Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving—Then and Now

When I read the Thanksgiving Proclamation written in 1863 by then President Abraham Lincoln, I was struck by how timely his message is for us today (Thanksgiving 2017). Please join me in reading and re-reading it thoughtfully and prayerfully.

Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisement in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.1

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens.2

1Abraham Lincoln. A Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day. March 30, 1863.

2Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. October 3, 1863.

Friday, November 3, 2017

A prayer found in Psalm 119, verse 35, NIV:

Direct me in the path of  your commands, for there I find delight.

(Photo taken by Johnnie Ann Gaskill on Sanibel Island, Florida, June 2016.)

Monday, October 2, 2017

A New Life

...anyone who belongs to Christ
has become a new person.
The old life is gone;
a new life has begun!
--2 Corinthians 5:17, New Living Translation

Friday, September 29, 2017

Take It In; Live It Out

As I journal, read the Bible, read devotional and self-help books, listen to podcasts by various Christians and self-help experts, watch TED Talks, etc. I receive an abundance of insights about how to live life better. However, I'm overwhelmed by all that I should think, feel, say, and do differently.

Having too much to focus on, I generally end up applying few, if any, of the principles that were presented to me. I'm like the person described in James 1:22-25, the person who looks into a mirror, sees the truth about what needs readjusting, but chooses to walk away from the mirror without dealing with problem areas. How smart is that???? 

Although I take in far more insights than I live out, I could experience BIG changes in my life if only I'd choose at least one "flaw" and apply the truth from God's Word to it. Even though I may not have the time or wisdom to do everything I'm shown every day, I'll certainly benefit from choosing to do at least ONE thing differently--and consistently.

How about you, Dear Reader? Do you need to learn to incorporate more of God's truths into your life? Will you choose at least one truth and start living by it? Will you begin to do it today? Will you continue to do it tomorrow and the next day, and...?

Father, thank You for revealing
truth upon truth, precept upon precept.
I humble ask You to help me "live it out."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

World Day of Gratitude

Had I not received an e-mail this morning informing me that today (Sept. 21) is World Gratitude Day, I wouldn't have known! Based on what I discovered later on the Internet, I've failed--for years--to celebrate this day, which started in 1965 in Hawaii when folks from many nations gathered together and decided it would be a good idea to have one day per year to formally express gratitude. On every Sept. 21st since then, folks all around the world have reflected on the good people and things in their lives. 

The founders of Gratitude Day believe taking time one day a year to reflect on the amazing things we have will increase our well-being and make us happier, more contented people. Since they're definitely right about the positive effects of feeling grateful, why, I wonder, shouldn't every day be Gratitude Day? Why limit expressing gratitude to only one day of the year (in addition, of course, to celebrating Thanksgiving Day with family and friends)?

Couldn't we change attitudes (ours and those of others!) by pausing many times every day to thank God for the many  blessings He showers upon us and to find creative ways to express gratitude to the people who enrich our lives in untold ways? The apostle Paul chose to write a letter to his friends to remind them of the love and gratitude he felt for them. Here's a bit of what he said:

He realized, as do we, that when people know they are loved and appreciated, that "makes their day" and inspires them, in turn, to express their gratitude to people who mean so much to them. 

Let's begin the gratitude chain today and continue it every day so that we can help spread gratitude throughout the world!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Stand By Us!

With Hurricane Irma so much in the news, my heart is heavy for those whose lives have been so disrupted and those who will lose so much during the violent storm.

The Holy Spirit brought to mind the words of a song I’ve known and loved since childhood. “Stand By Me” was written by the Rev. Charles Albert Tindley in the early 1900’s, but his words continue to be timely ones.

As the hurricane rages, let’s offer these words from that hymn as a prayer to God:  “Thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me [by us].” That’s also a wonderful prayer when we’re buffeted by all sorts of storms, such as those Rev. Tindley mentions in the other verses.

To listen to a portion of his wonderful song, click here:

Friday, September 8, 2017

Pray for the Children!

Several years ago, while listening to Elisabeth Elliot's radio program, Gateway to Joy, I heard her quote one of Amy Carmichael's poems. I loved the poem, found it on the Internet, and learned that it was included in the book, Toward Jerusalem, which is a collection of poems by Amy. But the poem Elisabeth quoted is one of my favorites.

The poem is actually a prayer Amy was praying for the children under her care at the Dohnavur Fellowship (a refuge for underprivileged children) in South India when Amy was a Protestant missionary there from 1895 until her death in 1951. It's one of the sweetest prayers I've heard for children. 

Copyright restrictions prevent me from sharing the entire poem, but I can share a summary of her thoughts. She asked God to protect them from the powers of evil, which can pull them down--like whirlpools and/or quicksand do. She asked God to guide children through life's troubled waters and to cheer them in the midst of life's battles. 

There's more, much more, and Amy expressed the deep desire of her heart far better than I can summarize. I encourage you to buy the book and/or click here to read the poem (it's the third one) and then offer her words as your prayer on behalf of all children.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thou Knowest

During a phone call with a dear friend I hadn't talked with in several months, we updated each other on the careers and locations of our children and grandchildren. I could scarcely believe the diversity represented in their lives. Hers lived in different states and had a wide range of careers. My grandchildren, who are younger than hers, are still in school, yet also have a wide array of abilities and interests. As always, I was amazed by all that because I still picture her children and my daughters the way they were 20 plus years ago--still in school and/or just entering the work force. Those children are now parents of children who are as the parents were in what seems such a short time ago.

As I reflected on that, I recalled a prayer I'd heard recently.  (See text on photo.)

Those ancient words express far better than I ever could the prayer of my own heart regarding myself. And if I paraphrase it slightly, I can also pray it on behalf others, including my children and grandchildren, as well as those of my long-time friend: "Jesus Christ, Lord Almighty, Who didst create them and redeem them and hast brought them now to that which they are, Thou knowest what Thou wilt have them to be. Deal with them according to Thy lovingkindness and show them Thy mercy, Lord. Amen."

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Beautiful Soul

At my request, a friend e-mailed me a photo she'd taken of the garden stone someone had given her after her husband passed away.

Since then, I've given much thought to what makes a beautiful soul. I've concluded that a beautiful soul is a Christ-like soul. Loving. Giving. Forgiving. Tender. Kind. Humble. Unselfish. Loyal. Honest. Wise. Warm. Welcoming. Authentic. Faithful...

People with such beautiful souls do leave a trail of  beautiful memories. Consequently, we grieve deeply and for a long time when they pass away. We yearn to be near them again, to be loved by them again, to be nurtured by them again...

To be sure their legacy continues, we can follow their example and become beautiful souls who also make beautiful memories and leave a trail of them for our loved ones to cherish--and follow.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Even Though...

When the goings-on of life break our hearts, we can avoid going down the dark road to depression if only we'll follow the example of Habakkuk. (His struggle to hold onto his faith is described in the Old Testament book of the Bible that bears his name.)

He, like we often are, was deeply troubled over what was going on. He wondered why God allowed certain things to happen. He feared the future. He wondered if life would ever be good again.

In the third and final chapter of his book, Habakkuk experienced a renewal of his faith in God when he began to pray. "I am filled with awe by the amazing thing you have done. In this time of our deep need, begin again to help us, as you did in years gone by (v. 2).

As he waited quietly yet confidently for God's help in the current crisis, Habakkuk made a bold statement of faith: "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine, even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign LORD is my strength (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NLT).

Knowing full well that God would strengthen him to survive the current crisis, Habakkuk began the arduous climb out of the valley of fear and despair.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

He Will Come!

Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;
his going out is sure as the dawn; 
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.
~Hosea 6:3, ESV

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Yielded and Still, Seeking His Will

Often, I know what to do, but not how to do it. (Is that true of you, too?)

Thus, I benefit greatly from the personal experience stories shared by others. For example, while reading A Lifetime of Positive Thinking by Ruth Stafford Peale, I eagerly read about how she and her husband, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, sought guidance from God. In one of the many “life stories” she shares in the book, she tells about how they prayed. 

The two of them would meet in his office or in a room in their home, and Dr. Peale would often say something like this, “Lord, we have this problem. You know what it is without our telling. Please guide us in the right direction. Make us receptive to Your will.” Having clearly and simply stated their request for God’s guidance, Dr. Peale would conclude the short prayer by saying, “We thank You for this help that You are now giving us.”

As they waited quietly and expectantly for God to answer, they didn’t babble on and on about the specific matter for which they were seeking God’s guidance. Neither did they discuss possible solutions. Instead, they read and/or reflected on relevant verses from the Bible, verses such as: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

After a while, either Dr. or Mrs. Peale would say, “It seems to me this is the way to deal with this” or “I believe we’ve been on the wrong track with this one. Perhaps we should handle it this way.” More likely than not, the other felt the same; and, thus, “a clear line of action would open up where things [had been] obscure before” (p. 20).

After reading about how they prayed, I decided to try it. As I prepared to write this article, I didn’t know what God wanted me to write about. I had lots and lots of ideas, but I didn’t know which one to choose. So, I followed the Peales’ example. I sat quietly “before the Lord” and waited for Him to instruct me. I closed my eyes and suddenly the chorus of the old song, Speak to My Heart popped into my mind. I made those words, written by B.B. McKinney in 1927, the prayer of my heart.

My sweet Mama,
who was often yielded and still
in the presence of her God.
As I hummed them, I suddenly recalled the above story from Ruth Peale’s book and sensed that God wanted me to share it with you so that we would be reminded of the importance of sitting quietly before Him as we seek His will and His ways. If we will be “yielded and still” before Him, He will speak to us. He will show us not only what to do but also how and when to do it.

Monday, August 14, 2017

My Vow

Vows. Promises. Commitments. Most of us take them lightly, don't we? I confess that I do, though I am struggling each day to keep the promises I make and, thus, prove dependable and trustworthy.

One commitment I made over 30 years ago was to write for God. For periods of time, I'd write regularly. But sometimes I'd lapse and write every now and then--mainly when a deadline was looming. But in recent days, God has been reminding me of His call upon my life, and I've resolved to get going again with that. To do so, I'll need to stay focused on my renewed commitment because it's so easy to get distracted, so easy to let other things take up the time I could have used to write--and should have.

To help me stay focused, I've written one Bible verse (see photo) on several "sticky notes" and placed them around the house. God directed my attention to this verse today during my early morning Bible reading time, but that was made by Ethan the Ezrahite centuries ago. Since it's still a good one, I'm also vowing to use every opportunity to make known God's faithfulness, to use every opportunity to remind myself, as well as others, of not only the faithfulness of God but also of His great love and mercy, of His complete forgiveness, of His unlimited power, of His....

Will you make that same vow? Will you vow to speak often with your Lord and to speak often about Him? Will you use your mouth, your voice--your speaking voice or your writing voice or your singing voice-- to make Him known to others?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Final Words

My husband and I made our funeral arrangements months ago. Choosing my own coffin was easier than I thought it would be, but I’m still agonizing over which songs I’d like played and/or sung during my service. Why, you ask, is that so difficult? I want the words in the songs to serve as my final words to my loved ones. Thus, it's had to choose only a few out of all the many songs I love.

One day when I was struggling to decide, I read the last few chapters in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, which contain Moses’ parting words to the children of God whom he had led for more than 40 years. With the people assembled near the border of the land God had promised to give them, Moses reminded them of what God had commanded them to do when they entered it.       

Then Moses said, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land…” (Deuteronomy 32:46-47, ESV, emphasis added).

Like Moses, I want my final words to urge others to know God better, to love Him even more, and to faithfully obey Him. I trust that the Scripture-based songs I select will do just that. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Unlimited Power

Shoshone Falls (212 feet high) near Twin Falls, Idaho
While reading the July 19, 2017, issue of Our Daily Bread, I found this quote, which really spoke to me:
Never measure 
God's unlimited power
your limited expectations.

As I reflected on those words, I recalled Ephesians 3:20, one of my favorite Bible verses, which I'd memorized many years ago. 
Now to Him 
who is able to do 
far more abundantly 
beyond all that we ask or think, 
according to the power 
that works within us

As I reflected on those familiar words, I decided to look up that verse in the new Bible (The VOICE) a dear friend had given me for my birthday a few weeks prior.
(20) Now to the God 
who can do so many awe-inspiring things, 
immeasurable things, 
things greater than 
we ever could ask or imagine 
through the power at work in us, 
(21) to Him be all glory in the church 
and in Jesus the Anointed 
from this generation to the next, 
forever and ever. 

Any way you say it, our God is mighty! Praise Him!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Not Dead--Again!

A column in our local newspaper was entitled “I woke up not dead again in [name of town].” Intrigued by that title, I read what else the columnist had to say. 

He said he had awakened at 6 a.m. (without his alarm having sounded) and checked his big toe to see if it had a tag attached to it. It didn’t.

Having concluded he wasn't dead, he proceeded to enjoy a day filled with blessings, such as: a delicious cup of coffee, a favorite breakfast, a free concert by backyard birds, a morning walk, a beautiful sunrise, a humorous e-mail from a dear friend, e-mails from his children, an inspirational sermon at church, a delicious brunch at a local restaurant, and a round of golf in the afternoon.

“Even though I know that none of us will get out of here alive,” he said, “…I rejoice whenever I wake up not dead.”

Dear Reader, let's join him in being grateful for every morning we wake up not dead again. Let's also join him in thanking our Father for all the other blessings He lavishes upon us.

Morning by morning, 
God wakes me up 
opens my understanding to His will
Isaiah 50:4

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Since I enjoy knowing why and how certain songs and books were written, I was thrilled when I discovered an online site that features Dottie Rambo telling the backstory of how she wrote the words to Sheltered in the Arms of God.

As she walked on the beach, brokenhearted over being betrayed by a friend and struggling to write the first verse to the song, she watched various kinds of junk washing ashore. She thought, That’s kinda like life. Stuff surfaces. Sometimes we focus on it rather than on the good.

As she continued to walk and grieve, she slowly shifted her focus from her brokenness to the realization that God was walking with her and was taking care of her. Suddenly—and for the first time ever—she felt the gentle touch of a hand on her shoulder, though she saw no one around. Then the words to the song came to her!

I’m so thankful God gave her the words for they touch my heart every time I hear them. What a blessing it is to be reminded that God sees all that happens to us—the good and the bad—and that He does stay near us and care for us. As we sense His loving presence, we receive the strength to “carry on” even in heart-wrenching situations.

If you’d like to hear Dottie tell this touching backstory 
and sing the beautiful song, 
please click here:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Give a Rose

A friend of mine always prefaces a compliment by saying, "Now, [name], I'm going to give you a rose."

She prefers to "give roses" while her friends are living and can savor her sweet words and be uplifted by them rather than to give a wreath of roses after her loved ones have passed away.

The Bible says gracious words (pleasant words, kind words) are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (See Proverbs 16:24.)

Give a rose to someone today! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Please, God!

The Sunday prior to July 4th, our congregation sang the poem-turned-song, America the Beautiful. I noticed that the writer (Katharine Lee Bates) had included in it several prayers for America that are just as fitting today as when she wrote them in 1893. For example:

America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee.
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine.

Will you join me in asking God to do these things for America and to enable her to once again become a nation filled with people who love the Lord God and seek to honor and please Him in all we do and in all we say? Only with His help will America be beautiful in every way—from sea to shining sea.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Water from the Well

Although this is NOT the well that was on our back porch,
it is similar to it.
When I was a young child, I’d watch my parents draw water from a well that was on the back porch. They’d let a bucket down into the well, wait a few minutes for it to fill up, and then slowly bring it back up by laboriously turning the crank on the windlass. The bucket would wobble in mid-air until they grabbed it with their free hand and set it on one of the wooden boards that surrounded the opening of the well. Then they’d pour the water into clean containers such as basins, jars, and pails. On “wash day” or “canning day” the bucket had to be lowered and brought up many times in order to provide adequate water for those tasks. Yet, despite the number of buckets that were drawn up, water was always available. 

Although I begged to draw water, I was never allowed to do so because that job was for people much stronger than I. Thankfully, Mama and Daddy were strong enough to bring the water up and were willing to share it with my sister and me.

Getting water is much easier these days. All my husband and I have to do to get water to quench our thirst or to wash whatever needs cleaning is to turn on a faucet, thanks to an electric pump and an assortment of PVC pipes that bring water into our house from a well deep inside the earth. Regardless of how the water comes forth, I'm thankful for it.

As I reflect on the blessing of having an abundant supply of thirst-quenching, life-sustaining water, I think about the term “filling the well” that’s used by writers and other creative people to refer to experiences that inspire and instruct them so that they, in turn, can bring forth something of value to share with others.

I pray that my well never runs dry, though I’ve been drawing from it for many years. To ensure that it doesn’t, I read the Bible and pray every day. As I do my housework and exercise my body, I listen to sermons and Christian music at When I sit down to rest, I read what other Christians have written. I’m deeply grateful for insights others have drawn from their well and shared with me so that I can fill mine.

O Father, create within me a clean heart so that the water from my well will always be pure and satisfying, as well as abundant.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
~Jesus in Luke 6:64, NLT

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Sane Estimate

Are you amazed, as I am, how God speaks to us the very words we need to hear at a given time in our lives? He spoke directly to me this morning via words in a letter the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome centuries ago.

Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, 
but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities
by the light of the faith that God has given to you all.
(Romans 12:3, J. B. Phillips Translation)

I don’t usually have exaggerated ideas of myself or my importance. Instead, I feel inferior and inadequate much of the time. Those feelings cause me to shrink back from many things I could do and should do. Consequently, I’m asking God to give me a “sane estimate” of myself and my abilities, neither overestimating nor underestimating myself.

To accomplish that, He will lead me to the truths found in His Word. For example, “I can do all things [not in and of myself, of course] but through Christ, who gives me the strength I need.” (See Philippians 4:13.) Others have experienced the truth in those words, including the unidentified person who said, “If God brings you to it, He will see you through it.”

Therefore, I need to believe the truth about myself. As God gives me a sane estimate (His estimate!) of myself rather than a skewed one, I’ll live more confidently and make better choices. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Sanibel Island, Florida (November 2014)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

When Storms Rage

As I write this, I'm sitting alone in the basement of our house because everyone in this area has been strongly encouraged to seek shelter in a safe place since it's likely that a tornado will form. The rain is coming down so hard and fast that that it looks like a light gray curtain. The American flag in the front yard is flapping wildly. Possible hail is expected in some parts of the county and surrounding areas.

As I sit in the safest place in my house, I pray.
Father, be with everyone during this widespread storm that has wreaked havoc in several states and is now speeding across Georgia. Shelter us as You display Your mighty powers all around us.

We cannot prevent the storms from coming. We can do nothing to lessen their severity. We cannot change their path. Neither can we do anything about the storms of life when they-- with Your permission--arrive, some predicted (as this one is), some not. In all storms, we can only cry out to You for saving mercies and for an awareness of Your presence with us.

As I reflect on this, I recall a Bible story (found in Matthew 8:23-27) about a sudden storm that savagely battered the disciples as they rowed from one side of the lake to the other. Fearing they were going to die out there, they woke Jesus up (for He was fast asleep on the boat) and cried out, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"

Jesus immediately commanded the storm to cease and the waves to stand still. Amazed by His great power to calm the wind and the waves, the disciples asked each other, “What kind of man is this that even the storms and the waves obey Him?”

I realize that regardless of the kind of "storm" that rages in our lives, we can take great comfort in knowing Jesus is as near to us as He was to the disciples and that He will surely help us if only we’ll ask Him to. Whether He stills the storm or allows us to suffer through it, He will be right there with us.

This was taken in another state a couple of months before I wrote the above post.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How Long???

So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?”
~Joshua 18:3, ESV

Some phrases lodge in my brain and remain there for hours, days, or even years. That happened this morning as I was reading the Old Testament book of Joshua. The question above seemed to be directed to me and, thus, has lingered in my mind for hours and has prompted me to share it with you in case it’s a question you, too, need to answer.

Like God’s people in that ancient story, I’ve wasted many precious years “preparing” to do what God wants me to do. I tell myself, “One day I’ll be ready to take the big step and do great things for Him. I just need to learn a bit more and to opt out of some lesser commitments so that I will have time to obey Him.”

That's why I sensed God was asking me the same question Joshua asked. God has been extraordinarily patient with me, as He was with the Israelites, and has provided all that I could possibly need to do what He has asked me to do. Yet, I hang back, begging for more time to prepare in order to do my best for Him. I realize now that my fear has been holding me back, just as it held the Israelites back. That fear has another name, a much more serious one: unbelief. I have not fully believed that the One who assigned me a particular work will enable me to do it.

Today, I sense God is “putting it to me plain” by asking, “How much longer are you going to put off doing what I’ve asked you to do? How much longer are you going to come so close to full commitment to the work I’ve given you, yet fail to step out in faith and DO the work? How much longer are you going to let fear/unbelief rob you of the blessings I have in store for you?”

Father, forgive my lack of trust in You and my failure to carry out the work You’ve entrusted to me. I confess my sins of unbelief and disobedience and humbly ask You to forgive me and to help me to fully enter into the work and its subsequent blessings—beginning today. From this day forward, I will rely on this promise You made to Joshua when You assigned to him a daunting task: Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9, ESV).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

One of St. Patrick's Prayers

May the strength of God pilot us.
May the wisdom of God instruct us.
May the hand of God protect us.
May the Word of God direct us.

~Saint Patrick

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Unless the LORD...

Unless the LORD builds the house, 
those who build it labor 
in vain. 

Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake
 in vain.
                                                         Psalm 127:1, ESV

I have long known that verse but, sad to say, I have often ignored its wisdom. Thus, God has brought that verse to my mind again and again through the years and especially in the past few weeks. I sense He wants me to share this message with you, Dear Reader, in case you are also struggling with plans and projects that simply won't "come together."

As we go about our work, as we plan our work and work our plan, let's remind ourselves often of the truth in Psalm 127:1 and in these words (excerpted from Matthew Henry's Commentary on that verse):
"Let us always look to God's providence...
If God be not acknowledged, 
we have no reason to expect his blessings; 
and the best-laid plans fail, 
unless he crowns them with success..."

Father, forgive us for failing to acknowledge our need of You, for planning our work without first having sought Your will and Your ways. Help us learn to ask You what You want us to do, and then help us to do exactly what You say and to do it well.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Remembering Mama

My sweet mama died six years ago today (January 9th), and I still miss her so much. Hardly a day passes that I don’t remember something she said or did. I think she’d be happy to know that her life still matters, that her influence and her example live on in my sister and me and in other family members and friends who were blessed to spend time with her.

She wasn’t famous in the eyes of the world. She was never president of any organization and was never in the spotlight. Yet, she was a bright light to those who were going through “dark times” as she, an LPN, ministered lovingly to patients and their families at the local hospital, as she stayed several consecutive days and nights with friends whose mother was dying, as she took care of her parents “to the end”….

She kept the home fires burning brightly all the years my daddy was gone all week (day and night) while he worked in another town, leaving her to take care of my sister and me and the cow and the pigs and the chickens and the mules. At that time we had no telephone, no running water, no central heat or air, no vehicle (except the one Daddy drove to work). But Mama managed and did not complain.

I could go on and on about her, but time won’t permit me to put so many sweet memories in print. However, I just couldn’t let this day pass without acknowledging how much I miss her and how truly thankful I am to have such a wonderful mother, the kind of excellent wife and mother portrayed in Proverbs 31, which includes descriptions such as these:
  • Strength and dignity are her clothing… (v. 25
  • She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue (v.26)
  • She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness (v.27).
  • Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her (v.28).

I want to be like Mama--a woman who is “far more precious than jewels” (Proverbs 31:1) and a woman “who fears [reverences] the LORD” (v.30). If I am, then I, too, will be deeply loved and, therefore, greatly missed when I’m gone.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Acknowledge God!

When we’re reading, it’s easy to skim right over familiar words rather than stop to reflect on their meaning, as I discovered one recent morning when I came to these familiar words in Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV:
5Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Thankfully, something “stopped me” before I could speed right past them. I wondered, What does it mean to acknowledge God? I jotted down a few words that immediately came to mind: recognize, consult with, defer to….

Next, I read those same two verses in various versions of the Bible and noticed that acknowledge has been translated submit, think about, know...

Then I consulted a Merriam-Webster Dictionary and discovered even more words that are closely associated in meaning with acknowledge: admit, own, avow [boldly declare], confess. One of the longer definitions given in that dictionary says, “to regard or describe (someone or something) as having or deserving a particular status.” Another definition says, “to say that you accept or do not deny the truth or existence of (something).”

Finally, I checked Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible and found a long list of closely related words, including these: be aware of, comprehend, consider, declare, discern, discover, perceive, regard, respect, understand

As I reflected on my findings, I wrote this summary:
To acknowledge GOD means:
  • to believe that He is the true and the living God
  • to be respectfully aware of who He is and of His power
  • to think about Him throughout each day—i.e., to live in constant awareness of His presence
  • to consult with Him (through Bible reading and prayer) to discover His will, His preferences
  • to humbly and gladly seek to please Him in matters both great and small
  • to tell others about Him

Bottom line: Dear Reader, if you and I will trust Him fully,  depend on His infinite wisdom rather than on our limited understanding of things, and constantly confer with Him about decisions to be made and actions to be taken, then He will make our paths (our "road ahead") straight rather than like a maze.
Therefore, doesn’t it make sense to acknowledge God by giving Him full control of our lives, including our calendars, our agendas, our to-do lists, our checkbooks…? To ask Him to show us what to add and what to leave out?

Monday, January 2, 2017


When I’m at the beach, I almost always go outside to watch the sunrises and sunsets even if no family member goes with me. I just grab my camera and go alone to the beach.  I love seeing the rays of light punch holes in the dark sky. I love the beautiful colors that begin to spread across the sky. I love the first glimpse of the sun when it seems to rise out of the murky waters. I love the gentle sea breezes and the shrieking of the shorebirds as they search for and find their first food of the day. I even like the noises made by boats as they head out to deeper waters. There’s just something extra special about the dawning of a new day—and/or a new year! Each one is full of promise, full of unknowns.

Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879) apparently appreciated the dawns, just as I do.  In one of her songs, Another Day Is Dawning, she mentions specific opportunities she anticipates in the new day, among them: making progress, praising God, serving others, witnessing to God’s love…Several times, she mentions her longing to spend another day with Him. If by that she means she wants to be aware of God’s presence with her and to enjoy Him, to feel His great love, to talk with Him throughout the day… then I feel a kinship with her because THAT is what I want, too! 

Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning.
Ecclesiastes 11:7, New Living Translation