Author: Nancy B. Gibbs ... Bestselling Contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Guideposts Books, contributor to thousands of national magazine, anthologies, newspapers, and devotional guides.
Wednesday, August 04 2021
The Best Years
My husband Roy and I were talking yesterday. We were discussing our health matters and how God had taken care of us over the years. We both have issues which might have come on us as a result of bad habits and eating too much in our younger years.
We still find it ironic that we are so much alike that we tested positive for COVID on the same day. We both lost taste and smell on the same day. It returned to both of us the next day. And we recovered on the same day. We were the blind leading the blind for those couple of weeks. But the bottom line is that we both recovered. God wasn’t finished with us yet. He still had something for us to do.
As we get older, new health concerns arise. Many couples pull apart. They stop dating. He stops bringing her flowers. She stops cooking him special meals. We get up and go in separate directions. Holding hands is a thing of the past. Life changed for both of us.
But to me, our marriage has changed for the better. Since retirement, we spend more time together. He cooks me special meals, fixes my plate, and does whatever he can to help me lower my blood sugar. He even gives me my shots. I stick with him through his health concerns, as well. We see ourselves as a team.
We are both in our sixties now. We oftentimes think about the day, as youngsters, we talked and dreamed about growing old together. Well, we did it! We are now “old.” But yesterday, we decided that our best years are going to be our last years.
How can that be, you may be asking? We both move slower. We stop to smell the roses. We cherish our pets and cry together when we lose them. We enjoy our meals at a table for two in our kitchenette. Sometimes, we even light a candle.
When you are old, you cherish each day; for one day down, is one day we won’t ever live again. Roy and I count each day together as a blessing.
Some people stop dreaming when they get old. Not us! I’m still dreaming of writing a Pulitzer Prize novel. Roy still dreams of reaching thousands of people for Jesus.
As we are getting older, he is preaching more funerals. Our friends, some younger than us, are leaving this world and joining our other friends in heaven.
I’m writing more and more books. Why? You may be asking. It’s my way of leaving messages from God behind when I leave this place. I believe whole-heartedly that we should live until we die.
I don’t know where you stand in life today, but if you are reading this you are breathing. So make the very best of every day.
If you have your spouse, kiss him or her, hold their hand, cook a meal and serve them. Give them a shot if you need to. And buy the flowers. You don’t have to go to an expensive florist. Check out the produce section of your favorite grocery store. For less than ten dollars you can buy a fistful of daisys, that will mean the world to your sweetheart.
Read a book together. One couple shared with me that they read “Jacob’s Cottage” together. Now they can’t wait for “Jacob’s Cottage” sequel-book two. They plan to read it together too.
You can both make your dreams come true. For your last years can truly be your best years. Celebrate and enjoy every day together. And remember to thank Jesus along the way.
Monday, July 26 2021
What little pet peeves do you carry around with you? There have been ongoing debates as to whether the toilet paper should be rolled off from the top or the bottom. There are clever reasons for both ways, but in my opinion, just as long as we have toilet paper I’m happy.
Now, I have to admit there are some things that bother me. “Groceries half put up.” Roy has a way of leaving cookies on the island. He knows I have a love affair with cookies and every time I walk through the kitchen I pick up one or two. If they were in the cabinet, where they belong, I’d have to do a little more to get ahold of them. I’d eat less that way and the cookies would last longer. But every time I say something about it, I’m chomping on a Chocolate Chip delicacy. He doesn’t hear me!
I’m sure there are many little things I do that annoy him. He’s a perfectionist while folding up clothes. If I get them halfway neatly folded, and tucked away in my closet I’m happy. He’s annoyed that every crease wasn’t straight, when I return to watch tv.
I try to keep my stuff as straight as possible. His stuff has a way of creeping out of his study.
He is one of those “box” people. He cannot throw away a good box. And just because they are stacked neatly in a corner doesn’t mean they should be there in the first place. In my opinion boxes should go in the garbage.
I clean up by dumping unneeded stuff in the garbage can. He keeps old bills and newspapers. Of course when I bring it up he tells me he keeps them because I probably have an article or two in them. He’s so sweet - both he and my pet peeves. What can I say then?
Pet peeves steal our joy. Instead of eating the cookies on the island, shouldn’t I just put them up? I could cut out my articles and throw the rest of the newspaper away after we both have read it. When I empty a box I should not tempt him to save it by leaving it in the middle of the living room floor. And maybe I should take a couple more minutes to fold my clothes.
While there are pet peeves, I also possess many blessings by “my man” being with me. He cooks most of the meals. He buys most of our groceries. He does his own laundry and sometimes mine (see above). He takes care of our pets. He names every stray cat and makes sure I call them by name.
I have time to write and share God’s messages to the world because he does the things I hate to do. A few weeks ago I walked into the kitchen and there was the most beautiful banana pudding on the island. I couldn’t believe he made it all by himself. There may be a few little things he does which annoy me; but there are many, many more things he does to bless my life.
Therefore, I will focus on the good and stop worrying about the cookies on the island. I’ll throw away my boxes before he gets the chance to inspect them, and I’ll cut out my articles and stack them on his desk. I’ll fold my clothes and put them away while he’s in the kitchen making banana pudding. But mostly I’ll thank God that He sent my soulmate to me. Pet peeves or not, he is the most incredible man I’ve ever known.
Love your mate. Overlook the pet peeves. Think on the good and be happy today! Love the one you are with. For one day you may be rejoicing in the memories and wishing you could do it all over again.
Friday, July 23 2021
The Tiny Bird
A few days ago I noticed a tiny bird on our bird feeder. It was sitting on the perch and pecking so hard that seed was falling to the ground. I stopped a few minutes to take notice. It was so little that it could have easily fit in the palm of my hand.
As I stood there watching it, I thought about how much God loves even the tiniest of birds. I thought about how He provides for them, just as He provides for me and you. God watches them as they fly around our neighborhood and shoos the cats away when they get too close. God created all things and I'm certain that He loves everything He designed and made.
He especially loves us! We are small enough to fit in the palm of His hand. And when we are afraid, stressed or sad, I believe He holds us. He wraps His fingers around us and tries to comfort us.
He shoos away the bad things that we find frightening. But sometimes we do like the tiny bird would probably do if I caught and held it. We fight Him. We think we are in danger and even possibly all alone.
But if we would simply stay calm, close our eyes, and remain in Him, we can know that He has His hands on us. We can "rest assured" that we are safe in the hands of our Lord. Nothing can defeat us, because in the end Jesus wins.
Thursday, July 22 2021
Mix it Up
I got up early this morning to bake a pound cake. I’ve used this recipe probably 100 times. I can always find it in my trusted cookbook by the discolored pages where I have spilled milk, butter and flour on the recipe.
It dawned on me this morning that life is somewhat like baking a cake. The recipe told me to start out creaming the butter and shortening. Then I was to add the ingredients, a portion at a time. “Here goes a little flour” I said. Then I added an egg. Next was a scoop of sugar, and then about an eighth of a cup of buttermilk. All the while, my mixer was humming and working to its heart ‘s content.
As I mixed it all up, I noticed how smooth the batter was. I’d be surprised if you could just dump everything in a bowl at one time and then start mixing. My mind was going in circles much like my mixer. It was 5:00 am. Where’s the coffee?
Where am I going with this? Our lives are much like this pound cake. If we put too much fun into it and leave out the work, we fall short on payday. If we work too hard and never have any fun, we burn out quickly. We need to alternate our work days just as I had to alternate putting the ingredients in my bowl.
If we don’t spend time cleaning our house, dust bunnies attack the furniture. If we spend too much time sweeping and mopping we find ourselves on the sofa taking a much-needed nap.
I sometimes find myself neglecting some things and spending too much time on others. Like my cake recipe, we need to alternate our activities each day.
We all need a little bit of adventure at times and God knows our work constantly calls out our name. So grab your calendar. Spill a little fun activities on a day. Maybe a picnic could fit well between work days. And how about a husband/wife weekend getaway. Putting a little fun in the mix makes our marriage run smoothly. Like my batter was so smooth our relationships could be too!
Another thing that helped my cake was sifting the flour. (Getting the lumps out.) We certainly need to sift out the lumps from our home/marriage. If we don’t, the lumps can be the beginning of a breakup.
Life is truly like making a cake. Add a little bit here and put a lot of God there and we will be blessed. We can be sure that God’s presence is the absolute best ingredient of all. We can be happy if we will add every ingredient in life alternately. And always make God the icing on the cake.
Saturday, July 17 2021
Enjoy God’s Peace
Sometimes, I find myself like a tangled up ball of yarn. It’s difficult to get everything done, no matter how hard I try to keep moving forward. I’m sure you experience the same things, at times.
Do you know what Jesus says about that? “Come to Me.”
That’s it. He gives us a short and simple answer. He wants us to believe in Him and to have faith in Him.
He doesn’t begin explaining how we should live our everyday life. He doesn’t always tell us how to take our bucket of troubles and turn them into pleasures. He watches us from heaven as we get frustrated, while trying to unwind our issues.
Again, He says... “come to me... I will give you rest.” Then He smiles down at us.
Then we might say... “I have to go. I have to hurry. I need to get there.”
But He says, “slow down.” He puts an obstacle in our path. We are late. But Jesus says, “I protected you.”
Wouldn’t we all be better off if we just trusted God each minute of our life? Would we be happier if we just simply decided to enjoy His peace? If we simply follow His guidance, one step at a time, peace will be ours.
Is your day today filled with busyness and struggles? Give God your ball of yarn and watch how He gets all the tangles out for you.
But it will only happen, when we turn our fears into faith. Please don’t struggle needlessly. Trust God! He won’t let you down.
Wednesday, July 14 2021
When you ask God for something, do you truly expect Him to give it to you? God made many promises in His Word. Some of my favorites are “I will be with you. Ask and you will receive. Give and I will give you more. My grace is all you need. You can do all things through me.” I could go on and on and on.
God’s Promises are real. But He does call on us to do some things before He follows through with His promises. “Follow me. Be obedient in Me. Have Faith. Feed My Sheep. Read My Word. Spend some time with Me.”
I could go on all day long telling you how important it is to follow God’s instructions for living. When we walk in faith and invite God to go along with us, there’s not enough demons in the universe to pull Him away from us.
When we love God, it is impossible for anyone to take His favor away from us. God wants to show us favor. But He also wants us to invite Him to spend time with us.
There have been many people to tell me that they don’t ask God for the little needs in their life. They reason that He’s busy working on the big problems. So they don’t ask!
But for today, he wants you to ask! He cares about the big things and the little things. You may not have time for Him, but He has time for you. Trust Him. Follow Him. And ask Him for what you need. You just might have a big blessing coming your way.
I heard someone say something like this one time. “I’d rather ask God for many things and receive a few of them, than ask Him for nothing and get it all.”
Ask and you will receive! God is the God of favor today and forever. Remember He loves you enough to answer all your requests.
Monday, July 12 2021
Hope for Another Day
I’ve heard it said that a person can live for several days without food and water, but they can’t even live a second without hope. Regardless of how bad things are getting in our country, if we compare ourselves to others in our world, we are so blessed.
We are living in a free country, but we could lose that freedom if we are not careful. We are blessed to live here in the United States and we should be thanking God every day of our life and for what He has done for us.
Shameful are those who turn their back on our flag. Shameful are they who refuse to stand when our National Anthem is played. My feeling is if they can’t respect our country, they should leave our country and see how that works out for them.
There are people in other countries who are starving and in need of medicine. There are people dying every day. Why can’t those who live here appreciate what we have, instead of complaining about what we don’t have? Those starving would give anything to live just one day here.
We have it easy here. We are given food when we are hungry. We are given a place to sleep when we are tired. We receive medical care when we are sick. But the greatest thing we have here in the USA is the right to worship as we please. In other countries if they profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they will meet Him immediately.
The next greatest thing we have here, but losing it quickly, is hope. We can hope for a better tomorrow and may get it.
We can hope for our every dream to come true and then witness miracles among us. We can hope for our eternity, give our lives to Christ, and have the assurance of a Heavenly Home.
So for today, please thank God for your blessings. Take a look around your little corner of the world and be grateful for what God has given you.
Appreciate the food on your table, the family around you and a comfortable place to sleep. And stand and salute our flag, say your prayers, and act like the person God created you to be.
Your actions could change our country and world. Your hope for tomorrow may just rub off on somebody else. But above all let’s lift up the Lord Jesus Christ and bring glory and honor to Him.
Sunday, July 11 2021
Focus on the Birds
Yesterday, I was at my desk writing when something grabbed my attention. I heard the sounds of a bird’s song. It was chirping away. I stopped what I was doing and listened. I wondered if the singing was coming from outside my window.
Then it dawned on it that a bird was singing on national television. There was a news anchor reporting on all the bad news going on in the world on my television.
He was standing outside. Obviously the bird was in a tree nearby. The louder the anchor talked, the louder the bird chirped.
It was almost comical. The reporter was trying to keep our attention with his bad news. But the bird was trying to show us that, with God, life can be something to sing about.
While drinking my coffee this morning, I realized how blessed as a nation we are. I woke up today in a comfortable bed. I had coffee pods in the kitchen. I grabbed a cup of coffee and went to my favorite chair to spend some time with God and to write this article.
It is my opinion that because life is so good for us (yes, I agree that we have problems in our country), that sometimes we should just turn off the racket and hear the birds sing.
God has blessed us beyond measure. If we counted our blessing today, starting with a bird’s song, we would still be counting until the day we leave this world behind.
But then, immediately following, we will enter into a place where thousands of birds are showing out and singing to their heart’s content. In that place there will be no more pain, no tears and no bad news. We will be able to focus on the bird’s songs without interruption or any bad news. Has it ever dawned on you that there is NO bad news in heaven?
So if you have lost someone recently, dry away your tears, and know that if they knew Jesus, your loved one is now in heaven, listening to the birds singing.
They are not in pain. They are not sad. They are busy, yes, very busy while counting their many blessings.
Will you, today, listen to the birds, and smile?
Saturday, July 10 2021
The most difficult of all goodbyes is the last one. It’s so hard to walk away when you know you won’t see your loved one again. That’s what makes death the most dreadful event any of us will ever encounter in life.
As a pastor’s wife, there have been many times that I will pray with someone, knowing it’s the last prayer that I will pray with them. As many times as this has happened, deep in my heart I feel an indescribable pain. I don’t take this role lightly. Last prayers are very important to the person I’m praying with and also to myself.
When my last day comes and I’m about to leave this world I would like for there to be someone praying for me while the angels escort me away. Jesus is the last Name I want to hear.
I want to have asked forgiveness from God and to be “okay” with all people. If there’s any discord between me and someone else, it will be on their end, not mine. For I pray regularly for those who don’t like me. And yes I know there are a few. God does too!
Mostly, however I’m so blessed with the thousands of friends I have. God has been so good to me. I love the Micheal W. Smith song, “Friends.” Yes. Friends are friends forever if the Lord is over them.
For those who don’t know the Lord, they can oftentimes allow hate, contempt, misunderstandings and anger to rule their life here on earth. That’s sad for them. They are not hurting the persons they are angry with. They are hurting themselves.
Those who hate have never been real friends at all. I remind myself of that occasionally. But we are not accountable for anyone else’s actions or the way they feel. We are accountable for ourselves and only ourselves. If a friendship can be forfeited because of a misunderstanding, that friendship was never rooted or true in the first place.
Death truly leaves sad goodbyes, but we can know that if both parties love the Lord there will be a fond hello once again.
But those who walk away because of anger, without saying goodbye, will lose out for eternity. Gods Word tells us that we can know the Christian by the way they love each other. That means there should always be fond goodbyes and peace among us and our brothers and sisters, if at all possible.
I read a quote a few days ago that said “don’t think of death as the end.”Think of death as a brand new beginning. Where do you want to start your new beginning? I hope your answer is heaven.
Tuesday, June 29 2021
I’m an inquisitive type of person. Many times, questions come to mind and I want an answer. So, like most people today, I type the question in a search engine. The little “thinking” button goes round and round and then a dozen or more answers appear on my screen. You get everybody, and his brother’s, opinion.
A few days ago, I typed in a question that went something like this. “How to market my book.” I typed that question right after the UPS man brought eight cases of Jacob’s Cottage.
I was already far surpassing most writers with book reviews and book sales, but I wanted to know how other people do it. I figured that I might be able to pick up an idea or two from them.
Well, I found out that most aspiring writers never become successful. They have hopes and dreams, just as I do. They spend hours writing the book, fewer hours editing it, and then even fewer hours than that marketing it. The success story they thought they wrote, becomes cases of books in the storage house.
Nowadays, however, if you go with a print-on-demand company, you start out with a couple books and an empty bank account. That’s a very popular way to publish, believe it or not.
According to the experts, I’m doing it all wrong. Do you know why? They are not getting in on the profits. Only if you hire them to guide you, to coach you, to publish you, to review you, or to edit your work will you become successful.
So, to make life easier for me, I decided to write and market my books the correct way. It’s all a matter of putting God in the driver’s seat.
1. God is the author. I’m just the typist. He speaks. I listen and type.
2. God is my editor. He tells me to read it again and again, then one more time. He points out the mistakes. I attended a four day writers conference a few years back. The greatest tidbit of advice I heard came from the keynote speaker.
He said, “when you are a Christian writer, only present your best work to God.” That doesn’t mean my books are perfect. It means they are my best work possible. I try to give my Boss, my best.
3. God is my marketer. He knows the needs of all people. I don’t. He knows who can benefit by reading my books. And He knows how to put them before the readers of His choice. Has He presented Jacob’s Cottage to you?
4. God is my publicist. He gives me the story to share with the world. Then when I have written a good book, with His message, it’s bound to be successful.
For He had full control of every aspect of the book. He will publicize it, and make it a bestseller if He so desires.
As for me... I’m His servant. He called me to write in November, 1997. He equipped me by giving me something to say.
Will I become rich writing? Nope. Will I become famous writing? Nope. Will I win a Pulitzer Prize. Nope. For my books are not about me. They are about Him. So, when my agent tells me to go to the computer, I go.
Why do I spend so much time writing? Because one day it is my heart’s desire that God will look at me and say “welcome, good and faithful servant.” And then I’ll spend forever with my Father, author of all good works, editor, marketer and publicist. I will have the correct answer to my question, “How to market my book.” “
The answer is simple and straightforward. Give it to God and give Him the glory.”
God’s book will reach every person who accepts it. He won’t force it on anyone. Did you like Jacob’s Cottage? If so, say thank you to Jesus. It came from Him. And tell somebody first about Jesus, then about the book. Only He is Worthy!
Monday, June 28 2021
Turn the Page
As a writer, I know too well the blank page syndrome. That’s when you are holding a pen, staring at a blank page and nothing comes to mind.
Nobody talks about this opposite syndrome, however. It’s the “too much on the page” syndrome. I personally have many more problems with that illness.
And I’m not really referring to writing on paper. I’m speaking of life as a whole.
I hate to have to admit it, but I oftentimes hold on to regrets way too long. I think back to misunderstandings and wonder why they happened in the first place.
Maybe I could have been a little more careful with how I said something. Maybe it wasn’t what I said, but how I said it. Maybe I was just in a horrible mood. Maybe I can do something that will erase those words from yesterday.
The only wasted regret is the one where we learned nothing. We cannot go back. I once heard Rev. Billy Graham say “you can’t unscramble eggs.” He is so right. Likewise, we can’t go back and take away the words that once slipped from our mouths. It’s impossible.
Fortunately, we can learn from those crowded pages from our past. But once we have gone back, pulled out the stuff worthy of filing in our hearts and minds, we should wad up the paper and toss it in the garbage can.
Why do we sometimes allow those incidents from the past keep tumbling around in our minds?
You may be thinking that hard discussion you had with your sister Jane many years ago, will never completely go away. You don’t even want to face her. It would be way too painful.
But the time comes that you and your Sister will come together (probably at somebody’s funeral). That’s when you must make a decision. Will you be nice or will you act like a jerk?
I’ve seen lots of people act in crazy ways at funerals. I’ve also seen sisters come together that had been estranged for a decade. Do you know the difference in the two situations?
The ones acting like jerks love that too much on a page syndrome. They have a point to make and they plan on making it one way or the other. The silent treatment works pretty well for starters. Then you have the cold shoulder. And unfortunately it sometimes even goes deeper than that.
Hatred rushes in. They feel more hate than any one person should for even just a few seconds. Hatred is satans first line of attack. He thinks he’s winning.
So how can we get beyond the “too much on a page syndrome.” There’s two ways. Give it to God. Let him forgive and forget and then follow in His steps. He’s all about reconciliation. He’s about love.
The second way is to pray for those who have caused you grief. Life is way too short to waste our time hating someone. I have learned you can’t hate someone and pray fervently for them at the same time. One will win over the other.
Today is the day to flip that page, live our lives to the fullest, forgive and forget, and throw out the garbage. The burden is not worth carrying around, even one day, much less a lifetime.
I’m forgetting everything that is in the past, moving on to this day and never letting anyone steal my joy again.
They can hold on to the crowded pages, but this girl has decided she will always turn the page. I hope today you open your book of life and start today with a blank page. Then turn the book over to God.
Sunday, June 27 2021
As I look back over the last 48 years, I have so many precious memories. The joy I felt when the twins were born was amazing. The day we left the hospital, I had no idea what I was going to do with them. I was just a child myself.
The biggest struggle was trying to keep up with who was who. As you can guess they were identical - and weighed the exact same, to the ounce, a week or two later.
But I had a plan and it worked until they were old enough to tell me their names. Many parents looked forward to teeth appearing and their baby walking. I looked forward to mine knowing their names.
Five years later, Becky (Brad and Chad’s little sister) was born. When asked how she knew that Brad was Brad, she would say, “because he’s not Chad.” That made sense to me.
She never got it wrong. So luckily somebody in the family could straighten everybody else out when they got their names wrong. And believe me, she did.
Somehow today I’m a little sad but also a lot happy. I miss having cake and ice cream with them. I miss the birthday hugs. But I’m so happy they all have families who dote over them.
Life is so very strange. Changes happen gradually and I worry that, at times, I might not have appreciated the moment I was in enough.
I sometimes wish I could go back and make another Fred Flintstone or Care Bear birthday cake. But in reality, I wouldn’t want to change one thing about who any of my children have become. All three are great parents for my grandchildren. They made me Nana and Roy Pa.
We’ve had our twists and turns over the years but on ordinary days, I’m happy as can be.
So please just give me 2 days a year (June 12th and June 27th) to miss life as it once was. God knows my little heartache this morning and He cares deeply about me. And He understands.
Hopefully, there will be many more memories down the road that will overshadow the days that that I find I truly miss yesterday.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
I love all my June birthday children and I miss being there with them to celebrate. Happy Birthday and may God continue to bless you all for many more years to come. When God gave me y’all, He gave me the best birthday presents ever.
Saturday, June 26 2021
No matter how hard we try, we will not find happiness in this world. We may think that having millions of dollars will make us happy. We may believe that owning mansions in every state would put us in a place where we have no fear. It’s been said that no matter how much money we have, we want just a little bit more.
But money and things never make us happy. It’s not going to happen. Oh sure, there is always that temporary feeling of “wow. Look what I have!” New cars look and smell good!
But after the 3rd or 4th payment the happiness fades away. We are driving a used car; yet making new car payments. And this will go on for another six years or so. The car loan will probably outlive the car.
And the disappointment of spending so much money on a used car becomes so overwhelming that we go to the car dealership and we will trade this car, that once made us so happy, for another one that will make us happy again. Do you see the vicious cycle? We’ve all been there and done that.
The way to find true happiness, however, is not to have what we want, but to want what we have. Contentment leads our way to happiness. It takes us to an entirely different playing level.
Happiness can also be felt when we know we are loved. Maybe you don’t feel loved today. But know this, Jesus loves you so very much. And He wouldn’t leave us for the world (He already owns it all anyway.)
Giving God control and placing our burdens on His shoulders will bring happiness. So for today I will find happiness. I will give God everything that I once considered mine.
I’ll allow Him to be the joy giver that He wants to be.
Do you want to be happy today? If so, don’t go car shopping. Call on God and let Him have full-control of your life.
And then decide to be happy. Show kindness to someone else today. Forget the new car smell and think about the feeling you can have when God comes first in your life. New cars wear out, but God will be with us forever.