Monthly Archives: May 2012

Are You Saved?

Dear Readers,

     I searched my journals for this week’s story and prayed daily.  But the Lord wouldn’t let me rest until I wrote what was troubling me only a couple days ago.  It’s my most recent journal entry.  Thank you all for passing on my blog stories…

 

     Journal Entry- Memorial Day, 2012

 

     Are you saved?  Do you know if you are going to heaven?  Lots of people don’t!  It’s so simple.

1.  Confess your desire for forgiveness of your sins.

2.  Accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

3.  Ask Him to come into your heart and life forever.

     Two friends I loved passed away recently, of Cancer or it’s complications.  My first experience with Cancer was when I was only 14 years old and it took my father.  I wonder to this day, "Is my dad in heaven with you Lord?  He went to church faithfully!  Is he with you?"

     My friend Connie is with you.  I know she is!  She was ready to be with you when she died recently.  She knew exactly where she was going.  This beautiful, gracious, sweet, kind, gentle, caring pastor’s wife, mother and grandmother, was ready to be with her Lord.  She told me before she passed, the only thing she was worried about was if her family could adjust to her being gone. 

     Our retired Pastor Wayne who just died knew!  This precious gentleman in his 80’s loved the Lord with all his heart and served Him unconditionally, with dedication and hard work.  He never stopped spreading the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.  He loved to sing hymns and dabble a bit on his piano as he sang.

     I dearly loved these two people, but do you know what?  I bet if you offered them a chance to come back, neither one would choose to leave the Lord they love and believe in, because being with Him is so totally complete.

     Do you know if you are saved?  Time is short!  Most Christians believe that today.  Do you know where you are going?  It’s never to late to make a decision!

     I want all my friends and relatives in heaven with me!  Is that selfish?  I don’t think so, considering the alternative.  Please, if you haven’t done it, please invite Jesus into your heart forever!

                    Love in Christ,  Claire  xoxo 

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."  (NIV)

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  (NKJV)

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life."  (Catholic Edition) 

      

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A Letter To Ashley

Dear Readers,

     When I came up with the title for my blog, "Claire’s Letter Stories" it was because over the years of journaling I also wrote many letters to people, praying my own experiences would be a witness for Christ to someone.  I came across one of my letters written during the Christmas holidays a few years ago, and the Lord put it on my heart to share it in this week’s blog.  I hope you all enjoy it…

 

            To Ashley’s Parents,

 

     I would like to share a story with your family.  Many years ago, about a year before my youngest child was born, I invited Jesus into my heart, and asked Him to forgive me for my sins, and stay with me forever.  Roughly a year later I birthed my daughter, Shelley Marie, the youngest of my three children.  We owned our own appliance business and a small house in Massachusetts.  Months passed and the Lord blessed our family.

     Then when my Shelley was about the age of Ashley, a little younger, we had a bad turn and had to file bankruptcy and close the business.  It was terrible.  Over the next few months we struggled with food stamps, welfare, and any aide we could get.  It did a real number on my pride.  After owning a business, we now couldn’t pay our mortgage, or our utility bills, on what little we had coming in.  But, I kept praying for the Lord to help us.  And He did!  Always unexpectedly.  One day my sister-in-law would bring over a few bags of groceries, another day we would get approval for fuel assistance, another day my sister would bring over supper, and on and on and on.  But still my pride haunted me. 

     Then one morning, shortly before Christmas, there was a knock on our front door.  It was one of the deacons from our little church.  He came in, had coffee, and talked awhile.  He asked how we were doing and proudly I told him we were doing ok, but really we were struggling.

     As I was diapering the baby on the changing table, he got up to leave, but humbly walked over to me and handed me an envelope.  I said, "What’s this?" and he said, "It’s a little gift from the deacons."  Very proudly I told him, "Oh no, we don’t need that, but thank you for thinking of us!"  But, he wouldn’t take no for an answer, and gently laid the envelope on the changing table and said goodbye.  I didn’t know whether to be embarrassed or grateful, but I did know one thing, I was humbled like never before in my life.  

     You see, I grew up in a rich family and never experienced doing without, or needing help from anyone.  And God was teaching me humility, as well as helping us out and answering our prayers.  That gift got us through the next month and from then on I never ever looked down on anyone in need.  Hopefully, I still don’t.

     That was over 30 years ago and I’ve never forgotten how much that gift helped us.  But I learned that day to give more credit to the Lord for everything I have.

     Please don’t thank us for these Christmas gifts we are sending you.  Thank the Lord Jesus, because He’s the one who puts it on our hearts to help when there is a need.  And, He’s the one who gives us the means to do it.

         Love in Christ from the Friendship Class,    Claire  xoxo 

2Cor.6:7, "But just as you excel in everything-in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-see that you also excel in this grace of giving." (NIV)

 

 PS  I change names to protect the privacy of others.  

      

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The Foster Child

Dear Readers,

     The Lord laid this story on my heart as I took my morning walk.  I often think of her and how much she touched our lives.  Pass this on if you like…

 

               The Foster Child  –   Journal Entry 5-8-12 

 

     Almost ten years ago I decided to do Specialized Foster Care.  This involved taking one "Special Needs" child.  I took all the required training, got my paperwork in order and received my certificate.  And then when a little one came available, I could ask questions in detail, and have the opportunity to say yes or no in accepting the child.  I remember I was offered newborn drug addicted twins right out of the hospital.  I said no to them, knowing I couldn’t handle two infants at almost my retirement age.

     The next call I received was for a five-year-old little girl who had been traumatized in her home along with all her siblings, except she was the one who witnessed the violence involved.  I knew her needs would be demanding, but we had the quiet peaceful environment the department was seeking.  I said yes, on a trial basis, to see if I could handle her needs.

     Upon arrival the child came with a half dozen different meds to keep her calm.   "Quiet time is really a necessity for her," the social worker reiterated.  For the first time in years of writing, this was where my journaling really came in handy.  I kept daily notes on our talks together, her behavior and her progress.  At first she was an explosive handful of a preschooler.  But, I got her into summer camp, dance classes, and church activities.  She loved all of them.  If she misbehaved, one of these beloved events was taken away for the day.  That helped a bunch as she never wanted to miss anything fun.

     Nighttime was the worst.  She had a terrible fear of the dark, fear of noises, and fear of windows, because it was in the middle of the night that she was traumatized.  To deal with these fears, I gave her a bedroom on the second floor, put a solid white shade and curtains over her window, allowed a few night lights to be left on, the bedroom door was left open, and a small radio was left on playing soft music for her to sleep by.  A gentle happy story before bed also helped.  Watching pleasant kid movies before bedtime also had a calming affect on her.

     We took her to small town events, cookouts, old car shows, and carnivals.  We introduced her to policemen and firemen so she would lose her fear of them as well.  She got in a firetruck and a police cruiser on display at these events, also helping her to reduce her fears.

     After a few months she did so well that I was able to ween her off most of the strong meds the doctors had prescribed.  She celebrated her sixth birthday with us and we had a party which got her quite excited.  Normal for most children.  Occasionally I was able to get her together with her birth family.

     All five children in her family that were taken away, ranging in age from 5 to 11, were eventually put up for adoption.  God was good to them.  I kept K. for about one year when she got adopted by a woman in our town.  The real blessing was that the remaining four children were also adopted by families in our home town, enabling them to visit each other often, and attend the same schools.

     My favorite time alone with K. was driving back and forth to summer camp.  We would sing songs together along the way.  She had a beautiful voice.  She opened up a lot to me on those trips as well.  But mostly, we talked about the Lord.  One day was a very special ride.  As we meandered down the street, she prayed with me and invited Jesus into her heart.

     I remember at one of our foster care meetings, I was asked to share some of my journal stories to a room full of new foster parents, to help them know what to expect.  It was quite an experience as I had them laughing, crying, and wondering, with my short stories.

     About a year after she left us, our house was put up for sale and we were preparing to move to Missouri.  A car stopped out front during our yard sale.  It was K. and her new family wanting to say good bye to us.  I couldn’t believe how grown up she was, and how calm and well adjusted she seemed.  Her adoptive mother said to me, "Thank you for doing all you did to help K. get through a very difficult time in her life.  And, for praying with her to receive Jesus.  You did all the tough stuff!"

     That was several years ago.  I wonder if the now teenager still remembers,"Nana and Grampy!"  I will always remember her and how she would sit between us during church service quietly coloring papers from Sunday school.

                                Love in Christ,    Claire  xoxo 

Mt.19:14, Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."  (NIV) 

 

 

      

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Prison Visit Pt.2

Dear Readers,

     Here’s part two.  Thanks for reading…

 

     Prison Visit Part 2

     As Mark chatted away, I mostly listened and looked around at all the other prisoners and their families.  Many were crying, others were holding hands across the counter which separated us from the convicts. (Visitors are only allowed to embrace upon arrival and departure).  A couple of the young children climbed on top of the counters and tried to crawl in and hug their dads and brothers.  There was so much chatter that I could hardly hear Mark speak.  But he seemed unaware that anyone else but his own company, was even in the chambers.

     Two hours passed all to quickly, and the quarters became extremely hot and suffocating.  Then a guard shouted, "Visiting hours are over!"  There was silence for a couple minutes.  Then again she shouted angrily, "I said visiting hours are now over!"  Everyone got up at the same time and said their good-bys. I looked at Mark and told him I would be back.  Hugs, kisses, and tears were shared, as the men seemed reluctant to let go of their loved ones.

     All the visitors approached the cage where we entered, many of them crying uncontrollably, as the guard opened the door and shined a light on the iridescent paint they had put on the back of our hands when we entered, to make sure we were all cleared to leave.  The prisoners all left from the door where they had entered, to return back to their cells.  All will be stripped naked and throughly searched before returning.

     As I left through the two enormous front doors, I couldn’t get over how good the air smelled outside, and how good it felt to be out of that oppressive room.  As I passed through the exit gate, I looked back and it almost seemed like I had dreamed the entire visit.  That I really hadn’t just walked out of a room full of murderers and thieves.  All I could think of was, "Dear God in heaven, what possible reason could You have for allowing an innocent man to be put in that horrible place for so many years?"

     One more thing I must mention.  Only now, after six long years of imprisonment, has Mark’s anger and bitterness calmed down.  He too, is wondering what the reason is for his being there.                           April, 1980

 

                                  Love in Christ,   Claire  xoxo

     PS Mark was released four years later when another prisoner on death row revealed in detail, that he was the one who committed the heinous crime Mark was imprisoned for.  When my young soldier friend went to jail his baby girl was only months old and his career in the military ended.  At his release, she was 10 years old.  Thank you Father for setting him free!

Hebrews 13:3, "Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."

James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

 

     PPS Since I last wrote part one of this story, another young man I have been writing to for months in a local jail, has been set free.  A wealthy philanthropist got wind of his case, paid his bail, got him into rehab, and gave him a job.

DON’T TELL ME GOD DOESN’T ANSWER PRAYERS!  BUT IT MUST BE ON HIS TIME, NOT OURS! 

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The Prison Visit-Pt1

Dear Readers,

     This story was an experience I had back in 1980.  I noticed something similar on the news recently so it might be quite timely.  That would be something God would do, not me.  It will run in two parts.  Hope you enjoy reading it.  Pass it on if you like… 

 

     The Prison Visit –  Journal Entry – April, 1980

 

     As I drove up to the front of the Colorado State Penitentiary, I couldn’t imagine that what I was looking at was holding 1200+ maximum security prisoners.  It seemed much to small.  As I walked up to the entrance, a gigantic metal gate automatically opened, so I thought, until I looked up and saw a guard standing in a tower looking down at me.  I then walked through two massive safety doors and took a form paper on my left, which I had to fill out in order to get to see a prisoner.  It asked all kinds of information, including the color of the car I came in.

     These forms, and every item I carried, were then handed to a guard who told me I could only keep car keys, driver’s license, small change, and cigarettes if I smoked.  That guard in turn handed the papers to another guard who was completely enclosed in a security cage.  He looked at my form for a long time and then he stared up at me for awhile, walked to the edge of his little cage and asked, "What is your husband’s name?" After I answered his question, he hesitated, then said ok, and yet another guard stamped an iridescent paint on the back of my hand.  Then I had to stand in a special xray door, make a complete circle, walk through, hold my arms out straight, spread my legs apart, and be body searched by a female guard.  I was then handed back a few of my things and allowed to pass into a waiting room where 30 or 40 men, women, and children were waiting to see other prisoners. 

     As I sat there waiting for Mark’s number to be called, I looked around and thought how common most of these people looked.  Not at all like I expected.  Then the guard in the security cage started shouting numbers, "44000-771, 42000-690, 39000-111, and so on.  When I heard Mark’s number, I stood up and walked over to what looked like a bank safe door, and waited again.  After all the numbers were called and all of us were waiting, the enormous steel door opened and I stepped into a cage.  When that safety door slammed shut and locked behind me, only then did the cage door come open.  We all stepped out into a stuffy little room with long counters and about 30 or so little window openings with a single chair in front of each.  I walked over to Mark, and for the first time, I met the man I had been writing to for over a year.

     He was not at all what I expected.  (6’6",250lb. hardened criminal).  Instead a handsome, soft-spoken, quite intellectual 5’6",150 pound man.  We sat and talked for the next two hours, about anything that came to mind, but several things he said will stay in my mind forever:

     "To me, it’s still 1974 out there!"

     "When I get out, I’m going to get a great big pizza!"

     "I go before the parole board in 18 years, on May 5th!"

     "I earn $2 a day, and I work 7 days a week."

     "My cigarettes and coffee cost me $7 a week, half my pay!"

     "I have put on 20 pounds from all the meats and cheeses people sent me for Christmas presents!"

 

     Part 2 next Wednesday.  Thanks for reading.

 

                                   Love in Christ,   Claire   xoxo 

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