Friday, December 25, 2020


Behold, the virgin shall be with child, 
and bear a Son, 
and they shall call His name Immanuel, 
which is translated, "God with us."
--Matthew 1:23, NKJV

Monday, December 7, 2020

Call Upon the Lord

 One recent day my daily Bible reading took me to Psalm 18, a psalm David wrote centuries ago after God had miraculously delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, including King Saul. David began his song of praise with a vow to love the Lord God and to trust God to preserve his life. After describing a time (one of many!) when he was in great distress, David summarized the solution: He cried out to God for help. God rescued him.

After reading David’s story of his desperate situation and dramatic rescue, I did what David did. I cried out to God--not for myself but on behalf of a person clinging to life in a distant hospital.

Oh, Father! The pangs of death surround [NAME]. Normally, he would cry out to You for help. But since he may not be conscious enough to do that, I'm crying out for him--and his family. If he is aware of how ill he is, comfort him. Enable him to feel Your love and Your presence. Relieve his pain. Heal his diseased body.

I call upon You for I believe, as David did, that You do hear and respond to the cries of Your children. For years, You have been [NAME’S] strength, his rock, his fortress, his deliverer. Even if he can’t beg You to help him during this crisis, continue to be his shield, his hope, his stronghold. 

O LORD GOD, if it pleases You, deal speedily with all the “enemies” that are attacking his body. But if Your divine plan is to call him home, help those of us who love [NAME] to accept Your decision and to realize that even a homegoing is a way of relieving suffering, just not the one we're longing for at this time.

No matter how You choose to rescue [NAME], may all who are praying for him continue to trust You and to continue to say:

Monday, November 23, 2020

Give Thanks!

Do you know anyone who has not dealt with suffering and sadness and loss this year? I don't. Although we can't help mourning all that we've lost, I hope we will also notice the abundance of good that remains and thank God for it. 

For example, my spirits lifted (despite experiencing ongoing heartaches and worries and physical challenges) as I spent a few minutes in my yard a couple of days ago. I thanked God that I was physically able to walk around my yard for the first time since my surgery a couple of months ago. As I limped along (using my cane), I smiled as I saw a few signs of spring--in mid-November! I thanked God not only for the beauty (and the promise of more) but also for the ability to see the pink blooms on an azalea bush and the green paperwhite shoots that had struggled to push through the soil and were standing tall. I enjoyed listening to the birds and thanked God for them--and for the ability to hear them. 

Those experiences in the yard didn't change any of the heartbreaking situations or recover any of the great losses, but giving thanks changed me! 

May we realize daily this truth expressed by the psalmist centuries ago: "It is good to give thanks to the LORD..." (Psalm 92:1, NKJV).

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven...

Ecclesiastes 3:1, NKJV

Monday, October 5, 2020

Travel Light

Have you ever been surprised to hear the same advice from different people and to discover it in unexpected places? I have!

I took the photo of the map.
I downloaded the silhouette
from Pixabay.
For example, one night I awakened out of a sound sleep with the words "travel light" on my mind. I don't recall having dreamed about or read anything recently that would have caused them to enter my conscious awareness. They just appeared. And every time I woke up, even for a few seconds, during the remainder of the night, those two words were on my mind.

Since then, I've received that same advice from other people who are strangers to me and, thus, had no way of knowing that what they were talking about held particular meaning for me. For example, while watching a YouTube video about decluttering, I heard a young woman talk about the importance of not only removing clutter from your home and workspace but also from your life--that is, from your mind and heart and schedule.

As I listened to her talk about removing things like grudges, excuses, fears, comparisons, pointless conversations and activities, and so forth, I realized she was sharing wonderful suggestions for how to travel light, even though she never used those two words.

Several times recently I've read the following verse, a familiar one. But now when I read it, it, too, reminds me to travel light.

"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." (Hebrews 12:1a-2b, NKJV).

Dear reader, do you see the wisdom in learning to travel light? If so, what could you remove from your life? Or, what could you cut way back on?

Friday, September 18, 2020

The LORD is My Shepherd

I'm scheduled to have surgery on my right hip tomorrow. Instead of thinking about things that could go terribly wrong, I'm choosing to reassure myself, as David did centuries ago, by reminding myself that the LORD is my shepherd. He is the one who guards me, cares for me, provides for me.... I will trust Him to be with me and to provide all I need during the surgery and during the months of recovery. 

Since He has faithfully tended me all my life, why would I doubt Him now? 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Out of the Maze

 At the beginning of Psalm 77, the writer (Asaph) seems to be as confused and scared as someone who’s trying to find his way out of a maze on a foggy night. Perhaps we identify with him when he says,  

I cried out to God with my voice…

And He [listened] to me.

…I sought the LORD;

My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;

My soul refused to be comforted (Psalm 77:1-2, NKJV).


Even remembering God troubled Asaph. Why? He doesn’t say, but I wonder, Was it because he thought God wasn’t acting like the kind of God he’d known and trusted? That could explain why he complained and felt overwhelmed.

Following the first three verses is the word Selah, which one Bible version translates “Pause in his presence.”

Asaph does that. He remembers the “good old days.” He searches for answers to hard questions: Will the Lord cast off forever? Will He ever be favorable toward me/my nation again? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forever? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has God become so angry that He has shut up His tender mercies?

 But…beginning in verse 10, Asaph’s thinking shifts dramatically. He says, both to himself and to God:

In the remainder of the psalm, Asaph does those three things—and finds the way out of the spiritual maze.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Experiencing Life with Him

 While sorting through all my books and trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones to donate, I thumbed through one I'd enjoyed many years ago. As I fanned the pages of Holy Sweat: The Remarkable Things Ordinary People Can Do When They Let God Use Them by Tim Hansel, I came to a piece of writing entitled The Road of Life. Since it spoke to me, I want to share it with you. 

Please note: I've also found it on multiple sites on the Internet, each presenting it with differences in titles (such as A Tandem Bike Ride with God), layouts (paragraph, poem), and even wording. No one seems to know who wrote the words, but I'm so thankful he or she did! I pray they encourage and inspire you to let Christ be in control of your life. 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

God’s Masterpieces

Our Christ in the Manger cactus put on quite a show for my husband and me one night in early July. During the 30 plus years we’ve nurtured it, it generally opens one or two, sometimes three, blooms on any given night. But this year there were four, each having an exquisitely beautiful interior that resembles a baby in a manger, complete with a large star. Each bloom releases a heavenly fragrance, too. 
The large pods open around 10 p.m. and reveal their inner beauty for only a few hours. By morning each one has closed and is hanging limply, giving no hint of what was revealed in the darkness. That plant, which is rather plain (some would say UGH-LEE) during the year, astonishes me when it blooms. As I shine a light on each one to better see its incredible interior, I praise the Creator who designed it. I realize He loves beauty and detail and uniqueness and symbolism and perfection...As I do, I reflect on two of my favorite Bible verses:

 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
—Psalm 139:14, NKJV


For we are His workmanship, 
created in Christ Jesus for good works, 
which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
--Ephesians  2:10, NKJV

Indeed, God creates masterpieces! Or, as one person said, “God doesn’t make junk!” Aren’t we glad He doesn’t?

Friday, July 3, 2020

Glorious Freedom

Photo courtesy of artist Kathy Barlow and
photographer James Magnus
When I first saw this photo, the thought "Symbols of Freedom" popped into my mind. Indeed, they are. 

That thought reminded me of a deeper understanding I'd received several weeks ago while reading the 8th chapter of the Gospel of John. When I came to verse 32, I noticed that the translators of that particular version had capitalized the word Truth, something I'd not seen in other versions. 

So, I read the verse again (and the one preceding it), in which Jesus said, "If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free" (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition). 

Indeed, the more we know the truth (what is right), which He taught, the more we know Him (who is the personification of all truth). After all, He clearly said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me" (John 14:6, AMPC). 

He is the One, the only One, who can set us free from the tyranny and guilt of our sins and give us a new and abundant life--now and throughout all eternity.

Monday, June 15, 2020

A Chance Encounter?

Note: Another FICTION story using these words provided by one of my grandsons:





Career-seminary professor



Evan eased his lanky frame onto a park bench to watch the ducks glide serenely and seemingly effortlessly across the pond. Sometimes they disappeared into the murky water and reappeared, holding a slimy “something” in their beaks. He enjoyed watching them, as well as feeling the gentle breeze rearranging his wavy hair. Being so chillaxed, he startled when someone sat down beside him. 

When he and the young woman occasionally caught each other stealing a glimpse of the other, both blushed before she looked away. But one time, she held her gaze, her blue eyes looking even bluer because of the indigo jogging suit she wore.

Smiling, she said, “Do you come here often?”

“Sure,” he said. “I work near here.”


“At Union Theological School.”

“ What do you do there?”

“I’m a seminary professor.”

“You can’t be," she spluttered. "You’re too young!”

He grinned. “Well, I’ve known since I was twelve that God wanted me to know His Word and teach it to others, so I just jumped right into that. After I graduated college, I enrolled at Union and did so well there that the administration asked me to serve on the faculty.”

She lowered her eyes. “I wish my path had been made that clear. I’m still struggling.”

“Have you asked God to reveal His will for your life?”

“Many times. But I’ve given up hope that He will.”

“No. No. What God said a long time ago is still true—and true for you, too.”

Sensing her eagerness to know more, Evan seized the opportunity to quote Jeremiah 29:11 to her. “For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Then Evan added, “You can be sure of that.”

“Thank you for encouraging me. Maybe even this chance meeting is part of God's good plan?”

Evan nodded. “Nothing happens by accident. God uses all our experiences for His glory and our good.”

“I have to go now,” she said, “but could we meet again to talk more about this?”

“I’m available after 3 most days—and my time is God’s time.”

“Well, how about we meet right here tomorrow at five?”

“Certainly. If you’d like, we can walk around the pond as we talk.”

Evan watched her until she disappeared from sight, confident that she, like the ducks, would reappear--which would definitely delight him.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

A Tough Assignment

  • As per my request, my 19-year-old granddaughter provided a word/phrase for each of the seven categories I sent to her. I challenged myself to use all seven in a FICTION story.
Noun: Japan 
Verb: refine
Adjective: lustrous
Adverb: safely 
Color: cherry blossom pink
Career: writer
Abstract word: justice 
  • The photo is one I took years ago on a street near my house.
  • The word count is much higher than in my usual posts, but I hope that won’t be a problem.
  • I’d love to know what you think of the story. Please post a comment or send an email.

Valerie gasped as she did every spring when she turned onto Sunset Avenue. This IS a sight to behold. Yoshino cherry trees in full bloom stood in single file in the middle of a 20-ft.-wide grassy median that stretched as far as her eyes could see up the sloping street.  

After she parked her car—half on the street and half on the grass—she grabbed her camera and began to photograph the graceful sweep of the trees. Once she’d gotten what photographers call “environmental shots,” she stepped toward the nearest tree to photograph closeups of the blooms where buzzing bumblebees sipped sweet nectar.

The sights and sounds and a slight almond fragrance so captivated her senses that she “plumb forgot,” as her granny would say, why she had come. But when an old truck rumbled past, spoiling her sense of wonder, she returned to her car and opened her iPad to write the article assigned to her.

Unsure how to write the controversial piece, she bowed her head and whispered the words she prayed before beginning any writing assignment: “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, Lord.”

Taking a deep breath, Valerie started typing whatever thoughts popped into her mind, knowing she’d probably have to delete most of the words and then refine—and rearrange—whatever remained. But, as a writer, she understood the value of warming up, of just beginning somewhere, of clearing a mental path for the right words needed to explain sensitive and significant matters. 

While she appreciated having a loyal following of local readers, many of whom said, “I trust you to tell the truth about what’s going on in our town,” she always felt the weight of that trust since she knew words either doused or fanned the flames of controversy. That was certainly true in this situation. 

Although everyone agreed the cherry trees were beautiful, especially during mid-March to mid-April when they bloomed profusely, the property owners on Sunset Avenue were enraged over what happened in their neighborhood during that time. Practically every resident of the city and county, as well as out-of-towners who’d heard about the trees, drove slowly up and down Sunset Avenue to take lingering looks at the beauty. Occasionally, they parked and wandered around to photograph the trees, as Valerie had done. Some parked on the edges of the lawns that bordered the avenue, which incensed the property owners. “We work hard to keep our yards pretty. We don’t want people parking on our grass—or making it hard for us to get out of our own driveways. Something has to be done!”

To deal with the complaints, the chairman of the City Council scheduled a special “open” meeting to discuss the matter. The Council expected a large crowd: angry residents eager to ban the traffic; other citizens insisting they had every right to see the annual sight. A week before the meeting, the mayor said to the newspaper editor, “Send your best writer out there to snap some pictures of the trees, to interview property owners, and to write an article that will clarify the situation.”

“Will do! Valerie is my best writer. I’ll send her.”

Valerie began with these words: “For fifty years the Yoshino cherry trees on Sunset Avenue have delighted onlookers and provided food and shade for bees, birds—like Cardinals, Cedar Wax Wings, Robins— and small mammals, just as they do in their native Japan and elsewhere. Surely, we can work together to create a win-win solution for all concerned.” 

After quoting people on both sides of the issue, she concluded the article by saying, “Why not invite onlookers to park in the city-owned strip between Town Creek and Sunset Avenue? They can easily— and safely—stroll up and down the median to enjoy the trees without being in the street or on private property. Perhaps a benefactor or one of the garden clubs could consider placing metal benches, painted cherry-blossom-pink, near the trees at the entrance to Sunset Avenue and at the top of the hill so that those who’d like to linger or rest a bit could do so.”

Pleased with her work, she pushed her lustrous black hair away from her face before heading back to the newspaper office.

“See what you think,” she said to the editor as she sat across from him. “You may have to refine it a bit, but I think it’s pretty good. I presented both sides of the issue, and I tried really hard to get some great pictures of the trees….though I’m afraid none of them do justice to the beauty of those trees.”

After reading the article, he grinned at her. “This is brilliant!”

She returned his smile. “Well, I did have a lot of help!”

“You did?”

“Yep! My Source came through once again.”

Monday, June 8, 2020

Amazing Care! Amazing Creator!

Because I'm enthralled by the exquisite beauty in flowers, even wildflowers and weeds, I can hardly bear to pass one by without taking its picture. As you can imagine, I have thousands of flower photos stored on various hard drives. For years, I made little effort to learn their names; but recently I've felt a need to identify them and to learn more about their uniqueness. 

For example, when I edited this "portrait" of one of the dozens of pink evening primroses growing in a drainage ditch near my mailbox, I decided to add a touch of elegance to it. I think the black background really showcases the loveliness of the common flower. Do you agree?

While reading a bit about it, I learned that it blooms from March through July, usually during the predawn hours, but protects itself by closing its petals during the heat of the day. Several insects visit it, especially the moths that are active at night.

These wildflowers spring up and flourish for a season, just as we do. Yet, God endowed them with great beauty, equipped them with systems that shelter them from the oppressive heat, and allows these delicate blooms to delight and serve other living things He created. I think that's amazing! Don't you?

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Troublesome Times

The coronavirus pandemic. Isolation. Shifting of roles. Loss of routines. Suffering of all sorts. Dying—in its various forms. Rioting. Earthquakes and other disasters. Wars. Heartbreak. Desperation....

As I reflected on such things, I recalled these words contained in an old song: “Troublesome times are here, causing men’s hearts to fear.” R. E. Winsett was right when he wrote them in the 1940s. They remain true today.

Troublesome times ARE here—and have been for centuries. Oh, how sin has marred everything. If my heart is grieved, and it surely is, then God’s heart is grieved even more as He sees what is happening to the people and to the world He created.

Even though people have fallen so far from what God wants them to be, He still loves them. He is still forgiving and gracious toward even the most evil one among us. He still yearns for each of us to repent—to turn from our sins and turn to Him, as did the prodigal son who came to his senses and chose to return to the father who loved him. (See Luke 15.)

Troublesome times can and should lead us to turn to our God, to confess our sins and our shortcomings, to ask Him to forgive us and to restore what sin has stolen from us. Once we’re in right relationship with our God, then let’s ask Him to show us what we—each of us—can do to help ourselves and others recover from the troublesome times.

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


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


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.

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.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Love—Every Day

Valentine’s Day 2020 is over. Millions of dollars have been spent on cards, chocolates, flowers, gifts, and dinners in fancy restaurants. But what if each of us determined to express genuine love every day? Wouldn’t the world be a wonderful place to live? But we tend to forget to do that once the day is over, just like we forget about Jesus once we’ve celebrated Christmas and Easter. Likewise, by the time we’ve eaten the last of the Thanksgiving turkey, we’ve forgotten all about giving thanks for our blessings.

But I watched a video recently about a young adult who expressed love as he went about his regular day. For example, when he noticed a potted plant that was dying due to lack of water, he poured life-giving liquid on the droopy plant that very day (and in the days ahead). The plant began to thrive. When he observed an older person struggling to push a heavily-loaded cart over the curb and onto the sidewalk, he hurried to help out. When he noticed a young mother and her school-age child sitting on the sidewalk and begging for money needed to sustain their lives, he gave them some.

A friend mentioned that this Valentine’s Day she continued an 11-year-old tradition of writing one compliment on each of several paper hearts and making a trail of them from her son’s bedroom door to the kitchen. I pictured his smiling face as he picked up the hearts and read the compliments as he made his way to the breakfast table.

Perhaps you and I could also come up with creative ways to express love? Every day!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

From Sympathy to Empathy

“Pain has taught me empathy,” a friend said.

“It will definitely do that,” I replied.

That brief exchange brought to mind this old saying:  “Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.” After reflecting on it, I paraphrased it this way: "Never dismiss or make light of another person's pain until you've suffered as he has."

We can never be in another person’s situation, of course, but once we’ve been in a similar one we understand far better what they’re going through and why they feel and act the way they do. 

For example, my friend, who is suffering from back pain, had no prior personal experience with excruciating and unrelenting pain. Being a caring and compassionate person, he'd felt sympathy for those who suffered from back pain. But now that he’s experiencing not only excruciating pain but also the desperation to find relief from it, he feels empathy for anyone who's suffering.

The more empathy we have for others, the greater will be our desire to help them. If we’ve been in a similar situation, we know how much receiving comfort meant to us. And since we want fellow sufferers to be comforted, too, we gladly tell them about who or what helped us in our time of need.

Saturday, January 25, 2020


If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14, NKJV)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

One by One

I'd hoped to feel less overwhelmed after Christmas. But when the New Year arrived, I shifted my focus from "all things Christmas" to improvements I need to make. Lose at least ten pounds. Exercise daily. Stay in closer touch with friends. Declutter drawers and closets and THE BASEMENT. Publish a second book....

The more I considered what I needed to do, the more overwhelmed I felt. (Does that happen to you, too?) But while reading an email on New Year's Day, I saw a simple solution for decreasing overwhelm. Starting today, do ONE thing! For example: meet one exercise goal for today. Call one friend. Declutter one drawer. Write one paragraph for the new book.

By doing one small task today and another one tomorrow and the next day and the next day..., I'll achieve my goals. (You can, too!) Even the ones that seem unreachable.

Saturday, January 4, 2020


Image by Daniel Byram from Pixabay 
Used by permission.
When I saw this image on the Internet, I zoomed in to read what some folks had written on the chalkboard in a bar. Despite the heavy accumulation of chalk dust on the board, I managed to read some of the dreams written in the blanks. "Ride the gondolas in Venice with my husband." "Be happily in love." "Marry Ryan."

But one answer intrigued me far more than any of the others. "Live." I reflected on those four large, red letters. What exactly did he mean? To feel fully alive rather than dead inside? To thrive rather than shrivel up? To feel excited rather than bored? To experience adventures rather than stay in the same old rut? To feel eager rather than dutiful? To dare rather than to hesitate?

Did he realize the disconnect between the life he had and the life he was created to have? The life he could have--and should have? That's what happens when we settle for being anything less than what God created us to be. And we recognize it, as did the person who wrote, "Before I die, I want to live." 

But here's the Good News: We can have an abundant life! How? Believe Him. Receive Him. Experience the life He wants us to enjoy here and throughout eternity.