Hidden Treasures

by Louise Tucker Jones

Back in the early 70s, my late husband, Carl, accepted a job at a new company, which offered him a better position. At the time, we were renting a lovely two-story brick home in Tulsa and I was six months pregnant with our second child. A little too late, Carl realized the change in employers compromised our health insurance, and we suddenly had to pay expensive, private premiums instead of group insurance to cover my pregnancy.

We soon decided that a move was in order and found a cute little two-bedroom home with a lower rental fee. It wasn’t my dream home but we scrubbed and painted and made it ours.

But here’s what I found. There are hidden treasures wherever you are, but you often have to look for them. As it turned out, our little house was within walking distance of Swan Lake, a beautiful sanctuary off the beaten path. And being as it was summer, my 4-year-old son Aaron and I would often take walks there, where I sat in the shade of majestic trees while Aaron fed graceful swans.

After our son, Travis, was born, we occasionally walked to the lake as a family during the cooler evenings. It was the hidden gem in what had seemed to be a negative move for us.

Sometimes life brings dramatic changes, and we have to truly search for the good in our situation. God often directs us through scripture. Proverbssays, “Cry out for wisdom, and beg for understanding.  Search for it like silver, and hunt for it like hidden treasure.Then you will understand respect for the Lord, and you will find that you know God.” (2:3-5 CEV).

As it turned out, we also experienced tragedy at that little house with the sudden death of our son, Travis, at three months of age, due to a rare, undiagnosed congenital heart defect. The pain and loss were horrific and I worried that my young son, Aaron would forever be shadowed by grief.

But recently, my grown-up son, Aaron, told me that some of his favorite childhood memories were those walks we took to Swan Lake. Just the two of us, while we waited on the birth of his baby brother.

I marvel at the fact that in the midst of tragedy, God made sure my young son found a hidden treasure to hold in his heart forever. He will do the same for you if you simply search His heart.

 In him [Christ] all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are safely kept. Colossians 2:3 CEV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Louise Tucker Jones Profile

About the author: Louise Tucker Jones loves to touch hearts. Her poignant life stories have been published in hundreds of magazines and anthologies, including over a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Join the conversation: Have you discovered hidden treasure lately?

Silent Witness

by Louise Tucker Jones

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

Several years ago, I happened upon a beautiful, mahogany wood-framed picture on a 90% off sale. I immediately claimed it as my own. Not only was it the only way I could afford a $200 piece of art, but it also displayed the above Bible verse, one of my favorites, in calligraphy. It was also written in Spanish, which made me love it even more. 

Majoring in Spanish in college, I spent summers working in San Marcos, Texas. Most of my co-workers were Hispanic and I also attended a Hispanic church, “La Iglesia Bautista,” where I taught a Sunday School class to twelve-year-old boys. Though I’m sure it was awkward for them to have the only Anglo in church for their teacher, they eventually grew to love me as much as I loved them, and brought me little gifts when I left at the end of the summer.

The picture brought back sweet memories as I hung it on the wall of our family room. Soon after that, we had new carpet installed in our home and the entire carpet crew was Hispanic. My husband was present during the installation and told me how each worker stopped and gazed on the picture. He said one older gentleman, who spoke no English, stood and pondered it for a long time. I had to wonder if he knew the Savior of that Bible verse.

Sometimes we forget that we present a witness to people in more than spoken words. People look at the way we live. The things we cherish. How we speak to each other. They notice how we treat strangers, especially during this Covid crisis. We need to take inventory of ourselves. Are we kind to checkers at the grocery store? Do we thank those who bring curbside service of food or other products to our cars? Are we gracious on social media? A single negative post can speak volumes to people we don’t even know. The Bible tells us to “be very careful how we live—not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity….” (Ephesians 5:15-16) NIV

I will never know whether the older gentleman who pondered the artwork in my home knew our Savior, but I am thankful that God used a picture and a Bible verse as a silent witness of Christ’s love.

Lord Jesus, thank you that You do not look at or judge us according to outward appearances—our race, color, language, age, size or any other trait. You look at our hearts. Please let mine be pure. Amen.

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Silent Witness – encouragement from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker Jones Profile

About the author: Louise Tucker Jones loves to touch hearts. Her poignant life stories have been published in hundreds of magazines and anthologies, including over a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Join the conversation: What are ways you have found to be an effective silent witness?

The Shepherd’s Voice

by Louise Tucker Jones

My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 (TLB)

When my son, Jay, was a toddler, I wore a short curly hairstyle that I could quickly “wash and wear.” Then one day I came home from the beauty shop with a stylish, smooth style. Jay cried when he saw me. This didn’t look like his mommy.

My husband held Jay while he cried. Over and over I tried to take him but each time he saw me his tears started again. Finally, I sat down in the rocker and Carl placed Jay in my arms with his back toward me. I hugged him close, kissing the top of his head and whispering reassurances to him. He stopped crying, hearing my voice and feeling my touch. Then suddenly, he turned and saw someone that didn’t look like his mommy and started to cry again.

So many times we do this in our spiritual walk. We know the Lord’s voice. We hear Him whisper to our hearts. We even know His touch. But we look around at unexpected and difficult circumstances and scream, “This doesn’t look like God!” We may doubt and wonder if we really heard from the Lord. Or, like my son, we may even turn away from the very One for whom our hearts are longing.

John the Baptist was the designated forerunner of Christ. He preached baptism and repentance and told of a coming Messiah. One of whom “the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie” (Luke 3:16 NIV). Can you imagine his humility as he baptized Jesus, knowing he was baptizing the Son of God? Yet later, as John sat in Herod’s prison, waiting execution, he began to doubt and sent his disciples to Jesus with the question: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7:20 NIV). John needed reassurance that Jesus was the true Messiah if he was to endure the grim circumstances he found himself in.

We too sometimes find ourselves in desperate situations. A spouse is unfaithful. A loved one dies with cancer. A child becomes a prodigal. We pray and pray yet the miracle doesn’t come. And sometimes we wonder if God really cares. At such times it is imperative to remember God’s nature and how much He loves us.

My situation with my son, Jay, was easily resolved. I simply washed my hair, erasing the new style. As I came into the living room with my familiar curls, Jay’s little arms reached for me and he cuddled into my embrace. This was the mommy he knew. With time Jay recognized me no matter my hairstyle.

Our spiritual maturity is much the same. It will determine how quickly we recognize God in the middle of our circumstances, no matter what they may be. It requires discernment, prayer, and listening intently for our Shepherd’s voice.

Lord Jesus, help me to hear you in the middle of the chaos that often encompasses my world.  Give me divine instruction and the courage to follow You. Amen.

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About the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker and Gold Medallion award-winning author. Her poignant life stories can be found in her monthly magazine column as well as numerous anthologies, including more than a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands. LouiseTJ@cox.net

Join the Conversation: Have you ever failed to recognize God in the chaos?

When Words Aren’t Enough

by Louise Tucker Jones

We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself, intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26 (NIV) 

I was attending a weekend immersion trip to become more fluent in Spanish. We were given only one rule—absolutely no English! It seemed simple enough as we ordered hamburgers and Cokes for lunch at a fast food restaurant on the way to our destination. But once we arrived, things quickly changed.

Suddenly, we were on our own in an unfamiliar grocery store, shopping for our weekend menu. When we couldn’t find an item, we had to ask in Spanish. Store personnel would shake their heads and move on. At the hotel lobby I often had to use charades and gestures to help the desk clerk understand me. And in our cabin, when the chitchat with my roommates turned serious, I struggled to find the Spanish words to express my thoughts and feelings.

It was a marvelous learning experience. Not just because I became more fluent in Spanish, but I learned first hand what my son, Jay, goes through when he tries to communicate. Being developmentally disabled and having a severe speech articulation disorder, Jay struggles daily with communication, often resorting to sign language and gestures. People often just stare at him and walk away. Sometimes he becomes frustrated, but he never gives up. Yet even with his tenacity, Jay often needs me to translate what he cannot say for others.

As Christians, we sometimes find ourselves in this same situation. We try to do things in our own strength and wonder why it doesn’t work. It’s not that we leave God totally out of our plans, but we often forget to invite the Holy Spirit to do His part.

In much the same way that I intercede for my son, Jay, when he can’t express his needs in words, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us. When we are in the depths of despair. When we can’t find direction. When our hearts and souls are crushed and we feel totally abandoned. When we don’t have the words to explain our grief or even our joy, the Holy Spirit breaks through and intercedes for us.

What a gracious heavenly Father, to accept our pitiful, prayer petitions, even our groaning, when our hearts are wrenched with pain, then cover us with His awesome, holy love!

Father, thank you for the constant intercession of the Holy Spirit; for hearing our requests when we don’t even have the words to describe our needs. Amen.

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When Words Aren’t Enough – encouragement from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker Jones ProfileAbout the author: Louise Tucker Jones loves to touch hearts. Her poignant life stories have been published in hundreds of magazines and anthologies, including over a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Join the conversation: How does knowing the Holy Spirit is interceding for you affect how you pray?

 

 

 

Loving My Mother-in-Law

by Louise Tucker Jones

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.                                                              Ruth 1:16 NASB

On March 4, 1966, my late husband, Carl and I were married in a little Army chapel, just hours before he was deployed. It was nearly a year and half before we saw each other again. Not having grown up together, I barely knew his parents and contemplated waiting until Carl returned home before trying to build a relationship with them, being as I was away at college most of the time.

But thankfully, the Lord nudged me to visit their home on weekends. Carl’s mother was as lonely as I was. We baked cookies and made fudge to send overseas, then we popped popcorn and watched the late movie on TV. We looked through photo albums and talked for hours on end about the person we both loved most—my husband and her son. One night she explained the illness that had been slowly robbing her of life since she was a young adult.

Growing up in a small, coal-mining town, Etta Mae developed severe emphysema and was advised to never have children.  She did anyway—just one. Doctors told her she would never see that child grow up, but Etta Mae had a secret weapon. She trusted a powerful God and had long ago asked Him to allow her to live long enough to raise her son. We talked about it at length. She needed new lungs and in 1966 there were none to be had.

I had only that year with Etta Mae. In the summer of 1967, Carl was called home on an emergency leave as his mother made her way to heaven. I am so thankful I did not put off building a relationship with her. It never would have happened. I’m glad God plopped me in the middle of a lonely mother’s prayers. I flourished under her love before she ever put words to it as she lay in a hospital bed and whispered, “I couldn’t love you more if you were my own daughter.”

My mother-in-law’s faith and tenacity taught me much about God’s promises and loving others. I truly believe that as she sat in that little Army chapel and witnessed Carl and me exchange vows, she whispered to the Lord, “Mission accomplished!” Then she went about teaching me how to love a daughter by marriage with the days she had left, just as Naomi did for her daughter-in-law, Ruth.

I have now been a mother-in-law for twenty-five years and I’m forever grateful for the godly wisdom Etta Mae modeled for me. I’m also thankful that I listened to God’s gentle whisper to build that relationship, even when it was hard. I realize it can be scary to make that first move. To love someone who is different from you or someone you don’t know well. But the Lord has a way of putting people together who need each other.

Whether you are the mom-in-law or daughter-in-love, you both already love the same person and that’s a beginning. Like Ruth and Naomi in the verse above, God has purposed wonderful blessings in our relationships with our in-laws. He’s not just putting people together at random. He’s building a family!

God sets the lonely in families… Psalm 68:6 NIV

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Loving My Mother-in-Law – encouragement from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker Jones ProfileAbout the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist and author of four books, including The Gift of Christmas. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly HusbandsLouiseTJ@cox.net http://www.LouiseTuckerJones.com

Join the conversation: Has God blessed you with a special relationship in your family?

The Card with a Cross

by Louise Tucker Jones

 “I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand…” Isaiah 51:16 (NIV)

 It was my first time to speak at a Christian Women’s Club and I was a little nervous. I had never shared my testimony in such a format—telling about the difficulties in my life and how God brought me through them. Nor had I ever given a public message of salvation or offered a prayer to pray and become a Christian. I was a novice and it was a little scary.

I wondered how the story of how I coped with my middle son’s death, my youngest son’s disability and heart disease, and my own experience with clinical depression could touch someone’s heart. I thought they would walk out and say, “Whoa, glad that wasn’t me!” But it didn’t happen that way.

At the end of my testimony, I held up a card that each woman had been given when she arrived. As instructed, I asked them to fill out the card then hand it to me on their way out the door. I also asked if they would draw a cross in the corner if they asked Jesus to come into their heart that very day.

Many women stopped on their way out to chat, compliment, or even sympathize as I smiled bravely, thankful the talk was over. Then it happened. A lady placed a card in my hand with a small cross sketched in the upper corner. I couldn’t believe it! God had actually used my words to draw someone to Himself. I had never felt such an awesome experience.

I have spoken at many public venues since that day. But it still amazes me when I find that my message at a retreat or conference or my words on paper have been used by God to draw someone to Him. Each decision is like a love message from God, telling me over and over that He can use any happening in my life to help others.

Though I would never compare myself to the apostle, Paul, his life is a perfect example of this. He was shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten, and more, yet he kept preaching and speaking for the Lord, even writing letters to Christians from a prison cell. He never quit proclaiming Christ’s love or telling about the difficult things in his life that God used for others’ good.

Some of us have heart-breaking stories to share, yet we are often tempted to tell only the good things, being fearful that we will make God appear unfaithful through turbulent trials. But in truth, everyone is going through something difficult, and they need to know there is a God who will trudge through that deep valley with them. That He will bring them through the pain, the heartache, and even tragic events in life.

I am honored that God chose me to shine a light for someone walking through a dark tunnel that I once traveled. And in spite of the loneliness or pain that comes my way, I can know that God will bring good from it. Not that the incident was good. But God can and will use it for His glory.

Then, like Paul, we can proclaim: “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, NIV).

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The Card with a Cross – encouragement from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Louise Tucker JonesLouise Tucker Jones is an author, speaker and columnist. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise coauthored the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Extraordinary Kids: Nurturing and Championing Your Child with Special Needs, provides parents with vital information to help celebrate, nurture, and prayerfully champion their special-needs children.

Join the conversation: How has God used you to shine light into the lives of others?

 

 

Finding True Love

by Louise Tucker Jones

Recently, I watched a movie where a young woman was talking with an older gentleman who had been widowed after a lifetime of marriage. “You found your one true love,” she stated.

I love the man’s response. “I know that now,” he said. “But it wasn’t always so clear. Loving someone is the hardest work there is. We messed up plenty…disappointed each other…but never let that keep us apart. It wasn’t true love because it was easy. It was because we worked at it. We fought for it.”

Now that’s love! The kind of love that lasts “till death do us part,” as stated in most wedding vows. And isn’t it interesting that God set the precedent for this kind of love with the forgiving, merciful, selfless love of his Son, Jesus Christ, knowing that “true love” would also require a selfless sacrifice. Otherwise, how could marriage possibly last?

God knew that many of us would need not only His love, but also that of a partner in life. Someone to hold us when this broken world in which we live falls apart and shatters our spirits. Times when we need the arms of human flesh to surround us, even as we hold onto the divine love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who promises to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV).

Love. It makes us feel safe and secure. It’s starry-eyed romance bound by deep commitment. It’s the arm around you when no one is looking and the sweetness of knowing you belong to each other.

Real love doesn’t come with a Webster definition. It’s a verb—an action word—as well as a noun. And this kind of love…well, it never dies. It doesn’t even grow old. It simply…grows. True love takes us to worlds beyond anything we ever imagined. It trudges through the dark times, races though the ordinary and soars through the extraordinary. It tiptoes quietly into hospital rooms and sits silently in cemeteries when that forever love is carried to heaven on angels’ wings. Love lasts. Love holds. Love lifts.

The Bible tells us that one of the names of God is “I Am,” (Exodus 3:14, NIV), meaning He was, He is and He will be forevermore. Past. Present. Future. Love is like that. True love is precious, like a pearl in an oyster, waiting to be opened and cherished. And if you treat love the way God intended, then you will have a treasure to hold in your heart forever.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.                                                  1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV

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Finding True Love – wisdom from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker Jones ProfileAbout the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist and author of four books, including The Gift of Christmas. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly HusbandsLouiseTJ@cox.net http://www.LouiseTuckerJones.com

Join the conversation: What other qualities does true love have in your experience?

The Ride

by Louise Tucker Jones

I’m a fan of animated movies. It’s one of the perks of raising a “challenged” child, having watched so many during my son’s youth. And even though, Jay, my adult son with Down syndrome, would now rather watch a rousing WWE video than what he considers to be a kid’s movie, I still enjoy them. And though these films may appear to be simple cartoons, many have wonderful story lines.

One of my favorites is about a horse whose spirit could not be broken, even with all the adversity that came his way. He had been captured from the free plains, and though he eventually found his way home, there were trials and adventures along the way. One scene especially stood out to me. The horse was escaping the enemy with a young Native American brave riding his back. They came to a dead-end cliff that dropped hundreds of feet to a river below—sudden death.

The horse stopped. Backed up. Then set his gaze forward. The young brave whispered, “Oh, no!” as he realized the horse planned to jump the canyon. Would he make it to the other side? We in the audience certainly hoped he would, but I was struck by the rider’s demeanor. Once the plan was in motion, the jump made with horse and rider airborne above the deep chasm, the young brave threw his hands into the air and yelled at the top of his voice. He didn’t know if they would make it, but he was determined to enjoy the moment, the exhilaration of flying through the air to a precarious destination.

Of course, in this fairytale movie, horse and rider are safe and live happily ever after. Life isn’t always like that. But I learned a lesson from that young rider. He took pleasure in that intense, magical moment of the unknown. He didn’t have the assurance that he would land safely on the other side of the gorge, but he still enjoyed the “ride.”

I have to admit that I don’t always celebrate my uncertain moments: those times when God calls me out of my comfort zone. Times when God wants me to abandon myself to His care and “soar,” even if I don’t know the outcome. To revel in the unknown because all is known to Him. Like the young man in the movie, my job is to trust the One who carries me, knowing He is trustworthy. To follow the One who leads me because He never leads me astray.

I’m to give the Lord full reign over my life. Not just my talents or good deeds, but also my insecurities and fears. I’m to put full faith and trust in His word which says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

When I do this, I will safely reach the destination God plans for me, even if it feels a little scary at times. I will live with an assurance that God is always in control. And best of all, I will take joy in the journey and celebrate every moment of the ride.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.                                         Psalm 28:7 NIV

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The Ride – Finding joy in the journey with Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Louise Tucker JonesLouise Tucker Jones is an author, speaker and columnist. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise coauthored the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Extraordinary Kids: Nurturing and Championing Your Child with Special Needs, provides parents with vital information to help celebrate, nurture, and prayerfully champion their special-needs children.

Join the conversation: What “uncertain moment” have you experienced that tested your resolve to always trust the Lord? How did it turn out?

Called to be Generous

by Louise Tucker Jones

Blessed are those who are generous… Proverbs 22:9 (NLT)

 My son, Jay, is a Sonic Coke-a-holic. His day is not complete without his Sonic Coke, so I take him every day after lunch. Jay is an adult with Down syndrome and thrives on routine. This one started years ago. Truthfully, I enjoy our outings, and most of the Sonic crew loves seeing his beaming smile. But once in a while, we are served by someone who is in too much of a hurry to appreciate Jay’s exuberance. And sometimes we wait for service a little too long, and I’m tempted not to give that extra tip in my hand.

Then God prompts me to remember the word He dropped into my spirit months ago. GENEROUS. Then I can’t refuse a tip just because I’m impatient. And it isn’t just Sonic where the Lord expects my generosity. He’s challenged me with a whole new meaning to that word.

I’m to be generous in every walk of life, not just in the financial realm. I often hear the Lord remind me to be generous with praise, encouragement, love and kindness. To offer a helping hand without being asked. To compliment one who isn’t expecting it. To be gracious and generous to those unlike me, even if they seem rude.

And here is the biggie. Be generous with forgiveness.

Wait! Does that really fall under the umbrella of generosity? Yes, it does. God expects me to give forgiveness generously. And here’s what I’ve learned. Many times, the hardest person to forgive is myself. Yes. Me. It’s the little things. It’s the big things. Heart-breaking things.

Everything from eating midnight snacks while trying to lose 10 pounds to losing a friend whom I had planned to call to an unexpected death. I too easily pronounce myself guilty and assault my spirit with negative comments.

“What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I listen to my instincts?”

Perhaps you can identify. Sometimes we’re perfectionists. We don’t allow ourselves to make mistakes and pile on accusations when we do. We don’t think of it as egotistical. In fact, we often feel we just didn’t listen well to God. We prayed then made a wrong decision so it must be our fault. And sometimes that’s true, but other times it’s simply being human.

But no matter which, we need to offer the same forgiveness to ourselves that we give to others. We are not on the same spiritual plane as God. We don’t have all the answers. We will make mistakes and when that happens, we need to quickly forgive ourselves, whether we think we deserve it or not.

I can’t imagine King David thinking he deserved forgiveness when his selfish actions caused not only the death of a faithful warrior but also that of his own baby boy (2 Samuel 12). And I wonder if Peter berated himself when he became frightened and began to sink while walking on water to meet Jesus (Matthew 16:29-30).

 The lame, the blind and the sick begged Jesus for healing, but left with more than a healthy body. Why? Jesus forgave their sins as well, just as God forgave David and Peter. As people who want to follow Him, we need to cultivate forgiveness in our hearts—by remembering the grace of God.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) God’s extravagant love frees us to accept ourselves, with all our faults, as well as others. It also produces a grateful heart that is open to all kinds of generosity. Even forgiveness.

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Called to be Generous – insight from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker Jones ProfileAbout the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist and author of four books, including The Gift of Christmas. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands. LouiseTJ@cox.net http://www.LouiseTuckerJones.com

Join the conversation: Do you have trouble forgiving yourself?

Mourning Peace

by Louise Tucker Jones

 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

It had been several sad and lonely weeks since my three-month-old son, Travis, died suddenly from previously undiagnosed congenital heart disease. In fact, the weeks had now turned into months. The sadness was more than sad, and the grief still so raw, it cut my heart in two. The shock of his death brought me to my knees, as I held onto God with all of my strength.

But now my heart was so broken that I couldn’t even pray. Questions assaulted me. Where was God? Why didn’t He prevent this? What kind of God takes babies from their mothers? I felt totally abandoned, and became so angry I vowed to never pray to God again.

There was just one problem. I had a four-year-old son, Aaron, who missed his brother dearly and would ask me questions daily. “Mommy, what’s Heaven like?” “Mommy, can I go to Heaven and see Travis?” Or, “Mommy, why can’t Daddy go get Travis and bring him home?” These are tough questions, especially when you are mad at God.

I couldn’t stand the thought of hurting Aaron with the bitterness that was consuming me. I had taught him every day of his young life that Jesus loved him, and I couldn’t bear to destroy that faith. I loved my four-year-old son with all of my heart, and seeing him in such grief was more than I could bear. I knew I had to find peace beyond my own grief so that I could be a good mother to Aaron.

Finally, one night, as I lay alone on my bed in the darkened room, I poured out my heart to God—my anger, bitterness and pain. I prayed, “Lord, I have tried to change but I can’t, so if you want me whole again, You will have to do it. But please let me know that my baby is okay. Please heal my broken heart so I can be a good mother to Aaron.”

Suddenly, the room was filled with an almost palpable peace and I heard God speak to my heart, “Louise, Travis is with me. He’s okay. He’s with me.” Then, to my amazement, I felt the weight of my baby son placed against by breast and I could almost smell his precious baby sweetness and feel his soft hair brush against my cheek. I couldn’t open my eyes as tears streamed across my temples, soaking my hair. I lay absolutely still, allowing God to comfort me in a way I had never known as I continued listening to His gentle whisper: “Travis is okay. He’s with me.”

How long I lay in the mighty presence of my loving God, I don’t know. I only know that when I awoke the next morning, the bitterness and anger were gone. I still missed my son, Travis, terribly. I still had no explanation as to “Why?” But I knew I had just had the most intimate encounter with God’s healing love and presence than I had ever experienced in my entire life.

Are you in a place of pain? Even when we can’t understand the why or feel His presence, God promises to never leave us. As David wrote: “He restores my soul…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:3-4 NASB). We will never struggle with pain alone.

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Mourning Peace – insight on finding God from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet) 

Louise Tucker JonesLouise Tucker Jones is speaker, columnist and award-winning author. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the book, Special Needs—Special Ministry. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Louise’s book, Extraordinary Kids, is a Gold Medallion award winner. It provides parents with vital information to help celebrate, nurture, and prayerfully champion their special-needs children.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced God’s discernible presence? Please share your story!