Tuesday, September 11, 2018

September Hope - Never Forget

Today is September 11, which is a very emotional day for our country. This is a day where as a country, we pause and remember the horrific day our country was attacked. We remember the devastation, the loss of life, mourning and grief of so many families.  The pictures of the attacks still play in our minds when we remember this day, along with our feelings of helplessness and unbelief. 

On this anniversary of 9/11, the theme rings out "We will never forget".  This day is forever etched in the heart of America.  We are bound together by our memories and the strength shown through the selfless acts of unity. 

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In our family, September 11 is also a day we will never forget. It was a Sunday and as a family we went to church, enjoyed the afternoon together and then went in different directions for the evening. Our middle son Josh went to a get together at a friends house. My husband went to church services at our home church while I went to participate in a business meeting at a church I worked at.

Just like each person can tell you exactly what they were doing when hearing of the 9/11 attacks, I remember every detail of hearing the news no parent ever wants to hear.   The business meeting I was at was just dismissing and as I got up to leave, my husband was there.  "We need to go, Josh has been in an accident."  Moving swiftly out the door, more news kept coming.  It was a 4 wheeler accident and he had been life-flighted to a hospital an hour away. 

When those impossible moments of life come, God can bring unlimited help as well. As we gathered at the hospital, family and friends joined us. Josh had suffered a fractured skull and had a brain bleed. There was some ear and eye damage as well.  But he was alive and we were so thankful. After a week in the hospital he was able to come home to begin the journey to recovery.  During one of those days, this photo was shot of a rainbow outside the hospital room. 



The beginning days of this crisis felt like they would last forever.  But each day we continued on with therapy, doctor appointments and healing. Josh was down, but he was not out. He is a fighter and an overcomer.  We put our faith in God and He pulled us through. We will never forget that time and the feeling of fear and helplessness, but as we look back now, we see God's hand and help with us every step of the way.

There are times like today to look back and never forget.  But then it is time to turn back to look ahead and remember with thankfulness where God has brought us. And firmly resolve to follow and trust in the leading of the Lord.  


Friday, September 7, 2018

Consistency Connects, Faithfulness Fulfills

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Have you ever thought how many things we do out of habit?  We begin our day with probably the same routine each day and never think about the steps.  The beginnings of the day are done in a certain order and done day after day become consistent.  All through the day and our routines of life, we do things so automatically that we quickly become consistent - without even trying!

As one who loves to run, time is made in my schedule for running several times a week.  Currently, I run a route at the same time in the morning. Several cars daily pass me as they are probably going the same place at the same time each day. I know nothing about the drivers, but can label them as 'the girl in the white honda' or the 'grey ford truck guy' and almost pinpoint the time they pass me. After several weeks, these drivers give me a hearty and friendly wave. I am now a familiar sight for them. Even though we don't know each other, our consistency connects us. 

The trait of consistency may get a bad rap for flirting with the boundaries of boredom.  We surely need times of spontaneity in our lives, but consistency can also be a good thing.  It is the building block of faithfulness, which leads to dependability. It has been said that, “the greatest ability is dependability.” There is great truth to that statement. The Bible stresses in several places the importance of Faithfulness. It is a characteristic of God, especially toward His people, and it should be a characteristic of His people.  It is about being dependable, reliable, consistent, trustworthy. 

The Bible says, Proverbs 20:6 "Most men will proclaim each his own goodness,
But who can find a faithful man?" It’s difficult and it’s rare to find a genuinely faithful person. People value faithfulness whether they talk about it or not.

My morning run consistency began with a decision followed by action that was done again and again. Leadership teaches that true change will not come about until something new or different is done every day. 

Here are a few characteristics that may get our faithfulness started:

Having the Right Values:  
  • A faithful person knows what’s important in life and what isn’t important in life.
  • A faithful person knows how to invest his or her life and how not to.
  • A faithful person makes their life count.
  • A faithful person knows the significant from the trivial.
A Faithful Person Cares for Others Interest, Not Just Their Own

Contemporary culture says “What’s in it for me? What’s my needs, my ambitions, my desires, my goals, my hurts, my values, my profit, my benefit?” It’s very selfish, self-centered. It's always asking 'what’s in it for me?'
The Bible teaches that faithfulness is a choice. I can choose to change my attitude so that the focus gets off myself and what’s best for me and instead say.  “What’s best for others?

If there is one quality that will help you continue serving and living for the Lord, it is the quality of faithfulness. If we will finish the race that the Lord set before us, then we need to make the decision to be faithful to Christ and His cause.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

New Week - New Zeal

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I'm not trying to be a "Debbie Downer", but it is almost Monday!  It is true that the weekend is on the way out, but look - a new week is on the way in!  

Let's learn to make friends with Monday. There is something so fresh and new about the beginning of the week. Last week is gone, lessons learned can be made right, mistakes made are in the past with a clean slate ahead. It's a do-over if we will embrace it.

A good devotion, Scripture or promise from God can set the tone for the week. It can put in our heart an eternal perspective, an attitude that looks beyond our circumstances to trust and faith in God who loves us and has great plans for our life.  YOU MATTER - You make a difference!  

This Sunday as I walked the halls of the church I've attended for 20+ years, there was such a familiarity, which although comfortable, often puts me in auto mode. Speak to this person, answer this question, sing the familiar song, hear the Scripture, so much can be done out of habit. 

But, the Bible speaks of rivers of LIVING water flowing from our hearts. It speaks of newness of life and boundless opportunities to be salt and light in our world.  Christians are called to lift one another up and be a voice that encourages. These things force us to step out and put some bounce to our steps, to be intentional and ready to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is a new, daily or weekly challenge that when embraced can energize us and fill us with renewed vigor. 

A prayer found in a devotion recently is a cry of my heart.  This is my prayer for the week and I hope it will bless and encourage you as well:

"Dear Lord,
Don't let my zeal for You grow dim. Don't let complacency hamper my spiritual growth. Manifest Yourself to me today in a new and deeper dimension. As much as I know, teach me more!  I don't want to merely survive, I want to thrive."  

Will you join me this week in seeking God in a heartfelt way?  I can't wait to see what this week holds!  

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Be Refreshing!

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The road we live on is a small, rural road with a few twists and turns. The country road is lined with telephone poles which are very close to the road. There is one spot in the road where the road take a shift and a telephone pole is right there, very close to the road.  That shift could easily take you by surprise and allow the vehicle to drift into the pole. I have a 16 year old new driver and am aware of things like this!  But, someone else is very aware of the danger of this portion of the road and put some reflective tape on the pole which alerts drivers at night and makes them aware of the pole.

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As a mother, I am thankful for the person who did this.  They saw a need and spent time and effort to meet that need. There are numerous needs all around us. Many that we can do nothing about. But what about the ones that we can?  It doesn't need to be a huge need, just one that we become aware of.  Proverbs 3 tells us "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so." Translating it means....if you can do something about it...do it. 

'In the power of your hand' puts the responsibility on us. It is a perfect balance of ownership and diligence. It is not overwhelming, but empowering. Often we are quick to say within our self what we cannot do. Needs are vast all around us.  Most of them we cannot meet. But may we never excuse ourselves from doing what we can do. 

Doing good takes some diligence and being intentional.  It takes an eye that seeks the good of others and always is alert for opportunities to do good. It doesn't have to be huge.  Sometimes a smile or kind word (which is in most everyone's hand) is what is needed. A good deed or listening ear can be valuable gifts that do good at the right time.

Jesus describes a 'living water' that flows from the heart of a Christian. It is an influence that is contagious, that is refreshing and since it points to the source of all things good - Jesus, brings newness and great love.

David Jeremiah shares..."Here is an image we can visualize.  As you move through your day, meeting people and tackling jobs, see the people around you as thirsty ground and imagine a river of refreshment flowing from you to them. Be a refreshing person today. Let the river of God's Spirit stream through you."

May we walk through this new week  with eyes open to do good no matter how small or how large. Be refreshing! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Other Side of Vacation

It's mid July and for us (and apparently MANY others) last week was vacation week. Ours was a special vacation - after many years of taking the children and making memories with them, life happens, kids grow up, get jobs, or become a teenager and don't want to come along anymore. So, sweet hubby and I took off on our own little vacation. Our first stop was to visit our oldest son and his wife.  A few days were spent enjoying them and a trip on a local lake.

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Leaving them, we traveled to a couple of places we had never been before.  Of course, my favorite place on earth is the beach:

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After a couple days there, we headed to Savannah, Georgia to tour the historic city. There was lots of walking down quaint streets, a riverboat cruise and romantic dinner with a view to the river.

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Those are our Facebook worthy pics to share our fun time.  But it seems after every vacation, I bring something home, a truth that will hopefully lodge deep in the heart and become something regular that makes life more meaningful. Usually it is something like learning to slow down and cherish each other and beautiful things like that!  

This time the thought was to 'return grace'.  To fully explain, let me take you to the 'other side of our vacation", the one that didn't make the Facebook posts or be displayed in pictures. I mentioned before of my love for the beach.  What I failed to say was that my sweet hubby doesn't share that passion. Basking in the sun for hours, only interrupted by swims in the ocean followed by long walks on the beach just isn't his passion. While I see the magic of the beach atmosphere, he sees hot, muggy, sticky and sandy. But, being the trooper he is, sat along side of me, smiled, endured and let me enjoy my beach time. 

As we ventured to the city of Savannah, it was absolutely beautiful. But...it was July and there was a lot of walking.  The riverboat cruise was something I was looking forward to.  Upon boarding the choice was given for the 3rd and 4th decks, the 4th being open air.  Since we were early, we spent a few minutes in the 3rd deck, which was air conditioned. Upon my insistence that we MUST enjoy the cruise in the open air, we made our way up to the 4th deck.  The sights were beautiful but again...it was HOT!  Blazing sun, humidity and little breeze blowing drove many of our fellow cruisers back down to the lower, cooler deck. Asking sweet hubby if he wanted to go down, he said no and we remained on the top deck. He is such a good guy!

On the way home, we decided to rethink future summer vacations due to the heat. It was a wonderful time being together and we saw some beautiful sights. But the most cherished memory was of sweet hubby giving of himself so that I could enjoy myself. Even when what we did wasn't his favorite thing, he graciously went along for me.  Romans 12:10 says..."Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;".  That was what sweet hubby did on the trip, deferred his likes and gave honor to another. 

My return home take away is to remember that example of selflessness.  In day to day life, it is so easy to become irritated, annoyed and sometimes just plain grumpy!  Giving honor to one another is not making yourself a doormat to be stepped on.  It is the act of thinking of another's needs and desires beyond our own. It is kindness extended instead of a sharp response. Words of blessing, actions that speak love, looking at situations from another's perspective are ways to begin implementing honor. Recognizing grace received is worthy of grace returned. Even if our loved ones don't generate the spirit of grace to us, God does. He loved us from our beginning.  God knew our hearts, where our shortcomings would be, how we would sin and break His heart...yet, He loved us, forgives us from our sin and daily loads us with His grace and compassion. His love is alive in our hearts and when we draw on it, can help us return grace.