Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cozy Home

"Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.  My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them."  John 14:23  (NIV)

Today, I was outside with the sun shining doing some yard work with my husband.  I was marveled by how warm it seemed.  Then the clouds came over and the wind picked up and I was reminded that it is autumn, with a chill in the air.  Yes, that made me smile!!

Of all the many things I absolutely adore about this season, I believe one thing that really makes me happy is that it is a time when a homey, comfy way of life begins.  As the spring and summer brings lots of activities and busyness, the fall starts a time when a more homey time begins - at least at our home.  This means more fires in the fireplace, warm meals (the homemade mac and cheese is in the oven), and candles are always lit.  It provides a cozy feel to our home.

I love that feeling of coziness, a warm blanket to cover a chill, a hot cup of tea, or even the glow of a single lamp.  I reflected a bit on why that feeling is so wonderful to me.  It boils down to the sense I get of love and security.  Whether the warmth comes from a fire, a blanket or a cup of tea, I feel cozy and happy.  The warm meals are my way of telling my family how much I love them - so they can also feel "cozy" and happy.

The verse for today talks about Jesus coming to those who believe in Him and making home with those people.  Wow, talk about a cozy home!  Imagine for a moment, Jesus showing up at your front door and coming in to stay for a while.  The warmth He would bring would light up the house and certainly create a grand sense of coziness.  I can only imagine sitting in Jesus' presence while He speaks of His love.  That certainly brings a smile to my face.

Remember, though, that Jesus IS in our homes.  He is there through the Holy Spirit, who is in each and every one of us.  We have the ability to speak of Jesus' love to each other in our homes.  Words of kindness instead of destruction.  Deeds of love versus fighting.  We can bring the coziness that Jesus wants for our homes through our words and deeds.  The next time that tensions rise in our homes, let's move forward in the Spirit that Jesus wants for all of our homes - a Spirit of love, joy, happiness and peace - a comfy home filled with Him.

As you light that candle, remember the Light of the World.  Stoking the logs in the fireplace?  Remember the blaze of wisdom.  Covering up with a blanket?  Remember how Jesus covers us with his love.  Keeping our homes cozy begins with keeping Jesus in our homes.

"Dearest Jesus, as we embark on the autumn season, come into our homes.  Fill us up with a sense of coziness, a sense of love and peace that we can give each other.  May we invite others into our homes and give to them as Jesus gives to us.  In your gracious name we pray, Amen."

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Never Ending Battle

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."  Exodus 14:14 (NIV)

Last post on leaves this autumn, I promise!!  The colors this year were magnificent (of course, I say that every year).  It seemed as if the lack of water produced colors that were just amazing.  I truly thought it was going to be a different story.  Yet, as I drove down the roads of New England, I couldn't help but see all the beautiful glory that God had painted for us this year.

Yet, just as the leaves turn beautiful colors, eventually, they fall to the ground.  Typically, we get one very strong wind storm that forces all the leaves from their home on the trees to a blanket of color on the ground.  They are gorgeous, but it then becomes a chore to pick up all the leaves off the grass.  Usually, we wait for a calm (less windy) day for this event.  Not today.  Juan decided that he was going to get a start on this annual ritual, despite the strong winds.  Thus, the never-ending battle.  As he would make a pass to pick up the leaves, just as many seemed to fly down around him.  It seemed like he was fighting a battle that he just couldn't win.  

As I watched Juan take on this insurmountable chore (yes, I watched from afar), it made me think of how our lives can be so similar to this chore!  Our days can seem like a never-ending battle of chores, work, and demands.  Compound all of that with health concerns, relationship issues and other worries and it seems as if we are always fighting some sort of battle that we can't win.  I know when I feel that level of stress, it seems as if nobody is on my side and I'm in the battle alone.  

Let us never forget, though, that the Dear Lord is always there to fight our battles for us.  Among all of the stress and anxiety, He is there.  Among all the worry and demands, He is there.  Among all the chores and work, He is there.  He is there to fight our battle when we don't have anything left to fight the battle.  Instead of running like the hamster in the wheel, we just need to be still, find time with The Word, and realize that God is there to fight our battle for us.  It can be hard for us to do just that.  Let's be still and be WITH God, for when we do that, our battles seem less and our load seems to be lighter.

For the record, Juan did get a head start on the leaves and I believe it will be easier during the next couple of weeks to pick up the balance.  

"Heavenly Father, many times during the battles of our daily lives, we keep going and going, believing that we will succeed on our own.  Help us to know, Lord, that when we are still and dive deep into your Word, you will fight the battle for us - helping us to see "the leaves through the wind".  Amen!"

Sunday, October 16, 2016

True Colors

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;" 
Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)

As I continue to view the beautiful leaves in awe and wonder, I realized something this year that I didn't really make a conscious effort of noticing before.  The trees each have their unique hue to them.  Some are yellow, some are red, and some are orange.  Of course, there are others who haven't changed at all or are moving towards a brown.  In my mind, I always saw the trees' leaves as turning to one color on each tree.  This year, I saw the incredible difference.

As evidenced by the pictures above, the leaves themselves are different colors.  Some are a mixture of red and orange.  Others are a mix of orange and yellow.  Mix that together with a tree of those types of mixtures and the tree itself is filled with a host of different, collaborative colors.  It's amazing.  It is as if the trees don't have one true color, they are a mixture of many colors.

There are times people will say about others, "Oh, they are showing their true colors now!"  Have you ever realized that when someone says that statement, it is never in a positive tone?  Typically, this is when someone has been striving to behave in a "good" manner only to have a certain comment or situation bring out a different, less positive, response.  I think our true colors are more than the "negative behaviors", but different behaviors.

I believe that I am much like the trees.  I would love to be the vibrant orange all the time.  I always see that color as inviting and approachable.  Yet, there are times when I am the intense red (a bit filled with anger) or a timid yellow (yes, I can be timid).  There are also times when I am the muted brown (drab and blah) or a refreshing green (filled with newness).  It's hard to have a true color.  I think we are all a bit of the many colors that come together in a warm autumn breeze.  Isn't it all those incredible colors put together that creates the majesty of fall?

The next time we come across a person that may be showing their "true colors", keep in mind that it is probably just one of the many beautiful colors that they have - it's just up to us to see the mixture of the many colors that make up a wonderful person.  Remember that each person, in all of their colors, have been perfectly formed by God.  He is the true artist - the One who brings all the colors together.

"Heavenly Father, help us to remember that we all have many colors that make up who we are.  Instead of looking at those colors as a negative, help us to see all the wonderful colors that create the uniqueness of each person - for each of us has been made by YOU.  Amen!"

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Be Vibrant

"...even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you."  Psalm 139:12 (NIV)

Of course I was going to start writing about fall and leaves.  I'm sure you were all waiting patiently!   I absolutely adore the colors of the trees.  To me, it is a clear reminder how our Lord takes the time to paint this incredible picture every year.  This is the time of year that I slow down.  I take a look at the trees.  I smell the aroma in the air.  I take time in the kitchen making "autumn" goodies.  

In slowing down recently, I noticed something even more amazing.  Yes, the leaves on the trees are incredibly beautiful.  Yet, I think they are even MORE beautiful when the skies are cloudy.  The sunshine does reflect onto the leaves and they are pretty.  Yet, when the clouds cover the skies, the trees take on an incredible hue that seems to surround the tree in a stupendous view of color.  The trees are more vibrant when the days are cloudy.

This did make me think of all of us.  We have cloudy days, that is for certain.  The cloudy days could be filled with overwhelming difficulties and struggles.  Those days can seem insurmountable.  We can also have cloudy days that are just, well, not happy.  Maybe you can't pinpoint the troubles, but you know that it isn't a "sunshiny" day.  On those cloudy days, we have a choice, to be gloomy or vibrant.

Usually, we can be justified if we are a bit gloomy - life isn't picture perfect.  Those around you might even understand why you wouldn't be very happy.  Life can be tough and so can our dispositions.  What we need to remember is that we have someone to share our tough days with - Jesus.  In Jesus, we can share all of our thoughts, all of our difficulties, and all of our struggles.  

In Jesus, we can also find joy and thankfulness during those tough times.  With Jesus we are able to see things differently, have a different perspective.  We can see through the darkness to the light - the light of hope.  In Jesus, we can be the vibrant colors on a dark day.  It's not always easy, and it may not always be done.  What we can remember, though, is that we have a God who is faithful, who is loving, who is forgiving, and who is the Great Healer.  We have a God who is our friend, our joy, our hope and our salvation.  With all the cloudiness that may be around us, remember where you get YOUR light from - remember Jesus.  Be Vibrant on the cloudy days!!

"Dear Jesus, on cloudy days it can be hard for us to find goodness and hope.  When we are close to you, though, we know that your love is a comforting blanket for us.  We know that although we might feel desperate, our light can shine.  Help us to be vibrant on the cloudy days by being close to you, Jesus, to fill us with the light.  In your name we pray, Amen."

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Pick Up

"If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up."  Ecclesiastes 4:10  (NIV)

It's football season, and for those that know me - I love football.  As I was watching a game on television, I noticed something.  At the end of the play, once the tackles were made, typically one player would assist another one back up.  Sometimes, the player would actually have to pick the player up off the ground.  By offering a hand, the player on the ground found relief.  Many times, the player assisting the one on the ground was on the other team!  That's right, one person just genuinely helping up the other.

It reminded me of this special verse - about having someone else pick us up.  I know that I have had the blessings of many people who have picked me up when I was down.  I have been down physically (and my dear husband picked me up many times).  I have been down emotionally, completely drained without anything left in me, and my family and friends have picked me up. 

Coming back from being down can be tough.  Physically, it means trying to find a strong footing to move forward in better health.  If one has been unhealthy for a long period of time, rehabilitation is a step to recovery.  It's hard - getting better.  It's hard - relying on others.  It's hard - taking the next step.  Where we can be grateful is that we have people who can help pick us up as we continue to get better.

Coming back from being emotionally down can also be tough - sometimes even tougher than our physical ailments.  Being down, being depressed, having anxiety, or even a roller coaster of emotions can create havoc on us.  Yet, when we have people who pick us up and help us gain the strength to keep moving forward, we know we have been blessed.  Once again, it can take time for us to gain the strength to be emotionally healed.  We can be grateful for those who help us here as well.

 Probably the most difficult times I have endured are when I have even been down spiritually.  During those times, it can be tough to ask for help, spiritually.  People can see when we physically need to be picked up.  People can even see when we need to be emotionally picked up.  Yet, it is tough to see when we need to be spiritually picked up.  This is when I turned to my Dear Jesus, who was there to pick me up.  Through numerous prayers, He heard me.  Through numerous tears, He saw me.  Jesus was there for me, when I needed Him most.  He picked me up when I couldn't do it anymore.

It can be difficult to be the one who needs to be "picked up".  Asking for help is not easy for many of us.  Yet, doing so can prove such a great relief.  On the other side, being the one who is "picking up" another can also be a wonderful experience - many times far greater than being picked up.  Having the opportunity to pick up someone who needs help, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually, can have a healing factor on us!  

Look at the day ahead, look at the people you encounter.  Can you be the one who helps to pick up another?  Maybe it is a kind word, a warm meal, physically picking them up to go to a doctor's appointment, or saying a prayer for another.  Taking time out of our days to pick someone off the ground can be the best thing - for the other person and for YOU!

"Heavenly Father, many times we need to be "picked up" from the ground by others who can offer assistance.  Let us ask for that help and be grateful for those you surround us with.  In the same manner, help us to see those that need to be "picked up".  May we take the time to know that we can help others with an outstretched arm.  As always, Jesus, thank you for always being there to pick us up!!"

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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.