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



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.