Hello from Tennessee! It has been a surprising winter with more snow arriving this year than normal. There for a minute, I thought I was back in South Dakota for a bit. It doesn't last long here and we know a warm up is coming. That is definitely different than South Dakota! HA! I do feel for my office staff who informed me on the way into work the actual temperature (without wind chill) was -17 degrees. I don't miss that! I remember the days of suiting up the kiddos in snowsuits in order to sleep during the night because of how frigid the bus would get when traversing the northern states for rallies. Brrrr!
Between that and COVID, we are staying put. It is sure a good thing that Larry and I are best friends and we practiced close quarters all those years on the bus because we spend all of our days together....and we are thankful. He spoils me!
Super quick, I wanted to encourage you. If you have ever felt the cry of desperation, "God where are you when I hurt? How am I going to make it through this? God, help me!", in our February 3rd COFFEE & CONNECT LIVE, I share from my heart about a series of moments when I was at this point and how God miraculously met me in the midst of the deep valleys. It is my prayer that it would bring hope and faith to the situation you are facing in this moment. The video is below:
Just a reminder as we head towards Valentine's Day and all things "heart" are celebrated, I wanted to share my recent newsletter article with you----DID THEY SEE JESUS?
Years ago, a partner from North Dakota wrote us a letter giving us an update on her young daughter (5 years old at the time) who had just come through a very serious open heart surgery. In her letter, she wrote, "After the surgery, my daughter looked up at the surgeon and very seriously asked, 'Tell me, when they opened my heart°did they see Jesus?'"
That little girl's question has nestled in me and has burst out of my memory bank throughout the years, especially in trying moments of my life. Just last week, I experienced a couple of "raw moments" where a couple of my children were treated unfairly and unjust. In the flesh, like a rattlesnake, I wanted to strike back with a venom of revenge. In the midst of those feelings however, that little girl's question to the doctor resurfaced. If I struck back with a venom of revenge, would they see Jesus in my heart? Convicted, I immediately had to CHOOSE TO FORGIVE (this went against my natural desire) for their ungodly and unfair actions taken against my kids.
You might think, "Gloria, you always seem so together, nonchalant and spiritually under control." To be honest, I feel I am 99% of the time, but it is that 1% that emerges when someone is hurting my cub that can unhinge things. This Mama Bear protective instinct flares! It doesn't happen very often, but it is then that I have to urgently and quickly address: What would Jesus do and how would He respond? How would my precious mother who is now in heaven respond? I have to take a deep breath, chill, and ask God to calm me and help me to respond in a godly manner. That godly manner assures and encourages me to keep my mouth shut and pray for the perpetrator and for my children. I pray that they, too, will have a God-given sense to choose to forgive those that hurt them and choose integrity and Godly character over deep seated revenge and unforgiveness.
The Bible talks much about the heart. Proverbs 4:23 states, "Above all guard your heart for everything you do flows from it." I desire a clean heart. As I struggle with a heart condition, atrial fibrillation, I realize how important it is to care for my heart if I want to avert a massive stroke or heart attack. I often pray Psalm 51:10 as I love David's sincere prayer and request to God; he was so human. "Create in me a pure heart oh God and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
In the past year of 2020, we have firsthand experienced so many divisions in really every facet of life. We have known lack of jobs, finances, health issues, untimely deaths, and much uncertainty. All of this sadly to say has hardened so many hearts as Matthew 24:12 says, "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold." That is what is called a stony heart.
We have a choice what kind of heart we want to have! We can choose to become bitter or hateful and destroy our own marriages, family and relationships. Also, tragically, you can lose your desire for God and ultimately°your soul. I love Psalm 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" OR we can choose to have Gods heart, Philippians 4:7 says, "And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart (and my heart) and mind (and my mind) in Christ Jesus."
This is my valentine's heart message to you! CHOOSE to let Jesus be in your heart!
P.S. Just a quick reminder, we are excited for the upcoming Coffee & Connect LIVE in our Facebook group at 11 AM on Wednesdays.
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 Snickers bars
1 jar Smucker's Milky Way ice cream topping (or use something similar)
For crust: Mix together crust ingredients. Pat on bottom of 9: spring form pan. Set aside.
For filling: Soften cream cheese. Beat with sugar, add eggs (one at a time beating well after each one). Beat in vanilla. Cut up candy bars and stir in batter.
Pour into pan and bake at 325 degrees for 60-80 minutes making sure the middle portion of cheesecake is fully baked. Run knife around edge of cake to prevent shrinking and cracking. Cool on counter. Spread the topping on the cheesecake and cool in refigerator.
When serving, garnish each piece with whipped topping if desired.