Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Still Paying Attention, Still Seeing GOD

Out of emotion, passion and inspiration I wrote a blog post  (October 4, 2013) about the death of our little four-legged family member, Lexie. She was a little black rescue dog and an absolute delight to our whole family. I wrote about the details of losing her, the family rallying and gathering to comfort each other in our grief. It was really tough, emotionally. Acknowledging that fact, our daughters Grace and Mary and I decided it would help bring healing if we would immediately adopt another rescue dog. We did, and her name is Fendi. She is a joy and a delight. We are diligent to train her and help her rein in her bouncy behavior.  (Hmmm, maybe we should have named her Tigger! Nah!) She was full of street smarts, not relational skills! We're still working with her.
Mary Balint holding our new rescue, Fendi
But during those weeks in early October when we were still missing Lexie so much, I was having a hard time talking to people without being emotional. We kind of huddled together as a family. Well, I huddled and sort of hid. Emotional type. Yep.
And then along came Chuck. God sent him to us during our deepest time of grief. Chuck didn't have any idea what we were experiencing. All he knew was that he was subcontracted by our deck builder, to come to our home and finish the last phase our new deck expansion - to stain it.  And since our deck is spacious and two-stories high, it took Chuck several days to complete the job. Our deck contractor introduced Chuck to us --before Chuck came to work -- as "his best friend for 40 years and a faithful brother in the Lord."
Chuck is about 6'3", has wirey white hair and white beard. At first I thought, why is a workman coming to our home now? This timing is terrible. I don't want to talk to anyone and here he is working alongside the windows of our kitchen and family room! Well, of course he was! That's where our deck is!
The first time Chuck came to work he showed up at the front door to greet us and then he walked around to the back of the house with all of his tools and equipment. After the first day, he never came to the front door, he just showed up in the back yard and started working. We would open the french door from the kitchen and acknowledge that he was there. He was very friendly from the start. Don would briefly visit with him and told him about our loss of Lexie and the new energetic rescue dog, Fendi. Fendi came out to the deck and barked and barked loudly at Chuck. Chuck didn't flinch and in a very short time he and Fendi became fast friends. He even called her "Fendi Lou" and he was so encouraging to us as he'd say he knew she would calm down and be a great dog for us. I was drawn to his peace. He clearly knew Jesus as his LORD and the light of Christ was obvious.
Several times a day, in training Fendi, I took her out in the back yard to do her business in the yard instead of inside our house! So everytime I went out in the yard, I would say something to Chuck while he was kneeling on the deck or balancing on a ladder, as he stained the deck. I could see he was so respectful and tended to his own business -- so I guess that's why I eventually relaxed in my grief and enjoyed talking to him about the Lord and life and training a new dog. He shared how he and his wife had two dogs and they had to be put down. He said he knew how hard it was for us to lose Lexie. He talked about prayer and the spiritual climate of our country.
Chuck drove a dark blue pickup truck and the truck bed had a hatched cover. Chuck was a seasoned construction worker;  a professional who worked quietly and diligently. He didn't need a drink of water or a snack -- I asked him -- he said he had everything in his truck. His manners were impeccable. When Chuck parked on the street I asked him if he could park on one side of our driveway instead of the street. He'd say, "Yes, ma'm, I'll do whatever you need. You just tell me." And he was like that the whole time he was at our  home! And when I was outside he'd say, "If when you come outside again with Fendi and it looks like I've just disappeared, I'll be right back. I'm just going to be gone for about 30 minutes and  I'm going to get myself a hamburger. I'll be right back and get back to work! Don't you worry." Peaceful. Calm. Humble. Steady. Hard worker. No complaints about the heat or the long hours he was working. Hmmm.
I noticed that Chuck had a bright red folding chair that he set up under the tree at the bottom of the deck stairs. The weather was really hot. I noticed he'd stop work and sit in his chair and sip tea. He just calmly sat there. He worked long hours at our home. When I saw that he was taking time to stop and rest, it made me think of how most of us are: we just keep going until we drop. Chuck was so easy going and kind and he knew it was wise to take a break and regain some energy and strength. I mentioned it to him and he said he's had very serious back injuries and back surgeries. He said he knew that to keep going he had to stop for a few minutes when the pain got too great.
I told Chuck that I liked to write and I seem to get inspiration to write about people, life and God and that I wanted to include him in my next devotional book. I told him I wanted to write about him and his gentle, refreshing spirit that was from God. I believed God sent him to us when we needed his encouragement, joy and peace. I even asked if I could take his picture. I think he was very surprised maybe even stunned at my words, but obviously you can see he was willing.
Chuck was on a mission and it was obvious. I thought he was only working in our back yard to cover the deck with a few coats of stain. Nope. As days progressed, I realized God sent Chuck to us to bring peace to our hurting household. Heaven sent. Like an angel. I'm sure of it. Jesus sent him to us in our storm and He used Chuck to say to us, "Peace! Be still!" It worked. Oh, the love Christ has for His children! Wow. Yes, I'm paying attention...and He is with us.
And the finished deck? It's just another blessing! Just icing on the cake, Baby.

 Fendi, chillin' on the new deck.
And there she is again, wondering why I keep taking her picture!
All Glory to HIM!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Practical Power of Prayer

I listen to a lot of gospel messages from many different sources. God's people are everywhere and God is using His faithful ones to shine the light of the gospel everywhere, too! I watch and I listen everyday to keep growing and knowing what God's people are doing throughout the earth. I trust the Holy Spirit to help me find truth and goodness in every message I hear. God tells us to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.." (2 Peter 3:18).
I heard Bishop TD Jakes speak on prayer during one of his Potter's House Church broadcast on TV. I thought it was a very practical, powerful mesage and I took a few notes.  I love to share good news when I am encouraged by it. And as a child of God, I am fully aware we are at war (spiritually) every day and prayer is one of the weapons our God has given us to push back the darkness and keep on going!
Bishop TD Jakes @ The Potter's House, Dallas, TX

Here's what Bishop Jakes said:
"There used to be a time when old church ladies' houses were filled with prayer. They were always on their knees praying! But now, we will talk for 25 minutes to someone who cannot fix our problem but won't spend five minutes on our knees to the One who can help!
Here are five main benefits of prayer:
1. Prayer empties the heart of its cares. (But we want to turn to people and call them and complain. We MUST pray to God. Hannah unloaded her troubles onto God.)

2. Prayer acknowledges the answer is beyond our human ability.

3. Divine protection is a result of prayer. (Decisions made without prayer leads to storms and destruction. Look at Jonah.) GOD is our "Wonderful Counselor!" Divine direction comes through prayer -- the Bible says, "Thy will be done!" Prayer is a hook-up of God's will in heaven. Prayer is not a monologue, it's a dialog.

4. Prayer changes circumstances.

5. Prayer changes me."

Wow. Yes. We are the Body of Christ. We are the light of the world. We need to get back to the power and simplicity of making our homes into houses that are filled with our prayers! It's for HIS glory and our good.

Serving Jesus with what He has put in my hands.

Friday, October 4, 2013

If We Pay Attention, We'll See GOD in Everything!

One week ago today we had to put our sweet, little, four-legged family member, Lexie, to sleep.

Lexie Balint
It was a shock that we had to do this --there was no warning she was desperately ill. My husband Don and I watched Lexie suffer with some sort of discomfort. It took two visits to our local veterinarian in two days and  then I was immediately sent with Lexie to an emergency surgery animal hospital. After examining her they told me Lexie had a spinal cord injury with a very grim prognosis. Then I shared the agonizing news  with my hubby Don, and then to our daughters Grace and Mary. It became a dark day for us all.
Our whole family adored Lexie's sweetness, boundless joy, endless energy, faithful obedience and her constant companionship! Yes, we loved her and she loved us. She was a gift from God. She was one of His precious creatures.
Don, Polly, Mary, Grace; Lexie is in Grace's arms.
Lexie was a rescue dog; which means she was an orphan dog and we adopted her. We were prayerful before we set out to visit all the locations who were featuring adoptable dogs. We believe in the sovereignty of God and we wanted a dog that God wanted for us.  She was sweet, frail and frightened when Mary found her at a animal rescue adoption day event. But after much prayer and searching, we agreed that she's the one! We chose her to join our family.

Mary & Lexie @ the adoption location.

But that's just how God rescues us and takes us into His family! He adopts us and gives us all the privileges and responsibilities of being of a member of the family of God! So if we are paying attention to God's still small voice, we can see Him in every situation -- even in the loving act of adopting a homeless little dog! Jesus is our example. When we become His, we take on His traits and ways. We want to love the unloved, the broken, the lonely. We want to help them! No matter if we're talking about adopting children or animals, we want to show them love! When God adopts us He tenderizes our hearts!
When we adopted Lexie she became a member of our family. She lived in our home. She was fed healthy food, was bathed regularly, was loved unconditionally, was well-trained, and was a very happy, contented dog!
It's the same with us when God adopts us! We become a member of His family! We trust Him the way I saw Lexie wholeheartedly love and trust us! She was secure.

 When Mary was recovering from very painful sinus surgery, Lexie kept watch.
 Lexie loved to ride in the car and the "I smell chicken!" came upon her every time we passed by the  Chick-fil-A in Canton!

Lexie & Grace having a conversation. :)

Grace & Lexie distributed Christmas Cookies to our neighbors.

She got a lot of attention when we put doggie dresses on her. :)

Don & I loved to take Lexie on hikes in North GA. She loved it! (She's on his lap.)
Yep. Lexie the bumble bee. Gotta love it. (No, she didn't have to wear it very long.)

Every morning Lexie was at my side during my devotions. I'm not kidding; she heard me praying every morning and stayed there until I got up.
Lexie loved the long walks along the golf course. 

I called Lexie my personal assistant when I started That Girl Marketing, LLC, in 2009.
She wore the corporate colors! I even gave her the name Lexie as part of the brand of  my business: my car is a little black Lexus and so was she!
God gives us pets to enjoy for His glory. If we're paying attention by being sensitive to His voice through the Holy Spirit,  we can learn many things about God's ways, about life, about love. We enjoyed Lexie so much. She had fun. We had fun. And it was a very surprising blessing for me that  God used her to inspire me in writing life applications in my devotions. My devotional books have many photos of her as I tell stories. In my plans to begin writing Totally Devoted 4, I have saved pictures of Lexie  to use as applications of other Bible verses.
Another hiking day...taking a water break with Lexie.
God knows what we need and He prepares in advance for what He will do in our lives. When my siblings and extended family heard of Lexie's passing, they rallied. That is exactly what the Body of Christ is supposed to do! We are not meant to live our lives for ourselves. We are meant to love God and our neighbors. That's what brings Him glory: to act like the Body and be One. God uses people in our lives: to help us, to teach us, to protect us, and even to speak to us through them. But we have to walk intimately with our God to hear Him whisper to us.
For example: Our daughter Grace flew in from CA. Mary stayed with us, too. It's rare that we get to be together when it's not Christmas! I knew God already had this set in place. He is in control of the universe. He made Grace's job schedule and last-minute flight to work out perfectly so she could easily come and be with us last week. He had Mary available to come alongside us, too.
Grace, Don, Mary and I were able to worship together at church last Sunday and then enjoy a delicious lunch together!
When my sister Julie heard the news about Lexie, she invited us to have breakfast at her home on Wednesday, in Cumming, GA! I told her we were taking Grace to the airport at 12:30 but we could certainly have breakfast with her. She invited our brother Bill and his daughter Sarah and her baby, Hannah to join us! It was another delightful surprise! Almost last-minute, too, but obviously still orchestrated by God. I was watching Him weave His tapestry of grace for this family.

 From left: My niece Sarah, her baby Hannah, my sister Julie & my daughter Grace.
 Breakfast bunch @ Julie's home in Cumming, GA. My brother Bill is pictured here, too.
When I received the news first that Lexie's condition was very grim, I thought of the verse of where Jesus promises, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). So in my agony of watching Lexie in agony and driving her to the various animal doctors, through my tears I was actually comforted by the word of God and His presence. Having "trouble" is part of living. If you know God, you know He pulls you along with His truth and His love. I also knew the passage that says God will not give us more than we can bear, but will give us a way out if it becomes overbearing. (paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 10:13). In other words, God was telling me that in my pain, He was with me and will help me/us though this.
So yes, last Friday, Lexie was put to sleep and put out of her excruciating pain. We miss her. We are sad she's gone. But there is so much more to this story because God does not do anything that isn't spectacular in some way. This story is not about a dog, not really. It's about a God who can use the life of a sweet little dog to show our family -- in a new and creative way -- who HE is.
He brought a new rescue dog into our lives yesterday after our family made a prayerful, unanimous decision to rescue and adopt another homeless dog in honor of our dear Lexie. It is also an effort to help heal our aching hearts.
Our new little family member is named Fendi. Fendi Balint. We adopted her so we have given her our name and will share our home and provisions with her. She's 11 months old. Weighs only about 8 pounds because she was recently rescued by a shelter as a stray on the streets. And if we're paying attention to what God is doing and saying, He is showing us the grace and love that comes with adoption. How beautiful!
Before we adopted Fendi we were told to expect to have to work with her for at least three-five days until she calms down and will trust us enough to let us get close to her.
This is day we met Fendi in her foster home. She comes from a homeless dog shelter, again sent by God to give us more life lessons in Jesus' name.

This was taken two hours after we had Fendi in our home. I took her for a ride. 
She was so relaxed she fell asleep in the car.
Fendi fell asleep on Don's lap last night. She had only been in our home for a four hours and we were told it would take DAYS for her to get over being nervous, skittish and untouchable.
Mary had a break at work today (20 hours after Fendi was in our home)and came home to get to know Fendi a little more. It a very short time they were snuggle buddies.
Can I explain this? Yes, God is showing His amazing and wonderful grace toward us. I'm paying attention and I can see that God has used the death of one of his adorable creatures and the life of another one to move mountains. That's exactly what I've seen Him do.
All glory to God.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Need Refreshment?

Is life hard? Yes. Did God promise a perfect life when we become His? Nope.
He told us, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
So what do we do when we feel like we are spiritually dry, physically spent, and emotionally drained? We run to Jesus to refresh us for He promises, "whoever drinks the water I give him with never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:14).
In fact, He made several promises of His love, provision and protection! He said, "I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:9-10).  Yes, life hurts. Yes, life is hard. But God made a promise that "...everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God" (1 John 5:4-5).
I hope you'll keep reading and then click on the link below to hear a testimony of an overcomer. It only takes 10 mins/11 secs to hear a powerful, encouraging testimony of a woman--who in her agony--went to the Fountain of LIFE and was filled with Living Water. "If anyone is thirsty, let him[her] come to me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him[her]" (John 7:38). 
WE are the Body of Christ. WE are the light of the world. WE need to be refreshing each other with His words of life, too!  It is written: "Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." (Proverbs 11:25)  Let's become a refreshment to others!

With a very thankful heart,
I welcome your comments.
I invite you to follow my blog.
Just sayin'.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Still Missing Her, Still Thanking God for Her

My heart has been reminded that today, July 5, is the day my mother went to be with Jesus in heaven. She died in 2007 and I still miss her and I still thank the Lord for blessing me as her daughter.
The following is a page from my journal written May 27, 2007. I have published this before but I think it's part of the healing/grieving process and I want to honor the memory of my mother, Mary Elizabeth Gillette Brown. Here it is:

May 27, 2007
Journal Notes
By Polly Balint


When I was playing golf today with three friends, I started thinking about Mom and how she has given me such a wonderful legacy of loving life… and even in playing golf. While I was on the course, I started to remember what she was like on my last trip to Coral Gables…she had to be bathed and dressed. Couldn’t go to the bathroom by herself…couldn’t walk alone and barely can speak. She would shuffle to walk but it took two people to help her. BUT, she was still so pleasant and cordial and gracious and willing to do whatever was in front of her. She has always been that way…just accepting what she was given with thankfulness. I think the thing she loved to do the most is laugh. The last time I was with her --even when she was failing and medicated I could still make her laugh. It was a gift from God.
Growing up and even in my adulthood she always made everything in life an adventure; when we would be eating outdoors and she’d say, “We’re having a party!” Whatever it was, she made it special somehow; by her words and her attitude. When we were living in Pennsylvania on the farm, she’d load up a picnic basket and then load us in the station wagon and we’d drive down a pasture road and then she’d stop by our creek. She’d start a fire and get out her huge black iron skillet and make us fried egg sandwiches. We were having another party! Mom saw life as an adventure and always wanted to make the most of every moment with a joyful, thankful attitude.

She even handled the ripple effects of her tragic divorce with so much grace: Dad walked out on her with no warning and leaving her with five children. She had the heartbreak of him leaving and she obviously loved him, and then she faced the relentless struggles of raising the five of us high-energy children. She didn’t complain about our dad leaving.  She didn’t complain when she had to put food on the table (we had HUGE appetites). She loved us deeply and kept us all together. She made birthdays special. She made holidays special.  We took trips to Florida. We rented large cabins in NC for the summer. We took regular beach trips and beach-side vacations. We learned to play golf at young ages. We fished. We went boating. We had people over all the time for dinner.

 Press Photo of (then) Mary Gillette

One of her secrets is that she didn’t expect anything from anyone. She just gave from her generous heart. Everyone loved Mom and everyone in town knew her name: Mary Brown. She loved to entertain in our home and loved to dance and sing and loved to eat, especially ice cream! She had quite the gift of hospitality.
Another one of her secrets is that she did not care what people thought of her. She didn’t think about herself. She didn’t care if she got other people’s approval. That didn’t matter to her. She wasn’t impressed with nice things, even though that was the lifestyle in which she grew up: her parents gave her a convertible with her monogram on the car door, she had a pilot’s license and flew her own plane, went to a private school, lived the country club lifestyle and still knew how to run a farm. She wasn’t a snob. She just wanted to love people and make them feel good.

She had faith in God. But she was very quiet about it. It was like: She simply BELIEVED. She wanted to pray before we ate. She made sure we all went to church, Sunday school and Vacation Bible School. We grew up going to church. A few years ago she told me she prayed for things and prayed for us (her children) and she then would leave it with God and not worry about it after she prayed. We talked about what the Bible says about sin, forgiveness, heaven and hell.
But when I was playing golf today and thinking how calm she was when I last saw her and she just accepted what was going on:  her body failing and not able to take care of herself, it made me think: ‘that is the kind of abandonment God desires of me (of all His children) to just hand over my life to HIM and trust and believe He WILL take care of me, He will take good care of me.’ That’s the way she lived. She lived an abundant life. God gave that to her. God did it.
Mom was a freelance writer and author. She wrote "Fell's Teenage Guide to Winning Golf" and didn't use her first name --- only her first initial  -  because she was told it would  be better if people believed a man was the author. It was 1963. She also wanted to stay in amateur status as a golfer since she played in tournaments all over the southeast.

A few years ago she came to visit us and stayed with us a few days. It was obvious she was beginning to get very sick --her heart and her mind were weak  -- and yet she said, clearly and succinctly, “This house is you, Polly. This is where you belong. You should be living in a country club and you and Don and the girls should be using the pool, and the girls should be having their friends come over to the club and play tennis, too. You should use the golf course. You and Don should be going to the club for dinner. You should be playing golf, you love to play and you play so well! What do you need? What can I do for you? What can I give you?” 
I said, “Nothing, Mom. I have everything I need.” She just sat beside me and hugged me. When I showed her the Woodmont Bible study photo album I made she got tears in her eyes. She was so happy to know I was hosting Bible studies. She loved it. She loved it that I’m a free-lance writer, too. She acted so pleased to know what God is doing with my life. It is as if she prayed this all along! Maybe that’s what this is all about…maybe God is showing me I’m living the life she prayed for me and that’s why she was so happy about it. 
She strongly encouraged me to keep writing. I think encouragement was her strongest gift. She encouraged each one of us. She may be gone from this earth but God is still using her to encourage me. What a gift. I am thankful.

In honor of and in sweet and thankful memories of my mother:

Mary Gillette Brown

November 26, 1919 – July 5, 2007

All glory to God.
I welcome your comments.
I invite you to follow my blog.
Just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

God Never Meant INDEPENDENCE from Him!

Historically, during the weeks and months leading up to July 4th, citizens of the United States of America joyfully and enthusiastically plan all kind of festivities to celebrate INDEPENDENCE DAY! Yes, it was July 4, 1776, when the signing and proclamation of the Declaration of Independence meant freedom for the new colonists in America! Freedom! Yes! God-honoring freedom!
So for generations  it has been our US custom for families and friends gather to celebrate each year with parades, cookouts, picnics, road races, pool parties  -- and end the day with spectacular fireworks.  The freedoms of religion, right to bear arms, freedom of speech etc., were also God-given as the initial freedom for the colonists to break away from the tyranny of Great Britain.
And so here we are, and July 4, 2013, is two days away.  Picnics, pool parties, parades, road races, BBQ gatherings and marketplace festivals are planned with the recent knowledge of forecasted storms. But it seems like GOD has another plan for US on our day that we normally celebrate our national freedoms with outdoor festivities. Here in Metro Atlanta, the media has been constantly warning us about an an active, four-day flood watch birthed by 100 percent chance of rain and pop-up thunderstorms on July 4th. They say this forecast even includes the days surrounding this this national holiday! We will be soon be covered up with heavy rain! Hmmmm. I've also heard radio reports hyping the nationally known Peachtree Road Race here in Atlanta, saying it has never had a downpour of rain, ever like the one that is predicted. Hmmmm. Independence Day in America may be all wet this year. Looks like God is raining on our Independence Day parades because we Americans are living like we thought it was OK to proclaim our INDEPENDENCE FROM God. That's not freedom, that's bondage. Freedom is a gift from GOD. "Where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is freedom." (2 Corinthians 3:17). He frees us from sins, tyranny, bondage and slavery.He wants His children to be FREE to live, love and worship Him! Since we as a nation have chosen to enslave ourselves to worldliness and idolatry it's possible that He has had enough of our "doing what is right in our own eyes."
Look at Biblical History. When God's people were rebellious and idolatrous, He took away freedoms until they turned their hearts back to Him. In fact, when people hardened their hearts against Him, He turned them over to their sins.
Since God is a God of Hope, Mercy and Grace, He says He can restore US and redeem US. He can take away our guilt and shame and bring US back!
God gives us a clear, simple solution. Here it is: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14).  With GOD there is always HOPE!
"Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:16
This is why we're here, Brothers & Sistas! 
For His glory,

Thursday, June 27, 2013

There's Healing in the Wings of My Physician!

This morning I contacted my Physician and asked Him how to be healed of a chronic condition. I was tired of trying to deal with it on my own. Not only does it wear me out, it creates anxiety in me, I become impatient and think negative thoughts. When this condition flares up it's hard to focus on the task at hand. I needed to visit with Him. Just the two of us spending quiet time together.
I said to Him, "There must be a cure for this, isn't there? I mean, I've been looking to You for help and counsel for many years now and You always have the perfect solution for my afflictions!"
He said, "Yes, your condition is not a rare one, in fact, there is an epidemic of it in the world today. People don't want to look to Me for help, they look to each other and to the things of this world. They are finding it doesn't work and they become more desperate. But I have the cure. It's 100 percent guaranteed to cure STRESS  but you must apply it to your life every day for the rest of your life. You must not miss one dose or the stress can flare up again. It will diminish when you remember to take your prescription. Here it is. The cure for your stress is: "Trust Me."
I said, "Oh, of course! Silly me, You've given me this prescription before but I get so busy I forget about your counsel!"
He said, "Yes, I've already written your cure down in My Book of Life. You'll find the prescription for stress in Proverbs 3:5-7. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."
I was delighted with the kind reminder and I said, "Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you, again, for Your constant care. You are so good to me!"
He said, "I want you to keep this cheerful attitude. In my Book I also have written: 'A merry heart is good medicine.' You will have a cheerful  heart when you apply the 'Trust Me' every day, too!Remember this. I want you to trust Me at all times.  I love you and I will always take care of You. It is my oath to you because you are Mine."
He's not only The Good Doctor, He is The Great Physician!
Do you know Him? You don't have to make an appointment. You can just call on His Name. It's JESUS!
All Glory to God!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Blue Like Jazz, Think Like Paul

When inspired thoughts come to me, as an author I can't wait until later to write it down.  I have learned that I won't remember exactly how I felt when the thought came and exactly how the inspiration was leading me to express it on my computer screen or writing pad. So immediately I'll either dig in my purse and scribble the initial thoughts on the back of a crumpled receipt or go to my computer and just type out a few of the insights that flashed in my mind.
Well it happened when I was reading Donald Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz.

Donald Miller is a skillful writer, obviously using his God-given talents and I have enjoyed reading his book. Here's the passage that gripped me the most and I knew I needed to share this insight! (That's what Encouragers do, when they find something wonderful they want to encourage everyone with it! Yes, just like I'm doing now.)
"I know a little of why there is blood in my body, pumping life into my limbs and thought into my brain. I am wanted by God. He is wanting to preserve me, to guide me through the darkness of the shadow of death, up into the highlands of His presence and afterlife. I understand that I am temporary, in this shell of a thing on this dirt of an earth. I am being tempted by Satan, we are all being tempted by Satan, but I am preserved to tell those who do not know about our Savior and our Redeemer. This is why Paul had no questions. This is why he could be beaten one day, imprisoned the next, and released only to be beaten again and never ask God why. He understood the earth was fallen. He understood the rules of Rome could not save mankind, that mankind could not save itself; rather, it must be rescued, and he knew that he was not in the promised land, but still in the desert, and like Joshua and Caleb he was shouting, "Follow me and trust God!"' I see it now." -- Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz, pg. 100
After I read this paragraph by Donald Miller, it quickly sparked thoughts that we -- God's people -- are spending w-a-a-a-y too much time fretting over circumstances that come up and we are worrying our lives away! We're shocked when life gets hard. We're worn out from worry. I think Donald Miller is simply reminding us of what is written in the Scriptures. We shouldn't be expecting this world to be a perfect place. Jesus never said we won't have any troubles in our lives on earth! No. Instead His Word teaches the truth about life on earth and offers hope with each instruction.
"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) 
"Dear Friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of  Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed." (1 Peter 4:12) 
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness." (2 Peter 1:3).
"The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective." (James 5:16).
"I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with lovingkindness." (Jeremiah 31:3)
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)
And these are just a few of God's promises of love, provision and protection for His people!
So why aren't we living the abundant lives (John 10:10) of love and joy that Jesus came to give His  people? Why do we live with this (worldly) entitlement mentality and have become a society of whiners? Why aren't we contented, thankful people?
In my studying and research for my Totally Devoted series, the secret to contentment and thankfulness has been another inspired revelation for me. The Apostle Paul knew the secret. Yes, God revealed it to me, too, I just can't successfully live it out every day because I'm still a sinner... saved by grace, living in a sin-sick world.
When I learned the secret -- and as an Encourager remember, I had to share -- I wrote a devotion  and called it, "The Secret" in my book, Totally Devoted 2.

The secret is in Paul's testimony:  "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:12-13). This is the secret: Paul was so deeply in love with Jesus Christ that nothing could bother him! He was so riveted to the love and will of Jesus that nothing else mattered! All his shipwrecks, beatings, repeated imprisonment, and countless persecutions could not stop Paul from rejoicing in the Lord. He even sang in prison!
Author Donald Miller saw it, too, and we just read how it clearly blessed and encouraged him.
It blessed me to learn the secret that God taught to Paul! And now, here I am again, sharing the GOOD NEWS.
That's what Encouragers do.
All glory to GOD.


Saturday, June 15, 2013


God gave me a Superman for a husband. Wait, let me say that in another way. God gave me a SUPER Man for a husband and amazing father to our two wonderful daughters.His name is Don. No, he doesn't wear a cape but he is clothed in the righteousness of Christ. I call him SUPER Man because is a super man. He has endured many painful trials -- some have lasted years -- and he won't complain about any of them. By the grace of God he's miraculously survived two strokes that literally hit him back-to-back while he was in ICU in the hospital. He does not complain.
Picture is from Melbourne Beach, FL. Pictured: Don, Mary, Grace

He married me. He does not complain. That's one reason he's a SUPER Man. I was a wild child of God whose faith was in its infancy stages when we met and married. He and I both knew my salvation was secure and I was hungry to know God as deeply as He did. See, even that long ago he had enough knowledge of Scripture and godly wisdom to be a pastor. His wisdom continues to grow.
In a house full of females where hormones are not always harnessed, he remained manly and steady. He has always led our household in a Christ-like way: with love, wisdom, humility and by example. He doesn't feel the need to yell or get physical to make a point. He's kindhearted. Has a great, dry sense of humor. Very unselfish. Yep. His attitude is Christ-like.
This remains my favorite picture of my beloved family.
Dad and his daughters, Grace (center) and Mary.

Mary Balint with her Dad at her high school senior banquet at church.

Grace Balint and Dad at her senior recital @ Brenau University.
Please realize I am not saying my SUPER Man is perfect. No. And he will be the first one to say that he's a sinner in dire need of his Savior every day! What I know is that he is the godliest man I know. He strives to live what the word of God teaches -- and without complaints. He continues to take care of us in wise and loving ways. He has obviously followed the leading of Christ as our provider and protector of our home. Don's life is very hard at times and yet he carries around the grace of God and the joy of Lord everywhere he goes. He continues to strive to teach this to his family by living a life of love and matter how hard it gets.
Our daughters, Grace and Mary absolutely adore and respect him. And so do I.
Happy Father's Day to my SUPER Man. I love you dearly. We give GOD all the glory.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

There Is a Cure for 'Stupid'

Yesterday in the middle of very hectic traffic I saw a sign  -- like a bumper sticker -- on the back window of a pickup truck. The first time I read it, I laughed out loud. I was at a red light and the truck was two lanes to my right. I tried to get my cell phone out quickly enough to snap a picture before the light changed. I knew if I had a photo of it I could concentrate on the anxious traffic instead of the hilarious message. But I wasn't fast enough because I also had to get the passenger (AKA shotgun) side window down -- it was tinted --and it would be difficult to capture the message clearly in a photo.
I also had to be alert because I knew that at any moment the traffic light was going to change from red to green. And in Atlanta,  I know I have to be ready to  press my accelerator pedal to the floor to scoot through the intersection as soon as the light changes or there will be a sort of stampede of honking horns behind me. The light changed to green and the truck was taking off with the rest of the herd. I kept repeating the bumper sticker message so I wouldn't forget it and even had a passing thought of looking for a scrap of paper and a pen to write it down. I thought it was a hilarious message and I lost the chance to share it in a photo!
Well, I thought about the dangers of texting and driving and didn't even want to flirt with that or digging in my purse in this rambunctious traffic, either. So I just drove on with my hands on the wheel and tried not engage in the game of bumper cars.
What did I do to remember the messgage? I repeated the message most of the way home and laughed everytime I said it. Yes, I was alone in the car. But I laughed. Here's the message:
 Photo Credit: One Girl Photography
Did you at least smile after you read it? It's an honest statement isn't it? And man may have made up that clever line -- my sources say it was John Wayne! He had different versions of that line in a few movies.
However, the message originated with GOD. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom..." (Proverbs 1:7). He says "...lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6). That's wisdom.
The book of Proverbs is full of specific instructions on gaining wisdom. Basically, Jesus Christ is the cure for Stupid.
Yes, LIFE IS HARD ....AND, GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME. "He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones." (Proverbs 2:8).

I welcome your comments.
I invite you to follow my blog.
Just sayin'.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Frank Cilanto Sandwich: I Made It My Way!

Food. Who doesn't like to think about, talk about and EAT food? We all do to some extent. I have always enjoyed cooking. It's a perfect opportunity to let creative juices flow; and that's always invigorating for me. All of the senses are awakened when meals are prepared --the vibrant colors of vegetables and fruits, the smells of creative combinations of meat, spices, pasta, vegetables simmering together, and oooh, the textures of crunchy raw carrots, celery, or fresh green peppers dragged through a garlic hummus dip! And then of course, TA-DA!, there's the presentation of the meal!
I like to challenge myself to try to imitate a meal that I previously enjoyed in a restaurant. I'll think about what's in the recipe and recall the flavors. Then I'll try to make it at home for my family. Last week I was in a grocery store that makes fresh sub sandwiches while you wait. They had chopped cilantro as an offering for one of their signature sandwiches. I was pleasantly surprised at the thought of cilantro in a sandwich. My first thought was, 'YUM!' My second thought was, "I'm going to start using cilantro in my sandwiches!" I've been enjoying pondering this, too. Then yesterday I was thinking that I'd like to make some egg salad...and YES, put cilantro in it! I've always liked egg salad sandwiches. My mother made them often for her always-hungry brood of five children. Whether she was taking us to the beach or the golf course, she'd make loads of sandwiches. When I was very young she started a summertime Junior Golf Program at Corry Country Club in Pennsylvania. She loved and played golf all of her life and was a very talented, avid golfer. She wanted to pass on the joy and legacy to the rest of us! 


This is my sister, Julie Brown, during one of the Junior Golf days at the Corry Country Club. No, she doesn't look like this now but she is a very talented LPGA Instructor! Mom was so thrilled to see her become a golf pro and enjoy the game!

Since Mom was the enthusiastic organizer of the weekly junior competiton, she'd rise early in the morning to make our lunch. She'd take an entire loaf of bread out of the bread bag and make egg salad sandwiches until she ran out of bread slices. Then she'd carefully stack them back in the bread bag and tie it tightly. She took another loaf of bread, lined up the bread on the kitchen counter and either made peanut butter & jelly or baloney sandwiches.  They, too, were carefully stacked back in the bread bag and tied with a twist. Those were tossed in the car with our little golf bags and we headed to the country club! When we finished our little golf competition she'd direct us to the her big basket of bagged sandwiches and we'd devour them. We washed them down with a bottle of pop (soda) purchased in the clubhouse. Sweet, sweet memories!
So please let me direct you back into my kitchen with all the ingredients out to start creating egg salad. And I'm doing it my way....with cilantro. 
Ready or not, here I go!
Chop! Chop! Hard boiled eggs. Onions. Celery leaves. Cilantro.
 (Remember I made it my way.)
Of course I added mayo and thought it needed a little mustard, too.
 I call it The Frank Cilantro....because I did it my way! (The bread is whole wheat pita).
My sweet husband --I think of him as Super Man (not Superman) but a SUPER Man -- does not like egg salad...and the sandwich was staring at me through my camera lens.....
...yep! I stood there at the kitchen counter and devoured it. Notice the crunchy pickle didn't have a chance, either. "And now the end [of the sandwich] is near...and so it faced the final curtain...and I made it my wa-a-a-a-a-y!"
And the Tigger glass in the photos? It's just a reminder not to take ourselves too seriously. Any correlation with me and that Tigger character is purely coincidental.
"So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do,
do it all for the glory of GOD."
(1 Corinthians 10:31)
I sincerely pray that's what I'm doing.
I welcome your comments. I invite you to follow my blog. Just sayin'.