Jesus – My Victor

What kind of war did You wage for me?
On this night so long ago…
What weight of sin did You bare for me?
That of mine and ALL the world…
EVERY human ever born!
I cannot fathom such a Love…
One that could only come from Our Father above!
Oh the weight of all our sin…
Each one of us made in Your image,
Yet we often turn away from our spiritual lineage!
Oh Jesus, a mere Thank You is not enough…
Yet, You shower us DAILY with Your Love!
Yes, I commit this day afresh and anew,
To love You with all that I have and ALL that I do!
Make me Your Disciple walking this lowly place,
That others would see Jesus on my face…
Not just for my sake, oh Lord I ask,
But those who cross my daily path!
May they see You in my smile, my words, my actions…
And turn to You – our Hope, our Love, our Salvation!

Copyright April 21, 2019 Rita A. Jackson

Our Cloud of Witnesses

Our “Jewel in Jesus’ crown” Ruby Elianna dances with the BEST dance company in the Southeast. Joy’s Dance Company is owned by Joy Andrews. Ms. Joy has been teaching dance for over 25 years and her studio promotes self-worth, respect for yourself and others and Godly character. Our competitive dance teams and weekly class members get to experience the fun of dancing, while learning to respect their bodies and move to the music in ways that are not provocative or sexual in nature. Our girls are a Godly example when we go to competitions because Joy chooses music that is appropriate and often the songs are by Christian artists. One of the songs that Ruby’s team is dancing to is “Cloud of Witnesses” by Mark Schultz. They won first place this past weekend at Kids Artistic Review in Birmingham, AL. Here are the lyrics to the song…

“We watched them runnin’ down the aisles, Children’s time, Sunday morning. The preacher asked them who they loved, they all smiled and started pointing to their mom, their dad, the teacher from their kindergarten class; and each and every one had just come from…

A cloud of witnesses that would see them through the years, cheer them with a smile and pray them through the tears…A cloud of witnesses that would see them to the end, and shower them with love that never ends…A cloud of witnesses.

They stuck together through the years, the best of friends faith could foster, so when they found out one of them had heard the news he’d lost his father, they ran to him and prayed and put their hands upon his head, and slowly one by one they’d all become…

A cloud of witnesses as they sent above a prayer they took a hold of hands and circled ’round a friend…A cloud of witnesses with a faith just like a rock, they helped him give his father back to God…As a cloud of witnesses

So when it comes the time that heaven calls they’ll come running to see the ones who’ve gone before, and made the journey home to find waiting for them at the finish line, Cheerin’ happily they will run and they will see…

A could of witnesses lined up on a street of gold as they run the final mile. That leads them to a throne. And through the Cloud of witnesses they see God upon the throne. And as they fall into His arms, they know they’re home in…

A cloud of witnesses, surrounded by a Could of witnesses. We watched them runnin down the aisles Children’s time Sunday morning.”

Last November, one of our dearest Witnesses went home to be with the Lord…my Mom, Ruby’s Mimi. She loved Jesus with all her being. Recently, we found out that my husband’s Dad has Stage 4 cancer and will more than likely be joining that Cloud of Witnesses sooner than we had hoped. When Ms. Joy and Ms. April Brand began working with the girls on this dance, none of us knew what would take place in our lives over the course of the next few months or year…but God did! Ruby was chosen to be the dancer to depict the person in the song who loses his father. Although she is dealing with the loss of her Grandparents instead of a Father, I believe this is God’s Divine intervention. This part fits her perfectly and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way He is bringing glory to Himself through this dance!

Friends – God Almighty is always behind the scenes working all circumstances for our good and His glory! Although this has been a trying time for our family, I can see God’s hand on us and we are eternally grateful for our own “Cloud of Witnesses” including our Joy’s Dance Company family. We love each and everyone of you!

“Orphan” at 50

On November 28, 2016, the Lord called my precious Mother Home. She was a follower of Christ and she shared her faith boldly and unashamedly. My Mother didn’t have a lot of “possessions” by the world’s standards, but she laid up her treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust cannot destroy. Matthew 6:19. Truly, our Savior is her Treasure. She was not looking forward to gold streets or jade walls. My sweet Mother longed to be in the Presence of her King and Sovereign Lord. My Mother was a treasure to me personally. I called her every morning for the past 24 years on my way to work. I recently started a new job and on the first morning, I picked up my purse and phone, put in my Bluetooth, and caught myself just as I was about to speed-dial her number. That was such a strange feeling…she was no longer there to chat; she couldn’t pick up the phone; there are no phones in Heaven. I cried and prayed…I asked Jesus to please tell her that I love her and I miss her. I wanted her to know that I am so very grateful she is with Him – healthy and whole. Her legs no longer ache, she is not sick, she can remember things and she has perfect vision. Oh, what a Savior! I’ve told many of my friends that even if she could, she wouldn’t choose to come back. In Luke 14 where Jesus is teaching about the cost of being a Disciple and He says that one must hate their family and even their own life, He is talking about desiring Him more than life itself. My Mother loved Him more than she loved us…and for that, I am eternally grateful. The older I get, the more I feel exactly that same way. I long to be eternally in His Presence, to look on His face and breathe in His Presence. Truth be told, I’m a little envious of my Mom. I love my Husband, daughter and other family members, but I love Him more and I’m looking forward to the day that He decides it’s time for me to be with Him.

I moved away from Texas in the Fall of 1992. Although I missed my family, I believe God called me to Alabama because He wanted to do a work in my life that would not be done in Texas. While it has not always been easy, I certainly have had my share of “struggles”. I can look back on my life since moving here 24 years ago and see His Faithful, Loving Hand of Redemption on me. Oh , What a Savior! Philippians 2 is an excellent chapter that teaches us about humility. The Bible says that we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling…we should have a healthy reverence for God and realize that He is our Father. He will always love us, but He disciplines those He loves. I’m one of those hard-headed kids that He loves in spite of how ornery I am.

Since my last post, God has given Scott and I a new Spiritual family. We’ve joined an Adult Bible Study group and we love the people in the class. I’m sure they don’t know what to think of us – part Hebrew, Hippie, Bohemian, etc. We can be ourselves and they accept us. That’s cool because we march to the beat of a different drum! Although we will always miss our loved ones who have gone on to be with the Lord, only He can soothe our hurts, heal our wounds, and give peace to our grieving hearts. My Mom’s testimony and legacy challenge me to love Him more, know Him better through the study of His Word, and talk with Him without ceasing…pray without ceasing.

Until He speaks to me again…Shalom!

Observations from the “Plumb Line”

I would like to let each of you know that this is a topic I’ve had on my heart for quite a while and I truly believe these things need to be said…and heard…and taken to heart.

First of all, let me explain why I chose a catch phrase using “Plumb Line”. I grew up with a brilliant father who worked many years in the Construction industry. He was the Foreman on many of the skyscrapers that still stand in Dallas, Texas today. From an early age, I can remember him using an actual Plumb Line to be sure a beam or pan form was “plumb” or level, if you will. That was before the level that construction workers use today. He was an amazing man who built with as near perfection as any human possibly could. I began to think about him as a man, and a follower of Christ. He lived his life “plumb” with the Word as well…he loved God, his family, his church, and others all the same. It didn’t matter to him if someone was a new construction worker, or the CEO whose office he had built on the 20th story of one of those high rises. He knew the Word of God was our “Plumb Line” for living and he instilled in us from a young age how important it was to live a life that lines up with God’s Word. Daddy lived his life “plumb” all of his days, and for that, I am very grateful!

In the early church, not only did the Apostles love and treat each other like family; – all members of the Body of Christ treated each other like family. In our modern society we are watching the “body”of Christ slip away and that makes me sad…and frankly a bit angry. We are not “family” to each other any longer. My “blood” family live in Texas and I’ve known what it was like to have Spiritual family in the past, but now it seems to no longer exist. It appears to me that those who do have family nearby seem to take them for granted at times.

Some [in the church] will say I’m being ridiculous because no one lives that way any longer – that our society has moved past that. Who then, determines how we live? Do we look to the Plumb Line – Scripture – Christ Himself (John 1:1) or do we allow the world to so influence our thoughts and actions that we compromise our values and common goals, or worse yet, allow ourselves to live selfish, narcissistic lives?

There are a few areas in particular that really chap my hide…

The most important to me is child care for my daughter in the summer…EVERY year since she has been on this earth (10 years now) I have had to search for weeks, somtimes months to find a suitable sitter for her. THIS SHOULD NOT BE THE CASE!! Surely there is someone within my circle of “friends” or Spiritual family that would be willing to make some extra money and hang out with my intelligent, sweet daughter in the summer while I work (a necessity which, God willing, will be eliminated some day).

Another situation that needs to be addressed with Spiritual Family is our insensitivity to our own “family” members. For instance, if you are a business owner and you know someone in the church who has valuable skills and experience, yet you refuse to hire them because if it doesn’t work out it would make you uncomfortable, that is not a legitimate reason. After all, God calls us to be obedient and love one another; He doesn’t call us to be “comfortable”.

We must remember that God allowed man to discover all the technology we have today. HE IS STILL IN CONTROL! If you have a friend who REALLY needs to speak with you either on the phone or in person, yet you refuse to take their call or meet for coffee because you would rather text, that again, is a lame reason for not being there for your “family” member.

I’m not saying that I am perfect nor do I always get this right, but what I am saying is we ALL must take an inventory of our attitudes and actions, especially when it comes to our Spiritual Family. The world gets this right more often than we do and that should not be the case because WE ARE ETERNAL FAMILY!

Below are some Scriptures that model Spiritual family. I really think it’s no coincidence that the church I grew up in was named Macedonia Baptist Church…

Acts 4:32-37 NIV

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.  With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.  Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

2 Corinthians 8 NIV

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.  In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,  they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people.  And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” Thanks be to God, Who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord Himself and to show our eagerness to help. We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man. In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you. As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ. Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.

Galatians 6: 1-10 NIV

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the Word should share all good things with their instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

1 Thessalonians 2 NIV

You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you His gospel in the face of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, Who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, Who calls you into His kingdom and glory. And we also thank God continually because, when you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 

1 John 3:11 -24

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. And this is His command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you – certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

In closing, let me ask this question – when viewed through the world’s eyes, are we plumb with the Word? Does our walk match our talk? Do we REALLY love one another? If we don’t bear God’s love for us and each other, what should attract the world to us? We really are no different from them…actually, in some cases, they “love” better than we do and that is a shame because God is Love…


A girl from a small town in Illinois…

Until a few years ago I had never heard of Carlinville, Illinois. Nor did I realize that it is a small town in rural Illinois much like where I live in Alabama, minus some pine trees and mini-mountains. During the summer of 2013, God saw fit to have a very special family move to Alabama  – RIGHT NEXT DOOR, as a matter-of-fact! He certainly has a sense of humor because the Mom in this family and I are like two peas in a pod! I will love her like a sister until the day God takes me to Glory.

I’ve always had the Wanderlust. I love to visit other States and even other countries. I have visited Chattanooga, Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee, Nashville, Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas, Boston, Massachusetts, La Jolla, California, San Diego, California (twice), London, England (as well as a side-trip to Walton on Thames) and a few cities in El Salvador. I plan to visit Carlinville, Illinois one day too.

Although some may not consider Carlinville to be a “destination” spot, it is on my bucket list; mainly because my soul sister has moved back there. I miss my friend so much sometimes I want to cry. Her oldest daughter and mine are the same age and they grew close quickly. It’s amazing how God’s timing and provision are perfect. For privacy, I will refer to my friend as Mir. What endears her to me so very much is that she enjoys the simple things in life, as do I. She likes to cook for her family as do I. I had never heard of “fluff” before I started hanging out with her. It’s basically Cool Whip, fruit and jello, if I remember correctly. It was so much fun to watch her make it and I tried it once, but I’m not a fan of Cool Whip. However, everything Mir cooks is amazing! Before meeting her, I had never seen anyone cook a whole package of real bacon at one time. She and her husband have three precious girls and he is a big ol’ corn-fed country boy from Illinois! They are an amazing couple who love their family and others and enjoy entertaining. She and I would listen to country music and laugh and cook together. They have another girl in their family – a pit bull named Ivey who is as sweet and gentle as any dog I’ve ever known. I miss Ivey too.

Mir is an old soul. She has understanding of the human condition beyond her years. She is a very deep thinker and loves without boundaries. She and I have deep conversations about life and the condition of our world. When they lived right next door, many times we stayed up too late solving the worlds problems, if only in our minds! What I love most about Mir is I can just be me – just ME with her! She loves me JUST like I am  – “scars and all”! Money is not something that either of us have an abundance of and we often remind each other that money doesn’t make the family, it’s love that makes a family and “you can’t take money with you”.

One day I will visit Carlinville, Illinois and sit at Mir’s table. We will laugh and cook and eat together while our girls get re-acquainted. I look forward to that day very much because she is my sister, my real sister – spiritual and flesh. Although we have different blood lines, the One that truly matters is given to us through our Savior Jesus Christ. Mir, you will always be my friend! I love you to the moon and back, sister!

4th Grade Blessings

Every summer, my husband and I begin praying that God would place our daughter with the exact teacher(s) He wants her to have the following school year. God has always been faithful in answering our prayers in a way that only He can. We have friends who choose homeschooling, some whose children attend private school, etc. For such a time as this, God has chosen public school for our daughter. She is an excellent student and makes mostly straight-As. We have been blessed with some of the most amazing teachers throughout her elementary school experience. We are very grateful for her teachers and the school system of which we are a part.

This year has been one of the most remarkable years of our daughter’s life so far. She didn’t particularly care for math before this year, and now she can’t get enough of it! She LOVES history and this year they have learned a lot about our great state of Alabama. They took a field trip to Montgomery and toured the Capital, etc. She loved every minute of it! Her reading and language arts teacher is just as Alabamian as they come. She’s so southern you’d think she has maple syrup dripping off her lips! We love her and have the privilege of worshipping with her each Sunday because we are members of the same church. Our daughter’s history teacher is a little more structured and what I would call “old school.” She is an excellent teacher and we are very grateful that our daughter had the privilege of being in her class.

The teacher who has had the greatest impact on us (me) is her math/homeroom teacher. Ms. H is one of the most dynamic, passionate and caring human beings I have ever met! We have many things in common. We are passionate about some of the same things – one being our precious kids – yet we have different views on politics and other social issues. Through this sweet soul, God has taught me that we don’t always have to agree on everything to have real, lasting friendships. She didn’t realize what an impact she was having on me as she was just being her true self. This “wise beyond her years” teacher preached a quiet, steady sermon of truth and justice, love and faith for my baby each and every day at school. Because we are friends on facebook, I was able to see those values reflected in her personal life as well. She has left her mark on my soul and I am forever grateful for this precious sister in Christ and her unwavering love of teaching my baby and other students. It wasn’t just about the Math…thank you Jesus!

Sisters, Girl Scouts and “Go” Groups

About 6 months ago, my sister Lisa and I began reconnecting and our relationship became much like it was when we were young. Of course over the years we’ve grown, our families have grown, and many things have changed. One thing that has not changed though, is our love for each other. I have rediscovered that she is more like me than I thought for a long time. I moved away from Texas in 1992. I wasn’t running away from my family per se, but running to my Savior. After receiving my GED in 1984, I began to use cocaine and drink. I held down a job, and attended trade school for Business; I even attempted Beauty School at one time. All the while, I was looking for my “Knight in shining armor”. Little did I know at the time, He already lived in my heart. I made a confession of faith when I was seven years old. I thought at the time I was “saved”, but after I turned 15 years old, I turned away from my First Love. I began searching for love in all the wrong places. There were many times that I know a beyond shadow of doubt that God had His hand on me. His Holy Spirit was taken into places that I know quenched His movement in my life. However, He continued to protect and pursue me. That’s how God’s love is:  far-reaching and unconditional!

For a period of about seven months after moving to Alabama, I couldn’t shake the past. I continued in some risky behavior, but in late 1992, I began to surrender. I was in the Word every day. I sought after Jesus with all of my heart. It was a sweet, precious time with my Savior. He was forgiving my past, healing the hurt I had caused myself and my parents, and He was sealing me with His Spirit for eternity. The Bible talks about us “working out our salvation with fear and trembling”. God walked with me through that time and showed me how to have reverence for Him and His Word. He held me in His lap like a Daddy holds his child when he or she is hurt. He began writing His Word on my heart and guiding me in His will. The Scripture promises that His Word will not return void. And It didn’t. I’m living proof of that. It was so forgiving and gentle of my Abba to bring me back unto Himself in this way. I was the Prodigal daughter returning home. My sister and I have spoken recently about how and why I left Texas. We both know that it was best for me and we now see God’s hand in it. Truly God saved my life by moving me 600+ miles away from “home”. Every day I am grateful for His Sovereignty in my life. I miss my family, but I don’t miss the lifestyle I was leading at the time.

Fast-forward to 2015. God has done amazing things in my life since those first few months after moving to Alabama. I met my husband Scott in 1993, we were married in 1998 and we had our only child Ruby in 2005. She is such a wonderful blessing to everyone who meets her. She knows almost everyone at our church. She is a social butterfly. Our prayer is that God would continue to grow her in His Word. We ask that He would continue to be our Guide as we parent her and that all three of us would grow closer to Him with each passing day. Like other ‘tweens her age, Ruby loves dance, music, and makeup. One of the things Ruby began participating in last year is Girl Scouts. I wasn’t sure about it at first because we are not a “camping” type of family, but it has turned out to be one of the greatest blessings that God has given to our family. The girls in our troop are sweet and have Christian families. Our troop leaders are precious and selfless women who serve our girls in unique ways; always giving of their time and talents to help mold our girls into brave and kind young women. Our girls are learning what it means to serve others, be leaders and stand up for what is right. I can’t properly express what a treasure this has been for both Ruby and myself.

One of the other Moms in the troop whose daughter joined our troop just this year is my personal comedienne. When she reads this, she will know exactly who I am writing about. Laughter is medicine for the soul! I love this lady like a sister and feel like I’ve known her for a lifetime. I hope this is one of those enduring, life-long friendships because I would love for her to be the reason I need to get a bladder tuck! Lol. Another lady in our troop whom I’ve grown to love is one of our Leaders. I affectionately refer to her as my favorite tree huggin’, Jesus lovin’ skinny gypsy. We are kindred spirits, except for the fact that she is slim, eats healthy, doesn’t need one drop of makeup and has naturally curly hair. I, on the other hand NEED paint on the “barn”, get my hair colored, and  eat junk food. We connect spiritually because we are both seeking Christ and His best for our families and our children. She is one of my most favorite people. She knows who she is.

Last, but certainly not least, just recently the Lord has allowed me to join a group of women that our church calls a “Go” group. There are only three of us in this group, so we can speak candidly about our hurts, habits and hang-ups. That is a shout-out to one of them – she will know who she is. I love these two ladies and can hardly wait to see what God has in store for us in 2016. We have only been meeting for a few weeks, but we already feel like family to each other. We never leave a meeting without praying and telling each other “Love y’all”. The power of words – the Word – is unbreakable. It is eternal. It soothes our souls. It answers all of our questions. It is Jesus Himself.

John 1: 1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was Life, and that Life was the Light of all mankind. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that Light, so that through Him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the Light. The true Light that gives Light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. 11 He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. 12 Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Shalom and blessings,



Spiritual Family

I have been talking with God about Spiritual Family lately. The Family of God is, in its very essence, the Body of Christ Himself. Over the years Scott and I have experienced that type of deep, relational connection with members of the Body of Christ. However, for one reason or another, we move on or they move away, and the relationship is therefore not as strong as it once was. Scott is in a Men’s Group in which he has those kinds of relationships with other Godly men. They are like true brothers, and would do just about anything for each other. I, on the other hand, have one very close friend who is my Mentor and she is much older than me. I love her like a Mom and would be heartbroken if the Lord took her to Glory. However, beyond that relationship, I have no Spiritual Family to speak of.

In the past few years, we have been in Small Groups with families whom we love very much. I miss what we shared in those Small Groups. There were times when I could sense that open discussions regarding real-life struggles and even victories were at times, uncomfortable for some of the people. I still believe it is God’s sovereign design for us to live in true community with each other – forming a real Biblical Family. One where you live life-on-life with other believers, where you bear one another’s burdens, love each other’s kids as your own, break bread together on a consistent basis, study the Word together and share your victories and challenges without fear of judgment.

Acts 2:42-47 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

I have grown in my relationship with Christ over the past year since our last Small Group stopped meeting. I’ve had no choice but to cling to Abba and lean into Him for answers. My desire for a Spiritual Family hasn’t gone away. In fact, it has grown stronger. I also desire to live in community with people who love our sweet girl and help us teach her the Word. I want her to be proud to carry her Bible to church on Sunday and be eager to participate in Children’s Ministry. In all of this, God is Sovereign. I believe He has prepared a way for us to have an Eternal Spiritual Family. We must continue to be faithful to Him and in His time, He will make crystal clear His plan for our family –because He’s our Father and He loves us!

I am a bit of a rebel at heart  – not so much a rebel against God and His will – but I tend to rebel against the mainstream, evangelical “Christian” church. For example, I have become what I would consider to be close friends with someone who is not currently going to church. She loves me and our family. We have real, raw conversations about the Lord and the Bible and life in general. We have similar pasts, and while I am in a different place in my walk with Christ than her, I can sense she is interested to know Him more. I would much rather hang out with a seeker who, like myself, knows they don’t have it all figured out, than those who think they do and are fooling themselves and everyone around them.

The older I get, the more freedom I feel in Christ – to be who He made me to be. I will be getting a tattoo for my birthday that is very meaningful to me. A “sign” if you will, of who I am in Christ. The artwork is beautiful and expresses my love for Christ as our Jewish Messiah. I’m sure it will spark conversations with many different types of people – and that excites me because I will have the opportunity to tell them about my Savior Who loves me just the way I am and in fact, made me this way.

I am drawn to people with a colorful past because I have one myself. I know that each day I have is a blessing from God because before I moved to Alabama, I was involved in VERY risky behavior. Oh, I didn’t escape that lifestyle completely unscathed, but the few scars I have are minor compared to what they would have been if I hadn’t moved here. I often refer to Texas as the “valley of the dry bones” because of the literal and figurative skeletons I left there. Someday I may write a blog dedicated to my personal testimony, but for now, I am focusing on what Spiritual Family looks like. I’ll say this – I love the Ragamuffins and Scalawags of the world. I love those who have been through hell on earth, and somehow through the helping hand of a non-judgmental believer, found the strength to reach for Christ and never let go. Below are a few more Scriptures that express how I feel about Christ and the kind of Spiritual Family I am seeking.

Matthew 9:12-14 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. ’For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

1 Corinthians 1:27-29  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.

1 Corinthians 1:17-19 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;     the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

1 Peter 2:1-7 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to Him, the Living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a Stone in Zion, a Chosen and precious Cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this Stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The Stone the builders rejected has become the Cornerstone,”

May our precious Savior bless your lives with “the least of these” because they bring character and grace unlike any other. And remember, the Lion of Judah is on our side and the Lamb of heaven awaits our arrival.

Shalom in Yeshua,

Rita Ann aka Pearl Grace

The “Nursery” of our King

Although Mary was chosen by the Father to be Jesus’ mother, she was herself born of sin nature, in need of the Savior she would bring forth in child birth. I’ve pondered Jesus’ birth a lot during this past Christmas season. This is in part due to having several friends who have recently welcomed new members into their families. Let’s take a realistic view of what it must have been like for this young virgin woman. First of all, she was in fact young. She didn’t know the exact date and time her Baby would be born, and she didn’t know where He would make His humble, yet Grand entrance. Most of us know the exact date our children will be born. And we know where. Most of our babies are born in a perfectly sterile hospital room. Moms and babies are taken care of by teams of health care workers. Our babies have immediate care upon birth by trained and educated nurses and doctors. But JESUS ~ our Messiah ~ was born in a cave – a makeshift stable. It was cold, stinky and certainly not sterile!

Now, I’m convinced that Mary was like all other moms – she desired that her Baby be safe and healthy, wrapped in clean clothes. Although Christ’s birth environment wasn’t ideal, He was absolutely loved and adored by His birth mother and earthly father. I believe Mary and Joseph prepared for our King by taking clean linen with them on their journey and they prepared for Him the best they could. She didn’t have the perfect place for Him to be born, but she made the best of what she had. Think about this for a second – our Perfect Holy God was born in filth to take on our filth that we might be made white as snow! Isaiah 1:18

When we begin to ponder all that God has done for us, we realize that Jesus truly loves us unconditionally. He gave up Heaven to come here, He took on flesh and sin and He dwelt among us. He grew up with a Carpenter for a father, however, He had already built His temple years before…He knew the Scriptures better than the Scribes. When He was just a teenager, His parents “accidentally” left Him at the temple, realizing that He wasn’t with them two days into their journey back home. God the Father had a plan in allowing this to happen – He wanted the Scribes and Pharisees to know that His Son was the Word, He was with God, and He was God!

When Jesus began His earthly ministry, was the Beginning of the End of His earthly life. However, even that has a message in it – the Infinite became Finite so that we could be made Infinite through Him by His grace to dwell with Him, the Father and the Holy Spirit eternally!

Everything our Jesus did was for our good and His glory. He is the model Servant. He even says in Matthew 20:23-28 that He did not come to be served, but to serve. Wow! You talk about humility. The One Who deserves to be first made Himself last that we might be able to come to Him. I guess this will continually boggle my mind until I meet Him face to face. Only God could do such a thing. Oh, what a Savior!

Until He gives me another post or He returns for us – His church,

Peace be with you!

Rita Ann Jackson
aka Pearl Grace

Love, Loss and Laughter

On August 12, 2014 my favorite comedian took his last breath – as in he chose to end his life by depriving himself of the life-giving oxygen that we must have to thrive. Many modern comedians suffer clinical depression. Some of the most joy-giving people on the planet are the most fragile individuals on the inside. I understand because I share their struggle. Many of my friends think I am funny, when in reality I might be falling apart inside. I’m not saying I have the talent of Robin Williams, Louie Anderson or any of our extremely talented comedians. What I am saying though, is that making other people laugh can sometimes be an escape from a harsh and painful reality. A person can be very wealthy according to the worlds standards, but unless they have a personal relationship with the One Who gives life Himself, their inner demons tend to overtake them. One can lose their ability to hush the voices of anger, hurt, resentment, and instead give in to their perceived reality of utter hopelessness. God, that we would turn our hearts toward “Home” and give our burdens to You instead! Matthew 11:29-29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The Lord Jesus Himself says that He is humble in heart – something that is hard to fathom, but He is. He washed His disciples feet, for crying out loud! John 13:1-5 “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.” Oh, that God Himself loves us in this way. He also states that He came to serve and not to be served. Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” If only those who give us such great laughter could experience real, abiding, eternal joy themselves. It can only be found in Yeshua.

Now allow me to speak about the most prolific and important writer of our time; Richard Francis Xavier “Brennan” Manning. When I discovered this Saint, my life was forever changed. A struggling alcoholic, he understood what it was to constantly do “that which I do not desire to do” as Paul states in Romans 7:14. “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.”

The other side of the “coin” is that Brennan understood grace unlike anyone I have ever met. Once you read one of his books, you are hooked. You feel like you know this precious, genuine, velveteen-rabbit-kind of man. He writes from a place that is so real, he could be your Dad, brother, or uncle. Brennan truly did not seek his own glory and fame. Rather, his pure desire was to bring light to our Jesus’ glory and grace. I would dare say that we will not experience another writer of his kind in our lifetime. He is a rare person who, once he enters your life through the written word, you feel like he is a family member. Brennan entered Heaven on April 12, 2013. For those of us who love him, we have a blessed assurance that he is thriving in Abbas bosom. I invite you to get to know Brennan through his books, still available in bookstores throughout most of the USA.

Until Jesus prompts me to write again, His peace be with you…

Sealed in His Grace,