Friday, August 18, 2017

Praise


Praise

This morning I choose my Portmerion cup and saucer for breakfast.  The creamy white china with a perky spray of pink and rose diantus flowers is both dainty and pretty.  I pour hot, dark Irish Breakfast tea into the cup.  Although not visible in the picture, delicate, undulating wisps of steam spiral upward.  The graceful swirls of vapor dance as they lift heavenward.  I believe they are rising in praise to their Creator.  The swiftly-fading beauty of that white mist is, I'm sure, pleasing to the Father who made it. 

I delight in knowing that the smallest and seemingly insignificant detail upon this earth is neither of those things.  Would that I would be as faithful as those tiny fingers of steam lifting heavenward throughout their entire existence. 

This is also a picture of the impermanence of our life on earth, as well.  In scripture we read, "For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" James 4:14.  While that might sound a bit morbid, it's really not.  We are simply being reminded that life on this spinning ball is very brief in comparison with the unending eternity that we will experience when our earthly life ends. 

So - it behooves us (nifty word, isn't it?!) to glorify and praise our Creator while our temporary mist swirls and spins down our earthly path, because the best of life doesn't begin until we reach the other side - and "only what's done for Christ will last."


Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Shepherd Boy


A Shepherd Boy

Earlier in the spring, I visited the historic Hunter House in Norfolk.  It's a beautiful late 1800s house with adorable nooks and crannies - and some nice fireplace art too.  The picture above shows a carved insert above a tile fireplace in the home's elegant dining room.  The shepherd boy in the picture reminds me of David in the Bible.  In fact, that was very likely what the artist had in mind.

The whole story of David's life - from start to finish - is an impactful picture of what God can do in a life that is dedicated to Him.  From the time he was a young boy working in his father's pastures, David wrote poetry and songs of praise to His heavenly Father.  Psalm 23 mirrors what David did for his sheep and what God did for Him (and still does for us every day).  "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters...."

David probably spent weeks at a time in the fields and pastures, caring for great herds of sheep.  As he faithfully cared for the animals and observed nature around him, he grew closer and closer to the great God who created it all.  His many wonderful Psalms are eloquent testimony to relationship and reverence for the Almighty.

  --"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?"
  --"When you said, 'Seek My face,' My heart said to You, 'Your face, Lord, I will seek.'"
  --"You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance."
  --"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!"

Even as David fulfilled the job of shepherd boy, he had no idea that someday he would be king of God's people.  Indeed, on the day Samuel arrived to anoint one of Jessie's eight sons, no one even considered calling David from the fields -- until.... there were no sons left to choose from.  That's when the prophet Samuel said to send for the boy, because they would not sit down to eat until he came.  When David arrived, the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!"

I love the song by Ray Blotz and Steve Millikan, entitled Shepherd Boy.  The chorus repeats this heart-warming phrase, "But when others see a shepherd boy, God may see a king."

One of the wonderful lessons from that story is that we don't have to be the biggest or the best or the most educated or the richest - or any superlative you might think of.  God can and does use ordinary people to do His extraordinary work on this earth every single day.  What a joy and honor to be used of Almighty God to perform some work for Him. 

I love the verse in Philippians, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" 4:13.





Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Rejoicing with Song




 Rejoicing with Song

Recently, my devotional reading in Jesus Calling has been so on-target for my needs.  No surprise since Jesus has a way of making anything around us personally relevant to our particular needs.  Such faithfulness from Him draws praise and thanksgiving from us.  Here is a verse that brought a smile to my face and warmth to my heart:

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing" Zephaniah 3:17.  He will rejoice over me with singing -- How very special!!

The Photo above shows angels surrounding Jesus Christ in heavenly places.  They are all in positions of praise to Him.  We are told in scripture that the angels are in constant praise to King Jesus.  The photo above was taken in the Church of the Spilt Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia and is done totally in mosaics.

God rejoices over us - and in return, as so many verses in Psalm testify, we should also rejoice over Him:

 "Shout joyfully to the Lord all the earth" 100:1
 "The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly" 118:15
 "Sing aloud to God our strength; make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob. Raise a song and strike the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the lute" 81:1-2

 
This picture is also a mosaic in the same church.  It depicts an angel praising God as described by Isaiah when he told of his vision of heaven.  He wrote:  "I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!'" 6:1-3.
 
The angel mosaic is a lovely, powerful depiction of that vision of a scene that takes place in heaven on a daily basis.
 
Although we are not yet in heavenly places with the ability to praise God in complete perfection, we can and should offer frequent praise to our great, loving, gracious Father, Son and Spirit - the God who is always with us, hearing our every thought, and caring for our every need.  All praise King Jesus!  Blessed be the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen!
 




Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Dividing Line


The Dividing Line

The photo above is taken at a cool place.  It's a spot on the map where four states intersect with each other.  It's called Four Corners and it's on an Indian reservation.  The four states are Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona.  In this picture taken in 2009, I'm managing to be in four states at one time -- talk about multi-tasking! 

I thought of this picture when I was doing a lesson in my Bible study, "All Things New," by Kelly Minter, and she made a statement that struck me as being very relevant.  She wrote, "I can think of a few dividing lines in my life, experiences that marked a before and after.  Some were amazing; others painful." 

The point for this post is that each state has a dividing line from the other state.  Except in situations that produce a cute photo opt, we are on one side of a dividing line or the other side.  The dividing line we're talking about here is the "before and after" line that pops up in our lives on a regular basis and marks our life's calendar with both gladness and sadness.

One of our family's dividing lines happened three months ago today when My brother and sister-in-law went up to heaven.  The tragic events surrounding their home-going were traumatic, producing a stark before and after.  As my sister Ava said, our lives will never be the same.  In truth, there are many dividing lines in our lives that cause a complete shift in our paths, though few as horrific as our most recent shift. 

Consider various dividing lines in life.  Marriage takes us from being single before, to being a couple hoping for a happily ever after.  The birth of a child presents a big dividing line -- such as before I was able to sleep -- after ... not so much.  These are some of the good before and after events that dot our lives.  As Kelly Minter pointed out, "Some are amazing; others painful."

When my husband Larry lost vision in one of his eyes, one day before he could see and the next day marked an after when his vision in that eye was no more.  We had a similar feeling when my 91-year old mother fell and broke her hip.  The remainder of her two years of life were marked by before and after that event.

Getting back to the Bible lesson - Kelly continued by writing, "All of us living today are on the backside of history's most epic event: Christ's death and resurrection...this historic dividing line can do nothing but change our thinking."  Various times I've considered how glad I am that I was born after Christ's death and not before.  For one thing, we are so blessed to have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us - something the early believers usually did not have.  And, we can know our Redeemer personally.

Dividing lines in life can be turning points in our lives that cause us to look at life more carefully.  It can be a time as scripture would say, "to examine ourselves" - to check the direction our lives have been heading.  Dividing lines can be life-changers for better or worse.  I think we all know that "better" is not only better, but best.

From our earthly view, some dividing lines can be so painful.  We know from scripture how the disciples felt on the day Jesus was crucified on the cross.  They were devastated and from their earthly view, life as they knew it was over.  Ironically, life as they knew it was indeed over - but for the best.  That painful death and later resurrection was, from heaven's view, the triumph of eternity because, at last, sin's debt had been paid once for all and the promise made in the garden had been fulfilled. 

From heaven's view, the eternal before and after is this:  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Trust in the Lord


TRUST IN THE LORD

Trust seems to be the theme of the day for me -- one that is all-important to each of us.  Looking at yesterday's Jesus Calling, God reminded me to "Take a deep breath and dive into the depths of absolute trust in Me. Underneath are the everlasting arms!"  Such reminders refresh my soul!  The photo above was taken when we visited Vor Frue Kirke (Our Lady Church) in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May.  I love the way the sculptor portrayed Jesus with open arms of welcome to all who will accept Him.

As I thumbed through Psalms, I came upon one of my favorite verses, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God" 20:7.  I always smile when I read that wonderful truth.  We serve such a mighty God -- with might and power and omnipotence beyond anything we can ever understand.  How marvelous!

Then, as I drove back from the post office this morning, listening to a delightful CD my daughter Sara burned for me, I heard the song by Lauren Daigle, "Trust in You."  Oh, my, those words spoke to my heart and, of course, I cried.  I also lifted my hand in praise (the other hand kept firm control of the car) and thanked God for always meeting me where I am.  Here are some of the lyrics of a wonderful truth:

When You don't move the mountains
I'm needing You to move
When You don't part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don't give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There's not a day ahead You have not seen
So let all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less


You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation
The rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There's not a place where I'll go
You've not already stood.


Trusting when we cannot see or understand - that's what God wants of us.  It's not easy, but that's where the peace and power and purpose begins.  Let's pray that God will help us to trust Him fully.  My favorite verse is found in Proverbs:  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path" 3:5-6.

 
  

Thursday, June 29, 2017

If The Shoe Fits...

If The Shoe Fits...

   There's an old saying, "If the shoe fits -- wear it."  As you can see, these shoes were not about to fit my size 7 foot.  Granted, they weren't made to fit anyone's foot, but I kinda think that's the point of the whole message.  There are some "shoes" in life that we as women try our hardest to fill, but its just not gonna happen.  Just like Cinderella's two wicked step-sisters trying to cram their big feet into that dainty glass slipper, some shoes will never fit.

    The key to avoiding pinched toes and walking comfortably through life with a spring to your step, is to find the correct size shoe that God created for your very unique feet.  These giant shoes I'm playing around with in the photo sit in front of a shoe store in the charming town of Rostock, Germany -- and I'm pretty sure they're not going anywhere. 

    I'm sure you've guessed this message goes beyond finding a correctly-fitting shoe.  Sometimes in life, we try to wear a shoe that is way too big for our feet.  In other words, we try to do too much, perhaps thinking some part of Wonder Woman or Supergirl is in our job description.  Have you ever tried to wear shoes that are too big?  It's a strain trying to keep them on your feet, and sometimes they cause you to trip.  Taking on too many responsibilities and trying to do too much can be downright exhausting -- and, it's been known to trip us up as well.

   God tells us that He has plans for us (Jeremiah 29) - plans that fit like a well-crafted shoe.  One of the things we are told to put on our feet is the "gospel of peace" (Ephesians 6:15) -- now that's a lovely shoe I'd like to put on every day.  If we walk in the light as He is in the light, His peace will spread over us, and the shoes of peace and purpose will fit just as He intended them to fit.

     I've always been a person who likes shoes and I have a 17-month old granddaughter who is following in my footsteps (literally - she tries to put on my shoes!).  My big shoe doesn't fit her anymore than her cute tiny shoe fits me.  In the same way, my responsibilities and purposes don't fit her anymore than the paces she's going through in life -- learning to talk and stop climbing on everything -- fit me.  I can talk, let me tell you!  And, climbing on tables is just not my thing anymore. 

     Find out what shoe God wants you to wear in life and that life will fit you so much better than trying to force your foot into a shoe -- or a life -- that is too big or too small.  "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands" Psalm 138:8.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Glimpses of Europe

Glimpses of Europe

Here are some glimpses of lovely Europe.  We enjoyed our recent journey to some neat countries.  You can experience some of our travels without any aching feet (which I had on most days).  In the pic above, Larry and I are standing before the large, handsome Royal Palace in Brussels Belgium.  A pretty, green park spreads out in front of it on the other side of the street.  And no, we were not invited inside -- an oversight, I'm quite sure.

The Town Square in beautiful Brugge, Belgium
 
Canals, canals and more canals in Amsterdam, Netherlands
 
In Amsterdam, we boarded the Holland America Koningsdam for a 14-night cruise
 
I was excited to see this famous view of Copenhagen, Denmark called Nyhaven
 
I daresay there is not a single TJMaxx in America that is located in a building as pretty and historic as this one in Rostock, Germany.
 
Not the greatest picture of us, but the wonderful medieval town of Tallinn Estonia is like a beautiful fairy tale village.
 
It was hard to choose which picture to use from St. Petersburg, Russia, but I just loved this Church of the Spilt Blood.  The interior is literally covered in mosaics primarily depicting the life of Christ.  It's a really beautiful church.
 
It was a lovely day in Helsinki, Finland, and we saw beautiful spring flowers along the way.
 
My favorite thing about Stockholm, Sweden was the narrow European streets that I love. It was our one rainy day on the whole cruise.
 
It was a beautiful sunny day in Kiel, Germany.  Here's a view of their Town Hall across a lake.
 
Aarhus, Denmark was our last stop on the cruise.  It is a lovely medieval town and it was a pretty day.  Here is a view down a lane with colorful old houses.  It was so picturesque.
 
We are thankful for our grand journey and as always, so thankful to be home.