Thursday, December 29, 2011

The New Year

The New Year

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass

December 29, 2011



…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. –Isaiah 40:31 NIV

Expectant hope is the term that I want to keep close to me in this coming year. Just like the calendar year transitions from one year to the next, we often go through cycles of transition ourselves. One thing for sure, we are never standing still. We are either going forward or backward. Sometimes the choice is up to us.

While the sun begins to set on the last days of this year, we are hopeful about what 2012 will bring to each of us. There may be good times and bad times. Happy times and sad times. In-between times. Busy times and quiet times. Like the tide that comes and goes, our life ebbs and flows, too. But this much we do know. We can face anything that comes our way as long as we have a strong, steady relationship with God. A daily relationship. It doesn’t have to be a long-drawn out session….just start off by talking with Him a few minutes each day. Tell Him your concerns and surrender them over to Him. Then Trust Him. Wait on Him. Learn to listen for Him to speak wisdom into your heart. But most of all, while you grow in the Lord, hold on to expectant hope. Believe that God has wonderful things He wants to bless you with. I believe that 2012 has something wonderful for each of us if we choose to live in expectant hope while trusting Him.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Merry Christmas Message

Taking a moment to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

 A song in church last week contained the lyrics, "I wonder how they celebrate Christmas in Heaven". It touched my heart. Like many of you, I have loved ones in Heaven and not a Christmas goes by that I don't take a glance upwards to the sky with all the shining stars and smile with thanks for all the memories of those special people and pets. My heart overflows!! May we remember those that have passed and be grateful for the chance to show love and receive love from those that are present. And most of all, to be wrapped in the loving arms of a Heavenly Father that loved us so much that he sent His Son to us.

Let us make memories, love much, laugh often and may our hearts of joy and gratitude last for more than the season, but for a lifetime.

Thank you for following Reflections by the Sea. A most precious Christmas gift is from my Mother this year. She faithfully reads Reflections each week and lovingly cuts out the article from the newspaper, places it carefully in a plastic sleeve and makes it into a book and added a message about how proud she is of the writing and of me. I unwrapped all of the writing from 2011 in the book she put together and it will be a forever treasure. Thank you Mother!!

Merry Christmas.....and May God Bless from our family to yours,
Betsy

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

December 21, 2011

Reflections by the Sea
Betsy Ore Glass

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.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Wreath

Christmas Wreath


Reflections by the Sea ©
Betsy Ore Glass
December 14, 2011

Photograph by Liz Brown

Gives 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 7, 2011

A Long Ago Christmas

A Long Ago Christmas
Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 07, 2011









But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. -Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV
 I have been preparing my home for Christmas, and my mind has gone back long ago to the holidays at my grandmother’s beach cottage. Things that come to mind are the sights and sounds of an unlatched screened door banging on the side of the house in the gusty wind or the rocking chair that is sticky with salt air.  The stiffness of the old hammock whose cords have hardened and dried in the mid-day sun brings back fun times. This time of year, the back porch would be lined with rows of aged firewood with metal buckets of kindling and dried driftwood nearby.

Cutting a cedar tree from the woods and using it as a Christmas tree was the tradition each year. The leftover bottom branches would be often fashioned into a homemade wreath with a makeshift bow or the limbs placed on the mantle. The aroma of fresh cedar would fill the air. Old fashioned large strings of multicolored Christmas bulbs would be wrapped around the tree and if two bulbs of the same color ended up next to one another, it would be swapped out. Sea shells collected over the summer were given new life as they were fished out of pails, pasted with glue and glitter, and tied with twine to hang on the tree.  The larger the oyster shells the better.  Candy canes and silver tinsel were added last.  A branch of mistletoe would be taped over a doorway.

The air was filled with a hint of smoke from the poorly drafted fireplace. When the bricks became dark with soot, my grandmother simply painted them red and outlined the mortar with white paint. The decorating experts of today wouldn’t approve but to me back then, it was beautiful. Only the prettiest glittery Christmas cards would be placed on the mantle and because there wasn’t a lot of room, if your card made that special spot, it was like you had made the Hall of Fame! That is what it was like at my grandmother’s cottage at the beach long ago.

Now 50 years later we use a pre-lit tree and we have lovely ornaments and decorations and traditions reflect our modern times.  I am conscious however, that we are making new memories for the next generation to cherish 50 years from now. I hope we capture the spirit of love, joy and happiness in our home to pass down. Our family is joyous as we have received the news that we will have a new grandchild in this coming year. It is my prayer that he or she will know the true meaning of Christmas, have a wonderful sense of family and will someday fondly recall our Christmases as special memories to savor.

God was with us then and He is with us now. Not a Christmas Eve goes by that I don’t stop to stay ‘thank you’ as I look up to the heavens for the Christmas Star. I thank Him for the memories of Christmases past and the hope of Christmases to come, the loved ones I miss, the love given and received and my heavenly Father that stands besides me and sometimes carries me. I thank Him for sending His Son to save us. While our Christmas gatherings and celebrations have evolved and changed over the years, God stays the same. He never changes.  He is always waiting for us any time that we seek Him.  


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hospitality

Hospitality
Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 01, 2011


Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. -Romans 12:132 NIV

We were blessed with a good trip over Thanksgiving to see many family members in three different places. The definition of hospitality is the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers. Greeted with love in each home was a blessing. Many preparations were made for us before we arrived to ensure that our visit was special and we were so grateful for the loving efforts.
 
While hospitality can mean having a clean house, a stocked refrigerator and being sure you are presentable to your guests, it still focuses on the host or hostess. Another way to define it is to be social or to entertain. I was interested to see what the Bible said about hospitality. Christian hospitality focuses on the guest. Meaning, the home doesn’t have to be perfect or food offered at all. Instead, it is lending an ear and listening if that is what is needed. This spiritual hospitality is centered around giving acceptance and approval to the guest. Perhaps providing a temporary home, meals or help of some kind. Some of the best times I have had were when my home wasn’t perfectly in order, my pantry was running low, but it didn’t matter as much as seeing and being with a person to lift them up, to listen, to laugh, to cry with or to celebrate life.

This season of Christmas offers many chances for us to practice hospitality, both as hosts and as guests. By focusing on God this season and the people that He brings into our life, we can enrich and be enriched by the experience. I remember years ago we had a Christmas Eve gathering of family and friends and one of our home renovation projects wasn’t fully completed. We simply hung a sign that said “under construction” and I remember that gathering was the best of all because the focus was on our guests, not on our surroundings. In the end, it will be the people we love and cherish, the people we help, the times we are helped that will be remembered in the spirit of genuine Christian hospitality.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Joy

Christmas Joy

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
November 22, 2011


Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. -Psalm 90:14 NIV

Tis the season to be jolly. And I admit to feeling that way this year. But I am also aware that not everyone is feeling as joyous this Christmas for one reason or another. Tightened finances may keep families apart due to the expense of traveling this season. Others have gotten bad news from the doctor. Some may be looking for work and can't find it. And then there are the folks that have lost a loved one this past year and are feeling especially lonely. How can the Christmas spirit be captured when facing these things?

Today I was in the checkout line at the department store. I struck up a conversation with the elderly gentleman behind me. He was holding a new fishing rod and reel and was looking at it admiringly. I thought he was buying it for a grandchild because it really looked like a “starter set”. The gentleman said with pride that he was buying it for himself. As he began to chat away, in about 5 minutes, he told me a great deal about his life. He had moved here just two weeks ago from the Midwest to be closer to family. His wife was an invalid in the nursing home, he still drives everywhere he goes and had traveled to South America years ago and it was his favorite place on this earth. Yes, all this in just a few minutes, and I never even got his name! But what struck me about this man as his story unfolded, was that he had every reason to be sad about moving from his home of many years to a new place so far away, or distraught because his precious wife couldn't talk and he didn't know if she recognized him anymore. He could have been anxious about learning a new town and fearful about driving on unfamiliar streets. But no. He was smiling from ear to ear. He laughed, his eyes twinkled and he was simply bubbling over with joy. This man was happy to be alive. I wished him a Merry Christmas and smiled back at him as I said goodbye. This stranger was clearly in his mid- 80's and seemed to have more energy and enthusiasm for life than I did. Before I drove out of the parking lot, I just sat for a few minutes and thought, “what was the lesson”? I believe what made that gentleman special in my eyes was that his circumstances weren't the focus but instead, he was determined to have joy despite his circumstances. He wasn't cranky or bitter, but was genuinely happy. This man made a great impact on me and I believe it was one of God’s divine appointments at work. Maybe he was one of those “old school” kinds of people where you lived simply, gave thanks and worked at living life until the last breath. I know people that have far less problems to deal with and behave much worse.

So whatever we face, whatever our circumstances, I believe God wants us to be cheerful about where we are. We are to remember that He has the Plan and we are taught to believe that He orders our steps. If it is a hard time we are going through, He will sees us through. God is our source for everything. He is the Healer and the Provider. With God on one side and us on the other side with the talents and skills He has given us, we can rise up. We might not have expected to be in the middle of a difficult situation but God says to cast our cares upon Him. If we find that we are blessed this season, then perhaps we can reach out to help someone that is struggling and bless them. Wherever we are and whatever is going on, there is always joy that we can claim. Perhaps the answer is right before us...developing a Godly attitude, no matter what we come against. We cannot control our circumstances but we do have the ability to control our attitude. Like that happy gentleman in the checkout line, we can find a little joy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gratitude

Gratitude

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass

November 17, 2011





 
 
 
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 just ahead, there is a desire in many of us for the joy and gratitude of to last more than just a day or two. 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 9, 2011

Family Gatherings

Family Gatherings
Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
November 04, 2011
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone – Romans 12:18 NIV





The holidays are fast approaching. How is it that they are coming so fast now! Thanksgiving is at the end of this month and I believe I heard that it is the biggest time of year for family gatherings, even over Christmas. If that is true, then in a few weeks families will come to the Thanksgiving table in one of three ways: they will come in love with peace; or discord, carrying old emotional baggage; or worse yet, come simply in indifference for the day, believing anything more would seem unachievable and too hard to approach.

When family members reunite at the holidays, or weddings and funerals for that matter, it can be comforting to be together unless the work has not been done to keep the relationships within the family healthy. In that case, old hurts and offenses that have been swept under the carpet and never resolved, can make it barely possible to come together just to “make nice” for a day.

There is a difference between the words “reunite” and “reconcile”. Reunite means just coming together. But reconcile means to bring into agreement or harmony; to make compatible. Those words and actions often get mistakened for meaning the same thing. A reuniting of family that comes together and exchanges pleasantries are often lulled into believing everything has been restored again and the family is back on track. How nice but it is only fleeting! It doesn’t take any time at all for things to fall back into the ditch once everyone has returned back home again because the work to reconcile was not done. Differences were not ironed out and lovingly dealt with. God was not sought for wisdom and peace; instead rejection roots deeper and hurts grow stronger year after year.

Each person can make a case for their side of things and past disagreements or offenses and all too often, these hard-hearted emotions are sadly taken to the grave. These emotions lead to possessing an “un-loving” spirit and the possibility that over time a person can become cold and turn away from God.

Family discord isn’t part of God’s plan for us. He honors the family and we should too. Like the photo today of the pumpkins, they are part of the same family but they are each individual and different, one of a kind, yet they can sit side by side to one another in harmony. That is simplifying it but that is the idea. But you may be thinking by now, our family is a mess and no one is talking to each other and even if I tried, I don’t think it could work to have love and peace. The good news is God gives us prayer. It is the only tool for situations like these. God can change hearts. He can cause divine appointments. He can simply, most magnificently do anything He wants. Our job is to do a temperature check on our hearts. Meaning, are we pure in thought. Do we forgive from the heart? Have we repented for our part of any discord? Sometimes, a relationship may never be restored to what we hope it could be and maybe it simply can’t be restored at all because the person on the other side is not willing. But that is out of our control. All we can do is make sure we have a receptive and pure heart. That we wish no malice. And any justice is God’s business, not ours. If wrongs need to be righted, He is the avenger. Our prayers can make a difference.

And if your family is emotionally healthy, praise Him. Be a light to other families because you are blessed and have done the work to maintain compatibility. Are there perfect families out there? Certainly not. We are all human. There are problems and misunderstandings that come from time to time but if dealt with early and not allowed to fester, there is no potential for problems to be magnified into huge rifts. The families that I have observed that are beacons of God’s Light are the ones that give Him honor and first place.

Now back to Thanksgiving. For anyone for whatever reason that has to be alone for the holidays, lean on God. He says He will never depart from us. I have been in your shoes and it isn’t easy but it gives you the whole day to spend with God. And if it is standing room only at your table, don’t take it for granted. God has placed you all together to love each other and to count your blessings together. For those that are showing up to dinner just because of obligation, there is time to ask God to soften the situation all the way around so it can be the best family holiday you have ever enjoyed. God’s blessings on each one of you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Walking with Jesus



Walking with Jesus
Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass
November 03, 2011
 
This is what God the Lord says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. -Isaiah 42:5-7 NIV
 
Today’s writing is a little different than what has been done in the past. When I pray it helps me to envision actually being with Jesus, if only in my imagination. Perhaps you will allow your imagination to expand and you can take a walk with us too……
 
 

I see myself as a little girl…old enough to always feel safe and but not old enough yet to be conditioned by the world. I am skipping along the beach, the same one that I used to walk with my grandmother whom I called, Nanny. The weather is sunny, the waves are gently rolling in and the top of the sea reminds me of blue-green sparkling glass. Boats are off in the distance and the sound of sea gulls are above. It is mid-day. I have a white dress on. It is sweet with smocking on the front with embroidered roses and it has little cap sleeves. It is summer time. My dress has a full skirt as though there is a crinoline beneath but the humidity in the air causes the skirt to fall slightly limp. There are two long sashes for tying a bow in the back of my dress but the bow has become loose and it drags the wet sand behind me. My long blonde hair falls just at my waist in natural waves and ringlets, often caught by the breeze. The sun is so bright that I have to squint to keep the glare from hurting my blue eyes. 
 I am gleeful. Skipping along, laughing, feeling freedom and happiness when I turn around to see Jesus behind me. He holds his arms outstretched to greet me and I run as fast as I can with sun- kissed cheeks surrounding my smile and joy to jump into his arms. His face is kind and I feel secure. He would never let me fall. We don’t talk at first. I look at him and he looks at me and smiles. I touch his hair and pat his chest and straighten the folds of his robe as if to neaten at the same time. He lets me fuss over him and he doesn’t seem to mind. I adore him. I know who he is. And he knows who I am. His walk is strong in the soft sand. He has a purple scarf draped around his neck and a plain rope around his waist that surrounds his white robe.
He asks me, “What do you want to learn today?” I reply quickly, “Show me everything”. He points out to the water and shows me things in the distance. We look at the birds and he knows the different kinds. I reach towards the sky to show him a cloud going by. He says, “Do you know that all these things come from my Father in Heaven?” My eyes widen with wonder as I simply stare at his eyes and the truth that lies within them. I am anxious to know more, but I get restless to play and want to run again on the beach. He lets me down and I play hide and seek around him, hiding behind the folds of his robe. He approves of me. I can see it in the twinkling of his eyes when he looks down at me. My heart is bursting with happiness, even more than before. I pick up seashells and run to him to place in his hand for safekeeping. He holds them for me. I have never felt such warmth and kindness before. He seems to like me just the way I am, too. I see love in his eyes. His love is so big it warms my heart. I get tired of skipping and come back to him and reach for his hand and we walk the beach together holding hands. We are becoming the best of friends. I just know it. I like the way my heart feels when I am with him. I realize it is nice just to be together. He says to feel his presence and to remember it. To tuck it in my heart and then I can have it always. He says to remember that he is always with me.
Today, as an adult, I have a bowl of sand and shells in my home and it reminds me of my imaginative first meeting with Jesus. A collection of straw hats sit nearby to use to still protect my eyes from the sun. My surroundings at home are connected to the beach with walls of photographs and paintings throughout. To me the beach represents unconditional, lasting, pure love; truth and honesty; forgiveness and healing; safety and honor and above all, presence of the One that will never betray. He will always love me. It’s the relationship that I seek daily.

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






Thursday, October 27, 2011

Autumn Flowers

Autumn Flowers
Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
October 27, 2011


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 19, 2011

Paths


Paths

Reflections by the Sea
Betsy Ore Glass
October 19, 2011

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
-Psalm 119:35 NIV

The Outer Banks hosts many paths: bicycle paths, walking paths, handicap and nature paths. Some are straight and others are winding. No two are alike and there is always something beautiful to see and enjoy along the way. When I was a young girl, my grandmother lived at a beach. Her little house with a wraparound screened porch was tucked in among the cedars, pine and oak trees. The path from her back door to the top of the sand dune was made from wooden planks, creating a straight path to the beach. She lived under the protection of a canopy of trees, but once at the top of the path on the tall dune, a panoramic view awaited us. Even though most of the treed path was dark or covered over in pine needles, the reward was always there at the end of the path….a view that was breathtaking! The darkness lifted and the light of day or moon by night illuminated us while we stood on that path, finally at our destination.

Sometimes we just simply want what we want! Scripture says that God will give us the desires of our heart. Some things we want are just not good for us. We can thank God that He knows more than we do and knows what is best for us. I can look back in the past and think I was just so certain about the direction I thought God was taking me. All the while, I realize now I was on my own path. It is hard to discern which path belongs to whom!! When we get faced with choices or opportunities, our first step is to go to God and ask for wisdom. There have been times I have felt a nudge in my spirit to act or move forward. Not knowing what is ahead of me, I have walked forward in obedience by faith, and sure enough, God would have cleared the path for me towards victory. Other times, I have felt like there was glue on my feet. Everyone else around me was moving forward with plans and I had plans too, but felt God holding me back. Disappointed at first and frustrated that I couldn’t step out yet, I realized that God knew best and that His Timing is everything. God has managed to put me where He wants me at any given time. I have learned that He calls the shots. When I simply can’t wait any longer for God to act, then I begin to feel that maybe He is waiting for me to act. That happens sometimes. That is when I move forward with my goals and plans in faith, with caution. I trust Him to stop me at any time and He has. He orders our steps and blesses us with the wisdom on what path to choose to live the life he has designed for us.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October

October
Reflections by the Sea ©
Betsy Ore Glass
October 12, 2011

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, October 5, 2011

Choose Faith Not Fear

Choose Faith Not Fear
Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass
October 05, 2011



For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11- 14 NIV


We are seeing what happens when an ocean roars out of control, with the necessity of building of a bridge over newly cut inlets, which will restore traffic between communities again. The fire that has been burning out of control for months west of the Outer Banks is worthy of taking note of. Even with the torrential rains from a hurricane, the dampened fire has continued to burn. Winds that appear to be calm one minute can build in the next and combined with the right atmospheric conditions, begins to circulate and an out of control tornado starts a rampage of destruction. These are all forms of nature, but do you know that we can operate out of control too?
My son in law was teaching me how to operate his boat. I respect his guidance and pay close attention to everything he says to do. I don’t want to lose control of the boat and put our family onboard in danger. Exercising discipline and taking advice are good things if we want to grow and go forward. When we begin to walk away from God’s Word, His guidance and His instruction, is when we start walking in the deep end of the water alone. If we cast our cares on God and seek Him and keep our eyes fixed on Him and His teachings, we won’t lose control and veer off course, where lack of self- control exists.
Have you ever been so angry that you did something and then regretted it? Have you ever said words to someone in a few short minutes, only to realize later that it would take many lifetimes to repair the damage done? What causes someone to lose control? Usually it is born out fear of some kind. Fear and living in fear can cause a person to react in many ways, all of which reflect an out of control countenance. But if the emotions, heart and mind are rooted in God and His Ways, we can’t have faith and fear at the same time. God says to walk in faith. We face trials sometimes that make us feel like we want to have a temper tantrum at times. But, did you know that trials are often a test to us and reveals to God where we are in our level of faith? Walk away from anything, any behavior or thoughts that don’t line up with God. (Titus 2) Apologies and repenting brings forgiveness and paves the way for new beginnings and a fresh start. Building faith by reading the Word and memorizing scripture now is like putting money in the bank. The strength from a strong faith will be there for us later when we need to call upon it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Ocean

 
The Ocean
Reflections by the Sea ©
 
Betsy Ore Glass
September 28, 2011


Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. - Psalm 145:3 NIV.

The ocean has a hold on me. It is so powerful. I have a large amount of respect for what it can do when unleashed. The waves that pound the shore in rhythmic fashion remind me of a strong heartbeat…some days beating faster than others. Going to sit by the edge of the ocean makes everything better. It is as if the waves wash over me and cleanses my soul in quietude and refreshes my mind at the same time. The ocean breathes its salt air on me and I feel wrapped in a blanket of calm. I can think better and there is clarity. For years I have wondered what was the real secret of the ocean….is it the salt air, the breezes, the serenity, the sound of the waves? I suppose it adds up to all those things. Water has a calming effect on so many of us. To each their own. Some people need to fish, while others surf the waves. Photographers need to capture the perfect sunrise while people like my Mother and I are content to drive to the pier and feed the hungry gulls some pieces of bread. We are all unique but unified in the fact that many of us hunger for the ocean in some way or another. And we all agree on one thing, the ocean is a force that deserves our honor and respect.
God is most worthy of our praise, honor and respect as well. Yet, I don’t think He gets His due. The busyness of our schedules and our fast and furious lives leaves little time for Him. Our mind is where our heart is…or is it the other way around? I think both ways apply. God seems to get the leftovers at times. “Oh I’ll get to God after everything else is done and I can relax and really focus”….haven’t we all said that? We can pray or talk to God anywhere….driving in the car, vacuuming the floor, pulling weeds, walking the beach. We are told to pray continually (I Thess. 5: 17). Some times my talking to God turns into prayer and then back to talking again…..I don’t really know the difference. He deserves to be exalted in our lives. And to be appreciated and for us to allow Him to guide us in His Way and His Will. God’s power and mightiness are so much greater than anything we can imagine. While our footprints along the ocean’s edge may get washed away with the tide, our memories of our time with God will be forever written in Heaven and our heart.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rest


Rest
Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
September 21, 2011

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. –Psalm 62:5 NIV

A sweet neighbor and I visited this morning on the sidewalk. I have a little flower bed that has been neglected. It is on the top of my “to do” list to bring it back to life this fall. I shared my landscape ideas with my neighbor and she kindly offered to share some of her plants to get me started. The kind lady said that some of the plants would rest over the winter and may go completely dormant. But not to worry, while they are resting, they are developing good roots.

The word, “rest” has popped up several times this week. People talking about needing it or not getting enough of it. The definition of rest is the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep, spiritual calm, tranquility, refreshing ease, relief or freedom from anything that troubles or disturbs. Many of us have had challenges we had to rise up to recently. Probably like many of you, I’ve taken time to re-group. To take stock of where I have been, where I am and to pray for direction for what God wants to do with me next. Seems recently there has been a season of change that has swirled around me like autumn leaves falling to the ground on a September day. And sometimes with change comes chaos, too many decisions, turmoil and the like. Followed by rest. Yes, sweet rest. At some point, things start to settle down. The pieces of the puzzle come together to form a beautiful picture. Rest is a good word. It represents that the battle is over, the difficulty has subsided and peace awaits us. But rest is not always physical relief. We can have mental rest and give up a situation that our minds have been obsessing about for too long. We can also find spiritual rest by surrendering everything to God. Resting in Him means to totally trust Him. Whatever the situation is, it isn’t too big for God. His rest will restore us and nurture us so we can pick ourselves back up and head back out on our journey. (I find it interesting that within the word “restore” is “rest”). Like my neighbor’s plants, I like to think our faith is growing deep spiritual roots when we rest in God.


<>
<>
<>
 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Footprints

Footprints


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
September 14, 2011

But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you; to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul. -Joshua 22:5

Walking in soft sand at the beach can be so strenuous. Sometimes the sand is deep and it can really be a struggle. But the job gets easier if you can find the footprints of one that went before you and then follow their path. As little children, we would try to walk in the footprints left by a grownup, only to stumble to our knees because we couldn’t make the long stride. Some footprints are narrow, others wide, some long, some short. Some people go barefooted on the beach, while others wear shoes with ridged soles. To find another footprint is to know that someone walked ahead of us. Their footprint made the path just a little easier for us. Their weight caused the sand to compress, giving us a place for firmer footing.

Following God is His desire for us. But, the path is not always so easy to walk. Sometimes He leads us into the deeper sand and it is difficult. Other times we can cover a lot of distance in the firmer sand because the walk is smooth and easy. In both cases, He is building our spiritual muscle for our journey in Him. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5. There may be times of hard work and effort, and then He surely rewards us with rest and restoration. Knowing in advance that tough times are ultimately for our own growth and development, it somehow makes it easier to understand. There is a benefit to every step we take if we let Our Father lead the way on the path before us

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Change

Change


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
September 07, 2011

Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me; O Lord, be my help. -Psalm 30:10 NIV

Change seems to be everywhere. Change is one of those words that bring with it a lot of feelings and emotions when it surrounds us. Probably the simplest way to describe change is ‘to pass from one state to another.’ Seasonal changes we tend to welcome and look forward to with anticipation. We know what to expect year after year. The fall colors of this season are about to emerge as the leaves turn from green to golden yellow, deep red and burnt orange. Pumpkins are displayed on front porches, replacing pots of tired geraniums. Gardens are being harvested for the last of the summer vegetables, while firewood gets stacked near the back door before the onset of winter. The transition from season to season is somewhat predictable.

It’s the unexpected, unpredictable turns that come upon us at times that can shift our lives in another direction. How do we cope? That’s when our faith is of utmost importance. Some changes in our life can be devastating such as an illness, divorce, and the death of a loved one. Other changes may not be as impactful, but nevertheless they do affect us. God made us adaptable and flexible. We can face anything that comes to us. God won’t leave us alone to get through these times of difficulty by ourselves. We can count on Him. He made us strong. We can rely on His strength to help us. How we choose to react to change determines how we will be able to manage it. Something to think about. God’s plan is at work in our lives and in our surroundings. We must never forget that. Yes, God is part of everything and every situation. We don’t always know the reason why things happen. He will allow things at times to occur to bring us back closer to Him and to strengthen us. As we are certain to meet change almost daily, we should remember that God does not change. He is always there with His promises to lift us up out of the mire on to high ground again. We can take refuge in Him and He will take our pain and give us strength in its place. It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. Psalm 18:21 NIV

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene

Irene


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
August 31, 2011

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place, he rescued me because he delighted in me. Psalm 18:16-19 NIV

Storms at the coast can be fierce, but a hurricane can be life threatening to all in its way. Howling winds and driving rains are to be expected with rising tides, including storm surges that know no boundaries. What makes the barrier islands of the Outer Banks so beautiful is also what makes them so vulnerable. With little or no dunes at all to protect the beaches, homes often lose their footing and wash out to sea in hurricane winds. As quickly as the hurricane comes, it most always departs with the same speed. But that was not the case with Irene. With a span of over 450 miles across, it seemed she would never move on. In her wake, the discovery of broken homes and businesses that littered the sound and beaches are heartbreaking. Historic storm surges flooded areas that have never seen flood waters before. While many were directly affected with losses in this hurricane, there were many that were not. No matter how Irene affected the Outer Banks and surrounding areas, we should count everyone blessed. No doubt, there were fervent prayers to God by his people asking God to provide protection. Many stories will unfold over the next few weeks of people that were touched by God and spared. God put them at the right place at the right time.

As the shock of this hurricane subsides and is replaced with the task of cleaning up, it is important that we give God our anxieties, our fears, our frustrations and ask for a renewing of faith. No matter what the situation is that we may be facing, God promises that we are not alone. He will sustain us and He will show His favor upon us. In Psalm 18:28 it says, “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

Turn to God with prayers for the Outer Banks, the residents of the surrounding areas of North Carolina and the eastern United States that were touched by Irene, that God would turn the darkness into light.



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Prayers of Protection

Sending prayers of protection to all with the approach of Irene. Psalm 91 is a wonderful Prayer of Protection. I hope it offers comfort and peace.........

 Psalm 91 (NIV)


Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; hey will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.  You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Line in the Sand

Line in the Sand



Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
August 24, 2011

God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness. Psalm 145:2-4 (The Message)

I am delighted to find strands of beach that seem untouched, natural and beautiful as far as the eye can see when I walk the beaches and dunes of Pea Island. I especially like to see the shifting sands on the large dunes. The winds sculpt the sand making rows of valleys and ridges. These rows reflect the light beautifully casting shadows on the long, wavy unbroken lines in the sand. These ripples in the sand are a work of nature and become even more beautiful when found with the occasional footprint of a shorebird.

A line in the sand distinquishes one side from another. It can represent a boundary. Are we respectful of boundaries? When limits are set for us do we honor them when in relationships or in the workplace? When crossing boundary lines, there will always be consequences. Sometimes, we have to be the ones that “draw a line in the sand”. We have to be the one that sets limits for ourselves or to those we interact with. When we draw those lines, we should always be guided by God and His Holy Word. His wisdom should be our compass, our guide in all ways. Drawing a line in the sand can mean many things. We can set aside old mindsets, old strongholds and negative thoughts and step over the line to seek out a new path with fresh wisdom from God, filled with positivity and refreshed enthusiasm and energy for our future.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pressing Through

Pressing Through


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
August 17, 2011

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? -Roman 8:31 NIV

When I was a little girl playing at the ocean’s edge during our many vacations to the Outer Banks, the big waves would knock me down and I would get back up in time for the next wave to tumble me once more. I wasn’t out far, maybe just up to my knees but the swiftness and force of the water knocked my legs out from under me each time. Many times I’d repeat this over and over until exhaustion set in and I would come ashore and rest before going back out again.

Life is like that at times, one wave after another can come against us. We can hardly stand up straight before we get knocked down again with trials, problems, conflicts and demands that won’t go away. If this has happened in your life, you know that the only way to get past these times is to press through. Giving up, “washing our hands of it” or running away won’t give us the victory we seek. Pressing through means to stay with it and never give up. Find another way around the situation. Patience, persistence and determination are all we need to press through to our destiny. God is for us and He is greater than any obstacle or problem we face. Possess a “never give up” attitude. We can reach up to take hold of God’s hand and strength during these times. Having an “overcomer” mentality will keep us on the road to our destiny instead of getting sidetracked by the difficulties we stumble upon on our journey. When the waves of life rise up against us, we must rise up even higher.



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Prayer

Prayer


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
August 10, 2011

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” –Matthew 21:22 NIV

Oil painting is a new found passion and the subject I enjoy painting most are seascapes of the Outer Banks, particularly Pea Island. To paint requires having many tools such as paint thinner, brushes, paints, palette, canvas, easels, etc. Each item is very important to the success of the painting. Before I sit down to spend a day at my easel, I have to be sure I have everything I need. If I am out of brush cleaner, my brushes will harden with paint and be useless. Having the right tools are very important. This week my husband was doing some repairs around the house and brought out his tools. Drills, hammer, screwdriver and nails and so much more. He has learned that before he starts a project, he needs to have the necessary tools at hand first. His knowledge and expertise are great, but without the right tools, he would not be able complete his task.

Spiritually, our greatest tool is prayer. There are times in our lives when we have to endure unpleasantness. Perhaps we have been treated poorly. Maybe we have been falsely judged or accused. Perhaps we are taken advantage of. Maybe we are simply not liked. All those things we cannot change because unless the person doing these things has the Holy Spirit residing in them, change is not likely. But God does equip us with prayer for times such as these. We can pray for those that act as our enemy. In fact, the Bible says “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:28 NIV

A daily simple prayer, asking for peace for oneself, peace for the situation and for the accuser to accept God’s Salvation is the best thing we can do. Prayer has mighty power and those that are faithful know that. But those that live without peace and have hardened hearts need the faithful to pray for them. Who do we know today that needs prayer? While we can let things go and allow distance to form between us and the situation, we still have the obligation to pray for those that know no better or choose not to live in God’s peace. A hardened paint brush has to be tossed out as it will never be the same. But a hardened heart can be prayed for and through God, anything is possible



Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sand

Sand

Reflections by the Sea   Betsy Ore Glass
August 6, 2011


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, July 26, 2011

Vacation



Vacation
Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
July 26, 2011

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

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Enjoy the View

Enjoy the View

Reflections by the Sea
Betsy Ore Glass
July 21, 2011


Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind! -Psalm 66:5

How wonderful it was recently to visit the newly constructed Jennette’s Pier. Seems to me it is simply a work of art and beauty. I believe they thought of everything to make the experience enjoyable, fun and comfortable. My Mother and I found the second floor covered balcony overlooking the ocean and enjoyed a morning of sightseeing and never had to leave our chairs. We saw the length of the pier looking mighty and strong. Families taking strolls to the end of the pier were mingling with the hardy fishermen lugging coolers, tackle and bait. Off to each side on the beach were a sea of colorful umbrellas set up in the sand with families gathered in the shade to keep cool. From our vantage point, we could look towards the sound and see it in the distance. Imagine that, looking at the sea and sound in one glance! And then a magical moment came when seven or eight beautiful pelicans, forming a straight line flew at eye level past us. They were within arms reach. I fumbled with my camera to try to get the up close shot but gave up and enjoyed the view instead. I almost missed it all trying to capture it forever with my lens.

My visit to the pier was a reminder of all things I love and all of it is a gift from God. The warmth of the sun; the smell of salt air and the occasional ocean breeze that offers refreshment. The sound of the waves, one after the other as they build and crash to the shore. I know I am at the beach when I hear the noise that the seagulls make and see the perfection of a pelican glide in and out of the water. And then the surprise and delight when we see a dolphin in the distant ocean that surfaces every now and then. God gives us gifts everyday. There is beauty in everything, but it is up to us to find it. Even if we are busy with many projects and seem not to have any time for ourselves, the view is still there. What will God give you to look at today?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Holding On

Holding On


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
July 09, 2011

Holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. -1 Timothy 1:19 NIV

Over the Fourth of July weekend, our son in law took us out on the boat for a wonderful day of family fun. When we drifted about and enjoyed the scenery, it was lovely and so relaxing. But when we were cruising, we had to endure other boats and their wakes, and some choppy waves now and then. “Hold on” was the warning given to us to brace ourselves. Not being a seasoned boater, I will admit to being wide-eyed a few times, but I was deemed sea-worthy at the end of the day and invited to go out again. (Okay, so I do admit that I was holding on to that boat for dear life at times and shouted up a prayer or two as needed and will probably do the same again the next time I get invited!!).

How many times do we go about our daily life, the chores, work and play and we aren’t holding on to anything that anchors us? I wouldn’t consider boating without a GPS and charts so why would we jump out in the fast lane of life without being prepared? We can all walk out the door each day with a holy hedge of protection around each of us if we just ask in prayer. Holding on to God is all we need to weather life’s storms, turbulence, high waves and more. He is our anchor at all times, not just in times of trouble or need. Holding on doesn’t mean we are immune from things happening to us or around us, but how much worse it could be if we didn’t have His Hand to hold on to. For those that keep God first, in all ways, in all things, then they must be assured that God has protection over them. Holding on to God everyday in everyway will keep us sheltered under Him.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tide

Tide


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
July 06, 2011

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.-Psalm 17:6 NIV

If you enjoy the beach, fishing or boating it is essential to check the tide charts to see when the high and low tides are. Low tide exposes shells on the beach but it makes it difficult for boaters to navigate if the water is already shallow. Moving water from the incoming or outgoing tide can affect the days catch according to avid fishermen who surf cast or pier fish.

The tides change twice daily and that is one of the reasons the beach can look differently at the shoreline from day to day. Many times we have ups and down like a tide. Our emotions can run high and our energy runs low. Problems feel as though they are engulfing us, wave after wave and we are in a battle to stay on high ground. There is a spiritual solution to our problems. The tide of the battle changes with prayer. I can’t remember how many times things seem hopeless but when I started to pray, I could begin to see my prayers making a difference. In big things and little things. Many times, especially in my inner circle, I will hear of the difficulties and despair of family and friends. Yet when I ask if they have prayed, the answer is mostly no. Prayers at any time don’t have to be elaborate or be said with fancy words. Instead, God knows our heart and knows what we need before we ask in prayer. Simple prayers said with simple faith using simple words are all that is needed to start the tide of the battle changing.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The American Flag

The American Flag


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
June 30, 2011

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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Walking in Faith

Walking in Faith


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
June 23, 2011

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. –Romans 10:1 NIV

Early morning walks whether they are on the beach on in a neighborhood can be very special. But of course, walking the beach when possible is my favorite of all. Often I found myself talking out loud to God, as though He is walking along side of me. The warmth of the sun chases away the light chill of the morning. Pocketing a few specially selected shells for the windowsill back home makes the day memorable. Best of all, are the deep breaths from walking vigorously on the sand with lungs full of salt air. I believe all these things combined, make the start of a perfect day.

There are many “walks” in life…some physical, like walking a beach or exercising. But the one we will talk about today is the spiritual walk. Our relationship with God is our most important “walk”. We are given a choice of whether or not we choose to follow Him and His Word. Assuming we choose to walk with Him, He begins to take us down different paths and roads to teach and strengthen us. Some roads are bumpy with turmoil and tribulations and other times, we seem to glide by effortlessly. Those challenges we come up against build us up and invariably we come away having learned a new lesson. I have learned over and over these past few months that we cannot have faith and live in fear at the same time. One cancels out the other. It is very subtle how fear seems to become a stronghold in our life over small things and before you know it, we become afraid or worried and anxious about everything. Fear is a dark spirit that comes upon us when we think “what if” thoughts and fear thoughts. If we allow ourselves to remain anxious or continue to worry, the end result is living a life consumed with fear. It comes on us so quietly that we often don’t know it has happened until our entire mindset becomes based on fear. Each time I have allowed my mind to walk down the road of fear, I realized later that it was for naught. Everything worked out, but the toll of carrying worry and anxiety in my body caused my heart to beat faster, headaches to come upon me and my sleep to be interrupted. Some fears are normal, but most are not. God says that we are to trust Him. He is our Protector and Provider. He is always the Answer. Whatever fears we may be carrying today can be surrendered to God in exchange for faith. Faith comes by hearing the Word. Reading scripture that comforts and guides us into a deeper walk with God automatically diminishes our natural tendency to live in fear to free us for a life of faith.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Father

A Father



Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
June 15, 2011

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. –Exodus 20:12 NIV

A father should be the foundation of the family on which the mother and children stand secure. That is the ideal family. But it isn’t always the case. In the last 45 years, it is reported that the United States has become the world leader in fatherless families. Single mothers do the best they can to be mother and father to their children. And grandparents stepping in and other role models to provide a father figure like coaches and teachers. Churches today recognize the need to help and provide support to families and therefore youth groups are becoming vital as a source of values and fellowship with guidance to the children. Anyone who helps to shape a child’s life in a positive way enforcing love and values is an angel on earth and we should thank them.

I will miss my father again this year. Now in heaven, or as he referred to it as "the sunny side", it seems just yesterday that I was buying that plaid short sleeve shirt and sweet card to hand deliver. I miss the smell of his after shave and the scent of his shaving cream. He laughed easily, had strong opinions and loved generously. I was blessed to have my dad for my friend. Today, at this time in my life, I have a heart full of memories to fall back on and for that I am glad. He always puts us ahead of himself. He saw to it that we took vacations, Sunday drives, ate lots of ice cream, went to ball games and he lovingly sat in the living room chair as I stumbled through my impromptu weekly piano recital, playing just for him. He loved roses and I was so proud when I painted one of his roses for my mother this past year to hang on her wall to last forever. “Your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever.” ~Author Unknown

Time is fleeting. It is going by at record speed. If you have your father, don’t let a moment go by without picking up the phone or stopping by. If you are not reconciled with your father, make peace. You will be glad you did. It doesn’t matter who is at fault. Love covers over all offenses. Love conquers all.

If you are a father, count your blessings and know that God has blessed you with this most important job for the rest of your life. Be the best at it. Don’t forget to make memories because of people like me, that is all that we have now from that most important relationship.

And to all of us, never forget that our Heavenly Father is always there. We can talk to Him. Cry to Him. Rejoice and celebrate our triumphs with Him. He guides us everyday. In little ways and big ways. He is often obvious in our life and other times His voice and suggestion is very subtle…but He is always there.

On this Father’s Day, may God bless all our fathers and father figures, past, present and future