Saturday, February 11, 2017

How We Handle Things

How We Handle Things

I love this picture of my one-year old granddaughter gazing up at the tall character of Wolverine.  She looks unafraid, in spite of his rather scary appearance and long, sharp claws.  Then, just days later, she was in the presence of beautiful, sweet Snow White and she displayed an entirely different response to this gentle lady --

Go figure!
 
    The interesting thing about these expressions (besides that the baby is SO CUTE!), is how they reflect our own responses to life situations.  Often times, when we have to deal with serious difficulties - things that can look big and scary -- we handle them.  We don't let the sharp claws of the situation intimidate us, we just jump right in and stare the thing down.  We might even be surprised at how strong we were and how well God got us through it.
    Then, even a few days later, we might be faced with a simple thing that could be described as "gentle" in comparison - and, we fall apart.  We crawl away crying and end up wondering, "What just happened??"
 
It reminds me of Elijah when he stood on Mount Carmel, facing hundreds of the enemy, and fearlessly taunted them in the name of the Lord.  How he set up an impossible sacrifice and then called upon God, who responded with fire from heaven.  Elijah saw a mighty victory that day (1 Kings 18).  Yet, by that evening, he had run away, sat down under a tree, and prayed to die because he felt so despondent.  We shake our heads in wonder - how could Elijah become so discouraged, so fast?
 
Look at my granddaughter's expression in each picture and you get a clue of how quickly responses and emotions can change.  In that moment when she crawled away crying, her mother gathered her up in her arms and comforted her.  She assured her that she is safe and loved, and her needs would be met.
 
How precious our heavenly Father is to do the same with us.  When Elijah was despondent, God sent an angel with food for him and then blessed him with a good sleep.  He did that twice, because Elijah was exhausted.  The angel said, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you."  Too great for Elijah, but not for God.  God is able and God is love.
 
Thank you God, for gathering us in your loving arms and caring for our every need!



Friday, February 3, 2017

Bobbing at Sea

Bobbing at Sea

My favorite devotional book is "Jesus Calling," by Sarah Young.  As I read the February 1st page, I was nodding my head, "yes, so true!"  It starts with the truth:  "Follow Me one step at a time.  That is all I require of you.  In fact, that is the only way to move through this space/time world."

I wrote in my journal:  "I am touched as I read this precious reminder of God's gracious faithfulness.  I feel like a cork bobbing on the sea.  My life is good - far less complicated than most - and yet - I feel adrift in this moment."

Then, I began pondering my feelings in the face of my "good" life.  The thing is, so many needs of others swirl around me, it gets overwhelming.  The weight of things going on and the needs of others around me can be stifling.  Then I thanked God for His rich blessings toward me and prayed for Him to help me to live in the light of His loving presence - to stop looking around me and instead, look up to Him.

Amazing how a simple prayer and a difference in viewpoint can change the emotions so fully.  When I looked up, He helped me to glimpse the world around me from heaven's view.  Ah!  Now, that is the perspective that I need to keep in front of me.  Putting things into perspective (i.e. from heaven's view) in the era of craziness we live in will help keep us sane.  I felt peace seep into my entire body and a smile slipped across my lips unbidden.  My bobbing cork was stilled by the Master's hand and it feels so good!  I know He is in control of all that is happening around me, and I can rest in His loving grace to handle it all.

I wanted to share these thoughts with you today, because chances are, some of you may be experiencing some of these same feelings.  "Jesus loves me (and you), this I know!"

--Photo:  I snapped this photo of chunks of ice floating in Glacier Bay, Alaska.  They remind me of that cork I spoke of bobbing in the sea.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Finding Joy

FINDING JOY

This is a necklace I received for Christmas.  I love the words "Find joy in the Journey," which is something I really want to do in life.  Chances are you want the same thing.  My most recent book is entitled, "Joy in the Journey," so this necklace is right up my alley with its sentiment.

Not only the words, but the compass that sits alongside the sentiment has meaning.  If we will make God our compass in this new year, He will show us the direction we should follow.  The new year of 2017 that stretches out before us is a total mystery.  None of us can say what is going to happen in the days and months that lie ahead.  There is one, however, who knows every minute on our timetable and every inch along our pathway.  God goes before us, behind us, and alongside us on the journey of life.  His compass is always true.

What a relief and, yes, a joy, to know that He who loves us more than we can even comprehend, wants to help us find joy in the journey of our days through this next year.  He has promised He'll be with us always -- a good reason to feel joy from the git-go.

Let's make those powerful verses in Proverbs the very pulse beat of our lives in 2017:  "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" 3:5-6.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Celebrate the Gift

Celebrate the Gift

Last Sunday morning, our choir performed a beautiful cantata entitled, Celebrate the Gift.  It was such a joy to sing the wonderful words of celebration for Jesus' birth, along with the lovely accompanying melody of the song. 

What a blessing it is to be part of those who belong to this incredible King.  Born in a stable, the lowliest of places, as a tiny, helpless baby, the Son of God brought Himself down to man in the most remarkable way.  Who could ever have imagined such a thing?!  When you really stop to think about what God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit did in that moment of incarnation, you realize it is beyond comprehension.

Being beyond human comprehension is no surprise.  Has God not said in Isaiah 55:8-9:  "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.  "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."

And so, as we consider this great, incomprehensible gift of a loving, all-knowing God, let us rejoice in thanksgiving and praise and celebrate this most wonderful day.  Blessed be the name of the Lord - and all praise to King Jesus!

With Wishes for a Blessed Christmas to you all!
 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Trips

TRIPS
In the past month, I've gone to North Carolina twice and South Carolina once.  It's been a busy month.  Since I was born in North Carolina and traveled there all through my childhood to visit relatives, it's near and dear to my heart.  And - since some of my kids and grandkids live there, it means I'll continue making trips to that state - probably for the rest of my life.  Here are some highlights from my two recent forays into my birth state:





Just before Thanksgiving, I spent some time with my two oldest grandkids and then brought them back with me for the holidays.  As we passed through the small town of Maysville (I believe it might have two stoplights), I noticed this cool mural.  We stopped and the kids cleverly made themselves a part of the painted scene.  They are so cute!!

During my visit with the kids, we went to a Christmas parade, complete with Marine marching band.  We had good times together.
 
Our next trip to North Carolina, was last week to celebrate Christmas with two of our other grandkids.  We had fun going to museums and opening gifts and spending time together.





We got a kick our of pretending we'd fallen asleep in the time it took my daughter to walk up the stairs to the 3rd floor (she doesn't like elevators and we beat her up from the 1st floor).  Sweet dreams everyone!
 


Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights
Just before Thanksgiving, we took our little bundled up baby for her first walk-through Christmas lights at the Botanical Garden.  The weather was perfect, chilly, but no wind.  They call it the "million bulb lights" and it's only the first two weeks they allow walking through, otherwise, it's cars only.  As you might imagine, walking through allows you to fully immerse yourself in the light show and also travel at a slow pace to get the most out of the display.

It's about a one-mile walk to the end and then back again.  It was fun, our little lady enjoyed our visit and so did Holly and I.  It was a special pre-Christmas treat (:


One of my favorite decorations at Christmas are Christmas trees.  They are beautiful and regal.  Trees have so many spiritual messages attached to their grand heights.  I'm reminded of the tree of life, with its luscious life-giving fruit that once stood in the Garden of Eden.  Then, there's the all-important tree that our Savior was nailed to, whose wood held his body as He paid the price for our sins and died in our place - so that we might eat, so to speak, from the tree of life. 

These lovely Christmas trees are standing tall, displaying their lights in the darkness - glorifying their Creator with all they have to offer.  What a beautiful picture!  Thank you, God, for the message of the trees.



Sunday, December 11, 2016

Even Before...

Psalm 139

I love the verse in Psalm 139 where we're reminded, "Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord" verse 4 NIV.  What a relief to know that God knows our thoughts, our words, and our every need, even before we're aware of it - and, He's gone before us to prepare the way.

That truth was made crystal clear to me during a visit to Colonial Williamsburg on the day after Thanksgiving.  My daughter Sara, sweet grandkids and I planned to spend a few hours wandering along the beautiful, historic area of our first colonial capital.  The weather was beautiful, and apparently, tons of other people had the same idea.  Finding a parking space looked like it was going to be challenging.  Here's where this verse comes into play.

We were just near the end of our first circuit of the full parking lot at Merchant's Square.  We'd quickly come to realize we needed to find someone leaving a space if we hoped to snag one.  As I was just about to finish uttering this sentence, "We need to start praying...." with the words "...for a parking space," we spotted a man walking to his car door - right in front of us.  Sara and I looked at each other and laughed.  Before I even finished my sentence to ask God for a parking space, He'd already sent the man toward his car at the location we'd be at in that moment!   He answered our prayer before we even asked it.

What an amazing heavenly Father we are blessed to belong to.  Sara and I were both delighted, not only because we had a prime parking space open up directly in front of us, but even more so, by the stunning way that God showed us He was right there with us and for us.  He could have waited until we prayed for a space, but He chose to bestow an extra blessing on us by answering our prayer BEFORE we asked it.  I could imagine a holy grin on His face as He witnessed our delight! 

Thank you, my Father.  "How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand" verses 17-18.