Embraceable You

Little brothers~

I’m a hugger. Like my dad, I love people.

When I hug someone, once in a while there’s a little confusion as to where each of us will place our arms.

Sometimes it gets funny. But no matter what, there’s always a smile going on as we settle into a brief, warm hug that whispers of caring.

Did you know that there’s apparently a science to the action of hugging? I’d heard of it but hadn’t paid much attention to it until I decided to write this post.

Go here to find the fun wikiHow hug website. It shows you—with accompanying drawings—just how to hug everyone . . . properly!

It made me smile and even laugh out loud at some of the cute demos, though it still didn’t show me if there’s a preferred way to put my arms around someone. ☺

Sisters~

Now if you want to get all scientific . . . when you hug, there’s a release of oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone” that makes us feel good, and then there’s the stress hormone, cortisol that’s reduced, which is a good thing. No in-depth study here, but I’m sure there are probably more good things that happen, like endorphins . . . maybe more.

But when He made us, God knew we just needed love (plus, the oxytocin and cortisol were His ideas in the first place!).

Don’t ever stop embracing one another. It’s so important to show love and that’s just one small way to say “I love you” or “I think you’re a really wonderful person” or “I truly appreciate our friendship” or “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “I’m so happy to see you.” I may feel all the love, care and compassion in the world, but unless I tell you or show you, you might never know that I feel that way.

You can blow all the air kisses you want to, but love or just sweet friendship shown in a hug is incomparable.

Here’s some of what the Word has to say about embracing others,
like your Relatives:

Family~

“Then it came to pass, when Laban heard the report about Jacob his sister’s son,
that he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house.
So he told Laban all these things” (Genesis 29:13).

Brothers: “But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck
and kissed him, and they wept” (Genesis 33:4).

Fathers and sons: “Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see.
Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them” (Genesis 48:10).

Spouse: “His left hand is under my head, and
his right hand embraces me” (Song of Solomon 2:6). Disciples/Friends: “After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to
himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia” (Acts 20:1).

Bye, Grandpa.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 NKJV).

Hugs are small and free and warm and loving and one way to obey that commandment.

How do you feel about hugs?

LoveSally

Simplicity

Sometimes it’s the little things. So simple, so subtle—and we miss them.

Jesus holds me safe and close as I speak through Him, directly to my God, my Creator, asking and believing.

The Son of God, Jesus, said these things about what would begin to happen on the day he was resurrected and left to go to his Father—

“In that day you will ask Me nothing.

Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

Until now you have asked nothing in My name.

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you;

for the Father Himself loves you,

because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father” (John 16:23-24, 26-28 NKJV).

So my heart remembers when I pray . . .
. . . that my prayer is to my Heavenly Father, God.
I speak to Him, believing, asking for whatever my needs are,
and asking in the name of Jesus,
knowing God will give me what I need.

And my joy is full.

A note written by the photographer about this wonderful photo that I found under the category of Joy.

Tim Shields calls his photo: Praise God

He writes: “This is the world famous sand dunes of Death Valley. And this is my 12-year-old daughter jumping with all the joy of life that she has within her. It was 6:45 AM and we had just watched the sun rise over the sand dunes. It was a magical moment to appreciate God’s creation together.”

Praying for your joy to be as effervescent as Tim’s daughter’s was that beautiful morning.

The Driver’s Day

The morning is bright and cool as the scent of fall wafts through the open sunroof. On her way to an early appointment, The Driver has her tunes playing and she’s loving the solitude.

. . . Until a sight on the side of the road goes against the grain of normal and makes her look twice.

The woman she just passed was—
Really? Trying to hitch a ride?

No. Can’t be. Not safe these days.

But a glance into the rear view mirror reflects the young woman, her thumb waving in the air, and she isn’t alone.

The double-take restarts The Driver’s day with head-shaking wonder over the nudge to do something.

You’re kidding, Lord! Turn around, go back, and pick up that young woman and her two children?

The Driver’s not in the habit of giving strangers rides. Besides, her car is too small. She’ll be late. And what if the woman needs more than a ride . . .
Her excuses pelt down like rain.

She glides past, the mind-poking irritation turning into curiosity and compassion that has her turning her small two-door coupe around a block and a half later.

Surely someone will have picked them up by the time she gets back there.

But, no. This is still hers to do.

Emergency blinkers and right hand signal clicking away, she pulls over to the curb. With a prayer, The Driver shakes her head again, plasters on a brave, like-I-do-this-everyday smile, and opens the car door, motioning for the woman and her two children to get in.

There’s hustle and bustle and back packs and the fresh scent of scrubbed clean, smiling little faces, as “mom” wedges her two children into the cramped back seat and sits in the passenger seat.

“How far are you going? Where?”

Ann introduces herself. The gutsy, determined, scrappy mother of three (there’s a baby at home) had been right out there on the edge of the busy road during morning rush hour—thumbing!

She was absolutely going to get all of them to school—her two children to the local Christian Academy and herself to the community college—one way or the other.

The Driver, whose chin is still on the floorboards at this mama-thumber, learns that Ann is a Christian and full of a diamond-in-the-rough faith. Ann shares that her husband, who is taking care of the baby, is fresh-out of a rehab for drug problems, has no job, and she may give him another chance.

She wants so much more for herself and her family that not even lack of transportation will stand in her way—and she openly thanks God and The Driver for today’s ride.

The Driver, not so openly, thanks God too, for His nudge to do this thing.

What a wonder to meet someone so determined to pull herself up and out of her current circumstances.

Ann will make it. She’s diamond, gold, and granite. A rock in the midst of the swirl and growth and change in her world.

Ann says she’ll walk from here, but The Driver will have none of that and waits while Ann walks her children to the school doors and returns for her ride to the last stop . . . the community college campus.

It’s been a long time since Ann and her children were passengers in The Driver’s little car. Once in a while, The Driver gets to find out what happened to those she’s encountered. Not this time. But it’s good to think about that heavenly urging and to pray that Ann and her little ones had a good life, maybe even the one Ann envisioned for them all that bright autumn morning.

 ♥

I recently read that we should be praying and watching and looking for the things God is doing and asking Him if and how we might join Him to help. A little different than coming up with our own ideas of serving/helping/volunteering, isn’t it?

Some time after thinking about The Driver’s encounter and writing this post, I came to another reading. In My Utmost for His Highest for February 28: “We are not told to walk in the light of conscience or of a sense of duty, but to walk in the light as God is in the light. When we do anything from a sense of duty, we can back it up by argument; when we do anything in obedience to the Lord, there is no argument possible . . .”

It’s good when our “arguments” quickly fall by the wayside.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4-5 NKJV).

Are you paying attention to the nudges you have that you just know that you know are from God?

Love,

Sally

Circles, Rings, and Valentine Things

Whom do you love?

“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. …”

Proverbs 31:10-31

“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her,
and likewise also the wife to her husband.”

1 Corinthians 7:3

Whom do you love?

“A friend loves at all times . . .” Proverbs 17:17a

“He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him in!”

 “Outwitted” ― Edwin Markham

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another;
as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

John 13:34

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

1 John 4:8

♥ ♥ ♥

Who is it that loves you?

It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.”

Isaiah 40:22

He who sits above the circle of the earth loved you first.

From before you were born, God loved you and he promises never to leave you nor forsake you.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
This is the first commandment.”
Mark 12:30

 “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
2 Corinthians 13:12

God gave us all His love in the person of his only Son, Jesus.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Are you doing something special for someone you love on Valentine’s Day?

It’s a good day to remind your friends you care!

Have a great week.

Love you!

Sally

All scripture is New King James Version

Journey Into Joy

. . . so what is joy?

A feeling? an emotion? A sense that all is right with the world that we sometimes experience?

I think all of these.

But joy dives deep into our God-created being.

Joy reshapes expressions on faces. Joy flows from an artist’s brush, a vocalist’s solo. a musician’s instrument, or a little boy’s toy piano.

Joy makes your heart beat faster, sweeps you up into dancing, and hand-clappping and jumping for joy.

Joy fashions happy tears and frames itself in hugs that say “I love you too.” It’s in the tears that come while you’re reading or watching a scene so tender it literally squeezes those tears out of your heart of hearts.

Joy walks with you into a room to pray for another’s recovery, and though hundreds of others have prayed too, when he’s made whole again, just maybe you had a little part in God’s awesome answer.

Joy is laughter within a loving family with whom you simply revel in being near.

Joy is a good stretch after a sound night’s sleep.

Joy is bursting upward through the deepest of depths and finding God’s been with you through the entire scary trip.Joy is your best friend calling to sing Happy Birthday all the way through and wishing you the best year ever.

Joy is feeling better after you’ve felt so terrible.

Joy is walking a quiet trail with moss underfoot and wildflowers brushing your arms as you pass.

Joy is serving communion and seeing Jesus in the eyes of those who love Him.

Joy is stroking a service dog in training knowing one day she will lead instead of being led.

Joy is a long, unhurried hug from a three-year-old, her little arms around your neck and her sweet head nestled against your shoulder, that’s like no other hug, ever.Joy is knowing that you know you are beloved by your heavenly Father and are kept for everlasting life by Jesus and have a Helper, the Holy Spirit, forever.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace . . .” Galatians 3: 22

The dimensions and definitions of JOY are beyond number, but can you add a few more of your own?
I’d love for you to share them in a comment.


“Now may the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Love,

Sally

All scripture verses are from The New King James Version of the Bible

The Innkeeper’s Son

“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:4-7 NKJV).

~Caesar Augustus requires the world to register, and Bethlehem, the City of David, is teeming with people who must comply by the deadline Augustus has set. Places for the registrants to stay are few and full.

One inn at the edge of town is no exception. Inside the overflowing structure, a precocious little boy lives with his parents, owners of the rustic inn. He senses much more within the crowd . . .

The Innkeeper’s Son

I am five and it is late
Noisy, crowded, at the gate.
Pushing at my father’s knee
He ignores my whispered plea.
“A Baby’s coming soon,” I said
Anxious urgent words I pled.
“Go to bed my little son
I have much that must be done.”

Mother’s sitting at the table,
I reach as high as I am able.
My hands encircle her sweet face
Her eyes are filled with love and grace
I draw her face down close to mine.
“A Baby’s coming—there is a sign.”
“It’s time for sleep my dear, good son
You’re tired and dreaming, little one.”

Joseph’s knocking at the door,
Mary cannot travel more.
“I’m sorry, sir, there is no room—”
But I am here with my small broom.
“Father I have cleaned the stable,
They can stay if they are able.
Never mind the ox and sheep,
They will sing the Babe to sleep.”

A star turns night back into day.
My father slowly leads the way.
Mary smiles and takes my hand,
Joseph bends to help her stand.
My mother stays there thru the night,
And lingers till the morning light
Then at dawn she looks toward me,
“Come here my son come here and see.”

Silently I near His bed.
“You may touch Him,” Mary said.
Doves are watching from the loft,
I smooth and hold His hand so soft.
He looks at me, and in His eyes
Shines light as bright as morning skies.
“Thank you, God, this Baby came,
And that Jesus is His name.”

Manger-Baby, Blessed One,
Gentle Shepherd, Precious Son,
May we on Your day of birth
Speak Good News throughout the earth.

Sally Chambers

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

God bless each of you, and have a joyous, Merry Christmas!

See you in January~

Love,

Sally

A First Christmas

I’m honored to have author, writer, speaker, and consultant, Sharon Brani as my guest. She relates the story of a day remembered, a day just prior to her trip to Russia which began an Unforgettable Christmas Journey.

Here’s Sharon in her own words . . .

It seems like yesterday since I first hung this decoration on my Christmas tree, but it’s been twenty-one years.

I remember the day so vividly.

My mom and I were busy shopping that day, buying cute little outfits for a six month old baby girl who waited in Russia to be adopted.

I had been notified three days earlier to buy my plane ticket to fly to Russia on December 19th.

My feet seemed to walk on air as we pushed the shopping cart around the store.

There was so much still to be done.

Buying gifts to take with me to Russia.

Diapers, bottles, blankets, and clothing for my soon-to-be adopted little baby girl.

Packing, paperwork.

Mom and I chuckled together as we loaded the cart with boxes and boxes of cigarettes (my brother insisted they’d come in handy as peace offerings), perfumes, and various other items.

As I walked around the baby department, my thoughts wandered back to the small photo I had been given of precious baby girl with big, brown, serious eyes.

Lord, she needs to smile.
She needs to know she is loved.
She needs to know about You.

Suddenly my eyes were drawn to a pink baby blanket on display.

I reached out and felt how incredibly soft it was and held it up for my mom to see.

We knew immediately that this was the blanket I would take with me to bring my little girl home.

And along with the blanket, I purchased a small Christmas ornament, Baby’s First Christmas.

I’ll never forget my excitement as we shopped that day.

The pink blanket was packed in my suitcase awaiting the special day,

and the ornament was hung on my tree in hope—

that one day soon, my baby girl would celebrate her first Christmas—at home.

Meet my friend and guest, the author of this beautiful story, Sharon Brani, and daughter, Noelle.

Sharon is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Virginia, a Board Certified Coach, an educator, published freelance writer, and speaker whose life is committed to helping people discover the way life is meant to be. She’s written over 300 articles, stories, and devotionals for a variety of inspirational publications, and has contributed stories to the Chicken Soup series.

Sharon is the mother of two amazing daughters whom she adopted from Russia. As a nurturer she is well equipped to coach parents at every stage of the adoption process.

Here is a link to Sharon’s website, Discover Life, her blog, Shining Moments, and a link to her brand new book,

The Unforgettable Christmas Journey. Sharon Brani's Book The Unforgettable Christmas Journey

Congratulations, Sharon, and thank you, it is a joy to have you share part of your wondrous Christmas Journey with us.

And here’s one more photo of Sharon and (check out that beautiful smile!) Noelle.

“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 36:7).

We’re all on this path of life together. Our prayer is that the Lord will blanket you with the beauty of His peace and fill you with His joy this Christmas season.

Where do you hope your journey will take you this in this new year to come? Please share your comments with us.

Love and Merry Christmas!

Sally and Sharon