“Come close to God, and God will come close to you….”
I recently visited my two sons living in Ohio. One of the pleasures of visiting my adult children is helping with projects around their homes. So, on this bright and beautiful spring sunny day, I was clearing dead branches out of my son’s flower bed. I was busily snipping away branches when I heard a man’s voice, “May I help you?”
I looked up to see my son’s next-door neighbor engaging me in conversation. He was trying to figure out whether or not I belonged on his neighbor’s property. I stood up and heard him ask, “Oh, are you his mom?”
“Yes,” I replied. He told me he was just checking on things and then walked toward me with his right hand extended as we introduced ourselves. Such a small gesture. But it has been over a year since COVID-19 restrictions began and people began staying at home and wearing masks and NOT shaking hands with their neighbors.
After a few words, he left, and I realized just how pleasant meeting a neighbor and shaking a hand had been. That small human connection was as life-giving as spring itself. My heart swelled with happiness. We need human connection, even human touch like a handshake with a neighbor.
God knows this; it is the way he created us. Jesus knew this; that’s why he came to earth, to give us a God/human connection. Jesus touched people while he lived here and he allowed people to touch him. Jesus held children in his arms; he placed his hands on their heads to bless them. Jesus touched the eyes of blind men, the atrophied arms and legs of the sick, even the coffin of a dead man whose funeral procession Jesus interrupted at Nain, right before he brought the man back to life and returned him to his mother. Jesus was touched in a crowded street by a desperate woman seeking healing. His feet were touched and kissed by a sinful woman who anointed him with her tears of repentance and gratitude for his saving grace and mercy.
Those deemed sinners and reprobates by the religious leaders were touched by Jesus. Even those deemed unclean by the Mosaic Law because they had leprosy were touched and healed by God’s Messiah. I imagine that when Jesus spoke to his disciples or invited himself to the home of the crooked tax collector, Zacchaeus, that maybe Jesus put a hand on their shoulders or took them by their arms. Jesus didn’t stand or sit apart from the people he came to teach about his Heavenly Father. He stood close to them; he sat next to them; he touched them.
One of my favorite scenes in Scripture is found in John’s gospel. In John 13, the Apostle John describes what happened at the last meal the disciples would share with Jesus before his crucifixion. And the writer describes himself leaning against Jesus. Perhaps John could hear Jesus’ heartbeat as he leaned close, listening to Jesus’ words about what was about to take place. Jesus never told John to stop leaning on him. He will never tell us that either. Jesus appreciates the power held within a human touch. That’s why he came to be near us.
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, make their home in central Arkansas. They have five grown children and are grandparents to wonderful grandchildren. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.