Friday, May 19, 2017

UNEXPECTED ENCOURAGEMENT

The other day hubby and I went out on a farm drive.  If you live in a rural area or are the wife/child/friend of a farmer, you know what a farm drive is.  “Hey.  Want to go for a drive.”    That is what you hear.  This time of year what they mean is, “I want to go see if the field is dry enough to work and you can help me check it out.”  (My sweet hubby knows that if he really wants me to go, all he has to do is use the words “back roads.”  Those words are the equivalent of dangling a carrot on a string and pole before the horse.)

So off we went to find those back roads.  He found dry fields.  I found encouragement printed on a sign, in a front yard.

The sign said:  YOU MATTER

My heart shouted thank you to the home owner because I could picture all the people that sign encouraged.

  • An exhausted person after a very long shift
  • A parent driving to yet another practice/game/?
  • A widow/widower going home to an empty house
  • A teenager who feels invisible
  • A child of divorce who spends weekends with the other parent
  • A teacher who had a rough day
  • A minister on the way to a hospital visit
  • A spouse along on a farm drive 
  • ANYONE AND EVERYONE

Unexpected encouragement – what a gift! 

AND -- Not once but twice.  A few days later, it happened again.

There I sat.  Waiting on the train to pass.  Looking at the graffiti.  Thinking some of that is pretty good art.  When I saw it.  Right there on the side of a car.  Almost to the end of the train. 

Spray painted in large letters:  YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Again my heart sent a thank you to the person on the other end of that spray paint can. 

Encouragement – we expect it from those we love.  People at church.  People at work.  Friends.  BUT what a blessing when encouragement is unexpected.  Words that are slipped in the routine of our day.  Words that leap out and wrap themselves around us.

YOU MATTER

YOU ARE NOT ALONE


These words are true.  Read them aloud.  Allow them to wrap around you and encourage you.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A SPRING COLD

The sun is shining but do not say it out loud.  You might scare it away.  It is a lovely day.  At least I guess it is.

I have the dreaded spring cold.  Started small.  Just a tickle in my throat.  That tickle did not hang around long but it left behind a raspy voice.  Quickly joining in to make it a quartet are the sneezing (Should have bought more Kleenex the last time I stocked up.), the plugged up nose (I hate the plugged up nose because breathing is rather important.), and the cough (For sure not your sweet, quiet, ladylike cough you see on TV.).  Bless hubby he made a trip and I now have cough syrup sitting beside the open-your-nose pills and boxes (plural) of Kleenex. 

My head is so full I feel like a bobble head doll. 

All this means I am only at the computer long enough to write a very short blog.  (I saw that smile.)

Sin is a lot like my spring cold.  That ole devil sneaks up, tempts us with a sin and we need to be ready. 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace,  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.      Ephesians 6:10-18

I sent hubby to the store to get what I need to fight my cold.

To fight Satan’s plans, I go to God.  There I find exactly what I need. 

I have to go lay down now.  My head no longer wants to stay upright.


Have a blessed week.   

Friday, May 05, 2017

RAIN, GIGGLES AND LAUGHTER

Last weekend three other ladies and I headed to a “Girl’s Getaway Weekend” in Hannibal, Missouri. 

We started making plans for this weekend a month ago.  Motel rooms were reserved.  Getaway bags ordered.  Added to the bag was a crazy light up glass which could be filled over and over.  (With water of course.)  We were sure the band would be loud.  We studied the activities the merchants had scheduled.  We were ready.

One of the things we have absolutely no control over is the weather, so we started listening to the weather channel.  We kept our eye on the weather app.  Rain Friday.  Rain Saturday.  Rain Sunday.  OH MY GOODNESS!  What do we do? 

Well, duh!  We got in the car, of course.  We drove in the rain.  We got out of the car.  We lifted our umbrellas high.  And we got wet.  REALLY WET!  We had a blast!!!!!

We giggled as we stuck our heads through a picture board and made silly faces.  Oh, you never get too old to make silly faces.  Especially when your head is stuck through a sheet of plywood!

We made earrings and bought popcorn.  We bought chocolate too.  Remember, chocolate is a food group!  We took a Haunted Hannibal Tour.  Two of the girls climbed the stairs to a lighthouse and came back extremely wet.  I have perfect timing and decided to fill the car up with fuel during a break in the rain.  That break lasted long enough for me to get out of the car.  Not long enough to fill it up.  I changed clothes when we got to the motel.  I think those jeans are still wet.

We laughed as we shared stories.  So much fun being girls, lying across the beds and saying, “We really should go to sleep.”  Made us all remember those slumber parties from when we were silly teenagers. 

Then we drove home – in the rain.

Making plans was fun.  It gave us something to look forward to.  There was rain but there was joy.  Sorta like my Christian life.

I know where I am going!  There will be rain and there will be joy as I travel the road toward my final destination.  There will be friends to lighten my burden, when it is more than I can carry.  There will be friends to share in my joys.  There is one who always has His eye on me. 

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look!  God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”    Revelation 21:1-4

Do you know where you are going?  Are you making plans now?  Do you have a church family and friends who will walk beside you?  Do you talk to the one who always has His eye on you?

May your journey be full of joy
and

may you always find support and love when it rains.

Friday, April 28, 2017

ALL THOSE NOT SO LITTLE THINGS

When making that gratitude list or saying a prayer or going around the table in Sunday School telling what blessing you received this week, how do you answer?  Do you give the typical answers of my family, my friends, forgiveness, mercy, grace and eternal life?  Do you ever throw in there, “And all the little blessing I do not even notice.”? 

That is what I want to do today.  I want to make a list of all those not so little things.

Wow, this could be a very long list.  To start with there is --

·         the way it feels to squish mud between your toes and how it feels to lay in the grass and see clouds become dogs or cats or elephants or ice cream cones,
·         how a child's hand feels in yours when they are trusting you to get them to the other side of the street,
·         the absolute carefree joy of feeling the wind in your hair when you are driving along on a beautiful summer day,  (This only works if you remembered to forego the hair spray or still have hair.)
·         the inner calm that comes from walking the beach and watching the waves come and go.  The tide carries your troubles away and brings back a peaceful spirit,
·         the taste of cheesecake,
·         the look in the eyes of a dog,

and

·         the sizzling, popping and cracking sounds the wood in a fireplace makes.

Of course no list would be complete without --

·         swinging,
·         talking to children,
·         hearing stories about our parents, when we are old enough to appreciate them,
·         unwrapping a package,

and

·         the words please and thank you.

Nothing tastes as good as –

·         licking the paddle after the homemade ice cream is done,
·         popcorn while watching a movie,
·         the last piece of pizza,
·         an apple right off the tree

and

·         peanut butter on pancakes.

Also, not to be forgotten are --

·         sitting quietly in church,
·         hearing a favorite hymn,

and

·         stained glass windows.

When you look back over this list, I am sure you could add many, many things.  The point I am trying to make is not to forget the small things, because they are not small. 

Through Jesus we receive so many magnificent blessings.  And I want every one of them.  I am greedy that way.  But I also want the little things that get me through the day. 

The words I love you                           An unexpected smile                          A sincere compliment
A tooth brush                                      A good cup of coffee                          A gentle breeze
Sometimes tears                                  A cold glass of water                          Laughter
Rest                                                     Conversation                                       My iPad


I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill.
I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.
Ezekiel 34:26

In 1883, Daniel W. Whittle wrote the hymn “There Shall be Showers of Blessing.  The first stanza and refrain go like this:

There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

Refrain:
Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.


Question:  What “not so little thing” have you been blessed with today?

Friday, April 21, 2017

BAKING A PIE

I wish you could smell what I smell.  I just took a rhubarb pie out of the oven and the whole house smells sweet with a whiff of cinnamon and a hint of nutmeg.  It is going to be hard to let it cool before slicing a piece.  But I must wait because I like ice cream on my pie and the ice cream would turn to … milk and milk over pie would be … odd.

Bill loves rhubarb pie and I have come to enjoy it also, as long as it has ice cream as a topper.  The recipe was given to me by a very sweet lady and she gave me the whole recipe. 

When asked, some cooks will give you their recipe but it never turns out quite right.  It will taste almost as good but it is a bit off.  Then one day you tell them, “I have tried but I must not have the knack you do because the pie/cake/casserole is never as good as yours.”  When they get that glint in their eyes and their mouth curls a bit, it hits you:  THEY LEFT AN INGREDIENT OUT!

That rhubarb pie is going to taste fantastic because I had the whole recipe.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  …..  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.  Amen    Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21

Talk about having all the ingredients!  Having the whole recipe!  It is all there!  The recipe for a foundation of Righteousness and Justice, walls called Salvation and gates called Praise and a crystal clear river of the Water of Life.

Now are you ready for the really, really good part?  We are ingredients in this recipe!  How cool is that?

We – you and me - ---are God’s children!!  We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ!  We share in his sufferings and that means we may share in his glory!  By golly, this is the best thing ever?  And this is for EVERYONE! 

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  Galatians 3:26-29

The Bible did not leave any ingredient out.  Devour it one slice at a time!!


Friday, April 14, 2017

NOW WHERE DID HE GO?

Ever looked for Waldo?  Or helped children find objects in an I Spy book?  Or lost a grandchild?

Many years ago (She is now 22.) our granddaughter, Kailyn, disappeared.  Her parents looked for her.  They looked in all the rooms.  They looked under the bed.  They looked in cabinets.  (She was very flexible and we used to kid her she would make a great magician’s assistant.)  They looked outside on the porch and in the yard.  The neighborhood kids started looking.  They rode bikes up and down alleys.  The police were called.  Still no one could find her.  And then ……

The Easter story is full of “where is he” times. 

Where is he?  Where is the one who will betray Jesus?  Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”  Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.”  (Matthew 26:25)  That one was easy. 

Where is he?  Where is the one who will deny Jesus?  “I tell you the truth, Jesus answered, “This very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”  (Matthew 26:34)  But he denied it before them all.  He denied it again.  Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”  (Parts of Matthew 26:70, 71 and 74)  Where is the one who will deny Jesus?  Peter was hiding in the courtyard and then went out to the gateway.  He heard the rooster crow.

Where is he?  Where is Jesus?  Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  (Matthew 26:36)  Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled.  (Matthew 26:57)  They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.  (Matthew 27:2)  After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him.  Then they led him away to crucify him.  They came to a place called Golgotha.  (Matthew 27:31, 33)  Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb, that he had cut out of the rock.  He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.  (Matthew 27:59)  He is not here:  (Matthew 28:6)  He is not here?  Then where is Jesus? 

It was easy to find the one who would betray Jesus.  Jesus named the one who would deny him.  But the words “He is not here” brought shock and fear and disbelief.  If he is not here, where is he?

Still no one could find her.  And then ……  And then she came out of the house.  “Where were you?” everyone asked.  “I was playing hide and seek.  I crawled way back under the desk but I went to sleep waiting for you to find me.”  (I am so glad I only knew about this after it was all over.)  One more important part of this story is that little Miss Kailyn had forgotten to tell her parents she was playing hide and seek.

HE IS NOT HERE

THEN WHERE IS HE?
He is not here: he has risen, just as he said.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.
He has risen!  He is not here.

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen!
Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:
‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,
be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’

(Mary Magdalene to disciples)
They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
(Jesus speaking to Mary Magdalene)
“Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father.
Go instead to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”


Matthew, Mark, Luke and John might not agree on exactly who went to the tomb that morning, but they all agree on one thing:  HE IS NOT HERE.  HE IS RISEN!

Kailyn had not told her parents she was playing hide and seek.  They did not know what was going on.  But Jesus – Jesus had told his disciples exactly what was going to happen.

Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:
‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,
be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them,
he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.

Oh, my friends, we do not have to ask the question:  Where is he?  We know where he is!!!

Now doesn’t that just make you want to jump with joy?  To lift your hands in praise?  To bow your head in gratitude?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16


Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Amen and Amen

Friday, April 07, 2017

HANDS

Our minister finished a sermon series on hands.  This series focused on the hands in the Easter Story, but it got me to thinking about what the scriptures say about hands?

One of my favorite is Psalm 63:4 –

I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

As I looked up various scriptures, I found hands which:
deceived (Jacob & Isaac)                                held up other’s hands (Moses)
lapped up water to drink                                 were laid upon others in healing
built an ark                                                      belonged to God

Also hands which were:
pierced                                                            clean
clapping                                                           lifted
lazy/idle                                                           eager
helping                                                            feeble
reaching out                                                    working
angry                                                               prayerful

My imagination kicked into full gear and I pictured hands:
drawing water at a well                                  dropping stones
lowering a friend through a roof                     destroying a temple
tending sheep                                                  feeding the hungry
raising the dead                                               washing feet         
breaking bread                                                driving nails

Finally there was only one more set of hands to think about. 

My hands!  Are they hands Jesus would take into his and say, “Mary you have made good use of your hands.”?

What should my hands – our hands do?  They should worship and they should serve.  How would you answer the following?

Worship:  Does the Word of God feel comfortable in my hands?  When holding the Bible do my hands feel as if they are holding something valuable and familiar?  Can my hands be still as I quietly sit with God?  Are my hands lifted in praise when my Spirit soars?  Are my hands able to reach out and take the Bread and Cup?

Serve:  Are my hands kept close to my side and only used to serve those I love?   OR   Do my hands reach out to others?  Do I use my hands to wipe away a tear?  Do I use my hands to offer food to those in need?  Do my hands help lighten the burden another carries? 


Oh, Lord, please show me how to use my hands to worship and serve.  Amen