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Psalm 19:14

28 Nov

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

—while sitting in traffic

–with a challenging loved one

–waiting in line

–while talking with an argumentative coworker

–while reprimanding a child

–while learning bad news

–while being a Christian out and about in an often hostile world.

Lord, this is my prayer today.

My Thanksgiving

25 Nov

I am thankful for:

(in no special order)

–family

–kids

–friends

–a warm home

–enough clothes for choosing and wearing

–warm coats

–meals on the table

–ability to cook the meals

–someone to eat the meals with

–a caring husband

–grandchildren

–a wacky dog

–a church for worship

–church people who love me

–an abundant Thanksgiving table

–a full belly

–prayer

–inspiring work

–a loving God

How about you?

Pumpkin Spice Love

23 Nov

Do you like pumpkin spice flavored things? It seems like every year October 1st starts the season that spans through November.

The coffee shops and donut stores and grocery markets all sell the treasured flavors in various forms. I laughed recently when I drove by a muffler shop that had a sign out front stating, “This is a pumpkin spice free zone.” Ha–I found that amusing.

I made pumpkin bread yesterday and will make pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and I will admit a nearby bagel shop used to have a pumpkin bagel I loved, but they went out of business.

Pumpkin Spice Love?

I think anything joyful has love behind it. It takes extra effort to spice things up. It takes knowledge and skill to create the chemistry that flavors up the items with the sweet delightful goodness. All of that requires love.

–love of baking

–love of mixing up the jazzy coffee

–love of trying new combinations of spices

–love of selling to a smiling customer

–love of anticipating the taste!

I wonder if God enjoys pumpkin spice?

I think so —God finds joy when his believers find joy.

THAT is LOVE!

Snow is a Godwink

21 Nov

Godwink: “An event or personal experience, often identified as coincidence, so astonishing that it is seen as a sign of divine intervention, especially when perceived as the answer to a prayer.”

That definition comes from “Wikidictionary,” through a Google search. Hallmark Classic Movies see Godwink as a joyful unexpected experience that has divine intervention behind it–they have a film titled so.

I say Godwinks are joyful events full of surprise and fun.

Why would I say that snow is a Godwink?

Have you ever seen a child’s eyes looking out the window at a snowfall? I have a grandson who saw snow recently and shouted to his mother, “Mom, Christmas has started!”

Have you ever noticed in a snowfall everything looks pure? Mud and dead lawns and bare tree limbs have new birth sprinkled in white. When you walk in the snow sometimes it is so fluffy the flakes get kicked up by your boots and they dance around your knees. And oh, when the sun shines down on new fallen snow, it sparkles like the most luxurious diamond.

Have you ever made a snow angel?

As I write, my region is in a winter storm warning to span 3 days. Outside my window the sun is shining down on about 5 inches of white fluff. Ten miles south they are looking at 20 inches of fluff and twenty miles away they are shoveling 35 inches.

But, do you know why God winks? God smiles on the snowfall because it is a gigantic distraction from the murder, the mayhem and the madness the the world often brings.

People are telling stories about their snowy day. People are checking in on one another. Neighbors are lending a hand with shoveling, snow blowing and salt spreading. And the meteorologists are having a field day with their reporting and extra attention paid to their line of work. As long as people are warm enough, fed enough and comfortable, God winks AND smiles.

His creation is active, noticeable and well…it’s beautiful!

God’s Presence

18 Nov

I saw a friend recently who sadly spoke of family “issues.”

I was at a meeting recently where we discussed necessary “changes.”

I then spoke with a coworker who had such a sad story of “concern” for a friend.

I came away believing that God is in the midst of their trials, but do they realize it?

Do they feel the presence? Do they know God’s power is at work in their lives?

Do I feel God’s presence when I feel setbacks or threats to my daily living?

Admittedly, the answer for me is sometimes yes and sometimes no.

When the answer is no, I need a plan. I need to invite God in.

Yes! I need to send an invitation to bring God right into the midst of my woe.

Here’s why:

Isaiah 41:10. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Deuteronomy 31:8. “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.

Joshua 1:9.“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

I tell people this. I share the good news with them and in my prayers I feel it.

But when storm clouds rage and fears are realized and no one seems to care do I truly trust in my creator?

I hope so!

Just Around the Corner

16 Nov

How observant are you? I will admit on some days I am quite tuned into the activities and needs of those around me and on other days I am distracted enough that others are elusive or go unnoticed.

As I write this I am at school with a spare moment or two after lunch and I am observing all that is near. One table of students was in deep conversation a moment ago until they all erupted in hilarious laughter that filled the space with humor and joy.

Another student is sitting near with her tiny therapy dog on her lap as she types rapidly on her laptop. I can see another student in a discussion with a professor and their interaction looks congenial and collegial.

It’s all good and by God’s design that they should work together, be together and just be.

The campus is in an urban setting. Just around the corner is a market, a few convenience stores, a park and some run down buildings. The neighborhood does not reflect the identity of the lively students chatting, laughing and learning. The neighborhood is much quieter than that; perhaps a little less trusting and a little less vibrant.

God is present in both locales.

Here there and everywhere!

And if you look around and do not see God today…look just around the corner!

“I live in the faith that there is a Presence and Power greater than I am that nurtures and supports me in ways I could not even imagine. I know that this Presence is All knowing and All Power and is Always right where I am”
― Ernest Holmes, author

Feeling Like Job?

14 Nov

Some people believe bad things come in waves of three. Three pieces of bad news. Three negative situations. “Third time is the charm.” That statement suggests when you get through the third thing all will be well.

Therefore, it seems overwhelming sometimes when things come in succession way beyond three.

My car has an issue, my friend is having a rough time, my pet is ill, my loved one is ill. I lost a loved one, I lost a job, I ______________________________ (fill in the blank)

I feel piled up on. Help!

Biblical Job felt piled up on, too!

Did Job cry out in his woe? Yes! He lost his children, his crops and animals and livelihood. He swore there was no possibility of pleasing God nor could God’s justice ever be found. People told him that he must have been an evil-doer to deserve all the God-given losses he was enduring. Things for Job were bad!

But…Job believed in God, God’s love and God’s good graces.

“Wisdom is a fountain of life.” Proverbs 16:22

Job’s efforts to find wisdom and understanding in God’s ways paid off. His woes were not forgotten but they were managed.

The woes I mentioned above may not be forgotten by anyone experiencing them, but they will be managed and there is wisdom in trusting God in the process.

I Will

11 Nov

I will pray today–more than once.

I will hold my temper.

I will watch my words.

I will notice God’s wonders outdoors.

I will look for the eyes of Jesus in others.

I will be still and know.

I will give to others without seeking a return.

I will find patience in challenging spaces.

I will consider who I am and whose I am.

I will give thanks.

I will sing to the Lord a new song! Psalm 96:1

The Best Sort of Companion

9 Nov

Isn’t life so much better when it is shared? Friends, spouses, partners, neighbors, kids, cousins, siblings can all come together to bring joy to life. There is something special about sharing an event, sharing some news and sharing some time with someone else.

Even a workload or a project pending seems easier and more enjoyable when shared with a companion.

God did not mean for us to be alone.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” —Luke 6:31

“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” —James 4:11

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” —Philippians 2:3

“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.” —1 John 4:11

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” —Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” —Proverbs 27:17

Clearly our Lord meant for us to have others in our lives and to be together–in communion with one another.

Oh…and to be in communion with God…a message for another time.

In the House

7 Nov

That phrase has always been funny to me. When someone arrives at a place, they are considered to be “in the house.”

When I go to a location I am considered to be “in the house.”

When someone unexpected shows up, they are considered to be “in the house.”

“In the house” suggests something special connected to the situation at hand.

God has a house.

Am I “in the house” where God is concerned?

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-6

“My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” Isaiah 32:18

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” Proverbs 24:3-4

Speaking of God and houses…I see church as God’s house. And I know I am always welcome there. If I have been away from God’s house for days, weeks, years or forever, I know God has an available space for me and a WELCOME sign boldly posted.

God’s house is open to to all.

When I am at church I am “in THE house.”

AMEN!

More Biblical Wisdom

4 Nov

Do you have a favorite message from the Lord?

Do you receive little nudges in your week to remind you of God’s care?

I find reminders in nature, in conversation, in the eyes of a stranger or the lively nature of a child.

When I feel alone, I know I really am not alone.

When I need to talk, God’s listening heart is always available to me.

The following messages spoke to me this week.

Enjoy!

Protection

2 Nov

Do you like to feel protected? What does protection mean to you? Does it suggest a feeling of safety, security and calm?

Does it mean that harm is kept away if not entirely, at least at a distance? A deeper question might be this: Are we supposed to protect others? And if so, what does that look like?

How much do we enter into the life of another? How much do we invade? How hard do we push to protect?

Who will be open to my protection? Who might be closed to my gesture of protection? Are we obligated to go to the rescue of others or is that what we may call interfering? Where is the line between protection and interfering?

Back to my earlier question…does feeling protected mean feeling safe and secure and calm?

If so, do we not want that for others, too?

God tells us to care for one another, to believe in one another to be attentive to the needs of others.

“Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

“This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you.” John 15:12

“Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.” Philippians 2:4

Who is your protector? Whom do you protect?

bible verses for helping others philippians 2 4

Woman’s Day/Getty Images

“Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.”

Dear Mom,

31 Oct

It’s been 37 years since you went to your heavenly home on this very day. And from your holy vantage point I know you know that I miss you still nearly every day. Oh, I am not weeping or feeling pangs of desperate sadness, but every now and then I wish you were here. Let’s have lunch or go shopping! We used to love that!

You only met one grandchild, Mom, and while life brought you a total of eight, I gave you two beautiful granddaughters–Jamie and Megan. Jamie got to sit in your arms as a baby, but Megan never did. I have tried to keep your memory alive for them, but it’s tough conjuring up a memory of someone not present on earth. I believe they love you anyway. Hey…one is an architect and the other a high school psychologist. They are busy, hardworking and loving young women married to a couple of strong and caring young men. I know you know.

Hey Mom, you also have four great grandchildren. Two boys and two girls. “Two of each” as Dad used to say. The oldest is in kindergarten and the youngest is only one and there are two three year olds in the middle. They are precious, Mom. I know you know that as you watch from above, but it would be so cool if you could read to them, or talk to them or hold their little hands. Each one is so full of personality all their own.

My brothers and I do our best to stay in touch despite the fact that our two anchors, you and dad, are gone. We have modern phones that allow us to send messages to one another even if making a phone call is not convenient on a given day. Those text messages, as they are called, are helpful ways to keep track of each other.

Mom, the Bible tells us special things about mothers and some of those words remind me of you:

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12

“Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father.” – Leviticus 19:3

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’” – Proverbs 31:28-31

I miss you, Mom, but I am glad you were mine.

I know you know.

God’s Name

28 Oct

We did this once before, but my inspiration for this came to me once again. Who is God? What does God do? What name shall God have?

–father

–leader

–friend

–protector

–fortress

–power

–strength

–creator

–sustainer

–healer

On my honor, I did not look these up, they came to me for today’s meditation.

Can you add to my list? Use the comment space below.

Abundance

26 Oct

Many times to hear that word we think of money, money, money!

Food, food, food!

Gifts, gifts, gifts!

When we do that we are wrong, wrong, wrong!

True that those with money appear to have an abundance of, well everything, but a closer examination will tell us it just isn’t so.

Abundance by definition is “…a very large quantity of something.”

This suggests more than enough and maybe even an overflow of stuff.

God wants us to see abundance differently. It’s not money, food, gifts or stuff, it is MORE than that.

God’s abundance speaks of appreciation, sharing, believing.

Abundance hints at attitude instead of multitude.

James 1:17

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Luke 6:38

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

These words tell me that my abundance comes from God and as I give to others, my life becomes abundant. And for that wisdom I am grateful.

Community Theater Inspiration

24 Oct

The stage was set. A man enters and is introduced to a sizable prison holding cell where 11 people await. He is accompanied by a favored friend. There are twelve individuals total in the cell including the companion. And there is the man. The twelve people and the man begin to interact. The man and his companion try their best to introduce themselves and their imaginations take over in an effort to explain who they are and why they have come. Their names are not as important as the roles they play and the impressions they make. The main character speaks in parable-like tales to show courage, strength and model behavior. His friend supports him unwaveringly, but the new acquaintances are doubtful, untrusting and suspicious. The man simply desires to teach, share and inspire; to show gentlemanly courage and strength.

In the presence of the new persons he is ignored and derided and made out to be a fool until one of the individuals begins to exhibit feelings of change and elements of care. She feels an innocent love for this new friend that cannot be denied nor can it be explained. Fast forward to the end of the story, the man dies and then comes back to life somehow in each of the persons who at one time doubted him so greatly. They all were changed for having known him. His simple message was to dream the impossible and work hard to attain it.

This seemed Biblical to me– a prophet not believed but instead denied; a simple man who spoke truth in an unfaithful world; a man who tried to reach and teach those in his opposition and a man who died trying to do all the above, yet lives on in believers all over the world.

I was not reading scripture, but instead I was viewing a live performance of Man of La Mancha.

The first man I spoke of was Don Quixote, but he reminded me of Jesus. I was moved by this innocent character so rejected and mocked that I cried at the end of the show as I observed hints of change in the 12 persons I interpreted as 12 disciples.

Now … to be fair and real, I will admit that I shared my feelings with more than one person who had seen the presentation and they did not at all view the show and the main character in quite the same way I did. No worries! It was my interpretation and my moment and I am touched in some special way for having had those thoughts raised up for me in a local community theater. I felt blessed.

Perhaps my eyes will continue to see glimpses of Jesus in other ordinary experiences. If so, I hope my mind and heart will be open to the message.

Healthy Christian

21 Oct

H oly thoughts coupled with

E ternal wisdom so we may be

A lways mindful and attentive

T o the needs of others.

H appily serving as called;

Y earning to do good in the world, being

C alled to the needs of others.

H opeful spirits available and

R eady for God’s word to be

I nside us.

S ensitive to how we act and

T rue to ourselves with

I nternal support

A ccessible

N ight and day from God’s constant presence.

Words

19 Oct

“Kind words are like honey–enjoyable and healthful. –Proverbs 16:24.

Have you given thought to the words you use regularly? My college students just completed a study of verbal and non-verbal expression. They studied theory behind messages we send by the way we look and what we say. It may not seem so, but in any communication textbook there is MUCH to learn about words– why we choose them, how we say them and what our appearance says when we talk. It is always fascinating to me to see the wisdom gained by the students as they study this material and feel surprised by the content. And then the Book of Proverbs enters in.

The quote above begs a few questions:

Are my words like honey?

When my words are not so sweet, what is there to learn from that?

How do we react when words are spoken harshly to us?

How do we feel when kind words are spoken to us?

Do we speak and then regret?

Do we listen to others hoping for sweetness over sharpness?

Jesus’ words were both friendly and forceful given the nature of the crowds and the make-up of the situations he found himself in. Although I dare say the words of Jesus were likely more formed and thought out and planned compared to mine.

I may not be THAT mindful with my words, even if I want to be.

But I pray to improve!

God, please assist me with my words today that I may be a help to others rather than a hurt.

Thy Will Over My Will

17 Oct

Again I reference Melissa Horvath’s book YOU GOT THIS.

She offers that “we all look for signs and wonders from God to figure out our purpose in life. We want to know now, in our timing.”

–God, am I a good mother?

–God, should I have helped my coworker?

–God, is this the line of work best suited for me?

–God, is it time to move?

–God, is it time to retire?

–God, is it time to apologize?

–God, shall I pray more?

–God, am I living your way or mine?

Those are tough questions. They beg for affirmation, reinforcement, approval and wisdom.

I don’t have the ability to achieve all that on my own.

Horvath speaks into this dilemma by asking, “Did you ever stop to think that you are where you are for a reason?”

Maybe God wants you to learn all you can there, or maybe the timing has to be right for a change or an answer to be revealed.

God knows so much more than we ever can know.

God’s will for us may be a mystery for a reason.

“For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3

Refuge

14 Oct

R emembering that our

E ternal Lord

F ights for us and

U ses his mighty power to

G uide our

E very move!

Do we trust it to be true?

I am ever hopeful that we do.

Blessed Versus Stressed

12 Oct

Today I am calling upon a devotional book called YOU GOT THIS by Melissa Horvath.

She writes how our stress-ings can overpower our blessings. We are busy, we feel rushed, we don’t have every “I” dotted and every “T” crossed. We are stuck doing the “have -tos” and we have trouble fitting in the “want-tos.” It’s not a good feeling and not a good look. We may doubt our usefulness, our effectiveness and our thankfulness. We may think we are not enough.

If we are too busy for much we are often too busy for God.

Horvath says, “Here’s an idea: the next time we find ourselves stressed to the max with negative thoughts running amok, let’s take a look around. Sometimes we forget all we truly have. Even in times of stress, God provides.”

Stress-ings versus Blessings–whenever possible choose to see the blessings. Energize your positive thoughts and suppress the troubled ones. Count all the good things that went on that day and push away the one big bad thing that brought you down. Seek joy over jaded thoughts.

The book of James speaks wisdom into our lives: James 1:2-4

” Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,

because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Jewelry

10 Oct

Do you like jewelry? I love it. Most of my jewelry is of the “on sale” or discount fashion type of affordable jewelry, but no matter…I think it is fun to wear jewelry in general. Today for instance, I was running to a local market and then to the bank and off to finish a few more errands and it was chilly outside, so I wore jeans and a flannel plaid shirt –warm enough to not wear a jacket. But I wore jewelry! I had on earrings, a bracelet and 4 rings. Of all the jewelry, the price of a couple pieces was around $20 each. The rings, though had a bigger price because they had sentiment behind them. They were my engagement and wedding rings and another ring I wore used to belong to my mother and I usually wear it along side a little gold band–much like the rings on my other hand.

Wearing my mom’s jewelry is sentimental and touching to my heart. I feel the same for my wedding rings. Not surprisingly, the little bracelet and earrings I wore did not give me that same sentiment. Oh, I loved wearing them, but not in the same way as the other pieces.

There are portions of the Bible that speak against “adornment.”

1 Timothy 2:9

” …likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.”

1 Peter 3:4

“… but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

I have heard those Biblical sentiments before.

I believe they are warnings, not laws.

God would have my heart be my gem, my spirit be my jewel so I do not get too caught up in gathering, collecting, hoarding and cherishing gold and silver above my love for God.

Teach me O God, to always cherish the symbolism behind the rings I wear, but also remind me to put you first in all things.

Where is Your Faith?

7 Oct

For those of us who call ourselves “believers” we may find our faith in our hearts and minds.

We may feel our faith at church in a worship service and we might live our faith out in the world.

Live our faith? How may we do that and be effective?

Jesus had teachings for us directly related to that inquiry:

We are to learn from him.

We are to obey his teachings.

We are to model his life for all to see.

We are called to love others.

We are to serve God and humankind.

It is not easy to fulfill all of the above, but there is beauty in doing so.

Maybe on some days we only perform one or two of the teachings. On other days we may fill our time with the teachings as we interact with others. And if we fail to do any of the above on a given day? No worries…God will grant us a new tomorrow.

And we will be better for it.

It’s a Mystery

5 Oct

Do you love mysteries? I have a mother-in-law and a sister-in-law or two who love mysteries. To me those are books that have plot twists and dynamic characters and unexpected outcomes.

Again, I recently faced a profound question from a five-year-old.

“Grandma, you are so smart, do you know who made God? Did he make himself?”

I was quick to respond because hemming and hawing with a five-year-old just brings on more questions.

“God is so amazing and powerful and strong that there are many things about him that we just don’t know. They are mysteries.”

In response I got a curved lip and a wrinkled nose and a furrowed brow and one word: “Mystery?”

Then lunch arrived and the discussion took a back seat.

There are plenty of mysteries in life. There are many things we do not understand.

–Why do some bad people “get away with it?”

–Why do children get terminally sick?

–Why are natural disasters an occurrence?

–Why is there evil in the world?

–Why ______________________ (fill in the blank)

God has mysterious ways and the world he gave us has mysteries within. I suspect some are meant to unfold and be solved in due time and the others…well, the beauty of them is the wondering and pondering they inspire.

Ecclesiastes 3:11
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

I close with a little humor:

Honor

3 Oct

H eartfelt praise offered to

O ur steadfast God who draws

N ear to us daily if we

O nly believe.

R ightly so, I believe!

I will honor you, oh Lord!