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.