Monday, August 31, 2015

Look At the Light!


Keep your face to the sunshine,
and you cannot see the shadows. 
It's what sunflowers do.
~Helen Keller

*****

Come to the light, 'tis shining for thee;
Sweetly the light has dawned upon me.
Once I was blind, but now I can see:
The Light of the world is Jesus!
~Philip P. Bliss, 1875




Sunday, August 30, 2015

I Am With You!



I'm sure I've posted this verse before, but I need to be reminded, as perhaps you do, of the precious promises it contains. So...let's read Isaiah 41:10 again and again and reflect on it so that we will not fear--no matter what happens.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Love Like His


Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love is like that.
~Ephesians 5:1-2, The Message

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thank You, God!


Thank You for the world so sweet.
Thank You for the food we eat.
Thank You for the birds that sing.
Thank You, God, for everything.
~Unknown

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Proclaim God's Glory!

Toledo (Ohio) Botanical Garden
I will proclaim the name of the LORD:
how glorious is our God!
He is the Rock; His work is perfect.
Everything He does is just and fair.
He is a faithful God who does no wrong;
how just and upright He is!

~Moses in Deuteronomy 32:3-4



Monday, August 24, 2015

God's Manifold Works

The whale shark, which is the largest fish in the sea, sometimes grows to 40 feet long.
O LORD, how manifold are Your works! 
In wisdom You have made them all;
The earth is full of Your creatures.
Psalm 104:24

Jellyfish 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Clean Heart, Clean Speech

Ripe Figs
People can tame all kinds of animals and birds and reptiles and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it breaks out into curses against those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Can you pick olives from a fig tree or figs from a grapevine? No, and you can't draw water from a salty pool.
~James 3: 7-12, New Living Translation


But the words you speak come from the heart...
~Jesus in Matthew 15:18


Create in me a clean heart, O God.
~David in Psalm 51:10

Note: The heart refers to the whole inner man (the soul, mind, spirit, will) that makes a person what he is (a conscious, intelligent, responsible being). 







Saturday, August 22, 2015

His Masterpiece


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 man may boast. 
For we are His workmanship, 
created in Christ Jesus for good works, 
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

~Ephesians 2:8-10

Friday, August 21, 2015

Benefits of Wisdom


Wisdom is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed....
Do not lose sight of sound wisdom and discretion.....
Then you will walk on your way securely, 
and your foot will not stumble. 
If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
(See Proverbs 3:18-24)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Be Patient!


Flowers only bloom when they are ready.
People are the same way.
You cannot rush or force them open~
just because you think it's time.
Be patient.
                 ~author unknown                

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Watch and Learn!





Life Lessons from a Butterfly


Let go of the past.

Trust the future.

Embrace change.

Come out of the cocoon.

Unfurl your wings.

Dare to get off the ground.

Ride the breezes.

Savor the flowers.

Put on your brightest color.

Let your beauty show.


~author unknown

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Honor the LORD


Honor the LORD with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.
Proverbs 3:9-10

Monday, August 17, 2015

We Wait for You

Sunrise at Crescent Beach, Florida
O LORD, be gracious to us;
we wait for You.
Be our arm every morning,
our salvation in time of trouble.
Isaiah 33:2

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Just Bloom!

Flowers don't compete with each other. 
They just bloom, well content to be what their Creator designed them to be.
Might we learn a lesson from them?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Seeking Nourishment

One morning I took my new mirrorless camera out on our deck to photograph hummingbirds. As always, I was awed by the speed of the thumb-sized birds as they zipped, zipped, zipped here and there, sometimes stopping only a second or two to take a quick sip of the homemade nectar (1 part white sugar to 4 parts water) my husband had poured into the feeders. Sometimes the hummingbirds swarmed the feeder--10 or more at a time. At other times, there'd be only one or two feasting at each feeder, which allowed them to sit longer and sip the life-giving fuel their tiny bodies needed. 

According to what I read on several Internet sites, the sugar water is only a part of their daily nutritional needs. They also need the protein that's found in soft-bodied bugs and spiders, which hummers eat throughout the day. Hummingbirds, like all of God’s creatures, instinctively search for the food they need to survive—and thrive. Thus, they spend much of their day in search of nourishment.

Since we humans also know that our bodies need food to sustain life, we, like they, wisely seek it throughout the day. Sadly, we are not that smart when it comes to feeding our souls! We go for days, weeks, or even years without seeking spiritual food, which is found abundantly in God's Word.


His Word not only nourishes our soul but is also sweet to our taste, if we truly love the Lord and His Word. Such sweetness causes us to long for it more than honey (or a delectable dessert). Because we delight in the doctrines of grace, the glorious truths of the Gospel, and the assurances of His love and of His presence with us, we eagerly turn to the Bible again and again. And if we’ve memorized Scripture, then we can have a sweet feast anytime (and anywhere!) we want to.

How sweet are Your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
~Psalm 119:103


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

When Storms Rage


I took the above photo from my room on the third floor of a hotel in western North Carolina just before a real doozy of a storm hit the area. Thunder boomed. Lightning flashed like strobe lights. I propped up in bed and looked out the wall-to-wall window that provided an unobstructed view of the awesome storm. As I watched, I marveled at the power of God--and sincerely thanked Him for safe shelter from the storm.

But if I had been outside, I'd have been fervently crying out to God to keep me safe...to either stop the storm or help me survive it! 

Thankfully, Dear Reader, you and I can also cry out to God when the storms of life rage around us and we feel as if we have no safe hiding place. During those storms, a doctor's words can sound more ominous than loudest thunder, words that shake us to the core. And/Or unexpected calamity strikes as suddenly as a bolt of lightning--sometimes one heartbreak after another, like frequent flashes of lightning during the height of a storm.

During such times, we instinctively cry out to God for help, asking Him to provide specific solutions. Sometimes we're suffering so much in the midst of the storm that's raging around us that we can't figure out what's best to ask God for. At such times, it's always wise to ask Him to do for us these overarching requests Mosie Lister makes in his beautiful song, Till the Storm Passes By:
  • Hear my cry for help! [Even if I have no words, only the the desperate, unutterable cry of my heart!]
  • Keep me safe till the storm passes by. [Help me weather the storm! Without You, I can't make it.]
  • Hold me fast. [For I am not afraid when I sense Your nearness and Your love.]
  • Let me stand in the hollow of Your hand [a place of great safety where You can easily watch over me]
Even if God doesn't immediately still the storms of life, He will calm us! What a blessing that is!

:



O LORD, You are my God;
I will exalt You;
I will praise Your name,
for You have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

For You have been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress, 
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat...
Isaiah 25:1, 4

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Gathering or Scattering?


Add caption
As my husband and I were leaving a Sam's Club store, I happened to look up at a quote near the top of the wall between the entrance door and the exit door. I'm glad I took time to snap a quick picture of it with my cell phone, for the quote compels me to take a close look at my life and ask, "Am I as eager to give as I am to receive?"

Mrs. Walton's quote also reminds me of these words spoken centuries ago by the Apostle Paul as he was saying goodbye to Christians in Ephesus: "...remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'" (Acts 20:35).


Monday, August 10, 2015

A Message for Me

The morning my husband and I had to wait for a table at a Dutch restaurant in Holland, Michigan, I did a bit of shopping in the little gift shop.  As soon as I spotted a red mug with white lettering that said, "KEEP CALM AND KLOMP ON," I knew it needed to go home with me, though I didn't know when I purchased it what klomp meant. But the meaning I attached to it was "keep on keeping on," a reminder I need to receive most mornings.

Later, I learned that klomp means one wooden shoe and that the plural of the word is klompen. Many people wear wooden shoes for work and for dancing, and a sales clerk in one of the stores where the shoes are sold assured me they are very comfortable though they do not appear to be. 



Now that I'm back home, I often enjoy drinking my morning coffee from that mug. And whenever I read that message, my mind interprets it as KEEP CALM AND DANCE ON! I don't actually dance, but I do try to keep my steps quick and my heart happy (and calm!) as I go through each day.

As I sip my morning coffee and read the Bible, I like to reflect on what King David said to his son, Solomon, who would soon assume the throne and begin the enormous task of building the temple the LORD had commanded him to construct, using the materials David had amassed for that purpose. 


Be strong and courageous and do it. 
Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, 
for the LORD God, even my God, 
is with you. 
He will not leave you or forsake you, 
until all the work 
for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.
1 Chronicles 28:20

My lengthy to-do list is "nothing" when compared to Solomon's. Yet, I feel much less overwhelmed each time I remember that the same God who was with David and Solomon (and untold numbers of people throughout the centuries!) is with me, too. Knowing that calms me down and motivates me to keep on keeping on.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bad News, Good News!


God's Mercies


For You, O LORD, are good, 
and ready to forgive; 
and plenteous in mercy 
to all who call on You.
~David, Psalm 86:5

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Not My Will But Yours



And Jesus withdrew from His disciples about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup of suffering from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done."
~Jesus, Luke 22:41-42

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Spend Wisely!

A friend gave me the following quote, which she'd typed on a 3 x 5" card. After I'd finished reading it, I said, "I love this! Thank you for sharing it with me."

This is the beginning of a new day. 
God has given me this day to use as I will. 
I can waste it or use it for good, 
but what I do is important 
because I am exchanging a day of my life for it!
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, 
leaving in its place something I have traded for it.
I want it to be gain and not loss, 
good and not evil, 
success and not failure
in order that I shall not regret 
the price that I have paid for it.

~Author Unknown

As a result of reading and re-reading those words, I'm trying to make better decisions in regard to time management. I ask myself questions such as these: Is this the best use of my time right now? Is it worth thirty minutes (etc.) of my LIFE? In the grand scheme of things, is this activity/task truly important? Will it bless someone else? Will it honor my Lord? Just because I've always done this (or that), does it mean I should continue doing it? Am I too busy?

As I make hundreds of decisions each day (as you do), I pray this prayer:
"Lord, teach me to use wisely 
all the time You've given me."
(See Psalm 90:12.) 

Another daily prayer of my heart is based on these words in a song written by Ira B. Wilson, 1909: 
Make me a blessing,
Make me a blessing,
Out of my life,
May Jesus shine; 
Make me a blessing, 
O Savior, I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

I love those words so much that I often sing them (as well as all the verses in that song) as I'm driving here and there for they express the desire of my heart and help keep me focused on doing the things that truly are important. I do not want to come to the end of my life and regret how I spent the precious moments God gave me.









Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Good Life

I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between two ladies who were sitting across from me at the doctor’s office. Although they conversed as if they were old friends, they were strangers, or so I learned as they openly discussed their current health problems and reminisced about the past.

The heavy-set woman, who was wearing a loose-fitting floral dress and a floppy hat with an upturned brim, spoke with an easy drawl, even though she was describing experiences that had been extremely hard.


As she continued to talk to the tall, thin woman seated beside her, she stared straight ahead; focusing, I assumed, on people and places of the past. She said softly, “I planned to have lots of children, but ended up with only three.” After a short pause, she offered this explanation: “I got the fibroids early.”


The gaunt but regal-looking woman whispered, “We don’t always get what we want.”


“No, but the good Lord knows what He’s doing.”


They nodded in mutual agreement
 and then sat in silence for a moment,as if reflecting on that truth.

When they began to talk about their childhood experiences, I smiled at them and listened openly as they described a world about which I, also a country girl, had a smattering of knowledge: butchering hogs, eating from a table loaded with the bounty of the land, going barefoot in the Spring and Summer, sleeping with windows opened and doors unlocked….


A gentle smile spread slowly across the thin woman’s face and stayed there, as she said, “It was a good life.”


The heavy-set woman chuckled. “Yes. But I didn’t know it at the time!”


As soon as she said that, I remembered reading these words of another woman: “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”


How true! Why, each of us would be so happy if only we’d savor the current moments of our lives.


Someday you and I, like these three ladies, will look back on this time in our life—with its challenges and stresses—and long for it again. But, we won’t get to re-live it. We’ll only be able to look back on it and wish we had realized the preciousness of people and places that have been relegated to the past. We, too, will get a faraway look in our eyes and realize, too late, that we spent far too much time complaining about our circumstances—and yearning for the next phase of our lives—instead of enjoying the blessings that were ours at that time.


If only we’d reflect on our lives and savor the moments of each day, how quickly we would acknowledge, “I have a good life.” How quickly joy and gratitude would fill us! How quickly we would echo the words of the psalmist, “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name.  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits” (Psalm 103:1, 2, New American Standard Bible). How quickly we would give thanks for all the blessings that are ours this day, this season of our lives. 




Monday, August 3, 2015

When the "Extras" Aren't Extra

One evening as I talked with a friend on my cell phone, I said, “James and I are having a wonderful time, but we are sooooo tired. Traveling over a thousand miles by car, plus sleeping in a different hotel room each night and having to lug our ‘stuff’ in and out every day has about worn us out.”
That was the truth! And since we had overnighted in ten different rooms (with three more to go!), I had noticed the difference in the quality of the services provided at each location, even though all the rooms had cost about the same.
For example, one place offered freshly baked cookies to weary travelers checking in for the night. In another establishment, guests could sit in comfy chairs in the spacious lobby and listen to a local musician play soothing music on the piano.
Some of the hotels provided “high end” travel-size soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, as well as thick, white, spa-like towels; others provided only shampoo and soap and rather dingy, almost threadbare (but, thankfully, clean!) towels.
Speaking of bathrooms…several were spacious, well-lit, and equipped with wonderful shower heads, good water flow, and grab bars. Others were quite small, especially the one in the log cabin where we stayed one night. That one was not only tiny but was also very dimly lit, due in part to the dark brown quarry tile on the floor and in the shower.

Some beds had snow-white sheets with a crisp finish, as if they’d been ironed. Other beds had well-worn bedding.
Some rooms reflected a designer’s touch, while others were furnished with what was popular years ago. For example, one bathroom had a mint green sink and toilet that had been installed in the 1950s.
Some of the hotels offered complimentary deluxe breakfasts. Others provided only cereal, pastries, juice, and coffee—or nothing.
As I reflected on the varied accommodations we’d had, I recalled this information I’d come across (and jotted down) while reading an on-line travel article before my husband and I had embarked on our two-week vacation: “Drury, a family-owned group of 120 hotels in the Midwest and South, has modest rates, and manages to give guests a lot for their money. The chain’s motto is “The extras aren’t extra” and guests can depend on free hot breakfasts, WiFi and an early-evening gathering with hot appetizers and beverages.” (Copied from http://travel.yahoo.com/ideas/why-travelers-are-fed-up-%E2%80%93-and-what-hotels-can-do-about-it.html)  
Although I’ve never had the privilege of staying in a Drury-owned hotel, I’d like to. And if all hotels and motels followed Drury’s example and included “the extras” in the basic services they offer, their guests would enjoy traveling far more and would be “repeat customers.”
Actually, doing more than is required isn’t a new concept. The Bible, written centuries ago, instructs us to go the extra mile, to pursue excellence, to put the needs of others before our own, etc. When we do that, people will notice (and appreciate!) our commitment to excellence—and be inspired by it.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Fading Fast


The lovely flowers a friend sent to me almost two weeks ago are fading fast, though I have cared properly for them. Come to think of it, I'm fading fast, too. I don't realize it so much until I look at photographs of myself that were taken years ago. And then I think, "O my goodness! I looked young then, but now I look so OLD."

As I see how the aging process is taking such a toll despite all my efforts to maintain health (and youthfulness!), I repeat this request David made: "LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered--how fleeting life is" (Psalm 39:4, New Living Translation).

After also recalling a quote I've heard many times through the years, I looked for it on the Internet and found out that it's part of a poem written by C. T. Studd:

Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Dear Reader, may you and I daily seek to do His will rather than our own. May we love others, as He has loved us. If so, the rest of our lives (however much time we have left) can be the best of our lives!





Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Answer

When I learned a friend was scheduled to undergo a serious medical procedure, I began to wonder what I might say or do that would help her feel less anxious as she waited for the appointed time. Although I didn’t know exactly what she was feeling, I could definitely empathize with her since I’d felt anxious many times when facing surgery and other scary situations.

With a prayerful, seeking heart, I went about my chores, believing that the words to share with her would be given to me. Sure enough, I suddenly remembered and began humming a verse of a song (“I Know Who Holds Tomorrow”) that has often comforted me as I’ve experienced the truth of its message. Like its composer (Alison Krauss)—and everyone else—I have no idea what tomorrow will hold—or even what’s in store in the next minute! But daily I choose to cling to Jesus’ promise: “I will be with you always” (Matthew 28:20).  

And since He keeps every promise and since He knows what lies ahead, I willingly put my hand in His, trusting Him to take care of everything that concerns me.

Does that mean my life will be easy all the time? No. But it does mean I will always have peace in the midst of whatever “storm” assails me, for I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He loves me and is with me at all times and that I can trust Him to cause all things to work together for His glory and my good. (See Romans 8:28.)

 *******
The eternal God is your refuge, 
and His everlasting arms are under you, 
to hold you close, 
to comfort you, 
to lift you above your circumstances. 
(Based on Deuteronomy 33:27.)

*******
All who keep close to God, 
shall be kept safe by Him.

~Matthew Henry