Thursday, July 30, 2015

Art Release Coming Soon

Limited edition giclees' from original oil paintings by Reflections by the Sea author, Betsy Glass coming soon. More information to come.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sandbar

Sandbar


Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
-Mark 11:24-25 NIV


A sandbar is a submerged or partly submerged ridge of sand that is formed along the shore by the action of the waves or currents. When storms come off of the ocean, sandbars actually act as a shock absorber for the powerful waves and currents. By consuming some of the power, then there is less damage to the shore. That’s one of the reasons when we have damaging storms, some areas fare well and others do not. The sandbar that we cannot see offshore has soaked up some of the waves’ strength. Some people that are looking at oceanfront property to purchase will consult nautical charts to see if offshore sandbars are present, offering added protection to the beach.

While sandbars are great because they help block the oceans’ strength, when we go to God with our petitions, we don’t want anything to stand between us.  But, unknowingly, that is exactly what can happen. How can we go to Him asking forgiveness of our sins when we won’t forgive someone of theirs? How can we expect mercy to be shown to us if we don’t show it to others?  Like a sandbar, our unforgiveness can act as a ridge that prevents God’s blessings from getting to us. Matthew 7:2 tells us not to judge, or we too will be judged. For in the same way we judge others, we will be judged, and with the measure we use, it will be measured unto us. Many rifts in relationships begin this way in judgement and then before long, unforgiveness takes root and then bitterness follows. Matthew 6:14 plainly tells us that if we forgive men when they sin against us, our heavenly Father will also forgive us. But if we do not forgive men their sins, our Father will not forgive our sins.  But, what if we don’t ‘feel’ like forgiving someone. We are still angry at them and rightfully so. We may have every right to our feelings. God would have us know that it doesn’t matter. He will take care of seeing that justice is served. That is not our job. His message is clear. We have to make the decision to forgive and God will do the rest. Our decision to forgive is what sets everything in motion. And don’t worry, He will supply us with all we need and the fullness of heart to begin to forgive. We should not let our unforgiveness towards anyone cost us our blessings, prosperity or healing. Pray this scripture so that we can see and feel in a new way. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 NIV.

                                                           


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Walking with Jesus

This is what God the Lord says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:  “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
-Isaiah 42:5-7 NIV
Today’s writing is a little different that what has been done in the past. When I pray it helps me to envision actually being with Jesus, if only in my imagination. Perhaps you will allow your imagination to expand and you can take a walk with us too……..

I see myself as a little girl…old enough to always feel safe and but not old enough yet to be conditioned by the world. I am skipping along the beach, the same one that I used to walk with my grandmother whom I called, Nanny. The weather is sunny, the waves are gently rolling in and the top of the sea reminds me of blue-green sparkling glass. Boats are off in the distance and the sound of sea gulls are above.  It is mid-day. I have a white dress on. It is sweet with smocking on the front with embroidered roses and it has little cap sleeves. It is summer time. My dress has a full skirt as though there is a crinoline beneath but the humidity in the air causes the skirt to fall slightly limp. There are two long sashes for tying a bow in the back of my dress but the bow has become loose and it drags the wet sand behind me. My long blonde hair falls just at my waist in natural waves and ringlets, often caught by the breeze. The sun is so bright that I have to squint to keep the glare from hurting my blue eyes.

I am gleeful. Skipping along, laughing, feeling freedom and happiness when I turn around to see Jesus behind me. He holds his arms outstretched to greet me and I run as fast as I can with sun-kissed cheeks surrounding my smile and joy to jump into his arms. His face is kind and I feel secure. He would never let me fall. We don’t talk at first. I look at him and he looks at me and smiles. I touch his hair and pat his chest and straighten the folds of his robe as if to neaten at the same time. He lets me fuss over him and he doesn’t seem to mind.  I adore him. I know who he is. And he knows who I am. His walk is strong in the soft sand. He has a purple scarf draped around his neck and a plain rope around his waist that surrounds his white robe.

He asks me, “What do you want to learn today?” I reply quickly, “Show me everything”. He points out to the water and shows me things in the distance. We look at the birds and he knows the different kinds. I reach towards the sky to show him a cloud going by.  He says, “Do you know that all these things come from my Father in Heaven?” My eyes widen with wonder as I simply stare at his eyes and the truth that lies within them. I am anxious to know more, but I get restless to play and want to run again on the beach. He lets me down and I play hide and seek around him, hiding behind the folds of his robe. He approves of me. I can see it in the twinkling of his eyes when he looks down at me. My heart is bursting with happiness, even more than before.  I pick up seashells and run to him to place in his hand for safekeeping. He holds them for me. I have never felt such warmth and kindness before. He seems to like me just the way I am, too. I see love in his eyes. His love is so big it warms my heart. I get tired of skipping and come back to him and reach for his hand and we walk the beach together holding hands. We are becoming the best of friends. I just know it. I like the way my heart feels when I am with him. I realize it is nice just to be together. He says to feel his presence and to remember it. To tuck it in my heart and then I can have it always. He says to remember that he is always with me.

Today, as an adult, I have a bowl of sand and shells in my home and it reminds me of my imaginative first meeting with Jesus. A collection of straw hats sit nearby to use to still protect my eyes from the sun. My surroundings at home are connected to the beach with walls of photographs and paintings throughout.  To me the beach represents unconditional, lasting, pure love; truth and honesty; forgiveness and healing; safety and honor and above all, presence of the One that will never betray. He will always love me. It’s the relationship that I seek daily.


God sent me a grandmother that loved me fiercely and gave richly of herself within her very limited means. She nurtured in me the goodness and virtues of life and was the first one to tell me about Jesus. My precious grandmother that went to Heaven when I was just 9 years old lives on in my heart and writing. Without my grandmother, there would be no “Reflections by the Sea”…..a seed planted by her love for me and the beach, rooted by the love of Jesus and established and written by the guiding pen and favor of God and the Holy Spirit. Did you have someone that you can look back to that loved you enough to share Jesus with you? Show them honor by passing their gift on, to open the eyes of the blind, to share Him with the next in line.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Celebrate Life



Celebrate Life


The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, "The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!
-Lamentations 3:22-24 (NASB)

It is so much fun to sit on the dunes with my long zoom camera lens and watch the birds walking along the water’s edge. Watching the pelicans in the distance as they dive into the sea. Noticing the clouds overhead that take the shape of things as they move slowly by. I love being a spectator from my perch nearby. Seeing everything up close, yet not being an active part of it.

The opposite of spectator is being a participant. It is equally fun to play with kids in the water, build sandcastles, collect shells and enjoy a picnic together. Being in the moment and enjoying life to the fullest with someone is truly the act of participating.

It occurs to me that we have a choice in life. We can choose to be a spectator or a participator of life. We can become fully engaged in our life and the lives of those around us or stand back, in the shadows, living life through other people, watching their celebrations and milestones.  My husband and I made the choice years ago to be a family that celebrates. We make the birthdays, anniversaries and holidays special. Even the dogs get birthday presents! Carrying around a camera for most of my life, I have been able to catch big moments and little ones too, so the memories of our celebrations have not been lost or forgotten.

Occasionally, I hear folks describe their days with the words, “didn’t do much today” or “we’re not planning anything special”. I used to be one of those people long ago. We stood at the front door many times and watched a neighbor family pile in their old car and drive off to enjoy life by going to ballgames, the beach, picnics and camping. Even backyard barbecues were special to them. I learned an important lesson from that family. Seize the moment.  When the day is over, it is lost. The young mother of this family passed in a car accident when her children were small. No time for goodbyes, one more picnic or one last moment. But I can say that family had far more memories to carry forward than some people have in a lifetime. And it wasn’t because they had unlimited resources or an abundance of time. No, they simply made an effort and chose to celebrate their life.  To make something of each day. They learned that ever important balance of working, playing and praying. They made time for it all.


Part of being a participator in life is a way to honor oneself and the family and friends that surround. It honors God showing Him we treasure the life He breathed in us and the gifts He surrounds us with. It is true that health, finances and obstacles can keep us from doing the things we want to do sometimes or it can limit us greatly, but we can choose our attitude about our life and what we do with it. For example, a budget meal of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich can be presented like a feast. Celebrating the first cucumber from the garden can bring a big smile. The dog bringing back the ball in a game of fetch can be cause for praise, kisses and hugs. Everyday things can be a series of small celebrations and before long we begin to realize that joy resides within. It is taking hold on the inside. It starts with having an attitude that promotes joy and happiness combined with the act of “doing” instead of “watching” that keeps many people celebrating daily life to a ripe old age. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Foundation



Foundation


Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” -Luke 6:47-49

Constructing a new house always requires a sturdy, fail safe foundation. Much thought is put into it however much of the work is not seen. A lot of it is underground, particularly in coastal areas where pilings and concrete pillars are used as supports. The first storm that comes could undermine a house without a solid foundation, but one built well may withstand maybe a 100 years or more.
In the same way homes are constructed using well- made foundations, our country was constructed, founded if you will, on morals and values that our forefathers drafted, all rooted in the biblical teachings of God. That is the foundation of our country. When God and His Laws are discounted or discarded, we lose our way. But we still have time. Even though the times are different now, including the laws that now govern us, we must seek God more than ever. Where is God?  He has always been there, even though our culture suggests we should follow man and not God and the Bible.
  
My grandson asks me, “What’s happening?” when he sees something out of place or our schedule differs from the norm. He knows when something is out of order and his curiosity takes over wanting understanding. I do the same thing. When I pray, I ask God, “What’s happening?” too. So much change we are asked to accept by the culture of today, neglecting many of the values and morals we thought were rock solid. Asking God to help us turn back to Him is my prayer. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.-Jeremiah 29:11  An old familiar hymn found its way back to my heart this week, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”. The refrain goes like this,  
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

July

July

Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near
-Mark 13:28 NIV

The scenes of summer are everywhere. Lots of traffic converging to the Outer Banks as vacationers arrive with great anticipation. Vegetable stands, one after the other, line the journey to the shore with some of the first harvests of the season, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes. Rows of colorful umbrellas dot the beach for as far as the eye can see. Brand-new beach towels hang over the rails of rental cottages along the Beach Road. Where the full time residents live, the landscaping is manicured with splashes of color from beds of daisies, day-lilies and the occasional hydrangea, my favorite. Some driveways are bordered with shells collected from the winter, along with piles of gray conchs casually placed at the base of brightly painted “beachy” mailbox posts.  Backyard grills come alive with the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers that linger in the early evening air. Neighbors, families and friends gather for annual crab feasts and corn on the cob, while catching up with each other. Summer is the time of year when everything seems to come together.


Surely, I am not the only one that feels so carefree and happy at the beach. The salt air seems to wash away my problems and concerns. The sand between my toes doesn’t annoy me…instead it lets me know I am “home”. The smell of suntan lotion evokes many childhood memories. Perhaps my favorite summer memory is recalling my grandmother’s fig preserves with lemon. Only she could make it her own special way, from her small tree in the backyard, surrounded by a single row of bricks. I love July. The sky is still blue with wispy clouds circling overhead before the hazy gray days of August rolls in.  I cannot bear to be indoors this time of year. I don’t want to miss any of God’s beauty and creativity. I will praise Him for these beautiful and bountiful blessings, the sights and sounds of summer.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Heart of the Family

Heart of the Family

Before, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12 NIV

What is it that we need from others? Our hearts crave acceptance, tenderness, a kind guiding spirit to light our way. Today’s scripture tells us how to live. We are to be compassionate, show kindness, remain humble and not boast in pride. Behaving with a gentle demeanor and exhibiting patience.

This week I listened to a friend cry over how she longs to be accepted within her own family. Harsh words and actions plus attempts to tear one another down have resulted in a broken situation. God will definitely have to intervene on this one as years of dysfunction can’t seem to be overcome. And it all starts at the top with the parents. Just like God leads us spiritually through every step of our lives, we as parents lead our families. Mothers and Fathers are the heart of the family. They set the tone for others to follow and establish what will and what won’t be acceptable within the family walls. As parents we must realize we are modeling behavior for our children. Behaviors like grudges, judgement and contempt are learned and passed down.


As children of God, we want his love, acceptance and compassion. And understanding that we are loved no matter what. And that is what we want in our own family. Mothers and Fathers can have a healthy family if God is at the center of it and love flows freely and without condition. It is not too late to repent, ask for forgiveness and get on the right track to do it God’s way. One of God’s most valuable gifts to us is our family. We must treasure it and reflect God’s light in all we do and say.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wisdom

Wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. –James 1:5

The definition of wisdom is the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action.  I saw a quote this past week saying, “Knowledge was the ability to know what to do and wisdom was knowing how and when to do it.”  Well I have failed at that one! In such an effort to help others and lessen their sufferings in life, I tend to help without being asked. Oh how I long for wisdom! Not having it has gotten me into trouble at times!!

This time of year, grand speeches are said for the graduating class. Toasts and well wishes are said to the wedding couple.  As wise souls, we believe we have so much to offer. But things can get out of balance in our relationships when we give our words of wisdom too freely, without being asked. I had a friend tell me that he begs to tell his adult children about things in life, but he realizes he has to be asked by them first. And they don’t ask! He laughs and says, “But I know things and I can help”! It is hard for people like us to sit silent, but we must.


The book of Proverbs is laden with wisdom. Had I only known that years ago!! A pastor once told me that because there are 31 chapters in Proverbs it is a part of his daily Bible reading to read a chapter a day each month and start over again the next month. He has done this for years. If you are searching for wisdom, you will find it in Proverbs. Then, we pray that God will help us to learn when and how to use it for His Glory.  I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.-Proverbs 4:11