Losing Sight of Christmas

Losing Sight of Christmas cover

Enjoy “The Christmas Shoes” by Newsong 2000!


The muddy slush piles up against curbs and trampled footprints scatter about on the snow-covered sidewalks. Storefronts capitalize on impending Christmas shopping with festive, decorated windows. Full of alluring ideas that tax the mind where wallets won’t permit, it’s hard to swallow. But, love consumes our hearts, so we become obsessed with not wanting to forget a single person. We shop online and by foot comparing prices, then wait in long lines. Frustrations mount as, sometimes, we end up paying for overnight delivery because we ran out of time.

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Are we losing sight of Christmas? We join together bearing gifts for one another to commemorate Jesus’s birthday on the 25th day of December. But where did the idea of excessive gift-giving come from, anyway? It’s not how this holiday began because there was a time when celebrating this day was a taboo.

 

Origin of the Christmas Holiday
Jesus’s birth was categorized as a pagan holiday. It is their belief He never existed as a man, only as a spiritual entity. Then, in the 1600s, Rome became the birthplace of Christmas as we know it; so, it’s a fairly new celebration. But, as history reveals, Protestants (the Puritans) in America hated this holiday and banned it in 1644. They believed it was an insult to God to honor a day associated with ancient paganism. The Puritans also considered Christmas trees and decorations unholy rituals as well as traditional foods such as mincemeat pies and pudding.

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Pagan Christmas image courtesy of Huffington Post

 

Commercialism of Christmas
So, how did Christmas ever come to the point of being the ultimate gift-giving experience instead of the rejoicing of a holy birth? Perhaps the commercialization of Santa Claus bearing bags of gifts started the dreaded Christmas creep. New York City’s annual American International Toy Fair is held in February, and the stores purchase and scheme for the following holiday. Isn’t that a little much?

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Do you know a whopping 18% of gifts given to others are never used by the recipient? To make matters worse, we spend the next six months paying off the debt we incurred because it was ‘the thought that mattered.’ Scroogenomics author, Joel Waldfogel, summed it up well – “if the spending we engage in doesn’t produce any satisfaction, then it’s hardly a measure of well-being.” Why are we allowing the commercialism of Christmas to affect our purses and create greediness?

 

Make Your Christmas Count!
I think this Christmas we should, instead, get involved with our communities. Spend money, if you must, giving to those less fortunate. There are orphanages, Senior Citizen centers, hospitals, and homeless people who would appreciate your gift. Take your children with you and let them feel the happiness of another person smiling over an unexpected present. After all, as a Christian, God expects us to help others in need.

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Image courtesy of YouTube

Overloading our own kids and others with presents is not the reason for the season! Limit your immediate family gifts to three and make them count. The birth of Jesus should be our celebration. Attend a local church service and enjoy the sensations of the joyous season. Jesus was born to save us – let that be enough for you this year.
God bless and Merry Christmas!

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No More Montgomery Wards

No More Montgomery Wards cover

It was a cold Friday morning, and my mother promised to take me to see Santa the day after Thanksgiving. The winds howled, and flurries flew, but we bundled up and headed out, anyway. Twenty-five more days till Santa arrived on Christmas morning. I was so excited!

The parking lot was full of cars. We had little choice than to drudge our way through the frozen elements. My small arms pushed so hard to open the enormous glass doors for my mom while she closed her umbrella. Suddenly, it was like walking into a fairyland of twinkling lights. Everywhere I looked animated animals and snow-covered gingerbread houses lined the mall’s entrance. I used to wonder who had to climb way to the top of the Christmas trees to decorate them for they were as high as the sky.

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In the middle of all the garland and tinsel, a sweet baby Jesus laid crying and waving this arms. Mary and Joseph stood over His cradle attending to His needs. Joseph’s hand was on Mary’s back, comforting her, as she reached for a blanket to keep her newborn warm. Those animated characters were so real to this young boy! What an incredible memory!

No More Montgomery Wards Pic 1

 

My head was full of enthusiasm as we walked the corridor passing Santa’s sleigh and reindeer. They were chained up and ready to take off at any second making my head full of wonderment. And then, inside the entrance of Montgomery Wards, was the moment I’d been waiting for all year long. Bigger than life, and right in front of my eyes, was Santa Claus! A line of impatient children was dying, like me, to climb up on his lap and tell him all about their life story.

No More Montgomery Wards Pic 2

 

Those yesteryears of bearing the frozen elements and fighting the crowds to get a good look at our Savior and a sneak peek at Santa are all but a myth. The large department stores, like Montgomery Wards, and malls of my youth are now replaced by high-end strip centers. I reflect with sorrow in my heart; my grandchildren will never have the privilege to remember the Friday after Thanksgiving as I did as a child!

The first snow was inside a mall, and baby Jesus reminded us of the reason. Santa waited to reward us for being good little girls and boys. Oh, those were the incredible days – going to the mall with Mom while Dad took things out of the attic, preparing for the season. Lost in thought, can we ever forgive the system which brought us miracles like 34th Street downtown? Why did they ever shut down those glorious days?

Now we sit in a leather-back, with pumpkin pies in our lap, and watch the parades on television as they light up the city. I’d give my eyeteeth to take my grandson, along with his father, to see Santa and walk those same corridors. We would laugh and celebrate a tradition through the eyes of a child.

I pray the day will come when we can stop and appreciate the love instilled us through generations of parents who cared not to change our holiday season. Let the effervescence of Christmas traditions roll on. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for never letting me forget.

www.danabicksauthor.com

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Circle of Eternal Life

Circle of Eternal Life cover

Several years ago, I visited Williamsburg, Virginia at Christmastime. I walked the streets of this historical town, and it amazed me how preservationists kept the buildings true to the colonial period of the 18th-century city. If you never visited America’s roots during the holidays, it should go on your bucket list.

Enjoy the music of the Galway Christmas Singers, “Deck the Halls”!

Part of the charm of Williamsburg was the authentic decorations used to recreate a true Christmas era. The most magnificent was the elaborate wreaths hanging on every door. I’m sure they are made by professional designers now, but what a site to see! Every item used to decorate them are from sources in nearby areas, such as shells from the nearby James River, coffee beans, dried native plants, drumsticks, fruit, and straw. I returned home with a camera disk filled with pictures of these beauties.

 

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Williamsburg, VA Christmas wreaths

I’m always amazed at the creativeness of people! How do they come up with their ideas and what was their initial inspiration? Artistic talents seem to be evident in wreaths as far back as the Persian empire. I wonder how they figured out making a round circle of dried plants delivered a beautiful headband? It seemed to work because soon after, the Greeks, in 776 BC, constructed round wreaths of olive leaves worn by the winners of the Olympic Games. Yet others wore laurel or oak leaf headpieces to designate a person’s status and rank in society.

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Olympic Games laurel headbands circa 776

Soldiers in the Roman Empire inserted the first bits of decorations into wreaths using fresh holly. They thought this plant had magical powers so using it kept evil spirits away from their homes. The trend of receiving good luck from wreaths moved forward into Europe as the wheat circles, now hanging on doors, brought good luck to their harvests. It was a sure sign of growth and accomplishment for the Europeans.

During the Renaissance period, in England, wreaths symbolized political and religious alliances. The Lutherans initially created the Advent wreath in Germany. They used evergreens, signifying everlasting life through Jesus, and large, circular shapes implying a God with no beginning and no end.

“O God, by whose Word all things are sanctified, pour forth Your blessing upon this wreath and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ and may receive from You abundant graces. We ask this through Christ our Lord.”
~~St. Jerome Catholic Church~~

The country of Poland created wreaths of grain plants, fruit, and nuts for their Harvest Festival called Dozynki. When the construction of this “circle of eternal life” was complete, they walked to a church to be blessed by a priest. God now sanctified their harvest for the new season.

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Poland’s Dozynki wreath celebration. Image courtesy of Polish Heritage Awareness Society.

And so, wreaths for holidays became a household inspiration and custom. Today, the wreath is used in many celebrations, but most important at Christmas. For Christians, it is the preparation of the coming of Christ. Will you hang one on your door this year?

There is always a welcome invitation at our doorstep. We believe in God and the Immaculate Conception, so we honor Him by displaying a wreath of goodwill. God bless all who take the time to read and share our posts.

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We wish you all the best holiday season from the bottom of our hearts. Merry Christmas and a very blessed New Year! ~~Dana and Anne

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A Christmas Celestial Event

A Christmas Celestial Event cover

A perfect scene… a star like none other, sitting above a stable in the peaceful night and it’s announcing the birth of a holy Messiah. The Gospel of Matthew was the only book in the Bible which described “The Star of Bethlehem” occurrence:

A Christmas Celestial Event verse

What did the wise men witness in the sky that night? Was it real? Was it a star, a comet, or something else? The magi were skilled astrologers and scholars, so their fixation was not in the stars, but on large astronomical events which they believed would predict something happening. But why were they the only men to witness and describe a star guiding them? If they were well trained then why didn’t they understand what they saw in the sky?

Many astrologers of 2,000 years ago, the Chinese, Korean, and Babylonians, documented the heavens because they placed predictions based on events. The writings recorded then, are in a constant review by our astronomers today, and theories abound. But, one thing is for sure, no answer or explanation for this divine incident is clear. Here are the details I discovered, and you may come to your own conclusion.

Enjoy the beautiful song, “Star of Bethlehem”:

I know little of astronomy, but for certain, stars do not move relative to themselves. Planets continuously shift through the solar system. Based on this, how, then, did the sacred star move, leading the magi to Bethlehem? One theory suggests a heliacal rising. The planets Jupiter and Venus lapped each other while moving through the background stars. If the sun caught up to one of the planets, the planet would disappear until the sun moved far enough away from it. Then it would reappear shockingly bright in the sky, just before sunrise. Historical records show this exact occurrence on April 17 of 6 BC to December 19 of 6 BC. But, this natural alignment of planets, sun, and earth would not create a long, extended tail to the ground such as the one described by the magi.

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A heliacal rising

A second theory suggests a comet. This seems to be the most logical explanation because it can hang over a city or land mass as did Halley’s Comet on March 8, 1986. Historical astronomy records revealed a tailed comet in the timeframe of the magi’s travels, and it lasted for seventy days. However, from Jerusalem’s vantage point, the comet would have been in the southern sky with the head close to the horizon and the tail pointing upward. The magi described the “Star of Bethlehem” as one they never seen before and comets were frequent visitors in their galaxy. So, as scholarly astrologers, why couldn’t the magi tell the difference between a comet and a star? Apparently, something confused their decision.

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Image of Halley’s Comet

A final theory suggests the birth of a star, known as a nova. It certainly matched the biblical description. Once again, Chinese historical records reveal a new star was born in the northern constellation of Aquila in 4 BC. During the time the three wise men traveled from Jerusalem, the star would have lit their sky south into Bethlehem and not in the west. This explains why no one else witnessed this bright star. However, the star did not move, and it certainly didn’t stand over the city of Bethlehem; nor would it have stayed bright for the one to two years they took to find Jesus.

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Image of Supernova

Revealing all the facts described in this blog, I will stand on my own theory. The Star of Bethlehem was an incredible act of God and one created for a unique purpose. God can use natural law to carry out His will because He is not bound by the laws He created for this world. When you think of the whole miraculous event of Jesus’s birth, a special star is not beyond His scope. What do you think?

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The Best for Last

The Best for Last cover

It’s quiet and dark. God, I know, is ever-present with me. I awaken to welcome our Lord on this calm Sunday morning. What do I do in moments such as these? I write to you, my resting angel….

For you, my love….

What a gracious moment to reminisce! The things you and I accomplished this year, and God’s gifts, make it such a wonderful time to give thanks. I feel my heartbeat resting; no man should ever attempt the suicidal race against time as I do six out of seven days a week.

Someday, I pray to sail away with you my fair lady, hand-in-hand, to conquer a distant world awaiting us. Our toes will poke in the sand near the crystal clear waters. It won’t be long, my love, because our first anniversary is on the doorstep.

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In the meantime, I sit in sweats, enjoying the daybreak, and counting the moments. It’s one day closer to reminiscing our beginning of time – a reunion of sorts. We met as kids and were too young to realize the other’s needs. There were babies to raise and a whole life of mistakes to live. We never thought we’d find each other, or marry, after thirty-two years apart!

But, God, in His infinite humor, watched us go crazy. Little did we know He was saving the best for last! I have to smile and ask myself – how could one little week, in 1985, direct the course of two people reuniting and then creating such a perfect pair? Only through our Father! It’s the only possible way. Now, my little angel, we are infinitely heaven bound, together.

First, though, there are things we must do, here on earth. God anointed me to be a messenger nine years ago; so we need to spread His word and passion to others. Perhaps, we are Adam and Eve, His original creations, reincarnated to prove how real love shines in this world. It certainly explains my back pains for God took a rib from me to make my dream come true. Overjoyed, I am better for the ache!

The sun ignites the gray morning sky. It’s undeniable our Father planned to unite these two souls from the beginning. So, it is here I stay content in spirit, God abounding, and mother nature is dormant. Tomorrow, on our first anniversary, we will celebrate this blessed union. I can come forward to share an everlasting miracle with a world waiting to witness perfection in the flesh.

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Today, I am alive, in love, and tranquil as the dawn. As my goddess sleeps, I pray our devotion will conquer all. It’s clear, God in His magnificent wisdom, saved the best for last – YOU.

Happy Anniversary, my love!


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It’s A Pancake Kind-a Morning

It's A Pancake Kind-a Morning cover

I returned from another morning of pedaling mail. The chill in the air reminded me of fall’s arrival. A simmering glare ignited the ominous sky. The rains of yesterday disappeared and a patchy dew laid low to the ground. I think God reveals the loveliness of this season to help us remember life is a beautiful journey.

They predict a perfect weekend, but for now, it’s tranquil. Suddenly, I smelled something cooking. With my wife’s back to me, she was intently preparing a hot meal for her wayward stranger. It was a pile of pancakes waiting to be devoured for breakfast; the eggs and sausage shared a skillet. Breakfast was almost finished, so I hung up my jacket on the hall tree. It’s a pancake kind-a morning!

I fixed a cup of caffeine hoping to stay awake and share my morning with her. God’s got everything under control. Our home became the International House of Prayer; for even though a mess scattered about the kitchen, the fluffiness of God’s love shined ever-present.

Lighting a candle, we thanked God for my morning’s safe journey. It’s a wonderful time to be alive! We’re living the dream, her and I, together once and for all. Against all the odds, we sat at our farmhouse table with God at the head, sharing our morning meal. This is the secret to a happy marriage – He is always between you. He is the butter and flour which raises a perfect round of deliciousness. Just add the syrup and life becomes even sweeter!

Invite the Lord to your next breakfast and listen to His blessings sizzle. You will be amazed at the beauty of your pancakes!

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Mending

Mending cover

It’s the eve of another year past. Life changes and different anatomical pains arise. I made some new friends this year and reunited with some old acquaintances. There were some I wished well and sent them on their way. But, in a summation, I wish I knew where life would find me.

I’m not sad or alone, decrepit or incapacitated but instead, I feel young and vibrant; blessed with vitality and youthfulness. It makes me wonder, because, at my age, I shouldn’t be going ninety miles per hour. If God is making an example out of me, well… He’s doing a pretty good job! So it’s time to reflect on the past hurricanes ravaging my lingering memories. That’s all left to stand.

I ask God to lead me in an effort to comprehend life’s twists and turns. My future path is anyone’s guess, but I can say He’s made miracles happen which are out of my control. I have to decipher my own handwriting when He fills my head with messages. I only wish I could dial the heavens and share the joy with Mom and Dad.

Materialistically, a loss is a sign of weakness, but spiritually speaking, any catastrophe brings strength in times of adversity. Outside forces controlled my earlier years. But for the second half, I’ll return to the point God first touched me. I’m mending this section and my days left in it. I only ask of my Father to protect me. May joy accompany my life, and friendships blossom, yet praise the “love” who kept searching for me. Mending the past to the present is heaven-sent – this makes sense. I only wish I figured out the signs He was sending me thirty-four years ago for there’s no telling the direction my life would yield. Today, a gravitational pull beacons my spirit as God is now my priority.

I’m older tomorrow by one year, and I wonder how many more God will give me to enjoy? Though I lost my parents when I was young, He watches over my hurts and fills my soul with peace. But, how can “sorry” help if no one ever listened to my hurts? Only forgiveness sends messages to the deceased. To patch my broken years, I would have to fill the voids; however, there’s no home remaining, nor church which captivated my soul – just the first place I came in contact with the Almighty.

Mending a broken past with joyful present memories brings me a craving of jubilation. Jesus knows my heart.

Thank you, Lord, for my life!


EDITOR’S NOTE:

God bless you, my sweet husband! Your walk in life is the most inspiring I’ve ever witnessed. You are a joy and inspiration to our family and friends! Each day spent with you brings another smile and blessings bountiful. How can we ever thank you enough for “just being you”!

Thank you, God, for the glorious messenger you brought into all our lives!

Let the Heavens Dance

Let the Heavens Dance Cover

Ascending into the heavens, high above the moon and stars, I can hear my Father, at a glance, calling out your name. The crowd forms and I mingle amongst them searching for the only one who’s ever truly loved me. An orchestra of harps and violins sway like palms on a sunset beach as night falls. There are so many welcoming faces, but I am only looking for just one.

Enjoy this touching song, Dancing in the Sky, sung by Danielle and Elizabeth Nelson!

I reminisce with the earthly tunes I once sang, and memories become a glimpse in time for they were before God called us to be with Him. Everyone looks so beautiful and healthy! They smile at me and file in one-by-one. But I stagger and stumble as though lost. Please, dear Lord, lead me to my heaven sent Angel. I prayed you to make us whole again. This is the grand finale where we will dance a lifetime together. I never quite learned to dance, but I knew it was you, God, who led me to her.

The night is young, becoming a reunion of old friends and relatives shaking hands and exchanging hugs. But, discontentedly my eyes wandered in the dimly lit plateau of heaven. The maître D, in His best dressed-whites, asked if He could help me. I bowed down before Him. He gently placed His hand under my chin and raised my head to face Him. On one knee, I pleaded, “My Lord, have you seen the one I adored?”

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He rubbed His chin, thinking for a moment. He knew exactly who I meant, for He heard my heart beating loudly. An amazing smile broke across His face, and He said, “Look behind you! She, too, has searched for you for a very long time.”

We serve an awesome Lord, a caretaker of sorts, as He guards His Father’s place in heaven. It is a house, I pray, you and I will dwell someday. But for now, let us dance in the shadows, under the moonlight, reflecting on the place we first met. God promised, eventually, we’d be together forever so let the heavens dance for us for it’s true!
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EDITOR’S NOTES:
Heaven – what a beautiful place it will be if we keep a strong faith in Jesus. On earth, it isn’t about being a good person (ethical, going to church, or praying); instead, it’s living a holy life and atoning the death of Jesus of Christ. How can we accomplish this feat? It is done by developing an intimate relationship with the Lord, repenting of our sins and never repeating them, and believing Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Salvation is by grace, through faith. All you have to do is receive it!

Let the Heavens Dance verse


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Memories, Old and New

Memories, Old and New cover

Enjoy this beautiful song, “Memories”, sung by Elvis Presley!


Another year of memories will be soon be added into my 67-year-old book of life. I sit in the dark shadows of the garage, now packed up to move south after thirty years in the Midwest. God calms and soothes my exhausted spirit. The chill of the dreary rain penetrates my coffee, and it turns cold. I patiently wait on life as God makes good on all His promises.

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In the darkness of the rubbish and boxes, two objects which I’ve personally touched, leave me wondering of their memories as well. An old red rocker gave up the ghost – it came from a yard sale. I have no concept of the famous children of God who wept for hours sitting on it. But, with a little love, its rejuvenated life will totter a little longer. I wonder where its life began and wished I could reminisce the stories it would tell.

And a second memory was created with a little carpentry work – something I built for my beautiful wife and me to enjoy in our new home. I never thought of how old and new memories join in matrimony until this morning; an old rocking chair, tossed to the curb, and the other, an entertainment stand I gave birth to using lumber. The stand is brand new with a story to tell – a memory of how my wife and I put it together in our first year of marriage. It will be with us for the rest of our days. Someday, it will be passed down to the grandchildren who will remember Pop-Pop built this by hand in his garage.

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For now, though, they quietly stand alone, waiting for their remembrances to unfold of decorating them for many holiday seasons to come. The bright red rocker, wise and strong, sits beside its impressive partner. An entertainment center quietly stands, but the rocker is not in a hurry to go anywhere. It looks up to the new grains of lumber. The stand feels the only comfort from the chair accompanying it in the garage.

Memories, Old and New pic

 

Cherished memories, a gift given by none other than God, carries us throughout the years. The new ones, like this cabinet, will be held so dear to us too. With the hands that hold you, my love, I molded something special for you to love as well!

We eat our lunch amongst the sawdust and scraps, with sticky, varnished-stained fingers and share thoughts of new beginnings and new memories. God will be in our every thought, in the coming years, in our new home. May we never lose sight, He only, shapes our future. So, let us thank Him for the gift of remembrance.

Memories, Old and New verse


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“Failure Is Not An Option”

Failure Is Not An Option cover

“With a tear in his eye and a broken voice reflecting his soul, no man should ever have to crawl out of the depths of that which he has found himself in.” ~~Dana Bicks~~

Steady at the helm, I insisted, and let God control your heading. His knuckles were white from gripping the wheel. He looked at me with tears brimming in his sad eyes, and the bitterness flowed. He told me, “Failure is not an option.”

With all the perseverance of a giant of a man, this little five foot six gentleman held on while a hurricane blew into his personal domain. An alcoholic with five children to feed, and a wife who deserted him, this gentle soul finally came face-to-face with the only one he did not plan on – God. He hides his habit in a garage full of memories where obligations wear tears on his collar. Robert knows who he is facing now.

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This man, who tries to escape reality through alcohol, almost died at the hands of a driver who crossed over the yellow lines. Within a year of the horrid accident, he found himself crippled, perhaps never to walk again. Today, he stares into the face of the only man he didn’t expect to meet, God, our Father, and in of all places, his garage. It’s not what I’d call a church, but he was eyeball to eyeball. With schedules and activities for five kids still in school, my friend finds God staring at him while he pours himself, yet, one more.

God grabbed him by the collar and pushed him against the wall. He looked Robert in the eyes and asked him a straightforward question.” What means more to you? The bottle or the boys and that sweet little girl?” Tears from a broken father flowed as my friend understood now, God really existed. He is always watching our every move. There’s no hiding from Him! Even if you lie to your loved ones and yourself, God still sees the actions of the guilty.

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I’ve never been in such a predicament, so it’s hard to relate to on many levels. I could only hug this dear friend and comfort him. My friends, God continually watches and listens to our spirit. He watches over the conscious mind when sickness and sin combine as one. So, I must ask then, if weakness is your virtue, then why is God not an option?

You see, so many live their life from within their mind. Reality is merely a temporary state of being. But, God will not help those not willing to reach out to Him. So, let the words, “Failure is not an option,” be your motto as you struggle to find your path to heaven. Don’t you know His greatest accomplishments can be built on our failures?

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My friend lost a twenty-one-year career, wrecked two vehicles, and later discovered his marriage wasn’t as solid as he thought. We must come to grips with reality as God gives you back the helm. Will you take the wheel and hold the course God has for you? Or will you run with the wind to escape the challenges? Eventually, you must face our Father. Let failure not be an option for you too!

Godspeed Robert, we all love you!

www.danabicksauthor.com


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