Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dolphins


Dolphins


Photography by Meridith Glass

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. –Ephesians 2:8-9


Last Sunday afternoon we took a boat ride. It was a nice retreat to leave the cares of the world behind and focus on the clouds, blue sky and sparkling water.  We saw the pelicans perched on islands nearby and the occasional seagull that circled over top of us to see if we are offering food. But the joy of the day was when three dolphins played in the boat’s wake. We were so delighted and amazed at the same time. I have never witnessed this before. The playfulness in and out of the waves is called porpoising. Their shiny gray bodies were so limber. Some leaped high and others surfaced for air just for a split second to return underwater.  Graceful and elegant. These creatures are beautiful and I love their gentleness and spunk.

Our dedication to faith can often resemble porpoising. Going in and out of faith like the dolphins play in and out of the waves. When things are good, we sail high, above the clouds and may forget that it is God’s strength that keeps us afloat. When things go bad, we can’t get on our knees fast enough to pray for help and an immediate solution.  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. -James 1:2-4 What I was reminded about on that boat ride was that there are times to be serious and times to play….but it is always time to be in faith. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Quiet Time

Quiet Time

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! -Psalm 150:6

Make time for it. Schedule it on your calendar if you must. Walk the beach alone. Find a bench in the park. There are a number of things you can do to find quiet time. Why is it so important? It is a time to recharge and it is mentally healthy to clear your mind of all things unimportant. Busy schedules, commutes to work, radio and television blaring gives little time to just sitting still for a while in peaceful solitude. Embracing those quiet moments are a time of reflection and self-evaluation. A bit of peace and tranquility can go a long way in getting our attitudes in alignment with God. It is in those times of quiet that we can talk to God and He can talk to us. Maybe a scripture will come to mind or a solution will reveal itself for a problem that has been consuming us. Often times, my quietness is just praising and being grateful. My grandson loves to hear that he has done a good job. We all like to hear that. And so it is with God too. Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. Psalm 147:1 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Treasures

Treasures



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


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


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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Art Release Coming Soon

Limited edition giclees' from original oil paintings by Reflections by the Sea author, Betsy Glass coming soon. More information to come.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sandbar

Sandbar


Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
-Mark 11:24-25 NIV


A sandbar is a submerged or partly submerged ridge of sand that is formed along the shore by the action of the waves or currents. When storms come off of the ocean, sandbars actually act as a shock absorber for the powerful waves and currents. By consuming some of the power, then there is less damage to the shore. That’s one of the reasons when we have damaging storms, some areas fare well and others do not. The sandbar that we cannot see offshore has soaked up some of the waves’ strength. Some people that are looking at oceanfront property to purchase will consult nautical charts to see if offshore sandbars are present, offering added protection to the beach.

While sandbars are great because they help block the oceans’ strength, when we go to God with our petitions, we don’t want anything to stand between us.  But, unknowingly, that is exactly what can happen. How can we go to Him asking forgiveness of our sins when we won’t forgive someone of theirs? How can we expect mercy to be shown to us if we don’t show it to others?  Like a sandbar, our unforgiveness can act as a ridge that prevents God’s blessings from getting to us. Matthew 7:2 tells us not to judge, or we too will be judged. For in the same way we judge others, we will be judged, and with the measure we use, it will be measured unto us. Many rifts in relationships begin this way in judgement and then before long, unforgiveness takes root and then bitterness follows. Matthew 6:14 plainly tells us that if we forgive men when they sin against us, our heavenly Father will also forgive us. But if we do not forgive men their sins, our Father will not forgive our sins.  But, what if we don’t ‘feel’ like forgiving someone. We are still angry at them and rightfully so. We may have every right to our feelings. God would have us know that it doesn’t matter. He will take care of seeing that justice is served. That is not our job. His message is clear. We have to make the decision to forgive and God will do the rest. Our decision to forgive is what sets everything in motion. And don’t worry, He will supply us with all we need and the fullness of heart to begin to forgive. We should not let our unforgiveness towards anyone cost us our blessings, prosperity or healing. Pray this scripture so that we can see and feel in a new way. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 NIV.

                                                           


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Walking with Jesus

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

I see myself as a little girl…old enough to always feel safe and but not old enough yet to be conditioned by the world. I am skipping along the beach, the same one that I used to walk with my grandmother whom I called, Nanny. The weather is sunny, the waves are gently rolling in and the top of the sea reminds me of blue-green sparkling glass. Boats are off in the distance and the sound of sea gulls are above.  It is mid-day. I have a white dress on. It is sweet with smocking on the front with embroidered roses and it has little cap sleeves. It is summer time. My dress has a full skirt as though there is a crinoline beneath but the humidity in the air causes the skirt to fall slightly limp. There are two long sashes for tying a bow in the back of my dress but the bow has become loose and it drags the wet sand behind me. My long blonde hair falls just at my waist in natural waves and ringlets, often caught by the breeze. The sun is so bright that I have to squint to keep the glare from hurting my blue eyes.

I am gleeful. Skipping along, laughing, feeling freedom and happiness when I turn around to see Jesus behind me. He holds his arms outstretched to greet me and I run as fast as I can with sun-kissed cheeks surrounding my smile and joy to jump into his arms. His face is kind and I feel secure. He would never let me fall. We don’t talk at first. I look at him and he looks at me and smiles. I touch his hair and pat his chest and straighten the folds of his robe as if to neaten at the same time. He lets me fuss over him and he doesn’t seem to mind.  I adore him. I know who he is. And he knows who I am. His walk is strong in the soft sand. He has a purple scarf draped around his neck and a plain rope around his waist that surrounds his white robe.

He asks me, “What do you want to learn today?” I reply quickly, “Show me everything”. He points out to the water and shows me things in the distance. We look at the birds and he knows the different kinds. I reach towards the sky to show him a cloud going by.  He says, “Do you know that all these things come from my Father in Heaven?” My eyes widen with wonder as I simply stare at his eyes and the truth that lies within them. I am anxious to know more, but I get restless to play and want to run again on the beach. He lets me down and I play hide and seek around him, hiding behind the folds of his robe. He approves of me. I can see it in the twinkling of his eyes when he looks down at me. My heart is bursting with happiness, even more than before.  I pick up seashells and run to him to place in his hand for safekeeping. He holds them for me. I have never felt such warmth and kindness before. He seems to like me just the way I am, too. I see love in his eyes. His love is so big it warms my heart. I get tired of skipping and come back to him and reach for his hand and we walk the beach together holding hands. We are becoming the best of friends. I just know it. I like the way my heart feels when I am with him. I realize it is nice just to be together. He says to feel his presence and to remember it. To tuck it in my heart and then I can have it always. He says to remember that he is always with me.

Today, as an adult, I have a bowl of sand and shells in my home and it reminds me of my imaginative first meeting with Jesus. A collection of straw hats sit nearby to use to still protect my eyes from the sun. My surroundings at home are connected to the beach with walls of photographs and paintings throughout.  To me the beach represents unconditional, lasting, pure love; truth and honesty; forgiveness and healing; safety and honor and above all, presence of the One that will never betray. He will always love me. It’s the relationship that I seek daily.


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

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Celebrate Life



Celebrate Life


The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, "The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!
-Lamentations 3:22-24 (NASB)

It is so much fun to sit on the dunes with my long zoom camera lens and watch the birds walking along the water’s edge. Watching the pelicans in the distance as they dive into the sea. Noticing the clouds overhead that take the shape of things as they move slowly by. I love being a spectator from my perch nearby. Seeing everything up close, yet not being an active part of it.

The opposite of spectator is being a participant. It is equally fun to play with kids in the water, build sandcastles, collect shells and enjoy a picnic together. Being in the moment and enjoying life to the fullest with someone is truly the act of participating.

It occurs to me that we have a choice in life. We can choose to be a spectator or a participator of life. We can become fully engaged in our life and the lives of those around us or stand back, in the shadows, living life through other people, watching their celebrations and milestones.  My husband and I made the choice years ago to be a family that celebrates. We make the birthdays, anniversaries and holidays special. Even the dogs get birthday presents! Carrying around a camera for most of my life, I have been able to catch big moments and little ones too, so the memories of our celebrations have not been lost or forgotten.

Occasionally, I hear folks describe their days with the words, “didn’t do much today” or “we’re not planning anything special”. I used to be one of those people long ago. We stood at the front door many times and watched a neighbor family pile in their old car and drive off to enjoy life by going to ballgames, the beach, picnics and camping. Even backyard barbecues were special to them. I learned an important lesson from that family. Seize the moment.  When the day is over, it is lost. The young mother of this family passed in a car accident when her children were small. No time for goodbyes, one more picnic or one last moment. But I can say that family had far more memories to carry forward than some people have in a lifetime. And it wasn’t because they had unlimited resources or an abundance of time. No, they simply made an effort and chose to celebrate their life.  To make something of each day. They learned that ever important balance of working, playing and praying. They made time for it all.


Part of being a participator in life is a way to honor oneself and the family and friends that surround. It honors God showing Him we treasure the life He breathed in us and the gifts He surrounds us with. It is true that health, finances and obstacles can keep us from doing the things we want to do sometimes or it can limit us greatly, but we can choose our attitude about our life and what we do with it. For example, a budget meal of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich can be presented like a feast. Celebrating the first cucumber from the garden can bring a big smile. The dog bringing back the ball in a game of fetch can be cause for praise, kisses and hugs. Everyday things can be a series of small celebrations and before long we begin to realize that joy resides within. It is taking hold on the inside. It starts with having an attitude that promotes joy and happiness combined with the act of “doing” instead of “watching” that keeps many people celebrating daily life to a ripe old age. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Foundation



Foundation


Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” -Luke 6:47-49

Constructing a new house always requires a sturdy, fail safe foundation. Much thought is put into it however much of the work is not seen. A lot of it is underground, particularly in coastal areas where pilings and concrete pillars are used as supports. The first storm that comes could undermine a house without a solid foundation, but one built well may withstand maybe a 100 years or more.
In the same way homes are constructed using well- made foundations, our country was constructed, founded if you will, on morals and values that our forefathers drafted, all rooted in the biblical teachings of God. That is the foundation of our country. When God and His Laws are discounted or discarded, we lose our way. But we still have time. Even though the times are different now, including the laws that now govern us, we must seek God more than ever. Where is God?  He has always been there, even though our culture suggests we should follow man and not God and the Bible.
  
My grandson asks me, “What’s happening?” when he sees something out of place or our schedule differs from the norm. He knows when something is out of order and his curiosity takes over wanting understanding. I do the same thing. When I pray, I ask God, “What’s happening?” too. So much change we are asked to accept by the culture of today, neglecting many of the values and morals we thought were rock solid. Asking God to help us turn back to Him is my prayer. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.-Jeremiah 29:11  An old familiar hymn found its way back to my heart this week, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”. The refrain goes like this,  
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

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.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Heart of the Family

Heart of the Family

Before, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12 NIV

What is it that we need from others? Our hearts crave acceptance, tenderness, a kind guiding spirit to light our way. Today’s scripture tells us how to live. We are to be compassionate, show kindness, remain humble and not boast in pride. Behaving with a gentle demeanor and exhibiting patience.

This week I listened to a friend cry over how she longs to be accepted within her own family. Harsh words and actions plus attempts to tear one another down have resulted in a broken situation. God will definitely have to intervene on this one as years of dysfunction can’t seem to be overcome. And it all starts at the top with the parents. Just like God leads us spiritually through every step of our lives, we as parents lead our families. Mothers and Fathers are the heart of the family. They set the tone for others to follow and establish what will and what won’t be acceptable within the family walls. As parents we must realize we are modeling behavior for our children. Behaviors like grudges, judgement and contempt are learned and passed down.


As children of God, we want his love, acceptance and compassion. And understanding that we are loved no matter what. And that is what we want in our own family. Mothers and Fathers can have a healthy family if God is at the center of it and love flows freely and without condition. It is not too late to repent, ask for forgiveness and get on the right track to do it God’s way. One of God’s most valuable gifts to us is our family. We must treasure it and reflect God’s light in all we do and say.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wisdom

Wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. –James 1:5

The definition of wisdom is the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action.  I saw a quote this past week saying, “Knowledge was the ability to know what to do and wisdom was knowing how and when to do it.”  Well I have failed at that one! In such an effort to help others and lessen their sufferings in life, I tend to help without being asked. Oh how I long for wisdom! Not having it has gotten me into trouble at times!!

This time of year, grand speeches are said for the graduating class. Toasts and well wishes are said to the wedding couple.  As wise souls, we believe we have so much to offer. But things can get out of balance in our relationships when we give our words of wisdom too freely, without being asked. I had a friend tell me that he begs to tell his adult children about things in life, but he realizes he has to be asked by them first. And they don’t ask! He laughs and says, “But I know things and I can help”! It is hard for people like us to sit silent, but we must.


The book of Proverbs is laden with wisdom. Had I only known that years ago!! A pastor once told me that because there are 31 chapters in Proverbs it is a part of his daily Bible reading to read a chapter a day each month and start over again the next month. He has done this for years. If you are searching for wisdom, you will find it in Proverbs. Then, we pray that God will help us to learn when and how to use it for His Glory.  I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.-Proverbs 4:11


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

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, June 3, 2015

Fractured

Fractured

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

The definition of fractured is the act of breaking; the state of being broken. My fall as few weeks ago was not a sprain as I had hoped, but it turned out to be a fracture.  With good doctors and all their advice, a path was charted for me and if I do as I have been told, in a few weeks I will be good a new and it will be behind me.

Fractured could also be described as broken. In our lives, we each have been broken at one time or another. Suffering the loss of a special loved one, dealing with an illness, or finding our way in a troubled relationship. Through no fault of our own, businesses have folded and we have lost jobs. Marriages end. Tragedies have struck with no warning whatsoever. No one is exempt from these times. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:3-4  What is most important is that we have a shoulder to lean on. We have faith already established that we know where to go when we are broken.  But if we are just starting out in our Christian walk or don’t know God at all, call out to Him, surrender and let Him touch you. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18  Why must we go through these broken times where everything in our reach feels shattered? Sometimes they are the consequences to our bad decisions. Other times, it is just life in our fallen world. But God can take our crushed spirits and give us beauty for our ashes. What was intended for our harm can be turned around for our good.  And then there are the times when God breaks us Himself. Our own independence from Him, our pride and righteousness keeps us from Him and He desires to show us His Almighty Power as He brings us close to Him.



Thursday, May 28, 2015

Life Jacket

Life Jacket

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Helping

Helping

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12

This week on a trip to the grocery store, my grandson helped me to unload the cart at the register.  When we played baseball he would volunteer to get the ball after he batted it. Learning to golf, at the driving range he likes to tee up the ball for both of us. He is learning to put others first before himself. This week, I fell off of a ladder to the pavement. In a quick moment, a kind gentlemen came to my rescue and helped me. Only a sore ankle remains and I count myself blessed.  In a world where it is so easy to become self-absorbed and look the other way, it is refreshing to see people helping people. 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

How many times do we reach out to God and our faith tells us He is there for us? We depend on Him. Count on Him. We surrender to Him.  Yet, what if He turned away from us? We couldn’t bear it. We don’t have to. Because we know that He knows all our needs and burdens and He provides in His own timing, in His own way.  He is our example to follow. I want to be the person that has a keen eye and notices those in need and then does something about it. Let us open our hearts and our eyes and resources to a ministry to be God’s helpers. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Obedience



Obedience

Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. 1 John 3:24

Well I should have invested in obedience training for my pup. It’s probably too late now. He has trained us in his ways and we are obedient to him!! Obedience is a big word with big meaning. We are meant to follow the rules for a reason. It puts things in order and without order there is chaos. Another way of saying it is “to submit to authority”. Ouch! Not so easy to do at times. Just ask a teenager! The end result of obedience and the willingness to conform is respect. It has been said that the fruit of faith is obedience.  But the greatest test of obedience is to God. There is no way around it. You cannot comply just a little bit. It is all or nothing at all. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;” Isaiah 1:19

What does it mean to be obedient to God? It means we can live in freedom through Him. Our life can be joyful and we can live under His Authority knowing He will bless us and reward our obedience. What does our obedience prove to God? That we are being faithful and that we love Him. And those two things are giving praise to Him. Well, how would you start to obey God? Get a Bible and start to read the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20. Let the words fill your heart and begin to put them into practice with every thought and action.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” John 13:17

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

First Mother's Day

First Mother’s Day

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

I have been reminiscing this week about Mother’s Day and the memories have come flooding back.  I told my daughter this story and she said I should share it as we laughed together. The very first recollection of Mother’s Day was when I was five years old. It was memorable for several occasions: not only was it Mother’s Day, but my mother was in the hospital, and had just given me a new baby sister. While my grandmother was taking care of us in my mothers’ absence, I asked her if I could pick a few buttercups for my mother and the new baby to arrange in the nicest jelly glass we had. She smiled and said it was a splendid idea. It took no time at all to fill up that jelly glass. Yet, it seemed such a shame to let our entire front yard that was overflowing with buttercups go to waste. So, after setting the jelly glass aside and getting a big brown grocery bag instead, I began to work feverishly in the hot May sun to fill it up. Handful after handful. My grandmother kept an eye on me and offered me popsicles under the gumball tree. At first, I tried to lay all the buttercups in the same direction, but halfway through I gave up and decided quantity would override beauty and began to fill the bag to the top. Realizing that I could fill up another bag with all the remaining buttercups, my grandmother said with reassurance that one bag would do nicely. I taped up that special grocery bag and decorated the outside with crayon drawings and stickers. I presented it to my dad who said he would hand deliver it to the hospital to my mother and our new baby! I was so excited when she called to say it was the most beautiful bag of buttercups she had ever received and it made her so happy.  Buttercups still makes me smile!

Many years later, when I became a mother, my most treasured gifts were those that were from the heart or homemade.  I still have a soft place in my heart today for a brassy gold circle pin (circa 1960’s) that was missing a pearl the day I received it, about 25 years ago. Most of my Mother’s Day gifts from my young son came from the rounds he made on his bicycle to various yard sales in our neighborhood, using his allowance. My daughter preferred to give coupons for her services, like setting the table for dinner, dusting and watering plants. Time goes by so quickly, yet thankfully some memories never fade.

I equate Mother’s Day with love. Both giving and receiving it. Being doubly blessed to have wonderful relationships with both my adult children, Elizabeth and Marty and being richly blessed to have my mother, Helen to talk to each day, to laugh and pray together. Everyone is just a phone call away.  

No doubt that we all want to excel in this role of motherhood. As a mother, many times we are sought out for our wisdom, yet where do we go when we need wisdom or someone to listen to us!  I know when I need to talk, God is always listening. There is much written about how to be a good Mother. The best words I know to share are these:  follow the examples of the godly mothers in the Bible, which are always based on purity of heart, peace and much love.


I heard it said once that when a mother reaches Heaven, she must face God with her record of accomplishments. If she's done a good job of caring for her children, she'll get the most sought-after position in heaven, that of rocking baby angels on soft white clouds and wiping their celestial tears with the corner of her apron. Let today not end without reaching out to all mothers, to honor their role in our lives, either by phone, card, email or in person. And if she has crossed that doorway into heaven, lift up a word of praise and thanksgiving in her memory. To honor our parents is godly and God promises to notice. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

May

May

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. -James 1:17

This month of May seems be filled with many wonderful things.  Graduations and weddings are on the calendar. The long awaited vacation is coming soon and beaches are becoming dotted with colorful umbrellas more and more each day.  Winter has lifted its veil and given way to the light and freshness of spring. Vegetable gardens are being prepared and flower beds are freshly weeded and mulched just in time for vivid annuals to be planted. New starts, new beginnings, and new things awaits us this month.

God is the giver of life. Appreciate His Gifts to us. The tiny birds that show up to my feeder with their parents reminds me how great God is. The wonder of a little child splashing in the waves with his shovel and bucket brings a smile for the innocence we are born with. Picking buttercups and filling a grocery bag full for a homemade Mother’s Day bouquet evokes sweet childhood memories.  A friend battling a serious illness just celebrated his birthday. He is an inspiration to everyone for his laughter, joy and appreciation of each day. Some of us dread birthdays but we must realize they are a gift. Meaning, God has gifted us with another year of precious life.


Let burdens and worry go like the outgoing tide. Awake and be refreshed in what God brings today. See the beauty from the ashes. Start making new memories and take a picture with your heart. Embrace the new. Bask in the wonder of God and His Goodness. Try something new. Start something new. Refresh with a deep abiding love and appreciation for God like never before.  It is said that every day is a chance to begin again. What will you do with this new beginning God gives you today? I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  -Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Release

Release

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. -Ephesians 4:31-32

To release something suggests that we “let it go”.  Catching a fish, only to let it go back to the water. Setting the lines free so the boat can leave the dock. Releasing the anchor so one can reset it in another spot. The word, “release” applies to so many other things too. 

Spiritually speaking, we are told that offering forgiveness gives us freedom from the hurt and pain. Letting things go is healthy to our mind, body and spirit. God keeps score so we don’t have to. Severing toxic relationships sets us free. I was thinking about what things I have had to let go of. Letting adult children find their place in the world without my interference has been hard for me but freeing for them. Finding my place in things and not feeling as though I have to weigh in on everyone’s choices. Teaching myself to remain quiet and release the tendency to thrust my opinion until it is asked for. (Still working on that one!!) A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. –Proverbs 29:11  

Think about what you want or need to release. It might be letting go of a perfectionist attitude, or judging another with a critical spirit. There may be a burden weighing heavy that needs to be dealt with and forgiven. We should try to release the hardness of life that consumes many of us. It robs us of our joy and childlike wonder that pleases God so much.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sowing

Sowing

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  Luke 10:27
 
I love playing ball with my puppy. He can catch it in mid-air and then he quickly returns it to me so we can do it all over again, again and again!! It is his favorite game to play and admittedly, he is good at it.  And he never tires of this play. The principle of “getting back what you send out” is certainly in play. 

Have you noticed that giving out kindness and generosity to people in our path has a way of returning back to us? By extending our hand to others, God is working through us to do His Work.  God commands us to love one another. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9


But likewise, when we wrong someone, it bounces off them, and comes back to us.  The trouble they cause recoils on them, their violence comes down on their own heads. Psalm 7:16.  Reflect on which way we want to treat others as it will come back to us, good or bad.  The righteous walk is the one God ordains for us. Our steps, actions, deeds and thoughts should reflect Him. We will reap what we sow. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring

Spring

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 
-2 Corinthians 5:17

New life is springing up everywhere. Daffodils, crocus, trees are budding new leaves, azaleas are getting ready for their annual spectacular show in a few weeks. The harshness of the cold winter is fading, making way for the breath of spring.  With Easter barely behind us, we were reminded that death brought new life. New beginnings. And as this new season unfolds, we can appreciate the meaning of it while enjoying the display of colors that Mother Nature yields.

If you are a new Believer in Christ, then you know it is just the beginning of a new life for you and the journey will be awesome with God at the helm. If you surrendered  your life to God years ago, why not use this time to renew and refresh your spirit? Get excited about Him. One of the great things about letting God direct your steps is that you can trust Him with everything. You don’t have to wonder about what path to take. God does lead us but we must be willing to follow. Trust your life with Him and let Him walk with you every step of the way.


Last week I asked my mother what does she ask God for. She looked at me and without hesitating, she said, “I don’t ask for anything, I just walk with God”. I understood what she was saying. She is not worrying or fretting. She hands it to Him and together they walk out her life each day.  Words of wisdom for all of us. Spring is a growing season. Let’s build up our seeds of faith and trust God for what He can do. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter


Easter

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  -John 11:25 NIV

What is Easter? The dictionary says it is “an annual Christian festival in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox”.

 I reflected back on my youth and Easter was something I was confused about. When I was a child, Easter meant I would get a new “Sunday school outfit”, complete with new patent leather shoes and a hat. There would be plenty of picture taking with the old Brownie camera, and it would abruptly end when my Daddy ran out of flashbulbs! We didn’t know any better then but we would put our Easter baskets, laden with chocolate, in the sunny rear window of the car while we went to Sunday school and church. A melted chocolate mess always greeted us and my little white gloves didn’t stay white for long! Good memories from those years.

As I got older, I understood enough of the “Easter story” to learn that Jesus was brutally treated and my heart ached for Him. I saw a painting at church of Jesus at the cross and it traumatized me. I didn’t understand the celebration. Easter was no longer anything I embraced. And then years later, I was taught about everlasting life and realized Easter was something to rejoice and great joy filled my heart.

The real significance of Easter often gets set aside in favor of Easter egg hunts, the Easter bunny, candy and more.  Those things are wonderful and our family will be doing doing them all. But there is more. Everything about Easter begins with love. Jesus loved us so we could live. He still loves us.  All ages can understand that. Our job as Believers is to share this new beginning, The Good News, with anyone who hungers for it and walk along side of them in love. The love that springs forth from Easter is not just for a day. It is for a season. Praying that God works through each of us to put us in situations that we can share and spread His Love. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Palm Sunday



Palm Sunday

Then Jesus entered Jerusalem, and went into the temple. 
—Mark 11: 1

This Sunday, Christians across the world will observe Palm Sunday. Some know this day as “Passion Sunday”. It is the day that begins Holy Week and ends with Easter. Palm Sunday marks the day that Jesus humbly entered the holy city of Jerusalem on a donkey. People waved palm branches in celebration and others laid them down on the ground creating a path, showing respect. Ancient belief is that the palm branch represented goodness. The crowd shouted, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” While crowds shouted words of victory on Palm Sunday, it would only be days later than they would demand Jesus be crucified.


Holy Week tells of the biblical account of Jesus’ last day on the earth. The events of Holy Week can be read in Mark, chapters 11-16. We can experience the journey with Jesus. There is much to reflect on during this week that includes the Last Supper and Jesus’ walk to the cross. Sadness and darkness seems to prevail on the journey with only glimmers of hope, but on Easter Sunday, hope lives in the resurrection of Jesus. It is a reminder that we can do nothing apart from Him. He makes everything “new” again. He brings life from death. Take this walk with Jesus through the Bible this week so we can fully understand His sacrifice and love for us.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Praise

Praise

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

Some days my world seems to be smaller because I am seeing it from a different perspective. Teaching my little grandson has made me realize it is hard for me to make adult conversation when my husband comes home at night! Can anybody relate to this? I am well versed on Disney movies, nursery rhymes, ABC’s and playing ball with my little man! My enthusiasm and praise is measured in short sentences like “good job” and “good boy”.  And I see what praise can do to his little spirit. It is the greatest encouragement of all. His face lights up and eyes sparkle when he earns a sticker or gets a “high-five”.  What is praise? The dictionary says, “It is the act of expressing approval or admiration”.  I think of it as positive attention. And this I know…everybody needs it.  I think deserved praise is to the spirit what a hug is to the heart.

God says we are to praise Him. So often, we go to Him with our long list of requests, needs and wants and after we have deposited that list with God, we forget to praise Him. That is when we know we are off balance in our relationship with Him. When I find myself feeling down or in want, I make my list of all God has provided. Then I realize I have nothing to complain about and everything to praise Him for.

Be a person that praises. I don’t mean false praise, but one that acknowledges a good job, a good deed and creates an encouraging, positive environment. While teaching my grandson to pray, we begin with ‘thank you” for all God has given us. And then we ask God to bless our family. It is simple and sweet. God doesn’t want our fancy talk and big words. He just wants us to talk to Him like we would talk to a trusted friend. He is that and so much more to us. Think of how our praise must make God feel. He is so worthy of it.



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Contentment

Contentment

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:11-13 NIV

My daughter and I recently rode through the countryside and we snapped this photo of the horse seeking greener pastures. No doubt, he thought the long stretch outside the boundaries of his fence was worth it for an extra special breakfast. We chuckled that our life is often like that, too. No matter where we are or what we are doing, it sometimes looks more appealing to hop our own fence and live in another world. Of course, it is perfectly okay to hope and dream and make plans for positive change and growth, but somewhere in there needs to be a period of contentment about where we are at this moment. To always want more and never be happy with where we are is not the road God wants us to travel.  Sometimes God allows us to set our own pace. In the flurry of so much to do, if we sit with God each day and seek contentment in our life and circumstances, it will come.
But what about being thrust into situations that you have no control over, but yet must deal with. There are so many people that living with this by perhaps taking care of an ill spouse or aging parent that needs constant daily attention. There are broken families where a single parent is doing it all. Disappointments come that steal hope. Performing demanding physical tasks and responsibilities often depletes the energy that allows one to keep going. If that is you, know that you are not alone. God sees the situation you are in and sees your efforts. You are doing God’s work and you will be blessed for allowing God to use your hands and heart to tend to those that can’t tend to themselves. If you are a caregiver, ask God for what you need and trust Him to provide it.

It is said that it is not our circumstances that create our discontent or contentment. It is us. Perhaps if we change our reaction to situations when they arise, contentment is within our reach. All things are possible through Him.