Thursday, August 25, 2016

I will never Forget....

when you were born held by your mother's hands.

I placed you there and watched you over the years,

tenderly wiped and dried each tear.

I remember then full well.



I watched you grow into your teens,

as your curved around the corner a little too fast...

and as you finally left home.



Years have come and gone

days and nights have passed

seconds to minutes

minutes to hours

weeks to years

I have always been by your side...

in your heart.



I have always loved you

I always stretched my grace out

when you went too far...

no matter what or when or where

my mercy has never left...



As you have grown closer to me

during those tough times

I have allowed you to feel My Presence even more...



Like the breeze on the river

blowing past the trees into eternity...

into those green pastures

or the smell of a rose as you pass by...



So great the love I have for you

even in the dry times...

always remember these words



I LOVE YOU...


You will find JOY...

You will find LOVE!

You will find HOPE!

You will find GRACE!

resting in the arms of God our Father...



He will bring that healing,

that you need on the inside...

He sees where you once were,

on the front-line of Heaven's army...



He sees where you were hurt,

He sees the area where you were struck...

He knows the pain you feel fully well.



For He will send forth His mighty angels

to surround you around about...

He will send His Holy anointing oil,

pouring down upon your soul and spirit...

Just receive that healing touch,

right now wherever you may be...

be made clean and whole.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Prayer for God's direction

You would think that I had no problem talking when you read my blog posts.   But I am all around a very quiet guy. I don't know why I have a tough time contributing to a conversation because its not that I do not wish to be a part.  My wife and I don't even have many deep conversations, she can be pretty quiet too.  A lot of times though it is more about being in each others presence...than how many words we contribute...

     When I have something to say I say it and that is just about it...I do talk to God, we have many conversations...I do believe we communicate on a divine Spirit to Spirit level.  To the human eye I guess you might say you probably could not tell, I am just very reserved and quiet. That doesn't mean I do not like to be around people.   

     Back in my twenties and early thirties believe it or not I did sing a lot of solo's in church and even had chances to bring a sermon a time or two. These days they are far and few between. At times you might say I am curious how I would do these days behind a church podium.  I keep thinking that it would be good for me to give my testimony in front of the church that I attend. I feel that when I do that its going to take my calling in a whole new direction... 

     This whole blog was started with the concept that these are my sermons I would preach if I were a preacher...I do not really think that I am called to be a pastor.  Many years ago when I attempted to go to college,  I remember making my only A and that was in speech class. I have not gave up on the aspiration of writing a book of my testimony.  I believe that they will go hand in hand to form my ministry.  

So, I ask for your prayers on making some headway in writing a book. It may not be a best seller but I feel that it would bless some people, and put me just where I am directly in the will of God for my life...

Thanks and Take care,
Maranatha,
Richard T. Hicks

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Deep-end of Faith---3rd Place level one FW Competition

Peter stepped out of the boat into ‘God’s Zone’ when He met Jesus in the deep that day. His faith in God moved him to go beyond the natural elements of his surroundings. Can you imagine what the other disciples must have thought or felt as they witnessed this miracle? God is also calling us to step out of our flesh and walk in His Spirit by faith. We will most likely feel like fish out of water at first. But when we are obedient, we begin to feel the electricity of our faith compelling us to do certain things that don’t feel comfortable to our flesh.

Over the years I have learned to face my fears in many ways and once I got past the fearful stage I experienced the exuberance of water-waking-victory! Getting remarried was a big step for me. Moving from my home state was another giant step. Then there was the hassle of finding a new doctor and mental-health support group, but I slowly began coming out of my comfort zone. I opened up about my past, my paranoia, and depression, sharing how it had almost destroyed my life; soon I started experiencing an awesome peace like I had never before. Today I can say that I feel freedom for the first time in life.

Whatever we are called to do, God is simply asking us to get out of our boat, begin to walk, and He will do the rest.

I am sure Peter struggled within himself when God asked him to step out into the deep that day. While in the boat, I am also sure the disciples asked him what he was doing, but God had spoken, so he was going to look toward the prize. Later Peter preached to thousands leading them to salvation and those would then take the life-saving message for themselves and likewise share it with others. Acts 2:14-41 (NKJV)

Will there be times when we lose our focus and sink? Yes, I’m afraid that we are human beings and do err. We lose our perspective and have to refocus on Jesus Christ. He will always reach out and lift us up when it looks like we are drowning. There will be times when the wind blows us off course, but when we make the decision to obey God, nothing stands in the way but our fears. God gives us the strength for what He has called us to do.

Peter went on to do great things and so will I in God's great timing. There is so much I desire to do with my life. Just because I have been labeled with a disability and don't work doesn't mean that I am a couch potato watching TV all day long. God is raising me up as I let Him lead me into totally different situations that I have never been in before. 

My story is not easy to tell. Sometimes I go into places where a stranger I come into contact with will ask me who I am, and where I work. Not only am I in a minority because I am a Christian, but I have a mental-health challenge as well. My whole life is really a lot about living outside of my comfort zone; therefore it is tough to always know how much to say when someone asks me questions. It is not always easy to know where to draw the line. 

“Got an hour or two and I will tell you all about it, I think to myself."

Another area that God is pulling me out of my comfort zone is my writing. It was not easy re-living my testimony and typing it, but I did it. This whole ' fishy' subject makes me a bit squeamish, but I am here to say, 'When I step out in faith, even when it is scary; it is growing me and glorifying Jesus.'

One steps out and reaches into the very Zone of God when they step out into this kind of faith. Yes, God has a Zone; I really believe it. When you get there you will know. When we FEEL like fish out of water then we know we are going in the right direction.

A Little Witchy--2nd Place level 1 FW competition

The house next door looked distinguished and eerie. It was the only house on the block that was two-story. It was Victorian style, seeming as if it were transported from somewhere back in time. The yard was unkempt with ivy vines that climbed the outside of the house. Bobby's spine tingled; continuing to stare, he knew that this house was haunted. His family was new to this neighborhood. He was seven; his little sister Lucy had just turned four.

Before sunset, Bobby decided to get Lucy from the toy room to show her the ‘evidence.’ “Come and look, Lucy.” She proceeded to follow Bobby to the large window in the dining room. In amazement and fear, walking across the front lawn of the old house, they saw a witch. She wore a tall black hat, a black coat; slightly bent-over as she walked with her cane. She even had two black cats following her.

“What more proof do you need Lucy? My friend Billy from across the street told me that she was a mean old witch who screamed at his friends when they threw a baseball through her front window.”

Though Bobby only saw her from a distance he was able to see enough detail so that she looked very scary and threatening, like an evil witch would. While they were still looking out the window, she suddenly stopped, turned and looked over in their direction, sneering with her missing teeth. “She's seen us,” exclaimed Bobby, ducking down, he pulled Lucy with him.

It was Halloween and mom was busy getting their hand-made costume’s ready. Bobby was going as the ever courageous Superman; Lucy wore a sparkly Cinderella outfit. That night they had fun going to the different houses getting their candy. Finally, it was time to go home. As they walked by the house with the witch, the front porch light suddenly flickered on. 

Bobby spoke quivering, “Mom, do we have to go to that house? We saw her today and believe she is a wicked witch” 

Mom smiled, “Bobby, be the brave young man I know you are. You and your sister, go knock on her door.” 

“Come on Lucy, she is giving those other kids some candy.”

When they got up to the door, Lucy broke free of his hand gripping hers. “I’m not going," she ran back to mom.

Bobby stood there all alone, knees wobbling, as the door slowly creaked open. The elderly lady peered out from behind the door and smiled. "Here is some candy; give some to your sweet sister.”

Bobby was amazed as he stood there wide-eyed with his mouth open. 

Unexpectedly the lady motioned for his mom and sister to come closer. “Please come in and visit for a spell, I want to get to know my new neighbors.” Their mysterious neighbor now guided them down a hall into the quaint, and quiet subdued living room. “My name is Eva Rhodes; welcome to the neighborhood.”

Lucy abruptly spoke up, “You’re a witch, aren't you?” The kids were silent anticipating the answer. Eva and Lynn, the kid’s mom, started to laugh. 

Speaking sweetly Eva said, “My dear, I saw you and your brother peering out your window today. I smiled and waved at you, but just as I did, you disappeared out of sight. The neighborhood boys know well enough not to cross my path. They pull pranks on me all the time and I am well aware that these boys think I'm a witch. However, I assure you kids that these boys have jumped to wrong conclusions about me. I gave them a good talking to; they need to learn that they can’t treat people this way and get away with it. I am harmless and wouldn't hurt a fly, I don't bite."

Bobby and Lucy were giggling by this point as they were getting sugar-rushed from eating so much of their candy. Bobby and Lucy now saw that though she was firm, she was kind and all their fears seem to vanish. She even invited them to her church on Sunday. That Sunday, Bobby’s family did go to Eva’s church. As the kids went into their Sunday school class, they recognized the teacher, it was Eva, the woman the children thought was a witch. She hugged Bobby and Lucy. She was dressed in white – definitely not a witch. That Sunday she taught about not being afraid because God is always with you.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Catting Around...





Birthday:
April 2nd 2008

Coloration:
Black

Likes:
wrestling and playing tag

Pet-Peeves:
being picked up by any human more than 10 seconds

Favorite Toy:
Papercat tunnel, toy triangle, small cat toys with catnip inside

Favorite Nap Spot:
On any ledge in the house, or unless their owner is in the computer room.

Favorite Food:
Purina's dry cat food

Skills:
Rocky is definitely the leader of the Pack, if it wasnt for his friendliness at a very early age, the other brothers would not be as tame they are.

Dwells:
indoors

Bio:
I believe that Rocky was the very first kitten that made contact with his human owner. I believe he was Miss Momacat's first son to be born. He was the only kitten that would come up to my feet and lick and bite my toes. OUCH! Rocky and his brother's like to cuddle to my feet and nap and sleep when I am on the computer. Rocky has a distinguised blue collar that sets him apart from the rest. He is the leader of the pack,and Smoky follows close behind his brother. They are a little on the aggressive side, and has got into so much mischieve that they cannot go into the livingroom/kitchen are without human supervision. Blacky is always close by momacat. Sometimes washing her. Not too far behind her at all times.....UPDATE: Smoky and Blacky are now outside cats. Getting into the spiritual side of things. Some time I feel like I am observing a pack of wild lions. It is really neat to watch this family of cats grow over the days and months. I am reminded of Daniel in the Bible who was thrown into the lions den. I could not even imagine being thrown in a pit with 3 or 4 hungry growling lions. When the palace gaurds looked down in the pit, It does not say but i feel like He was petting those lions. Can you imagine the astonishmentof the guards who were watching over that pit. They were actually there to witness and testify Daniel to be torn of shreds by those lions. Imagine the expressions on their faces when they looked into the pit? They may have saw Daniel actually playing around with tame lions. What a reminder of a great story. I believe one day in the future we will be able to witness seeing the lions sitting with a lambs.



Kitcat

Quick Bio:
-mixed breed

Birthday:
December 25th 2002

Coloration:
Black and White

Likes:
running on wood floors

Pet-Peeves:
moving vehicles

Favorite Toy:
a old tied up sock with catnip in it

Favorite Nap Spot:
window ledges

Skills:
knocking on front porch screen door

Dwells:
indoors and outdoors

Arrival Story:
One winter morning around Christmas of 2002, I opened my front door to a small kitten sitting on my front porch looking up at me. I was surprised that the kitten didn't move when he saw me. I was able to pick him up and bring him into the house. I'm not really sure how or why he was on my front porch. Maybe God knew Kitcat needed a owner and I needed a pet.

Bio:
As kit grew so did his personality. He loved to run on the wood floor from window to window looking outside. He was a content and well behaved most of the time. Well one time he did get a hold of the toilet paper when I was gone one day. I came back to torn toilet paper all over my house. Also, as Kit grew his interest and longing to be outside with the other cats increased. Finally one day, He made a run for it when I had the front door open. He then became a inside and outside cat. Kit and I really connected. There were times I would open my front door, and Kit would be standing there. Other times when he wanted in the house, he found a way to knock on the screen door. When he wanted outside he would stand by the door. There were times when I woke up in the night, that Kitcat would be licking the top of my forehead, im not sure why he did that. But in some way, I felt comfort from it. It was a sad day when we found kitcat. He got ran over by a car when i was out of town and ran under my apartment. I couldnt look at Kit I wanted to remember him when He was living. My next store neighbor buried him in the yard behind the apartment.

Kitcat Wesson Street




Lessons From Miss Kitty--Highly Commended award

A pet is one of God’s creations, impacting us as well as teaching us important truths like unconditional love and trust. They are a godsend bringing healing to soothe our hearts. Sometimes though, we have to learn to expect the unexpected when it comes to having animals around us.

In particular I have always had a love for cats. In fact, I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t have a cat as a pet. Many cats have come and gone throughout my adult life. But the one that stands out most is Miss Kitty. I call her a ‘Sylvester cat,’ like the cartoon; all black and with a ribbon of white on her belly.




I adopted her from the animal shelter back in 2005. The volunteers were hesitant because she was feral. I was unaware of what that meant, and didn’t think to ask. They told me to have her spayed in about a month. 

When I first brought her home in a box, she jumped out, ran and hid. Miss Kitty was so unfamiliar with being domesticated that she was in hiding practically 24/7. I left her food and water out, and a litter box nearby so that she would at least eat and do her “business” when I was not at home. This process was a lesson in patience for me. It took her a little over a month to finally trust me enough to come out of hiding when I was home. Our relationship eventually grew into a mutually loving and trusting one.

Then I moved to a house that had a laundry room with an outside door. One day I left it open and well, you know how the story goes. Yes, Miss Kitty was gone. I couldn’t find her anywhere. She was missing in action for 4 days. Finally, the light bulb in my head went on and I thought, “What if I leave the laundry room door open and just pray that she makes it home safely?”

As I went about my daily chores, I spied her in the kitchen eating. I crept in the laundry room and quickly shut the door. From that point on I made sure that she didn’t get out. 




The cat’s whole demeanor changed right before my eyes. She would literally run and jump and sit on my lap. I thought to myself, “This is nice for a switch from her more feral temperament.” At the time I was completely ignorant as to what was going on with Miss Kitty. She actually would let me pet her and pick her up, much different from her usually aloof personality. I did notice that she was gaining weight, but I didn’t think anything of it, “She is just a happy cat.”

Then one spring night I was laying on the couch watching TV. I had a blanket over me. Miss Kitty jumped up in my lap. I noticed something was bothering her because she was so restless. Finally, she lay down in between my knees, and I positioned myself to give her more room, and before I knew it I heard crying. But it was not Miss Kitty crying, it was a baby kitten. I watched in child-like excitement as she bore four more kittens. I was witnessing the miracle of life. Four were solid black and one was a baby ‘Sylvester.’ 

This was the very first time I had witnessed an animal giving birth, and in between my knees of all places! This most natural of all events taught me to expect the unexpected. 

Baby Sylvester did not make it unfortunately, and I had to bury her. The rest of Miss Kitty’s litter grew up to be healthy and happy kittens, and went to fine homes after they were spayed / neutered. 

Miss kitty, who initially was so timid, learned to trust me enough with her most important treasures. 

I think about trusting God a lot these days, and realize I have learned so much. Yet, there are still times when it is tough to really let go and trust Him. Where in the “Good Book” does it say that it’s supposed to be easy? We do it because He has loved us unconditionally and without reservation. When we do finally realize His lavished love, how much we grow up and really learn to trust God, and expect His love! Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)




Thursday, August 4, 2016

"Erma's Chili"--placed 3rd in FW Competition

During fourth-grade recess, you could find me by myself swinging on the monkey bars. A certain girl would always migrate in my direction to sit along beside me, or to watch the other kids play on the playground.

She was a pretty black girl. Her name was Erma Johnson. 

My heart skipped a beat when I first saw her on the playground. She had sparking brown eyes, smooth dark-skin, and her smile could light a dark sky. She was tall for her young age, and when she spoke my name, my heart would melt like snow. I couldn’t believe she actually wanted to sit with me.

Erma followed me everywhere I went and we shared several classes together. I liked all the attention I got from her. She would also sit with me at the lunch table in the cafeteria.

One particular day, Erma sat down at the table. She batted her big brown eyes at me. “Hi.”

What she did next proved to change my life forever. We had chili that day for lunch. Erma took her little bag of saltine crackers and crushed them with her hands. After that, she poured them on top of her chili. 

I hadn’t seen anyone crush crackers over the top of chili before. With her spoon, she mixed the crackers up in the chili. She looked up at me with those brown eyes and pointed her spoon at me. “Try it; I think you’ll like it.”

I crumbled up the plastic packet of crackers, tore open the little pack and poured them into my chili. I mixed it all together in my bowl. It seemed to accent the chili into another realm of great taste, with just the right combination of crunch and saltiness.

Although older now, I still crush up the saltines in my bowl of chili. I find myself salivating when looking down at that rich mixture setting before me. “Mmm Mmm good!”

When I think of Erma now, I am thankful for the sweet childhood memories of turning a boring chili dish into a savory experience.

As Christians, we should be the crackers in God’s chili.

We are called to be the salt of the earth. That is why we are here. Matthew 5:13 (MSG) In our own way, the flavor of God should accent our lives to a lost and dying world. 

It is our purpose and destiny to be salt-seasoned. We should bring out the God-flavors to season everyone around us. The more time we spend with God, The more God’s flavor will be evident in our lives.

If we lose our saltiness, the world will not know the flavor of God.

He has called us to reach out, being seasoned in our words and by our deeds. This is what the grace-filled life is all about. 

God’s amazing grace resides upon us and inside our hearts. In essence, that is the perfect saltiness that differentiates us from the rest of the world. 

Dear Jesus, help me to be salt-seasoned in Your mercy and grace. Show me how to spend quality time in Your Presence. Then, use me to reach out to those who are lost and hurting. In Your precious and most holy name I pray, Amen.

Authors Note: The story in this devotion is loosely based on actual facts.

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