Thursday, December 26, 2013


All Is Well

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. –Psalm 28:7

The reflections of Christmas 2013 linger on even as the day has come and gone.  The wrapping paper torn away, a few cookies and candy canes remain and the wilted holiday greens are evidence that we indeed had a celebration. Christmas Eve service always delights with the familiar carols sung and the message of Jesus’ birth warms the heart with His Everlasting Love. My grandson sat though most of the service and that in itself was a Christmas miracle! All is Well!

But what if everything in your life is not well? People that experience the loss of any kind or hardship this past year may have lost their sense of the holidays.  Christmas may represent sadness rather than joy.  My Dad’s favorite carol was “Oh Holy Night”. Every time I turned on the radio, walked into a store, went to church, I heard that song. Over and over again. Even though he has been gone for 4 years now, it could have been a painful memory for me. Yet I chose to celebrate that song and each time I heard it, I said, “Merry Christmas, Daddy” as though he was right there beside me. 

We have choices as to how to approach the things we must face. Some folks walk a tougher path that we do. We must encourage and lift them up because next year they could be the ones lifting us up in love. Being there for one another at all times. Our attitude and faith are the keys. Believing in God for good in all things will strengthen us. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Happy New Year!! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


The Best Gifts

 

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

 

It’s the week before Christmas and all through the house are Christmas lists, presents to be wrapped and last minute items to shop for. Oh, the busyness of it all! The hustle and bustle of the holidays is in full swing. At least, that is how it used to be for us. When our children were little and grandparents were able to travel, it was a large festive time with everyone enjoying overall abundance, prosperity, sharing plans for the future and sharing gifts from under the tree. Now, things are just different. Everyone was spread out for many years and now we are all back together again…that is our Christmas blessing this year! And now, Christmas is no longer measured in material things, but in health, gratitude and joy…as it should be.

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


 

Thanksgiving

O Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever.

-Psalm 107:1

 

 

Thanksgiving is the time of year that makes me think of simpler times. I think of the first Thanksgiving where the history books say the menu included wild turkey, pumpkin and grains from Indian corn.  The first Thanksgiving was intended not only as a celebration of the harvest, but as a day of prayer as well to thank God for the crops.  It is written that we should hem our blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel. When the women of that time made their long hand-sown dresses, I wonder if they thought of their blessings with every stitch they sewed.

 

Their world was probably as complex to them as ours seems to us today. While the times have changed from a primitive world to a more modern one, the meaning of Thanksgiving has never changed.  Thanksgiving is nationally honored in our country and is an official holiday. The origin of the word “holiday” comes from the phrase “holy day”. That is a good reminder to celebrate our holidays with reverence. But how do you do that, starting with Thanksgiving? Maybe you have never said a blessing over a meal before, or maybe you will be in a large crowd and are uncomfortable praying out loud. That is okay. Perhaps you can read scripture from the Bible or find a God-inspired Thanksgiving poem from the bookshelf to read. Try sharing a collaborative prayer where everyone takes a turn at the table saying one thing they are thankful to God for. Perhaps you could enjoy taking a walk on the beach to see God's beauty while giving thanks to Him in private. Whatever the action, I believe God would want to be a part of our Thanksgiving holiday to make it more of a holy day. We should show our thankfulness through our example. President John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Grandparents
 
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.
 
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.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Feeding


Feeding

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. –Romans 10:17 NIV

This is the time of year that I love to take a few loaves of bread to one of the piers to feed the seagulls. I guess I think they need a little extra nourishment on the cold days and I am more than happy to oblige. They seem to be waiting for me and their feeding frenzy begins at the first scattering of bread. Some gulls are patient and wait for me to throw bread directly to them. Others are aggressive and will catch the bread in mid-air practically taking it out of my hand. They are so hungry for it. Some are content to eat if there is any left over and then there are those that are simply uninterested.

Isn’t it that way with us too? We know we should feed our faith. Some people are very hungry for the Word, others are lukewarm and then some simply don’t care to be bothered.  You might be wondering, I’d like to feed my faith but how do you do that? Today’s scripture tells us that faith comes from hearing. Hearing what? Hearing the Word of God. Just by opening the Bible and beginning to read puts us on the right path. You might say that the Bible is big and I am not sure where to begin. I have heard it said by more than one person that Psalms is a great place to begin; Proverbs gives wisdom and in the New Testament, start reading the four gospels which are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. That is a terrific way to begin and a good plan.

So, why the importance of feeding ones faith? What is the point? God’s Words and Instruction, His Promises are all things that will build our faith and provide a compass for our life. Knowing and learning God’s Word is the beginning and then we can boldly declare it as our faith builds and develops.  When faith builds, we are then able to store these teachings in our heart for the day we are in need through circumstances or situations that comes against us.  Psalm 51 talks about having a pure heart and a steadfast spirit within. Today could be a fresh start when we purposefully leave the past behind and set out on a new path to find deeper faith.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Influence

230image1-HPIM7560.JPGInfluence
 

O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling. –Psalm 43:3
 
The beach has been such a part of my life since I was a child. It made sense that I would share my love of the beach with my own children. They were influenced by me and both of our children love everything to do with the beach today. I enjoy seeing parents taking their children to the beach for the first time or out on the pier with their first rod and reel. Little children want to emulate their parents. We don’t have to tell them what to do as much as we must show them by our actions and live a life that would make them want to follow. When our actions and words surround them, that is called “influence”. We each have the power to influence anyone.  It is a mighty thing to know that something we can say or do could shape another person’s life, choices and decisions.
 
Using our influence in a subtle way is far better than actually telling someone what to do. To be told what to do can often be received as unsolicited advice, unappreciated wisdom, and just plain interference. To have success in this area, we must realize that our actions carry more weight than our words.
 
How are we using our influence in our everyday life? Who do we look up to? Who looks up to us?  Everything that we say and do reflects our character which reflects our relationship with God. If we are using the gift of influence to guide others, we must pray that it is God’s Light and His Truth leading us to lead others.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Today

142image1-Coastal Erosion.JPG
Today

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
–Psalm 118:24 NIV
 
More than once, I have found myself leaning against a sand fence and thoughtfully staring at the ocean into the distance. I wonder if there was someone on the other side staring back at me with a heart full of hopes and dreams, too! It is a great past time to wonder what lies beyond what our natural eye can see.  At times I wish I could see supernaturally for what is coming next week, next month or next year. But, God knows best when He limits our vision to the “here and now”. When I was a child, my friends and I wished our life away, as though we were in an anxious race to mark time quickly, so we can become adults. Only to become adults, and long for the carefree days of our youth again! How foolish we were!
 
The Bible teaches us to not worry or have fear about His Provision. We aren’t to worry about tomorrow, just live in today. Worry can’t accomplish anything. In fact, worry is actually a sin. It cancels out our prayers.   We are to trust God for His blessings and favor.  It is a blessing to just being able to live and enjoy each day in contentment without fear or anxiety. He provides for us in all ways, each day. God brought this message to me another way this week. As I was going about the house, I was humming a hymn. Finally I paid attention to the song He put in my heart. It was “Great Is Thy Faitfulness”. The refrain says it all:
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Autumn

Autumn


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore GlassInline image 1

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.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Finding Peace


Finding Peace

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly. -Psalm 85:8 ESV

October is here again!! Seems that these seasons are coming too fast! Pumpkins, fall colors, and cooler weather all adds up to the essence of “fall”. I have never known a month that I loved more than October at the beach. When we were youngsters and Daddy bought the new little beach box beside the ocean, I remember we could throw open all the windows and have a fabulous breeze blow through the house. Our deck was the perfect place for seeing shooting stars.  We slept with the windows open and could hear the waves tumble to the shore. The woolen blankets would feel damp by morning with the salt air pouring in. Hot chocolate never tasted so good in the mornings to take away the chill.  We always woke up with great expectations of good things each day because the beach never disappointed us. Even the rainy days were wonderful. Things were simpler then in the 60’s and we didn’t require so much stimulation to be happy like it is today. Building sandcastles, playing cards, putting together a puzzle with the family are wonderful memories that still carry me through. Now I see families playing with their cell phones over a meal in a restaurant. They aren’t talking to each other. Children can’t look out the windows on a car ride but instead have videos and movies they watch until their eyes glaze over.  Television must be on at all times to “provide company”. No one seems to like to be still and quiet.

God’s Peace can be found in those still and quiet times. But to the young generation, there doesn’t seem to be a value in quiet silence. I think it may be looked upon as a punishment to sit still and certainly silence can be so boring or so I have been told!! With so many conveniences and electronics available to make life easier, it appears we are busier than ever.  How much can we cram into one day? And at the days end, do we fall asleep in peace or are our minds rehearsing what we will do tomorrow? I suggest it is the latter.


October is such a beautiful time to be outdoors. Turn the phone off. Take a walk. Sit on the porch. Walk the beach. Spend time to remember what a peaceful mind and heart feels like. Rediscover the sweet sound of nature and your own heartbeat. When we are quiet, God is then allowed to speak to us. He drops ideas into our minds. He plants seeds on the inside of us so we can dream big. Fill the void with Him and everything else will fall into place. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. –Philippians 4:9 ESV

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Ocean


The Ocean


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.  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.

 

 

 

 

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Walking through Life

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose  -Romans 8:28 ESV

 

My morning routine includes a walk on most days. The pace is just right and sometimes I realize the walk is over before I know it. Being deep in thought, I suppose the walk has become habit without a lot of concentration on my part.  But that one time I stub my toe or trip over something reminds me to pay attention and not take things for granted.  Likewise, just when we feel like we have the world by a string, something comes out of nowhere to dash our hopes and we are left with disappointment. It is disheartening to feel that our dreams are slipping away. That our hopes have aborted us and we sit alone in disillusion. Whether it is a sore toe or one of life’s lessons, both hurt!

 

What is the definition for disappointment? It is the failure to fulfill our expectations. Better said, disappointment is the gap that exists between expectation and reality. It has happened to all of us. This past week I had to sit down and cope with several disappointments. They can come so suddenly that it sucks the breath out of you. No, nothing devastating, just setbacks that will turn around for good as they always have. But don’t we set our minds to the way we think things should play out and when they don’t we find ourselves stunned!

 

Sometimes I have really questioned my heart, my thoughts, my beliefs, and my faith. Just because I write an inspirational column doesn’t set me apart or give me immunity from low valleys in life. In fact, I am convinced sometimes that God purposely allows difficulties so I will have something to write about!! God has his sense of humor and I try to keep mine too! Seriously, when in the depths of the valley, it does feel like we are all alone. Then God sends us help through a scripture, a friend or someone in passing that lets us know that He has us covered. As I said this week, God will make it work out. I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but we can trust Him. And that we must do!

 

What is the opposite of disappointment? Perhaps we could include words like success, blessing, happiness, encouragement, help, comfort and more. So how do we climb out of disappointment into blessing? The simplest way is not focus on defeat or disappointment but look over it, beyond it. By focusing on our lack, we won’t see the abundance on the other side. I know this is hard. Frustration mounts as time goes by, but God does have the last word. Surrendering our situation to Him instead of circling our problems and reliving them over and over will bring us up and over into God’s grace and favor a lot quicker!!
 
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Balance

Balance

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
September 11, 2013




But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. -Matthew 6:33 ESV


I look out my window as I write today and see flowers blowing in the breeze. I love it and am so pleased that good watering and fertilizing have produced amazing flowers and foliage to enjoy. As with anything, it takes a mixture of things, a balance of ingredients to make something good. The sun, the rains, good soil, plant food and proper pruning all play a part in a beautiful end result. What is balance? It is described as a state of equilibrium; an equal distribution. When things run aground, it is usually because something is out of balance. I have heard it said that we should live daily with these equal parts: prayer, family, work and play. The opposite of that is to be imbalanced. If you spend too much time on one, the others will become neglected and suffer. Think of a garden bench. If one leg was shorter or longer than the others the bench would be lopsided. It would then have little value. Translate that to everyday life. If the student that watches TV after school instead of doing homework doesn’t change, he will lose his footing in class. When the workaholic leaves home early and comes back late, he misses out on family time that cannot be reclaimed and so on. We should work hard and play hard, and not confuse the two!! There is a true, deep pleasure and residing happiness that comes when things are in harmony. When our hearts are filled with the goodness of the Lord and we stand sheltered by Him, balance is easier to obtain. That is how it was meant to be. God gave many of us the ability to laugh, to have fun, to sing and clap. He gave us a mind so we could apply ourselves in the workplace or at home for the good of our family. He taught us to pray and He has an open door policy! And many of us have loved ones we cherish that bring richness to our life. The key to keeping our balance is knowing when we have lost it, but He can help us find it, if we seek Him and are willing.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Changing Landscape


Changing Landscape

But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
-Isaiah 43:18-19

The next season is upon us. The sea oats will be no more than golden stalks in a few weeks. Grasses will turn brown as the days grow shorter. The summer haze of humidity will be chased away by blue sky and fall breezes. It is one of my favorite times of the year.

Nothing stays the same. Haven’t you heard that said? And oh, how true it is. When things are good, don’t we silently wish for time to stand still so we can savor those great times? And when things get rough, the getting gets tough and abundance is as fleeting as a cloud. Those are the moments we want to get through in a hurry. There is something to learn in good times and bad.

What I thought was a totally devastating change was when we moved to another city far from anything familiar. I simply couldn’t accept it and struggled to get over it. And then a few years later, when a sickness required specialists and treatment, I realized God had moved us to the right city, for the right care, at the right time. After that, I learned to not second guess God and just follow Him.  God moved us again and when my husband took ill, God made sure just the right doctor was on call that day in the ER to do a delicate procedure that he was an expert at. Again, God came through. This accounting of God’s Presence in our lives has played out again and again. We are not special. We are not “head of the class”. We are simply His Children. Now there are more changes ahead.  Our son, our daughter in law and precious grandson are relocating in a few weeks to be near us from another state. I know this is God ordained. The time is right. Their house is sold, the job is secured and their new house is waiting for them. This is a sweet season we are entering and we feel blessed.  While nothing stays the same, there is always change to contend with. We have to take it all, both the good and the bad, while never hesitating to root our faith in Him just like those sea oats are rooted in the sand. We sway back and forth and endure everything without ever breaking. Doubts and fear can cloud our vision and cause us to bend far, but faith sustains us in the changing landscape ahead, if we allow it. God is faithful especially when we are.

 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Labor Day

Labor Day

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass
August 28, 2013


Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV


 In the late 1800’s the idea of recognizing workers came to fruition with a celebration to be called “Labor Day”. It was put into law and it would be celebrated the first Monday in September each year. Originally the idea was to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers. There would be parades and speeches made by political figures. Today the holiday continues, and the parades may continue and speeches are made, but it is more known as the last celebration weekend of summer.
 
 So how will you observe Labor Day? Doesn’t everything come down to making a decision no matter what it is? Recently a friend passed away and at his funeral they spoke of his decision making process. Even though he was a man of many earthly riches and a business mind that was considered superior, his family said this: “His decisions were based on two things……one, would it glorify God and secondly, would it bless someone”. And that was it. A simple, yet most important creed to live by. We were on the receiving end of his generosity and saw that his actions were genuine and his faith real. Since hearing that, I admit that I want to follow in the same path. To follow my friends’ legacy of glorifying God and blessing someone, it will take our mind off of ourselves and onto God where we can be used by Him. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 1 John 3:17 ESV

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Casting Out


Casting Out


Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:2-5 

There are many different ways to catch many fish such as using weighted nets and trawling nets to name a few. When casting out any net, there is a great expectation of hope and that something good is possible. It is said that the charm of fishing is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope. 

What is hope? The definition is, “a likelihood of success. A chance that something desirable will happen or is possible.” Hope has its rewards: joy and peace. Romans 15:13 speaks of hope this way, Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Casting our cares to God gives us the hope that builds faith. But what is faith? The book of Hebrews says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We can’t see hope or faith, but like the fisherman who casts his net in faith and hopes for a bounty of fish, we must believe it is there.

When we go through trials, it is important to stand on faith that something good will come from our difficulty.  That all things glorify God. And when we are in the good times and the season we are in is glorious, we must not forget to continue to commune with God and seek His Word so that faith and hope grow deeper as we abide in Him.

 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Release


Release

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. Mark 7:8 NIV

When my husband goes fishing, if the fish is too small, he must release it back into the water. There are guidelines to follow when fishing and it is more than just dropping a line overboard. To release something means to let go.  And it is especially hard to let go when hooking a fish that is just a bit shy of the regulation length! But he says that is what a camera is for, to record the moment before release.

What are other things that we have to let go of? Maybe past disappointments, outdated traditions, memories, bad experiences, unbalanced relationships to name a few.  And then there are possessions that we are convinced we can’t part with.  We are disappointed to realize the upcoming generation doesn’t want our “treasures” as we had hoped because they have their own.  Cleaning house to unclutter is a daunting task but speaking from experience, it can be a good thing!

Some relationships are hard to find peace with. We work hard at making things work, we turn the other cheek, and we forgive over and over. We help just short of enabling and we give till it hurts. When in a relationship with a person that has let go of God, it can be very difficult. Because some people don’t want to change, we have to seek God’s counsel to determine what He wants us to do. Sometimes He gives us the okay to walk away. Other times He instructs us to set an example. But most certainly, our prayers are heard and we must continue to pray for the lost.

Are there things in your life you wish to let go of and release? When fishing, sometimes it is necessary to cut the line. Seek God’s guidance and let every action honor Him. The goal is to live in peace.

 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Finding Your Way


 

Finding Your Way

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. Deut. 4:29 NIV

This week I had occasion to visit an assisted living facility numerous times. My expectations were exceeded at every turn! At first glance, there were people in wheelchairs or holding onto walkers that were slowly moving about. Others were seated in chairs in the lobby to observe the comings and goings of visitors and staff.  Then I noticed behind the white hair and thick glasses were bright smiles and gestures that said “hello”. In the following days, I was able to talk to many of the wonderful people there and learned about their lives. I met a teacher, a concert pianist, a blind man wounded in the war, a sweet man in a plaid shirt that sits by the door daily and so on. I loved my time with these fascinating seniors. In my youth I guess I mistakenly thought that at some point, life would be over at a certain age and I would just drift aimlessly like a boat in the ocean waiting for my turn to go to glory. But as I have gotten older I realize for some people, that is exactly what happens, but for others, they make every day count. Adlai Stevenson said, “It is not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts.” While I saw many folks living life, I noticed that others chose to stay in their rooms and not get involved. The comparison could be that some folks are just spectators while others are participants. A spectator simply observes and watches and does nothing to contribute. The definition of a participant is someone that shares and takes part in something. I want to be known as a participant and I bet you do too! Not just in everyday life but in my faith as well.  These dear seniors may get lost, forget important things, appear frail and tired, but many are set on finding their way each day. They seek to be useful; they seek independence, peace and companionship with God and with each other. I see God’s Light shining through so many of their faces. Their age or physical limitations have not dimmed the glow that lives within them.

What about our faith and our spiritual journey? Are we active or inactive?  Hopefully we are living our life to be a reflection of God’s love and all that He represents. But if not, to be adrift spiritually is a sad place to be. There is so much help and support that is available that it is hard to watch someone go in and out of their spirituality like the tide rolling in and out.  If someone is seeking to find their way and needs help, let us be useful and honor God by sharing our faith and God’s grace and mercy. And if you feel like a spectator in your faith and have been adrift, turn back to God, seek Him in all you do and ask for divine help and confide in a Christian friend, church or pastor that you need help in finding your way. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matt 7:7 NIV

Changing Direction


Changing  Direction

 


  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.

 

 

Fishing


Fishing


 

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him


- Matthew 4:18-20


 


In a coastal area, there are so many ways to enjoy fishing. Deep-sea fishing is probably the most costly and often the boats return with large bounties of fish from miles offshore. The sport fisherman may also like pier fishing. Some, including my husband, enjoys surf casting from the sandy shore into the area just beyond the breaking waves. Tackle shops are filled with all the necessary equipment, lures, rods and reels. Sometimes the passion for fishing is passed down from one generation to another. And then there is the commercial fisherman who depends on the weather and his boat and the sturdiness of his nets to capture enough fish to earn an income. This is hard work, but for those that do it, they would tell you, there is no other job for them. The patient fisherman most always enjoys being rewarded with a bountiful catch.

 

God wants us all to be fishers of men. He expects us to share our faith and to witness to others. We don’t need all the lures and trappings of a seasoned fisherman to do this. Like a fisherman however, we can approach witnessing in many different ways. God will show us what to do. All we need is the genuine desire to serve Him. The Holy Spirit is within to strengthen us when we feel His calling. Just living an obedient life, raising our families with Christian values and attending church is a silent witness to those around that are observing us. We may be examples of godly living without even being aware of it! This is my father’s glory that you bear much fruit, sharing yourself to be my disciples. John 15:8

 

 

 

July


July


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.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Horizon

 

 
"Horizon"
Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass
July 13, 2013


I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." –Psalm 91:2 NIVThere are many definitions for the word, “horizon”, but I came across two that I liked enough to share. The dictionary states that “a horizon is the apparent intersection of the earth and sky as seen by an observer”. Another definition is “the range of one’s knowledge, experience or interest”. The times I have spent at the beach, looking out towards the horizon, I have wondered what was beyond what I could see. I trust that the maps of the world are correct and that there are countries on the other side of the Atlantic…yet I can’t see them from where I stand on the North Carolina shore. The range of my vision is limited. It is then that trust comes into play. But it isn’t always easy to trust in something if we can’t see it for ourselves. That is one of the spiritual lessons we each have to learn on our own with God as our teacher. Many times He allows us to walk certain paths with only the vision of a few feet in front of us. He lifts the veil of fog to reveal more when He is ready. Isn’t it daring to consider ourselves walking on a course but we don’t know where we are going? Not at all, if we have trust in God. He knows where He is leading us. He can see beyond the horizon. Trusting in God’s provision and care is not always easy for those that have relied on their own abilities to control their destiny. I know because I was one of those people and God has put me in situations where I have had to trust Him completely many times over. But this I can say. Surrendering to Him is good and He has never let me down. Our trust should be in Him. Part of trusting in Him is believing that the road we are on is one He has chosen for us. We should trust that He is leading us step by step and teaching us lessons to grow us spiritually along the way. And finally believing in His vision for us that stretches beyond the horizon. If we realize that He knows our needs and desires, plus we trust Him to know what is best for us, it makes it easier to let Him take the lead, so that we may follow.

"Living in Freedom"

"Living in Freedom"

Reflections by the Sea ©
 Betsy Ore Glass
July 13, 2013


You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.  –Galations 5:13 NIVMeandering through the downtown streets of Manteo recently made me smile. The streets were lined with so many beautiful and different picket fences. Blue hydrangeas and orange day-lilies bursting through the white pickets. Climbing roses, too. These fences surrounded Victorians homes, cottages, bungalows and more. Everything appeared to have a fresh coat of paint. Front porches were decorated with wicker chairs and steps were lined with pots of flowers. Loving touches here and there like birdbaths, baskets of flowers, window boxes and garden art showed individuality and expression. One house had a starfish in each window. It was a charming afternoon to observe neighbors visiting over the fence, children riding on bikes to the water, vacationers supporting the local economy, restaurants bustling with patrons. But one thing stood out. So many American flags…everywhere! Homes, businesses and the waterfront. Such pride was apparent in the community and for our country! Independence Day just behind us, yet it is important to remember to celebrate our country and the freedom we enjoy each day. We should always be grateful and never take our freedom for granted. It is a blessing and a gift. We live in a free country where we can express ourselves without fear. There are so many opportunities for learning and doing for those that wish to pursue them. We have freedom to live, work, play and worship wherever we want to. Many people in other countries would give anything to have the choices we have. With 4th of July celebrations still going on with cookouts, parades, fireworks and ice cream, let’s also take time to offer prayer for our local, state and national leaders. I do believe that God has put many of these people in a place of leadership that they might serve Him and the People to the best of their ability. They need our prayers for godly wisdom as they make decisions that affect each of us and the places we live. Thank you God for the tireless efforts of those that work so hard to help maintain the freedom that we continue to enjoy.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Going Higher

Going Higher

Reflections by the Sea ©
 
 Betsy Ore Glass
June 27, 2013


As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:9 NIVI shall never forget the day I went up in a hot air balloon. It was magical, serene and quiet. Yes, quiet! I thought we would hear the gusts and roar of the strong winds that were moving us along but we did not. And to my surprise, the birds don’t fly that high either. So it was as though we could hear a pin drop. It felt like we were climbing towards heaven going higher and higher. We could see cars driving along the highways below, many homes, shopping centers, lots of landscape and the ocean. But it was as though the mute button was on. To be high up could be a lonely place I realized, but also a place of great peace.  What does it mean to go higher? The Lord said His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. But He picks us up and lovingly encourages us to take steps toward purity and righteousness if we are willing. Everyday some of us step up on ladders, drive across tall bridges, visits monuments and climb to the top of sand dunes. But to walk in God’s ways, to go higher is to spiritually live as close to Him as we can. To be in a constant relationship with Him. That’s how we can be taught by making time to listen and learn. Emotionally to go higher means to not get caught up in strife and to deflect negativity that comes at us by living above all the arguments, disagreements and colliding opinions in our everyday life. Physically to go higher means to possess divine wisdom to know when to speak and when not to speak. In other words, to pick and choose ones’ battles and certainly not get involved in conflicts that don’t involve us. If we find ourselves getting caught up or side- tracked in the unimportant minutiae of life, wallowing in judgment of others, we will sink in negativity and we will attract more of it to us like a magnet. We have to be willing to go higher in our thoughts and attitudes so that our emotions don’t pull us back down. God calls us to go higher with Him. Like a hot air balloon, it is a great mental picture of where we should hope to be…high up where the air is clear, quiet and peaceful.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer

Summer
Reflections by the Sea ©
 
Betsy Glass
June 20, 2013



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