Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Listening


Listening

 


Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.

-Proverbs 23:19 NIV

 

I love the sounds of the beach! The crashing waves, the gulls sqwaking overhead. The jingle of shells in my pocket and the squeals of children playing by the shore. Even the sound of a squeeky back door that slams in the wind is music to my ears. A drippy outdoor shower is even calming to me. This time of year especially, there is the sound of the sea oats as they rustle together in the fall breezes.  Many times a week, I put my hand into a bowl of  assorted shells and let them fall from my fingers back into the bowl.  Sometimes I think the wind has the sweetest sound as it blows between the old cottages and flaps a loose window shutter. It all feels like home to me.

I try to remain alert to the things around me and to listen to the Holy Spirit within me. For the last few weeks, the name of a old friend that I had lost touch with kept coming back to me, particularly in my morning prayer time. Over and over again. Day after day. I have learned that when God brings about a person like this, He wants me to pray for them as an intercessor. I prayed daily for God to meet my friend's needs and to surround her with angels for whatever she was going through. This week, the feeling was too overwhelming to ignore. Not only did I pray for her, I decided to try to find her. With the help of the internet, I did find my friend and called her. After 12 years, it was a wonderful reunion. It seemed like old times. She did in fact have things occuring in her life that needed prayer including two recent surgeries and more. The lesson is to be alert and listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. God talks to us through the Holy Spirit. Then just this past week, the names of an older couple in our family came to me in my prayer time. I asked God to protect them as that was the feeling I was receiving. I just learned that they were in a fender-bender but they were okay.  Perhaps it would have been worse if prayers had not surrounded them. Listen for the voice of God. Don't think it is a coincidence when the name of someone comes to mind more than once. Instead, get on your knees and lift up a prayer on their behalf. Stand in the gap for them. It may be your prayers that make a difference in their life.

 

 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Decisions


Decisions

 
In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
-Proverbs 16:9

What to do today? That is the question before us each morning. Decisions must be made: big ones and little ones. Important ones and those that must be made just to get through the day. If you are going about your daily life, you are probably a creature of routine and like me, can get bored occasionally with the same things day after day. God gives His Children free will. There is no reason to keep doing the mundane when we all, no matter what our age, our financial status or our health, can make decisions for ourselves. Many children are taught to only follow directions and not think things out, so regrettably they don’t learn how to make decisions on their own. That is how we gain experience by making choices and living with the outcome. Older folks may have the same routine each day for many years, and don’t think to rearrange their time and do something different to give their spirit a lift. Whatever decisions we make, it is important not to offend God with our choices. He allows us to tailor many things we do to our personal likes and dislikes, while staying obedient to Him.

How do you know if you have made the right decision? Experience has personally led me to know a peace that is abundant and full and the contentment that comes after the peace feels supernatural. And when I have made the wrong decision, the restlessness and doubt was overwhelming from the beginning. And then there are those times I jump into the driver’s seat and think I can drive better than God. So He lets me take the wheel and before long, I realize we are going in circles. I hand Him back the wheel and surrender my Will to Him and we get back on track. My insistence on “making things happen” only gets in God’s way and prolongs the outcome.

Everyone has a plan. Every day matters and so does our life. God lets us live here because He has something for us to do. Everyone, at any age has been given gifts, abilities and 24 hours each day. It is up to us how we use what God gives us and how we can glorify Him at the end of the day.  We strive to reach our goals. Being adaptable is good because sometimes when changes seem to “mess up our plan” it actually turns out to be for the best. Part of a plan is to have our list made, the priorities reviewed and our agenda mapped out. That is our part. Then we take it to prayer. The most important part of any decision is to lift it all up to God for his review. If God agrees with us, He makes a way and He will always confirm it. Then we will have peace. If God disagrees with our plan, although it may seem to be a good thing to do, the timing may be off so we must wait for God’s green light. Or, God may have a completely different path for us to walk and He will reveal it when He is ready. But prayer is the answer.

What’s on your mind today? Do you have a decision to make, big or small? Take it to Him and trust Him while you are waiting for the answer.  I am reminded of the lyrics to the hymn, “He Lives”…“He walks with me and He talks with me along life’s narrow way”.

 

 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Rejection



Rejection


The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
 
My two year old grandson has learned the art of saying no…to everything. Rejecting the manners we learned last week, tossing to the side his favorite toys and then there is his refusal to try anything new. At his age it is cute, that is, if this particular stage doesn’t last too long!! It started me thinking that rejection starts at a young age, much younger than I remembered.

What does rejection really mean? Is it the opposite of acceptance? The dictionary says, “It is throwing back something”. An example is, being given something and it is returned to you, not wanted, like hooking a fish and tossing it back. Has that happened to you? If so, then you understand rejection first hand. Easy for someone on the sidelines to say, “don’t let it bother you, get over it”. But the truth is, rejection, avoidance and being cast aside hurts the heart.  We try to counsel our children to not take rejection too seriously, but the fact is they do and we do too. Being left out of playground games and not being invited to a birthday party is painful for a child.  Adults, have those moments too. Someone not returning our calls or closer to home, not being included in family gatherings, for instance. Have you ever had someone say to you, “I’m done with you”? I have and maybe someone has said as much to you, but with their actions rather than words. Either way, as much as we reflect on all the times we have had our hearts ache, don’t you know that Jesus knows something about this too? He was rejected for so much of his life on this earth. Yet, nothing stopped him. He didn’t use rejection as an excuse not to fulfill his destiny. When we slip into sadness or loneliness because we have been “thrown back”, it is important not to reject our faith. That is all we have that we can absolutely depend on. People will let us down, they will disappoint, but our job is to pray for them and turn to God to fill the void. He never fails us.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Times Remembererd

Times Remembered

 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

– 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NIV

 

Father’s Day has come around again and with it brings times of remembrance. I can see in my mind’s eye, my Dad standing behind the grill in his plaid shorts, cooking up hamburgers for a family gathering. I can see him listening to us, as we share our next pipe dream, giving us his approval on whatever and wherever our heart led us. I can see him holding my babies many years ago, and going back even further, standing beside me on my wedding day. So many nice memories. My Dad’s life wasn’t always roses but he was strong in his faith and he didn’t complain. Instead, he tried to bring some joy and laughter to others and if he did that, he was well pleased.  He had a way of making things work. He was a fixer. He wanted to fix the flat on my bicycle, the engine on my car, my problems. I often chided him that he was giving too much advice, but now being older and understanding him more, I too, find myself wanting to help, to make things better for others…to be a fixer, too. No, my efforts are not often appreciated, but I learned from the best and his heart was in the right place. I can still hear his counsel deep in my heart. “Listen to your father, who gave you life”, from Proverbs 23. He was always there, he turned the other cheek, he provided everyday and he asked for very little in return. He just wanted to be remembered now and then. I will be faithful to do what I have done every year and that is to remember him with an extra dose of appreciation for how his life touched mine and still does.

 

A father is described as one who is a mentor, a provider, a parent. The dictionary falls short of telling us what a father really is. No two Dads’ are alike. God made all each one to be unique, original and to be just the person his children needed. Our Heavenly Father stands beside us everyday. We may not feel His Presence. In fact, we may be too busy to notice. But He is there. I know that when I grew up and moved away, I didn’t get to see my Dad as much in person. But I knew he was there because we stayed connected by phone, cards and email. Oh, how my Daddy loved email!! Our Father in Heaven talks to us through His Word. Now, I find that I miss those little nuggets of wisdom that my Dad dispensed so effortlessly, yet I open my Bible and there it is…just what I need for the day or the situation. We are all God’s Children. He touches us, guides us, teaches us and walks beside us. God is Love. And He loves us. We don’t have to earn it or ask for it. It is simply there. Father’s Day is a good time to both honor our earthly Dad and our Heavenly Father by showing love to them and to each other. Do everything in love.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June


June

 

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest”.

 –Exodus 33:14 NIV

 

The month of June has come quickly this year. It’s been a favorite month of many for a lot of reasons. The children love it because it signals the end of school and the beginning of summer. Families pack up for vacations that they have saved all year for. Neighbors gather together for fireworks and a backyard hot dog. Picnics, grilling out and paper plates become the norm. Watermelons are sliced and shared outdoors. A good time has been had by the younger set evidenced by kool-aid stains on t-shirts in colors of cherry, orange and lime. Band-aids cover the scraped knees from bicycle mishaps. Fathers labor over their lawns in a battle against the weeds and Moms brace for whatever the summer brings knowing she must be adaptable. Summer becomes a chance to enjoy family, slack up a little and enjoy the tastes and joys of it all.

But in all of our busyness, I think God would have us not forget Him. A small child was asked what did he pray for that day and he replied, “nothing, I didn’t need anything”. We seem to have a tendency to only go to God with our requests when we are in crisis or have a real need. When things are going great for us, He can be easily pushed aside. As summer begins, we should invite God to be present in all we do, plan and enjoy. God is more important than ever as we pray protection over our loved ones that are on the go this summer season.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Affection


Affection


Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. Proverbs 3:27 NLT


There is an affection that many of us have with the seashore that is deeply rooted within us. The lifestyle is casual and the pace is slow. But it is how we “feel” while near the water that fuels our affection. We flock to the beach in an effort to find answers and wisdom, hoping that we can find the clarity we need to cope with life. We subconsciously adjust our breathing to follow the rhythm of the waves. Our minds begin to clear like a cloudless blue sky day.  I believe the seashore is a gift from God.  Having walked the beach many times in search of guidance. I feel carefree, yet never outside the umbrella of God’s covering.

The dictionary describes affection as the emotional realm of love. I bet you can look back and think of all the times you received affection. Someone was happy to see you; an unexpected hug; a gift was given to you “just because”; and on and on. It is so wonderful to be on the receiving end of affection. It is also wonderful to be on the giving side too. I think I will make a list of things I can do to brighten someone’s day and then do it.  The late Maya Angelou said, Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Daylight


 

 

 

 

Daylight

 

The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?
 The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?

–Psalm 27:1 NIV

 

My husband and I stood outside just before 7am and watched as the sun rose over the east sky, turning darkness into light. We both agreed we think early morning is the best part of the day. We listened for the birds that sang their morning song, one after the other.  The hummingbirds’ wings fluttered from flower to feeder and back again many times. A breeze rustled the trees that were heavy with dew. The grey sky turned fiery orange when the sun emerged and then it was done…another day had come.

 

With a new day comes hope and renewal. But some must carry burdens day after day and it is hard to stay hopeful. Just in my own circle of family and friends I hear of tragedies, crisis and more. Daily prayer is the key to coping with these situations. Asking God for daily protection, wisdom, courage and grace will give us supernatural strength from Him to be able to put one foot in front of the other. What can we do when it isn’t our business to step into a situation and take charge? That is where prayer comes in again. When we are powerless to intervene, we know the One who can….God can be asked to step in and stand in the gap for us or someone else. So whatever we face in life, prayer is the answer. It seems trite to say that for we think almost everyone knows that, but surprisingly, not so. I visualize God just standing there in the shadows, waiting for us to pray and give him our concerns and burdens. He can handle it. It is just that we are so busy trying to fix and handle problems on our own, we forget to hand it over to Him. My son’s car broke down. His budget just didn’t allow for a lot of car repairs this month. On his own will he started to diagnose the problem and part by part, he began to replace what he thought the problem was. All weekend he labored and spent money he couldn’t afford to spare. I kept saying to him to pray about it. While sitting in church on Sunday, I asked God to shine a heavenly flashlight on the car problem to illuminate it and let my son have the eyes to see it. That afternoon he called to say it wasn’t the ignition after all, but a fuel problem. While I don’t understand “car talk”, I do understand “prayer talk”. We know that a car will start but not on its own.  There must first be a key that is put in the ignition and then it will start. That much I do know.  Doesn’t our prayer act as the key in the ignition which invites and engages God to come take over? God doesn’t always answer every prayer the way we would like it answered or even n our own time, but we do know He hears us. He lights our way.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Changing Direction


Changing  Direction

 


  My help comes from the Lord,
      who made heaven and earth

Psalm 121:2 NLT

 

 

When I recently walked the beach, I started to look for beautiful whole shells to bring home with me. Bending down and searching closely, there were just little pieces of broken shells littering the beach. I came across a broken sand dollar but decided to let it stay in its place in the sand and continued my search for a whole one. Usually when you find one you will find more. Soon I got tired of walking in the hot summer sun and decided to change direction and turn back. My pockets were still empty. I decided I would be happy if I could find that broken sand dollar on my way back. It would indeed be a real treasure after all. Almost giving up, there it was, in the sand, practically hidden because it wasn’t gleaming white, but was deep gray with tones of brown. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but I was thrilled to take it home. It would be a reminder of my day, when I consciously decided to change direction by shifting my focus and seeing with new eyes.

 
I have heard it said that God can use anyone. But sometimes we are not willing to be used by Him. Too many times we are busy at home and at work, careers, caring for family, rushing to and fro. When we are super busy and wrapped up in our own world, we often miss His voice. Daily living and personal interests all take time and God is set aside for another day. It is not intentional that we push Him aside like a broken shell, it just happens. But then, our whole world can get turned upside down when unexpected things happen that threaten our comfort, peace, relationships, finances, our life. The things that were once important have lost their meaning and value in our lives. It takes having a broken spirit and the choice to change direction to be able to see things with a new set of eyes. We learn quickly in our despair that all that matters is that God hears our prayers and helps us. While He has always been there, we consciously decide to make Him and our relationship with Him a priority.  It is at that very moment that God can use us the most. Our relationship with God outweighs anything else that is happening.

 
You don’t have to be at your lowest point for God to use you. But too often it takes being at our lowest to reach out and take His Hand.  And when we do, He will help us. And He will use us. Our faith will build. We will want to share what we are learning and God will put us in places where He can use us. We can witness to family, lend a hand to a neighbor, provide encouragement to the young and old, or offer a prayer to a stranger, always sharing God and His Goodness. There is no limit to what God can do through us when we are willing to follow Him.