Wednesday, September 12, 2018

On Time—Always!

God is never too late, nor too early, but just on time.
~R. T. Kendall

Friday, September 7, 2018

Not by Chance

For the most part, I agree with what Saint Augustine said. However, I take issue with one word he used. I believe accidents should be changed to divine appointments. That small change is HUGE, isn't it?

As I reflect on my life, I marvel at the people God brings into my life--not by chance, as some would say, or by accident, as Saint Augustine said. I believe God uses time and place and circumstances to bring them into my life. Otherwise, it seems to me, I would not meet them during the normal course of my life. 

Since I believe God puts people in my life for a reason, I should pay close attention to them. I should ask, “What does God want me to learn from them? Has He sent them to bless me? Has He sent them so I could bless them? Or both?" 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Under His Wings

Many times as I read the Bible, I’ll recall a picture I’ve taken that illustrates the principle mentioned in the passage. For example, as I read Psalm 91 (one of my favorites), several photos came to mind, including this one.

I took it in 2013 when my husband and I strolled along the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas. The mallard duck didn't appear agitated by the thronging crowd or by the noise in that congested restaurant/shopping area.

I’m not sure why her ducklings had drawn near to her. Had something scared them? Was it naptime?

Whatever the reason, the protective mother and her little ones form a word picture of this promise found in Psalm 91:1-4, NIV: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.... [There] He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

Yes, under His wings, we (like the ducklings) find protection. Of course, God has far more skill and power to defend those who seek refuge in Him than the female mallard does. But the mallard and her young ones illustrate the principle of God’s tender love and care for those who trust Him.



Sunday, August 26, 2018

Where Do I Get Them?


As I became sleepily aware of a new day dawning, I activated the BBN Radio app on my cell phone. I smiled as I listened to an upbeat, happy, easy-to-remember song my children and I sang many years ago. It’s been given various titles such as I’ve Got Love Like a River In My Souand I’ve Got Peace Like a River. Later that day, I listened to several renditions of it on YouTube. Here’s the link to my favorite: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1NlZO57W0eE

The song mentions having peace like a river, love like an ocean, and joy like a fountain in our souls. I love the imagery, don’t you? And who doesn’t want to have abundant peace, love, and joy within? 

The writer of the song (John O. Schroeder) doesn’t tell us where to get them. But the Bible does. For example:
  • In John 14:27 (KJV), Jesus says to His troubled disciples, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
  • Jesus also said to them (and to you and me!), "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love"(John 15:9, KJV). The apostle Paul says (in Romans 8) that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from God's love.
  • In John 15:11 (KJV), Jesus also said to His followers, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." 
Now we know where we get peace, love, and joy like a river in our souls! From Jesus! And He never fails to keep us well supplied. 

Aren't we glad our supply depends on Him rather than people or circumstances?


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Brick by Brick


When I read the insight James Clear added to a familiar quote, I realized he was right. Indeed, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.”

Worthwhile projects take time and effort. None of us can construct something magnificent overnight, no matter how much we wish we could. However, we’ll witness our dreams becoming more and more of a reality if only we’ll follow the example of hardworking brick masons. They build beautiful structures by laying one brick at a time, hour after hour and day by day. Furthermore, they work as long as it takes to finish the job.

How hard and how faithfully do we work to reach our goals?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Go Deeper!

When we go to the beach, my husband ventures out a good way into the surf to pick up seashells. As a result, he finds many more unique shells than I do since I only pick up those that have washed ashore. After we've rinsed our shells and spread them out to dry, anyone who views his collection and mine notices the difference in the variety and condition of the shells. Most of mine are common and often look weathered. But his...oh, my! They are richly colored, unusual, unmarred...

His collection should be better than mine. After all, he waded out into waist-deep water and struggled to maintain his balance while being walloped by the waves, which many shell seekers are unwilling or physically unable to do. All I did was stroll on the beach and use a scooper to pick up the shells I wanted to keep.

I thought about that the day I began reading Deron Spoo’s book entitled The Good Book, 40 Chapters That Reveal the Bible’s Biggest Ideas. He encourages everyone, even experienced Bible readers, to reject the tendency to be satisfied with their current level of understanding of the Bible. “Don’t just settle for wading in the surf. Dive deeper! Untold riches await your discovery...each time we read the Scriptures, our understanding is expanded and our love for God is deepened” (Location 273). He’s absolutely right! 


Even though I am physically unable to venture into the surf due to vertigo issues that prevent me from keeping my balance when the sand shifts beneath my feet or when the water surges against my ankles, I'm not restricted from going deeper into God's Word. Whenever I open my Bible, I don't have to be content to play, like a child, at the water's edge. I can--and I will--go deeper, deeper, deeper into the scriptures where incredible insights are waiting to be discovered.


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Mind the Lord

A minister repeatedly said, "Mind the Lord." I hadn't heard that phrase in many years, but ever since I heard him use it, it has been ringing in my mind and heart.

For example, many times each day, I feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to write about a certain topic (like "mind the Lord") or to call someone or to send a card or to pray for a specific individual.

Each prompt provides me with an opportunity to "mind the Lord"--that is, to obey Him. I wish I could truthfully say I do everything He instructs me to do, but, sadly, I don't.

Sometimes I say, "I don't have time right now, but I'll do it later." However, later is sometimes weeks or months away.

Sometimes I say, "I'm willing, but I'm not sure what to say or how to do that, Lord."

Each time I delay, I disobey the Lord, and I withhold a blessing God wants to give to that person. Perhaps they need a word of encouragement to "keep on keeping on" with the good work they are doing. Perhaps they need to know that someone loves them enough to check on them. Perhaps they need financial assistance or help of another kind. Perhaps they're lonely and would enjoy talking with someone for a little while. Perhaps they're struggling with some issue and need a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.

For all those reasons and many more, you and I need to mind the Lord. We need to do what He says to do and do it when He says to do it--without delay.




Thursday, August 2, 2018

Do Your Thing

The vines of the Moon Flower plant that’s flourishing in a large pot in our yard have climbed to the top of a trellis that is taller than I am. Each day around dusk, a half dozen or so white buds open, each about 6 inches across. Their fragrance is sweet. 

The next morning, the blooms begin to fold up, hiding their loveliness and fragrance. The blooms “do their thing” even if their time is short, even if no one pays attention to them, even if no one brags on them, even if.... They just do what they’ve been divinely created to do and then pass away at the appointed time.


May you and I learn a lesson from them and from the words below.








Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Trusting Him

I’m overwhelmed by sadness when I hear of the terrible things others are going through. I yearn to be able to “make it all better” for them, to ease their pain or—better yet—to make it all go away. But I can’t. However, I can pray for them, and I do.

As I prayed this morning, the Spirit of God reminded me of the words to an old song. He prompted me to share them online and to copy them and mail them to two persons I know personally who are struggling to survive the terrible things that have come upon them. I pray the words will remind them (and you and me!) of the way to experience peace every day, whether life is relatively pleasant or unbelievably difficult.


Read the words slowly, carefully, and thoughtfully. (I've included them below.) Sing them as you listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKQCFJBnXoU and/or https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I7Mn9UPfC2E). Then do what the words say! Trust Jesus—every day and in every way for He loves us and will walk with us every step of the way through the difficulties.

Trusting Jesus (Edgar Page Stites, 1876)
Simply trusting every day,
Trusting thro’ a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.


Chorus:
Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting him whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.


Brightly doth his Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While he leads I cannot fall;
Trusting Jesus that is all.


Singing if my way is clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger, for him call;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.


Trusting him while life shall last,
Trusting him till earth be past,
Till within the jasper wall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Looking and Finding

A photographer (Mark Hemmings) I follow on Instagram suggests finding faces in nature. I’m having so much fun doing that. And I’m finding them all around. The “eyes” in the photo included in this post are side drains that run underneath a neighbor’s driveway. I’ve seen faces in clouds and in thumbnail-size blooms and in rusty spots and in several other places.

As I’ve looked for faces in unexpected places, I’ve been reminded that we can usually find whatever we’re looking for. This has made me even more committed to looking for—and expecting to find— the good, rather than the bad, in people and in situations. Both good and bad exist, but I’m determined to look hard to find the good and to be thrilled whenever and wherever I discover it! 

Would you like to do that, too?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Like Produces Like

We’ve been enjoying the produce my husband brings in from his small garden. He can count on his tomato plants to produce tomatoes, never peppers. His cucumber vines produce cucumbers, never tomatoes or herbs or green beans. Whatever kind of plant he plants, it bears exactly what it’s supposed to. No surprises. Ever. 

This principle applies to all living things. Lions give birth to lion cubs, not llamas. 

The Bible says that like produces like--not only in the natural world but also in the spiritual world. For example, the Spirit of God who indwells believers produces this kind of spiritual fruit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). People who do not have the Spirit manifest very different attitudes and actions. 

Does the Spirit of God live in you? To find out, take a look at your “fruit.”


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Lord, I Am Willing


Lord, I am willing
To receive what You give;
To lack what You withhold;
To relinquish what You take;
To suffer what You inflict;
To be what You require.
~unknown

I found that powerful prayer (poem) in a book a friend gave me for my birthday. Its words remind me of this insightful statement (attributed to Amy Carmichael) that Elisabeth Elliot often shared on her Gateway to Joy radio program: In acceptance lieth peace.







Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday the 13th...

Friday the 13th—a day considered by many as a “bad luck day.” I prefer to think, as the psalmist did in Psalm 118:24, that this day, like all other days, is “a day that the LORD has made.” Therefore, I choose to rejoice and be glad in it even though I know not what will happen in the hours that remain in it. 

Although I can’t control much of what happens, I do get to choose my responses, as do you.

I choose, in advance, to thank God for the gift of this day.

I choose to thank Him for the gift of His presence with me—and He is with me (and with you!) at ALL times (Joshua 1:9), including Friday the 13th. 

I choose to thank Him for causing all things to work out for His glory and the good of His children (Romans 8:28). 

Is that what you choose, too?

A Time IS Coming...


"...for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice, and come out--those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."
~Jesus 
(John 5:28-29, NIV)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Tale of Two Farmers

Note: A short fiction story inspired by a Bible verse I read recently. Enjoy. Please comment if you'd like to.



The sun was just coming up as two farmers (dearest friends and closest neighbors) were enjoying their daily early-morning phone call.

JOHN: Looks like a pretty day.

SAM: Yep. What are you gonna do today?

JOHN: I think I’ll clean out the gutters. Been a long time since I’ve done that. I also need to trim the shrubbery. Gotta keep the wife happy you know. And she has been after me for weeks to get some of this stuff done.

SAM: Changed your mind about planting your sugarcane today?

JOHN: Yeah. I just can’t convince myself to do it today. I’m gonna do some little jobs around here instead. Get them off my mind. Free me up to focus on the planting when I get around to it, probably tomorrow.

SAM: Better do it today; it’s supposed to rain for the next several days.


JOHN: Oh, I doubt it’ll rain. That weatherman is wrong about as often as he’s right.

He who works his land
will have abundant food,
but the one who chases fantasies
will have his fill of poverty.
~Proverbs 28:19, NIV

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Encounter

I wrote the poem below after reading the Bible passage (John 4) that tells about what happened centuries ago when Jesus came to a certain town. I urge you to read it for yourself and to believe, as the woman and the other villagers did.

I took this photo during a musical presentation at a local church.

Jesus came to my town one ordinary day
And really surprised me with what He had to say.
He told me who He was and all I’d ever done,
So I believed Him when He said He was God’s Son.


I told all my neighbors, “You need to meet Him, too!”
And we invited Him to stay a day or two.
As He spoke, we realized all He said was true.
Many believed in Him—way more than just a few.


The encounter with Jesus changed many a life,
Though the plain truth He spoke often cut like a knife.
I’m glad He spoke with me one ordinary day
And completely changed me with what He had to say.


Everyone can tell I’m truly a “happy girl”
Now that I know and love the Savior of the world.
To know Him is to love Him, and I surely do!
And there's more good news: He loves ME—and also YOU!


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Happy Birthday, America!





Blessed is the nation 
whose God 
is the LORD; 
and the people 
whom he hath chosen 
for his own inheritance.
Psalm 33:12, KJV

Friday, June 29, 2018

Go In!

NOTE: The FICTION story below is a change from the kind of writing you normally find here. For an explanation...see the previous post (“Going in Circles,” posted on June 25, 2018).

I wrote the piece below while learning more about how to write “fast fiction.” As instructed, I typed the rough draft of that "short short" story in only 5 minutes and then edited it extensively before posting it here. I based the story on a photo I’d taken recently while running errands in town. (I added the word WELCOME to the photo.)

Enjoy! Please leave a comment to let me know if you like the change.



I am a black wrought iron bench with lovely designs. Day after day, I sit in front of a white marble wall and to the left of the entrance to what folks around here call Opportunity House.

Not everyone notices me. But I notice them. Some people stride confidently to the door and hurry in. Others approach Opportunity House slowly, or, I should say, timidly. Others sit on me for a few minutes to catch their breath and do some deep breathing. But they finally do go in.

Some folks linger but then leave. As I watch them walk away, their shoulders stooped, their faces dejected, and their heads bowed with shame, I feel sorry for them. I want to cry out, “Come back! Come back! Go in! If you leave now, you’ll never know what you could have been and what you could have done.”
"...be strong and courageous. 
Do not be terrified; 
do not be discouraged, 
for the LORD your God 
will be with you 
wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9, NIV

Monday, June 25, 2018

Going in Circles?


I feel as if I've been going in the same circles again and again, especially in regard to writing. Since 1984 I've followed the same general format for the inspirational columns I've written for newspapers, magazines, and my blog. If you've read my writings through the years, you've noticed I usually begin each piece with an experience or with an idea I picked up somewhere. As I reflect on that, I recall a verse of Scripture that speaks to that topic. Sometimes, the reverse process happens. I read something in the Bible that rivets my attention. As I reflect on that, I recall an experience or a quote, etc. that goes along with it. So, I write those "reflections."

In order to become a better writer, I've honed my writing skills and experimented with word count and so forth. Even with those slight variations, I'm feeling the urge to do something a bit different--at least for a while. Because of that "stirring," I am trying my hand at writing short short stories. I also love writing poems, though I know next to nothing about the "rules" for writing poetry. Occasionally, I may post one of my straight-from-the-heart poems. Therefore...you may see changes on this blog. 

You can be a HUGE help to me if you'll take time to leave a comment (or send me an email) to let me know how you feel about the changes. As always, if you like what you read/see, please share the link with your family and friends. Thank you!

However, the biggest help you can give is to pray that I will be open to whatever direction God wants me to take. After all, He's the One who called me to write. He's the One who equips me. Thus, I write in obedience to Him. As always, the promise I return to again and again as I seek His will is found in Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.




Learn a Lesson from the Ruins

Like a city [or a building] 
whose walls are broken down 
is a [person] who lacks self-control.
Proverbs 25:28

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Behold! Believe!



The heavens declare the glory of God; 
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
~Psalm 19:1, NIV

When my husband and I take a walk in the neighborhood, I'm awed by the beauty of the skies. On the evenings we stay home, we miss seeing grandeur like that in this photo. Yet, God faithfully creates awesome skies whether or not anyone notices them. But, oh, what a blessing it is to behold them and to worship the One who created them.





Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Parent’s Delight

To wish her son a Happy Father’s Day, my friend Betty posted (on Facebook) a picture of him and his daughter. After describing Jeff as “the best father a child could have,” Betty concluded the message by saying, “We love you,” something she and her husband had surely said many times to Jeff.


I commented immediately, saying, “What a thrill to see Jeff and his daughter!!! I’m so happy he’s such a wonderful dad—but I am not the least bit surprised that he is. I wouldn’t have expected him to be otherwise. Please tell him hello for me and that I am so proud of him.”


I haven’t seen Jeff since he became an adult, but I remember how he delighted me when he was one of my third grade students. He never gave me one minute’s trouble. He was diligent, well-behaved, always prepared, polite, kind…Thus, I was not at all surprised to hear he was a wonderful dad. 

As I thought about Jeff and his proud parents, I recalled what the Bible says about a son (or daughter!) who turns out well.

The father of a righteous man has great joy; 
he who has a wise son delights in him. 
May your father and mother be glad; 
may she who gave you birth rejoice.
~Proverbs 23:24-25, NIV.








Thursday, June 14, 2018

I Love That Flag!

While riding in a car with my husband, I often say, “Oh! Oh! Oh! Slow down if you can. I love that flag!”

As he checks the rearview mirror to make sure we won’t get hit if he slows down or pulls over, he says, “How many flag pictures do you need?”

“I never get tired of taking photos of flags. They are so beautiful, especially when they are being unfurled by a gentle breeze.”

Indeed, I have no idea how many flag photos "live" on my various hard drives. Flags lining the streets of small towns in America. Flags proudly displayed on front porches. Flags in vast grazing lands in the foothills of snow-capped mountains. Flags draped across coffins of American soldiers. Small flags flanking tombstones. Oversize flags looming large against a beautiful sky filled with cotton-candy-like clouds. Flags flapping wildly in strong winds generated by an approaching storm. Flags carried by people in a parade....

Perhaps I love the flag because of all it represents. I love it because it reminds me how blessed I am to claim America as my “home.” 





Sunday, June 10, 2018

Do Not Give In To Them!

Doctors have never said, “You have attention deficit disorder,” but I think I do since I’m easily distracted. For example, one morning after I finished writing in my journal, I took a “stand up break” before beginning to write a blog post.


As I re-settled myself, I thought, I loved the Gordon McDonald poem Elisabeth Elliot read last night. I’ll search for it on the internet before I forget about it. Although I didn’t find it, I did discover videos that featured him. I watched one for a few minutes before I reluctantly hit pause (in order to write).


Then I thought, I need to get “caught up” on reading one chapter a day in the Book of Proverbs. While I read and jotted down insights, the minutes designated for writing slipped away as silently but as surely as sand in an hourglass. 

When I glanced at the clock, I thought. Oh, no! My writing time is gone. I’ve gotta get up and get busy.


Suddenly, the “Do not give in to them!” warnings I’d read in Proverbs 1:10-16 took on an expanded meaning. Although they warned me against giving in to enticements to do evil, I realized I must also resist giving in to distractions—even “good” ones—if they keep me from doing the work (writing) God asked me to do. Clearly, I must break my lifelong habit of letting GOOD things keep me from the BEST ones.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Little Glories

...transform me, Father,
by the
little glories
of this day.

~David Hazard, p.139 in
I Come Quietly to Meet You 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Daily Nourishment

After finishing my daily “quiet time” one very rainy morning, I looked out the window and watched the little hummingbirds coming and going at the feeder as frequently as they would have on a beautiful day. I thought, They know they HAVE to receive daily nourishment in order to stay alive. No waiting for ideal feeding conditions. No sleeping in. 

Indeed, even one day of being deprived of food can mean death for these tiny creatures who often eat up to three times their body weight every day. They absolutely MUST find nourishment if they are to survive. No excuses. No procrastination.

Likewise, if you and I, dear reader, are to stay spiritually strong, we, too, must do whatever we have to do to find spiritual food and to take it in. Fortunately, we have many “food sources,” among them:
  • The Bible
  • Sermons
  • Hymns
  • Books
  • Podcasts
  • Radio programs
  • Audiobooks
  • Tapes
  • Bible studies
  • Prayer
  • Magazines
  • Devotionals
Let’s feast on one or more of these every day! And throughout the day. No excuses!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            







Friday, May 25, 2018

We Lived, But Now We Lie...

Several years ago, a friend stopped by a day or so before Memorial Day. During his visit, we talked about many things, including the poems our teachers required us to learn when we were in elementary school (more than 50 years ago). 

"Did you have to learn 'In Flanders Field'?"I asked him.

Rather than give me a "yes" or "no" answer, he began to quote the poem: "In Flanders Field the poppies grow between the crosses row on row."

I tried to join him in reciting the poem. However, I dropped out of the recitation after I'd said the words above. He did, too, although he probably could have recited the entire poem word for word, since he has an incredible memory.

The following day, I searched the Internet for a copy of that poem. I found it, as well as information about who wrote what has become the world's most famous memorial poem. I learned that it was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae on March 3, 1915, the day after his friend (and former student) Alexis Helmer had been killed in the second battle of Ypres, Belgium. He composed it at the battlefront.

All the words evoked strong emotion, but the ones that stood out to me were these:
...short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved and were loved, and now we lie in Flanders Field.

Yes, all too soon (from the human perspective), their lives had ended, as will yours and mine. Hopefully, they were prepared to meet their God. Hopefully, they honored Him and served Him and their fellow man during the days they lived. May that be true of us, as well.

One of the many sections of the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, GA

To hear someone read the entire poem aloud, please click here:

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

One Future Day!

After talking about what a struggle it is to live a life that pleases and honors God rather than “self,” Amy Carmichael says, “There will come a day when He will say, ‘It is finished’... the I [the part of us that demands its own way] will be slain, never to come to life again; the soul will bloom as perfect as a flower” (p.122 in I Come Quietly to Meet You).