Saturday, May 23, 2020

Always in HIS Care

One afternoon I stepped outside to take a look around. I saw beauty everywhere. A male cardinal sat on a leafy bough. An Eastern Phoebe perched on the limb of a crepe myrtle. Bright red cactus blooms, some as wide as a saucer, cascaded from the huge hanging basket on the front porch.
Peach colored daylilies and buds galore caught my eye as I strolled along the sidewalk. Purple and white irises looked so lovely against a backdrop of hydrangea leaves.

As I happily photographed such beauty, I reminded myself (again!) that the Creator God who designed and sustains everything is the One who is in charge of me, too. Why, then, do I worry? 

Monday, May 11, 2020

Sweet Memories

As I’m writing this, it’s Mother’s Day 2020, and there’s a lump in my throat. Although this is my 10th Mother’s Day without my sweet Mama and my 5th year without my sweet mother-in-law who was like a mother to me, I still miss them. Remembering them is bittersweet. Gratitude fills me as I look at photos of their dear faces and reflect on the things I learned from them and the kind things they did for me. And remembering the sweetness of their constant love causes me to miss them all the more.

That’s why the 7th verse in the 10th chapter of Proverbs attracted my attention. I’ve written about it before (see my blog post dated March 5, 2015), but I’m sharing the verse again since I so agree with the truth it expresses. The memories of these dear ones continue to bless me even now as their influence lingers on.

Perhaps you, too, have sweet memories of people who were precious to you. If so, then I know you’ll agree, as I do, with these words written centuries ago:




Sunday, May 3, 2020

Rekindle!

When the trail ran cold, I wondered, What happened to her? 

I'd discovered her while searching YouTube for what has quickly become one of my favorite songs: O to Be Like Thee. I'd listened to several renditions, including this one, before I found hers..I liked how her sweet and sincere voice expressed so beautifully the "prayer" written by Thomas O. Chisholm (1897). 

After finding only three more of her videos on YouTube, I searched other Internet sites but found no recent posts. I wondered, Why did she stop producing and posting? Had something tragic happened? Did she simply give up? If so, why? Because she assumed few people truly enjoyed and/or benefitted from her work? 

I've felt that way about my work, as you may have about yours. If so, we know how much we need people to say to us what the apostle Paul said to Timothy, a young Christian who was struggling with the ministry assigned to him. "...use the gift God gave you...let it grow, as a small flame grows into a fire...fulfill your ministry...keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God's servant..." (See various translations of 2 Timothy 1:6 and 4:5).

Since we need such encouragement, let's faithfully encourage others. Our words will rekindle their resolve and, possibly, prevent them from giving up!




Sunday, April 12, 2020

“Friday” or “Sunday” Thinking?

One Friday many centuries ago, those who either witnessed the death of Jesus on the cross or heard about it experienced intense—and varied—emotions. Those who hated Him thought, Good riddance! Those who loved Him lamented His passing. Those who followed Him in hopes of receiving a miracle from Him regretted that He died before bestowing a blessing on them. Those who had left all to follow Him as He taught and ministered throughout the area mourned the loss of the One they called Master. Perhaps they thought, We never dreamed it would end like this—and so soon. Perhaps they asked themselves, How could we have been so wrong about Him? Perhaps they wondered, What are we supposed to do now? Return to the life we had before we believed in Him and followed Him?

The fearful, troubled disciples could have experienced comfort and peace if only they had truly believed Jesus when He repeatedly told them that He would die and that He would also rise again in three days. But as they grappled with their grief, they either forgot what He’d said about His death and resurrection or else refused to believe either would happen. If they had truly believed Him, they could have spent those hours following His death anticipating the miracle of new life for Him—and for them.

Don’t we, like they, think of life as a perpetual “Friday?” Don’t we hyper-focus on the harsh realities and fail to see the good God is bringing out of them? But Romans 8:28 assures us that He can and will cause all things to work together for His glory and our good. Don’t we go through life hopeless and defeated and discouraged and ...?

We may think that way, but we don’t have to! Granted, evidence often indicates that it’s Friday, but let’s refuse to give up on God. Let’s remember Sunday IS coming! Let’s remember the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples prior to His death: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NKJV).

He lives in us and is with us at all time. Because He has overcome, we also overcome. Because He lives, we also live—abundantly—both now and throughout all eternity.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Together!


One Saturday (April 4, 2020) after we’d been “sheltering in place” for over three weeks during the coronavirus outbreak, I said to my husband, “I want to see our daughters and their families. I can’t wait any longer.”
He said, “We’ll go this afternoon.”
Jena and her family came out to greet us. We couldn’t hug them or go inside their house, as we normally would have done. Instead, we stood on their driveway and laughed and talked for about 15 minutes, careful to maintain “social distance” (at least six feet apart).
After having been cooped up indoors for days and days, we especially enjoyed the sunshine, the light and variable breezes, the sight and smell of freshly cut grass, and the birds’ happy chirping.
When we arrived at our other daughter’s house, Jennifer and her family, along with Chloe (their black Lab) came out to “visit” with us. Seeing them looking so well and happy delighted us. We talked and laughed together until we said reluctant goodbyes and headed home.
The following day, as I listened via Facebook to a Sunday School lesson, a phrase in the familiar Scripture passage the teacher read aloud stood out to me.
Why? Because of the joy I’d experienced at being face to face with those dearest to me, I felt a deep appreciation for the promise found in these words written centuries ago by the apostle John:

One day, God will take us to the beautiful place He has prepared for us. We will live forever with Him in that pain-and-problem-free environment.
As I thought about the wonder of that, I realized anew that God has always loved His children and longed for us. Genesis, the first book in the Bible, tells us that God created a beautiful world and then created a man and a woman to enjoy it. Even though they sinned and had to be banished from the Garden of Eden, God has never stopped loving His children and longing to be in close relationship with them.
Story after story in the Bible verifies that. The last book in the Bible promises that God and His children will finally be together forever. That joy will be far greater than the joy I felt when seeing my daughters and their families face to face.

 Note: Here’s the link to a portion of the song, What a Day That Will Be. It was written by Jim Hill, ©1955. May it bless you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40lCmHvmcCY

Friday, March 20, 2020

It's Time to Praise


A few days after I’d taken photos of spring blooms, I read The Making of the Beautiful: The Life Story of Annie Johnson Flint. (She wrote many of the hymns we love, including He Giveth More Grace.)

One of the poems interspersed in the telling of her story is Spring Song of Praise. In it, the poet imagines all of creation being “roused from winter’s chilling dream” and beginning to praise the Lord.

That’s an apt description of springtime, isn’t it? A world that has seemed asleep—even dead—begins to show signs of awakening, signs of coming to life.

Buds and blooms and bees and birds suddenly appear everywhere. And what a delight they are. How the sight of them lifts our spirits. How the sight of them should cause you and me to join them in songs of praise to our Creator.

One of my favorites is This Is My Father’s World.* What’s yours?

* written by Maltbie Davenport Babcock and published in 1901

Sunday, February 23, 2020

God's Way or My Way?


A book* I’m reading contains a short metaphor about a fish and a seagull. The fish tired of living in the water and decided he’d rather live on land. He swam and swam to “free” himself from the environment he felt was too restrictive. Finally, he reached the shore—and died. The seagull envied the freedom he observed in the ocean below. So he plunged in—and perished.


The author concludes the metaphor by noting that we may be more like the disgruntled fish and seagull than we realize. We long to break free of the “restrictions” God has placed upon us.  We think we know better than God does what is best for us. But…we forget that true life and freedom are found in living in harmony with our Maker rather than in opposition to Him. He made us. He knows what’s best for us. Any “restrictions” He places on us are for our good since “He lays boundaries with hands of love” (p.38).

We are wise when we willingly stay within them.  

*Before You Open Your Bible: Nine Heart Postures for Approaching God’s Word by Matt Smethurst, © 2019.