Saturday, December 31, 2016

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


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.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Meeting at Myrtle Beach

We met my sister Ava and her husband in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, recently for a winter golf tournament.  The guys spent their days hitting the links and my sister and I spent our time hitting the stores for some much-needed Christmas shopping.  Join us for a glimpse of our sojourn.

One of our favorite shopping spots in Myrtle Beach is Hamrick's a crowded, packed-in store with lots of stuff you can't seem to get anywhere else - especially for the price.  It's our annual hot-shopping spot.  Add to that, nearly a dozen other stores we visited, you can see we're serious shoppers when we put our minds to it.

Here's a cool view from the balcony of our 15th floor room, looking down Ocean Avenue with the lingering rosy glow of sunset rimming the horizon and a sliver of moon hanging overhead.

Resident seagulls enjoyed a bit of sun and sea on the sandy beach -- just like we did.

I'm a sucker for beautiful sunsets and this one was gorgeous.  I never cease to be amazed at God's wonderful use of color and clouds to create magnificent works of art spread across the sky for all to see.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


More LOVE on the Eastern Shore of Virginia -- this time on Chincoteague Island.  The island has lovely shops and restaurants, and very friendly people.  And, of course, views over the water are great!

In spite of it being November, roses were still blooming in some sheltered spots.  This lovely pink lady greeted us with her delicate beauty as we walked along the shop fronts in the quaint town of Chincoteague. 

We stopped in the museum for NASA's Wallops Flight Facility at Chincoteague.  This E-2 Navy plane was one of many circling the facility, practicing touch-and-go landings on the field below.

Larry was in training as well -- training to be an astronaut on the next space shuttle (not!)

I too opted for a bit of training while we were there.  I think my gear is pretty cool.  Our training was brief (very brief!), but fun.  There's just so much to do on the Eastern Shore!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Joyful Writer

I'm a Joyful Writer!

Here I am standing behind my first ever "Book Table" event.  The first Saturday in November, I was at the Portsmouth Christian School Harvest Festival displaying my books from 10am to 2pm.  It was fun!

I had a great time visiting with lots of friends who passed my table, plus I sold 17 books.  Since the event was actually more fun and games for kids, I was quite pleased that I sold that many books.  I had eight titles for sale (plus a "color edition" of a B&W book).  Kindle books offers a ninth title of mine - a horror novelette entitled, "The House," which is not in print copy.

I have several ideas simmering for new fiction books, and I've begun writing two non-fiction books.  I just need to be more disciplined and spend more time writing.  It kind of reminds me of the verse Paul wrote in Romans, "For what I am doing, I do not understand.  For what I will to do, that I do not practice..."  I want to write, but I keep letting things distract me.  Do you ever have a problem with distractions in your life?

Here are some quotes that are good encouragers to get focused on your goal, buckle down and do the thing:

--‘Finished last’ will always be better than ‘Did not finish’, which always trumps ‘Did not start.’
--Thinking too long about doing something is often the reason it never gets done.
--Most great things in your life won’t happen by chance, they will happen by choice.
--Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin.  Beginning makes the conditions perfect.
--Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.
--There are seven days in the week and someday isn’t one of them.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Eastern Shore Trip

Love the Eastern Shore 
A few days ago, we traveled up the 70-mile long Virginia portion of the Eastern Shore.  This clever "Love" piece is on the beach at Cape Charles.  The "O" is a massive truck tire and the "V" is made up of two pontoons.  Love it (pun intended)!  We had a very enjoyable two-day visit.

This boardwalk is just around the corner from the "LOVE" piece. 
 Sand along the shoreline in Cape Charles is white and fine 

 Bayview Waterfront Bed & Breakfast is in Belle Haven, down many twists and turns, perched above a beautiful inlet and surrounded by trees and fields.  A lovely, off-the-beaten-path place to spend a night.  History and solitude surrounded us like a warm embrace.

God painted a beautiful sunset across the sky and then reflected it on the smooth surface of the water below.  He graced us with twice the color, twice the beauty, and twice the breath-taking joy of seeing the Master working on His palette moment by moment as the colors changed.  There's no doubt -- He is the Great Artist.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Journey Sights

Journey Sights
I wanted to share some cool pictures from our trip down south last month.  The first shot shows a fleet of shrimp boats resting on the waterfront in Darien, South Carolina.  We enjoyed an early supper of delicious fresh shrimp at B&J's Restaurant in Darien.  They'd probably been swimming that morning under the surface of these very waters.

Another waterfront - this time a lake scene with Disney's Beach Club bathed in pink light from a setting sun, and sporting golden pinpricks of light reflecting on the water.  This picture taken from the Boardwalk across the lake.

One of the favorite photo opts at the Magic Kingdom is Cinderella's Castle.  What makes it extra special for me is that the castle was fashioned after famed Neushwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany.  It was my great joy to visit that grand castle, built in 1869, two years ago.  Below is a photo of the original castle in Germany.  Although Disney added a few extra spires, you can see the similarity.

I'm thankful for our travels, and I'm thankful for coming home again.  As they say, "There's no place like home."  To which I add a hearty, "Amen!"

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fun with Family

Fun with Family

Larry and I recently drove down to Florida for a few weeks visit.  We spent one week with our two daughters and their families, and the next week with our son and his family.  Of course, a stay in  Kissimmee (next to Orlando) is never complete without visits to Walt Disney's pride and joy -- Disney World.  Here are some shots from our days in the parks:

              Adventures with Pirates of the Caribbean - "Arrgg!"

                Fresh and ready for a day of fun

             Ready for baby girl's first magical day in the Kingdom

We are all thankful for good times together and safe travels along the way.  Thank you, Jesus!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Be Aware & Beware!

Be Aware & Beware!
As we walked along the jungle pathway in Animal Kingdom at Disney World, I saw this sign near the Tiger enclosure.  The sign told us to "Be aware" that tigers were nearby.  Another sign (below), told us to "Beware" of the presence of tigers and to stay on the path for safety.

While these signs are meant to add color and interest to a theme-park adventure, there was no real danger to visitors of Animal Kingdom.  Instead, we were able to admire the beautiful Sumerian tigers on display inside their well-fortified enclosure.

The two signs, however, immediately made me think of something far more sinister.  They reminded me of the fearsome beast that prowls the jungle paths of our lives in this world.  Scripture warns us, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith..." 1 Peter 5:8-9.
Although the verse speaks of a "lion," a tiger is every bit as fearsome.  We can easily overlay these two signs across the paths of our lives and consider the warnings.  We should be aware and never forget that "tigers are frequently encountered in the ruins ahead," which translates to, "Satan is frequently encountered on your pathway ahead."  He's there, just waiting to pounce, and he is every bit as fierce and merciless as that tiger pictured above.
The second sign offers a way of safety to the traveler:  " will be very safe by walking on the well-traveled path," which translates to, "You will be very safe by walking on the well-protected path set forth by God in His Word."  God lovingly offers us a path of safety, and if we choose that path, He promises to walk with us along the way.  Now, that's the kind of safety I'm looking for in a jungle teeming with tigers!
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me..." Psalm 23.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lead Me, O Lord

Lead Me, O Lord

As we begin our morning, the path of a new day spreads out before us.  What lies around the corner?  What waits along the sides of our pathway?  Should we plunge ahead, or walk through the jungle of this world more slowly - trusting God to guide our way?

These are questions to consider.  Moses considered these questions as he felt the weight of responsibility God had given him in leading the nation of Israel through the desert.  Can you imagine such a job being thrust upon you?  Neither could Moses.  During this dilemma of what to do and which way to go, Moses asked God, "Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in your sight."

The next request of Moses, however, is the one that really impresses me.  He said, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here" Exodus 33:15.  I love that he said that.  Sometimes, we think we know the best way to do a thing, and we don't bother to ask God if, indeed, it IS the best path we should be taking.

I'm a "planner," and I plan for this and for that, making lists, working on my agenda.  I think my ideas and plans sound good and logical, but if they are not bathed in prayer and done in the will of God, I may be walking down that path without the power of the Holy Spirit's "Okay" on the thing, and I really don't want that.  Sometimes, I come to a jarring stop and realize, this is my plan, not God's.  I apologize to Him for my impulsiveness and pray Moses' prayer -- "O Lord, if You are not in this thing and Your Presence doesn't go before me in it, forgive me and keep me from stepping forth without You in it.  Guide me, O thou great Jehovah!"

There -- that's how we should approach our day -- asking God the way to go.  We really don't want to go there if God is not in it.  Two of my favorite verses in God's Word are found in Proverbs.  They are words to live by:  "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.

Photo:  The path in the photo above is in Animal Kingdom at Disney World where my husband and I enjoyed a day of wandering recently.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

God is Still Good

God is Still Good

I took this photo at the large indoor cemetery near the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.  The marble sarcophagus shows one figure mourning the death of a loved one, while the other figure is perhaps seeking comfort from God.  Both are pictures of sorrow.

A friend was recently asked why he wasn’t angry with God as his beautiful, young wife lay dying of cancer.  His answer:  “Honestly, it never occurred to me to be angry at him. Why would I lash out in anger toward the only thing that brings me solace? That’d be akin to punching the lifeguard who’s trying to save me from drowning.  I must cling to Christ, desperately, determinedly, gratefully, for strength to see myself through every moment, both good and hurtful, both joyful and sorrowful. And so that’s what I do. I’ve found Jesus to be more than sufficient. He is a man of sorrows who knows how to share mine, and who tells me gently, in ways that I can believe, that in the end, everything is going to be ok. God is good; he is always good.”

Even while we are trusting God to comfort us when tragedy and sorrow strike, we still often ask, “Why?  Why is this happening in my/our lives?”
The answer is as old as time.  We live in a sinful world where bad things happen -- even to good people, and God’s children endure heartache and pain just as often as those who do not believe.  In this world we live in, God doesn’t wave a magic wand over the lives of His children and say, “No more problems for you.”
We can’t expect to walk through life never stubbing a toe or having a sore throat, with a dust-free home and no car repairs, never suffering with a mosquito bite or hurt feelings (and that’s just some of the small stuff!).  Not only are we not guaranteed a carefree life, we are actually guaranteed that live will NOT be carefree.
Jesus spoke of that assurance in John 16:33:  “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
You can count on issues ranging from that stubbed toe and dusty house, all the way up the scale to the possibility of cancer and heart disease, and a home being gobbled up by an earthquake or forest fire.

I’m not saying we need to live in fear of the ax falling, but we do need to be aware of the reality of life on this planet.  Just as my friend does not blame God for the pain and sorrow of his wife’s condition, we can’t call out “foul” to God when He allows tragedy to strike.
We might say, “Oh, but He could have prevented this horrible thing from happening!”  And, yes, He could certainly prevent it, but He allows these things to plague mankind because He gives His creation free will.  That free will resulted in sin being introduced into the Garden of Eden, and we’ve been hemmed about with its awful consequence ever since.

While free will brought devastation in the form of sin into our world, free will also allows us to choose to follow God, in spite of the pull of the dark side.  When we choose to believe and follow God Almighty, a wonderful thing happens.  Even though we’re still living in this sinful world and enduring its sometimes painful environment, our spirits are bound up in the perfect love of Jesus in a way that frees us from the ultimate consequences of those sins. 

Someday, we’ll live in a sin-free place called Heaven, with the God who gave us free will to love Him and delights in our choice.  In that perfect place, there will be no more stubbed toes, cancer, or death.  At long last, we’ll enjoy the peace, joy and nearness with God that He intended for us in the first place.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Grass Sings


I took this close-up picture of lush grass during a wander through the woods in Scotland.  It reminds me of a song about the resurrection of Jesus by Sandi Patti that has the phrase, "Did the grass sing?  Did the earth rejoice to feel you again?" 

If you think about it, the earth is in a sort of limbo as it spins in its orbit during this space of time between its perfect creation and when it will again be perfected after Christ returns.  Scripture tells how creation eagerly awaits the day of its deliverance and even now, "the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs..." Romans 8:22. 

Not only does the earth groan, but it also teaches.  Job 12:7-9 says, "But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you....Who among all these does not know that the  hand of the Lord has done this..."

While we know that nature does not have the same sort of choices and abilities that we humans are endowed with, animals do have feelings and instincts, and even plants apparently have some degree of feeling since scripture tells us that they both "groan" and "teach."  So, when the singer asks if the grass perhaps sang with joy when the Lord was resurrected, would that be so strange?

I love the song by Nicole Nordeman, called, "My Offering."  It begins with a verse about grass and its desire to glorify God, just as she desires to glorify God.

If You made me like the grass that is green
Growing tall and covering the hills above me.
And maybe I would pray for sunshine and a little rain
To fall now and then to make me lovely.
I could be a place where sheep could graze
Or barefoot feet could play.
And I would grow and grow and hope You'd bend down low
To hear me sing my offering.

Open up the Heavens, open up the skies
'Cause all of Your creation wants to testify.
And I have a song so let the earth sing along
'Cause I just want to praise You.

Pastor Rob Bell has said, "We live between the trees in a world drenched in God."  Living between the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, both of which were in the Garden of Eden, and the tree of the Cross of Christ, which continues to offer salvation -- we live in a world where God offers love and grace to all of His beautiful creation.  In spite of the ugliness resulting from sin, there is still beauty and hope, and someday, there will be complete redemption.
I join with the trees which scripture says, "clap their hands" in praise to our Almighty Creator God.  All praise to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Rags & Royal Robes

      Rags & Royal Robes

This is an interesting picture I took in Madrid, Spain.  We were walking around the popular Plaza Mayor when I saw this person (not sure if its male or female) near one of the entrances, sitting like a statue covered in mud.  I thought it to be a clever "costume" and dropped a coin in the slot for donations.

My greatest interest in this figure is how it reminds me of the verse in Isaiah 64;6:  "All our righteousness is as filthy rags."  I'd say this person is covered from head to toe in filthy rags.  The picture represents our natural condition before God -- covered in sin, with no hope of cleansing ourselves.  In fact, the verse specifically mentions any good we might have done as being little more than filthy rags in the sight of God. 

Even though the person pictured above can go home, shower, put on clean clothes, and expect to be outwardly clean and presentable, inwardly he, like us, can never cleanse himself of the sin we are born in.  There is only one way we can be made truly clean.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" 1 John 1:9.  What a wonderful promise from God!  What we have no hope of ever being able to cleanse, He has made a way for total cleansing.  No more filthy rags in our closets -- only robes of purest white.

My granddaughter Marisa twirls around in a beautiful white costume, looking clean and lovely from head to toe, reminding us of how God clothes us in His pure, clean righteousness - from head to toe. In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young writes, "Wear My robe of righteousness with ease. I custom-made it for you, to cover you from head to toe. The price I paid for this covering was astronomical - My own blood. You could never purchase such a royal garment, no matter how hard you worked."

What a blessing to be cleansed by Almighty God Himself!  Wear His garment of righteousness and salvation with thanksgiving and joy.  He has given it to you to wear for eternity.

"I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness" Isaiah 61:10.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Bird of Prey

A hawk discovered our backyard is a good place to drop in for a handy meal.  This pile of feathers is evidence of some violent moments on our nice green lawn.  Sadly, there have been five piles of feathers over the last month. The doves that frequent our bird feeder have become easy pickings for these sharp-taloned birds of prey. 

We'd been told that hawks grab their victim and pluck off all the feathers before flying away to partake of their meal.  Sad for the doves, they are slow birds that often eat on the ground under the feeder.  At the beginning of the summer, there were many doves in our backyard.  Not so many now.

One evening, we saw the hawk in action.  He'd caught a bird (perhaps a dove, it was hard to tell) and was busy plucking its feathers.  A group of Blue Jays were squawking in nearby bushes, even going so far as to swoop down at the hawk to get him to leave.  He calmly stood his ground and continued his grisly business, until I walked near enough to scare him away.  And yes, he carried his prize off with him. 

Doves are one of the nicest birds we've seen.  They don't run other birds away and they wait their turn.  Even though they do not seem very agile, they keep trying to get on a perch until they manage to balance and scoop up some tasty seed.  I like the doves and it saddens me to see that so many have been killed.  Alas, such is the way of the world in which we live.

Many times, I make the comment, "It's a jungle out there!"  And, indeed, it is - in more ways than the obvious.  The obvious is all the terrible things that happen around the world - terrorist attacks, murders, poverty, child abuse, horrible accidents -- we've seen it all and it scares and saddens us.  Then, there are things like the Zika virus we've been hearing about lately, disease and infection.  To say it's a jungle out there is no exaggeration. 

To make matters worse, there is a slithery serpent by the name of Satan who uses jungle tactics against us every day.  He and his slimy servants are out to get us and we frequently don't even see them coming.  The jungle is a dangerous place.

I don't know about you, but I sure would like to know a safe place to keep me from the clutches of birds of prey who swoop in and grab unwary peaceful doves who are minding their own business (like you and me), and to protect me from slimy demons who work in the shadows.

Thankfully, there is such a place.  The Lord Jesus Christ promises to be our safest place.  Here's what David said about the Lord, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1.  Whew!  Aren't you glad there is a safe place in this jungle terrain?  I sure am!

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust'....He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge." Psalm 91:1-2 & 4.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Our Anchor

Our Anchor

Anchors always remind me how Jesus should be the anchor of our soul.  I took the picture of this anchor where it sits inside the stone wall of the San Anton Fortress in beautiful A Coruna, Spain.  There's an old hymn, written in 1882, by Priscilla Jane Owens, that asks the question, "Will your anchor hold in the storms of life...When the strong tides lift and the cables strain, will your anchor drift or firm remain?"

What is your life anchored to?  We all have something that centers us.  For some, it's their job, for others, family or the church.  It could even be their own inner strength they consider to be the anchor.  While all of these things are good to have in our lives, none of them are strong enough to be an anchor in every circumstance.

The chorus of the old hymn tells us where to find the only anchor we can truly count on.  "We have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love!"

In Hebrews 6, the writer is speaking of how we can have hope, because we can trust God's promises; that we can take hold of the hope that is offered to us and be greatly encouraged.  Verse 19 days, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."

I love the way the writer Sarah Young talks about being anchored and staying centered on God, in her devotional book, "Jesus Calling." She writes:  "Your mind will wander from Me, but the question is how far you allow it to wander.  An anchor on a short rope lets a boat drift only slightly before the taut line tugs the boat back toward the center....As you become increasingly attuned to My Presence, the length of rope on your soul's Anchor is shortened.  You wander only a short distance before feeling that inner tug - telling you to return to your true Center in Me."

We've seen a picture of an anchor, a song about an anchor, a Bible verse and devotional featuring an anchor.  All of these anchor-related pieces, all point to our true center - the Lord Jesus Christ.  I'm so thankful to be anchored in the love of Jesus forever.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Jonah and the Great Fish

Here are pictures I took of some of the beautiful stained glass inside the Main Chapel at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.  It was not surprising that the various windows highlight stories from the Bible having to do with the Sea.  Both Jonah and Noah's stories are pictured in several windows each. 

Those familiar with the story of Jonah will remember that God told his prophet Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and preach to them, warning of the need to repent or that they would be destroyed in forty days.  Jonah hated the people of Nineveh, as did all of Israel.  The Ninevites were well-known for their extreme brutality toward their enemy.  They never showed an ounce of mercy, why should Jonah be the instrument to extend God's mercy toward these wicked people?

Instead of heading out toward the city in obedience to God, Jonah foolishly thought he might be able to run from God.  So, he bought a ticket for a far-away city, boarded the ship, went below and fell asleep.  A bit later, a violent storm nearly tore the ship to pieces.  It was discovered that Jonah was to blame and the window above illustrates Jonah being tossed overboard.  As soon as he went over, the storm immediately stopped.  At that moment, a great fish swam by with his mouth open and Jonah was swallowed into his stomach.  Miraculously, God had prepared this very fish for this very moment - and He was totally in control.

After three days and nights in the belly of the fish, and quite a bit of praying and repenting within that dark, smelly interior, God caused this great fish to swim up to the shore and vomit Jonah onto dry land.  After he washed his smelly self up, Jonah started walking toward Nineveh (a very long walk!).  This time, there was no arguing.  Jonah was still not happy about his mission, but he was not going to botch this assignment a second time -- he might not live through it.

  And so, as soon as he reached the gates of the city of his enemy, he began to preach about God and repentance.  The really, really amazing thing is that almost immediately, everyone in the city repented and turned to God.  They even put on sackcloth and sat in ashes to show their sorrow -- even the king and queen.  It was probably the greatest revival in history.  How exciting and wonderful!
   Except - Jonah was not happy.  In fact, he was very angry.  To make a long story shorter, he whined and complained, and finally God let him know his anger was misplaced and he'd better get an attitude check.

This story tells us at least a couple of obvious things:  First, God's mercy is shown in a big way.  It's a beautiful story of mercy and grace, not only to the people of Nineveh, but also to Jonah (that God didn't just zap him).  It also shows us how God sometimes uses imperfect and reluctant persons to accomplish His plans and -- that His plans will come to pass.

I'm so thankful for God's mercy and grace - and for His willingness to use we who are flawed vessels to show His great glory.  Praise God!