Sunday Thoughts: God’s Day & Fun Day, What?

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We are lucky to live near one of God’s most beautiful creations. We live close to the beach. For those of you, Dear Readers, who have been on this journey with me for a while know that the beach, particularly Perdido Key is home to me and my family. (See page 21 in the Perdido Key Visitors Guide for my article about home)

The beach is for me like being in church. Not everyone will understand and that’s ok.  If you pray and ask God to meet you where you are, he will not let you down. He will be there.

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Today we will go to the beach. We will marvel at the beauty of God’s creation. We will sing songs of praise in the car. We will share the love of God with each other. I do not believe that God loves me less for not going to church on his day, but rather choosing to spend the day with my family out in nature that he created. There is nothing in the bible that says Sunday can’t also be a fun day.

Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (NIV)

~Lori O’Gara

Sunday Thoughts: I am not that Kind of Christian

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 What’s love got to do with doing Church?

I was asked a fair question recently by a unaware person, nice person, who knew me once upon a time, in another life. She simply asked, “Why do you no longer go to ****** Church?” (Name of church omitted by me to protect the innocent.)

I gave her question some thought. I love my old church family. I still communicate with many of the some people I went to church with, so it wasn’t that I didn’t want to associate with them any more. I still consider myself an Episcopalian in a lot of ways, so it wasn’t the Church big “C” that I was avoiding. My reasons for not settling down with one church was simple really.

One church, one Christianity method of serving God does not have all the answers. Each in their own way put God in a box that they construct with interpretations of the Bible, traditions and human invented rules. They then expect me (and You), dear reader, to fit as a perfect conformed shape to hold that particular box. I am not very pliable for conformity to certain shaped boxes. Therefore I drop said box all too often. I find that I can’t live up to the expectations of what many of the box builders expect. It is better to save them and me the agony of trying to get me to reshape to fit their version of God. I simply walk away. No mention of love there.

I am not one of those Christians that think that only main stream Christianity is the way to serve God. I believe that all religions hold some truth of God and that saying one is better or more true than another is foolish. To say that an all powerful omnipresent God will only use one religion to commune with His human creation is ridiculous. To say that God will only answer to one name is equally arrogant. No mention of love in that. However, I digress….

I am not one of those Christians that say, “ I just don’t like organized religion.” I actually love it. The more structured and Scripture filled the better. I love the singing, praying, and bible dissection. I love the communion with God and fellow humans. I don’t even mind tithing. No, I like church.

I am not one of those Christians who blindly follow a teaching because I learn it in Church, so it must be true. I always take the time to study and research a truth for myself. I don’t like being told how to love God and humans. I don’t like being told that I must serve in certain ways through the church. I hate feeling like less of a Christian if I don’t go to every function or serve on committees. I hate the back biting and politics that come with church membership. Where’s the love in that? However again, I digress…..

I am not one of those Christians who follow a teaching because a preacher said I should. I also don’t like to be told that the message I got from God through my own prayer life was incorrect. Excuse me? It is not our place to judge other humans. God told me to love everyone and you are saying yes but not certain people? No thanks. I will follow what the Bible says and what God says on that one. Let me remind you what the Bible says about that, good Christian….

I believe that love is the number one point of being a Christian. Sharing God’s love by following Christ’s example, however that looks like for you is what makes you a Christian. Not what church you walk in to or not.

~Lori O’Gara

(Lori is a novelist and self proclaimed expert on how to be a non traditional, people loving, happy life living Christian. Read more about her here.)

Article also published on Medium. 

Envelopes, Stamps and Books, Oh my!

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llgI have been busy getting books packaged up to send out to reviewers and contest winners. If you are lucky enough to be one of those, keep a watch on your mail box. Mr. William Porter does not like to be kept waiting.

Thank you for each one of you who have shown interest in my work. I am so thrilled to share my stories with you.

~Lori O’Gara

Sunday Thoughts: Rest in God

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Sometimes you just find yourself exhausted. Not the sleepy tired that goes away with a good night’s sleep but the bone weary tired. You know the one, you go to bed with it and wake up with it the next morning.

Yeah, that one. We knew it is coming because we begin to feel it in the middle of the day. It taps us on the shoulder and says hey, how about a nap? Usually we are standing at work putting our best customer service smiles on, waiting in the grocery store line or some other place that frowns upon sleeping, like sitting in church on Sunday morning.

Excuse me mam, you are storing.

God tells us this sort of soul tired is to be expected. ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The burden he is talking about isn’t the kind you physically carry but the emotional one that changes from day to day. Emotional burden come from many causes. Life causes stress good and bad. Many people are living with emotional burden and do not show it because they have found a way to cope. They might be repressing their emotions and this can often be more damaging. Coping and repressing brings the exhaustion that sleep won’t fix. Sharing the burden with someone you trust and making a plan to deal with it is one way to handle the burden.

This burden is not always because life is difficult or from something bad. Even when life is good we have this burden. It may be the overwhelming happiness that you are terrified you may loose, It may be the responsibility of supporting a family, because well, children like to eat. Life may be all picket fences and daisy chains that is making you tired.

Sometimes you just need to rest. Stop what you are doing, give the burden to God, lay down and rest.

Believe in the power of restoring rest and letting God handle your stuff.

~Lori O’Gara

(Also published on Medium.com)

Thank you, to our new Friends

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We had a wonderful time in Chipley, FL. We talked books and writing. The friends of the library were so much fun. They fed us well and bought books. Thank you to Renae Roundtree the director of the Washington County Library System, for inviting us.

P.S. The dino is Blue the Literary Velociraptor, learn more about him here.

 

Announcement: New Series

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Necromancer_s Song (3)Adventure awaits…
New Book Series by Brendan and Lori O’Gara

Johan, Wandalor, Dar, Thalin and Gadlin, came from different backgrounds, thrown together by fate and these are their stories.

The Travelers’ Song (Necromancer’s Song Book One)
The Gathering of Five (Necromancer’s Song Book Two)
Serpent and the Six (Necromancer’s Song Book Three)

Sunday Thoughts: He Lives

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Resurrection of Jesus has many consequences for us today. It means that we have a living reason to stand for truth, a hope for the future and a foundation to place our faith. Not everyone who was lucky enough to be there when Jesus vacated the tomb believed He lived.  I am amazed that even after Jesus was seen by several people after He was risen, that people still didn’t believe it. The writers of the four Gospels either had themselves been witnesses or were relating the accounts of eyewitnesses. The apostles appealed to common knowledge concerning the facts of the resurrection. Everyone at that time was talking about it.

When He ascended into heaven over five hundred people witnessed His departure. Yet, some still did not believe what they saw. Those that did believe that Jesus was in fact alive and returned to His heavenly home told everyone they encountered. They spread the gospel far and wide. As a result they were  beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified.  Even in the face of fear, the face of death, they laid down their lives as  proof of the truth of their message.

Jesus lives, He died for us and rose again.

He lives. What’s more He will return for us!

We must believe in the Resurrection of Christ.  Paul puts the Resurrection of Jesus this way (1 Corinthians 15:14-17) “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

We are forgiven.  We are not under the threat of death if we share the gospel, yet we are more often than not silent. We go about our daily lives faithful, but how much are we sharing the gospel?

We haven’t seen Him. We never walked and talked with Him, we certainly did not get to witness His death, burial, His Resurrection and  Ascension to the Father, but we believe in the person, the divinity for Jesus. We should be telling everyone! Sharing the gospel with everyone. What do we have to lose?

Galatians 2: 20 “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

What are you waiting for?  Tell everyone about the life, death, Resurrection and love of Christ.

Happy Easter.

~Lori O’Gara

 

Three Days, the Fools Dance

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On April 1st it will be Easter and the famous Fool’s day.  On April Fool’s day in Ireland, a common practical joke was to send someone to deliver a note by way of several people who kept him going on to someone new until the last person opened the note that read “send the fool further.” In many places, these ‘fool’s errands’ would be accompanied by a verse for the recipient which said “don’t you laugh, and don’t you smile, send the gowk another mile.” A gowk is a Celtic word for cuckoo, a gullible or naive person.  It was also a day of celebration in honor of Lod, the Celtic God of humor. The people took delight in anticipating spring with fun, frivolity and foolishness – usually at the expense of their friends. There was also dancing and merry making of all sorts.

I can promise you that the note in the April newsletter is no joke however there will be some fun involved. In the next installment of The Inner Circle  I will reveal some amazing things.  I hope you have signed up so that you do not miss it.

~Lori O’Gara

Sunday Thoughts: You are Loved

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“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you know.” ― A.A. Milne, The Pooh Story Book

Every word of this quote is true. He wrote it for his son, however we can all learn some valuable lessons by looking at these words in detail. Milne did not speak about God or religion often. He did call Hitler the anti Christ. He write poems that indicated he was thinking about God and believed God exist. The words in the poem are encouraging and thought provoking either way.

You are brave. The trick to being a brave soul is to believe it not feel it. Your emotions can deceive you. You can listen to your heart it always tells the truth by your emotions that live in your brain flat out lies.

You are strong.  Every time you are placed in to a situation that you think you can’t deal with then you make it through, you learn more about your strength. This is a tough one because mostly it is the stressful, sad and devastating moments that teach us our strength.

You are smart. There are different kinds of smart. There are book smart people and there are common sense or street smart people. I believe that everyone has the capacity to be smart. It is in your brain someplace. Where the brain is not good for emotions it is wonderful for logic. You have to brave enough to tap in to your smarts.

You are loved. If you were ever loved just once then are you forever loved. God sends love to us through each other and, I believe through pets. You may be alone right now but somewhere on this planet or in the other spiritual realm someone loves you.

When you are loved, truly loved and you know it, all the other things, bravery, strength and smarts are all easy. You have nothing to fear and you can do anything you set your mind to when you have love.

Remember you can give all the things to someone else. You can encourage someone to be brave. You can give someone your strength and you can teach someone logic. Then you can love them trough all of life’s ups and downs.

What is in it for you? You become courageous, you get stronger, you learn more and you get loved back.

All of this will bring happiness.

See how wise A A Milne was? He may not have been a Christian, but God sure believed in him. God gave him a talent for sharing truth even if he did not know it. He wrote seven novels, some poetry, and various forms of non fiction.

If you haven’t read any of Milne’s works start with Pooh, and then read his other works of fiction and non fiction. Then let me know if you agree with me?

~Lori

(Also published on Medium) 

 

 

What is a Marriage?

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What is marriage? Is it a wedding ceremony and a license? Is it a commitment to love honor and obey? Marriage is defined by Webster’s as the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law or by the rite by which the married status is effected, an intimate or close union. No mention of love.

Marriage existed before any government was organized. For thousands of years, people were getting married without a marriage license. Even today, there are some countries that have no governmental recognition of marriage and no legal requirements for marriage. Government endorsement is usually necessary for certain benefits, however. In American history, up to around the 1920’s, there was no such thing as a marriage license. The states invented them as a way to dictate who could and could not get married. Primarily as a way to stop white people from marrying black people. Still no mention of love.

Some people believe that a man and a woman are married in God’s eyes when they have completed some kind of formal wedding ceremony. There is an event, action, covenant, vow, or proclamation that is recognized as declaring a man and woman to be married. Love may be present, maybe not.

But does the very act of getting married constitute a true partnership? Does connecting yourself to another in the bonds of marriage mean that you are equally respected, loved or wanted?

Though many of my characters that I write choose to get married, I for one do not like what marriage has become in today’s society. It is an institution that gives people carte blanche to dictate what another person can and can’t do. I consider myself an expert on how not to be a spouse and how not to preform life as a married person. I should know I have had three failed marriages. Just as it takes two to make a marriage work it takes two to destroy one as well. I know, I have been there. Usually it plays out that one person gives up sooner in the marital timeline than the other. The vow is broken, hurt happens and loss is felt. Often a marriage dies long before the participants are willing to admit it. How many times have you known people who stayed married for the sake of the children or other reason that is not that they truly liked being together? Notice I said marriage not love.

Love is a choice. Love is a promise to cherish the other person. 

You choose to love or not. There are couples who are more devoted to each other without a marriage license than others who have been married for years. It is society that has conditioned us to believe that those who are in committed relationships but are not legally married are somehow not valid partnerships. Somehow we are taught to believe that two people can’t be devoted if they do not get married or we think maybe they don’t love each other, trust each other, or care about each other enough to get married.

Marriage as ordained by God is a spiritual connection that is grounded in faith not government. Faith in God, faith in each other and faith in your choice to be together. It is not based on the human’s faulty idea of marriage that is a contract and dictated by social norms. It is the choice and promise of commitment to that one other person that is important. Love and devotion do not require a piece of paper or even a ceremony. Ultimately, that is between the couple and God. Only God knows our true heart (1 John 3:20).

A marriage license is just a piece of paper. If there is no love there is no point.

~Lori O’Gara

(Also published on Medium.com)

Sinners Only

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When you think you are not good enough. When you feel worthless. When you want to give up.  Remember God uses the broken. He prefers the company of sinners. Throughout history we see God using imperfect people to get things done. You are in good company. Here are a few of your companions:

Abraham was a senior citizen.
Issac was a daydream believer.
Elijah was suicidal.
Joseph was abused and broken.
Job ran away from responsibility and went bankrupt.
Moses was a murderer and he sucked at public speaking.
Gideon was scared.
Samson used women for sex and liked it.
Rahab was a sex addict and a prostitute.
Samaritan woman was divorced many times and had a live-in boyfriend.
Noah liked to drink wine, a lot.
Jacob was a cheater and was good at it.
David murdered his lover’s husband, so he could keep her.
Peter denied truth.
Martha worried about everything all the time.
Zacchaeus was a greedy little man.
Lazerus was dead…long dead.
Paul brutally killed Christians.

Then there was Jesus. He was a tradesman with a skill. He was a carpenter. He could have lived a life of privilege. Instead he chose to be with the homeless, hookers, thieves and liars. He spent all his time with the imperfect people, you know,  the normal ones. He empowered them to do the will of God.

So, what makes you think you are so special that you can wallow in self pity?

Get up. Do the thing you have been scared to do.

~Lori O’Gara

Sunday Thoughts: Grace of God

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Have you ever heard the quote “The will of God will never take you, Where the grace of God cannot keep you” ?

It is a Biblical truth that God’s grace never fails. He is God. It is a Biblical truth that God has a will that wants us to do and be as He deems. When you trust the will of God it is true that you will fare much better in this life.

But, we naughty humans do not usually live that way. We have a will of our own and it often seems a lot more fun to follow it. If God is working in our lives, we will struggle to pull in the direction of our will. We do not always recognize that we are struggling against the will of God. This is where I like to meet my characters in my novels. Like you and me they are living in a state of conflict with God. They usually figure out that God knows better than they do,but not always. I have some rebellious personalities in my stories. We humans often we discover that we do not always make the right choices without God after it is too late and we are at our rock bottom.

That’s where we get in trouble.

Our way always looks easier and makes sense in our frame of thought. Sometimes it is easier. God is not about the easy path, he is about the right path. We have to live as we see fit even if it is against what we know is the right way for us.  Like rebellious children or book characters, we stomp our feet and fight against it until the exasperated parent, says “Fine have it your way! You’ll see.”

Lucky for us God has unlimited grace to forgive us, because He knows this won’t be the last time we use our will to get what we want.

Will we ever learn? Probably not.

~Lori O’Gara

 

 

Thank you!

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Well met to all of you who came out to the Gulf Coast Ren Faire! The O’Gara’s had a grand time meeting all of you.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Thank you!

The O’Gara Clan

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Overthinking Is Way Too Easy

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Why do we do it? We know it is ridiculous, yet we go there every time. Let someone say something positive or negative, we over analyze and pick it apart. Let that someone be our spouse or significant other and we go in to overthinking over drive. We examine methodically and in detail every word and action, typically for purposes of our assumed interpretation.

Stop it.  It is deadly to happiness, peace and love.

It makes no difference if what we know is the truth. If it doesn’t fit in our preconceived reality we will think it to death to make it fit. It never ends up resembling the truth. Oh, it may have tiny similarities of the truth, but it will not save you from the anxiety that will result.

There is only one cure, one solution to correct or stop your over thinking. Communicate openly with your person.  Let them tell you the truth. Now here’s where it gets difficult, trust them. Don’t give the trust lip service. Really and truly trust them. What if they are lying to you? So what? If they are not telling you the truth, the truth will come out. It always does. Trusting them frees you from the demon of over thinking.

Love and peace will follow.

~Lori O’Gara

Sunday Thoughts: Be Thankful For Today

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ThankfulThis has been a tough weekend. We said goodbye, we worked through some dark thoughts, and we experienced stress. I am almost certain that you, dear reader, had some similar trying days recently. Oh, I am not psychic, it’s called being human.

Today I have decided not to worry. I have decided to focus on love. I have decided to just be thankful for today. I know that the future holds some tough stuff that I will have to deal with too. It also holds amazing miracles I know is coming.

Again, I am not psychic, I know what I know.

I know that God almighty, the maker of all things, the holder of sparrows, the painter of sunsets, the curator of lilies, the feeder of the thousands, the drier of tears, the keeper of souls, the forgiver of sin…..and my Lord will give me all that I need. Nothing can take me from Him.

So, I will not worry or even think about tomorrow and what it might bring, I will be thankful for today.

~Lori O’Gara

Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Mathew 6:26-34

My Jesus isn’t Like Yours

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It is no secret that I am a different kind of Christian. I am transparent about what I believe. My Jesus is not like the picture of Jesus that is hanging in the Sunday school classroom. My Jesus does not have silky red and white robes with perfectly combed hair, a perfect completion, and smiling looking up heavenly with crystal blue eyes. My Jesus is dirty from his travels on the dusty Jerusalem roads. He is battered, bloody, poor, tired, thirsty…a fugitive criminal.

What would happen if he walked in chose a pew for himself and took a seat next to Mrs. Never Skip Church in her Sunday best dress and hat? She would smile at him and say good morning, I doubt it. My guess is she would scowl and slide over away from Him. When we attend church, we expect to see a certain group of people around us in the pews. Everyone dressed in his or her good clothes nodding at the pastor. Children listening and not crying disturbing the rest of us. Would Jesus be comfortable in your church family?

It is so easy to attend church on Sunday and walking out feeling good about ourselves. What good Christians we are for not hitting the snooze and staying home. Being a Christian is more than a Sunday and maybe a Wednesday occurrence.

Being a Christian is a daily existence. It is a living breathing part of your life. It is Jesus living through you. The real Jesus, not the made up good-looking one, but the Savior who died for our sins.

To be like Jesus we have to get out of the pew and into the world. We have to go and serve those in need. Many of us do lip service to this effect. Are you opening your doors to the homeless man on the corner? Come in, praise God with us, and let us feed your body and soul. Are you paying medical bills for the pregnant teenager in your youth group? More likely, the parishioners are gossiping about her behind her back and are looking down at her parents for raising a promiscuous daughter. It cannot be that your youth director chose not to discuss abstinence with the teenagers because some parents my get upset. No that’s not it.

As a church, Christians have to get out of that comfortable place where Sunday services feel safe and mundane. We need to be confrontational to the issues of our community. We have to get out there and touch people for Jesus. We have to feed the multitude, step in front of the stone throwers, wash dirty feet, and heal the hurting. We have to agree to change what we can and love everyone.

~Lori O’Gara

(Also published on Medium at https://medium.com/@loriogara)

Sunday Thoughts: Death is a Door

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In his famous poem about death, Henry Scott Holland wrote,

“Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.”

Death is just a change in being and a slight change in location. There is no such thing as an after life, it is a continuation of life in a different dimension. Heaven and hell is closer that what you know.  It is presumed that when a person dies that it is the physical condition that is responsible, but it is actually the reverse. The soul of the person leaves the body first and then the body, which cannot continue without it expires. Where does that soul go?

The Bible mentions that there is a veil separating the earthly world from the spiritual one. It was witnessed by the disciples when Jesus went on the mount to have a conversation with Moses and Elijah. Elijah and Moses existed on earth 546 years apart, they met in heaven. Since the two men were already dead, Jesus transformed himself in to his spiritual form to meet with them.  (Luke 9) Various people have been said to have entered heaven while still alive, including Enoch, Elijah and Jesus himself, after his resurrection. Thus death is not a permanent state, but a shifted state of life.

There are countless stories of humans seeing their relatives who have passed on as if they were sitting in front of them alive. Ask one of those people and they will tell you in no uncertain terms that heaven is a real place that is close. It is not some place above our heads and hell is not in the ground.

If death is just a different state of being, why then do we grieve when a loved one passes through that door? We should celebrate their transition. What we grieve is not what the person is gaining, what we grieve is our loss of them. We can’t see past our own sadness and selfish want to keep them with us. We should try to remember, they are close by, just in the other room. If we could move the veil, we would see them.

As I write this my family is keeping vigil over my grandmother. She was one of the major influences in my life who taught me about love, God and Jesus. She said to me, “Don’t be sad when someone dies. Be happy. Even the angels rejoice when someone dies.” She taught me that heaven is my true home. Not this earthly realm of pain and sorrow. She and my other grandparents, made it a priority to teach me about spiritual things. They also encouraged me to keep studying truth. A legacy I am passing on to my children and grandchildren.

I am sad that I can’t be with her as she takes the journey home, however, I know where she is headed I will be there too one day. I will hold on to the memories of her, not the sick and old her, but the vibrant, Jesus loving her. I will continue to honor her memory by loving God and seeking truth. When she passes on to heaven, I will try to be happy and rejoice with the angels that she is with Jesus who she loves more than life and more than all of us, and she loves us a lot.

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Ms. Mildred Pearl Seales, Granny to me.

Valentines Day, so What?

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A person asked me today what gift I got for Valentines Day. When I told them my significant other fixed my lunch for me before I went to work, he smiled at me and asked me how my day went when I got home and he told me that he loved me. The person said to me, sounds like a normal day, not a Valentines Day gift? Yeah, so?

As I look at all the Valentines Day posts on social media I am struck by the conformity of the holiday. I am not talking about the commercialism of the thing promoted by card companies, florists, and jewelers. Rather the mind set that because it is Valentines Day one must get a gift for their chosen special person. Really? I say, why wait for a made up holiday to let the most important person in your life know that you love them? Tell them today.

I would much rather have a my love tell me how important I am to him or have him express it by his day to day actions than for him to make a show of our relationship by sending an obnoxious bouquet of flowers that will be dead in a few days anyway.

How about doing all the little things that you did while you where pursuing the one you now have. If you are still new and are still wooing them, do not stop once you catch them.

For example, he texted me with this, “13140 days and counting…” When I asked him what he meant he said, “That’s how many days we have had love in our hearts for each other.”

That, my friend, is a gift, holiday or not.

~Lori O’Gara

Sunday Thoughts: We Are Insignificant

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26814466_1719588558108027_1954471728578513348_nI am not sure where I have been the past couple of weeks. Under a rock maybe. I just saw the amazing pictures of Jupiter that NASA released. They are stunning. Who would have thought that in our life time we would have pictures this clear of a planet so far away?

My next thought was how very small and insignificant we really are in the universe. We are but small specks in this world and if we venture off this world we are barley existent. What’s more, the same God who made this vast universe cares about what happens to you. He calls you his beloved. He calls you his child. He made you in his image.He said of you, “I will make people more rare than fine gold.”

God formed you of dust from the ground and breathed into you the breath of life. You are made from stardust. You are not of this world.

If that doesn’t humble you soul, I don’t know what would.

~ Lori O’Gara

 

 

The Way of Love

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During February there is a theme of all things red heart love. There are flowers, chocolates and paper cards proclaiming all sorts of messages about love. It is so everyday dish water that no one even blinks at the notion of love any more. We say it to and about everything. I love those shoes. I love cheeseburgers. I love_____. You fill it in and you see what I mean.  Real love is nothing like the watered down version that we see in our lives today. Society has misconstrued the reality of love that when we see real love, experience real love in action, we distrust it.

Real love is not always pretty. It is the holding of hair as your child hangs over a toilet. It is the hand holding as your friend looses her job. It is the 2 am call when your brother is out and too drunk to drive. Love is giving a homeless man your last dollar and no caring if he buys a beer or a cheeseburger. Love is the sighs of peace in the arms of your mate. It is waking up as he shakes the bed in a nightmare and comforting his daemons quiet.  Love is reliable, steadfast and true.

In all things let love be your motive. Let love guide you actions. Let love season your words, even the difficult ones.

~Lori O’Gara

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.  If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”

1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 (MSG)

 

Nonnegotiables

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I like that word, nonnegotiable. It has a very simple definition, not open to discussion or modification. I have a few nonnegotiable things in my life.  Things that are important. Things that guide your life compass should be nonnegotiable.

Nonnegotiables mirror your values. The define what you will and won’t accept from others and from yourself. Nonnegotiables are the big-time deal breakers. They are unique to you.

For me it is simple, love is nonnegotiable. I love God, nonnegotiable. I either love you or not. If I love you, you are important to me. Even then my family is first. I put my phone on Do Not Disturb when I come home from work. I will only answer it for family, nonnegotiable.

If you do not make some things in your life nonnegotiable, people who do not care about you will take advantage of you. You have to be considerate and you have to be open to change; however, God does not want you to be a doormat.

~Lori O’Gara

Hello Monday: Why I Avoid Trends

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I am famous for not jumping on the latest and greatest band wagons because I have learned that my values are often not inline with trends. It doesn’t matter if it is a book trend, a product trend or a fashion trend. All trends have a few things in common. They are often short lived and often disrupt my simple peaceful life. I either find out that yes they do test on animals, they do not respect the dignity of people, they are uncomfortable to be worn or used, they waste money time and/or space. Some are simply ridiculous.

Stick to tried and true. However, if tried and true begin to cause you any stress, get rid of it too. Simplify your life in all areas. Focus on positive and simple ways to live. If the storage, cooking or fashion solution makes you spend more money, more time preparing under the disguise of saving money or time later, don’t do it.

No Thank you I don’t need one of those amazing cook everything pots, I have cookware thank you. I do not need any of the free ebooks that are basically word porn with no legitimate real story written in one night with flat characters, no real content and marketed with thirty or more other ones all with half naked people on the covers. Give me a real story I can sink my teeth into and with characters I can love or hate. Also, I do not need those leggings and clothes that all the girls are wearing from a company who’s owners are disrespectful to my fellow disabled humans.  Then there is that new amazing eyebrow and make up product that was tested on animals, most probably beagles. Do not get me started on the beagles!

In reality humans need very little to survive and be happy.  We need water, food, shelter, clothing, mental simulation, physical touch and love to feel secure and thrive.

Everything else, yes EVERYTHING else, is optional.

~Lori O’Gara

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts: Trust

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All my life I had this image of where I would be when I became an adult. I am nothing like that image. I have not landed in the city that I thought I would live; however, I have a peaceful home. I am not be affluent as I imagined I would be; however, I do have a fabulous career that I worked hard for. I am not alone as I thought I would be. I do have an unbelievably great family, a loving man, brilliant children and awesome grand kids.

While that is true in a sense we are also bound by our station in life. Where we are in society, how much money we have and how much determination we have, and our level of discipline play a part of where we go in life. There is also the factor of our trust.

Our trust in ourselves and in our choices is vital to success. If we lack trust in just one of these areas we can fail, but if we lose our trust in God we are certain to fail. Will we trust God enough to provide for what we need? Will we allow him to lead us to our future? We have to trust that God is in control even when we feel He is not. We have to believe that He is there at work even if we can’t see any results yet. This is difficult and we often give up.

We can break those bounds and be more than what we think, more than society says we can be. We must not give up. We must keep trusting God. We can not allow the alternative to be an option. We can’t trust feelings or emotions or even what we see around us. We must trust ourselves, trust our gut. We must trust God is keeping His promise.

~Lori O’Gara

Redemption Hurts

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Someone asked me what is the main theme for my second novel, Almost There, and I answered redemption. Briana has to look her ugly past in the face, forgive herself and accept the forgiveness of God before she can move past it to a life of peace.

It’s like this, no one told me that when God forgives sin, he often makes you face your sin to learn from it and that, my friend, is forgiveness that hurts. It is painful to look your sin in the face and say, “I did that and I am truly sorry.” It is even more excruciating to look sin in the face and say, “Wow, that was me? I really did that?” Yes, you did.

God doesn’t offer a caveat on His grace. There is nothing you can do to repay the gift of redemption. You must take it with a remorseful heart. Part of that remorse is facing your sin for the dirty, ugly, pathetic, nasty thing that it is and learn from it. If you don’t see what it is for the truth of it, you risk a repeat performance and more of the same. You don’t have to be scared, God is with you. He forgave you. He will be there to wipe tears and heal the hurt.

Do you remember telling your mom that your leg hurt and she said it was growing pains? Pain isn’t always a bad thing. With facing your sin comes pain, but you must face it to grow in faith. You must realize where it was that God saved you from, what life you had that His grace redeemed you out of, and what mortal sin you were forgiven. When you face your self, your sin, you can grow into that person that God can use for His glory. If you don’t face your sin, deal with it and move on, then this life, this hard, painful, struggling, forgiven life is for nothing but your self-serving purpose, not God’s will.

Think about that thing you are avoiding looking at, that tucked away sin that needs light shined on it, yeah that one, deal with it, today. The sooner it is dealt with the sooner you can praise God for the redemption that follows. Briana learned that lesson the hard way.

~Lori O’Gara

Sunday Thoughts: Time

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Today’s Sunday thought comes from Brendan O’Gara

“Value your time. Until you value yourself, you will not value your time,you will not do anything with it. Ultimately we do not pay for anything with money, rather we pay for things with time. Instead of thinking about what you do and what you buy in terms of money, think about them in terms of time. Is what you are spending your time on worth the time you could be spending with your family ? If the answer is no, then some decisions and changes need to be made. Are the tasks on today’s agenda worthy of your time?”

 

The Moment of Happiness

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What is happiness? Is it a temporary feeling of happy? We experience life in moments. We tend to look at life as days, months and years when in reality it is actually moments. It isn’t even past moments. It is the current moment. The right now. We have to learn to be happy in the movement. As the moments go one after the other happiness becomes contentment. Happiness, true soul deep happiness is contentment. Even in a sad moment or a rough day, if you have a content life you can say “I am happy”.

~Lori O’Gara

 

Hello Monday: Human Beings Only

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Birthplace: Earth, Race: Human, Politics: Freedom, Religion: Love

Look at the description above….is that you? If not maybe you should reconsider being a human. I hear there are other planets that have space for you.  Trust me, I know The Doctor.

All kidding aside, as humans we need the same things. We may desire other things, however our basic human needs are the same.  I think we can all agree in the first two attributes, birthplace and race.  It is when humans forget those and focus on politics and religion does the air get murky.  As humans we like different things. We desire different things. We pursue different creative outlets.

We must learn soul-balance in a vacillating, changing world of differences. We must learn to be fearless. Stand up for humanity. Focus on what makes us human and love each other.

Believe in humanity.

~Lori O’Gara

 

 

Sunday Thoughts: Peace or Perfection?

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As I look back on my life I see myself as a person I am not proud of. However, when I really think about it I am not proud of who I am now either. I am humbled at where I am in life and how I got here. Looking back I see a person who was often frantic over reaching perfection.

My home, job, and everything else had to appear to the outside world as perfect. I would scramble to make sure everything was just so before anyone saw it. That perfection mentality was absorbed in all parts of my life. I was so obsessed as to what other people thought of me that it controlled me in ways I was not even aware of and in ways that I was fully conscience of.

Not too long ago I was at one of the lowest places a person could be in life. I had no place to live (well I was staying at my mom’s home). My income was cut more than half. I was sad and alone. I gained back all the weight I fought for years to get off of my body. I was figuratively face down in the muck of life with no light. Where was perfection then? Where were all the people that I damn near killed myself to impress?

It is my belief, regardless of what you call God, or higher power or whatever, that we are intentionally put down to our lowest point in life so that we can see that we are insignificant. All the things we claim to be important are nothing.  God allows us to use that free will of ours and when we get to that point of destitution we have to look for that power of the universe, God, to show us what is important, what the big picture of life really is.

As a result of me being flat in the muck of imperfection, I am not the same person. I am no longer a slave to being that perfect person with the perfect life. My life revolves around peace and love. My house is a mess, my bank account is scrawny and I am happier than I have ever been.  I am surrounded by love and I can see with unclouded eyes what is important in life.

Believe in striving for peace not perfection.

~Lori O’Gara

Believe in Hope

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Hope is a powerful word. What is hope? It is the belief in possibility. It is the belief in something better in the future. Hope gets you through tough times. Hope gives you the strength to keep fighting, surviving and progressing forward in life. Don’t confuse hope with optimism.  Optimism is confidence in yourself for the future. Hope is the belief that whatever it is will happen or improve, with or without you being involved.

If you want to help others, if you want to live a positive life, be the one who believes in hope. Be the one who pushes out negative thoughts with a radical grip on hope. Hope and courage go hand in hand. You can be terrified of the future but if you have hope you can find the courage to keep going.

Don’t quit. Keep moving forward hoping for better things.

Believe in hope.

~Lori O’Gara

 

Sunday Thoughts: Church Door Thumpers

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Matthew 18:20 (NRSV) “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

I am wondering why some people think that every time the church door opens that they have to walk through them.  I have seen so many people who think that if they go to church then they are good with God. Then to insure that they are indeed in the good graces of the almighty, they force their children to be there every single time too.

Let me enlighten you, going to church does not make you a Christian.

I understand the keep the Sabbath Holy commandment. I respect it and I honor it. Even that doesn’t say you have to be in Church building to keep it holy.  I have read the verses that are quoted about meeting together and hearing the scriptures. I agree that it is very important to meet with other Christians, study, praise and pray together. Even so, nowhere does it say that any of those things have to be done in a church. Nor does it have to be in any sort of service format. What’s wrong with meeting at the beach or in a home? The Christians make the church not the building.

Christians, do yourself a favor, if you want to go to church go, but do not force it on others.  While you’re at it stop beating yourself up with guilt about not going.

Love God, love each other, worship, fellowship together and invite the Holy Spirit to join you. No guilt allowed.

~Lori O’Gara

 

 

Randomness of Life

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Hi,

I just realized that I haven’t posted since last Monday. I am still trying to get my head screwed back on correctly after the holidays. You know that now it’s over let’s get back to real life routine sort of brain that takes a minute to remember where and who you are.

As I look over the next few weeks I see that there are a lot of things on my agenda. It would be easy to get overwhelmed at it and stressed out. I have made the decision that will not happen My next thoughts were Don’t Panic! and Where’s my towel? ….Actually it went something like this…

“Crap, look at this calendar. I have so much to do…Where is my towel? Do not panic. Scrap it! I can do this! I will do this! I am a strong resourceful woman. Yea…sure I am.”

Just then my love sets a cup of strong coffee next to me and smiles….yea I can do this.

Who’s with me?  Pull up your big girl or boy warrior britches and get things done.

We can do this!

~Lori O’Gara

 

 

 

Hello Monday: Newsletter Peek

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Hi,  if you haven’t signed up for Lori’s newsletter here is a peek at what you missed. If you signed up and did not receive it please check you spam/junk folder. It comes from her email, lori_ogara@outlook.com. Click here to sign up! 

Paradise Lost

In We Will Get There one of the themes is a very real issue facing Perdido Key even today. The loss of land and change to the horizon.  In the book, Krystal fights and wins but in reality the fight was lost years ago.

What we have to remember is that change is inevitable. It is how we react that counts. All we can do is fight when we can and accept the change when we can’t control it.

It breaks my heart to see the monstrous condos line the shore when I top the bridge headed out to Perdido. I have my memories. No one can change that.  Home is a place but it is in our hearts as well.

Where is your home? Has it changed in significant ways?

~ Lori O’Gara
Perdido Key now and before development.

Sign up for the newsletter here! 

 

Sunday Thoughts: Resolutions, sort of…

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I usually do not make resolutions. I can never stick them out all year. I read once that it takes doing a thing for 30 days to make a habit. So this year I am going to try that, 30 days to make a habit. Then do it again the next month and the next. Before long another year will be gone. I only have 3 resolutions.

1. Listen to God, do what he says without following my own rules.

2. Write something every single day even if I don’t feel like it.

3. Read every day, even if I don’t feel like it and by doing so read everything on my shelves that I have not read.

These resolutions are not as easy as the sound. Making my own mind shut up and listen is going to be difficult.  God knows better than I do. I need to listen and follow Him.

Write something everyday even if I don’t feel like it. Most of the time I want to write, I have the desire to write. I will first devise some sort of plan listing what projects I really want to work on. Organize my writing and write everyday.

Read read read! I have several unread books. I have serious OCD about buying books. I see something that looks interesting and I buy it to read later. My TBR (to be read) stacks have grown a lot the past year.

So that’s it for 2018. No crazy commitments that I know I won’t keep, no empty promises to myself or God, only a plan to make some progress.

~Lori O’Gara

Sunday Thoughts: Look for Forever

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One of the strongest words in the English language is forever. Merriam Webster defines forever as a limitless time (as in He wants to live forever) or at all times, continually. Forever is one of those words that stands in front of you defiantly and dares you to prove it wrong. It is bossy and intrusive. The word forever and I have always agreed to disagree. It says to me, let go trust that I am true. I say no, no you are not. There is no such thing as forever.  I am good with the continually definition. It is the limitless time that gives me anxiety. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing. Seasons change, people die, good things always come to an end and bad times pass. There is no such thing as forever. The difficult lessons in life have taught me that forever is a fantasy, a fairy tale. We all know that fairy tales are not true.

Just recently I have had this needling thought in my head. It is a particularly chatty monkey that says, “You are wrong. Love lasts forever. Real love is never-ending.” I have resisted the urge to toss that monkey out on his head. I try to get my head around the thought that someone could love me so much that it lasts not just my lifetime but forever into eternity. I have even said to that thought monkey and the person who put it in my head, “No, I do not say forever. I can’t trust that to be true.”

Then the monkey chatter says in rebellion, “What if you are wrong? What do you have to lose? What is love?” That definition of love is stronger than that nasty little monkey called forever.  The same dictionary defines love as a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person, attraction that includes sexual desire, the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship, a person you love in a romantic way, God or personification of love.

I have said on this blog and in other places that God is love. I have also said that love is worth the risk.  I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t at least give this forever consideration. I have love in my life that is strong that has the potential to last a long long time. I don’t know if it will indeed last forever. All I can do is hope and have faith that it is enough. That the love I have in my life will last a long time and that it is worth the risk.

At that thought another nicer calmer monkey spoke up in the chatter, “Love is worth everything. Stop listening to your mind and listen to your heart.”

I sighed, conceded and said out loud, “I love you…forever.”

Next to me the one who loves me smiled and said, ” I love you too.”

~Lori O’Gara

 

Christmas is Not About Stuff

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Thinking about the Christmas wrapping, shopping, and decorating, it hit me. All the stuff that I call traditions and all the seasonal necessities that I think we need are so not necessary. Christmas is about the family that I shop, decorate, wrap, and do the traditions for to try to please.  Will my family love me less if I do not go all out for them at Christmas? No, they love me either way.

We are told through media, peer pressure, and social expectations that Christmas would not be special if we do not give our family all the things they want. We believe that Christmas will not be memorable if we do not max out our credit cards on the latest gadgets and greatest toys. This lie that the retail giants of the world want us to believe is fatal and tragic. It most certainly is NOT Christmas.

We have been told over again in all those mushy Christmas specials, Christmas is about loving each other. Christmas is not about stuff. The meaning behind the gifts is important. It does not matter if the gifts are the latest must have or a handmade creation. It is the love that you show that family while sitting around that decorated tree. Once we take this truth to heart, Christmas will be special and memorable.

This year Christmas will be different. Christmas will be about love.