Monday, March 30, 2015

Daily Agenda--Simplified!

Tasks and deadlines pile up faster than dishes in the sink, causing me to think, So much to do; so little time!

Thus, I decided to follow the instructions another writer* sensed Jesus giving to her: “When something comes to your attention, ask Me whether or not it is part of today’s agenda. If it isn’t, release it into My care and go on about today’s duties.”

For years, I’ve maintained to-do lists that contain the four categories shown in the sample below. However, mine never looks simple and short like that one! Instead, my real list is filled with short-term and long-term tasks to do ASAP. Thus, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer number of things (50 or more) I’ve listed and by the time needed to do them, as well as tasks that have become so habitual that I don’t need to list them (make bed, brush teeth, etc.).

But, after reading the above advice, I decided I’d create a second list, one that includes only the tasks I ­must accomplish today. I listed the things that I aim to do every day. With the exception of walking three miles, which I do throughout the day, I do all the others before the day “cranks up.” (Confession: Sometimes the blog post doesn’t get done, but I’m struggling to be more consistent.) So, I get up at 6:00 every morning to ensure I have time to do them. Once the “first things first” are done, then I add to the agenda, as the Lord directs me.

Working with a shorter list each day should produce the promised* simplicity: “a time for everything, and everything in its time.”

*Sarah Young, March 29th devotional in Jesus Calling.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


A person without self-control 
is as defenseless as a city 
with broken-down walls.
Proverbs 25:28, New Living Translation

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Unseen Guest

I've heard several folks say they recall having seen the words below inscribed on a plaque and hanging in their parents' home or their grandparents' home--usually near the kitchen or dining table. However, I don't recall having seen it anywhere (other than on the Internet when I Googled the words). That's a shame because we need to be reminded again and again of the truth found in this little verse:  

Christ is the Head of this house,
The Unseen Guest at every meal,
The Silent Listener to every conversation.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Words As Sweet As Honey!

Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and
health to the body.
Proverbs 16:24, ESV

When I read the above verse, I immediately recalled the photos I’d taken the day my husband robbed the bee hives he’d put at the far edge of the backyard. After he’d suited up in his beekeeping garb and gotten the smoker ready, etc., he headed to the hives and removed the wooden frames that held the honeycombs. He placed them in a big, aluminum dishpan, and then he brought the pan of delicious sweetness to a table on the screened-in porch. There, he used a sharp knife to release the honeycomb from the frames, as shown in the photo below. My mouth watered at the sight of that golden goodness oozing from the honeycomb.

He no longer tends bees, but we always keep “store-bought” honey on the lazy Susan on our kitchen table. It’s especially delicious on a homemade biscuit, but I love it so much that I’m happy to eat it all by itself—one teaspoonful every day or so. But now when I eat it, I’ll think of the above verse, which will remind me how sweet and healthy gracious words are!!!!!  (They’re calorie free, too, so I can enjoy them all day—every day!)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Happy Heart. Happy Face

Since childhood, I’ve known the song that says, “If you’re happy and you know it then your face will surely show it.”

I was reminded of that recently when I photographed children attending an event in our community. A few were “glum chums.” Others wore bland expressions. But some had such a radiance on their sweet faces that I was immediately drawn to them. They made my job easy, for I didn’t even have to try to coax a smile out of them. All I had to do was take the picture!

Regretfully, I failed to ask permission to post their pictures here. But if I could post them, you’d immediately see the HUGE difference a genuine smile makes. The eyes light up. The face is relaxed. There’s a warmth and a gentleness on it, which is so appealing.

So, I’ll post two photos: one of my Daddy, taken many years ago; and one I took of myself recently while seated near a window in our dining room. Like Daddy, I have a perpetual smile. Like him, I have a glad heart, even when life isn’t one big happy, happy. And, as the song says, the inner happiness (and joy, gladness, cheerfulness) shows up on the face.

A glad heart makes a cheerful face….

~Proverbs 15:13, ESV

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Prepared Place, Prepared People

One October day many years ago, my family loaded our luggage and headed South for a much-needed vacation in Florida. Hours later, my husband drove up to the main entrance of the condominium where he’d made reservations for us. I went inside to check-in. When I told the clerk my name, she smiled warmly and said, “Yes. We’re expecting you.”
Within minutes my family and I entered a spacious, luxuriously-furnished condo on the seventh floor. From our balcony, we could see two heated swimming pools, two hot tubs, and several picnic areas—all facing the white sands and the emerald green water of the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to providing and maintaining outdoor amenities, the management had even stocked the kitchen with orange juice, a dozen eggs, muffins, jelly, paper towels and the like. The management’s careful attention to detail impressed us and conveyed to us this message: “We’re glad you’ve chosen to stay here. Enjoy yourselves.”
And enjoy ourselves we did. We rested and rested and then rested some more. We jumped in the waves. We walked along the water’s edge and left our footprints in the wet sand. We let the wind play with our hair. We lay on the beach and absorbed its sights, sounds, and smells.
In that pleasant environment, school and work seemed like a far distant past. No clocks. No deadlines. No demands. No need to hurry. It was wonderful, absolutely wonderful.
There was time to reflect. And, as I did so, I remembered a thought one of our former pastors loved to express. “Heaven,” he’d say with a smile, “is a prepared place for a prepared people.” Indeed, it is, for Jesus Himself said, “I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:2b-3, NLT).

   Our vacation ended years ago, but I continue to rejoice in the thought that when my life is over, I have a reservation in Heaven, that “prepared place for a prepared people,” that place infinitely more wonderful than even the best of the best vacation resorts. Have you, Dear Reader, made a reservation?

Note: This is a recent photo rather than one taken at the condo mentioned above.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Like a Fountain

Immediately after the close of the worship service, I made a “bee line” toward the minister. “Thank you so much for that excellent sermon,” I said, as I shook his hand. “It was insightful, clear, applicable—and much appreciated!”

As I'd listened to his sermon, I'd been reminded of a verse I’d read early that very morning, so I took just another minute to share it with him: “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death” (Proverbs 13:14, ESV).

“So,” I added, “let me thank you again for your study of the Word and for the spirit in which you shared such essential truths with us. I do feel refreshed…renewed…revived….”

Oh, to Be Near Him and Like Him

For many years, I’ve celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green; yet, I’ve known little about him. To remedy that, I searched the web for information about him.

According to information found on, Saint Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. He is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland, credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.

He was born, not in Ireland, but in Britain to a Romanized family. At age 16, he was torn by Irish raiders from the villa of his father and carried into slavery in Ireland. During the six bleak years he spent as a herdsman, he turned with fervor to his faith.

After hearing in a dream that the ship on which he was to escape was ready, he ran away from his master and returned to Britain. However, before he was finally reunited with his family, he nearly starved and was confined for a brief time.

Sometime later, after reading a letter delivered to him, he sensed “a certain company of Irish beseeching him to walk once more among them.” 

Although he was deeply moved by their appeal, he, for a long time, hesitated to respond to the call, due to the shortcomings of his education.

But once he did return to Ireland, he became completely confident in the Lord, journeying far and wide, baptizing and confirming with untiring zeal.

At least on one occasion, he, like the Apostle Paul, was placed in chains. Like Paul, he remained humble and constantly thanked God for having chosen him to help multitudes turn from a life of sin to a life of holiness and faith in God.

Many legends surround Saint Patrick, including the legend of the shamrock (or three-leaf clover), which he used to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity (three persons in one God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, blessed Three in One).

Much can be learned about Saint Patrick by reading the words that were on his breastplate, words near and dear to his physical heart as well as his spiritual heart: 
Christ be with me
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ in me
Christ beneath me
Christ above me
Christ on my right
Christ on my left
Christ where I lie
Christ where I sit
Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me
Salvation is of the Lord.

Dear Reader, may you and I desire, as Saint Patrick did, for Christ to be that close to us, to be keenly aware of His presence, and, thereby, to be enabled to live in such a way that everyone who sees us and hears us, senses Him.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Got a Problem?

As I sing the old, old hymns, which I love to do, I’m often struck by how the “human condition” hasn’t changed very much through the centuries. For example, in the song Tell It to Jesus, which was written by Edmund S. Lorenz in 1876, the writer asks questions that are still relevant to you and me today:
  • Are you weary?Are you heavy-hearted?
  • Are you grieving over joys departed?
  • Do the tears flow down your cheeks unbidden?
  • Have you sins that to men’s eyes are hidden?
  • Do you fear the gath’ring clouds of sorrow?
  • Are you anxious what shall be tomorrow?
  • Are you troubled at the thought of dying?
  • For Christ’s coming kingdom are you sighing?

Amazing, isn’t it, how current those questions are? Amazing, too, that the solution is also the same: Tell it to Jesus. In other words, talk to Him about whatever is heavy upon your heart and mind. He will understand. He will help you with whatever issues you’re facing.

I sought the LORD,
and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
And their faces shall never be ashamed.

~David (Psalm 34:4-5, ESV)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lest We Forget!

When a friend told me she places personal calendars in various places in her house so that she’d be reminded several times daily of where she needed to be—and when—I thought about my own strategies for keeping myself reminded of important things. I’ve synched a calendar on my personal computer with one on my cell phone. I also maintain shopping lists and an “ideas for blog posts” file on my cell phone. But even with such technology at my fingertips, I still use paper reminders. I scribble reminders on Post-it® notes, in notebooks, on 4x6 cards, etc. And whenever I have something really important to remember, I stick little reminder notes near my computer, near my purse, etc. so that I’ll be sure to see them.

Knowing how easy it is to forget important matters, I better understand why the phrase “Beware lest you forget…” is found so often in the Bible, particularly in the book of Deuteronomy. That warning was spoken by Moses as he reminded God’s people to take extra care to not forget the LORD their God once they entered into the good land the LORD their God had given to them. Moses knew, as do we, Dear Reader, how easy it is to forget God when blessings are abundant. Although, we’re quick to turn to Him when we have problems, we’re not as quick to seek Him and thank Him when we’re enjoying the good life. Right?

Perhaps we need to place reminders all around us to thank the LORD for the abundant blessings He has so freely given us and to praise Him for all that He is. After all, we DO need to remind ourselves, as the psalmist did, to “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits… (Psalm 103:2, ESV).

We’ll also benefit from frequently reading Psalm 105:1-5, ESV, which lists ways to bless the Lord:
O give thanks to the LORD; 
call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him; sing praises to him; 
tell of his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name; 
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done….  
(emphasis added)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Remembering the Righteous

My heart was especially heavy one morning in mid-February because I was missing Mama and Daddy so much. Daddy had died first (March 6th) and Mama almost 29 years later on January 9th. So each year during the weeks surrounding the anniversary dates of their deaths, I feel so sad as I recall what happened around their deaths, how much I miss them, and how "orphaned" I often feel although many years have gone by since they passed away.

Thus, I was very comforted by a verse I read that particular morning: "The memory of the righteous is a blessing" (Proverbs 10:7, ESV). How true!

As I continue to think about my wonderful parents (and other dear ones who have departed this life), I realize anew how blessed I was—and am—for their influence upon my life. Goodness gracious! Even one-line descriptions of those blessings would fill several notebooks. And, as the verse says, even the memory itself is a blessing!

Therefore, I pause often to thank God for these special people, and hope that you, Dear Reader, pause to thank Him for yours.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


This advice is often given to speakers: “Tell’em what you’re going to tell them. Tell’em. Then tell’em what you’ve told’em.” In other words, announce your topic, expound upon it, and then sum it up.

Moses surely followed that advice when speaking to God’s people as they prepared to enter the land God had promised to give them. Over and over and over, from the first chapter through the 33rd chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses said, in essence, “I am telling you what the LORD your God wants you to know.” And tell’em he did! In what may be the longest sermon on record, he recounted their history—beginning with how God had miraculously brought them out of bondage in Egypt. As he mentioned important happenings during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, he explained (once more!) the kind of people God wanted them to be and the things God wanted them to do.

As he concluded his message, he told’em what he’d told’em: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse” (Deuteronomy 30:19b, ESV).

Then, like all good speakers and writers, Moses called for a response, based on what he’d told’em: “Therefore, choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (Deuteronomy 30:19c-20, ESV).

Dear Reader, as you and I read those words, centuries after Moses spoke them, we, too, must make a decision. Oh, may we choose to love the LORD our God with all our hearts and souls, to cling to Him, and to live in obedience to Him. 

A photo of a passage in my study Bible for 2015: the English Standard Version

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Don't Be Anxious!

The robins have returned to our area. As I observe them in our yard, I think of this little poem I've read often through the years.

Overheard in an Orchard
Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I should really like to know,
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be,
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me.”
~Elizabeth Cheney, 1859

Note: The sparrow was wrong. We do have a Heavenly Father who cares for us. It’s just that we don’t often realize we do! Neither do we pay attention to these words spoken by Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-34, ESV, emphasis added:
25Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 

26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 

28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ Or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles [unbelievers] seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow…

Monday, March 2, 2015

Be Not Mule-ish

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.”

~God (Psalm 32:8-9, ESV)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Have To?

I remember well an insight I received while reading a blog post many years ago. The man who had written the words that were burned into my heart and brain the moment I read them had no idea the impact his words had on me. (Thankfully, I did get the opportunity to tell him, much later on!)

In the post, he wrote about what was going on as his brother battled cancer. He wrote, “I have to do [thus and so] for him today.” But the writer immediately corrected himself, saying, “I get to do [thus and so] for him today.” I don’t recall whether the writer explained the huge difference in “have to” and “get to” but I saw it and resolved to avoid saying (and feeling) that I “have to” do this or that. For example, instead of saying, “I have to unload the dishwasher,” I will learn to say, “I get to unload the dishwasher.”

Now, that’s not a job I look forward to, but by changing from “I have to” to “I get to” my attitude shifts from negative to positive. Saying, “I get to” reminds me to be thankful for so many things: that I have dishes to use, that those dishes were filled with food and drink, that family members and I enjoyed meals together as we “dirtied” the dishes, that I have a dishwasher, that I have clean (and hot) water in which to wash them, that I am physically able to do household chores, that I am living in my own home….

Dear Reader, do you see how what appears to be a simple word change makes an ENORMOUS difference in our attitude? If you do see it, then resolve with me to banish “I have to” from all conversations.

Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of truth thou hast for me.

~Clara H. Scott, 1895