  things throughout the year, spill coffee on important topics, and shed tears on others.

Scottsdale Bible Church Prayer Garden

Scottsdale Bible Church Prayer Garden

After a wonderful sermon by Pastor Jamie on Nehemiah 2:1-20 at Scottsdale Bible Church today, I went to the Prayer Garden. Through the open gates I walked and took the crooked path until I found my favorite spot, the water feature. From there I could meditate with  the three crosses in view.

I wonder about the tiny prayer papers nailed to the crosses. They remind me of the papers poked in a little crevice at the Western Wall. I think about the people who put them there. I should pray for them. I’ve never put anything on the cross, other than my sin. I’m so thankful that Messiah Jesus, with His blood,  paid the price I could not pay. My prayers are on wings taking flight to heaven, as some people say, “From your mouth to God’s ears.”IMG_0447-001

Upon leaving Scottsdale Bible Church’s lovely sanctuary of prayer,  about an hour later, I unexpectedly met Simone Lake, a Christian speaker from Payson, Arizona. She told me, “I pray about everything!”

I’ve decided to keep my prayer list, but I can’t stop there. I was privileged today when asked to  pray for Simone about her desire to go to the Holy Land. Imagine, me, being invited to pray with a devout woman of prayer. She said, “Come Pray With Me.”

Right now, I have an image in my mind of a picture hanging in Grandma and Grandpa Smith’s 1950s living room. It was Jesus kneeling by a rock, praying…and I think of the song written by C. Austin Miles, “In the Garden.” Some of the lyrics are: “And He walks with me/And He talks with me/And He tells me I am His own/And the joy we share as we tarry there/None other has ever known.”

We may go to the garden alone, but we don’t leave that way.

What happens when you pray? Do you sense an awareness of God’s presence ? What can I pray about with you? I don’t care how long my list grows…go ahead, tell me…I’ll pray with you.

Visit my website: http://www.EffieGross.com/

Visit Simone Lake  http://www.deeprootsinchrist.org/

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A Young Christmas Artist

The Young Artist--Serraya (age 13).

The Young Artist–Serraya (age 13).

Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

When my granddaughter, Serraya, drew this Christmas picture, I considered it a childish piece of art…until I looked more closely. She sketched it while at the 2013 Christmas cantata at the Baptist church. Until recently, I thought it to be rather disrespectful to doodle or otherwise write notes in  a house of worship. Here’s what my critical eye discovered about this artist’s work:

 
Serraya's Church Art Photo~~Effie-Alean

Serraya’s Church Art
Photo~~Effie-Alean

Bulbs are hung on the boughs with care, and on the top is a star, but not just any five-pointed star. Instead, this tree is topped with a Star-of-David. Interesting. With the eye moving to the right, a big lion is obvious, but not just any lion. Could this artist have created the Lion of Judah? And what about the eyes? In each of the two eyes, a trinity is formed: one for the trinity of man (body, mind, spirit) and one for the trinity of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Lastly, a single word says it all…CHRISTMAS.

Maybe we should begin looking through a child’s eyes to see the true meaning of Christmas. No presents are under the artist’s tree in the picture above. Interesting. The gift is Messiah Y’shua (Jesus), the Lion of Judah. He was born in a stable, grew up the son of a carpenter, and at age 33, died on a tree…all for you and me. But the true story of Christmas is that he arose from the tomb, and today, He lives.

Isn’t Christmas a beautiful picture of God’s love? Do you have a story or illustration to share? Please pray that the child who drew the picture above  will remain an artist when she grows up. Picasso would be proud!

 

 

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The Voice (of the Violin)

The Voice (of the Violin)

Hannah's Heavenly Music ~~Photo by Effie-Alean

Hannah’s Heavenly Music
~~Photo by Effie-Alean

Not to be mistaken, “the voice” in this article is not the American reality singing competition based on Holland’s concept. The strongest voice in the world is narrowed down to one, the all-time giver of talent: God.
He has a voice much like a whisper. He never yells. Sometimes, God uses the voice of others to sing His message…prophets, priests, kings. For His children, purchased with the blood of His Son Jesus, God speaks through the Holy Spirit, communing with hearts open to hear words of wisdom, comfort, rebuke, warning, or love.
After a dream one night, I awoke to remember just one aspect, a sound. I remembered hearing a single note, Middle C in perfect pitch. For me, a person with a tin ear, the musical sound was remarkable. I couldn’t (and still can’t) get it out of my mind. The music could only be from God, because it was perfect! From that memory, I wrote the following poem:

THE VOICE OF THE VIOLIN

When I ceased to hear the violin
An angel had played for me tonight,
I cried.

The music sounded holy, light.
I listened to the tune and cried.

The voice of the violin, so beautiful; yet,
I cried.

The violin, lovely, lofty, mellow,
Tuned itself to my heart’s strings.

I listened, and from my soul,
I cried.

Like none I’d ever heard, celestial music—
So Divine.

Only the angel’s touch upon a cord
Could stir my spirit with such precision.

I listened to the final note—
Waiting eagerly for yet another.

Silence, rather, took a lengthy space.
I yearned for the melody, but not a sound.
I cried.

No more music…I must have
DIED.

I could no longer hear the Voice of the Violin—
Bow lifted by angels’ wings.

Rightly so,
I cried.

–Effie-Alean
7/10/97

*Written upon awakening from sleep and hearing a single Middle C—perfect note. The violin is a metaphor for “God.”

I can think of nothing worse than not hearing God’s voice. We all listen to someone’s voice. Often we listen to people who love the sound of their own voice.

On this Thanksgiving week, I thank God for my voice; oh, not my singing voice. I’ll get that later…in heaven. As a writer, I have another kind of voice. I’m thankful for the voice God speaks to me…the one I hear in night dreams and in daydreams.

What do you hear? How will you use your “voice” to praise and thank the God of glory for His marvelous goodness? I hope you’ll reply, “Let me count the ways.”

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!
P.S.
I’m especially thankful for my loyal followers and fellow readers…you!

Don’t forget to visit my website: www.EffieGross.com

Need a speaker at your next event? Contact me for availability.

Posted in God, God's Voice, Judeo-Christian, Music, Poetry, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized, Violin | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Under the Tent

Tents have been around since biblical times, but my memory of them only goes back to my childhood. My parents never took me camping, either.

Back then, Uncle Bert Smith had erected a tent on the side yard of his home. His father, my Grandpa Albert Smith, helped and all of the cousins invited neighbors to come to a “meetin’ of gospel preaching” to be held that night. It was a hot, star-lit, Iowa evening with lightning bugs and mosquitoes. We cousins, sisters, brothers and school pals sat on wooden makeshift benches with our young legs dangling down. I suppose we sang, “The Old Rugged Cross,” and “In the Garden.” We sipped homemade lemonade and ate icy cold watermelon when the service was over. What grand memories under the tent!

Succoth at Tikvah Ba Midbar--Phoenix. Photo Credit~~Effie-Alean

Succoth at Tikvah Ba Midbar–Phoenix. Photo Credit~~Effie-Alean

Last night, I stood under a different tent, the Succoth booth, celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (cf. Lev. 23). What a precious time of thanking God for His goodness. The Jewish people reflect on their wandering and time of tent dwelling, with no permanent home. As we take time out to remember former days, we see the goodness of God in our lives. One song says it best, “Roll back the curtain of memory now and then; Show me where you brought me from and where I could have been…”

Our bodies are referred to as “tents” that are temporary, too. For all true believers in Messiah Jesus, this dwelling place for our souls will be changed when He calls us home with the sound of the shofar, the trumpet sound. I’m listening…are you?

One other memory that I have about tents is a very personal one. My late husband took me into the “tent” of his prayer shawl and prayed for me prior to a pending back surgery. I’ll never forget that intimate moment with my late husband and in the presence of our heavenly Father.

Indianapolis, Indiana Photo Credit~~Effie-Alean

Indianapolis, Indiana
Photo Credit~~Effie-Alean

Our earthly bodies, like tents, are temporary. As for me, I’ve never been a camper anyway; I’m more of a Hyatt Regency kind of girl, but even the hotels will someday be gone. In that day, I will move into the mansion Jesus is preparing for me…once I move out of this earthly body, this tent for my soul.

If you could describe your new “home” in heaven, what would it look like? I know that it has many rooms and the street out front is made of pure gold. Imagine the visitors you’ll entertain: King Jesus, loved ones, friends, King Solomon, the Rabbi Paul, and a host of angels.

I’m guessing that a lot of “tents” will never get sold on Ebay. Why not put in an offer on the best house in town (the New Jerusalem)? All you have to do is give God the key to your heart, accept His Son as payment for your sin. He sweeps everything clean, move-in ready for an eternal relationship with your very best Friend.

Leave the tent behind. Your mansion awaits.

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