Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Looking Ahead


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 29, 2009

but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. -Jeremiah 7:23-24 NIV





Time does not stand still. The transition from 2009 to 2010 marks the beginning of a new decade. This particular approaching New Year feels more reflective than usual. I’ve been looking back over the last 10 years. Perhaps you are doing the same, too



Anyone who has travelled knows how difficult it is to take heavy luggage. It is back-breaking and cumbersome. It gets in the way but if anyone is like me, I tend to “over-pack” because I am convinced I need everything. So at this time of year, I am wondering just how much “luggage” from years passed I will continue to carry with me as I step in the New Year? Questions I have been asking myself are,”Can I let things go? Can I just finally give it all up? And then I think, “What would Jesus have me do? The answer is always the same. Look to Him always. I am vowing to let Him take my ”luggage” or better said, to carry my burdens and hurts. Disappointments can linger overhead sometimes like a dark cloud. Not everyone treats or responds to us in the way we would like. Going into the New Year is an opportunity to make some changes. Seeking God to find our direction is far better than going solo. He has a Will for each of us. To waste time on things that can’t be changed is hurtful to us and to Him. He has a better way and a better use of our time. For all we know, this may be the year that God has a really big plan waiting for us and we need to ready for it.



So how do we release the things that weigh us down? We can’t change anybody but ourselves. I know that laughter is good medicine to our body and spirit. Respect is a symbol, a behavior that honors us and others when given and received. Discipline is necessary especially when it comes to filtering the words that flow from our mouth. Charity shared comes from a heart full of gratitude. True generosity and tender- heartedness are actions that only come from a pure heart. Giving unto others is biblical. If we are busy becoming more “God-like” in our every day actions, we simply will not have time to be burdened with the past.



When the clock strikes midnight and the New Year is upon us, it is like turning a page in a new book. The pages are blank. In no time the essence of our heart will spring forth and the pages in our book will write themselves, day by day. Each year that has passed is another year in our legacy. What changes to make? Choose to follow God. Declare His Blessings. Expect that our obedience to Him will cause blessings to shower down on all we set out to do. Be grateful for our days on this earth. Give God praise for letting us come this far and rejoice in all His goodness. We are able to meet the New Year with confidence knowing that we are blessed with God’s Divine Plan and purpose in our life. Happy New Year and Blessings to All!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Christmas Eve


Reflections by the Sea © BetsyOre Glass
December 24, 2009

As the sun goes down on a last minute, hectic sort of day in preparation and anticipation of Christmas, the stillness of Christmas Eve can be mesmerizing. Lighted decorations flicker on through the neighborhood at dusk. The grand music from Handel’s “Messiah” replaces “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” on the radio. The reverence of this night begins to envelope us and the peace that follows comforts us. As the night sky unfolds, one by one, the stars above begin to twinkle overhead with an extra brilliance. I find myself looking to the east for that special star and wondering what it was like the night Jesus was born. The real meaning of Christmas can be found, not in the decorations, the expectation of Santa’s arrival or the presents under the tree. God’s gift to us was His Son, Jesus, who came to this world so that we may live, that through His sacrifice on the cross, we should have everlasting life. There is so much about Jesus to learn. So much He wants to teach us. For years we read the poem, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas “ to our children on Christmas Eve. How I look back now and wish that we had focused more on the Birth of Jesus than we did the arrival of Santa Claus. Perhaps it is not too late to start a new tradition by adding the story of the Birth of Jesus to our Christmas Eve ritual.

Just to remind us again how it all began, here is the story of the birth of Jesus, as told by Luke.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. –Luke 2:1-20 NIV
Merry Christmas to each of you and God’s Blessings to all, especially those troops that are serving our country away from the comforts of family and home.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


The Best Gifts



Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 16, 2009

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. -Galatians 5:22

It’s the week before Christmas and all through the house are Christmas lists, presents to be wrapped and last minute items to shop for. Oh, the busyness of it all! The hustle and bustle of the holidays is in full swing. At least, that is how it used to be for us. When our children were little and grandparents were able to travel, it was a large festive time with everyone enjoying overall abundance, prosperity, sharing plans for the future and sharing gifts from under the tree. Now, things are just different. Everyone is spread out. Not everyone who wants to travel can, gift giving has been pared down and the abundance of Christmas is no longer measured in material things, but in health, gratitude and joy…as it should be.

The Bible talks of the fruits of the spirit in today’s scripture. I believe God is impressing on my spirit that while material things are nice to give and receive at this time of year, there are greater gifts awaiting us. If Christmas is truly about Jesus then the gifts that are the most important are those that Jesus lived by that are mentioned in the scripture: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Oh how our homes and extended families, our friendships and the workplace would benefit so much if we all practiced these virtues. I think we could start with just picking one of these to focus on. To have joy in our heart. To find peace within and share it. To have patience with ourselves and those around us. To show kindness and to be good to those that are hardest to love. To be faithful to our families and relationships. Offering a gentle touch and a kind word when we can to all. Above all exercising self-control with our actions, behavior and words spoken. We can’t wait for everyone around us to treat us this way. It begins with us. All I have to do to be motivated to live with the fruits of the spirit as my compass is to think of the people whose countenance and personalities I am drawn to. And they are the ones that take time, love unconditionally, forgive easily, laugh heartily and in all they do God’s Light shines for all to see. I want to be one of those people. I believe that it is true that what we give will be given back to us. The biblical law of reaping what you sow.

Some gifts can be wrapped with bows and set under the tree, but the fruits of the spirit are a reflection of God’s heart and Jesus’ life and they are available to us. If you had a fruit tree and it didn’t bear any fruit year after year, you would certainly get rid of it and replace it with one that was fruitful and productive. Many of us are not bearing fruit right now. And that doesn’t reflect the goodness of God and it speaks poorly of us. Today I will consider it a blessing to be given this roadmap for living, loving and being. Thank you God for these gifts!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


“I Believe”


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 08, 2009

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."-Matthew 19:26 NIV

This past week I went to a Christmas Street Fair. The weather cooperated with bone chilling temperatures, so gloves, hats and coats were the dress for the day. Jingle bells were ringing and people were of good cheer as they went from store to store to see what special holiday gifts were waiting to be taken home.

In one spot, I noticed a lot of children had gathered around so my curiosity piqued. Young ladies were dressed in green and red outfits wearing festive sock elf hats. They were helping the young children of all ages to write letters to Santa. Parents stood back with cameras and coached their youngsters to smile, but they were too intent and serious about writing this very important letter to look up. Once finished, the elves placed Christmas stamps on the letters and walked the children inside to the post office to a special letter box marked only for North Pole letters. The excitement and joy was so sweet to observe. Then I got an idea. I walked over to one of the sweet elves and asked if anybody could write a letter to Santa or if it was just for the little ones. My question took her back a second and then she said, “Absolutely yes, anybody can participate”. On my unlined crisp white paper and pen attached to a clipboard, I squeezed myself into a child’s wooden school desk outside the post office and went to work on my letter. Realizing I was taking up a valuable seat and the line was growing, I decided to be quick and brief. I simply wrote, “I Believe”. I was giddy. With an envelope and stamp handed to m by the elves I wrote the address carefully, “Santa Claus, The North Pole”. I walked into the post office and put my letter in the special box. There. It was done. I reaffirmed my faith in goodness, kindness, hope and above all, belief that all things are possible. For a brief moment my mind and heart returned to the magic of being 7 years old and it felt good!!

I do believe. I believe in the kindness of spirit that Santa Claus represents which is the good in each of us. I believe in the desire to love, make others happy and make things happen to help others when it is in our power and ability to do so. In this tainted world of greed and selfishness with morals and values slipping away, we have to believe that there is still goodness to give and receive.

If it weren’t for my Father in Heaven that believes in me, then I would not be able to believe in anything at all. It is from His Strength and Promises that I can believe in miracles, hope, restoration, reconciliation, provision and more. Even when our circumstances say “don’t believe”, that is all the more reason to believe for more! When all hope seems lost and finances or health dwindle or family or friends seem like they are lost spiritually, we can still believe. I have personally been in situations when it looked hopeless and all of a sudden out of the ashes came life. New Beginnings. Second Chances. Renewal. Healing, Restoration and Miracles. Don’t give up on yourself or anyone else this Christmas.

Just Believe.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


The Christmas Spirit



Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 03, 2009

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. –Proverbs 3:3 NIV

There will be many tree lightings across the area this weekend. Communities come together to decorate tress, have parades and sing carols. And in our own homes, decorations and trees are being put up too. White lights, colored lights, red bows, garland and shiny ornaments. Jingle bells ring and Christmas music plays as we go in and out of stores this time of year. School pageants, church music programs and gatherings with friends fill the time and add to the cheer of the season. It seems that the Christmas Spirit is alive. But then I have heard several people say they weren’t going to bother with putting up a Christmas tree. Admitting the same thing myself, I was wondering what was holding me back this year. Sometimes dragging out all the boxes of decorations and ornaments seems like too much work just for the two of us. Then I reasoned that the new puppy will no doubt be fascinated with the tree and give up chewing my shoes and go straight for the tree instead. It appears that even my older dog needs a little Christmas spirit because he hid behind the chair when I brought out his red holiday sweater! Then there are all those ornaments that the kids made over the years. Hoping to package them up and send to them for their trees, they want me to keep them instead. And then I am feeling guilty for wanting to retire that old artificial tree my husband bought too many years ago in favor of a fresh one with wide limbs for our “vintage” decorations. (Everything is so old now; I do believe it qualifies for the term “vintage”!) So I think what it boils down to is that I don’t want to look back anymore. So I am looking forward to the future instead, knowing that my best days are still ahead of me and not behind me.

The Christmas Spirit is slowly beginning to take me over and hopefully soon I will be in full swing. There is a quote that says, “Remember, if Christmas isn't found in your heart, you won't find it under a tree." I guess I never thought of it that way before but it rings true.

The same tried and true Christmas movies that are on TV that I have loved every year are playing again this season too. The iPod is ready to go with all the Christmas music that we enjoy from Handel’s Messiah to Mannheim Steamroller and a bit of Andy Williams crooning for good measure. Am hoping to stay busy enough these next weeks to keep the emotions at bay that come with changes in our family this year. I know I am not by myself. Many people are struggling with losses and difficulties of all kinds. Times change and it is evident especially at Christmastime. I

 am struck that the Christmas spirit doesn’t just happen. It won’t converge upon us like a morning fog. Either we have it or we don’t. The Christmas spirit is the result of the pure good heart that lives within. Christmas is love and thanksgiving for God sending us His Only Son. It comes from a heart that loves no matter what, that forgive everyone and everything, that helps others move ahead, that lends a helping hand, and one that makes someone’s way a little easier. The more we do for others, the more we will be filled with the Christmas Spirit ourselves. It is said that, “It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. “

Friday, November 27, 2009


Memories


Reflections by the Sea
© Betsy Ore Glass
November 25, 2009

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. -Psalm 100:5 NIV

The photograph today is of the cottage my family owned when I was a youngster. It was a new little beach box that was painted yellow with white shutters with a large deck that overlooked the ocean in Kitty Hawk. Our “Yellow House by the Sea” was the setting for many family get- togethers. We enjoyed coming from Virginia especially during the off season in October and November and again in the spring. We rented it out in the summer but always saved a week’s vacation for ourselves. We all felt a sense of freedom and joy when we were at the beach. That feeling remains with me today. Televisions and telephones were not luxuries we enjoyed. Instead, we found entertainment in exploring, playing, and shelling during the day and bundling up in the evenings on the webbed lounge chairs on the deck with hot chocolate to hear the ocean waves or to seek shooting stars from the sky above. We would get to stay up late at night to join our grandfather as he turned on his short-wave radio, where we heard of places far away. Our church friends and extended family came often to enjoy my mother’s fried fish at the special picnic table that my father had built. Puzzles, talks and playing cards occupied us as we spent time with each other. We sold that little yellow house but took our memories with us. Many years later, an October nor’easter claimed the house and took it out to sea. The walls and windows were lost but our memories were left intact. No one could take those from us. Those memories of youth and family time have carried us all through good times and bad.

With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas approaching, this tine of year it is the season where families make every effort to get together. Some families see each other often. But there are many families that don’t get to see each other because of distance. My husband and I spent Thanksgiving without family this year due to distance so we know first-hand how cherished those times are when we can all come together at one table. As the anticipation of Christmas approaches, find a moment to pray. Ask that God’s presence be felt when families do come together and any offenses are pushed away by love, laughter and joy. Ask that new memories will be made if having to spend special occasions away from loved ones. Above all, showing love in all we do is the best way to honor this season and to honor God.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Rising Up in Gratitude


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
November 18, 2009

I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. –Psalm 121 1-2 NIV

The remnants of Tropical Storm Ida weren’t supposed to leave such an impression on the Outer Banks. And the storm wouldn’t have if it had not merged with a low pressure system off of the coast. But it did. And it became a historic nor’easter event instead. Some people would have preferred a hurricane rather than a nor’easter. The thinking is that the short duration of a hurricane is no match for the long, drawn out three day pounding of a nor’easter. Looking at the aftermath of such a strong storm left many with great loses of property and whole communities that were inconvenienced because of washed out roads. The cleanup begins and loses totaled. Even though the storm clouds and heavy rains are long gone, fear of storms and all the “what ifs” linger on with many people. It is a natural response, but God is supernatural and that means we can lift all of our fears and concerns up to Him.

The Outer Banks community is already embarking on a clean up, a rebuilding, a replenishment of sorts in the attempt to look beyond the storm and into the future with a vision. The people of the Outer Banks are resilient and strong and just like so many times before, everything will be back in order again.

In church on Sunday we sang the words to the hymn, “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.” We can take a lesson from the strength of a community to rise up over our losses, our grief, our troubles and with our eyes upon Jesus, we can live for the future and not the past.

Thanksgiving is in a few days, and we all have something to be grateful for despite the losses that have come our way. We are all God’s children and He makes us adaptable, capable and fills out hearts with love and gratitude. However the day is spent, we must remember to give Thanks to our Heavenly Father, knowing that all blessings flow from Him!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


A New Season


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
November 11, 2009

And God said, Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years ,-Genesis 1:14 NIV

The fresh green of newly sprouted rye grass, the yellow, red and orange leaves on the trees, the smell of swirling smoke from neighboring fireplaces and the cool, crisp air is what November means to me. The swishing sound of someone raking leaves and pine straw is music to my ears. A bright orange pumpkin and pot of yellow potted mums by the front door says “welcome”. Okra pods and dried hydrangeas are ready to set aside for spraying with gold paint for handmade Christmas wreaths and centerpieces. McIntosh apples are plentiful now for that warm chunky applesauce at supper. I believe it is true what they say, that the heart of the hone is the kitchen. That’s the gathering place. Good food warms hearts and souls. Laughter and conversation spills forth when everyone converges upon the kitchen at the end of the day. Reading the mail, petting the dogs, setting the table, starting supper and sharing the day happens in our kitchen. With the coming of cooler weather and shorter days, I find myself looking for comfort. A warm supper, a soft afghan to curl up with afterwards and my pup beside me, it’s the perfect evening. I believe November is a nurturing time of year. In a few weeks it will be Thanksgiving. The time we devote to counting our blessings and sharing food and hospitality with family and friends.

When we had to change our clocks recently, I easily remembered how to do it….spring forward and fall back. And I get it right every time!! (Now if I could just get help changing the clock in the car!!) When seasons change, it is also a good time to take stock of things, including our spiritual life. To sit before God and see if we are still on the right track. Are we doing what He would have us do? Are we growing, increasing our faith with each day? Are we doing more for Him and others? Are we loving more and forgiving always? Is our spirit open to Him or are we going down our own path? We can find peace and comfort in God’s Presence. In His Arms. Whatever may be in our hearts that we carry and are concerned about, we can turn it over to Him. He allows us to “fall back” on Him when we turn over our concerns. To release everything to Him frees us and gives us the chance to seize the many opportunities He brings for us to be able to “spring forward”, even if it is so simple as to step into a new season with peace.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Dusk


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
November 05, 2009

Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin. –Psalm 17:3 NIV

The definition of dusk is the time of day immediately following sunset. That time is also called twilight. When I am at the beach, the ability to see such a large expanse of sky enables me to see the most glorious sunsets as if it were a panoramic view. But the time I like best is dusk. Those few moments when the sun has vanished from the horizon, yet the clouds still reflect the fading light is beautiful. Sometimes the sky is ablaze with fiery reds and oranges. Other times, pinks and shades of purple dominate the sky. One can’t help but think about the largeness of the universe and that we are just a speck of life in the scope of things. Looking at the sky at dusk is the final salute to the day as I hope with all my heart that the day was used as God would have me use it.

To see the sky at dusk means that I must look up and not down. My eyes have to rise up to the clouds, to look over the landscape. That is what it means to live above our circumstances. What we should try to do with each day is to not focus on the problems, our shortcomings or anyone else’s or the lack that surrounds us, but instead try to see the good and God in everything. Sickness may come, or recovery from illness may seem too slow. The children need so much attention and the mundane tasks of everyday life are leaving us with an empty cup. God would have us look up above over these things. Look beyond. Look up to Him. When adversity knocks on the door, how we handle it tells it all. Our actions, attitudes and the words that tumble out of our mouths when we are knee-deep in problems or pain can be a blessing to us and those around us or not. It is our choice. I believe that as we sleep each night, God renews us and purifies our heart. When we wake up we have a new, fresh start. It is up to us to try to end each day the way we started, which is receiving God’s Love and Peace, and no matter what the day brings, doing our best to stay in His Love and Peace, so that we can give it to others.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Keeping God’s Light Within


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
October 22, 2009

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. -Matthew 6:22 NIV

Where are the nice people? So many occasions where people could be nice and pleasant, but they have chosen not to be. Just going through everyday life, it seems to be rare if someone holds open the door. Or in the grocery store parking lot, people are just leaving the carts for someone else to deal with. A friend and I were talking about this recently and it seems that courtesy and kindness are dwindling away. It appears to be contagious. Being thoughtless is giving way to insensitivity. And it adds up. Before long, a mindset develops to care only about self and ones’ personal agenda, wants and needs. Looking out for one another or bringing a moment of kindness without anything in return is becoming rare. Let’s concentrate this week on what we can do to make this better. It starts with little things like giving a smile and a kind word to someone. Letting another person go ahead of us in line. Taking the cart back to the grocery store. I know we can make a difference. The economy, our age, our circumstances, the lack of time or money doesn’t give us the freedom to behave in any way less than what God intended….and that is to show brotherly love to one another. He will use us as an instrument to help others but first we have to have a heart to do so. I am guilty of this. Being in a hurry or being busy is no excuse for being discourteous. I may have missed some opportunities to be a witness to God in my own busyness. How could anyone see God’s Light within us if the light is not on?

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Autumn Flowers


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
October 22, 2009

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. –Isaiah 40:8 NIV

This past week I went to a flower farm where zinnias and sunflowers were still blooming. The vibrant colors of fall were evident in the fields of flowers just waiting to be picked. I brought two handfuls of flowers home for the dining table and have thoroughly enjoyed them. Buds of sunflowers slowly opened during the week as the zinnias wilted one by one. Flowers, I think are one of God’s gifts to us. When I look at a flower and examine the petals and the intricate structure, it is a reminder of God’s perfection at work. The arrangement of the seeds in the center of a sunflower is a geometric wonder to me.

If God worked so hard to perfect the flowers, then is there any doubt that he would have done less when he formed us? Stop along the beach and pick up a shell. Look at it. The ridges, the colors, the perfect shape. Another achievement that nature gets to take credit for under the umbrella of God’s artistry.

We are so much greater than a flower or a shell. We are a masterpiece made and created by God. We would not be here if God had not breathed life into us. Each person has a purpose in this life. It is important to fulfill that purpose but to do it God’s Way and not our own way. What does that mean? We just don’t want to get ahead of God and take the plan for our life and make things happen in our own time. Instead, we are to know God through His Word and grow from His Instruction. We are to lean on Him while He takes time to develop, refine and prepare us for the plans He has in store. Like a flower unfolds, one petal at a time, we are the same. One day at a time. One step at a time. Trading impatience for patience. Trusting God every moment to lead us to the purpose and plan for our life.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Docks


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
October 14, 2009

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! -Ecclesiastes 4:10 NIV

The definition of a dock is a place where vessels are moored. We certainly have plenty of docks on the Outer Banks. Marinas, neighborhood and residential docks dot the landscape and provide a safe place to tie up for those travelling on water. Mostly made of wooden planks and pilings that go deep below, some docks even sport benches where one can rest or watch the water traffic pass by. The main purpose of the dock however, is to have a place to bring a boat in for more supplies, rest or parking until the next time out.

If a dock is a place to stop, rest or park for boaters, I wonder if we have a place like that for ourselves. My first thought after God is finding refuge in friendship. There is nothing like a good friend to talk with. Friends often uplift and encourage us. They replenish our souls so we can get back to our lives with restored strength and enthusiasm. Sometimes we can become spiritually dry, and it takes a special Christian friend to offer us prayer and a good ear, if we need it. Maybe all that is required to get back on track is to have someone listen, pray and build us up. When we lose our compass and run aground, it is good if we have a friendship in place where we can go and set anchor for a bit. To have a good Christian friend is a blessing. To be a good Christian friend takes wisdom, time and God’s leading. You will know if you are one, if you do not pass judgement, listen well, invite God into your conversations, and offer prayer. A true friend is like an angel on earth, a gift from God.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Solitude


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
October 08, 2009

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. -Psalm 62:5 NIV

This is the time of year when you can have the beach all to yourself. I love these days of solitude as I do a panoramic scan of the area and it is just me and the sea. The natural beauty of the beach is prevalent. The summer umbrellas and beach chairs have been put away for the season and the natural landscape stands still, at rest for a while, before the hustle and bustle of spring comes about again.

That’s how it is with us at times. We are often on a treadmill of fast- paced activity as we scurry from one project or one place to another. When we get caught up in demands and schedules that are hard to maintain, it takes its toll on us and we no longer think clearly, our bodies grow tired and our good naturedness gives way to grumpiness. Our mind, body and spirit were meant for a period of rest. Being still and at rest is one of the ways that we can begin to listen for God’s voice on the inside of us. It is when we can abide in Him and He can abide in us that we know we are connected.

We function best when we follow a busy time with a rest and period of solitude. If we observe each season from a spiritual standpoint, there is something to learn from each of them. Spring is for planting and sowing seeds of faith. Summer is a growing season when we can put our faith to the test as we walk on the path of our Christian journey. Fall is when we begin to see the fruits of our labor and we see a harvest of prayers that are answered. Winter is when we prepare for the quiet time and the rest where God rejuvenates us and puts in us ideas, hopes and dreams that we nurture and incubate while waiting for spring. Now, we are approaching the time of solitude. The birds, trees and vegetation are beginning to show signs of this as the days are shorter and the temperatures begin to drop. In our Christian life, there are times for listening and times for doing. Learning to be in solitude so we can hear His Voice in our hearts will make us more usable to Him. He gives us direction and leading and if we are willing, God will put us in situations where we can serve Him by helping others.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


October


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
October 01, 2009

he Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. –Psalm 28:7 NIV

October is a wonderful time to be at the beach in my opinion. The days are shorter, the nights are cooler. Goldenrod is in full bloom with its mustard colored flowers growing wild here and there. Sea oats look rich in a golden amber hue as they wave back and forth on the dunes in the ocean breezes. Salt spray covers everything. Where tourists once sunbathed on the summer beaches, large flocks of pelicans and gulls have reclaimed those places as their own again. It is sweatshirt weather on most mornings. Pots of seafood chowders and stews are put on simmer all day for early autumn suppers to stave off the evening chill. October spells pure joy to me as it is the one month that everything seems to be just perfect on the Outer Banks.

For a while, I have collected everything I could find with the word “joy” written on it. Tree ornaments, plaques, magnets and more. I use these little messages throughout my home as a daily reminder to stay in joy and not complain or find fault with myself or others. I have learned that it doesn’t take much to get hooked into the emotion of complaining and grumpiness and that is a trap the enemy uses to steal our joy. We have to be on guard against this happening. My favorite definition of joy is “the expression or display of glad feelings”. Being filled with joy can cause us to want to do and share good things for those around us. It is like having a new song on the inside of us. When we can, I think we are supposed to spread our joy outward and see how God uses it to make positive changes in our lives and the lives of others.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Friends


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
September 24, 2009

This is my commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you. No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends. John 15:12-13 Amp

The definition of a friend is a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. It is nice to have a friend. Some friendships last a lifetime while others last for a little while. They each have their purpose. We can have friendships with almost anyone. The criteria for friendship is to be able to trust and respect each other as the mutual affection grows. Some of my little friends are school age while others are seniors who have lived their life and aren’t afraid to share their wisdom, thank heavens! The friends my own age keep me posted on current events and my younger friends, well I do my best to keep up with them! I think of my pets as friends, too. Friends touching lives and mine has surely been touched!

The deep friendships are the ones that mean you can call in the middle of the night and it is okay. You can tell your deepest secrets to that person and you know you won’t be judged. You can share your fears with them and they listen while you sort through it out loud. To have a friendship like this is one of the many joys in life. Some folks mistake acquaintances for friends, but if you have ever had or been a friend, you know the difference. Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Words so true!

I am reminded of the old hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. Some of the lyrics are, ”What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!” He is our truest friend. When friendships end or people pull away from us for unspoken reasons, it is a comfort to know that God is there for us. We are commanded by God to love at all times. Today, I will tell my friends that I love them and ask God’s Blessings over them.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Direction


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
September 17, 2009

Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead me and guide me. Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth. -Psalm 31:2-5 (NIV)

For years, we have loved travelling up and down the “Beach Road” on the Outer Banks. Long ago, it was the main route north and south that could take you from the northern beaches of Southern Shores to the popular fishing spot of Oregon Inlet. We never tired of taking the straight and narrow two lane drive that ran parallel to the beach. There was always something to see, even the occasional glimpse of the ocean behind the sand fences. Now more roads have been built, plus bridges too. An old Proverb says that “You cannot be lost on a road that is straight”.

Direction is a word that doesn’t only apply to road or maps. It applies to our life, too. Seeking direction is equivalent to having a compass. You know where you are and you know where you want to go. The compass spells it out. But our life and circumstances requires more than a compass….we need God to show us the way.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Seaweed


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
September 10, 2009

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.
-Psalm 30:11-12 NIV

Seaweed is found in the oceans of the world. Even though seaweed has the appearance of being plant-like, it is a marine algae and not a plant at all. There are thousands of species of seaweed that are known. They are basically red, brown or green in coloration. Seaweed is very beneficial to us with many uses ranging from food to fertilizer. But they are primarily a food source for marine animals and even provide shelter for many fish. There are underwater forests dense with seaweed that are called kelp forests. Seaweed does not have roots but instead has a special anchor called a “holdfast” that keeps it in place. Sometimes heavy wave currents can break the anchor and send the seaweed to shore. I must admit that when I walk over the sand dune to find a shoreline full of seaweed, I am not overjoyed. Mounds of drying seaweed that litters the beach is an unexpected sight and it spoils the landscape. It means we have to step over it, walk around it or try to ignore it until it rolls out to sea in the next tide.

Things happen that attempt to spoil our joy on a daily basis. Little things and big things. It is inevitable. Disappointments seem to roll in to our life at times with the swiftness of an incoming tide. Sometimes we can ignore them but sometimes not. Before long we feel overwhelmed. Don’t let the enemy win! Focusing on our problems and circumstances can cloud our vision and rob us of our joy. God gives us a choice of how to approach these ‘twists and turns’ on the journey of life. We can choose to override the problems and face each day with a positive attitude and a heart full of gratitude. Or, we can complain and murmur and sink deeper into the problem at hand, taking loved ones with us in a downward spiral. Expecting a life free from challenges and problems means living unrealistically. But what we can expect is that God will show us ways to deal with and conquer the challenges we face today and those of the future. Our God is a God that helps, encourages, teaches, guides and comforts us in all times.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009



New Steps


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass

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

I have heard it said that both the months of September and January represents the most transitional times of the year. It is thought that returning to school in September, after a summer break, can be stressful on children and parents, as they adjust to a more structured schedule. And in January, the New Year, equipped with a new attitude, goals and resolutions, it is often our tendency to want a fresh new beginning…to shake off the old and prepare for the new. I think this is largely true. Those moments of pondering our life and seeking His Will are important, so we can know which direction to take during times of transition.

Walking along the beach and watching the waves roll in, one after the other in its rhythmic pattern, is probably the best place I know to ponder life. There is peace and serenity that comes with being near the water. The salt air and sound of the waves seems to clear the mind giving one a fresh slate on which to dream the dreams. Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Holding on to faith with one hand and our dreams with the other, we should take advantage of all the possibilities God brings before us. Moving forward into the future, trying new things, learning, and achieving is not any different than walking the beach….it takes one step at a time to accomplish both.

Thursday, August 27, 2009



A Prayerful Path


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass


I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. –Psalm 17:6 NIV


The tourists are heading back home, the beach is less crowded and the school busses are running again. Backpacks are filled to overflowing and children are attempting to put summer fun behind them as they prepare for another school year. School bells are ringing in our family, too. My 12 year old granddaughter is going to middle school this year. We talked about it and she said she was a little apprehensive at the prospect of changing classes and learning her way around a new school. It turns out that she did just fine and her first day built a lot of confidence and self-esteem. I challenged her to reach out to be friendly to anyone she saw eating alone in the cafeteria. She called me to say that she and some of her girlfriends took their lunch trays over to a girl named Emily who was sitting by herself. Before their lunch was over, they had all made friends! What a great story! I told her how proud of her I was, that she was thoughtful and kind and to look for opportunities again to show compassion. (I was secretly wondering if Emily had sent up a prayer too not to have to sit alone at lunch.) A great beginning! Our prayers were answered for a smooth transition for the start of the school year.

Seems God was busy answering many prayers this week in our family. Our son called to say his riding lawn mower had spit and sputtered black smoke and then stopped completely. He checked the engine and it was out of oil. Not good! It looked like it was all over for the mower. Not wanting the expense to fix or replace the engine, and watching the grass grow taller by the minute, I could hear his frustration over the phone and then I asked him if we could pray. At that moment, I began praying and I just felt God would use this situation to touch my son. A few minutes later we received a phone call from our son and yes, God came through. What a faith builder! The mower worked perfectly, as though nothing had ever been wrong! He thanked me and I said, no, thank God. And so we thanked Him together.

Isn’t it great when God touches our children and grandchildren! I think any kind of touch from God just gives them such hope and it increases their faith. It reminds them that they are never alone. As parents, it is our job to not only prepare our children to be responsible and capable, but to be kind and thoughtful as well. But most importantly is their spiritual development. We cannot always be there for them to help fight their battles, to resist temptation or to choose the right path. Hopefully, our children will grow to have a spiritual compass rooted in a deep faith that will guide them. Mostly, our children follow by our example. Prayer is everything! Just a simple prayer at the door in the morning before they leave for the bus stop or over the phone, long distance, to ask God’s favor and protection over them is enough. And that they would walk the right path with every step. If we stand in the gap for them now as their faith grows, then they will stand in the gap for us. Then our families can be knit together in prayer, which is one of the greatest single things we can do with and for our loved ones.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009



Standing on Higher Ground


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass


Then the Lord said to him, Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground. Acts 7:33 NIV

When we were little kids, we were so excited at the thought of climbing to the top of the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge. The dunes seemed taller back then and maybe they were. Even so today, I marvel at the size of the dunes and the amount of sand that is there now and how it changes shape in the currents of the wind. Once, when I was 7 or 8 years of age, I remember that we climbed to the top of Jockey’s Ridge to watch fireworks. On our way up, we would sink in the sand up to our knees and try to wriggle free. I was scared to walk up to the top by myself and made sure my Dad was nearby to pull me up if I started to sink in the soft sand. Once at the top of the dunes, there was an amazing breeze. We were glad that we had brought towels to sit on after the long walk up. But, those towels were used instead to wrap around us to keep off the chill of the night air and hide from the sting of the blowing sand. Such good times!


This week, a song that we sing in church has been simmering in my heart. It’s called “Still Standing”. This contemporary tune has great lyrics….”On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, but by the grace of God, I’m still standing”. I’ve had a chance this year to reflect on many things. The comings and goings of ones I have loved, the changing tide of some relationships and more. But God wants to remind me that I am still standing. Nothing can knock me down. I have His Favor and His Hand is just within reach at all times to catch me when I feel myself sinking. And I am not special. God will do it for you, too. He is there for all of us!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009



The Back Porch


-Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass
August 12, 2009


Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. -1 Timothy 6:17 NIV


I long to have an old fashioned back porch, but in the days of decks and patio’s, many of the newer homes don’t have them anymore. I think by eliminating the concept of the back porch, we have lost a bit of Americana. My husband’s grandmother, who lived in a small eastern North Carolina town, had a back porch and it was the entrance that friends and family used. The sound of the squeaky screened door swinging open announced one’s arrival. An old discarded kitchen table was used to hold the overflow of canned vegetables when the kitchen couldn’t store any more. We might even see a pile of greens from the garden, probably collards, sitting on a chair waiting to be taken in and cleaned for Sunday dinner. My grandmother’s back porch at the beach was similar, yet there were differences. Beside her back door were pails with newly picked shells and pieces of driftwood for the day’s fire. On the ledges of the porch sat larger shells, bottles that had washed up from the sea and potted plants that had might be shedding too many leaves to stay inside. Leaning up against the wall would be a crab net and a fishing rod or two for handy access up the path to the beach. Both grandmothers were very different and both also left a positive, loving indelible mark on the lives they touched. Neither one of them was wealthy or had riches, but they did have God as the center of their life and they felt that was all the riches they needed.



God gives us the freedom to celebrate our individuality and to plot our course in life, with His help, of course. What we do with our life, our space is largely left up to us. Things will influence us, but in the end, we are allowed the gift of Free Will, and have many choices in front of us no matter what our age is. Many people think that walking with God means to give up their personality, become serious and no longer partake in things that bring enjoyment, but that is not true. We can still serve a gracious God and place Him first in all we do and find contentment and enjoyment in our daily lives, too. He delights in the desires of our heart and is happy when we are happy. We can have rich lives in a variety of different ways and He will anoint us if what we do is in His Will. If we had a back porch, what would it look like? What would it say about us? Are we rich in all the right things?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009



Sand Fences


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass

August 05, 2009

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. –Romans 16:17


Sand fences have been enormously helpful in dividing land and building up dunes. The rickety weathered pickets that are held together with thin wire, comes in large rolls to be stretched out and stuck in the sand. Sand fences don’t look particularly sturdy, but do a wonderful job nonetheless. I’ve captured many photographs of these fences at the beach. In my home, is one wall of framed photos of just sand fences. They captivate me, each with their own story to tell and uniqueness. Not only are the fences effective, but they add texture to the scenery and provide many perches for birds. When storms come and cause the sea to rise, often the fences lose their footing and get washed out, littering the beach with broken pickets. Once gathered, these scraps of weathered wood make nice kindling to start a fire for cool evenings.

Fences can be a really good thing. With the arrival of our little puppy, my husband had to walk the wooden fence of our property to close up remaining holes. Yesterday we realized we missed a place and Barney was already on top it in great thought as to how to make his escape. So once again, out came the hammer and nails and everything was secured in place. If he would only gain another pound or two, we wouldn’t have to worry about him slipping through!


Everywhere we turn, fences and boundaries surround us, whether real or emotional. It can keep us in or keep us out, depending on what side of the fence we choose. It can be comforting at times being inside the fence corralled with everyone else in thought and deed. But God teaches us that some situations and even some people are not good for us. Remember being told as a child, “Don’t follow the crowd”? Our parents meant for us not to succumb to peer pressure. We can get caught up in taking sides on issues, causing great and long lasting divisions and strife. There is never a good time to harbor and nurture these emotional rifts. Stepping away from conflict has great merit. It is up to God to help us discern what side of the fence to be on when we are given a choice. He desires for us to seek Him in prayerful guidance.

Thursday, July 30, 2009



July


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass

July 30, 2009

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.


The Conch Shell


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass


July 30, 2009


Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. -I Peter 3:4 NIV

A conch is a unique mollusk having a spiral shell that can become quite large. There are many different kinds of conchs, such as Fighting, Horse and Queen Conchs. It is not uncommon to find conch shells washed up on the shore of the Outer Banks. The animal that lives inside the shell is often eaten both raw and cooked, but it is likely that in our area, these spiral heavy shells have lost their inhabitants before we find them ashore. The beautiful shell of the Queen Conch is often used in crafting cameos in Europe. Also, the shell can be played as a musical instrument even though it has no mouthpiece. Not surprising, it has also served as a hand weapon. The conch shell is also religiously symbolic. For instance, the Hindu’s believe it represents life as it comes from out of the life-giving waters. But for the rest of us, sometimes it just simply represents the largest shell in our collection. To find a conch shell off the North Carolina coast is a treat for the shell collector. It won’t be shiny and pink as though it came from a shell shop, but instead, it most likely is gray, dull and weathered. Nonetheless, it is a prize because of its size and uniqueness.

We are like shells too. Our outer covering often reflects the life we live on the inside. But, there are exceptions. There is so much focus today on outward appearance and very little about developing our core, which is our values, morals and purpose. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is wisdom. It is not learned and developed by focusing on ourselves or our exterior shell. Instead, it is founded on the lessons we have learned when we step outside our shell to help others, to do good deeds, to be a good listener, to lend a helping hand, and more. God blesses us with wisdom as we grow in our spiritual walk and are focused on the right things. There are many people today that are empty shells. There is no substance on the inside of them because their focus is mainly on the outside. They look nice and make a pleasant presentation, but beyond that, there is very little there. On the other hand, some of the most beautiful, wisdom-filled people I have met had faces deeply lined from life’s journey and rough hands from hard work and yet their eyes twinkle from inner joy and contentedness. That is real beauty! What is our shell saying about us? When others see us do they see someone with a heart for God and a willingness to serve? God knows our inner self. We can’t hide anything from His sight. He knows our heart. If we don’t like what we see in ourselves, all we have to do is to ask Him to shape us with a new heart, a new attitude and a new purpose. If we are willing, He is willing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009



Produce Stands


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass

July 22, 2009


Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. -Matthew 7:20 NIV


I love travelling to the Outer Banks from Virginia where so many fruit stands can be found. Some fruit and vegetable stands are often simple in structure with dirt floors and plywood shutters than lock into place in the off- season. Others are quite elaborate with many signs posted miles ahead as enticement to select their location. Over the years we have tried many of the different stands and all are good. Each one is unique with too many good things to be able to pick a favorite. Some farm stand owners have added baked goods, nuts and jams, too and like my Daddy used to say, “We don’t want to slight anyone,” so it would be typical for us to stop at two or three produce stands during our summer trips to the beach many years ago. There is just something special about buying farm fresh vegetables and tree-ripened fruit! The flavors of the food are so intense and the fruits are extra juicy. We loved July, especially for the peaches, and if we were lucky, we could talk someone into making some homemade peachy vanilla ice cream for us. It was declared a special treat if it was dipped in cones that would end up dripping down our elbow in the summer heat.

The Bible talks of fruit on more than one occasion. The reference that I like the best is being able to tell what a person is all about by the fruit they produce. To simplify it, a good tree produces good fruit most of the time and a bad and diseased tree produces bad fruit. Both trees may look the same, but it is what is happening on the inside that we cannot see. The same applies to people. It is soul-filling to spend time with a person that is full of encouragement, love and support with every word they dispense. We are drawn to those people that have a way of bringing out the best in us. In contrast, have you ever seen someone all dressed up in the finest clothing, shiniest shoes and coiffed hair and your impression was very good? And then they spoke and their words reflected the opposite of their pristine appearance. The true essence of what is within is not always visible, but it will be eventually illuminated. In Galatians 5:22 we are told what good fruit is. In everything we do, think and become, we should be rooted in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. Then everyone will want to share in our fruit and that is how we teach and pass it on.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009



Thunderstorm


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass

July 14, 2009


For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. –Matthew 6:4 NIV

When the weather is hot and the air humid, thunderstorms are likely to occur. They are caused when the warm air rises and then cools. That is what produces the thunderclouds. Within these clouds there is rapid air movement which causes water and ice to bump against each other. A static electrical charge is released and that energy results in the form of lightening and thunder. On the Outer Banks, I think an afternoon thunderstorm is actually a nice welcome at times. It cools a hot day, the rain washes away the days’ footprints in the sand and often times, when the storm is over, the summer haze is blown away with the wind to reveal a cloudless blue sky.
Storms are not always welcome. Some people feel fear and anxiety with an approaching storm. But fear and anxiety do nothing to help us…we can’t chase the storm away with our fear and worry. No, we just have to sit it out. We know to protect ourselves and get out of its’ path. To take shelter and to”batten down the hatches” as they say.

In our lives, we must also weather storms. Not the ones that come in the summer afternoon on a hot and humid day, but the emotional storms that can wreak havoc on our relationships. Sometimes we don’t see these types of storms brewing. But over time, circumstances can cause misunderstandings, disagreements and offenses to add up, which can be stronger and more electrically charged than any thunderstorm Mother Nature can hurl at us. The things that we can control and make right, we should do. When we are at the receiving end of someone’s unloving behavior towards us, we can do nothing more than weather the storm till it blows over… and pray, of course. The Bible says that love covers over all offenses. So when it depends on us, we should always choose love, not hate and pray for the wind to change direction. “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” by Louisa May Alcott.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Treasured Moments


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass
July 08, 2009

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. – Psalm 23:1 NIV

The last few weeks I have been caught up in the joy of new motherhood and grand parenting, all at once. There has been a lot going on. My husband and I recently said our final farewell to our precious 15 year old cocker spaniel. He was a good old soul. Cranky most times, but very loyal and protective. A good friend, he was. I miss my old buddy and all his little quirks and am grateful he was in our life. We had many treasured moments with him. It is said one of the best tributes you can give to the memory of a beloved pet is to open your home and heart to another one. Although we cautioned ourselves about making any hasty decisions as we moved forward, we surprised ourselves and within one afternoon, we had a new pup and all the fixin’s that went with it. Parents again!! When we found out the pup was born on Easter morning at sunrise, we figured it was a “divine” connection. We trusted God to turn our mourning into joy and He certainly did! Chewed shoelaces, squeaky dog toys and games of “tug” have consumed us. Happily, our home is alive once again with new life and hope.

On the heels of welcoming the new puppy, we were overjoyed to have the company of our 12 year old grand daughter for a two week visit. Spending time with her is so rewarding for us. She is sweet, smart and helpful. Our treasured moments are when we pray together in the morning and at bedtime. She bought herself a little book to enter the names of all of the people she wanted to pray for so she wouldn’t forget anyone. It is the childlike faith she has that warms my heart, especially when she starts off her prayers saying, “Hey God, it’s me, Brianna. I hope you are having a good day”. How precious and innocent. She is building her relationship with Him one prayer at a time. Looking back one day when she is grown, hopefully she will fondly remember this particular visit when she memorized the 23rd Psalm perfectly and felt such pride at her accomplishment. How wonderful to be a witness to her spiritual growth. Now that she has returned home, I hope that she tucked a few treasured moments of her own into her heart for the trip back.

Treasured moments accumulate over a lifetime and are God’s gifts to our soul. They are the symbols of the emotion that connects us to many things…a relationship, an event, a place, a time. With godly wisdom as our guide, we recognize those times and hold them close. We collect those special times, those treasured moments to store in our souls for comfort along our own journey. Some memories bring us joy and laughter. Other memories contain sorrow because we can’t go back to the way things once were. God is there for us every step of the way. Taking the act of faith to move forward to the future is a bit easier when we carry a heart full of treasured moments from the past.





Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The American Flag


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass
July 01, 2009

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. -1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV

This Fourth of July, I will hang my American flag on the front of my home as I do each year. But this year, it seems to symbolize more to me that it ever has before. Love. Love of country and love of our servicemen for their sacrifice. What is love? One dictionary describes love as “to hold someone dear, to cherish them, to feel affection.” My favorite definition is “the unselfish concern that freely accepts another in loyalty and seeks his good.” There are many different kinds of love. There is fatherly love, motherly love, sisterly love, brotherly love, puppy love, romantic love, and so much more. But this is not a lesson in defining love, but instead, a reminder to strive for love, to show love, to give love, receive love and enjoy love. Everyone needs love to live. It is life to the body and the spirit, both physically and emotionally.

If we think that we should give more love to those around us, yet don’t know where to start, we could begin with God. He loves us always. We can have faith that He will fill us with love overflowing! Our hope is in Him, because when we feel alone and there is no one else for us, His love for us never waivers. It is hard to give something to someone if we don’t have it to give. But, if we enter into a new or a renewed relationship with God, we can feel and absorb His love so that you we can pass it on. If we have a hardened heart from the past, we can ask for forgiveness and He will oblige. 1 John 4:16 tells us, “Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. To love, is to obey God and his commands. “Let those love now who never loved before; Let those who always loved, now love the more”-Thomas Parnell


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sand


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass
June 24, 2009

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

At bedtime I would tell my children that I loved them as much as all the grains of sand in the world and then some. This was an evening ritual and it included me stretching my arms out from side to side as far as I could reach to add emphasis to my claim of love. My daughter and son went to sleep every evening knowing their parents loved them with abundance.

Each beach has its own type of sand. Sometimes the sand is white and sugary and very fine. Other beaches have course sand mixed with small gravel. There are certainly plenty of beaches to explore in search of the favorite shore. As I took walks in the sand or built sandcastles with my children when they were little, we took great delight in being at the shore. But sometimes there were other people we observed that seemed to fight the sand, constantly brushing it off themselves and shaking out their towel.

Love is a choice. We can choose to love or hate. We can either build sandcastles in the sand or we can constantly shake the sand out of the towel. It is our choice, but God shows us in his teachings that love is the best way. He tells us in Galatians 5:22 that “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control”. If we practice these, we will surely live in love and so will those that share our lives. Giving love and receiving love is at the heart of living a godly life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Times Remembered


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass
June 09, 2009

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 leads 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. So today is the first Father’s Day without him. I believe that he is walking Heavens’ “Streets of Gold”. But 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.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ship's Wheel


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
June 04, 2009

The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. -.Acts 27:15 NIV

The wheel of a ship actually turns the rudder, which then changes the direction of the vessel. Over the years, the steering mechanism has changed somewhat, but the concept remains the same: a ship simply needs a wheel to direct it on its proper course. A ship’s wheel is quite a nautical find in an antique store. To see a ship’s wheel that has been restored and transformed into a table is a real conversational piece Recently, I was walking along some docks and could peer into the boats that were tied up. I was surprised and delighted to see the ships’ wheel in today’s photograph was still functional and relied upon.

If our life is thought of as a ship, then who is steering us in our journey across the sea? I find myself taking the wheel out of God’s hands and I often try to steer my life alone. It isn’t anything conscious that I do…it just seems to be an old habit. When I lose my direction and seem to go in circles, God who has patiently stood by, steps in and gets me back on course. It is silly really that we often think we can go our own way. The tendency is to go to God only when there is a crisis. We are all probably guilty of that at some time in our life. We should really go to God for everything; our health, our relationships, our families, the finances, work, school and more. I know that some might think that they shouldn’t bother God with the little things. That He has enough to do already. But God can handle it and He delights to be in daily, constant fellowship with us over the big things and the little things. If we are on the move with our life, learning, growing and doing, then we need direction. We are not as wise as we think we are sometimes. Best to leave the steering up to Him. That way we know our steps are anointed and we are never alone when we turn the wheel over to Him.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sounds


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
May 27, 2009

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. –Romans 15:13 NIV

There is something special about crossing the bridges to the Outer Banks and rolling down the car windows. The sounds of the Outer Banks are varied and part of what makes the area so unique. Even though development has increased at record speed, it is still a place where quiet reigns. And only then, can we hear the rustling of the grasses on the dunes, the sounds of a flock of birds flying overhead or sand pelting the windows in a strong wind. I can always tell the temperament of the ocean before I see it by the sound of the waves coming ashore. There’s excitement in hearing a boat engine warm up in anticipation of a day on the water. Families laughing and enjoying one another during a winter walk or on a hot beach day is the sweetest sound. But amazingly, it is the stillness, the solitude and the serenity that draws me in. It’s on the Outer Banks that the voice within can especially be heard.

The voice I am talking about, the sound deep inside of each of us is the Holy Spirit. In our busy lives and the busy world we live in, the voice often goes unheard. But we should train ourselves to listen. The Holy Spirit is a part of us and lives within us. Warnings and words of protection are given to us, too. The Holy Spirit will nudge us to stop something we are doing, or give us a green light to “go ahead” with our plans. Have you ever had the strong urge that seemed to come out of nowhere to get up and go check on something? It’s not a big voice. Most times it is a whisper. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will communicate to us through our emotions. Feeling jittery or unusually nervous or apprehensive about something could be a sign we need to change our path or adjust the timing of what we are doing. On the other hand, feeling sure, confidant and at peace lets us know we can forge ahead. When I need to choose my words carefully, I will pray that the Holy Spirit will give me just the right ones. And he does. The comfort that comes with knowing that God is abiding in us through the Holy Spirit is the greatest joy and a wonderful gift. The Holy Spirit is our rudder. He steers us if we let him. Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. -Acts 2:38 NIV

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memorial Day


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
May 21, 2009

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. -Psalm 5:11 NIV

It was not always known as “Memorial Day”. The day where we remember and honor those who have lost their lives while serving our country. It was originally called “Decoration Day”. This commemoration dates back as far as 1868 when flowers were placed on graves at Arlington National Cemetery of soldiers who died in service. Soon after, it caught on, state by state. Since the 1950’s, American flags have been placed on more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery on the Thursday prior to Memorial Day each year. Just a few years ago, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts began placing a single candle on over 15,000 gravesites in northern Virginia on the Thursday prior to Memorial Day. The tributes continue annually to show honor and respect.

But the traditions of the past are more forgotten than remembered. Memorial Day has often signified outdoor parties, picnics, three- day weekends, the unofficial start to summer, and maybe the first dip in the swimming pool. But as we grow older, the significance of the sacrifice made by the fallen soldiers presses on our hearts. They are heroes. Many of the people serving the armed forces today are very young. Some may not even have a personal relationship with Our Father. Imagine being away from the comfort of family and familiar surroundings, living with war and not knowing God. As Christians, I believe that God is calling us to pray for the protection of these brave servicemen and women, both at home and abroad. In all of the celebrations and fun that a Memorial Day weekend suggests, perhaps we can take time to go to God in prayer to ask His blessings on families that have lost loved ones and to cover His Holy Armor on those brave people that are currently serving us. If we all prayed a prayer for peace, and each prayer was a light, together we could illuminate the heavens with our petitions!