24 February 2018


...for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God... - Exodus 20:5

There's a feature on my smartphone that I use every day, generously and without apology.  It's the MUTE feature for the ringer on my phone.  I work an alternative work schedule and so that means when most people are awake, I'm asleep (or trying to go to sleep) and when most people are asleep, I am wide awake.  And while I try to be mindful of this fact and not call my friends at 4:00 in the morning when I may be bored or otherwise unoccupied at work, my phone constantly rings during "normal business hours" because either people "forgot" what my work hours are or they just don't know (solicitors, telemarketers who have somehow slipped through the "no-call" phone lists cracks).  While having my phone on mute 24/7 works for me, it doesn't always work for people trying to get in touch with me - just ask my brother.  But as I tell my mother all time, my phone is for MY convenience, not the convenience of the people trying to reach me.  My phone.  My terms.

Everything has its own set of "terms and conditions."  When you get your drivers license, one of the "terms" of getting one is an unstated agreement with the State issuing the license that you will abide by the laws of the land when it comes to traffic safety, speed limits, red lights, stop signs, etc.  Now, if you live in certain cities (i.e., Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York), it's obvious that every driver behind the wheel doesn't adhere to this "unstated agreement", but that's a blog for a different time and place.

When you download applications or services on your phone, Smart TV or other devices, there are always terms and conditions that you must agree to that govern your use of the application or service that you are signing up to use.  If you are like most people, you don't actually READ the terms or conditions because all you are really interested in is getting to use the app or service as quickly as possible.  I know that I am guilty of this (even though, since I work in a legal environment, I really should know better.)

And I am sure that every child, teenager, or young adult still living at home has heard their parent(s) say on at least one (if not one hundred) occasion(s), "As long as you are living under my roof ..." You know the rest.  Their terms and conditions for free access to the refrigerator, hot water, electricity and other amenities. [By the way, when you grow older, if you move your parent(s) into YOUR home, that saying doesn't work on them.  In fact, if you try it, they just look at you like you have lost your mind and say, "Kristina, I don't care if this is YOUR house, I'm still your mother."  (Or maybe, that only happens in my world.)]

I am currently reading through (ok, listening to) the Bible (again) and I'm in the middle of the book of Numbers currently.  As I listened to the instructions that God gave the children of Israel as they built the sanctuary, as they took the first census, as they set up their government structure, as they gathered and ate the manna that was provided to them on a daily basis (well, six out of seven days of the week) ... God was very exacting in His "terms and conditions" on how He expected His children to follow, obey and serve Him.  When He stated that He was a "jealous" God in His commandments to the Israelites (and to us), He wasn't talking about the relationship-stalking kind "jealousy" that we tend to think of jealousy as being - well, not exactly.  

When God says He is a jealous God, He is basically setting the "terms and conditions" for His relationship with us.  Now, we all should know that the ceremonial laws regarding the sacrifices in the sanctuary were all done away with by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.  But that doesn't mean that God doesn't still expect certain things from those of us who claim a relationship with Him.  We are supposed to approach God with reverence and recognize His authority in and over our lives.  We are supposed to bring Him our best and not treat Him casually or like we treat the unimportant things in our lives.  And while we are invited to have a relationship with Him, we should always be mindful that He is Who He is - our loving, awesome, creative, marvelous, self-sacrificing, jealous and giving Creator, Redeemer, Savior, Lord and God.

He is a jealous God with "terms and conditions" firmly rooted in His love for each of us.

Be blessed.
© 2018 Kristina E. Smith

10 February 2018


Someone recently sent me an Internet video that told a wonderful story about friendship.  I want to share it here (paraphrased and edited, a little):

Two best friends were walking along the beach when they spotted a beautiful shell.  One friend really wanted to keep it, but the other friend picked it and threw it back in the ocean.  Without thinking, the first friend slapped the other in the face.  Calmly, the second friend bent down, and with his finger wrote in the sand, "Today my best friend slapped me in the face."  He stood up, wiped his hands and they began walking again.  They came to a bridge, and as they crossed it, the second friend fell into the water and began to struggle.  Without thinking, t he first friend jumped in and saved his friend by pulling him to shore.  After catching his breath, the second friend found a large rock, pulled a chisel out of his backpack and carved into the stone, "Today my best friend saved my life."  His friend looked at him and said, "A little while ago, when I slapped your face, you wrote what I did in the sand.  Now, I save your life and you carve it into stone.  Why?"  His friend looked at him and said, "When you slapped me, I was hurt, but I wrote it in the sand so that as the water came onto the shore, the memory would be washed away and forgotten.  But then you saved my life.  I carved that memory into stone so that I can never forget what you did."

It's a simple concept, really.  Sand or stone.  It's also a Biblical concept.  Growing up, I was always fascinated by the story of the woman caught in adultery.  [John 8:1-11]  I don't know.  Maybe it was the imagery of being brought in front of a crowd of people and being accused of my sins that terrified me.  As I moved through my twenties and early adult life, when I was ... not always acting like "God's Favorite Child" ... this story and the verse about my sins finding me out, [Numbers 32:23] kept me from walking through the doors of the church many times.  People can be cruel and their memories of YOUR faults always seem to be in the forefront of THEIR memories (all while they conveniently forget about how they have personally stumbled in their own Christian walk).

But no matter how terrified I was by the FIRST part of the story, I always loved loved loved the SECOND part of the story.  In the story, this woman [many believe her to be Mary Magdalene] was set up by the church leaders and was caught "in the act" with a young man.  According to Jewish law, both persons caught in such a position were supposed to be stoned to death. [Leviticus 20:10]  But in this story, only the woman was dragged in humiliation before Jesus.  The Jewish leaders wanted to trap Jesus by asking him what He thought should be done to her.  Instead of answering, Jesus just bent down and started writing in the dust at His feet.  The Bible does not record what He wrote, and since He wrote it into the dust, there is no tourist attraction in Jerusalem where we can go visit and read His words for ourselves. But whatever He wrote, one by one, the Jewish leaders slunk away like the snakes in the grass that they were, along with the crowds of folks who had taken up their stones to hurl at this young woman.  When Jesus stood up, He looked on the woman with compassion and said, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?"  When she affirmed that no one was left to accuse her, He said, "Neither do I.  Go and sin no more." [John 8:10-11]  Now, I don't know if this woman never sinned again, but if she was indeed Mary Magdalene, she went on to become a devoted follower of Jesus and was one of the three women at His tomb on Easter morning.  What a blessing!

Back to those men who tried to set her (and Jesus) up though.  Even though these "leaders of the faith" were out to kill and destroy Him, Jesus showed them the same love and compassion that He shows each of us.  Bible scholars tell us that He wrote the story of THEIR lives, sins and hidden secrets in the sand, and faced with their own duplicity, they left the scene of the crime in shame.  But, as I stated before, He wrote it in the dust.  There was no record for anyone else to hold up to them and accuse them of anything later.  They stood accused by the convictions of their hearts.  What love, what compassion.

How often do we show the same love and compassion to the people in our lives?  Where do we store our memories of what people do to us - in sand or stone?  I recently had a situation where a good friend did something to me and it really hurt my feelings.  I was ready to just "go off" on her and let her have it, but then I saw this video ... and I stopped.  I decided to write in sand what I was feeling (meaning, I didn't do anything at all) and let it go.  About a week later, I found out that the betrayal was even deeper than I originally thought and I really struggled with how I should deal with it.  This blog is my "carve into stone".  Months from now, I'll re-read this and wonder, "What friend was I talking about and what did he or she do?", but I will be reminded again of the love and compassion of the BEST FRIEND I'll ever have.  The Friend, who even though He knows all my dirt, loves me enough that He died on the cross to save me from my sins and from myself.  

Thank you Jesus! 

Be blessed.
© 2018 Kristina E. Smith

29 January 2018


Decades ago, I received a birthday greeting from then President Ronald Reagan.  A friend of mine had a friend who worked at the White House and somehow, my name got on a list and that November, I received a birthday card with a rubber stamp of the President's name on it.  Not a supporter of that President at the time, it was ... nice ... but I have no idea where that card is now and I am the saver of all things important in my life.  [I think I mentioned once before that my brother calls me a "borderline hoarder"]  A few years ago, I got a similar rubber stamped "thank you" from the desk of First Lady Michelle Obama for some innocuous gift that I sent.  I am a HUGE fan of Mrs. Obama (and her husband) and therefore, this missive brought great joy to my heart and I immediately placed it in a special place so that I would never lose it, could always pull it out to look at it if I wanted to ... you get the drift.  But regardless of my reaction to the receipt of each of these items, the reality is I only got these items because someone, somewhere, entered my name into a database and the card was printed.  Ronald Reagan has no idea that he sent me a birthday greeting at some point in the 80s and Michelle Obama, no matter much I might WISH she knew my name, wouldn't know me from anyone else she might pass on the street on a sunny day in DC.  

Social media can be the same way.  We connect with people as "friends" and "followers" and chase after "likes" and "hearts" - but we don't really know the people on the other end of the computer.  [I am referring to the strangers that we connect with, not real-life friends, family and acquaintances - although, in reality, this might apply to some of them as well]  Even if we read their blogs or send direct messages back and forth, we only know the persona that they present to the world, not the real person behind the screen name.

This became crystal clear to me earlier today.  I was fooling around on Instagram and read a post from a "friend" where she was talking about a situation that she found herself in.  [Full disclosure:  we are only connected because of a daily photo challenge that we each participate in.  We have exchanged a few comments on each other's posts and maybe one of two direct messages, but nothing significant]  Back to the story: In her post, she was basically giving a testimony that, even though she was in the midst of a challenge and didn't know how it was going to turn out, she was putting her faith and trust in God that He would bring her through it.  That even if the trial didn't turn out the way she wanted it to, that He must have a lesson for her to learn and she was going to be open to learning it because she trusted Him and His plan for her life.  It was a lovely thing to read and of course, I responded with a message of friendship and a promise of prayer.  But when I went to pray for her, I realized that, because of how her IG identification was set up, I didn't know her real name. I only knew her screen name and it was basically linked to her business venture.  I know she lives in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, but that's about it.  How am I supposed to pray for someone when I don't know their basic information?  

Here's the beauty of serving the God that we serve.  It doesn't matter.  It doesn't matter if I don't know her name - HE DOES!  He not only knows her name, He knows her situation. He knows her level of faith. He knows what she can handle and what she can't. He knows the outcome of her challenge already - even as she is going through it. 


So, as I prayed to Him, I confessed that I didn't know any of these things, but I knew that He knew and that was enough for me.  Jeremiah 1:5 states, Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.  In other words, we are NOT here by accident.  We are NOT here all alone.  We are a part of His plan and He knows us ... individually, personally, intimately.  We are not a part of a cookie-cutter assembly line of people that all look the same and that are all satisfied with a "rubber stamped" card on our birthdays.  HE. KNOWS. ME.  Me.  Kristina Elise Smith, daughter of Rudolph and Rachel, sister to Kevin, Greg, Scott, Brian, Todd and Nicole.  Me.  And in this crazy, mixed up, topsy turvy world that we live in, that knowledge gives me a foundation, that knowledge gives me peace, that knowledge gives me what I need to face the challenges in my life.  

I pray that knowledge gives you all of that and more. 

Be blessed.
© 2018 Kristina E. Smith

22 January 2018


One of the top-rated shows on television these days is NBC's family drama, THIS IS US.  The story of the Pearson triplets, Kevin, Kate and Randall, has captivated audiences for two seasons and a lot of people I know [myself included] watch [or record] every Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. to see what happens next ... or what happened in the past ... to shape the lives of these three characters and those closest to them.

The story is simple, and yet complex - much like real life.  Jack and Rebecca Pearson are the parents of these triplets.  After losing their "original" triplet during childbirth, they adopt a baby boy born on the same day who was abandoned at the fire station by his drug addicted father.  These three young people then grow up as brothers and sister - two boys, one girl; two White children, one Black child - it is a convoluted mess and that is the premise of the story.  Their stories are told through a series of flashbacks and present day scenes, which are all overshadowed by the death of their father, Jack, when they were 17 years old.  One of the biggest ongoing mysteries of the series is "How did Jack die?".  [Supposedly, the mystery will be revealed before the end of this season - we'll see]

Kevin, the oldest triplet, is a spoiled brat of a man, who makes his living as an actor.  His childhood dream was to be a football star, but a knee injury as he started his college career sidelined him and he became an actor instead.  His current story line is that he has become addicted to prescription pain killers as a result of a fall on a movie set.  After being arrested for drunk driving, he is currently in a fancy rehab facility getting the help he needs.

Kate, the middle triplet and only girl, has spent her entire life dealing with weight issues and a food addiction.  The main storyline for her character is the mother-daughter conflict that colored her childhood and has carried on into her adult life.  Kate is a talented singer who, after years of managing her brother Kevin's career, is trying to break into show business as a singer, which was her mother's dream during the triplets' childhood.  A daddy's girl, she appears to be the character most impacted by her father's sudden death.  She just suffered a miscarriage and she and her fiance, Toby, are dealing with the aftermath and trauma of that.

And then there's Randall.  A Black child, adopted into a White family - as if that is not enough to deal with - he's also an intellectual genius, which puts another level of dysfunction into an already dysfunctional family situation.  In the two seasons of the show, Randall has had a nervous breakdown, quit his job and he and his wife became foster parents to a young lady who was eventually taken from their home and reunited with her biological mother.  [The actor who plays this character, Sterling K. Brown, just won a Golden Globe award for his performance in the series.]

All these characters.  All these children with different talents and needs and demands.  And as the stories of the adult triplets are being told, the story of their childhood and of the parenting by Jack and Rebecca is also being told.  You see Jack's struggle with how he can be a good parent to a young Black boy with intellectual gifts he is uncomfortable with and doesn't understand.  You see Rebecca's attempt to mold her daughter into a mini-version of herself, even when it is painfully obvious that this is an almost impossible task.  And how both Jack and Rebecca put their hopes and dreams for success on the shoulders of their young football star, only to have those dreams shattered in an instant.  

I think the  show appeals to so many viewers because when we watch it, each of us sees a little bit of Jack, Rebecca, Kevin, Kate, Randall, Sophie, Toby, Beth, and Miquel [secondary characters and significant others] in ourselves.  Each time, they overcome, we are given hope that we will overcome.  Each time they make a misstep, we cringe and then wait to see how they will recover.  Each loss becomes our loss, each victory our victory.  

Parents have an awesome responsibility when it comes to molding and shaping the lives of the children put in their care.  Some of them parent very well, some of them just do the best they can, and unfortunately, some are horrible at their jobs.  Some parents recognize that every child is different and therefore, need to be parented differently - while some feel like "if it worked for one, it will work for the other(s)".  

The most common reference for God is of a father - a parental figure.  I am so glad that my Heavenly Father KNOWS me and knows exactly how I personally need to be parented.  Jeremiah 1:5 states that, "before [I] was formed in the womb, [He] knew me." [paraphased]  Not only does He know every hair on my head [Luke 12:7], but He knows my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams, my future.  He is there to comfort and sustain me through each trial, hurt and loss.  He is there to cheer me on through every success, accomplishment and achievement.  And He is there to love me every step of the way.  The most wonderful thing about it all is He is there for YOU in whatever way YOU need it as well.  Ain't that good news!?

Be blessed.
© 2018 Kristina E. Smith

16 January 2018


"Kristina, are you saved?

The question reverberated across the telephone lines.  I had just received the news that my beloved Uncle Walter had been hospitalized after nearly having a stroke 48 hours before.  Now, let me clarify:  Uncle Walter is not my biological uncle, although I did not realize that until I was almost 12 years old.  He was introduced to me, as a child, as "Uncle Walter" and I just assumed that he was my father's brother just like uncles Hector, William, Clifton, Milton, Richard, Al and James were my mother's brothers.  I knew on some level that my father was an only child, but they told me that Uncle Walter was my uncle and I accepted that.  I found out later that the "uncle" part was a term of respect for a man who fathered only two children, Juanita and Seth, but who served as surrogate father, uncle, big brother to literally hundreds of young people who were blessed to grow up in or around the Faith SDA Church in Hartford, CT.  And now, at 82, he was lying in a hospital bed in Jacksonville, FL after his blood pressure shot up to an unbelievable 202 / 98.

The question came as I spoke with another of his "nephews" who I called to inform of  the news that I'd received from Uncle Walter's wife, Aunt Nancy.  We were talking about the impact that Uncle Walter has had on our 50+ years of living on this earth when he asked me, out of the blue, "Are you saved?"  I paused for a second because I didn't know if he was trying to trick me into a debate about the merits of "once saved, always saved" [a belief that, as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, I do not adhere to or believe] or what his motivation behind the question might be.  But I answered him "Yes, I am saved" which led to this further illuminating conversation.

Here's what I believe:  I am saved because Ephesians 2:8 tells us "For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves.  it is a gift from God."  Salvation is a gift from God.  The Amplified version of the Bible says, "For it is by God's unmerited favor  that you are delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation through your faith."  There is NOTHING you can do to earn or buy or purchase salvation.  It is a gift FREELY given because of the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ when He died on the cross.  I believe that fundamental truth.

But there are some conditions attached to this gift.  [And all the theologians sit up in their seats and start shaking their heads, but I beg you - hear me out].  There are three conditions that I see are attached to this gift, just as there are to any other gift you are given.  The first is that you have to accept the gift.  A gift has no worth or value to you if you don't accept it.  It doesn't matter if the giver of the gift wraps it in a big box with pretty paper and puts a huge bow on it if, when it is presented to you, you say, "Wow, that's a pretty package, but I don't want it.  You can take it back to the store."  Jesus hung and died on the cross for you and offers you salvation as a result, but if you don't accept His gift, His sacrifice, it does you no good as it has no impact on your life.

The second condition to a gift is that once you accept the gift, you have to open it up.  If you take the pretty package with the big bow and just put it on a shelf somewhere, and you never open it up to see what is inside, what good does it do you?  Do you get the benefit of the scented candle or bath gel or warm scarf inside if you never rip off the wrapping paper and take the contents of the gift out?  Nope.  And you wouldn't do that, would you?  But many believers do just that.  They declare that Jesus Christ is the Lord of their lives and then they go on about their lives and live it in a way that does not reflect the character and love of Christ.  No judgment, just a statement.  Many disputes and arguments and even wars have been started "in the name of the Lord" when the Lord is in no way associated with the foolishness being debated and disagreed over.  

The final condition to a gift is that you have to use the gift.  What good does the bath gel do you if you just put it on the shelf in the bath room and never use it as you take your bath or shower?  What light can a candle provide in a dark room if it is never lit?  How do you stave off the chill of a cold wind if you leave the scarf at home in a drawer and never use it?  As believers, we "use" the gift of salvation when our lives change and begin to reflect the love and character of Christ.  I am not saying that you have to work your way into heaven [even though we are admonished that "faith without works is dead"] - what I am saying is that when you accept the gift of Christ's sacrifice {and thereby, the gift of salvation], people should see a difference in your life.  How you treat people should be gentler and kinder.  How you interact with those people who get on your last nerve should be less contentious and more agreeable.  When you are faced with trials, sorrows and adversities, there should be a difference in the way you handle it when compared to how someone one who is without faith and a knowledge of God handles the same situations.  

So, when I was asked the question "Are you saved?", I felt I could answer with confidence that I am saved. That doesn't mean I'm perfect - I will be the first to tell you about the fallacy of that idea - but it does mean that I am striving for perfection through the strength of God's love, grace and mercy.  Some days are better than others, and there will be days when we will stumble and fall - when we won't rightly represent our Creator.  But we are admonished in one of my favorite gospel songs sung by Donnie McClurkin that "we can get back up again ... for a saint is just a sinner who fell down, and got up."  

My Uncle Walter is on the road to recovery, and for that, I am grateful.  Over 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ hung on a cross for my sins ... for your sins ... and for that reason, we can truthfully say that we are saved, and walk forward, in confidence, knowing that the statement is true.

Be blessed.
© 2018 Kristina E. Smith

14 January 2018


Behold, I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth.  Do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the dessert.  - Isaiah 43:19

I am NOT a gardener.  I don't like playing in the dirt, I don't like bugs and beetles and worms.  I never appreciated cut flowers and thought spending money on them was a waste of time and financial resources.  But my mother LOVES having cut flowers in our home.  She feels they brighten up the room, provide fragrance and basically, they just bring her joy.  And in the 20 years that we have shared a home together, I have found out the truth in the old adage:  When Momma is happy, everybody is happy.  So, I buy her roses and carnations and lilies and other floral delights ... most of the time without grumbling (too much).

There is a floral shop not far from our home that offers a dozen roses for $10 (barring those Hallmark holidays when all of a sudden, the prices triple and quadruple) and often, usually on Fridays, I will go in there and buy one or two dozen flowers and then use basic arranging skills to create various vases of floral beauties to place around the house:  one in the living room, one in her bedroom and one on the kitchen table.  With proper trimming of the stems, changing of the water and just general loving care, the flowers can last for two, sometimes three weeks, making the financial outlay a worthy investment.

But one day, I was shopping in a local grocery store and noticed, off to the side, a sad little bucket of flowers that were on their last floral legs.  Not worth selling at full price, they still were not "dead", and for little or nothing (I have paid as little as $1.99 for a dozen flowers), the flowers can be taken home to spruce up a dinner table for the weekend.  However, I have found that with just a little bit of loving care - pruning the dry, dead places off the bottom of the stems, adding some floral food to some warm water, putting the flowers in a cool and sunny place - the flowers seem to perk up and embrace a new life.  As pictured above, when I purchased my bouquet on Friday, these little accent plants were drooping and seemed almost dead.  I debated throwing them away immediately, but thought that the droopiness added another level to the arrangement and just figured if they started turning brown later in the week, I would throw them away when I changed the water.  Imagine my delight and surprise when I went upstairs on Sabbath morning and noticed that the flower was standing upright, and that even the leaves were perky and pointing upward.  I couldn't believe the overnight transformation that had been made.

Isn't that just like the transformation we personally experience when we are shown love, kindness and attention?  I am not only speaking of the benefit we receive from the restorative, transforming love of Jesus Christ, but often just a kind word or smile from a loved one - or even a passing stranger - can make us perk up, stand straighter and lift our chins heavenward.  I don't know about you, but a random stranger complimenting me on a scarf that I am wearing or an outfit I put together or even the smile that I have on my face - all of that, can turn a gloomy drab day into a bright, sunny, more glorious day.  I know when I have extended myself and complimented someone in this same manner - especially if they are a stranger to me - they pause for a moment as if processing what I am saying and then, a smile spreads across their face as they express their gratitude.  It has also been my experience that you never know when a kind word or a smile or just a random, genuine act of friendship can make all the difference in someone's life.  Try it.  Random acts of kindness not only enrich the lives of those you shower the kindness upon, but they also enrich your life because of the good feelings you get for doing so.

We all have been in a "before" state - droopy, listless, left for dead in a floral bucket at the grocery story.  Maybe you are in the middle of one right now. I pray that you soon experience your "after" state - restored, full of life and allowing the beauty that is within you to shine through as a blessing to all with whom you come in contact.

Be blessed.
© 2018 Kristina E. Smith

13 January 2018


Yesterday, I attended the funeral of the gentleman I previously wrote about in the blog titled:  WHEN WE ALL GET TO HEAVEN.  It was a dignified and quiet service, reflective of the gentleman being laid to rest.  The family of Raphael S. Barnard filed in with a few tears, but not many.  The music was somber, but uplifting.  The reflections about who he was and his impact on the lives of those gathered were short, sweet and to the point (as all funerals should be in my opinion.)  And then the pastor got up to deliver the eulogy.

He talked about Bro. Barnard and his personal experiences and interactions with him.  He spoke of the three things you KNEW about Brother Barnard if you ever spent any time in his presence:  1) He ADORED his wife, Jane, who preceded him in death; 2) He loved his family; and 3) He was  completely and totally sold out to Jesus Christ.  What nice things to say about the person we were there to honor - but more importantly, how wonderful that these statements were 100% true.  Then he told us that there were two things that each death we experience teaches us:  1) Life is fleeting and we should cherish the people in our lives, while they are living, as if they are gifts from God.  (More about that in a minute) and 2) Faith teaches us that, if we believe, we will see our loved ones again.  I want to focus on the first lesson, because that is the one that resonated with me and one that I wholeheartedly embrace, or strive to, every day of my life.

Pastor John Nixon used 1 Peter 4:7-8 as his text of reference for this point - the New International Version of the Bible puts it this way:  The end of all things is near.  Therefore, be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Pastor Nixon expounded about how we are living in the last days of time and earth's history, and how we need to be prepared for the Lord's soon return, but he focused on the words "ABOVE ALL, LOVE EACH OTHER DEEPLY"

According to the eulogy (and I am paraphrasing and expanding on what the pastor said), death teaches us that when your loved one leaves you, whether you were "prepared" for their death or if their death was unexpected, your time with them is up.  There are no more birthday celebrations.  No more late night phone calls for advice, wisdom or guidance. No more meals shared. No more uninhibited bouts of laughter over silly things.  No more words, acts or expressions of love.  There Is No More.  That is why we need to love people, cherish people, adore people while they are here and present in our lives.  Pastor Nixon said that each person that God allows to intersect with our lives is a gift from God and should be cherished as such while they are living.

I am a firm believer in this philosophy.  Not only do I believe this to be true of myself (I am a pretty awesome friend to have, if I must say so myself - hahaha), but I believe in the value of friendship.  It is a core, fundamental principle in my life.  I believe that each person with whom you form a relationship brings value to your life (or why are you still hanging around them?)  Every true friendship should enrich your life - bring you joy - support your endeavors - applaud your successes - cry with you over your disappointments - pray for and with you as needed.  I am blessed to have many such relationships in my life and I don't take them for granted.  I strive to uplift my friends, not only on special occasions like their birthdays, graduations and anniversaries, but spontaneously and randomly, "just because" that is what I feel you should do if people are important to you.  Of course, there will be people in your life that this will NOT hold true for, but as much as possible, I try to love those people from a distance and not let them influence my overall outlook on life, love and relationships.

I once read a quote that said something like, people will be happy with you on one of two occasions:  when you enter a room, or when you depart.  It is my purpose to make people happy when they see me coming because they know that I come to them with love, support and joy in my heart. 

"Treat everyone as if they are a gift from God."  That is the message I took away from yesterday's memorial service.  That is my goal, my aim as I move forward in life.  Won't you join me?

Be blessed - and Happy Sabbath!
© 2018 Kristina E. Smith