July 4: Keep praying for our nation

Happy 4th!
Happy 4th!

Tomorrow is July 4th, our country’s Independence Day. Our nation’s motto is “In God we trust.” Sadly, I think that as a nation, we’ve come a really long way from that. Today’s frightening news headlines were prophesied in the book of Revelation. But Jesus told us that when we see all these things happening, to stand and look up, for our redemption draws near. (Luke 21:28) This gives us great hope, peace, and courage. It won’t be long now!

What we can do today for America is to continue praying for her. 

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)

I hope you have a happy 4th of July. Ray has to work until tomorrow night, but I’m spending tomorrow evening with some dear friends, who are grilling burgers and brats and we’re watching fireworks. How are you spending yours?

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Not called to hate: Bankrupt without love

rusty gate
rusty gate Image source: Google

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”–1 Corinthians 13:1-3, The Message

What do you think of when you hear the word “love”?

You love Jesus.

You love your spouse, your kids, your sister, and your friends.

You love Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream.

You love your cat.

You love the This is Us TV series.

You don’t love bad hair days, gaining back the 15 pounds you lost last year walking and jogging, new wrinkles showing up in the mirror, catty women, and drama.

iced coffee
iced coffee

As I sit here writing at my laptop with an iced coffee, pondering the meaning of the word love, I realize that I so often fail to hit the mark, God’s way. In fact, much more often I’m like that creaking rusty gate in the above-mentioned passage in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Squeak, squeak. Rust corrodes and destroys. (Wince.)

Without God’s love in my heart, the Bible says that I’m getting nowhere. Bankrupt. Not a pretty thought.

heart of ice Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/
heart of ice
Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/

Sometimes I think that maybe I have a heart of ice. Ray has sometimes called me la belle dames sans merci–the beautiful woman without mercy. It is the name of an English ballad by poet John Keats, considered a classic with numerous interpretations.

In the poem, there’s a bleak wintry landscape and a broken knight. The beautiful lady is a femme fatale who attracts lovers only to destroy them with her supernatural powers. She destroys because it’s her nature to destroy. Not exactly a compliment from my husband, although I like when he calls me beautiful!

La belle dames sans merci by John William Waterhouse
La belle dames sans merci
by John William Waterhouse

No, I don’t want to be a femme fatale. I don’t want to hate anyone, either. God is love, and I am called by Him to love others, too. (1 John 4:8)

I want to be a woman of love, and yet even as I type this, I think, “Do I really? Am I willing to do what God requires of me to unconditionally love Him and others? Or am I too comfortable in my own skin of apathy, or even worse, of hate?

frustrated woman
frustrated woman

Hate is such an ugly word, isn’t it? Certainly not one with which a Christian–a Christ believer and follower–should be associated. And yet, I confess it out loud, now to the entire world.

I struggle with feeling hatred sometimes. I have for my entire life. I especially struggle with it at times in anger toward my husband Ray (and I can think of a few other people right now, too! And just so you know, Ray has struggled with feeling hatred toward me at times, too!)

Former first lady Barbara Bush recounted a time when Ruth Graham, wife of world-renown evangelist Billy Graham, was asked by a writer if she had ever considered divorce. “Divorce? No. Murder, yes.”

happy woman
happy woman

Maybe you can’t relate to me or Ruth Graham at all. I commend you for having a happy, free heart oozing over with God’s unconditional, reckless love and you having your life way more together than me.

You might even question if I am really a true Christian if I feel hate. Am I the only Christian who battles the sin of hatred?

No. Recently when Ray and I were in a marriage counseling session, the Christian therapist told me about a recent situation where she and a loved one were arguing loudly in her home, and she felt hatred for this family member. 

Did she stay stuck in the sinful stew of hatred in her heart? No. This gifted, anointed Christian therapist decided instead to leave the house, drive off [fast] in her car, and go get a large Diet Coke at Sonic to chill out for awhile. She came back home and they talked about it again more calmly now, reconciling. 

I admit that I felt secretly relieved when she told me this story! So, I’m not alone in this struggle! It’s a human dilemma.

The Bible addresses hatred in many verses. Some examples are:

  • 1 John 4:20
  • 1 John 3:15
  • Leviticus 19:17
  • 1 John 2:9
  • Ephesians 4:31
  • Galatians 5:20
  • Mark 7:21-22

What’s interesting is that the audience for most of these passages are Christian believers!

How do you overcome this evil weapon of hatred if you struggle with it, too?

  • Come to God. God is love. He is the One who can and will teach you how to love others.
  • Repent of the sin of hatred. Satan, who is God’s and our enemy, wants you to hate God, other people, and yourself. Ask God’s forgiveness for the hatred.
  • Ask God to fill you with His agape (unconditional) love and for victory in the situation.
  • Choose to forgive the person for how he or she hurt, angered, or offended you. If needed, ask forgiveness of the person you are struggling with hating if you have sinned against him or her.
  • Spend time daily reading and meditating on the Bible, praying, worshipping, and in fellowship with other Christian believers to help you in your walk. You are not alone.

I’m now writing a new non-fiction book: Metamorphosis: Transformed From Hate to Love, which will be available for sale soon at Amazon as an eBook. If you subscribe to my personal mailing list here at BethJones.net, you’ll be first to hear about its release. This is the beautiful cover for the eBook:

eBook cover
eBook cover

Just sign up at the top of the page on the right-hand side with your name and email, and confirm your subscription. You’ll also get a free gift when you sign up!

You can find the other books I’ve written here at my Amazon Author Page

Have you struggled with hating anyone? Leave your comments below. 

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I adopted a cat!

Me & Natalya our cat
Me & Natalya our cat

Recently my husband Ray went to Texas for a week to help his mom Judy after her eye surgery. He and I have talked many times about getting a cat. We had to give away our last family cat, a calico named Sierra, several years ago when we moved to a rental home and the landlord didn’t allow pets. Our daughter Leah misses her and wants a cat of her own again one day. 

I wanted to wait until we finished remodeling our home that we bought last year, so the noise wouldn’t stress out the cat and so he or she wouldn’t pee everywhere as a result. But I really wanted a black cat with green eyes and was tired of waiting. While Ray was gone to Texas, I adopted a cat at a local animal shelter!

Natalya
Natalya

I went to three shelters. The first one in Butler, MO, where we live, House of Hound, only had dogs. The second one in Harrisonville, MO, had just two cats. One was a sweet, long-haired, calico mix named Lucy. She went to my arms instantly and purred, but I wanted a black cat with green eyes. I think they are beautiful and look like little black panthers. The staff told me there were several of these at the Belton shelter.

How can you resist this face?
How can you resist this face?

The Belton, Missouri HELP Human Society has over 200 cats and a few dogs. It is a no kill animal shelter that helps animals find loving, good homes. There’s lots of sofas and chairs for the kittens and cats to roam all over the building. The dogs are in a separate section. I really liked that the cats had this freedom.

A few cats are placed in cages when they are first brought there, until they get used to it, or unless they have health issues. I laughed when I walked in and cats were walking around on Sarah’s desk (one of the paid staff). It was hard to pick one, as they were all so cute.

The shelter had many black kittens and cats; ironically, some people are superstitious and think black cats are spooky and bad luck. Black kittens and cats are the least adopted and have the highest euthanasia rate. 

My black cat
My black cat

It took me about 30 minutes to choose which one. I was drawn to her name, her personality, and her story. I also asked to make sure she had a good health record. Natalya was a little reserved with me at first, but when I brought her home, she couldn’t be petted enough! Every night she sleeps with me. She loves me and wants to be constantly petted! Here is a funny pic of me with her with her mouth open. 

Funny pic of Natalya
Funny pic of Natalya

Natalya is about four years old. She has an interesting story. Her family was in a house fire. They thought she was killed in the fire, but she escaped and later came back to the area. The family had to move in temporarily with another family while they found another home to live in, so they had to take her to the Belton shelter. Since I have “been through the fire” many times in my life, her story intrigued me.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”–Isaiah 43:2, NLT

You can read my own powerful story here at Amazon.

To adopt a pet at HELP Humane, you have to fill out an application, show your driver’s license, and pay a fee. Some shelters have stricter requirements than others. A dog’s and a kitten’s fee is generally higher than a cat’s. After filling out the one-page application, I was interviewed by Sarah.

This shelter takes care of the animals’ food and water, gives them shots, and spays or neuters them. There’s many volunteers with a compassionate heart for animals who work there. She was due for her rabies shot in a few days, so I took her to the vet to get that and for an exam. The shelter gave me a certificate so that most of the visit was covered. I was happy to hear that she is in good health.

Natalya's cute paws
Natalya’s cute paws

After approval of my application, I went to Walmart to get cat supplies, came back, and took my new kitty home the same day! I bought two bags of Iams cat food, a pet carrier, two cat litter boxes, giant boxes of cat litter, a brush, a scratching post, and a toy ball. The shelter also gave me some food for her, a toy mouse, and catnip as a going away gift for her.

food bowl
food bowl

 

water bowl
water bowl

 

brush & ball
brush & ball

 

litter box
litter box

 

scratching post
scratching post

In the morning after I cook my egg, I have “coffee with God,” praying, reading the Bible, and journaling. A friend on Facebook, Tanna, joked that Natalya likes to read, too.

Natalya "reading"
Natalya “reading”

I have a very soft, multi-colored blanket on the love seat that I use while I drink my creamy coffee and read the Bible. Natalya LOVES this blanket. She often “kneads” it and she lays on it often.

Natayla loves this soft blanket
Natayla loves this soft blanket

The first couple of days after I adopted her and brought her home, Natalya walked all around the house, meowing constantly. I think she missed her cat friends at the shelter and was a little scared. This is normal. It takes time for the pet to adjust to his or her new environment. Eventually, she started acting more like a cat, being curious and getting into everything and jumping onto counters and high places.

One morning I was eating breakfast and heard her meowing from the utility room. I walked in there and she had jumped to the highest shelf of the cabinet, which is about 7 feet tall! I was worried that was too far for her to jump down to the floor, climbed a stool, and got her down. She still does it sometimes and I still rescue her!

Natalya on top shelf
Natalya on top shelf

When I work on my laptop to write books, speaking presentations, or blogs like this, Natalya sometimes comes into my office. She jumped on my laptop, which kept me from writing! So I laid out a soft comforter for her in there to occupy her instead.

Natalya on my laptop
Natalya on my laptop

One of my friends on Facebook commented that she is queen of the house. I do think she looks like a queen and elegant like royalty–like the Queen of Sheba!

Queen of Sheba
Queen of Sheba

Because we live in a busy neighborhood with lots of traffic and the health risks from neighborhood cats and other animals, she is an inside cat only. Natalya loves to look outside the window at the sky, trees, birds, squirrels, neighborhood cats, cars, and people walking by in our front entry room. I have a teal green ottoman that is a perfect stool for her to do this. It snowed recently, so here she is looking at the snow.

Natalya looking out the window
Natalya looking out the window

 

Natalya on her stool
Natalya on her stool

My Facebook friend Maria gave me the great idea to buy some yarn to play with her. This is especially good to do with her at night to wear her out before bedtime (so I can sleep!). She loves the green yarn, and it makes me laugh that she chases it as I run across the room.

Natalya in action chasing yarn
Natalya in action chasing yarn

 

Natalya playing with yarn
Natalya playing with yarn

 

The green yarn matches her eyes
The green yarn matches her eyes

She is a beautiful cat, and has such a sweet personality…and I found out that a Christian friend of mine had prayed for her to get a good home! After I posted pics of Natalya on Facebook, my friend Carrie Lemon asked if I had adopted her from the Belton HELP Human Society.

I said yes, and she told me that she and her two daughters often went in there to just love on the kitties and that Natalya always followed them to the door, as if wanting to go home with them. They prayed for her, that God would give her a loving home. God is amazing! My husband Ray is a “cat person,” and he loves her, too.

My sweet kitty Natalya
My sweet kitty Natalya

Did you know that having a pet has health benefits? Some are:

  • Pets can decrease depression, stress, and anxiety. Dogs help soldiers with PTSD, with Walter Reed Army Medical Center using them for veterans and finding them to have a decreased suicide rate;
  • They can lower your blood pressure, build your immunity, and decrease your risk of heart attacks or strokes;
  • Pets can be the best medicine when dealing with chronic pain, like arthritis or migraines;
  • Having a pet can help with loneliness; animals love unconditionally, unlike some people;
  • Owning a pet can help lower cholesterol;
  • Having a pet can improve your mood, making you laugh and relax more;
  • Owning a dog can increase your opportunities to socialize;
  • Pets help children to emotionally develop.

Most of all, a pet is fun. These fur babies make great companions and people often consider them part of the family.

Natalya giving me a kiss
Natalya giving me a kiss

Do you have a pet? What kind? Leave your comments below. 

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