Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Personal Message From the Christmas Story

“And blessed (happy, to be envied) is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of the things that were spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)

          As I sat down last Sunday morning to read the Christmas story, I asked the Lord to speak to me through the story of Jesus’ birth like never before and for His Holy Spirit to illuminate the Word and deepen my understanding of the scriptures I was about to read.
          While I read the story about Zachariah and Elizabeth’s pregnancy, and about the angel Gabriel who visited Mary to inform her she was going to give birth to Jesus, Luke 1:45 jumped out at me for the first time—despite the fact I read this story practically every year. In its context, Elizabeth in her old age and pregnant was rejoicing that Mary came to visit her. Elizabeth exclaimed that Mary was blessed as well as the fruit of her womb, because she was carrying the Lord Jesus. Elizabeth also exclaimed that Mary was blessed because she believed the things the Lord had spoken to her and that they would be fulfilled. Then Mary began to enthusiastically praise the Lord.
          The fact that Mary was blessed because she believed what the Lord had spoken to her would be fulfilled really resonated with me. There are many prayers I’ve prayed over the last 16 years and continue to pray, and they still haven’t come to pass. And there have been and still are times I lose hope and just want to give up. But God reminded me in that passage that He has given me promises: promises for my marriage, promises for my family, promises regarding my career, and countless promises concerning the blessings I have in Christ. And he reminded me that I should continue to believe them, and that they will be fulfilled—and not to lose hope.
          So as I celebrate the birth of Jesus the Messiah this Christmas season, I will once again meditate on the promises the Lord has spoken to me and recommit myself to believing that they will be fulfilled as Mary did and be blessed. If you’ve ever experienced times of great stress, doubt, and hopelessness due to life’s circumstances, join me this holiday season and do what Mary did: Believe the things that the Lord has spoken to you and that they will be fulfilled, so you too will be blessed!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you that you love me perfectly, that you’re gracious, compassionate, and know me intimately. Gently remind me this Christmas season of all the promises you’ve given me. Strengthen my faith and my belief in those promises so I can be blessed and continue to experience your blessings. In your name I pray, Amen!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Baseball Game Blessings

"You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours." (Psalm 128:2) "Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." (Proverbs 31:31)
      This past week the vice president of my company gave me four all-expense paid tickets to go see the Phillies play the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, September 26th. Before she told me about the tickets, she asked me whether my husband and I liked baseball. I said "No," but I'm sure glad my answer didn't stop her from telling me about the special tickets and persuading me to go to the game. 
      She said the tickets were for Dugout Diamond seating—better than VIP. She said we'd literally be sitting right behind the batter's box (right). We'd enjoy free parking in a special lot for Dugout Diamond fans; we'd have access to free food all night long, first in a special restaurant, and then we'd be waited on hand and foot throughout the entire game with free beverages and snacks. She said it would be a really great experience. She and the president gave me these tickets because of the stellar October issue of Today's Dietitian, which is about to mail next week—our largest and most profitable issue of the year. I was so thankful. The president said the October issue was the best she's seen in terms of content and artwork. I was like "Wow!" I didn't realize it was that good. I simply worked hard on the issue as I always do on all the issues. But I must give all the glory to God!
      Of course, my husband accompanied me (above), and I invited my son and his girlfriend (left). I left work early and headed to Philly. We got to the stadium around 5:45 pm due to the traffic. But once we found the special parking lot and parked the car, we headed straight for the special restaurant because we all were hungry. This particular restaurant had different food stations where we could order our food, which was heated up/made right in front of us. There were stations for cheese steaks and hamburgers, salad, sandwiches, pasta, seafood, and ribs. My son had a huge Philly cheese steak and salad; his girlfriend had crab cakes and asparagus and salad; my husband and I had a pasta dish. I later had a salad with grilled veggies, hummus, and crispy chips and bread. The food was delicious—not like the usual baseball game fare of Nathan hot dogs, french fries, and soda. Then we were served pumpkin cheesecake with whipped cream on top. Yum! By that time I was stuffed so I took only a couple of forkfuls just to taste it. Then it was time for the game.
DSC_1607      I saw the professional photographers (right) with their $7,000 super zoom lenses sitting on monopods. I brought my camera and couldn't wait to shoot the game. Of course my equipment paled in comparison to the pros. My son's girlfriend is studying photography so she brought her camera as well. We really had a good time. My husband enjoyed himself more than he thought he would, and my son's girlfriend was so thankful that I invited her to come.
DSC_1591      Probably the most memorable part of the game was the mascot. OMG! He was so funny—the way he shook his butt, his belly, and got the crowd jumping and dancing. We were hysterical laughing every time he came out to entertain us. I also liked the moves of the pitchers. Ervin Santana (below left and center) from the Atlanta Braves was pretty good, although he got pretty tired midway through the game and they had to replace him. I caught a few action shots, but for the most part my photos were mediocre at best. I caught one player sliding into second base and one sliding back to first base to avoid get struck out—if that's even the correct term. All in all we had a great time! Thank you Great Valley Publishing for giving me and my family such a nice gift! I'll remember it always!!
DSC_1417    DSC_1372 DSC_1527    DSC_1585

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Public Speaking? I Think I'd Rather Die

“O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” (Exodus 4:10-11)

     Last week, I traveled to Las Vegas to attend my company’s first annual Spring Symposium for Today’s Dietitian magazine, a two-day event that included several continuing education sessions presented by highly acclaimed nutrition professionals in the dietetics field. I was asked to introduce some of these presenters each day and host a panel discussion of prominent RDs about the value of speaking and writing in their field. My first reaction was “Oh no, I don’t like public speaking. I get too nervous; I stumble and stammer over my words. Oh my goodness!”
     Then I remembered the panel discussion I participated in last year at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Houston. I was just as nervous of the thought of speaking in front of an audience, but once I started talking I was fine and I really enjoyed the experience. So I said to myself, “OK, if I enjoyed last year’s panel discussion maybe I’ll enjoy introducing some of the speakers and hosting the panel discussion.
     Here I was again relating to how Moses felt when the Lord commanded him to confront Pharaoh and demand he set the Israelites free from slavery. Moses was concerned about the very same thing I was concerned about. He was afraid of speaking to Pharaoh and what the Egyptians would think of him just as I was afraid of speaking in front of 275-plus nutrition professionals. Yikes! I was afraid of stuttering and worrying what they might think of me.
     Some people aren’t afraid of public speaking. They can stand in front of an audience with ease and give a wonderful presentation. But I’m not one of those people. So I prayed and asked God to take away my fear and give me a deep sense of peace that transcends all understanding and to guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. He promised to be with me and give me the words to speak, so I trusted Him in that and everything went well. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be, and I didn’t stumble and stammer over my words. In fact, the presenters liked how I introduced them, and one of them invited me to speak with her on another panel discussion she wants to host next year at a national nutrition conference. I said “I’d love to.”
     I’ve come to learn that whenever you ask for the Lord’s presence and His peace, he answers pretty much immediately. He promises to keep you in perfect peace if you believe Him and your mind is focused on Him. So whatever you may be facing that you’re deathly afraid of, just bow your head, ask for His presence, power, strength, peace, and Holy Spirit to be poured out on you. Meditate on scripture about fear and a promise that speaks to your situation. And believe me, God will answer—and people will take notice. They’ll notice there’s something special about you. They won’t be able to put their finger on it, but you’ll know it’s the Lord’s favor, a display of His glory.
     I’m not sure what God is doing in my professional career, but He’s surely stretching me and my faith in ways I’m not expecting. He seems to be elevating me by thrusting me into the spotlight. He knows I’m nervous about being in the spotlight, but He has me doing it anyway, and He’s right there with me. He assures me there’s no reason to be afraid, and He’s right. May I praise His holy name!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He Is Risen!

“I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever!” (Revelation 1:18)

       Whenever the Easter holiday draws near, I often reflect on this passage of scripture more than any other that speaks of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross and His miraculous resurrection. Certainly there are other wonderful, riveting passages such as in the gospels that chronicle his death, burial, and resurrection, and in the Old Testament prophecies.
       These poignant words of Christ in Revelation 1:18, however, give me special comfort, because He emphatically declares that He is the Living One. He is alive today and forevermore through His spirit living inside of me, in other believers, and in the world at large. He is seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, and He is coming back a second time to take all who know and love him to their promised heavenly home.
       Because of Jesus’ shed blood and death on the cross, my sins are forgiven. And because He rose from the dead, I have everlasting life. I love the fact He is alive, working in my life, working in the lives of other believers, and working powerfully in the world.
       After a busy workweek, with much on my mind, I'm so glad I was able to focus on my Lord this morning with my husband during church services. We were able to reflect on what He’s done for us, on how much He loves us, and on the promises we have in Him because He is alive
      Our Pastor preached on the fact that we don't have to fear death if we have trusted in Christ for our salvation because when we die we will spend eternity in heaven with Him. Christ has freed us from the fear of death. "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (Hebrews 2:14-15).
      I pray that you and your family have enjoyed this holiday weekend giving praise to the Lord for his sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. Because he rose, we too will rise again to live forever with Him. Amen!

Prayer: Lord, may I set aside all of my worries to focus only on you, to focus on the blood you shed for the forgiveness of my sins, to focus on your sacrificial death, and your resurrection that ensures my life eternal. In Your Name I pray, amen.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Protected by God's Angels

“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge … for He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:4,11-12)

No one will argue that when the snow falls, it can make the landscape look beautiful—even breathtaking. In God’s great wisdom, He created the snow to water the earth so that it would yield seed for the sower and bread for the eater. And in His great creativity, not one snowflake looks alike. Each one has its own unique design and pattern.

When the snowstorms hit, as they have in the midwest and northeast lately, the snow can create hazardous road conditions for motorists. A couple of weeks ago during a major snow storm that threatened to dump up to 16 inches in the northeast by night fall, I drove to work early in the morning against my better judgment to beat the snow and get as much work done as possible before leaving the office early.

On my way home between 3 and 3:30 pm, I decided to take the highway, figuring it would be safer since the highways are plowed sooner and more thoroughly than the back roads. I was within 1 mile of my exit, when I saw about three or four cars spinning out of control and banging into one another. (They were about six car lengths in front of me.) Suddenly, my car skidded to the left—right off the highway from the right lane all the way across to the left lane and into a large grassy area.

As I was skidding even in the grassy area, I turned my steering wheel into the skid—to the left and to the right—to prevent my car from doing a 360. My car slid sideways and forward before my car came to a stop. My heart beat quickly in my chest as I realized I didn’t hit any cars; I didn’t hit a guardrail because there wasn’t one to hit, and I didn’t hit any trees.

I prayed to God for help, and thanked him that I was OK as I turned my head to the right and saw that I was now six car lengths in front of the cars that were still spinning out of control and banging into one another. Because there were hardly any cars on the highway, I easily got back onto the highway and drove to my exit, which was now a ½ mile away. I made it home safely and in awe of the way the Lord spared me from hitting those cars. God sure answers prayers, because that morning of the snowstorm I prayed for His protection over me and that He would command His angels to protect me on the road.

This morning another snowstorm hit. I got up at 5:30 am in an attempt to get ready for work. But because I wasn’t feeling well and another snowstorm was on the way I felt the Lord telling me to stay home. And that I did. Thank you Lord for speaking to me and for your power in my life!

** Photo taken this morning with the Nikon D5300: shutter speed 1/250 sec; ISO 400; focal length 45 mm; lens 18-140 mm; matrix metering mode.

** Please visit my new photography blog at Judith Riddle Photography. Visit my gallery of photos and leave me messages on my blog. I'd love to hear from you!
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