Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reflecting Thoughts

Reflecting Thoughts


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 30, 2010

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: - Proverbs 23:7a KJV

January is the time when holiday decorations are packed and stored back in the attic, school starts up again and we return to our regular routines as we begin thinking about what we hope for in the coming year. It is such a great feeling sometimes to sort of “wipe the slate clean” when an old year ends and a new one begins. The old habits and mindsets get left behind and we have high hopes for the New Year. Did you know that our lives reflect our thoughts? We should look hard at our life and see where we are at this moment. Have our thoughts limited us, do others believe in us more than we believe in ourselves? Do we think big or small? Are we afraid to break out of the box? Much to ponder here. What it a thought? It is something that we consider as a possible choice or action. It is important to guard and filter our thoughts. If a person sets out to accomplish something, they should continuously practice positive self talk. Saying things like, “I know I can do it. God is by my side lifting me up.” You may be one of the many people who want to improve finances, get out of debt, exercise more or eat healthier. We have many choices available to us to promote positive growth and change. We just have to take the first step. When we wish to embark on something new, it is always wise to ask for God’s Will and His Help. If He wants it to happen, He will open every door for us, but if He doesn’t want us going in that direction, we can count on Him to close every door. We shouldn’t get disappointed when doors shut because my experience is that God has something even better in mind for us than we could have hoped for. God gets the final say, but I believe He always takes joy in seeing us trying to improve our lives, our health, and our situation under His Protection. We can all use this time at the beginning of the year to practice good thoughts and positive self talk in our everyday life, whether we are making a big life change or simply going about our familiar routine.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

O Holy Night

O Holy Night



Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 22, 2010

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. -Luke 2:14 NIV


My father’s favorite Christmas carol was, ‘O Holy Night’. He is resting in Heaven now but I think of him when I hear it on the radio and it brings sweet memories. Over the years, I would pull out the sheet music from the piano seat and try in earnest to play this carol without error. My father appreciated my annual effort and didn’t seem to notice that the left hand and right hand weren’t always in sync. Let’s just say that ‘O Holy Night’ and I continue to be a work in progress.

Interestingly, this carol has quite a history. It was the first carol ever played live on a Christmas radio broadcast, dating back to 1906. The broadcast on December 24, originating from Massachusetts, was intended for ships at sea and the signal was picked up as far south as Norfolk and even as far as the West Indies, when it was rebroadcast on New Year’s Eve that year. Of all the words in this carol, it is the third verse that has the meaning for me and maybe you will agree,” Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace.” That says it all, doesn’t it? Can we claim this as our Christmas message this year?

To add to the sights of this season, the recent early snow on the Outer Banks brought in the first frosty breath of winter. Each snowflake that fell added up and before long there was a glistening of white glaze. It makes everyday things different. Was nature showing us that with one snowflake at a time we can change the landscape? Imagine what His love and peace could do if it was passed around the world! We could be a lighthouse in the darkness. He offers His Love as His pure gift to us. It is not wrapped. You won’t find it under the tree. It is there in our hearts where He placed it. He wants us to find the light He placed within us and pass it on. Now let us see if we can blanket the earth with His love and peace and change the look of things, just like a snowflake does…one at a time.

Merry Christmas and May God Bless You!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Traditions

Traditions


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 15, 2010

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, -- Galatians 5:22 NIV

One definition for tradition is, “a story or a custom that is memorized and passed down from generation to generation”. I think of it as a circle of love. It goes round and round to warm and comfort a family in their own specialness.

It is the time of year to finalize those holiday plans and bring to life those childhood traditions again. This year our family won’t get to see everyone all at once as we have in the past. That has been our tradition in previous years, but we will have to revise it this year. We have been fortunate to be together so often over the years that we must celebrate that instead. It is the traditions that were set in place long ago that are the common thread in our family, whether we can geographically be together or not. We will still enjoy my mother’s cornbread stuffing because all the cooks in the family now have that recipe. My husband will have a bit of his mother with him as we eat out of her mother’s cranberry bowl. It has been passed down now 3 times! We haven’t decided if we will have my fathers’ fruit ambrosia or banana pudding. He finally conceded and gave us his secret recipes just a few years ago to our delight! Whether we are all at the same table together or scattered across many states, it is the comforts of tradition that brings about closeness and bridges any gaps. It is also a reminder to us of the memories that have helped to shape us and our holidays’ past.

Many families, regardless of their faith or heritage will begin celebrating using their traditions carried from generation to generation. The Jewish community will celebrate Chanukah by lighting the Menorah for eight days. The Christians will celebrate Christmas, celebrating the birth of Christ on the 25th.. African-Americans will honor their heritage for seven days in a fairly new tradition called Kwanzaa, beginning on the 26th. A local Outer Banks tradition called, “Old Christmas” goes back over 100 years and is still celebrated by some, but this celebration occurs as it always has, in January.

What will you pass down this year? A recipe, an old treasured family tablecloth, that special saw that always cut down the Christmas tree? Maybe we can add to that. Let’s meet this season with peace and the fruit of the spirit in our hearts to love and forgive the offenses from the past. Let it be a time to right the wrongs, make peace, love the unlovable and be merciful. We are all God’s Children and we are a part of His Circle of Love. Pass it on!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Wreath

Christmas Wreath


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 08, 2010

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. -Psalm 118:29 NIV

It is said that in ancient times, the Christmas Wreath, made of evergreens, symbolized the strength of life overcoming the forces of nature. The Romans hung wreaths as a sign of celebration and victory. But the Christians believed that the circular wreath represented immortality, making the Christmas Wreath very symbolic and meaningful. The colors of Christmas are green and red. Green represents the continuance of life through winter and the belief of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Red is representative of Jesus’ blood at crucifixion. Today, evergreen wreaths with red ribbons are found on doors and windows, both inside and out at the holidays. The Advent Wreath has its own importance that originates back to the 16th century in Germany. Four candles nestled in an evergreen wreath are lit, one at a time each week leading up to Christmas. A fifth candle in the center of the wreath represents Jesus’ birth and is lit on Christmas Eve. It is a symbol of hope and light. The custom of lighting the Advent Wreath is still practiced today in many homes and churches.

The season is here. The wreaths are hung and the tree is adorned. It is a busy time. There are menus to plan and family to prepare for. Jingle Bells are ringing and Christmas Carols are hummed out of tune while scurrying from errand to errand. In the frenzy of getting ready for Christmas, I am reminded that we shouldn’t lose sight of the deeper meaning of it. Festivities, parties, presents and Santa are a part of the Yule time and it may be easy to get absorbed in little things and miss the whole point of Christmas.

Like the holiday wreath, the circle of unbroken love that God surrounds us with each day is something that we can rely on anytime. He won’t let us go too far out before he pulls us back in where we belong. He is there for us in any situation or circumstance. He carries us when we are weak and he walks along side of us when we are strong. He leads often and asks us to follow. Asking God in prayer how He wants us to honor Him in our homes and hearts this holiday and the New Year ahead is the beginning of shining the light back on Him and His Son this Christmas. Setting up a tabletop nativity scene, blessing the holiday meal, reading about the birth of Jesus to young and old are all things we can start with. Making it a more meaningful, spiritual Christmas will cause us to come closer to Him and He will come closer to us.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter

Winter



Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 01, 2010

…for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. – Hebrews 4:10 NIV

Winter will make its arrival on the 22nd of this month, but on some days it feels like it has come early. Cold fronts come through with strong winds that ruffle the water, bend the sea oats and cause the gulls to tuck their heads down into their chest. Summer clothes get pushed to the far side of the closet and long sleeves shirts and bulky sweaters replace them. There are some people that even leave the beach during winter for warmer climates in the south. Seems everything takes a break. Grasses and flowers go dormant, birds hunker down in their nests, and blowing sand covers steps and walkways to the beach. At first glance, it can be considered a dreary time, but I don’t see it that way at all.

Winter is a time to replenish, renew and rest. It is a time to appreciate the beach, too. While nature takes a nap, we can still walk the beach or walk to the end of a pier and feel the wind at sunrise. A hot cup of coffee or cocoa warms the spirit anytime. Reading a book by the fire wrapped in a warm throw can keep the mind active. Seafood chowder and buttery cornbread tastes like a feast for dinner on a cold evening. There is something to do each day.

Winter can be a solitary time and that is good for our spirit to be by ourselves with little distraction. God is always there but in the quiet moments of life, we tend to hear Him more clearly. He drops in ideas and thoughts to our minds and hearts. We have all winter for them to take root on the inside of us. Winter is the time to plan the garden of our life, for spring will be here soon enough and we must cultivate our hopes and dreams so they can grow into full harvest. These cold days are times to actively seek God’s Presence and His Voice for our life. He is our Counselor in all things. Entering into God’s Rest prepares us to receive what He has for us next.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gratitude

Gratitude


Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
–Colossians 3:16 NIV

The definition of gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation. With Thanksgiving Day barely behind us, there is a desire in many of us for the joy and gratitude of this time to linger on past just a few days or so. While Thanksgiving Day is often spent with family and friends or just quietly alone in observance, it gives us a reason to stop and ponder the blessings of the past year. God’s blessings don’t always arrive on our doorstop with great fanfare though. Sometimes it is the simplest of things that we can see God’s hand in. I believe that if we look carefully, we can see God in the big and little things in our day. It is so easy to take responsibility and credit ourselves for all the good that happens. Yes, our efforts do not go unnoticed, but all good things come from God.

So you might ask, when things get tough, is that God, too? The answer is that He allows things at times to build us up. Make us stronger. Build spiritual muscle. But it doesn’t matter what is happening at the moment. The real key to having a heart of gratitude is to be grateful no matter how good or bad things are. Genuine gratitude doesn’t succumb to disappointment or that feeling of lack. Maybe things aren’t going well at all, but there is always at least one thing that we can be grateful for like having a Heavenly Father that loves us so much. Gratitude also promotes joy. Some of the richest, joy-filled people I know don’t appear to have any luxuries in life, yet they are grateful for each day and the opportunity to serve God in peace. To develop a heart of gratitude, we might think of something to be grateful for during this time of Thanksgiving and offer our thanks to God for all He has done and continues to do.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November

November


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
November 17, 2010

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. –Colossians 3:16 NIV

This is the best time of year to be at the beach! I like when I can have it all to myself. The quiet walks, the dampness of the salt air enveloping me, the warmth of the sun despite the wind makes up a typical November day. There is nothing better to me than hot coffee and a big breakfast before stepping outside. It seems that only the real “tried and true” beach lovers remain in the final weeks of autumn before the winter chill chases us all indoors.

Thanksgiving dinners, buffets and desserts are just days away. November is the perfect month to count our blessings. Oh yes, some people have more than others. But that is not the point to want what we don’t have or to envy those that do have. If financial problems or relationship issues plague us or even health concerns pop up, it can be hard to focus on what is right, instead of what is wrong. But the challenge is to be grateful for the place that we are in and to find the blessing in it. With feeling blessed comes the gift of peace. There is nothing greater than to live in God’s Peace. We are taught to trust Him and give Him our concerns. To live in expectant hope for the future, to know we are forgiven of the past and to live in the present, with His Word close to our heart. While the calendar says that Thanksgiving is just one day, the spirit of it can live much longer in our hearts, our spirits and our actions. Not only am I grateful to receive God’s blessings, I will ask today that God use me to be a blessing to someone He puts in my path. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving





Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bodie Island Lighthouse

Bodie Island Lighthouse


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
November 10, 2010

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; -Psalm 55:22a (NIV)

On my way to Oregon Inlet to take photographs of the beautiful fishing boats, I ducked into the little road leading to the Bodie Island Lighthouse for a quick look at the current renovations. How amazing it looks to see that old lighthouse shrouded in scaffolding from top to bottom and from what I understand on the inside as well. This lighthouse was actually built in 1872 so I think you could say this total overhaul is overdue! Locals know that the correct pronunciation of the lighthouse sounds likes the word “body” as opposed to using a long o for the word Bodie. The name goes back to the Body family that named the land Bodies Island where the lighthouse stands today Located in Nags Head just 4 miles north of Oregon Inlet, the original Fresnel lens provided light until it was upgraded to an electric lamp in 1932 and then became fully automated in 1953. As part of the renovation, the Fresnel lens is being restored and will be re-installed. On our many evening drives throughout Nags Head, it was always special to see the light in the night sky and it will be special to see it again when the work is complete.

Renew, revive, refresh, refurbish, renovate. All of these words mean the same thing. Each day when we wake up we have the opportunity to be refreshed and start anew. When we add to each day the worries and concerns from yesterday, last week or last year, the day is heavy laden before it even begins. Our foundation begins to sag from the weight of the oppression, fear and worry that collects in our spirit over time. Don’t you just wish sometimes that you could shake off those nagging things that occupy your mind that takes up space and robs you of your energy? The good news is we can give all our cares and burdens to God. It lightens our load. If we truly trust Him, we know He won’t forsake us. Wasted time feeling weighed down is fruitless to Christian living. Do the work to put aside the things you cannot change. Give it to God instead. Live according to His Word. Be grateful. Give and do unto Him. He will replenish us daily when we shelter ourselves in the glow of His Light. When we receive His Light, it is ours to share with those still in the darkness.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cottage Row

Cottage Row


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
November 03, 2010


He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.
-Isaiah 33:6 NIV

I awoke to find that the light of day was merging with the night sky to form pink swirls of light dancing in and out of the clouds at sunrise. It was the perfect setting for a morning with my camera to capture as many moments in the morning light as possible. In my opinion, there is nothing more that typifies the Outer Banks than the historic cottages of Nags Head. Known as the “unpainted aristocracy” they have weathered the test of time. These homes intrigue me and I find myself wondering what it must have been like to spend summers there many years ago. Many of the homes are still owned by the families that built them in the early 1900’s. Their appearance is what is known today as the “Nags Head Style” of architecture. The hip-roofed porches, gray shingles, wide railings, and shutters add to the charm of these majestic summer homes built on pilings. Parking my car across the street from this area known also as “Cottage Row”, I was hoping to get to the beach unnoticed so that I could take photographs of the morning sun casting light on the homes and sea oats. A kindly homeowner reminded me I was on private property as I made my way, but with my apologies, thankfully he allowed me to continue. I found a family sitting on their old porch drinking morning coffee. We exchanged greetings and a wave. I thought in a moment that they were truly “living the life”! The seagulls flying by were noisy and their commotion added to the sounds so familiar of the shore. These historic homes are not built in a row. They look staggered and some have dunes in front of them and others do not. A photographer’s delight is to capture the uniqueness of it all in a single shot but it is impossible. All homes have sand fences here and there around the property and near the beach to encourage the sand to build up and not blow away, offering more protection. The amazing thing about these cottages is the fact they are still standing. Don’t we presume to know more today about construction with all the knowledge, technology and tools available to us? Yet, with limited resources and simply good ideas and the work of one’s hands, wonderful homes were constructed to last and they have done just that. Over 40 homes are considered part of this historic district now, and each certainly has its own story to tell.

It is all in the intention, wisdom and knowledge, I believe. Our spirituality is much the same. Internet offers a whole world of informational resources to build our faith, if we are willing to search for it. On Sunday mornings, television is largely devoted to preachers of all faiths. Radio broadcasts and podcasts are free and available to anyone seeking. Bookstores have books on every subject to guide us through our life according to the Bible’s teachings and the authors’ interpretation. Yet, it all comes down to what we are willing to do ourselves. It boils down to the Bible, our relationship with God and what we believe. The single carpenter from Elizabeth City, Stephen J. Twine, who was the builder of the “unpainted aristocracy”, didn’t have the fancy tools of today that we believe we can’t live without, but he found a way and did it with excellence. The same is true of our faith…we often times don’t think to just sit quietly with our Bible on our lap and talk to God. We want to make it too complicated and then offer excuses that we couldn’t make time because we are so busy. Simple faith is all that we need to have as our foundation to live in this world. Much we don’t know or understand, but if we believe with all our heart and seek God, we can weather the storms that we certainly will endure in our time. I know from experience that He gives us hope when we are hopeless. He lifts us up when we are down. He loves us when no one else does. He is Everything. We might stumble along the way in our life’s journey, but like those old cottages, they have made it all these years though hurricanes and nor’easters because of how they were built. We can be assured if we do the foundational work to stay close to God and abide in Him daily, we will continue to stand tall and not fall, too.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bait

Bait


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
October 23, 2010

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. -John 15:4a NIV

I remember the first time my husband took me into a bait and tackle shop. It was years ago and he thought pier fishing could be something we could do together. I was game. It sounded fun. With each of us purchasing a brand new rod and reel and shiny lures of all kinds to place in our big new tackle box with pull out compartments, we were on our way. Early the next morning we went to the pier. Armed with a thermos full of coffee, we paid at the counter and asked the Nice Man what the fish were biting on….in other words…what bait should we use? As my husband talked to the Nice Man, I walked towards the pier to find a good spot for us to set up. When my husband walked towards me I could see he had a bag he just purchased. He said it was the bait. Still with enthusiasm, I got ready for my first pier fishing experience. And then I saw them…..a bag of BLOODWORMS. For me, the day was over before it began! Growing up, I was never a tomboy so the idea of playing with worms didn’t appeal to me then and certainly not that day on the pier! Within minutes, my role changed from fishing partner to fetcher. I fetched more coffee, got the newspaper when there was a lull in activity, I went back to the car for a wide brimmed hat for shade and more suntan lotion. Most of all though, I enjoyed seeing my husband happy and became his cheerleader when he reeled in his catch, one after the other. I realize by now you probably won’t be surprised if I tell you I had to turn my head when he took the fish off the hook!

One definition for the word “bait” is allurement or enticement. I can look back and see where I have been lured into things or doing something that wasn’t good for me in the end. The enemy can be quite convincing when he wants to take us down the wrong road. What I know is that sometimes wonderful things appear to be in our future. Is it “bait” from the enemy or is it God bringing us the desires of our heart and promoting us with his blessings? At times, it is hard to know. The best way to handle these decisions as they come before us is to put our hope in God, trust Him and walk forward. If God wants us to continue on, he opens every door and places a feeling on the inside of us of comfort and peace. But if it is not of God and we are being “baited”, we will know because there will be warning signs. Things won’t appear right. We won’t have peace. When we abide in God and He in us, then we can be confidant that we have all that we need on the inside of us to make important decisions and choices. So how do we come to a place where we “abide”? It is daily prayer and reading His Word. Growing spiritually helps us to recognize the difference between when God is leading us or when we are being lured.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Turn It Around

Turn It Around


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
October 20, 2010

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! -Isaiah 30:18 NIV

It has always been fun for our family to wrap up the day by making a trip to the docks to see what the deep sea fishing boats have brought in. With every boat that leaves the marina and heads out to sea, it must at some point turn around and come back at the end of the journey. It's exciting to stand at the edge of the water watching the activity of the boats coming back into the marina, each taking their turn as only one can enter the opening at a time. Occasionally they will wave and we will wave back. The fishermen are dressed warmly and look tired and tanned, but content. People gather around to hear the days stories of the sea. A chill in the air is felt as the warm sun begins to fade on the day. The helpers scurry around with hoses to wash the salt spray n off the boats and to clean the decks in preparation for tomorrow.

I went deep sea fishing once. Yes, I say once. I was hoping that the captain would turn it around and take me back to land ,which I was sure would cure my seasickness. Yes, I am one of those people!! But at least I have been able to capture some of the excitement of the sport from the docks at days' end since then.

This week there has been a song in my heart. It is about asking God to turn things around. To open the doors of heaven and pour our blessings. Yes, that has been my prayer this week, as well. The upcoming change of season has always been a call, a reminder if you will, to clean things up and sweep out the door anything that is not of God. In essence, its an act of faith to come closer to God. Old sin habits, old ways of thinking and in general, an attitude that is fruitless is of no benefit to anyone and is useless to God. We have to be willing to take the first step to “turn it around” . When we humble ourselves before Him with our repentant heart, He willingly receives us. We are coming into the season of harvest. God has so much to give us, so much to offer us. God is a God who restores. He heals. He forgives. He performs miracles. He pulls us up and over. He is gracious.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sea Oats

Sea Oats


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
October 13, 2010

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
 –Hebrews 11:1 NIV

October is when the sea oats are at their most beautiful and majestic in my opinion. The stalks have grown tall and the oats are perfectly formed to create a mass of gold. They protect the dunes from erosion because their roots run deep into the sand. The dictionary says that the root of any plant is the part that develops and grows downward into the soil. It anchors the plant and absorbs nutrients and moisture, all necessary elements for life. While we enjoy the display of gold waving back and forth in the rustling autumn breezes, we are thankful that the root system is strong enough to produce the beauty we enjoy this time of year. We may not be able to see what is going on deep in the sand as roots reach out and anchor themselves to gain strength and stability, but we know the work is being done because of what we can see with our eyes above ground.

Faith is something we simply can’t live without. It is our root system. The discipline of reading the Bible, going to church and saying our prayers is not in vain. We are being fed spiritually when we seek God and His Ways, which in turn builds our faith. You might go days, weeks, months or even years and feel like you are sailing along just fine and then suddenly your faith is tested. And that moment is when you know if you can weather the storm or not based on the strength of your faith. Do we understand why some things happen just because we have faith? No, sometimes things aren’t clear. Again, we need faith to accept the things we cannot change, the things we don’t understand. And more importantly, we need to live by faith so not to remain in that place of fear, crisis or concern. We need faith to rise up in order to move up and over the problem. Can anyone ever have enough faith? Just think of the root system of that swaying sea oat. It never stops working at staying alive. When that root system strives to stay healthy and alive, it thrives.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October

October

Reflections by the Sea
Betsy Ore Glass
Ocober 6, 2010 


The 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.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Autumn

Autumn


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
September 29, 2010

Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches. -Matthew 13:32 NIV

One definition for the word “autumn” is reaching maturity. Autumn is the time of year when the harvest comes in. The seeds planted in spring are ready to be harvested now. If summer droughts and disease didn't affect the plants and they made it through, then the harvest is to be celebrated. From just a tiny seed, so much is provided. This is a fun time of year to go to the various produce stands to see the pumpkin patch's, fruits, nuts and Indian corn. We have enjoyed decorating our home with a wreath of colorful fall leaves, nuts and acorns and miniature pumpkins. Each year when my children were little, we went to the country fields to walk the rows of pumpkins so they could each find their special one. We still laugh at the time I brought home a 75 pound pumpkin and had to strap it in the front seat with the seatbelt! Our front porch was always decorated with pumpkins, pots of mums and that handmade wreath. We even hung a cluster of Indian corn with a ribbon to the mailbox.

In our spiritual life, we can also enjoy the benefits of a harvest. But we do have to plant seeds first. So how do you do that? First it is the prayer of salvation that invites God into our heart. Making Jesus our Lord and Savior. Then it is reading the Bible to learn how to apply the principles to our life. Did you know the Bible will talk to us about how to have relationships, how to raise our children, how to be a light in the darkness? Probably the greatest thing any of us can do to strengthen our bond with God is to meet Him each day in prayer. Hopefully we should have a hunger and thirst for Him. Making time to do this is also an act of obedience and it is good discipline. It is as though we are showing up each day for our assignment from God. We can ask Him to mold and shape our day so that it glorifies Him.

Praying is like planting seeds. We know if we have done the work, the harvest will come. We know that in our prayer life, the harvest is when our prayers are answered with a solution or wisdom for being able to cope. Sometimes before we can plant seeds, we have to plow up the soil and amend it. The soil may not be good and if so, nothing will grow. That applies to us spiritually as well. Forgiveness and bitterness have to be pulled out by the roots. They are weeds in our garden. Letting go of anger and disappointment too. Again, more weeds. Only when the weeds are gone, and the soil is right can we plant our seeds with confidence. A harvest awaits us if we are willing to do the work. That is how we can begin to walk in spiritual maturity.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Treasures

Treasures 


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
September 22, 2010

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. -Proverbs 2:1-6 NIV

Waves rolling in to the beach don’t come empty handed. Coming ashore, they bring shells, seaweed, driftwood and anything else that may be stirring up in the sea. We have come to count on the incoming tide to sprinkle the shore with little ocean treasures. Stuffing our pockets with shells of all sizes is a fun past time for beach goers of all ages. Every time I go to the beach, I always find something to bring home. These gifts of the sea find their way to my windowsills, jars and shelves, to bring our family a smile, and to remind us of a most pleasant time at the beach.

Filling jars with varieties of shells is certainly a show of my ‘tangible’ treasures from the sea. But, there are many gifts we receive in life that we can’t hold and feel, yet our existence is incredibly enhanced because of them. One of them is wisdom. Wisdom is defined as ‘good sense, accumulated knowledge of life, knowing right from wrong, having good judgement and having an opinion widely held’. God has placed some wonderful people in my path over the years that have brought me great wisdom. Perhaps you feel the same way, too. I can’t seem to get enough of it. I would be most content to share an afternoon with someone who has wise knowledge and insight into the important things of life. Surprisingly though, wisdom doesn’t always come from the aged and mature, but the very young, too. It’s the clarity of mind, the simplicity and the love of God that can make a person of any age, wise to others. Wisdom and understanding go hand in hand. Nothing compares to it, not riches, wealth or possessions. The Bible is filled with it. It comes from God, but I do believe He speaks to us through people He puts in our life from time to time. I relish the days that I am in the presence of a wise person. Wise counsel and Christian compassion are given freely. Wisdom gives us new understanding and a better way to look at any situation we may face. We will be rewarded if we seek wisdom and apply it to our lives. We all need it but not everyone wants to receive it. The Bible tells us that wisdom is sweet to our soul. Proverbs 18 suggests that a fountain of wisdom is like a bubbling brook within us. A wise person always seeks understanding, instruction and knowledge. That way, they may pass it on. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 NIV

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Changing Direction

Changing Direction


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
September 15, 2010

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth Psalm 121:2 NLT

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rip Current

Rip Current


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
September 08, 2010

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. -Matthew 25:41 NIV

A rip current is often caused by a break in a sandbar, which then usually pulls the water offshore in a quick streaming path. Sometimes rip currents are temporary and more prevalent after storms, but some are permanent. With the rushing water going at a speed of 3 mph at times, the strength of a rip current can pull even a very experienced swimmer out to sea. The way to spot a rip current is to notice a change in the waves. If there is a choppy section of large waves where everything else is relatively calm, that may be a sign of this dangerous current. Water color is also an important clue to spotting rip currents. If the color of the water is much darker than the color around it, it could indicate a great depth, which could suggest a change in current. Of course, the idea is to avoid rip currents altogether, but if caught in one, the advice is not to panic, but to try to swim parallel to the shore in an effort to get out of the current.

When lifeguards and posted signs have informed beach-goers about the rip currents, sometimes swimmers continue to go in the water. It can be dangerous for everyone as the swimmer puts his life in danger and that of the lifeguard as well. The hope is that by knowing that danger is present, we should avoid it until it passes. The allure to enjoy a quick dip in the ocean is hard to resist, but to ignore the warnings is foolish.

When we live under a spirit of temptation, we find that we can quickly become out of control. Our focus can shift to finding short term pleasure, which we know doesn’t last. Then, we seek more pleasure and tempting thoughts and actions begin to dominate our minds and bodies. If we give in to it, it can cost us a lot, maybe even our life. God will strengthen us to say no. But, we must also do our part to stay on a straight and narrow path. He desires to fortify us with strong faith and strength to become overcomers, to live sensibly and to seek joy and contentment in our relationship with Him.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bridges

Bridges


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
September 01, 2010

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 perseveres. I Cor. 13:4-7

One of the things that make the Outer Banks so appealing to me is the fact it is a string of barrier islands, surrounded by water, yet life is abundant and rich in many ways despite the remoteness of it. Over the years, bridges have been built to make the connection to the mainland easy. Now, on a hot summer day, those bridges are often congested with bumper to bumper traffic for those coming and going to enjoy the fullness of the area. The residents know that living on an island can be vulnerable at times when storms come through, but each person I have ever met that was a permanent resident wouldn’t trade living on the Outer Banks for anything! It is amazing that a bridge can be the connection to a different life.

I have heard people describe the term relationship as the bridge from one heart to another. How true. I reflect on my relationships and they are all different and unique, just like the people I care about, but the intention and feeling is the same…a desire deeply rooted in my heart to touch another’s heart with love. Love is a choice, not a feeling. The guidelines for how to love is found in I Corinthians. Some people we know adopted a daughter this week. They loved her before they ever met her! Our granddaughters were not born into our family however we couldn’t love them more. They were born from our hearts!

Relationships are a two way street. Sometimes there are difficulties, silent treatment, distance and rejection. When we come across these occasions we are taught to continue to love and pray for the people we are connected to, then God sees our efforts and many times relationships are restored. It is important that we stay in prayer and focus on the good and not the bad traits of the person. Isaac Newton said “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”

I am so grateful for the people in my life that keep me on course. How often to we veer off in another direction motivated by our wants and desires and make decisions that eventually make our life more difficult? Praise God for those that speak truth into my life, who are wise and can ask a simple question that causes me to stop and reflect. With love and strong ties that bind, those relationships are the ones I cherish the most.

Engineers often come to take a look at the underside of bridges, test its strength and proclaim it needs repairs or it is still a safe place to travel back and forth. Our relationships are like that. We must constantly make sure all repairs are done quickly, making sure the foundation is still secure and all surfaces are smooth and as much as it depends on us, live in love and peace.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Seaweed

Seaweed


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
August 25, 2010

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, August 18, 2010

School

School


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
August 18, 2010

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways –Psalm 91:11 NIV

It is that time again. Summer is coming to a close and it is time to buckle down for a new school year. The children will cross another bridge into a new adventure of learning and growing. I remember fondly the days of trying to understand my kids’ bus schedule, shopping for their back to school clothes, getting them fresh haircuts and packing their new backpacks with all the essentials.

It won’t be long and fall pumpkins will appear on doorsteps, the weather will chill and first report cards will be issued. Soon, refrigerators will be plastered with artwork from the little ones; and older students will start science projects with boiling lava that will dominate the dining room table for weeks. Chorus concerts and school plays will be added to the calendar, too. It goes by fast. W. B. Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire”. How true! We want our children to be on fire to learn. To press forward with enthusiasm at their new discoveries and to spark an interest that develops into a lifelong passion. We as parents must instill in our children the knowledge that school is a place of opportunity and adventure. A place to learn, discover and try new things on for size. Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. –Proverbs 23:12 NIV

But it is sometimes hard to let our children leave the nest for the big world. I wish I knew then what I know now. We can pray for God’s Protection over our children all day and all night. Now not a day goes by that I don’t ask God to watch over my children and their families. Psalm 91 is a Psalm of Protection and sometimes that is what I will read as my prayer for them. It is just as important as a good breakfast, getting to school on time and doing homework….in fact, it is vital that God hears our prayers for them asking that no weapon formed against our children will prosper. There will be bumps on the knees, visits to the clinic, hurt feelings and the occasional brush with the class bully, but it is our children’s hearts and minds that we are praying for, as well as their physical protection. And we might add to our prayers a blessing for the teachers. They are truly special people with a heart for our children and education. They deserve our appreciation, gratitude and support for all they do as teachers and important role-models.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sea Shells

Sea Shells


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
August 11, 2010

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. - Hebrews 13:16 NIV

Seashells come in a great range of size, color, texture and patterns. Some shells have features such as grooves, ribs and spines. They are made up of calcium deposits. The diet of the shell’s inhabitant also determines the color of the shell. Some shells are very rare while others are abundant. Depending on the type of water, wave action, current and water temperature available, these factors will determine what a shell collector will likely find during an early morning stroll by the sea. To find a perfectly shaped shell to tuck into my pocket for safe keeping is a joyful reward. Whelks, banded tulips, scallops and sand dollars top my list of favorites. Shells are a token of a visit to the beach. Rarely can anyone resist stooping down to collect a pocketful for the trip home. I think that shells are nature’s gifts, which are blessings from God!

Just like the many different kinds of shells that we collect on the beaches, we are very unique, too. He made us to be “one-of-a-kind” and there is something special and original about each of us. Each of us has been blessed with God-given gifts, talents and skills. But those blessings also come with a responsibility to use them and share them. Each day we can use what he has given us to make a positive impact around us. He has entrusted us with many things that we can pass down, and by doing so, our gifts can become someone else’s inheritance. And we are never too old to learn and experience new things ourselves. Maybe there is someone who is ready to share their gifts with us! God blessings are visible everywhere.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Limits

Limits


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
August 04, 2010


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

When our children were small we definitely had to set limits for them. At the beach, they wanted to wander off and take walks. We either had to go with them or when they got older we would say, “You can walk to the pier and then turn around and come back.” We would set limits based on what we knew and what we could see. Later, they understood limits were used to define what they could and could not do. As parents, there is no limit to our love for our children and because of that, we want to steer them in a good direction and down right path that will help them and not hurt them.

Limits and boundaries are great tools in raising children, establishing order in our lives and in the world, but not in our spiritual life. Have you ever set limits on what God can do in your prayers only to find out that He blesses you more abundantly that you could imagine? Faith is allowing God to do it His Way without the limits and obstacles we place in front of Him. It is simple really. We want to always be the one behind the wheel, steering by ourselves when we should defer to Him. Sometimes I think we actually hinder ourselves with our limited thoughts when we should surrender to Him, the one who knows no limits. Each time I have done that, I have realized that God delights in surprising me and giving me so much more than I ever expected. God’s love for us is limitless and so is His grace and mercy. He wants to bless us beyond and above all our expectations.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Heat Wave

Heat Wave


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
July 28, 2010

The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; -Psalm 121:5 (NIV)

The recent heat wave charted record heat as the thermometers have soared. Extremely hot weather can be dangerous, it is definitely unwelcomed and most definitely uncomfortable at the least! On those sweltering days, there doesn’t seem to be a respite from the heat. Swimming pools feel like bath water, umbrellas offer little shade, and trying to stay hydrated seems to be a full time job. Early morning walks on the beach can be the most pleasant time of the day, and a slight evening breeze can be cause for celebration. And yes, to pray that the air conditioning continues to work is something we can do!

We have a thermostat within us. Our temperature is regulated and most everyone’s is 98.6 degrees. If something is out of kilter, if we are sick, it may register higher. That is one of the first things that a medical professional will do to evaluate a patient is to take their temperature. When everything is “normal”, we feel fine. If not, our body reacts with a change in the temperature.

Did you ever stop to think that we have an emotional thermostat as well? If all is well, we are light-hearted, laugh easily, and we are good company for someone. Our mood is steady and neutral and we are at peace with everyone and everything. If we are having our own “heat wave”, if we are angry and worked up, it shows in our emotions and actions. We don’t mean to, but we can allow our bad mood, our frustration, our anger to spill over to spoil the mood for everyone else. A crowd of people can be affected by the actions of just one person. For instance, the boss comes in the office in a bad mood and everyone scatters. But a warm, friendly receptionist can be the first smile of the day and it sets the tone in the office. Not only can this principle apply at the office, it works for home, school and church.

It is within our power to become a godly thermostat wherever we go. We can choose to shake off anything unpleasant and walk into a room with a cheery hello, a compliment, offer a kindness, or give a smile. There are numerous things we can do. One person can make a difference. Sometimes all it takes is for one person to reflect the heart of God and the tide of the day will change.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Decisions

Decisions


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
July 21, 2010

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

What to do with today? That is the question before us each morning. Decisions must be made each day. Big ones and little ones. Important ones and those that must be made just to get through the day. If you are on vacation, you have a multitude of things to do from going to the beach to sightseeing, fishing, climbing dunes and more. 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. 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. School kids on summer break, who are used to being taught and disciplined by teachers, often find difficulty getting self motivated. Being told what to do by teachers and parents, they forget how to think for themselves and miss out on a lot of summer creativity and fun. The same applies to older folks. They have done the same thing at the same time each day for so many years, they 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 the free will to please ourselves and we can tailor many things we do to our personal likes and dislikes while staying obedient to Him.

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 but then we can get sidetracked because our circumstances or our surroundings have changed and we must change our plan. Being adaptable is good because sometimes when changes seem to “mess up our plan” it actually turns out 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 the most important part is to lift it all up to God for His Review. If God agrees with us, He makes a way. He sets the path and He walks with us along our journey. We are never alone or left to our own. God stands besides us all the time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Second Chance" Garden

"Second Chance" Garden


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
July 14, 2010

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease. Genesis 8:22 NIV

This year I decided to subscribe to the saying, “Bloom where you are planted”. There are a few things about my life I wish I could change. Some things are within my control and some things are not. But I determined that there is good in every situation and I should not miss an ounce of it. We are seven months into the year and I have been pleased with my progress. I have tried new things, enrolled in a class that interests me, become more conscientious about taking better care of my body and losing some unwanted pounds. There is just something spiritual about watching plants and flowers grow. So we decided the tackle a backyard garden. I researched books and seed catalogs, talked to other backyard “farmers” and decided it was something I could do. Herbs, okra, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers were planted and it seemed we had enough for not only our dinner table but for the neighbors, too. What a great feeling of accomplishment and to enjoy the generosity of sharing with others! Our intentions were good and honorable but then something went terribly wrong. Downpours of summer rain flooded our garden and disease set in quickly. I couldn’t bear to watch our garden slowly die so there was only one thing to do, we pulled it all up. We may be inexperienced but we are not quitters! Hopefully our persistence will pay off. We were able to find a few remaining vegetable plants still healthy at the garden center that needed a home. We planted them in large well draining containers where we can move the tender plants in and out of the intense sun and any more deluges of rain when necessary. We are calling this our “Second Chance Garden”. What is the lesson? To keep trying. Not to give up. Go for another chance at success. If we don’t cultivate there is no harvest. If we planted absolutely nothing, we would have nothing in the end. It is that way in life.

It is biblical about the parable of sowing and reaping. It isn’t enough to want something and simply pray for it and expect God to do all the work. He gives us time, talents, skills, abilities, wisdom and common sense. Those are our tools. He also gives us desires and wants. We can take the tools He gives us and we work our life like it was soil. We should be careful about the seeds we let take root in our life. Meaning, keep things in our life good and pure, honest and with good intentions. If we water our seed regularly which translates into daily prayer, then we can expect, no, we should expect to see sprouts coming out of the ground and before long a true harvest springs forth. Whatever we are hoping for, we should search our heart and seek God’s direction and make sure we are doing our part to plant the seeds for the abundant harvest we desire. If whatever we have been doing is unsuccessful or has failed, we must find another way. There is an old proverb that says, “I dreamed a thousand new paths... I woke and walked my old one.” That doesn’t have to be us. God will bring us ideas and creativity so we can truly “bloom where we are planted”… even if it takes a second planting to get it just right!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pea Island

Pea Island


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
July 07, 2010

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. - Psalm 18:2 NIV

The Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge could also be called paradise. The refuge was established in 1937. It is one of the few places on the Outer Banks that appears untouched by man. The natural beauty of the changing dunes, grasses and vegetation is the perfect setting for the many ponds, flats and marshes found throughout this 13 mile stretch of land. With over 5,800 land acres, it is located north of Hatteras Island and 10 miles south of Nags Head. This is home to approximately 365 bird species. To be able to enjoy Pea Island today and all its inhabitants, we are grateful to those that had a vision many years ago to preserve this area for years to come

The beautiful beaches and serenity has always made Pea Island a favorite place for our family. A place to soul-search and be still. The beaches are perfect for long walks. It is important for each of us to have a special place to go. It is when we are quiet that we can hear God’s voice on the inside of us. He recharges us and breathes new life into us. When we become stale and stagnant, He gives us a push and guides us. He uses our times of solitude, meditation and worship as an opportunity to reveal things to us. Pea Island is a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to take time to enjoy the beauty He has surrounded us with. With just the sound of a distant bird, the ocean waves lapping the shore and the coolness of a summer breeze, Pea Island can be a refuge for us too!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

July

July


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
June 30, 2010

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer
Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
June 23, 2010

Photography by Liz Brown

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV

The summer season is here! This week, the calendar changed from spring to summer but it feels like summer has been here much longer!! The hot, lazy days of summer brings all kinds of memories to mind like the excitement surrounding the last day of school, summer babysitting jobs to make money, watermelon eating contests, and family picnics at church softball games. And things like Sunday ice cream socials using the old homemade ice cream machine and tree-picked peaches, the smell of fresh-cut grass, the sweet fragrance of a summer rain, homemade lemonade and packaged Kool-aid. Best of all were those great memories of swinging on a porch swing and going barefooted til September. A great season for great times! I have come to realize that whatever season I am in I seem to love it the most!

We go through seasons in life and it seems once we get used to something, the season changes and we must adapt and reshape our thinking, and perhaps our life to accommodate the adjustments. Summer is the season when many families pack up and move to another town for a better opportunity. Kids are packing for college; kids are coming home from college. Summer weddings in June are plentiful. So many life changing moments and events seems to happen during this time of year.

How do we handle the changes in the seasons in our lives? How do we teach our children how to adapt? Do they see us frantic and resistant to change as we try to maneuver our way through life? Hopefully, we know from our Christian walk that God has already supplied us with the graces to deal with anything that comes to us or happens to us. His mercy and grace gives us the enthusiasm to accept things we cannot change, the peace to move forward, the joy for a new adventure and overall contentment for where we are. So much of our joy is tied to our contentment. God does not make mistakes. He has placed us in every season of our life. We can look back, not with regret, but with gratefulness. We can look forward, not with fear, but with confidence that we have all we need. There is no reason why we couldn’t prosper in whatever season we find ourselves. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. – Psalm 1:3 NIV

As empty nesters, my husband and I had an adjustment to make and it coincided with a move to another state over 2000 miles away. I did have regrets and sadness, but now know it was wasted time. If we can accept willingly where we are and do our best to be obedient to God, we can expect to see good things revealed in our future. So much energy can be lost through deferred contentment such as thinking, “I will be happy when I can move back home”, or “I will be happy when this happens or that happens”. We can have joy and contentment now. Saint Francis of Assisi once said, “A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.”

I met a 99 year old woman the other day that was upright, walking on her own and we shared a bench together for a brief visit. I asked her what did she attribute her long life to and she said long ago she chose to be happy. That was what I needed to hear that day. Was that just a coincidence? No. Was it another divine appointment? Yes, I believe it was. Another reminder that how we approach life can have a profound effect on us regardless of the season we are in. Happy Summer!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Father's Day

Father's Day


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
June 16, 2010

If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.- Psalm 37:23-24 NIV

Father’s Day came about in the early 1900’s when a young girl listening to a Mother’s Day sermon wanted to also honor her father. In 1924, it became a national idea and President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea. It was President Lyndon Johnson that established the 3rd Sunday in June as Father’s Day in 1966 and President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972. We all have a father and we count ourselves grateful if we had a godly father that brought us up to know our Heavenly Father. Especially this time of year we each may reflect and reminisce a bit on how our father helped to shape the life that we enjoy today. We also want to honor and remember the many wonderful men that have been mentors to us and shown fatherly wisdom and guidance when we needed it. And never to be forgotten are the mothers that have stood in for the father for whatever reason to keep the family going.

On this Father’s Day, many fathers are serving in the military away from home. We pray for their family, their heavy hearts and for their safe return. General Douglas Macarthur described how he wanted to be remembered. Not as a soldier, but as a father. He said, “But I am prouder - infinitely prouder - to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle field but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, 'Our Father who art in Heaven'.

We offer thanks today for the fathers that we celebrate in person, in our hearts or in our memories. Most of all, if there is anyone of us that is lacking a fathers’ love, our Heavenly Father can shower us with His Love in rich abundance and fill all the empty spaces to overflowing. There is no greater gift that a father can give, but of himself. Inheritance, riches and possessions don’t measure up in the end. Remembered are those precious times, when father and child sat side by side, and talked of everyday things, the future and of God.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grandparents

Grandparents


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
June 09, 2010

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother"— which is the first commandment with a promise— "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV

I like the book of Ephesians in the Bible. Six short chapters but filled with guidelines and the “do’s and don’ts of Christian living. For me, it is the book of the Bible that puts in all in order. We are guided as to our relationship and obedience to God, our relationship to the church, our spouses and children. Chapter 6 begins by telling the children to obey their parents for it is right. In my youth I tried to do what I was told but didn’t always like it. I thought that my parents enjoyed controlling my actions and my thinking. And I was quick to dream of what it would be like when I could do what I wanted, when I wanted to do it. Well, that is overrated. ‘Know that now - ‘didn’t know that then!! Actually this command to obey our parents is part of God’s law. Children need wisdom, guidance, structure, discipline and most of all a good, godly example to follow. Anyone that attempts to undermine this most important relationship between parent and child is going against God. Grandparents sometimes do this and it teaches the child to be disobedient or to not trust their parents. It plants seeds of doubt in the mind of the child. God set up the order of things and we are to follow if we are to be obedient. We are blessed to have grandparents that honor parents and love the children. That is how it should be.

Growing up, it was my relationship with my grandparents that sustained me at times. Our time together was short but the memories everlasting. I always knew that when I could be a grandparent, I would model myself after my dear grandmother that I called, Nanny. She taught me about God, we drew pictures of Jesus from old church bulletins, she walked with me along the beach and we picked up sticks of driftwood for the evening fire. It is no wonder I love the beach so much. It represents unconditional love.

Now that I am a grandparent myself I must choose my words and actions carefully. To not cross boundaries, undermine the parents’ authority, to respect them and their parenting and to be silent when things may not be my business. I raised my children and am proud of what my husband and I did. It is now my children’s turn to raise their families. I must always remember my place and that is one of support to both parents and grandchildren. My grandchildren are loved, adored, disciplined and encouraged to be the best they can be. I am excited to know that one of my granddaughters will be flying out for a nice visit this summer. We will cook, bake, swim and talk. We have morning devotions; we enjoy Starbucks and adore ice cream. My granddaughter and I love to play in the pool until we are waterlogged! “Sunday morning donuts before church” is the #1 item on her “to do” list when she visits. We will attend church and I will swell with pride when I see her sing her heart out.

Grandparents are the most trusted and cherished group of people ever!! It is with good reason. Grandparents love without condition. They overlook the latest trend, trying to see the person inside that is searching so hard to find an identity. They give freely and expect nothing. They offer serenity and a peace that only comes with experience and wisdom for the years that they have lived. Grandparents can be the towering lighthouse in the family with the light of love and God that protects everyone. I believe our only job as a grandparent is to be sure our grandchildren see God’s Light shining through us in the way we love them and honor their parents, treat them, and care for them and nurture their family. Is there any grandparent that has never prayed with their grandchild? Do it. It is the sweetest voice in the world to hear a child talk to God.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Vacation

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
June 02, 2010

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much Luke 16:10a NIV

The time is nearing when many families will begin coming to the beaches for their summer vacations. The beach will appear festive from the vivid colors of the umbrellas that take their place in the sand. Bright colored beach towels and plastic beach balls will also be a part of the landscape at the beach. It reminds me of travelling to the Outer Banks when we were children for our week of vacation each year. There was such anticipation and excitement that surrounded that time. We learned to find enjoyment in every day. It was a good lesson to learn at a young age. We cherished the sunny days and played hard in the surf and sand. On the rainy days, we caught rainwater with our newly purchased pails and shovels and built sandcastles, under our cottage, held high on stilts. When we had too much sun on our tender skin, the family would take a day trip in the car to see the sights. At night there were card games, skating at the roller rink or family tournaments of putt-putt. No time was wasted, yet we returned home from vacation very rested and content.

Taking what we had and making the most of it, is a philosophy that has stayed with me through the years. I have observed some people that have very little, yet they live so rich. They use their talents and skills to create a contented, charming lifestyle and God seems to bless them with more. And then there are those folks that seem to have everything, yet they are disgruntled and greedy for more. I think God would have us enjoy each and every day that He gives us. There are hidden treasures in each day and it is our job to find them. Making the most of what we are given is showing our grateful appreciation to God for the many gifts and opportunities He has given us, and continues to give us daily. The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3 NIV

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lifejacket


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
May 26, 2010

I will lift my eyes to the hills – From where comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1- 2

This Memorial Day weekend will be a busy time on the waters. Boaters will take extra care and special precautions to ready their boat to be sure it is seaworthy and equipped with everything needed to ensure a great experience. Lifejackets are required to be on board. No ifs, ands or buts. It is a must. It is the ultimate backup plan to protect those on the boat if there is trouble aboard or on the water. I like the idea of a lifejacket. It makes me feel secure, safe and gives me confidence to venture to places I’ve never been. It is nice knowing there is something to help me if I need it.

Spiritually, this is a good question to ask, “Where do you turn to for help when you need it?” I know for certain that we can find help in the Bible. The Bible is filled with love, direction, wisdom and guidance. We can ask for help and it will be revealed on the pages. While God may send help we don’t have to be powerless while we wait for it though. We can seek it and find it. It is the greatest source. I bought a little book recently and it contains all of God’s Promises. For anyone needing help and wisdom in what to do, how to react, what to believe, we can find His Promises in His Word. It is like clothing ourselves in a spiritual lifejacket!

This week I have heard of several people that are hurting whether emotionally, physically or spiritually. Life isn’t easy. Things happen. Each circumstance has been an occasion for calling out to God for help. And He hasn’t failed. Whatever your need is, whatever your concern, take it to God. Is there anyone that can go it alone? No. Would you walk by yourself in an unfamiliar place, in the dark not telling anyone where you going? Of course not. It is too risky, it is unsafe. But there are so many that will travel the roads of life without anyone to help them, guide them or light the path. They try to do it by themselves. Our help comes from Him. So does our strength and our ability to keep going. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. -1 Peter 5:7

Reach out to someone that has crossed your path that needs to lean on you a little bit. Help to make their time of trouble a little easier. Share a prayer, a scripture or just a simple smile. Offer them a lifejacket of hope and help. Let God show through you to them. God will finish what you have started. And when you shift your focus from your own problems over to helping someone else through their trials, you may find that your own burdens and worries don’t seem quite as heavy anymore. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. - 2 Corinthians 1:3- 4.