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 ofassorted 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.
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
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
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.
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.
The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you and I will give you
–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
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.
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."
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?
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.
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth
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
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.