December Decisions: Day 2: My People

Many years ago, I had to make a decision about who I could trust as my friends and as my mentors. Someone who I thought was my best friend betrayed me and left me with broken feelings. My wise daddy talked to me and gave me some wonderful advice. I made a decision then to pray about choosing my friends wisely. I have made mistakes, but I learned God will steer me in the right direction if I listen and follow His Voice. When the same thing happened to my sweet Heather and later to my precious Clyde, it became evident to me how important it is to choose our closest friends with care and prayer.

My people are the ones who stay by my side when the party is over, when trash covers the tables and everyone else is packing up to go home and when the excitement has stopped, and the chattering of conversation has turned to silence. They are the ones who stay and ask if they can help. They are the ones who are there when there is no fun to be had, only work to be done. They are not living to be the life of the party, but simply to be a part of my life.

They are the ones who are by my side when everyone else has forgotten. They are the ones who are there when everyone else has gotten tired of my crying. They are the ones who let me grieve, and hold my hand while I mourn. They are there through the rough, and the tough, and the waiting until I can get back up and walk and be myself again. They stay and celebrate and clap when I win and stand at the finish line to give me a hug because they genuinely want good for me. They are with me through those major life events, when things get turned upside-down, when there is no easy fix, when all I need is one friend to understand. They are with me through my losing, winning, and all the times in-between. They are with me when I am on top of the mountain, and when I am stumbling through the valley. They stay and pray when I am still down at the alter. They stay and praise when I am in victory-phase, and give grace and forgive when I fall flat on my face.

My people push me to be better than the person I was yesterday. They encourage me to shine brighter, and love harder. They tell me the truth when everyone else does not have the courage to give it to me straight. They believe the best and are with me through the worst, because they know after every storm God sends a rainbow and sunshine.

My people are with me even when it is not easy, not fun, not convenient. While some people sway back and forth with their opinions of who they think I am and what they think I should be doing. While everyone loves me for a brief moment, and then forgets all about me when something better comes along, I have to keep my head up and my heart open and look for the ones who remain with me. Those are my people.

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December: Decisions That Have Made a Difference Day 1:

When I was ten years old, I accepted Christ as my Savior. That year stands out in my memory for several reasons. My two and a half year old brother was run over by a truck and killed the previous year, and there was a lot of suffering going on around me. My grandmother and I had been attending a revival at her church, Genoa Street Church of God in Waycross, Georgia. I had gone every night even though it was during school. I remember leaning over and telling her I wanted to go to the alter, and she said I could. The preacher talked to me about what it meant. I was baptized in the river about two weeks later.

Accepting Christ as my Savior did not keep me from making mistakes growing up, but it did give me the assurance that God Loves me and Forgives me for those mistakes. It also gives me the comfort of knowing that I have a place with Him in Eternity. I am not sure what Eternity will be like or how or if my loved ones who are there already will know me, but I know it will be a happiness that cannot be matched! I believe accepting Christ as my Savior was the best and most important decision I ever made!

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As I have gotten older, I have discovered that my brain and my body have begun to have some difficulty communicating! No! Really!! I am completely serious. About a year ago, I realized this phenomenon when I began having a problem just walking on a flat surface. It really became evident when I add bumpy terrain and steps. It doesn’t matter if I am going up or coming down. My brain stopped telling my feet to step higher or lower. Please don’t laugh! Oh, go ahead and laugh to your heart’s content! After breaking my glasses twice and receiving a concussion, I also began to laugh at myself. I even learned how to stop, drop, and roll with some expertise.

Along with the art of walking, I have discovered that sometimes I forget my age and try to act like a teenager. When I attend ballgames and concerts, I forget that I am not a teenybopper and get completely carried away by the excitement. At a ballgame recently, I felt like someone was watching me. Now, I cannot imagine why anyone would be watching me because all I was doing was screaming like a banshee and jumping around like a cheerleader! Yes, me! A retired teacher, grandmother, and supposedly a lady! My only explanation is I have been left unsupervised for tooooo long! Clyde always did a pretty good job of keeping me under control. I guess I need to think about seeking some type of supervision. The reality is I already and always have had a supervisor– His Name Is God!

“Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John‬ ‭8:47‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I know I belong to God, but sometimes I don’t listen as closely as I should. Those still small voices sometimes have to include other reminders that He truly is in control. Our relationship with God has to be tended to just like a garden. It requires constant watering, weeding, and fertilizing, too, if we are to reap the benefits and blessings God has in store for us. This is true for all relationships. Kindness and respect can really help in relationships. Thinking about the words that leave our mouths and the actions that are done can alleviate many of the miscommunications that are a part of our problems. At times, as soon as a statement is made or an action completed, we find ourselves wishing we could undo it. The problem is it is easier to apologize than it is to forget. It is difficult to forgive someone when they have cut us right through the heart. However, forgiveness is what we must give.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians‬ ‭4:32‬ ‭

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew‬ ‭6:14‬ ‭

Soooooo. . . . . My goal is to work on my brain’s listening skills, or maybe I need to work on my feet and body’s listening skills. I am not sure, but I will really tend to my relationship with God because I truly want to reap the Blessings and Happiness that are a result of His Love, Mercy, and Grace!

Until next time, Hester

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Judging Others

““Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:1‬ ‭NIV

My heart has been burdened for a long time about the idea of judging others because they have made mistakes in their past. I really strive to be sure that I don’t make that same mistake. My spirit is weak; but I believe if I cling to God’s Word, I won’t be tempted to judge others. If I am realistic and honest, I sometimes err in the other direction. I am a really trusting person by nature, and so much so that I tend to get hurt by that trusting nature! I was the victim of a scam because I truly believed I was helping someone. I lost my life savings in the process, and it totally changed my outlook on life. It didn’t make me lose my love and desire to help others, but it did make me more careful about how I deal with others!

When a person repents of his/her sins and receives Christ as his/her Savior, God forgives and forgets the sins. How easy it is for us to continue to hold those sins against someone even though we want forgiveness for our sins!

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews‬ ‭8:12‬ ‭

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew‬ ‭6:14‬ ‭

“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew‬ ‭6:15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In other words, if we want to spend eternity in Heaven with God, we need to really think about forgiveness of others. I have been thinking about what Heaven will be like. I believe Heaven is a place of perfection and complete painlessness. There is no sin. There is not even temptation to sin. Given that entry into heaven takes some fleetingly enjoyable activities off the table, it is more than worth it. No amount of worldly pleasure would ever be worth losing out on the chance to enjoy perfect happiness and oneness with the One who made us all. Therefore, forgiving others is a very small exchange for eternity in Heaven.

The reason this topic has been on my mind and in my heart so much lately is that I know several individuals who have been hurt badly by people who continue to bring up things that happened in their past. The injured people have changed their paths, confessed their sins, and are doing their best to help others. God is working in their lives! However, satan continues to plaque them through the actions of others. My prayer is that God surrounds these individuals with a hedge of protection and love and allows them to lead their lives winning souls for God’s Kingdom.

I know this post sounds like I am chasing rabbits, but the truth is I am searching for answers that will allow me to help others who are seeking peace! Heavenly Father, please intervene and give guidance and answers! Only You can Solve these situations. In Jesus’s Holy Name!

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Twilight Zone

Heavenly Father, thank You for always being with me! I truly believe my life is caught in the Twilight Zone! I find myself in some of the most ridiculous situations. Yesterday was one of THOSE days. I think these incidents happen to me because I do not plan ahead. I fly by the seat of my pants, and I have to continuously figure out how to get myself out of situations which I have created. This tendency has been a part of my life all of my life. The moral of this story is I don’t learn from past mistakes!

Cason and I were on our way to fill my car up with gas so we could drive to the football game on Friday. As we crossed the railroad track on Lakes Boulevard, we heard a loud fizzing sound. Cason said, “Mimi, I think one of the drinks is exploding!” There was so much traffic all around us, and I kept driving while imagining sticky fizzing drink covering all the back of my car. I told Cason we would check on it when we stopped.

We moved things around, and the fizzing noise stopped. I filled up the car and drove on home. When we got there, I started unloading all the groceries I had in the car. Well, I found the source of the fizzing sound rather quickly. I had purchased two cans of room freshener. A six pack of drinks had slid up next to the fresheners and caused one of the cans to start spraying. All I can say is I am glad they were in a bag by themselves. The bag was full of liquid. The back of my car smells really good and the can has about a third of the spray left. One thing I learned was either don’t buy drinks and aerosol cans on the same day, or don’t put them close together in the back of my car! I am just happy it wasn’t an exploding carbonated drink!

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Choose Your Battles

An incident which I found out about today has greatly disturbed and disappointed me! I have worked with young people for the majority of my life, and one thing I always tried to impress upon every one of them was the habit of being kind to others. When I discovered which church the incident occurred in, I was totally shocked because the church has a reputation of catering to our youth. My granddaughter wrote about what happened, and I am attaching her observation. The reason I am bringing this up again is I believe with our society going through so much violence and heartache now, we can never be too careful about our words and actions toward others. Our reactions toward what we perceive as wrong can result in a loss for God’s Kingdom!

My granddaughter’s post on Facebook:

“Not a typical post I would make and I’m Definitely not one to run to social media. But this is something that really bothered me . Adults or anyone … do not belittle a teenager or even another adult that is sitting in church.

Yes that person May have had their phone in their hand. But For instance, what if that teenager wasn’t a believer, and they chose never to come back to church because they were rubbed the wrong way.

I am a believer and It wasn’t said to me but I was rubbed the wrong way. I thought at first maybe the “adult” was trying to be a leader by telling the teenager to listen to the sermon, this adult did have a point. But my mind was quickly changed when he came behind the teenager at the end of the service and said “Maybe your phone God will save you.” No good was done. Yes phones shouldn’t have your attention during church. But that goes for anything. Your focus should be on God. Not just in church though.

And I am not one for services that make you feel good either. I love a message that will make you realize things and make you think about yourself. So this isn’t about that. But it could have been handled in a better way.

No one in church should feel judged by another person in church. My heart just hurts for anyone that has ever dealt has an experience like that. And if you have and you aren’t a believer. Talk to someone because THAT is not Christianity.”

End of her post!

As I have gotten older, I have tried to reduce the amount of “stuff” I carry in my hands. Most Sundays I have only my phone and keys, and for the past two or three years I have used my Bible App so I can take notes, etc. I had not even thought about someone thinking I was texting or doing something else. After all , I am too busy listening to what my preacher is saying to even notice what others are doing! It makes me want to stand up in church and tell our congregation that I am using my phone for the Bible App.

The thing about the situation is that it should have never happened. The adult stepping in did not know the circumstances or the whole story, but he acted with a holier than thou attitude and could possibly have driven a young person away from the church forever. He could possibly have caused a real tragedy. There is a time and place for guidance and instruction; however, my belief is that this was not an appropriate time or response. Our goal is to get people into church and make disciples of them.

My prayer is that this teenager was not permanently scarred by what happened. I am also praying that this man will think twice before doing the same thing to another person. He would be smart to pay attention to the messages he is supposed to be hearing because I have a feeling he has missed out on some vital information!

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Dust Storm

My teaching career began in the early 1980s and lasted until 2009. During those years, I had the honor of working with some wonderful educators, administrators, staff, students, and parents at Lowndes Middle School and Lowndes High School. I enjoyed being able to help my students build their skills and learn about things which would prepare them to function in our society and have success in life. Some of the incidents that occurred during those years made a lasting impact on my own life — from funny to tragic, from mischievous to heartwarming — each day was a day that is imprinted in my mind and on my heart.

I hesitate to give a date or any names for the event I am sharing with you in order to protect the identity of the innocent and not so innocent. I volunteered my team to move into the portable classrooms when Lowndes Middle School was going through renovations. I was the team leader and my team was composed of an awesome group of teachers–Mr. David Wells, Mrs. Peggy Lester, Mr. Scott Wildes, Mrs. Gwen Bergman, and myself. We were the academic teachers for The Green Giants, or Team 8C.

Since we were not connected to the main building and did not have access to an intercom, Mr. Fred Davis, our Principal, assigned me a walkie talkie (this was before cellphones were actively being used). My code name which Mr. Davis chose was “Queen Bee.” I later began to think I had figured out why he chose that name. After I finish relating this incident, I believe you will figure it out, too!

With the help of our students, we began to transfer our furniture and personal belongings. Now, you have to visualize the conditions with which we were working. We had four large classrooms with no restrooms or water fountains. We had to plan everything around our schedule, which would include mass restroom and water breaks with as little disturbance as possible to Team 8A (The Red Devils) and Team 8B (The Blue Jays).

After about a month of guiding and escorting our 120 to 130 students to the restroom and to get water, we made the decision to see if they could go into E-Wing on their own! After all, they were 13 to 15 year old young people. They had been following our directions really well, and we thought we could trust them. Well, the majority of our students had returned to class when I heard Mr. Davis on the walkie talkie. From his voice, I could tell there just may be a problem. “Office to Queen Bee! Come in Queen Bee!”

I picked it up, and said, “This is Queen Bee. ”

Mr. Davis urgently said, “Mrs. Guest, what is going on in your direction? I am looking over your way, and it looks like a dust storm!”

After teaching eighth graders for around 15 to 18 years, I thought to myself that there wasn’t much more that could surprise me. Well, I have to say I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. I ran to the door of our building, and I was stunned and amazed at what I observed. A group of our boys were running back to our building, and they had been kicking up their heels and dragging their feet all the way back to our classrooms. It looked like we were in the middle of the desert during a real sandstorm! They were laughing and having a great time. I All I could do was gasp and stare, but I had to explain to Mr. Davis what was occurring. His only reply was, “Mrs. Brooks is on her way!” Mrs. Josie Brooks was one of our Assistant Principals and worked mainly with eighth grade.

As I returned to my room, I thought to myself, “Queen Bee, your worker bees have been very productive today. However, I don’t think Mr. Davis or Mrs. Brooks are going to be very impressed! Although it could have been much worse, they were only having some ‘not so clean’ fun.” Looking back on it now, I realize that it wasn’t nearly as dangerous as some of the things that are happening in our schools and society across the country and world today. Another thought I had was that every single one of those students have developed into wonderful grownups and awesome members of our community and society. God is Good!

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“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” Galatians‬ ‭5:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Today, I witnessed a beautiful act of kindness. I was in the checkout line at SAMS, and the line was growing longer and longer. Some of the customers were getting very impatient, and they were complaining loudly. I was in a hurry, too, but I stood there thinking about all the blessings in my life. The associate was helping an elderly gentleman, and she exhibited a calm and peaceful demeanor. Her name was Princess, and she never faltered in her efforts to assist him. When it was my turn to check out, I told her she was truly a Princess and had blessed me with her actions. I, also, said, “God Bless you!”

The people behind me kept making comments about how “he” wasn’t able to deal with the technology, such as cellphones, credit card machine, etc. I overheard one person say, he shouldn’t even be allowed to have a cellphone or credit card. They said he should not be out alone. I thought to myself, “He probably is only a few years older than I am, and he is still trying to be independent.” I began to pray silently that they never had to deal with a situation like I had witnessed.

It made me think about the fact that many of us deal with situations where we have difficulties doing things that seem to be easy for others. With God’s Grace, we all grow older! Many of us face illnesses, hardships, losses, and other difficulties. However, we all are given opportunities to be kind and considerate of others. Most of the time, it takes very little effort to help someone in need.

Before I left the store, I found her supervisor and told her what an impression she had made on me. Then, I filled out one of the comment cards and left it. Many times we are quick to criticize, but we need to be more diligent about giving praise.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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Some Days Seem To Last Forever

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 NIV

Have you ever had a day that seemed to go on, and on, and on, and on. . . ? Well, let me tell you about one day in my crazy life! First of all, I missed my wake up call. Every school day, Cason gives me a wake up call to get our day off to a good start. Welllll . . . I missed his first, second, and third calls this morning. I don’t have any idea what was wrong with my phone! That was not a great way to start my day.

Next, I needed to go to my church and work on the bulletin. I knew it would take about two hours to complete, print, and fold the bulletin because I only had a few more changes to make. I needed to leave in time to make it to a lunch date with my sweet daughters and granddaughter. We were celebrating Emily’s birthday. After several delays, I got to the church, finished the bulletin, and went home. I knew I needed to get gas, but I thought I had enough to make it until after lunch. This is when things became a comedy of errors!

I forgot Emily’s birthday present and had to turn around and go back to get it. Of course, I had forgotten something else but would not realize it until much later. I kept looking at my gas gauge and praying God would let the gas last until after lunch. While we were waiting on our meals, I discovered I didn’t have my phone. I ran back out to the car, but it wasn’t there either.

Now, that wouldn’t be a big deal, but my money and credit cards were in my case. After one of my daughters called my phone, we decided I must have left it at home. We finished our meal and said our goodbyes, and I headed home. In just a few minutes, my low fuel light came on, and I began to get a little alarmed. Not only did I not have my credit cards or money, but I had no way to call for help. Did you realize if you don’t have a phone in your car, the Bluetooth hookup does not work? No! Surprise, surprise! Now, I keep loose change in my cup holders, but can you picture me with all those pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters trying to pay for gas for a Jeep Grand Cherokee? My cup holders don’t hold that much change! I usually keep some MAD money in the car, and I believe it is time to start back with that habit. I made it home, found my phone, and drove to get my car filled up with gas. I believe it was almost bone dry. It took what seemed like forever to fill that tank.

When I arrived back home, someone had taken pity on me and mowed my forest! Thank you Jesus and the Good Samaritan who saw a need and did a good deed! Shortly after that Lisa delivered Cason to me, and I was so happy because if I had been responsible for picking him up, he would have still been at school. As he came in the door, his first comment was, “I need you to take me home to get some clothes, which was his code for, “I need my phone!”

After taking him to his house, I remembered I had placed a grocery order at Walmarts which was supposed to be picked up between 1:00 and 2:00. It was now 3:40. Ohhhhhh, my goodness! We quickly started toward town! I looked over at Cason and said, “I am so sorry.” His reply was, “Why are you sorry?” I just wanted to give him a hug. His next comment almost made me cry, “Mimi, you always make me happy!”

To make a really long story short, several other things happened during my day, including a broken jar of grape jelly, making a new friend, shopping with my sweet daughter, and several other incidents. However, the most amazing thing was through it all, I never lost my “cool.” In fact, God managed to give me several moments of joy and peace through the actions and reactions of those with whom I interacted throughout the day. I realized that all I have to do is keep my eyes, ears, and heart open to the opportunities that are right in front of me.

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To Change or not to Change: That is the Question

Maybe it is just my imagination; however, it seems that as I get older change is becoming a regular interruption to my life. Learning to face change is always difficult for me. I suppose you could say I can get in a rut rather quickly. I thought I had to relearn how to live my life after Clyde died, but I am finding out that learning possibly will not be over until they close the lid on my coffin (or shortly before that)! I was given the advice to not make any major decisions during the early stages of grieving. I must say that was relatively good advice.

When I decided I was ready for a big change, I discovered quickly I really was not ready. I busied myself with cleaning out, throwing away, and trying to declutter my home. In retrospect, I quickly realized it was not going to be an easy task. Realistically, I knew that all my “treasures” were not anything but clutter and junk to my family. Looking back, I wish I had been wiser about buying “things” that gave temporary pleasure. All my collectibles made me happy for a while, but now they are a burden. Oh, I know a few pieces will make someone happy for a little time period, but I realize now that time spent purchasing, arranging, and dusting them could have been better spent.

The legacy I want to leave for my loved ones is that helping others, spending quality time, showing love, making memories, and valuing family and friends is more important than things money can buy. For the last several years, I have lost loved ones at an extremely rapid pace. So many dear friends, family members, and loved ones have gone on to their eternal home! My biggest regret is the lost opportunities to just be with each of them. I have tried to live my life in a manner that helped others feel and understand that I truly loved them.

Clyde often told me I used the word “love” too much. However, when I say I love you to someone, I am very serious. When I was a child, the words, “I love you” meant care, affection, safety, and protection. The only thing that has changed about the word love for me is that love also means a wish for the person to whom I say it to know that they are important to me. I care about their soul and future. I want them to know the feeling is real and extends to life after death. Even though, people disappoint and hurt me, I still want them to know the kind of love God has for us. I am far from perfect, I sin every single day; but I will never close my eyes at night without asking forgiveness and praying for another chance to make things right. My fervent prayer is when I meet my Savior face to face, He will say, “Welcome Home My good and faithful servant. Well done!”

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