God’s Arms

7 Jun

Have you ever considered the different kinds of arms that are out there on people sporting them? Descriptive words come to mind: strong, sinewy, firm, flexible or maybe chubby, flabby or stiff. Let’s be realistic, not all arms are created equal. Exercise and activity change arms. Age changes arms. However, arms that still move and have muscles, bones and tendons in tact can reach, hold, hug and embrace.

That is how I see God’s arms–ready to reach, hold, hug and embrace. God’s reach is vast and available and constant. God’s hold is strong to keep us from danger and to hold us closely when we feel fear. God’s hug is warm and welcoming and the embrace God offers is strong, safe and engaging and protective.

What about my arms? No, I do not think of size and shape and jiggle today, but rather I think of my reach. How wide will my arms go to comfort others, hold the weary and cover the frightened? What heavy lifting can I do in God’s name? How supportive will my arms be when I am called upon to use them? What does God require of my arms, no matter their size or shape?

I believe my reach will never be as wide as God’s reach, but I can try!

Mother Nature in God’s World

5 Jun

In spring it is pretty easy to witness God’s handiwork. We had a harsh winter. I feared exploring the aftermath this spring while eying parts of my garden. Some small lily bushes I received as a transplant from a friend look lush! I had a failing Clematis last fall that I replanted in a more protected space and it is climbing the trellis! And yes, it’s true my little Hibiscus plant is poking shoots up from the ground. Amazing to my human eyes!

Beyond plants there is animal activity all around. A mama Grackle shaped a nest and laid eggs and raised her babies in a hidden locale of a shrub. They are all grown and gone. For a month now we have been party to a mama Robin who built her nest in the crook of the spouting on our deck. Mama has fed them and sat on the eggs then upon hatching she sat with her triplets day after day, night after night. A few nights were so cold I wanted to place a blanket on the little family.

Well, today was the big day! I was out for several hours and upon arrival home I saw the mama in the yard with two little ones and another little one was standing on the edge of the nest for over an hour before joining the rest of the family. I was privy to their little life. I watched the mama sit, I watched her feed the hatchlings and she would groom the little ones as they sat in the nest full from the dinner she had provided. I admired her patience, her willingness to fulfill her responsibilities and her ability to raise them to independence in less than a month.

God set that in motion. She knew what to do because God’s instincts were in her.

I will say they left a mess behind, but I am still enjoying the memories of all the sights and sounds they brought to my kitchen window. Maybe tomorrow I will clean up the aftermath and still feel the privilege of Mother Nature living in God’s world.

Let’s Have Tea Again

2 Jun

A while ago I referenced a devotional booklet I have called Moments of Grace. It is from the Woman of God series and the theme of the book is based on words that describe us that end with the word sound “tea.” Do you like tea? I especially like it on ice, but no doubt a hot cup of tea can be a soothing and peaceful experience.

Today I want to capture some images of faith through “tea”:




Gravity—what are you drawn to? What warms your heart? What draws you into God’s love, care and presence? Gravity suggests that a power greater than our own keeps us in a certain place at a certain time. Can you identify times you have been pulled into God’s circle of warmth and love?

Creativity– this word has many meanings. An artist is creative. A baker or chef is creative. People get creative in handling situations with others. Creativity suggests a special or novel way of doing something. What creative moments and abilities has God given you?

Sensitivity–there are many ways to comprehend this word. We can be sensitive to the needs and concerns of others and we can be sensitive, with feelings wide open and tender in situations that face us. Either way, God is present in those feelings and environments. Where do your sensitivities lie?

God’s connectivi–tea is the best part of it all. There is beau–tea in every moment we share with God. Grab a few moments today.

Post Memorial Day Thoughts

31 May

How did you spend Memorial Day?

We should not prioritize the day for shopping, gardening and picnics, unless we realize that the distinct ability to do those simple things comes from our military heroes, some of which are fallen heroes. The freedom to move around this country seeing who we want and doing much of what we please has been defined by those who battled and continue to battle to protect our American ways of living. The fact that I did some gardening in a yard I own matters. The fact that I cooked on the grill, bought a tree to plant in the yard and went out for ice cream with my husband and some friends matters! All of those points of holiday freedom at one time were fought for.

On Sunday our church choir sang a beautiful anthem called Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones. I happen to be in the choir and felt moved and privileged to sing such a powerful piece.

The lyrics were written by Orrin Hatch, and the music was written by Lowell Alexander and Phil Naish.

The words speak a memorable message of freedom, sacrifice, sorrow and reverence for those who have passed to save and protect our country. You could YouTube it for the music, but here is the message:

Blades of grass and pure white stones
Shelter those who’ve come and gone.
Just below the emerald sod
Are those who’ve reached the arms of God.
Buried here with dignity,
Endless rows for all to see.
Freedom’s seeds in sorrow sown,
‘Neath blades of grass and pure white stones.
Blades of grass and pure white stones
Cover those who’ve left their homes,
To rest in fields here side by side,
Lest we forget their sacrifice.
Buried here with dignity,
Endless rows for all to see.
Freedom’s seeds in sorrow sown,
‘Neath blades of grass and pure white stones.
Just below the emerald sod 
Are those who’ve reached the arms of God.
Buried here with dignity 
Endless rows for all to see.
Freedom’s seeds in sorrow sown,
‘Neath blades of grass and pure white stones.
‘Neath blades of grass and pure white stones.


And thank you to all who have gone before, and will still yet go to bring freedom to my doorstep.


29 May

P ositively

E ntering a
N ew beginning
T o bring
E elevated worship a
C entering of thought and an
O verpowering movement of the
S pirit bringing inspiration and love

T o all who believe.

The Symbols of Pentecost ( adapted from the website faithunited.ca.

  • Wind. Representing God’s first breath of love into all of creation.
  • Fire. Representing the Holy Spirit, who filled the apostles with enthusiasm, replacing their fear with the courage to go forth and share Christ’s story.
  • Red. Bringing a flame of love.
  • Water. Washing in a pure dose of natural goodness.
  • Dove. Offering a sign of peace.


My Wish for You

26 May

Wishing you—

— strength to heal your wounds

— peace to lift your heart

— grace to grow your soul

— faith to know your God

— trust to believe His hand is on this journey.

Whatever is on your plate, heavy on your heart or slamming your soul, know that this too shall pass.


Layers of Love

24 May

I don’t look like you, but I can love you–as God would have me love others.

I don’t come from your country, but I respect your culture and way of living.

I don’t believe some of your thoughts, but that does not make me an enemy.

I have different values; can we talk to increase understanding?

I do things my way as you do things your way and that is perfectly okay.

Your dreams are not like mine, but I honor your goals and wishes.

I see black and you see white and that’s alright.

I say, “Dog” and you say, “Cat” and what’s wrong with that?

I like red and you like blue–nothing is wrong with you.

God blessed us with likes and dislikes, traditions and wisdom and strong suits and limitations, no need for imitation.

Let’s be ourselves.

Let’s share authenticity.

Let’s simply love.

Inside Out

22 May

I saw a video the other day of a woman modeling a pretty dress. She looked so put together and her words about how the dress made her feel were of interest to me because sometimes it’s pretty hard to find a dress that makes me feel good. But her point was that the dress made her feel good inside and the message was that our beauty can be outward, but it’s the inward beauty that counts. Pretty on the outside is nice, but beauty on the inside is better.

Interestingly we can see beauty on the outside quite easily. But the inside beauty is often more elusive. Consider the Blue Jay–what a pretty outward appearance that bird puts forth. Striking markings adorn the bird and who can’t pick out a fancy looking Blue Jay? The personality of the Blue Jay is often described as pushy, selfish and aggressive–wanting the territory and the food to be theirs. In actuality, bird lovers explain that the Jay is not mean, just territorial. (Like a toddler who loves to have all the toys while shouting, “Mine!”)

If the Blue Jay acts that way, we only see beauty on the outside.

Our inward beauty is to be a priority.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Those words come from the Book of Matthew.

“Beauty is as beauty does.” I know this quote is an older one, but in modern times it is often referenced back to actress Jennifer Garner who is known to believe that ones actions speak louder than one’s looks.

While I may spend time fixing my hair and choosing an outfit and applying make-up everyday. My better plan should be to FIX my heart, CHOOSE kindness, and APPLY wherever possible the principles of God’s love.

First things First

19 May

Perhaps you have said that statement to yourself before. It may have been on a busy day with a long TO DO list at hand. It may have been while cooking or baking or cleaning with a desire to make things turn out well. Maybe you were planning an event and certain details seemed important. You may even have another image of when those words have mattered to you.

Stephen Covey in his popular paperback called THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE even had this coined phrase listed as one of his messages, one of his mantras.

What does “first things first” even mean? I suppose it suggests priorities, an orderly way of doing things, striving to do the right things.

Biblically we can look to the Book of Matthew 6:33.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Choose God FIRST!

“Choose God over worry, choose God over pain, choose God over indecision, choose God over gain. Choose God over care; seek God everywhere.” –Anonymous

In a busy world with lists of things to do and distractions along the way, put first things first.

Plan and prepare, but let God lead!

Ice Cream

17 May

Do you like ice cream? It is a favorite of mine. My husband thinks I have visited every ice cream shop within a 5o mile radius. It’s not true! But I do like to patronize different places and spaces that serve ice cream. It is fun to see the flavors and pick a new one or relish an old favorite.

How shall we describe ice cream?





–a treat

Here is a stretched simile for you:

God is like ice cream. Life is not perfect but God can smooth out the edges as we pray and meditate on the Word. The lessons God has for us are sweet, tender and full of supportive love. Creamy things in their purest form are often snowy white, as pure as the Lord’s spotless love. Having God in your life can add zest, flavorful moments and a treat to your day in the numbers and types of people brought your way by God. Friends, family…etc.

Okay…the extended metaphor might be far fetched, but what a special time it was for me to think of God and ice cream together—two of my favorites! And I hope it stirred your imagination and brought you a smile this day.

JUST A NOTE! Have you shared spiritandsoul.net with family, friends and such?

Feel free!!

Mom–God’s Gift

15 May

A mom is such a special sort of person. Some are sweet, serious, surprising, sensitive, sentimental, strict, soulful, smart, sassy and silly.

Some have great careers, hobbies, interests, skills and labors.

Some are easy with people and grace a room when they enter.

Some may dress flamboyantly and others are conservative with little interest in high fashion.

Some love flowers, food and family and some love dancing, daydreams and dogs.

Some care for cats and others simply care.

Do you still have your mom around? If so, lucky you!

Do you have special memories in place of a missing mom? Lucky you!

Perhaps you are a mom and that is a blessing. If not…then having a mom may have been your blessing.

Nuzee Zahan an online journalist wrote about mothers recently. She lost hers when she was one and still conjures up images of her lost mother even into adulthood. I have paraphrased her list. She states:

  •  Mothers are special because they are an extension of God.
  • They work round the clock without any complaints to keep us happy. And their smile brightens the day.
  • They become hardworking multi-taskers who can easily take on the world.
  • They curb their desires to fulfill and do everything for their families and children. 
  • They feel joy when their children thrive.
  • They feel pain when children face obstacles.
  • They are disappointed when family is broken.
  • They cry, and their tears fall with love and compassion.
  • They feel lifted when children make them proud. 
  • Mothers are the backbone of a family, a miracle power.

Are mothers perfect? Not a chance, but it is possible that your mother was perfect for you.

Say a prayer for the motherless.

Speak thanks for your precious mother’s love.



12 May

Spring is such a time of growth! Living in the Buffalo area of New York I am easily reminded that our winter was harsh and spring is a messenger of renewal. Trees are blooming, grass is getting tall and plants that shrink to the underground every winter are popping up in all their glory.

Spring teaches us about growth.

I saw a poster the other day that stated this:

“Grow through what you go through.”

Growth– sometimes at my age I only think of growth when I consider my waistline. But there are far more ways to grow at any age and stage of life if we are open to the opportunity.

“Grow through what you go through”–it’s a lot easier to feel that sentiment after what you are going through is indeed in the past, but trying to learn as you go can be tough.

Growth can be tough. Do we think it is a simple process for a dormant plant to come back after a tough winter? It takes time and energy and a push to get there–much like what we feel when we are growing in and from an experience.

Consider this…spring comes every year proving that growth is a good thing.

If indeed you are currently going through something, consider that you are in spring and in time, you too will grow.


10 May










A Merton Prayer

8 May

Do you know Thomas Merton? He lived the life of a Trappist Monk, a writer, poet, author, spiritualist, mystic and he did all that between 1915 and 1968. He was a man born in the time of the “greatest generation” and left this world at the height of the social unrest in the 1960s.

This afternoon I was poking around in a drawer looking for a document for one of my classes and I came upon this first:


It reads gently and speaks of the trust we are to have in life with God. I have offered this in an abbreviated version:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. Nor do I know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always…

His words are honest, transparent and transcendent. We all want to be faithful and trusting with loved ones in our lives, with employers, merchants and business operators and, of course, God! It is true we do not know where the road leads.

I hope to reach out to touch God’s hand whenever doubt and fear creep in.

May it be so this day.

Prayer on a Rainy Day

5 May

Dearest God–

You are everywhere and you see and hear all. You bring the sun and moon around each day in their constant roles of bearing light and night. And you bring other weather “gifts.”

I apologize for being ungrateful –but Lord, I have noticed the absence of blue skies lately. The puddles are plentiful and to complicate matters it is May and the temperatures all week hovered in the 40s. I know rain is a gift to water the soil and nourish your bountiful foliage, greenery and budding bushes. Don’t they need sun, too? Vitamins are present in sunlight and joy is prevalent when the sky is blue!

But oh my, you do not need me to tell you this. Forgive my naive faith and my assertion that you have messed up our recent weather.

This day promises more rain, but the forecast speaks of sun for the weekend.

I shall embrace the rain as a cleansing agent. The rain is a source of purity and a foundation for all that will grow from the blessed precipitation.

Oh, let me not dislike rain, Lord, but rather let me be renewed by its droplets of possibility.


Thy Will

3 May

T each me oh

H eavenly God

Y our wonderful

W ays, so

I may

L earn to

L ove like you do.


Simple Nudges

1 May

Sometimes we go about our day in and day out activities and wind up quite absorbed in our lists of things to do–fun things and otherwise.

–meet a friend for dinner

–go to a movie

–shop for fun (not groceries)

–spend time chatting or texting with a loved one

There are other things as well:

–wash floors


–do laundry

–clean bathrooms

Each activity is a time stealer –for good sometimes and for necessity at other times. And I say time stealer because each time we are doing something else, we forget to connect with God. Oh, I have been known to pray while I did something else–sitting at a red light or folding clothes allows for moments of mindful dedication to prayer. But I may not find mindful moments while scrubbing the toilet bowl, or cashing out at the market.

Then God nudges me.

A story on the news may tug at my heart. Someone I meet might be going through something and my prayers seem important. Sometimes much to my surprise a thought pops in and I begin to pray.

A simple nudge.

A reminder.

A call to action.

It is then I am refocused and can pursue God in communication instead of pursuing chores.

Besides, I’d rather pray than wash clothes any day.

Let’s have Tea!

28 Apr

I have a devotional book I received years ago as a gift at a women’s retreat. It’s called WOMEN OF GOD Moments of Grace. The author invites the reader to have “tea” and then proceeds to flesh out that image with all the different kinds of “tea” she has in mind.

She is not serving peppermint, Earl Grey, chamomile or green tea, but just wait to see her possibili-TEAS!! And each one reflects God’s love for us!

Beau-TEA–we are lovely in God’s eyes.

Varie-TEA—just what God brings to our daily living.

Identi-TEA– who we are and whose we are matters!

Heredi-TEA–what the Lord gave us in heritage and family.

Availabili-TEA– the image of God’s constant companionship with us.

Loyal-TEA–the way we are to feel about God.

Uni-TEA–Christians all around the world connected together.

The book actually goes on and on, but you have the gist.

How special it is to consider having “tea” with God.

How I enjoyed having “tea” with you!

Spring Prayer

26 Apr

S earching for

P urpose in a world that

R aises many

I nquiries and

N agging questions. Please point my heart to


god quotes  tony evans


24 Apr

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” –1 John 4:16

Do you believe?

Some people find God’s love so big and so “out there somewhere” that they cannot commit to a love so great. Why does God’s love seem out of reach for some?

I saw this explanation on a website called indycrowe. Dustin Crowe is a writer and spiritual leader and discipleship pastor in Greenwood, Indiana. A partial written piece of his is captured below.

It can be difficult to grasp God’s love for us. For many, the love of Jesus comes through loud and clear, but God the Father often seems distant or looming. God’s attributes—including love—aren’t like human traits that strengthen or weaken nor are they like moods that come and go. God is all of his attributes perfectly, all the time. And yet, we still struggle to believe it can be true, that this great God can love us messy and stumbling sinners. Sometimes we don’t feel his love on a day-to-day basis like we desire, so walls of doubt begin to shut him out.

Is God near to you or in some distant space?

Is God’s presence handy or elusive?

If God is available to you are you available to God?

Is it okay to have doubts at times? Of course! I think God sees our doubts as an opportunity–a chance to rattle us a little and help us find the available paths to God’s great love.

May we draw God closer to us. May we cry out our unbelief and find rescue from it.

God is in our midst if we only believe.

Friday Wisdom

21 Apr

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand. –Getty/ Townsend

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” –Romans 15:5-6

Dearest Lord, on this day as I wake, keep me safe, warm my heart, know my thoughts and channel my love. AMEN.

God, Who am I?

19 Apr

God, whose am I?

The world tugs at my heart, pulling in different directions.

I separate myself from you at times…INADVERTENTLY!

I do not mean to stay away.

Things get in the way.

Admittedly they are things that matter far less than you matter.

Yet, I reach for them anyway.

I long to be in your presence; to be called your child.

I dream of not being so busy, so distracted…SO ME!

I will try to reduce my ME and increase my WE.

” He must become greater; I must become less.”

–John 3:30


17 Apr

Once again I am referencing back to a devotional book I have by Melissa Horvath called YOU GOT THIS. It is a book designed to empower women and equip them for the busy lives they live.

 “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” –Genesis 2:2

Hmmm—after all the work of creation was complete God rested. I wonder what that means? Kicking back? Taking a nap? Going to bed? Curling up with a favorite book?

How do you like to rest? Or do you find there is no time to rest?

Personally I enjoy a good nap from time to time. I have been napping since I was in college. I think napping is soothing, relaxing and renewing. I see it as an art form–something to craft. (I digress.)

But what about those times when life presents a treadmill and once on it, you cannot hop off? It can be exhausting and the mind and body cry out for rest.

So does the soul.

Horvath suggests different ways to rest. She thinks it is renewing to sink into a cup of good coffee. She likes to watch the sun rise. She finds prayer to be restful and empowering. She also likes a cup of hot tea while watching the sun set.

It’s not easy to cram those moments into a day of work, errands, house demands, kids, worries and meetings and such. But if God rested, so should we!

R echarge

E very bit of your

S oul

T oday


It’s Still Easter

14 Apr


Seven Stanzas at Easter” –by John Updike (1960)

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.

Thanks for letting me share a literary piece I just discovered.


12 Apr

Zephaniah 3:17

New International Version
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

New Living Translation
“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

English Standard Version
“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

New Revised Standard Version
“The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

The website I referenced for all of the above interpretations is called BibleHub and there were over 40 translations to share regarding this verse. My take away ideas are these:

–God is always present.

–God delights being connected to us.

–As God pours out love on whatever we go through, we are elevated.

–God’s goodness and graces are readily available and constant.

I selected this verse because it was on my daily calendar and because it’s one that suggests hope even when life brings challenges. No matter how hard life seems, God is ever near.

Thank you, God, for your immeasurable love. I rely on your love, Lord, and count it all good in this world I navigate day to day.