Saturday, December 27, 2014

Giving and Receiving


Giving and Receiving

 

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

-1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV

 
On the Outer Banks, Mother Nature both gives and receives. Everyday there is evidence of that with the changing shoreline, incoming and outgoing tides, ocean treasures that have washed up on the beach and clouds that pass by overhead. 

Although the presents of Christmas morning have been opened and put away, the feeling of giving and receiving lingers on as we look forward to the New Year. God’s love has been present in the giving and receiving spirit that is so present in our midst. We have many occasions to give. To be on the receiving end of generosity can be a spiritual experience as God shows us His love through the helping hand of others.

 believe that whether we “received” or “gave” this year, that God would have us take a moment to offer Him praise and thanks for sending us what we needed through our brothers and sisters in Christ. If God used us to give to others, we might offer Him praise for giving us the strength and resources to be used by Him.

 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Traditions

Traditions
 
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, --Galatians 5:22 NIV
 
 
 
One definition for tradition is, “a story or a custom that is memorized and passed down from generation to generation”.  I think of it as a circle of love. It goes round and round to warm and comfort a family in their own specialness.
 
 It is the time of year to finalize those holiday plans and bring to life those childhood traditions again.  It is the traditions that were set in place long ago that are the common thread in our family,  We will enjoy my mother’s cornbread stuffing because all the cooks in the family now have that recipe. My husband will have a bit of his mother with him as we use her cranberry bowl. It has been passed down now 3 times!  We haven’t decided if we will have my fathers’ fruit ambrosia or banana pudding. He finally conceded and gave us his secret recipes several years ago to our delight! And I will dust off Christmas decorations that have travelled with us from place to place. Whether we are all at the same table together or scattered across many states, it is the comforts of tradition that brings about closeness and bridges any gaps.  It is also a reminder to us of the memories that have helped to shape us and our holidays’ past.
 
Many families, regardless of their faith or heritage will begin celebrating using their traditions carried from generation to generation. The Jewish community is celebrating Chanukah by lighting the Menorah for eight days.  The Christians will celebrate Christmas, honoring the birth of Christ on the 25th..  African-Americans will honor their heritage for seven days in a fairly new tradition called Kwanzaa, beginning on the 26th.  A local Outer Banks tradition called, “Old Christmas” goes back over 100 years and is still celebrated by some, but this celebration occurs as it always has, in January.
 
What will you pass down this year? A recipe, an old treasured family tablecloth, that special saw that always cut down the Christmas tree? Maybe we can add to that. Let’s meet this season with peace and the fruit of the spirit in our hearts to love and forgive the offenses from the past. Let it be a time to right the wrongs, make peace, love the unlovable and be merciful. We are all God’s Children and we are a part of His Circle of Love. Pass it on!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Christmas Ornaments


Christmas Ornaments


Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall

–Psalm 55:22 NIV

We moved from one house to another this year and fortunately the boxes of Christmas decorations had not made its way from the garage to the attic yet. I thought about getting an early start on my decorating. We put up the tree and then it sat there for a few days, maybe even a week with just the lights. In years past I would have had the help of our children to trim the tree. There would be hot chocolate, half- eaten candy canes strewn about, my husband mumbling about the tangled lights and Andy Williams Christmas songs playing on the stereo as the dogs and cat fought for a place to lay under the tree. If it sounds chaotic, it was. But, I admit I miss all the commotion of this treasured family pastime.

 What happened to the spirit of Christmas this year? I just couldn’t seem to get motivated in my new surroundings. Finally, we looked at the barren tree and decided we had to decorate it. One by one, we opened the boxes and the memories came flooding back to us. The special ornaments like the plastic Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus that my daughter “borrowed” from my parents tree and placed on our tree when she was four years old. Then there was the stuffed Easter bunny that has been on our tree ever since my son realized the connection between Christmas and Easter and decided that we should celebrate both holidays at once, or at least on our tree. The glittered gum balls from grade school along with the hand painted ornaments we made one year when we were feeling crafty were placed carefully on the tree. The tree was filling up with over 30 years of memories. I couldn’t help but think long and hard of where we had been and where we were going. Our life was spread out on that tree. There was the little white church that I bought for the tree the year I went through a serious illness. There were the ornaments that my husband and I gave to each other when times were lean and they were our only gift to each other. The handmade cloth stuffed ornaments that have lasted over two decades still looked good as new. But I couldn’t say the same for the featherless bird (thanks to the cat) that has had a place of honor on the tree for years.

 Standing in the distance, gazing at the tree in all its years of memories and beauty, I was left with a wonderful thought of gratefulness that we have been blessed through good times and bad, through ups and downs. The memories of Christmases long ago continues to live on in the beauty of each ornament. The spirit of Christmas that I was trying so hard to find was there all along. It’s in the love of God and family. Love is at the heart of Christmas and God’s love remains the same even when there is change all around us.  He is the One we count on, the One we look to and the One we have faith in. The One who sustains us. God is there always, standing beside us in all times.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Best Gifts

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 season of Christmas and all through the house are Christmas lists, presents to be wrapped and cookies to bake. 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 12, 2014

Faith


Faith


Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.-Matthew 21:21 NIV


Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. I once heard it said that it is faith that is the light that guides us through the darkness. A boat captain understands the importance of light to guide his vessel back to safety at night. Equally, a small child tucked in to his bed at night depends on the glow of a nightlight to comfort him if he wakes. Then sometimes we just feel the light fading in our life and our faith slipping away at the same time. It has happened to many of us. We want so hard to believe in God’s power and provision but our natural eyes can’t see anything supernatural in front of us, so our faith wanes and our unbelief builds. Thoughts and words come in like waves in a storm like “God will never heal me”; “my circumstances will never improve; “my child is never going to amount to anything” and so on. We can chase away our thoughts, but when we give our own voice to these thoughts by speaking them out loud or telling others, we are feeding the unbelief in our hearts and spirit so that it can take root on the inside of us.

So many times I have prayed to God to give me more faith, when actually I should have asked Him to bind the unbelief. The unbelief is not from Him. By not agreeing with those thoughts that come in our heads that rob of us our hope, we can be overcomers. There is always hope. This week a friend called to say they were going to close their business after a long struggle. It was taking its toll. They didn’t believe that it could work anymore. God has the answer but my advice was for them to seek God’s light. That He would shine light on the path they should take, to either stay the course or move on. How do we know it is God and not just us exercising our own will? God confirms it by the words spoken by a friend, the way circumstances are shaping up, or most of all, He uses His Word to speak to us.  While we are waiting for God’s confirmation we can do what a wise man once said…“As you practice counting your blessings, you will find your faith is being suddenly revitalized.” This is the first step in being positive towards getting out of unbelief and back into faith living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Autumn


Autumn


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

-Matthew 13:32 NIV

 

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

November


 

November

 
May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.-Psalm 119:76

The fresh green of newly sprouted rye grass, the yellow, red and orange leaves on the trees, the smell of swirling smoke from neighboring fireplaces and the cool, crisp air is what November means to me. The swishing sound of raking leaves and pine straw is music to my ears. A bright orange pumpkin and pot of yellow potted mums by the front door says “welcome”.  Okra pods and dried hydrangeas are ready to set aside for spraying with gold paint for handmade Christmas wreaths and centerpieces. McIntosh apples are plentiful now for that warm chunky applesauce at supper. I believe it is true what they say, that the heart of the hone is the kitchen. That’s the gathering place. Good food warms hearts and souls. Laughter and conversation spills forth when everyone converges upon the kitchen at the end of the day. Reading the mail, petting the dogs, setting the table, starting supper and sharing the day.  With the cooler weather and shorter days I find myself looking for comfort. Warm supper, a soft afghan to curl up with afterwards and my pup beside me. The perfect evening. I believe November is a nurturing time of year. In a few weeks it will be Thanksgiving. The time we devote to counting our blessings and sharing food and hospitality.

When we have to change our clocks, I can easily remember how to do it….spring forward and fall back. And I get it right every time!! (Now if I could just get help changing the clock in the car!!) Besides changing our clock in early November, I am also reminded to staring getting ready for the change of season because of the cooler weather and shorter days.  To shift gears. When seasons bring change, it is also a good time to take stock of things, including our spiritual life. To sit before God and see if we are still on the right track. Are we doing what He would have us do?  Are we growing, increasing our faith with each day? Are we doing more for Him and others and mumbling less? Are we loving a lot and always forgiving? Is our spirit open to Him or are we going down our own path? We can find peace and comfort in God’s Presence. In His Arms. Whatever may be in our hearts that we carry and are concerned about, we can turn it over to Him. He allows us to “fall back” on Him when we give our concerns over to Him; we now have room to seize the many opportunities He brings to us to “spring forward”.   

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Prayer


Prayer

 


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.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Right Tools


The Right Tools

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Today the exterminator came to get rid of outdoor ants that were uninvited guests. After all what is more important than playing baseball with my grandson in the backyard!! It is so nice to make one phone call knowing the ants will be taken care of. No worries. Regular visits from the exterminator throughout the year will keep us pest free and for that I am happy. Play Ball!!!!

A pest is definitely something that is unwanted.  It is an annoyance and a nuisance. Enough said!! We can say the same of those negative thoughts that creep into our minds, replaying old “hurts” over and over, being mad at situations we can’t change. Negativity opens the door to more negativity and bad thoughts. Neither being good for us.  When we become consumed with the pain of the past or frustrated with the problems of today, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make it go away like my phone call to the exterminator!! But you know, we do have all the right tools we need to get back on course and walk the right path. Faith, trust and belief….and of course The Word….. Scripture is our weapon against negativity. We can live a peaceful life if we stay connected and covered by God’s laws. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! – Isaiah 23:6 NLT

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Transition


Transition

 In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.

-Psalm 25:1 NIV

Last week I took a flight to California. We flew over the desert. Looking down from the plane it was like looking at the moon…..craters, dips, valleys, smooth, rough surfaces. No roads, no power lines…absolutely nothing in sight. It looked lifeless and abandoned. And all of a sudden there was a town with green lush grass, swimming pools, square plots of land with homes and all that goes with a busy town. I have to say I was surprised that there was no transition between the dry, empty desert and the thriving landscaped town.  I guess I thought there would be a division between the two areas like fields of scrub brush or cactus plants. Something. Anything. It was an interesting sight.

Life can be like that…no transition from one thing to another. How many times has a phone call changed our life? We were fine one minute and the next we would have a situation or crisis to handle that we didn’t expect. This happens more than we like it to, because if we are honest, we like time to get used to things changing. We have to ponder how to handle something, how to react, try to make a plan. But when we don’t have the luxury of time we can feel overwhelmed, uncertain, feeling a lack confidence and more. It is God that we can lean on. He understands us, our abilities, shortcomings and our strengths.  Nothing stays the same and things are constantly changing. When we are thrown a curve, that is especially the time to stand on our faith and rely on God to give us the wisdom to know what to do and when to do it. I know people who say, “I won’t bother God with that problem…it is too small for Him, I can handle it”. And of course we know there is a better way. God can handle it all, big and small.

 

 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sea Birds and Shore Birds


 

Sea Birds and Shore Birds


 

 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to this life?

Matthew 6:26-27

 

Sea birds and Shore birds. These birds appear so peaceful and carefree. They make their existence look easy. Pelicans gliding together in graceful formation are a photographer’s treat. The little sandpipers that skirt the water’s edge are frenzied in a dance to keep their feet dry.  The noisiness of the gulls as they scavenge down below and herons that high-step through the salty marshes are familiar sights on the coast. So many sea birds and shore birds living in and depending on the environment. It is true what today’s scripture shows us. The birds greet each day with an empty stomach and nothing stored up. The have expectant hope and faith that their needs will be met. Isn’t that an awesome display of faith!

Is it easy to identify with the phrase, “Always worrying about tomorrow, regretting yesterday and too busy to live in the present”? Maybe we can learn a life lesson from our feathered friends about faith and trust.

God says to trust Him. Give Him our needs and concerns.  Philippians 4:6-7 tells us  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Worry, anxiety and fear do not line up with the Word of God. They are the chains that tie us down when God wants to lift us up!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pressing Through


 

 

Pressing Through

 

 

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, September 17, 2014

Listening


Listening

 


Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.

-Proverbs 23:19 NIV

 

I love the sounds of the beach! The crashing waves, the gulls sqwaking overhead. The jingle of shells in my pocket and the squeals of children playing by the shore. Even the sound of a squeeky back door that slams in the wind is music to my ears. A drippy outdoor shower is even calming to me. This time of year especially, there is the sound of the sea oats as they rustle together in the fall breezes.  Many times a week, I put my hand into a bowl of  assorted shells and let them fall from my fingers back into the bowl.  Sometimes I think the wind has the sweetest sound as it blows between the old cottages and flaps a loose window shutter. It all feels like home to me.

I try to remain alert to the things around me and to listen to the Holy Spirit within me. For the last few weeks, the name of a old friend that I had lost touch with kept coming back to me, particularly in my morning prayer time. Over and over again. Day after day. I have learned that when God brings about a person like this, He wants me to pray for them as an intercessor. I prayed daily for God to meet my friend's needs and to surround her with angels for whatever she was going through. This week, the feeling was too overwhelming to ignore. Not only did I pray for her, I decided to try to find her. With the help of the internet, I did find my friend and called her. After 12 years, it was a wonderful reunion. It seemed like old times. She did in fact have things occuring in her life that needed prayer including two recent surgeries and more. The lesson is to be alert and listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. God talks to us through the Holy Spirit. Then just this past week, the names of an older couple in our family came to me in my prayer time. I asked God to protect them as that was the feeling I was receiving. I just learned that they were in a fender-bender but they were okay.  Perhaps it would have been worse if prayers had not surrounded them. Listen for the voice of God. Don't think it is a coincidence when the name of someone comes to mind more than once. Instead, get on your knees and lift up a prayer on their behalf. Stand in the gap for them. It may be your prayers that make a difference in their life.

 

 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Decisions


Decisions

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

What to do today? That is the question before us each morning. Decisions must be made: big ones and little ones. Important ones and those that must be made just to get through the day. If you are going about your daily life, you are probably a creature of routine and like me, can get bored occasionally with the same things day after day. God gives His Children free will. There is no reason to keep doing the mundane when we all, no matter what our age, our financial status or our health, can make decisions for ourselves. Many children are taught to only follow directions and not think things out, so regrettably they don’t learn how to make decisions on their own. That is how we gain experience by making choices and living with the outcome. Older folks may have the same routine each day for many years, and don’t think to rearrange their time and do something different to give their spirit a lift. Whatever decisions we make, it is important not to offend God with our choices. He allows us to tailor many things we do to our personal likes and dislikes, while staying obedient to Him.

How do you know if you have made the right decision? Experience has personally led me to know a peace that is abundant and full and the contentment that comes after the peace feels supernatural. And when I have made the wrong decision, the restlessness and doubt was overwhelming from the beginning. And then there are those times I jump into the driver’s seat and think I can drive better than God. So He lets me take the wheel and before long, I realize we are going in circles. I hand Him back the wheel and surrender my Will to Him and we get back on track. My insistence on “making things happen” only gets in God’s way and prolongs the outcome.

Everyone has a plan. Every day matters and so does our life. God lets us live here because He has something for us to do. Everyone, at any age has been given gifts, abilities and 24 hours each day. It is up to us how we use what God gives us and how we can glorify Him at the end of the day.  We strive to reach our goals. Being adaptable is good because sometimes when changes seem to “mess up our plan” it actually turns out to be for the best. Part of a plan is to have our list made, the priorities reviewed and our agenda mapped out. That is our part. Then we take it to prayer. The most important part of any decision is to lift it all up to God for his review. If God agrees with us, He makes a way and He will always confirm it. Then we will have peace. If God disagrees with our plan, although it may seem to be a good thing to do, the timing may be off so we must wait for God’s green light. Or, God may have a completely different path for us to walk and He will reveal it when He is ready. But prayer is the answer.

What’s on your mind today? Do you have a decision to make, big or small? Take it to Him and trust Him while you are waiting for the answer.  I am reminded of the lyrics to the hymn, “He Lives”…“He walks with me and He talks with me along life’s narrow way”.

 

 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Rejection



Rejection


The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
 
My two year old grandson has learned the art of saying no…to everything. Rejecting the manners we learned last week, tossing to the side his favorite toys and then there is his refusal to try anything new. At his age it is cute, that is, if this particular stage doesn’t last too long!! It started me thinking that rejection starts at a young age, much younger than I remembered.

What does rejection really mean? Is it the opposite of acceptance? The dictionary says, “It is throwing back something”. An example is, being given something and it is returned to you, not wanted, like hooking a fish and tossing it back. Has that happened to you? If so, then you understand rejection first hand. Easy for someone on the sidelines to say, “don’t let it bother you, get over it”. But the truth is, rejection, avoidance and being cast aside hurts the heart.  We try to counsel our children to not take rejection too seriously, but the fact is they do and we do too. Being left out of playground games and not being invited to a birthday party is painful for a child.  Adults, have those moments too. Someone not returning our calls or closer to home, not being included in family gatherings, for instance. Have you ever had someone say to you, “I’m done with you”? I have and maybe someone has said as much to you, but with their actions rather than words. Either way, as much as we reflect on all the times we have had our hearts ache, don’t you know that Jesus knows something about this too? He was rejected for so much of his life on this earth. Yet, nothing stopped him. He didn’t use rejection as an excuse not to fulfill his destiny. When we slip into sadness or loneliness because we have been “thrown back”, it is important not to reject our faith. That is all we have that we can absolutely depend on. People will let us down, they will disappoint, but our job is to pray for them and turn to God to fill the void. He never fails us.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Times Remembererd

Times Remembered

 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

– 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NIV

 

Father’s Day has come around again and with it brings times of remembrance. I can see in my mind’s eye, my Dad standing behind the grill in his plaid shorts, cooking up hamburgers for a family gathering. I can see him listening to us, as we share our next pipe dream, giving us his approval on whatever and wherever our heart led us. I can see him holding my babies many years ago, and going back even further, standing beside me on my wedding day. So many nice memories. My Dad’s life wasn’t always roses but he was strong in his faith and he didn’t complain. Instead, he tried to bring some joy and laughter to others and if he did that, he was well pleased.  He had a way of making things work. He was a fixer. He wanted to fix the flat on my bicycle, the engine on my car, my problems. I often chided him that he was giving too much advice, but now being older and understanding him more, I too, find myself wanting to help, to make things better for others…to be a fixer, too. No, my efforts are not often appreciated, but I learned from the best and his heart was in the right place. I can still hear his counsel deep in my heart. “Listen to your father, who gave you life”, from Proverbs 23. He was always there, he turned the other cheek, he provided everyday and he asked for very little in return. He just wanted to be remembered now and then. I will be faithful to do what I have done every year and that is to remember him with an extra dose of appreciation for how his life touched mine and still does.

 

A father is described as one who is a mentor, a provider, a parent. The dictionary falls short of telling us what a father really is. No two Dads’ are alike. God made all each one to be unique, original and to be just the person his children needed. Our Heavenly Father stands beside us everyday. We may not feel His Presence. In fact, we may be too busy to notice. But He is there. I know that when I grew up and moved away, I didn’t get to see my Dad as much in person. But I knew he was there because we stayed connected by phone, cards and email. Oh, how my Daddy loved email!! Our Father in Heaven talks to us through His Word. Now, I find that I miss those little nuggets of wisdom that my Dad dispensed so effortlessly, yet I open my Bible and there it is…just what I need for the day or the situation. We are all God’s Children. He touches us, guides us, teaches us and walks beside us. God is Love. And He loves us. We don’t have to earn it or ask for it. It is simply there. Father’s Day is a good time to both honor our earthly Dad and our Heavenly Father by showing love to them and to each other. Do everything in love.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June


June

 

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest”.

 –Exodus 33:14 NIV

 

The month of June has come quickly this year. It’s been a favorite month of many for a lot of reasons. The children love it because it signals the end of school and the beginning of summer. Families pack up for vacations that they have saved all year for. Neighbors gather together for fireworks and a backyard hot dog. Picnics, grilling out and paper plates become the norm. Watermelons are sliced and shared outdoors. A good time has been had by the younger set evidenced by kool-aid stains on t-shirts in colors of cherry, orange and lime. Band-aids cover the scraped knees from bicycle mishaps. Fathers labor over their lawns in a battle against the weeds and Moms brace for whatever the summer brings knowing she must be adaptable. Summer becomes a chance to enjoy family, slack up a little and enjoy the tastes and joys of it all.

But in all of our busyness, I think God would have us not forget Him. A small child was asked what did he pray for that day and he replied, “nothing, I didn’t need anything”. We seem to have a tendency to only go to God with our requests when we are in crisis or have a real need. When things are going great for us, He can be easily pushed aside. As summer begins, we should invite God to be present in all we do, plan and enjoy. God is more important than ever as we pray protection over our loved ones that are on the go this summer season.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Affection


Affection


Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. Proverbs 3:27 NLT


There is an affection that many of us have with the seashore that is deeply rooted within us. The lifestyle is casual and the pace is slow. But it is how we “feel” while near the water that fuels our affection. We flock to the beach in an effort to find answers and wisdom, hoping that we can find the clarity we need to cope with life. We subconsciously adjust our breathing to follow the rhythm of the waves. Our minds begin to clear like a cloudless blue sky day.  I believe the seashore is a gift from God.  Having walked the beach many times in search of guidance. I feel carefree, yet never outside the umbrella of God’s covering.

The dictionary describes affection as the emotional realm of love. I bet you can look back and think of all the times you received affection. Someone was happy to see you; an unexpected hug; a gift was given to you “just because”; and on and on. It is so wonderful to be on the receiving end of affection. It is also wonderful to be on the giving side too. I think I will make a list of things I can do to brighten someone’s day and then do it.  The late Maya Angelou said, Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Daylight


 

 

 

 

Daylight

 

The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?
 The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?

–Psalm 27:1 NIV

 

My husband and I stood outside just before 7am and watched as the sun rose over the east sky, turning darkness into light. We both agreed we think early morning is the best part of the day. We listened for the birds that sang their morning song, one after the other.  The hummingbirds’ wings fluttered from flower to feeder and back again many times. A breeze rustled the trees that were heavy with dew. The grey sky turned fiery orange when the sun emerged and then it was done…another day had come.

 

With a new day comes hope and renewal. But some must carry burdens day after day and it is hard to stay hopeful. Just in my own circle of family and friends I hear of tragedies, crisis and more. Daily prayer is the key to coping with these situations. Asking God for daily protection, wisdom, courage and grace will give us supernatural strength from Him to be able to put one foot in front of the other. What can we do when it isn’t our business to step into a situation and take charge? That is where prayer comes in again. When we are powerless to intervene, we know the One who can….God can be asked to step in and stand in the gap for us or someone else. So whatever we face in life, prayer is the answer. It seems trite to say that for we think almost everyone knows that, but surprisingly, not so. I visualize God just standing there in the shadows, waiting for us to pray and give him our concerns and burdens. He can handle it. It is just that we are so busy trying to fix and handle problems on our own, we forget to hand it over to Him. My son’s car broke down. His budget just didn’t allow for a lot of car repairs this month. On his own will he started to diagnose the problem and part by part, he began to replace what he thought the problem was. All weekend he labored and spent money he couldn’t afford to spare. I kept saying to him to pray about it. While sitting in church on Sunday, I asked God to shine a heavenly flashlight on the car problem to illuminate it and let my son have the eyes to see it. That afternoon he called to say it wasn’t the ignition after all, but a fuel problem. While I don’t understand “car talk”, I do understand “prayer talk”. We know that a car will start but not on its own.  There must first be a key that is put in the ignition and then it will start. That much I do know.  Doesn’t our prayer act as the key in the ignition which invites and engages God to come take over? God doesn’t always answer every prayer the way we would like it answered or even n our own time, but we do know He hears us. He lights our way.

Friday, May 16, 2014

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.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Light


Light


The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken! Psalm 34:17-20 NLT

This week I have heard of so many people that are facing trials. Health issues, family concerns, needing guidance in all kinds of situations. Many of these folks know God. (God bless the parents and grandparents that took the time to introduce God to a child, who knows Him at an early age.) When I was a young child, my grandmother told me about Jesus and we made a scrapbook about Him using old church bulletins. I am forever grateful to her. Her faith led me in a straight path to Him and He has been my Protector and Provider ever since. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:5

What about the person facing problems and they don’t know God? They have always relied on themselves and their own efforts to deal with difficulties and have prided themselves in doing pretty well. But they reach a situation that is more than they can handle. They face something insurmountable. Maybe they even feel hopeless. As a Believer, we know there is always hope. We have to reach out to these Dear Ones, and with God’s wisdom, show them a better way. It is our chance to shed light on their darkness. They don’t have to live in doubt about what God can do. At a time of crisis it is human nature to reach out. Choose to be the person to help them find God.  I remember that childhood song that says, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine”? One little light can make a difference.

 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Different Paths


Different Paths

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

We are offered many different paths to walk on in this life. The journey can take twists and turns and ultimately we can only rest when we know that we are on the path God ordained for us. Being created in His image, we are automatically entitled. This week I have come across examples of the differences between having an entitlement attitude and possessing a servant’s heart. Certain entitlements are good because they have boundaries and limits connecting them that keep the attitude true and pure.  For example, a boss shows leadership over his staff or a parent shows guidance over the children.  An entitlement attitude goes wrong however, when a person elevates his own agenda above everyone and everything else. And those people that assume that stature are normally the ones that get disappointed the most.  There is a connection between entitlement and disappointment. We all know people like that don’t we? The one that thinks life owes them for their “sacrifice” to one thing or another. It boils down to taking something that is not theirs to have, but they see it differently.

Conversely, the servant’s heart has no agenda but to honor God and be His hands and heart in this world. They take their God-given skills, talents and resources and seek to help others before thinking of themselves. This person often works silently, secretly and without fanfare because they don’t need recognition and don’t seek it.  The servant is often humble.

We have often heard the phrase, “pick a side”. This is our chance to seek God’s Will and to make any adjustments so we can align ourselves up with Him. When Jesus walked this earth He could have taken the entitlement attitude but He did not. He served His Father and was humble while doing so. We have seen the example of what we should be, could be, by knowing Jesus and studying his spiritual journey.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Friendship


Friendship
 
A friend loves at all times
-Proverbs 17:17a NIV
 
 
Friendship means many things to many people, but the official definition is ‘affection arising from mutual esteem and good will’. Some friendships can last a lifetime, while others are for a short while, however, both serving a purpose. The friends themselves define the boundaries of their friendship by their actions and words.  Some are spoken and some are unspoken.  There are similarities and differences in a relationship, but an equal helping of both, makes a friendship well rounded. True friends don’t judge one another, nor do they magnify one’s faults. Instead, the safe boundaries of friendship provide unconditional love and support of any kind, when needed. I believe that friendship is God’s gift to us. He hugs us through the arms of friends. He speaks through a trusted friend to give us words we need to hear. He brings us together in friendship to be able to pray for each other and our families.
 
Friendship between two people has to occur naturally. It can’t be forced. It usually starts with a smile. Young children know this. As they begin the school year, they will search for a friend to sit on the bus with, or a friend to eat lunch with, or someone that will hopefully include them in the fun and games on the playground. We can all remember those times in school when we were uncomfortable, because we didn’t feel connected to anyone. No one likes to be left out, including adults. The old saying, ‘in order to make a friend, you have to be a friend’, applies here. Taking stock of our friendships is a good thing to do. Making regular calls or scheduling some time to get together keeps our relationships alive. Friendships are investments of our time and love. If we have lost touch with dear friends of the past, is it time to make a call or send a note to re-establish the connection? Is there someone in church who always sits alone? What about that neighbor that we have only waved to in passing? There are people in isolation that needs our friendship. I think God charges us to take the first step. We can start by praying to Him that He would reveal them to us.  He will do the rest. A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 NIV

Blossoms

Blossoms

 
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. –John 25:24 NIV
 
In preparation for Easter, flowers are blooming everywhere. It seems that Mother Nature does her part to herald spring by putting forth blossoms everywhere to celebrate new life. Garden centers are well-stocked with flowers in all colors for the home gardener that decorates their landscape with blooms, here and there. Florists will work overtime to deliver bouquets for the Easter dinner centerpiece. In my family, I have always tried to have something pretty blooming by my front door on Easter Sunday. Over the years that little tradition has meant different things. When my children were young, they thought we were sweeping up and planting flowers to get ready for the Easter Bunny! That was one way of getting the kids to help with gardening! Now, it is a spring ritual to put on our best face to the outside world with a flower or two and maybe even a fresh doormat.
 
When I see the life of my children evolve into adulthood, I think of watching a flower develop from a little sprout and then grow into a full fledged blossom in all its brilliance.  No two flowers are alike and my children are similar, yet different.  That is God’s Hand in each of their lives, shaping and molding them to be unique individuals. I have seen them struggle with things and questions about which path to take in life. I view them with a mother’s prideful heart. Wanting to step in and help them at times, but realizing if I did so, it could hurt them in the long run. But we know that God has a Plan for each of them, including falling back on the love given by parents that are there to support and love them through it all.
 
I think that God views us much the same way. He is our Heavenly Father and we, His Children. He loves us no matter what. He proved that when He sent His Son, Jesus to die for us on the cross and give us Eternal Life.  For years, I think I didn’t understand Easter. I couldn’t see past the crown of thorns and the pain that Jesus suffered. There was such a sadness over Easter and as a child I knew it wasn’t equal to the happy time I felt at Christmas.  It was years later that I understood that Easter not only stood for Resurrection but also for Restoration. A time for Promise and Joy! Now, I look to Easter as an anniversary to renew myself and to be grateful for this wonderful Eternal Gift. Like a blossom that unfolds in stages, old thoughts have given way to new wisdom, vision and new ways of understanding.  Maybe Christmas and Easter are more alike that we realize where we could proclaim, “Joy to the World” on both occasions.