Hope Creates Lifetime Goals

Because I recently achieved one of those milestone birthdays, I meditated and prayed about God’s will for me in this new season of life.Hope word

The answer came as a whisper to “Check out Psalm 92.” Within the Psalmist’s words, I found a description of what I want to be and do in the years to come.

Of course, only God knows the extent of my timeline and the eventual plan he has for me.

But the Psalmist recorded some practical and wise advice that I plan to journal through and cache within my goal-setting process.

  • Flourish in the courts of our God

Whatever I do and wherever I am, I hope to flourish – to do my work with simple trust and hearty obedience, to finish well and make a difference in the Kingdom.

  • Grow in grace and bear fruit in old age

Jesus didn’t face old age, so we don’t have a divine model. But we can look at examples from Scripture to find out how to grow old with grace.

Noah accepted new assignments even when they seemed improbable and a bit crazy; i.e. building a boat while rain was just a weird unknown.

Elizabeth trusted God for the impossible and discerned how he was working in the world she inhabited; i.e. she mentored the mother of Jesus and trusted that her own womb bore God’s messenger.

John wrote the words that would encourage and inspire believers for centuries. Did he realize that one of the greatest hooks of all time would come from his pen? “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was from God and the Word was God.”

  • Be full of spiritual vitality

I want to be so filled with the Spirit and emptied of myself that the love and compassion of Christ precedes me into each room. I want my eyes to portray love and my voice to echo with the truth in a way that draws people to its life-giving source.

  • Rich in trust, love and contentment

I don’t want to be a saint who spends time griping about my aches and pains or the state of the country or the problems of younger generations. I want to be an example of what life-long trust in the God of the universe means – sharing his love while grateful for the breath of each day.

  • A living memorial to show that he is upright and faithful

The memorials of Lincoln and Jefferson focus on the words and grand living of these statesmen. How much greater and a broader goal to be a living memorial of who God is and how he is faithful to every promise.

Psalm 92:13-15 contains the rich truth and goal-setting ideas I can hang my hat on. As I march into this next season of life, even as the birthday ice cream slowly crystallizes in the freezer, I want this to be a fulfilling time of joy – while processing through whatever God desires for me.

He knew me before he made the world, what he planned for me, the good works he prepared for me to do. May that plan be exactly what happens and may it result in hope.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G Books http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/1624/gallery/fiction/

Hope Thrives Through the Aunties’ Prayers

woman prayingAs I closed my prayer journal, I thought once again about my nieces and nephews. These dear ones were the focus of my Sabbath prayers – the next generation that will love justice, show mercy and live as Kingdom-bearers in our world.

Years ago, I determined to pray them through school decisions, career changes and life-long relationships. Now I wonder how my prayers protected them or spurred them to consider a different path, a more focused decision. No matter. I will love them and root for them forever.

And what about the intercessions of my aunties? Judging from the fruit of their lives, I would bet they also kept prayer lists and on those lists, somewhere – my name appears.


It is because of their influence that I write and serve and minister. The glorious result of their example helped frame me as they modeled how to become strong and authentic women.


Most of them now live in eternal glory, yet the memories I carry of them are as distinct as my own reflection in the bedroom mirror.

Mary: the auntie who loved me even when I could not love myself. She never saw the zits, the perm-fried hair or the thunder thighs that mortified me throughout adolescence and high school. Mary just loved me and every time she saw me, I knew she was genuinely glad to see me. How I would love to feel her arms around me again!

Lynda: the teacher auntie who expressed interest in every one of my projects, supported my ministries and showed up, smiling, whenever I sang a solo or gave a speech. I felt important in her presence and knew she cared for me. I would bet, even now, she is checking with God about my activities.

Alma Dee: a busy mother of five, who still found time to spend hours with me, listening to my recitations of Bible verses and encouraging me to study the truth of God’s word. She helped me build a foundation that I later shared with my Bible students and then morphed into the personality of Reverend G.

Ethel: the gracious and kindly auntie who surpassed Martha Stewart in hospitality and the making of home. Her beautiful house was immaculate, her décor creative while her face always carried the shine of God’s love. Even now, this still-living auntie, reflects the presence of God and wears a forever smile, probably knowing she will see Him in person someday soon.

Adina: the widowed auntie who raised her children alone and achieved a master’s degree when it was unusual for women to pursue the higher levels of education. She challenged me to pursue my dreams. Because she persevered, I could, too.

Lucille: the glamourous auntie whose red lipstick shocked and amazed me. I wanted to try that shade – just once. It was at her memorial service that I learned about the depth of her faith and wondered if she, too, had prayed for me.

These aunties are just some of the relatives whom I respected and loved. They taught me the values I still espouse and shared their faith as generously as they gave kisses on the cheek.

Without these aunties and their prayers, I might have chosen another path. I have lived the results of my aunties’ prayers. So I now pass on that treasure for the younger ones who follow me.

Who prayed for you? What difference did those prayers make in your life?

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/1624/gallery/fiction/

Stage 7 of Alzheimer’s – The Race is Won

As told by Reverend G …

How long will it take before I die?

Day after day and night after long night when I often don’t sleep – I watch for the light.

John 14-3It creeps under the doorway when everything is quiet in the hallways. Then it flirts with the window in the corner of my room as it changes from the mere beginnings of another day into the full-blown afternoon and then again – the silence of evening.

People come into my room and do things to me. They change my sheets and my clothes. They make me feel clean again. They help me go to the bathroom. I wish they didn’t have to do that, but I am so completely helpless.

Once I was a vital pastor who cared for her people and taught about God’s love. I am now a baby – an infant in an adult body.

How long will it take before I die? I am so ready to die, dear God. Will you please let me die?

I remember a beautiful piece of the Bible, and every day I think about these words, “Many homes are up there where my Father lives. Jesus is preparing them for my coming. When everything is ready, he will come and get me so that I can always be with him in heaven” (John 14:3).

I wonder what my home in heaven will look like. I am glad that it will be nothing like this room and this sterile bed where I wait to die.


It will be beautiful, because God is beautiful and he knows how to create the very best for me. No Alzheimer’s exists in heaven. No dementia. No illness of any kind. No more death.


Only great love and the light of God’s goodness, shining through everything – his holiness everywhere.

How long will it be before I get to see that light? I am so ready to be with Jesus.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G Books – http://bit.ly/1RH27AT

A Valentine for Reverend G

“Wear your walkin’ shoes,” Chris spoke over the phone line. “I’ll be there in about 15.”

How was I so lucky to have a friend like Chris who recently graduated into a boyfriend? Was it appropriate to call a man in his early sixties a “boy”friend? I suppose I wasn’t a “girl”friend either, with my long white braid that hung over my shoulder and my early-onset Alzheimer’s that hung over what was left of my mind.

But here he was, dressed in bright blue sweats that contrasted nicely with his own white hair and the blue specks in his eyes. My guy friend, holding open the door for me, his Valentine date.valentine heart

We drove in his Caddie to downtown Lawton Springs and parked in one of the special lots that gave us at least two hours to roam. Downtown attracted tourists as well as the college students and locals, even on a warmer-than-average day in February.

Funky boutiques blended in with the national franchises. Starbucks next to Fannie Mae’s Linens, Minsky’s Pizza right across from the sparkly Gallery on the Glow. Even as close as Lawton Springs sat in latitude and longitude to Kansas City Metro, hundreds of people shopped in our city. It was, as the newspaper often quoted, “America’s Greatest Little Town.”

As we walked hand-in-hand along the sidewalk, we saw young people from the college and heard the dialects of international tourists with their Samsung cameras slung over their shoulders.

“Hi, Doctor Jacobs,” called one kid as he passed us on the street. Chris waved his hello, then told me, “One of my students from Theology 101.”

Then a former parishioner whose name I forgot because my Sometimer’s took over. Fortunately, he remembered my name as he tipped his KC Royals baseball cap and said, “Afternoon, Reverend G. God is good all the time.”

“Indeed,” I answered. Good all the time. God was good to give me this sunshiny and slightly brisk day with Chris, as we strolled along like two kids in their first waves of puppy love, knowing all the while that my days of any type of remembrance were numbered.

But hey – live each moment and in each moment. Wasn’t that what I always told my congregation? I think that’s what I said. It had been a while since I stood in front of them and preached something practical yet biblical. Months…days…years…I don’t know.

Chris steered me into the Brownie Bomb, another local franchise that served absolutely scrumptious ice cream with all natural ingredients. Little red tables and chairs invited us to sit while Chris gave the lady behind the counter our orders.

I knew they didn’t stock my usual Chunky Monkey, but Chris ordered my second favorite: the actual Brownie Bomb – bits of brownie batter with extra chocolate chips and a dollop of marshmallow crème on the top. Chris was more of a cherry and nuts man, so he ordered the Cherry Whiz with pecans all over it. Then he filled little Dixie cups with water and brought them to our table. In a few minutes, the lady brought us our ice cream, spoons and napkins.

We dug in, each of us doing our “Yum” sounds as we enjoyed the sugary treats. Then Chris reached into his back pocket and pulled out a red envelope.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Tru,” he said, pushing the envelope toward me.

“Well, thanks, Big Guy. I forgot to get you one, but you know…Sometimer’s and all.”

Chris nodded, and his eyes sparkled as I focused on his face. I slowly opened the envelope, then laughed as several of those candy hearts dropped out. “U R my Sugar” was stamped on one of them. Another one said, “Honey Bun.”

Chris and I took turns eating them, then he said, “Aren’t you going to open the card and read it?”

“Oh, sure.”

Inside, the pretty scroll writing said, “Be mine,” and beside it, in the block letters of Chris’s handwriting, “Please.” Below was a bigger candy heart taped to the card with the letters, “Marry Me” stamped on it.

I pulled the tape off and dunked the heart into my ice cream, then plopped it into my mouth. Chris waited while I chewed, then he took my hand and kissed my fingers, one by one.

“So what do you say, Tru?” he finally asked. “Will you be mine? Won’t you say ‘yes’ and marry me?”

Everything in me wanted to jump across the table and into his arms, repeating “Yes, yes, yes” a thousand times. But one wall still remained before I could make that leap. My fear of marrying a man I might soon forget. My knowledge that the dementia and Alzheimer’s that even now crackled inside my brain might one day change my personality to the point that this incredible guy sitting across from me would actually grow to hate the wife I would become.

I swallowed the last crumbles of the heart, then reached for a drink from my Dixie cup. “Chris, you know I love you. I just can’t marry you yet, not until I have absolute peace about it and my fear is gone. Can you give me just a little more time?”

Chris stood up and leaned over the table. He kissed me on the forehead, then cradled my face in his hands. “My darling Tru, I want you to be certain about this decision. And I’ll wait until you are absolutely sure, but in the meantime….” This time, a kiss right on the mouth. “In the meantime, you’re my Valentine, forever and ever.”

©2015 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Finding Hope When Faith Changes

These days, I find myself with more questions than answers. Although still based in the original foundations of scripture and relationship, my faith is changing.Faith-still-believes

No longer do I think in terms of black and white. In fact, I spend more time thinking and meditating than I do reciting the rules I grew up with.

I am more aware than ever of grace and its powerful side effects of humility laced with joy.

Now I know how damaging legalism has been in my life and in the lives of others who are asking for another chance, for another splash of grace on their hardened souls.

I am more careful of how I answer the questions of others who ask me about faith, about God, about what happens after death. I respect their need to discover these answers for themselves, and I know that my faith does not look like theirs nor theirs like mine.

I spend more time in silence before God, just beholding who he is with awe. As I am more aware of my inner self and my desire for intimacy with God, I also feel him pulling me closer – wanting to spend more time with me as well.

I am more disgusted with the stuff of this world and the lies we are fed. It pleases me to turn off the television and unplug from the electronics that threaten to overtake all imagination and leave us truly fried.

I am more determined than ever to make sure that young women do not have to struggle with these same lies. To let them know that they are enough within themselves, that they are incredibly beautiful and they do not have to starve themselves or pay someone to cut them to try to look more acceptable. God gazes longingly at them and sees his son. What could be more fulfilling?

I am more in awe of what his holiness means and how we fall short yet somehow, he reaches toward us and loves us into his kingdom.

Psalm 33:22 challenges me. “Let your mercy and lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, in proportion to our waiting and hoping for you.”

Our waiting and hoping for him: experiencing more of his presence and that awful dichotomy of yearning for a closer place near him yet dreading that when that happens, I won’t be able to stand it.

Then as I wait and hope, as my faith changes, grows and explodes, I experience even more of his mercy and lovingkindness. His patience allows me to draw ever closer to the mystery of his presence where there are more questions than answers.

So real it is frightening. So beautiful it is dreadful.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

Cheering for the Young

VF01Last weekend, I attended graduation receptions for two young women. I have followed these girls through the lives and prayers of their mothers – two of my friends. And when I see these girls on Facebook or at my church, I smile – even though I know they probably don’t realize who I am or that I have an interest in their lives.

But now they are embarking into the future, armed with one of the greatest treasures we all hope to possess: passion.

Each of these young women are passionate about who they are and what they want to accomplish. Each of them is unique with giftings that show how incredibly smart they are and how much potential they possess.

On one hand, I want to protect them from what is out there. I know they will experience losses and resulting griefs. That is just life. They will also be tempted to abandon their passions for lesser goals. I hope and pray that does not happen.

Generations of women have abandoned their passions for lesser goals. That is a travesty. Many women have even forgotten what it felt like to have a dream and feel energized to make that dream happen. So many women believe they are not enough and try to find artificial ways to make themselves measure up.

And so…within this blog platform…I wish to give you female graduates some advice. As an older woman, I’ve earned the right to do that and as a woman who has prayed for you, I believe it is my duty to share insights learned from long years on my knees and long hours trying to find the restorative keys to my own passion.

Dear Ones, please listen and heed this advice:

Always keep your passion alive. Whether you long to become an editor of an international publication or you yearn to join the Philharmonic Orchestra or you hope to run the Boston Marathon and beat the guys – keep your passion secure and alive. Without your passion, your soul will become stale and you will lose the energy and zest for life that is so necessary to not only survive, but also to thrive.

Never settle for what is merely good – whether in jobs, possessions or love. Instead, wait for and strive for what is best. Fifty years from now, you will look back and be glad that you waited for the best because that gives your life significance without regret. God created you as unique, and he wants the best for you. So never settle for only the good.

Be authentic. If you don’t want to join the crowd, if you don’t want to be part of the sorority, if you hate broccoli – just be yourself and stay authentic. Wearing a mask is more tiring than being yourself. And trust me on this – you are already incredible. You are beautiful and you are a treasure. You are already enough.

When life gets hard, remember that your parents raised you to embrace your passion. They have sacrificed much so that you could run toward your goals and every day, they think of you and pray for you.

Then also know this…if you listen very carefully, somewhere in the atmosphere you will hear the rest of us women who have gone before you. We are cheering for you and hoping that you will be the ones to break the barriers of gender abuse, so that all women everywhere will be embraced as the incredible creatures we are.

I love you both. I continue to pray for you. I believe in you.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

Finding How to Love Mom

During a recent visit to Mom’s assisted living facility, I thought again about the five love languages. greeting card

In his book, Gary Chapman explains the love languages as: touch, gifts, quality time, acts of service and affirming words. When we know the love languages of those around us, we can better relate to them.

As I grew up, I never considered the love languages of my parents. But now that Mom is walking through the shadows of Alzheimer’s, I am looking for various ways to communicate with her.

    Finding her love language is one of my attempts to somehow make a connection with this woman I call Mom.

Gifts are definitely not Mom’s love language. When someone gives her something, she loses it and then accuses someone of stealing it. And even when she wins a Snickers bar at Bingo, she immediately gives it away. Her life no longer exists in possessions, so gifts are not Mom’s love language.

Touch has never been an important part of our family life. Although Mom will receive my hugs, she never initiates them. Touch does not work as a love language for my mother.

Affirming words might be slightly closer for Mom’s love language, but not for long. If I say anything nice to her, “Your hair looks really nice today, Mom.” Or “That color of lavender looks so good against your white hair,” she says thank you and then changes the subject. Or she gives me one of those looks that means, “You’re kidding, right?”

Acts of service. My family has always stressed a strong work ethic. We work hard, and we work for others as much as for ourselves. But performing an act of service for my mom would be empty and wasted energy. She would turn it around and want to do something in return for me.

Besides, what act of service could I do for her? Her laundry is taken care of at the facility. Someone else cooks her meals and serves them to her on beautiful plates. She walks to the salon to have her hair fixed. Her needs are all met.

The only love language that remains is quality time. This is the one way I can show her love, spending time with her whenever I can. Quality time means sitting in her apartment and answering the same questions over and over without becoming grumpy about it.

It means looking through the cards she has received and talking about the senders of those cards – old friends and new friends, relatives and church members.

It means walking around the pond with her and stopping frequently so that she can catch her breath. It means carving some time into a weekend and sitting with Mom even if neither of us has anything to say.

Loving Mom now means just spending time with her. And I’m glad to do it – while I can – before our time together finally ends.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1