Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dearest Father

"May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word."  2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17 (NIV)

Growing up in the '70s was an experience.  As with any generational decade, the '70s brought us so many epic trends - 8 track players, mood rings, pet rocks and the great disco music.  Parenting in any generation can prove difficult and the '70s did not disappoint.

Yet, there was my father.  He truly didn't care which decade it was, he was going to be the father that he believed he needed to be.  Growing up in a coal mining town in Pennsylvania, heading off as a Marine to the Korean War and attending William and Mary proved that he had many life experiences to share with his children.  He was many things for us:

A Disciplinarian:  We knew who ruled the roost at our home.  He had strong expectations and when we fell out of line, we knew it.  Although we may not have known it at the time, that discipline served us well growing up and ensured we received his strong values.
A Knowledge Provider:  Each day had a learning moment in it.  Whether it was a grammar lesson on a paper I had written or how to identify certain trees by their leaves, Daddy always exported knowledge.
A Problem Solver:  Nothing beat the way Daddy solved a problem.  Whether it was chewing gum to stop a leak in the bathroom or duct tape to fix ANYTHING, Daddy solved problems HIS way.
A Caring Soul:  He may have been a strong disciplinarian, but we always knew he cared.  There were moments where he listened and shared his feelings in such great letters we all keep today.
A Loving Heart:  We ALWAYS knew Daddy loved us.  Through each word, each hug, each phone call and especially through his wonderful smile, we knew that he always loved us.

I was fortunate to have such a great father.  Yet, as wonderful as my father was, he had flaws.  We all have flaws - mine show every day.  There is a Father, however, who doesn't have one flaw, Our Heavenly Father.

His is a disciplinarian, helping to guide us away from poor choices with the Holy Spirit.    He is a knowledge provider, giving us all the knowledge we need in The Bible.  It's just our job to go and get all the knowledge that He has given to us.  He is a problem solver -  the best I have encountered by far.  He knows each problem I have and always solves them, as long as I give them over to Him with a willing heart.   He is a caring soul, always listening to me.  There has yet to be a time when I have talked to my Heavenly Father when He wasn't willing to listen to me - no matter how many times I've turned my back on him.  Most of all my Heavenly Father has a loving heart - He is always there loving us.  We can feel His love through each word He speaks to us, each hug He gives us and even through the wonderful smile He shines down on us each and every day.  

My Dad, who has been in paradise now for 17 years, I miss so dearly but I am so grateful for all  he gave me.  For our Heavenly Father, help us to know that each day should be Father's Day.  May our praises, our worship and our love shine on Him always.

Dearest Father, thank you for helping us set aside a day to truly appreciate our earthly fathers and all that they give to us.  May we appreciate them and love them as they love us.  Help us to also remember that you are truly the Father who provides everything we could ever need -  including eternal salvation.  Let our joy surround both our earthly fathers as well as you, our Dearest Father.  In your loving name we pray, Amen!  

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Waiting

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."  Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

Waiting has never been my strong point.  I believe that God has provided many wonderful gifts for me, but waiting is something I may be getting better at, but have always struggled with.  How have I gotten better?  Waiting in the grocery line when I have a time line used to put me over the edge.  Now, I force myself to find something positive.  Maybe it's smiling with the people in front of me.  Maybe i think about the meals I will make with the food.  Waiting in traffic?  Even that has me a bit more jovial.  I know I can't go anywhere so I think of a certain situation I might be able to problem solve or enjoy the music.  Overall waiting, yes, I'm getting better.

It's the "tough" waiting!  Waiting for my mom's surgery to be scheduled.  Waiting for certain things to happen at work.  It's the tougher waiting that I still struggle with.  I am a firm believer that God controls the time lines of our lives.  Yet, sometimes, it doesn't make the wait any easier.  I pray. I read my Bible.  I go to my devotions.  I try to do all the "right" things that I believe will influence God's timing.

Then it is a certain verse, like the one for today, that jolts me out of the "my time" thinking and into the "God time" thinking.  When I truly search these verses and personalize them, they become the peace and calm to the chaos and frustration. How do I do this?  For instance, I read today's verse saying:

   Wait for the Lord SUSAN, be strong SUSAN and take heart and wait for the Lord Susan.

When I put my name into the verse, I fully understand that the Lord is not sharing information, He is talking directly to me.  I know, then, that it is time to be Waiting on God - waiting for His very perfect time, not my time.  Often I remind others of this, and need to remind myself of that as well.  My dear husband is great at being that gentle reminder - sharing the frustration and the peace.

Our time lines are just that - OURS.  They are not the time lines that God always has for us.  When we start orchestrating our time lines into His journey, the peace turns to chaos.  May we all remember this as we have moments in our lives when we need to wait.  Although we may struggle, He is telling us that the time is not right now.  We need to be cognizant of that, so very aware, so that our chaos can turn to peace.  It's not easy - hey this is life.  Nobody said it was going to be a relaxed journey down the river.  When we rely on our Heavenly Father, though, we gain the strength, the courage, the patience and the love that only He can bring.  Take our waiting to God - He will provide!

"Dearest Jesus - help me!  I need you to help me see what I sometimes can't see myself - your perfect timing.  In moments when the wait is longer than "I" want, help me to be still and know that it is YOUR time that is truly perfect.  Bring peace to my chaotic waiting period.  Let me trust in you always.  Amen!"

Sunday, June 3, 2018

One

"...one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."  Ephesians 4: 5-6 (NIV)

It's my Saturday morning ritual.  I get up (fairly early) and brew that one cup of coffee.  Just a single cup of coffee the way I like it.  As the coffee was brewing, it made me think of how much I enjoy that one cup.  The rest of the week I am "moving and shaking" to get chores completed before I head out the door for work or church.  On Saturday, it is my one time to take my time - and watch the coffee brew.

As I was anxiously awaiting my coffee, thoughts of "one" came through my mind.  I thought I would take today to share some of those thoughts with you.

I am God's chosen one - He made just one of me - for the purpose of fulfilling His path.
    "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.  The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession."  Deuteronomy 7:6

God will always be with me - although I may stray from the rest - He will stay with the one, with me.
   "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?"  Luke 15:4

Jesus was the one, the ONLY one, to die and rise again for ALL of my sins, so I may be saved.
   "For Christ also suffered once for sins,the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.  He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit."  1 Peter 3:18

God knows me, one person, and I am worth everything to Him.
   "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."  Luke 12:6-7

As wonderful as my one cup of coffee is to my Saturday morning, I learned through all of these verses that I am that wonderful in God's eyes.  There are certainly times when I don't believe I am worthy of God's wonders and blessings.  Through grave sin, it is hard to believe that He would still love me.  Yet, through the verses of "one", I can see that I am precious in God's sight - ALL the time.  May we always remember that the One who created us, the One who sustains us, is the One who loved us enough to die on the cross for as little as One, but certainly for all mankind.  

"Dearest God, sometimes it is hard to digest the thought that you are with me, just one person. Yet, your heavenly word helps me to see that although I am one, you are with me always.  You will never leave me or fore sake me.  Help me to always remember that, especially during difficult times, so that I may always revel in your love.  Amen!"

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Freedom

"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."  Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

To me, Memorial Day is truly an important remembrance in the United States.  It is on this day that we remember those who gave unselfishly of themselves to gain and keep the freedoms we enjoy every day.  Holding close to our hearts ALL who have given of themselves is truly so important.  Growing up, it was very clear to our family that Daddy was a Marine Sergeant.  It wasn't as if he spoke in abundance about the Korean War.  In fact, he rarely discussed it.  Yet, we knew he was a Marine and he was very proud of that.

Fast forward a few years and our son is off to serve in the Navy.  We couldn't be more proud of him and all he has accomplished as he dedicates his life today to keeping our sacred freedoms.  As Christian searched for his journey after high school, many routes were sought.  Yet, his heart always told him to serve, and now he is doing just that.

Members of our Armed Forces have given, and continue to give, so much of themselves so that the rest of us can enjoy the freedoms that we have been given.  On this Memorial Day, it's our chance to remember those of the military that are gone as well as thank those who continue to serve.  These individuals sacrifice much for our freedom.

Certainly, the one that sacrificed everything for us is Jesus.  He entered this world knowing how He was going to leave it.  He walked through his 33 years on Earth knowing that His true mission was to die for our freedom.  Freedom from what?  Freedom from sin!!  By His death on the cross, he released the hold of sin on each of us.  Such a freedom could not have been won any other way.  No, He didn't die so that we wouldn't sin anymore.  We sin each and every day, by what we do and by what we don't do.

The freedom we have in Jesus is that our sin would not end in the despair of hell.  Our freedom means although we may sin, by believing that Jesus set us free from this sin, we will be with Him in paradise!  We need to do one thing - we need to believe - for this freedom.  We need to stand firm to the teachings of Jesus and not fall away.  When we do that, we have the many wonderful freedoms that faith gives us.  By far, the greatest being the freedom of living a life where our sin is not held against us.  We are free to be with Jesus in heaven!  

"Dearest Jesus, During this Memorial Day holiday, may we remember all who have given of their lives to protect the freedoms that we have.  You, Dear Lord, are at the top of that list.  We know that by your death and resurrection, we are free from the chains of sin to be able to live with you in paradise.  Help our thoughts to be drawn to this each and every day.  In your glorious name we pray, Amen!"

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Greatest Help




"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."
"John 14:26   NASB

Every year, in our little farming town, we get to see this sight.  A number of the local farmers get together and plow one of the larger fields.  It's something to watch.  Almost a dozen farmers, on their plows, helping each other out.  No pride, no egos, just pure harmony.  Every time I see that vision, it reminds me of the importance of helping our neighbors, as well as asking for help, when the time arises.   It's humbling to see this sight.

Which leads us to today, Pentecost!  Today is the day where we celebrate the Holy Spirit.  As a Sunday School teacher of 2-3 year olds, we always found sharing the Trinity to be difficult - especially the Holy Spirit - not necessarily someone they can see pictures of.  As an adult, I'm not sure the understanding of the Holy Spirit can be any easier. 

Some say that the Holy Spirit is your Christian conscious.  He helps us to decide what is right and wrong and can be a counselor in these times of decision. Another reference shares that He teaches us, that He helps us to learn new and wonderful aspects of our faith.  This is shared above, "...He will teach you all things."   Also, it is said that the Holy Spirit helps us to recall all the wonderful things that Jesus taught.  Again this is referenced in our verse for today, "...and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."  

I believe that the Holy Spirit is all of this and so much more.  I like the definition of the Helper!  The Holy Spirit is actually referred to this in more than one place in the Bible.  In John 14:16, Jesus shares, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever."  When I see the Holy Spirit as a Helper, then it makes all of the other references come into focus.
  • He is a helper that leads me in the right direction - a holy counselor
  • He is a helper that teaches me when I don't know things - especially concerning my faith
  • He is a helper to remind me of Jesus' love for me
  • He is a helper to take me back to the scripture when I need strength and encouragement
  • He is a helper - someone that is with me always
When I see the Holy Spirit as a helper, I know that there is ALWAYS someone there, someone within me, who can ALWAYS help me.  ALWAYS!!  I love my friends and family, but situations arise and they are not always be my side.  The Holy Spirit is always by my side, every moment of every day.  Understanding the power that this statement brings fills me with a sense of peace - knowing that whatever comes my way, my own personal helper, the Holy Spirit, will help me.  Thank you local farmers, for reminding me of the one that is always there to help - the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving to us the gift of the Holy Spirit.  To be filled with you helps me to understand that I am never alone.  Whatever situations may come my way, may I be reminded that with you in me, I can come through it victorious in you.  May I realize the help the Holy Spirit provides to me and may I help others with that same conviction.  In your wondrous name I pray, Amen.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Strength in Women

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)

I am a product of the '70s.  My formative years were spent as the feminist movement was starting to take hold.  I remember Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" as an anthem for many and Mary Tyler Moore was my idol.  Although only in my teens, I remember women burning their bras and seeing protests on the news.  It was certainly a time that influenced me greatly..

During that, my mom didn't get all entangled in what was happening in the world.  My mother stayed true to her beliefs and values.  She believed in loving God, being a great wife and an awesome mother.  She believed in making great family meals and providing for her children.  My mother was a teacher - a working mom.  I vividly remember that on Friday evenings, as we were looking forward to the weekend, my mom was starting the laundry and beginning the weekend chores of shopping, cleaning and cooking.  There was ALWAYS church on Sunday, followed by Sunday School and Sunday dinner.  She wasn't burning her bra in celebration of being a woman, but was grounded in God, prayer, and love.

I may have loved Mary Tyler Moore and all of her independence, but my greatest influence has always been Mom.  Mom always dressed well, but it wasn't her universe.  Mom would do her makeup, but it didn't define her.  Mom is defined by her faith.  Plain and simple.  As the years have moved forward and I have grown into a wife and mother, I look back and realize my guide and counsel has always been my Mom.

Looking back upon the great women of the Bible and my Mom, I see many similarities.  They all believed that God was their strength.  From Mary who didn't question the angel Gabriel when he told her she was going to be a virgin mother to the bravery of Esther, there are plenty of examples that show us women how to live a life that praises God.  Mom's greatest strength is her prayer life.  On more than one occasion, when one of my friends may be facing a great difficulty, they will often say, "And can you bring in the 'big guns'", referring to my Mom.  She goes to her Lord in prayer often, and has taught us to do the same.

There are many gifts I have been given by my Mom.  Yet, the best by far is her trust in the Lord and the ability to 'talk' to him ALL the time.  She does't need to protest or burn her bra.  For Mom it is about being strong in the Lord, and strong in life.  She seems to do it effortlessly, yet, I know it takes a lot to be that strong.  Her strength lies in Jesus.  As I grow, I continue to strive for that strength - the strength of Mary, of Esther and of Mom.  Thank you Mom, for your greatest gift - your faith.  I love you!!

"Heavenly Father, thank you for the wonderful influence of mothers.  As we walk through life, may we be blessed with mothers and care givers who provide us a strong faith in you to handle this life on Earth.  When their time on this Earth is complete, we know that you will care for our mothers in heaven.  Help us to have the strength of the mothers in the Bible.  In your name we pray.  Amen."

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Bonding Together




"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28   (NIV)

A week ago I was nervous.  I was anxious.  I was worried.  Enough to keep me up at night and concerned during the day.  I was travelling abroad.  Not just, "Yea, we are going on vacation to Costa Rica!"  No, this time I was travelling very far away from home - to a very new country.  I was going to China for business.  There was much that had me concerned:
     Would I be able to handle the 15-hour plane ride?
     What if I couldn't understand anyone - who was really going to speak English?
     Was the food going to be too different (not that I can't stand to lose a few pounds)?
     Most of all, I was going for work - what if I couldn't get my message across?

Here I am, a week later.  Yes, I survived the plane ride and the food is great.  Many people I've met speak great English - and when we can't communicate in our native tongue, well, body language works wonders.  Those I have met, from waitresses to company associates, couldn't be any more friendly.  They have made me feel welcomed and part of the team.  It has been an incredible and rich experience.  I am truly blessed.

Yet, it made me think.  All that worry and all that anxiousness.  All those sleepless nights.  For what?  God had this one - in fact he's had this particular concern for a LONG time.  As we face many difficult scenarios around this world, many times we see it is a lack of understanding of the other person.  Instead of facing the "fear" and having a positive viewpoint, we make assumptions, we wonder and we get anxious.  Sometimes, we let those anxious moments drive our viewpoints, creating false understanding.  

God created us.  He created ALL of us.  Regardless of where we are in this great big world, He put us there for a purpose - His purpose.  Whether we are in the United States, China, or another part of this planet, God created us.  He is truly the great equalizer.  It doesn't matter if we are Jew/Gentile, male/female - we were created in His vision.  Yes, some of us may not be baptized Christians, but for those of us who are, shouldn't we walk in the vision God has for us - to truly accept ALL people?  

I have learned much while in China.  I've learned how to eat with chopsticks!  I learned how to say thank you in Chinese.  I've learned that sweet potato leaves are delicious.  Yes, some of the great fundamentals.  What I've learned MORE is that meeting new cultures is wonderful and fascinating.  Learning about struggles for people in a foreign country brings perspective.  I've also learned that making new friends in a new country is exhilarating.  The picture is of my friend Sophia on our visit to Hong Kong.  God has this great big world in His hands - the whole world - not just my small section of it.  Let's rely on His goodness and His purpose as we encounter ALL of His people.  Here's to another great week ahead!

"Dearest God, thank you for sharing a new part of your world with me.  Help us to always come to you with our anxious moments and remember that your purpose for us is far greater than anything we can imagine.  Thank you for being the great equalizer of us all.  In your name we pray.  Amen"

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.