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Five Years Ago

This morning I’m thankful as I remember five years ago today when one of earth’s angels joined the heavenly angels.  Our Jamie stepped into paradise early that morning as Leonid showered meteors spectacularly over East Texas.  Jamie had accomplished the purpose for which God created her, and He called her home.  “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep” (Acts 13:36).

“And he marked out their appointed times in history” (Acts 17:26).  There is a reason you and I are alive today.  Are we fulfilling God’s plan for our lives?  Will what we’re doing today live beyond us?  Will we, like Jamie, make an eternal difference in other lives, or will everything we spend our lives doing today die with us and soon be forgotten?  “For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone” (Romans 14:7).

Jamie’s life continues to make a difference.  Many seeds she planted in the lives of her students and everyone who knew her are still producing fruit today.  People are being impacted and challenged to follow God more closely as a result of reading Jamie’s life story, “Mom, God’s Got This.”  If you have not read it in its entirety, you must do so.  Her story is one of God’s amazing and all-sufficient grace.  It is only by God’s grace we are saved and are able to walk through life’s valleys victoriously.  Jamie did.  Yes, I am very thankful today.

The “Hold That Thought” Giveaway

I do have those times—occasionally—when I’m in deep concentration, reading or writing something, and Gene comes along and begins talking to me.  I want to hear what my adorable husband has to say, but I know if I don’t finish my thought, I risk losing it forever.  “Hold that thought, please!”  I finish what I’m doing and then I’m ready to listen.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8 NKJV).

In this verse, God tells us eight things we should think about.  In all actuality, each of these attributes perfectly describes Jesus Christ and God’s Word, the Holy Bible.  In the preface of my book, “Mom, God’s Got This,” I explain my endeavor to follow this verse in the writing of Jamie’s story.  Each of these “thoughts” is captured in “Mom, God’s Got This.”  In other words, they are hidden in plain view.

Can you find them?  Do you enjoy a challenge?  During the month of November, 2017, I will give away a copy of “Mom, God’s Got This,” to one lucky person per day and one per family.  All you have to do for your chance to get a free copy is list each “thought” and the page number on which it is found and send it to me by email.  Please go to https://karennorton.com/contact/ to send your email.

Use your free book as a Christmas present to a special friend.  There’s no time to waste!  Get started today in the “Hold That Thought” Giveaway!

Outsmarted by a Donkey

His donkey showed him!  Balaam discovered he wasn’t as smart as he thought he was.  His loyal donkey saw the angel of the Lord three times (Numbers 22), saved Balaam from certain death, and then God opened the donkey’s mouth and he spoke to Balaam in words Balaam understood.  And what’s even more startling, Balaam talked back to him!

Yes, God created man in His own image, but do you ever wonder if the plant and animal kingdoms have an inside scoop on connection with God?   “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12).

Have you ever watched a baby smile and coo as their gaze seems fixed on something you and I can’t see?  “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.  “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” (Matthew 21:16).

Due to a surgical mishap at the age of three, my brother is a forever non-verbal three-year-old trapped in what is now a sixty-five-year-old body.  As I watch Billy stare at an elevation beyond me, smile, laugh, and clap his hands, I often question, “What does he see that I cannot see?  Is it something or someone in the spiritual realm?”  “See that you do not despise one of these little ones.  For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).

All four gospels give the account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey.  “If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly’” (Mark 11:3).  Upon arrival, as Jesus slides off the back of the little donkey, He gives it a pat on the rump and whispers, “Thanks, you may go back home now.”  The donkey ambles through the noisy crowd, his heart smiling, and finds his way home, knowing all the while that he has just given the King of all kings a humble ride.

We can learn a lot from children, nature, and yes, even a donkey—things like trust, innocence, dependency, simple faith, unconditional love, obedience, and a clear path to God, our Creator.  “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15).

The “Or Nots” of Life

We are surrounded by them every single day.  They confront us, stare us down, and demand immediate attention and a decision.  At times, we are completely oblivious to their questioning presence.  And no, I’m not talking about your two year old.

I’m referring to the “or nots” of daily life.  Will I talk to God and read my Bible today or not?  Will I eat healthy today or not?  Will I exercise today or not?  Will I go out of my way to encourage someone or not?  Will I put the phone down and close the laptop to spend more time with those who matter most to me or not?  Will I control my tongue today or not?  Will I forgive or not?  Will I obey the Lord today or not?  Will I love like Jesus or not?  Will I step out in faith today or not?

The “or nots” have been around since day one.  Jesus confronted the “or nots.”  “Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?’” (Luke 14:3).  “[Teacher] Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Luke 20:22).

We are products of our choices.  “Then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).  Have you made some poor choices lately?  Are the “or nots” winning?  Today with the Lord’s help, you can choose to throw down the “or nots” and do the right thing, one choice at a time.

Toilet Paper is Expensive!

She hurried out of the restroom aghast and amused.  “Mother, from what institution did you steal that toilet paper?”  Janet was making fun of my bargain toilet paper, the one you can read the newspaper headlines through.

You would think I was raised during the Great Depression.  That was definitely before my time, but I’m still frugal.  I have clipped and redeemed coupons for forty-five years, and I’m certain that if I had in my possession every penny I’ve saved over the years with coupons and comparative shopping, I would be driving a new Cadillac.

Take the time Jeremy and Janet, who were then youth pastors, brought newborn Sage home from the hospital only to find their yard forked with a multitude of pampers (clean and dry ones I might add) and a blanket of pampers taped to their garage door.  I offered to gather them up, fold each one, and have them ready to use for the next six months.  Look at all the money they would save!  But Jeremy wouldn’t even consider it.  No way was he going to put those pampers on his new baby daughter.  I had to look away as he gathered and placed them in a very large black garbage bag.

In defense of my thriftiness, I quote the words of Jesus in John 6:12, “Let nothing be wasted.”

Let’s go back to the toilet paper.  Grandson Graham, age eight at the time, walked out of my restroom one day proudly displaying the “cast” on his hand, this time made from high-quality toilet paper (purchased on sale and with a coupon).  It was almost an entire roll!  Before I could gently unwind his creation for its later intended use, he rips it to shreds and displays a perfectly healed hand!  It was a miracle!

I tried to explain to Graham that we shouldn’t be wasteful, but all he’s ever known is white toilet paper on a roll that he can spin off a twenty-foot long swathe with one well-planned movement.  I, on the other hand, distinctly remember visiting my grandparents’ home in the country as a child and going to their two-seater outhouse.  If there was no Sears and Roebuck or Montgomery Ward catalog available, then leaves would serve the purpose.

In 2020, America will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the wonderful invention of household toilet paper, and I will be looking for some big-time sales!

My Deepest Within

“And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:35).  This was not your typical baby dedication when Mary and Joseph presented their infant son, Jesus, in the temple that day.  What exactly did Simeon mean?  Did Mary recall those words years later as she witnessed her son suffer and die on the cross?  She understood then.  Yes, those words pretty much described her pain, if that’s even possible for human language to do.

Many mothers lost sons and daughters in the Las Vegas massacre.  Many mothers lost a child in their womb today.  There’s that pain again—that twisting, piercing agony deep within.  We live in a torn and hurting world, and there is so much we don’t understand.

Let’s be certain of a few things that are perfectly spelled out in Scripture for us.  We know that every soul God creates is equally loved and important to Him regardless of how long they live on this earth, inside or outside of the womb, or their quality of life (Acts 10:34).  Human standards and judgments are flawed.  We look at a healthy and long life on earth as being the most blessed and superior—not necessarily so in God’s eyes (Matthew 11:11, 18:1-4, 25:40).  What God thinks and what His Word says carries far more weight than our skewed thinking.  His judgments and actions are always right and true (Daniel 9:14 and 2 Thess. 1:5) whether we understand it fully or not.  He’s God.

Perhaps God held our child before we had a chance.  Maybe we held our child one hour before they went back to heaven, or a few short years, or seventy years.  The time we have with our child is never long enough.  However, even the longest life here on earth is microscopic compared to an eternal heaven.  If our child is in heaven and we go to heaven one day, then 2 Samuel 12:23, 1 John 3:2, and 1 Cor. 13:12 are true for us.  Take time now to look up these Scriptures, read, meditate, and allow His Words to reach your deepest within.

The Bible tells me I will find protection and healing under His wings (Mal. 4:2 and Matt. 23:37), so I run to Him.  He is the peace in the middle of my storm (Mark 4:39).  He is my safe place.  Make Jesus Christ your safe place today and forever (John 3:16 and 1 John 3:1).

Fabulous or Frustrating?

I was completely caught off guard, and the day is now forever etched in my brain.  Why did I literally wake up in tears and cry unannounced all day—the day I turned forty?  Emotionally, I was a wreck.  It was just another day, but I was totally unprepared.  Everything in my life was as wonderful as it could be, considering there were two teenage girls in our home.  Wait a minute; maybe that was it.  No, really, life was good, but that particular day for me was awful.

What is it about turning 40?  Looking back, the forties was a great decade for me!  Children graduated from high school and college and then got married.  My first grandchild was born.  Monumentally good things happened in my life.

I have learned that God gives us the power of choice.  “Then choose for yourselves this day” (Josh. 24:15).  The day you turn 40, you get to choose your attitude and reaction.  So what will it be?  Fabulous or Frustrating.  OMG Yea!  I’m 40! or OMG Oh no.  I’m 40.  Rejoicing or Regretting.  Thankful or Tearful.  Youthful or Yammering.  It all adds up to F.O.R.T.Y.

Are you nearing that intersection?  Which road will you choose for your day, your year, your decade?

In the Bible, whenever the “forty” milestone was reached, it was the brink of a new season.  Just over this horizon were many blessings.

“After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark” (Gen. 8:6).  Then new life filled the earth!

“The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years” before they entered “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Josh. 5:6).  Then they received all of God’s wonderful promises!

“For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand” (1 Sam. 17:16).  Then David entered the scene and killed the giant standing in his way!

Turn the page.  Begin this new chapter of your life with a Fabulous OMG!  Rejoicing Thankful Youthful expectation!

Happy birthday to my sweet daughter, Janet.  I love you.

 

The Press Release

The press release for “Mom, God’s Got This: Jamie’s Story” is finalized and now reaching over 4,000 points around the world. Why? Because Jamie’s story is so much bigger than Texas or the U.S. and needs to circle the globe. It will help young adults and those young at heart pursue God’s call with everything in them and discover and fulfill the purpose for which God created them. Is it a difficult read? Yes, it is. Highly emotional and deeply moving, filled with laughter and tears, “Mom, God’s Got This” will help readers understand, like never before, the amazing grace of God available to us, His unending faithfulness to His children, and the powerful truth of God’s Word that reaches to the highest heavens, and at the same time, the deepest core of our soul.

Often when we lose someone we love, extenuating circumstances surrounding that death increase the heaviness of the grief process exponentially. But God… He is our hope, comfort, and strength to move forward. We find those things and more in Him only. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

God is a healing God but often does not heal our loved ones on this earth. So what do we do with that reality? We keep the faith and love God regardless. We trust Him and remind ourselves that He always does the right thing for His glory. We may never understand the answers to our questions, but He always understands, and I can trust Him completely.

So here’s the press release:
Mom, God’s Got This: Jamie’s Story” is the creation of published author, Karen F. Norton, preacher, teacher, author, and speaker who is in love with the Lord and has an insatiable appetite for God’s Word.
“I froze between the half walls, shelves on my right and left. Small green dishes lined those shelves, free gifts retrieved from packages of oatmeal. I have one to this day on proud display in my dining room hutch; it reminds me of her every time I look at it. I glanced into the back bedroom to my right, looking at the watermark clouds on the ceiling. How many times had I looked up at that ceiling from the bed below, imagination rampant?”
Published by Christian Faith Publishing, Karen F. Norton’s new book is a testament to the value of faith and family as shown through the relationship and actions of a mother and daughter. Despite devoting their lives to God, the author’s daughter tragically passed away. After the author lost her daughter, life was difficult, but with the help of God, family, and those close to the author, life went on. After surviving this ordeal, the author felt others could learn from her experience and also find healing in God’s grace, faithfulness, and the truth of His Word.
View a synopsis of “Mom, God’s Got This: Jamie’s Story” on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-CU2xApfQQ
Consumers can purchase “Mom, God’s Got This: Jamie’s Story” at traditional brick & mortar bookstores, or online at Amazon.com, Apple iTunes store, Kobo or Barnes and Noble.

True Story

True story: In a predominantly Islamic nation, one man sold books of which most were Islamic. One day, the police arrested him because one of the books in his inventory was the Holy Bible. He had no idea how it got there. Regardless, he spent several weeks in jail. He was determined now to read that book and discover for himself what all the hullabaloo was about. He read it and he believed.

“Don’t waste your time. It’s not worth the read.” Oh really? I’ll be the judge of that, I thought. “Have you read it?” I asked. “No, but I heard about it from a very reliable source.” That brief conversation made me want to read the book more than ever and form my own conclusion.

Nicodemus finally had enough of his Pharisee comrades trying to shove their opinions about this man Jesus down his throat. What was all this controversy swirling around Jesus? What was the truth about Him? He wanted to meet Jesus for himself and make up his own mind (John 3:1-21). He did and he believed (John 19:38-42).

It takes no effort to be lazy and take the word of family, friend or foe, when I should be the one searching out the Truth for myself. The Truth has a name, and it is Jesus, and He can be found in the pages of the Bible. Experience has taught me that I can trust God and His Word 100%. Everyone else in the world? Not so much.

Time in God’s Word is precious and time well spent. Meet Jesus in the pages of the Bible, for it is God’s true story – and believe. Psalm 119.

Gutsy

“I bet he doesn’t have guts enough to do that again!” I exclaim under my breath as love bugs pepper the windshield and front end of my clean white car. I fail to see anything loveable about love bugs. Yes, it’s that time of year again when East Texas is plagued with those pesky flying black gutless double-dots.

Let’s talk about guts for a moment. It’s not a pleasant topic, but guts are imperative to life. We refer to our belly, stomach, or abdomen as our guts. Everyone has them, but what about gutsy? What does that word mean? It means having a great deal of courage or nerve (probably more nerve than courage in my case), robust and vigorous. So, in this life, we need our fair share of gutsiness if we plan to leave our mark.

Jesus was gutsy when He turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple (John 2:15). He was gutsy when He called out the scribes and Pharisees for what they were (Matthew 23:17). He was gutsy when He told Peter to get behind Him (Mark 8:33) and when he held children in His lap (Mark 9:36). Jesus lived His entire life on earth submitted and obedient to His Heavenly Father and the words of the prophets. “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).

I recently joined the mentor team for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) and am excited about this opportunity. One of this year’s themes is the freedom to be gutsy. I love it! I’ve been gutsy a few times in my life: the first time I jumped off the high dive at Lake Tejas, when riding roller coasters, zipping along on a zip line, and flying to China all by myself. But the gutsiest thing I’ve ever done is write a book about my daughter’s life and death. That took more guts than I could muster, but God supplied what I needed to complete the task He gave me. He always does.

Here’s one caution before plunging into a gutsy endeavor: Be gutsy in obedience to Christ and not gutsy to stupidity. I’m no dare-devil; I contemplate excessively before I go gutsy. Sure we will make mistakes in our gutsiness, and that’s OK. We will learn from it and live gutsy again. I refuse to live opposite gutsy and be a doormat. It also helps to have an awesome husband who allows, tolerates, and encourages my gutsiness.

What are you thinking about doing that is gutsy? Peter said of Jesus, “You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). So read God’s Word and know what He says about it and then run with it. Live gutsy!