Sunday, June 25, 2017

It Was Time

"The Lord replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'"
Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

It was time; my husband and I just stopped.  Continuing to move forward would have resulted in turmoil on many different levels.  Closed eyes, deep breaths, limp limbs - it was what was needed.  It was time to rest.  

As you know, I am a planner.  Many times it can be used for good results.  Other times, it can be detrimental.  My mind and my actions keep me moving - and in turn for my wonderful husband, he keeps step with me.  Maybe we aren't sharing the same projects, but we will find projects to do all the same.  The last six months, after our return from our Costa Rican vacation, have been exhausting.  Working full time plus jobs, and Juan changing jobs, is enough on its own.  Add some family responsibilities along with the usual chores, well that's some more.  The topping on the cake has been the numerous projects we have taken on, renovating our bathroom by ourselves, lots of painting, new flooring, etc.  Well, you can picture it.

I'm sure you can picture it because you have been there as well.  Constant movement, constant responsibilities, constant pressure - with no time for rest.  Moving from one project to one responsibility to another project - it all can be very exhausting.  Add into the mix all of the things to "think about" while this is going on, and neither mind or body can rest.  We think that is the best thing for all of us.  Keep ourselves busy.  Get stuff done.  Yet, that can hurt, both mind and body.  God didn't design us for constant pressure - God designed us to get rest.

There are so many examples of this when we read the Bible.  Of course, the obvious, that God himself rested on the seventh day after Creation.  There are also other times, as we read through stories in the Bible where people rested, under trees, with family, after battle.  So what makes us think we are any better than them?  Our verse for today is clear that when we rest, God is still with us.  When I think of our Heavenly Father, I see Him with me when I am doing something - worshiping, praying, working, serving, etc.  I typically don't see Him with me when I'm resting.

God wants us to rest.  God wants us to get rejuvenated and prepare ourselves for further service to Him and others.  Future service can only come when our minds are clear and our bodies are fresh.  Resting can be hard.  That seems like an anomaly, but it is true - at least for me.  To sit and do nothing, clear my mind and body, can be difficult - at first.  Yet, when I give myself time to do this, it is completely restful.  Today, when I rested, I thought of God saying, "That a girl!"  He's with me, even as I rest.

Take time this summer to rest.  Put the projects aside for a little while.  Leave the problem solving for another day.  Enjoy this world God gave us.  Sit on your front porch (as I did this afternoon), your balcony, your back stoop, your favorite couch cushion.  Gain a day for rest - with your family, by yourself - just rest.  Know that God WANTS this for you, for me, for us.  Rest, and know God is with you.

"Dearest God, we thank you for giving us words that help us understand that we need to rest.  The constant pressures of this life can lead to constant movement, constant thinking and constant stress.  Help us and be with us, God, as we purposefully take time to rest.  Restore us, strengthen us, and enliven us through this rest so we may continue to share glory to you.  In your name we pray, Amen."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Words of Truthful Instruction

"Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love."
Lamentations 3:32 (NIV)

We all know how powerful words can impact us.   Words can cut us deeper and have greater wounds than any knife.  Words can also build us up so we feel we are flying on a cloud.  During the past few weeks, I've spent a great deal of time thinking about the impact of words.  As I listen to people discuss situations, both at home and at work, I think about the meaning behind the words that are being shared.  During my time of reflection, I thought about what types of words I was hearing - and many of them felt as if they were words of instruction

This reflection took me to my dad.  He was a great man filled with joy, love, and faith.  His words, whether written or spoken, were always truthful.  Sometimes they were meant for comfort.  Sometimes they were meant for instruction. Yet, always they were filled with the truth.  As we were growing up, many times the truthful instruction could be painful.  My parents were more strict than others.  Each time I embarked on asking to do something that was out of our family's scope, it was met with the same answer - NO.  After being disappointed by not being able to do what others were doing, I just stopped asking.  It wasn't worth the disappointment.  

Of course, there were also the times when Daddy had no problem sharing truthful instruction, especially if I did something wrong.  That always was met with a "louder" voice, ensuring I received the message.  You get the point.  Again, it would make me sad, partly because I disappointed my dad, the other part because the "loud voice" was never a good thing.

Then, I found our verse for today.  Certainly as I grew older, I realized that when my dad would come to me with truthful instruction, it was because he cared.  That level of caring and love comes with a level passion.  Daddy didn't want me to make mistakes like he did.  Daddy wanted my life to be good and faith driven.  His purpose in doing that was his unfailing love.  No matter how bad the deed, he was still there.  His love was in His words and deeds.

Sounds a bit like our Heavenly Father, doesn't it?  Through His word, He provides us truthful instruction - ensuring that our lives are guided to the path and journey HE wants us to be on.  Yes, sometimes, the path we want to take is not the path God has planned for us.  Many times, that is when His words may seem louder than usual.  Yet, He does this not to make us feel guilty for our sins - remember Jesus took those all away for us.  He does that to help us hear the instruction He has for us.  Let's face it - somebody needs to tell us the truth and NOBODY does that better than Jesus!!

Words of truthful instruction, regardless of where they come from, can make us "grieve", feel bad, or even get angry.  Yet, let us take time when we get those words and maybe, just maybe, we can see that the instruction is coming from a place of unfailing love by the person sharing those words with us. That type of instruction is always a gift.  

"Heavenly Father, I ask that you help me to truly listen when you share words of truthful instruction.  Let me be reminded that they come from a place of love and caring, and that those words are for my benefit.  Take the guilt and anger away and replace it with reflection and hope.  In your gracious name I pray, Amen."

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Unsung Hero - Abigail

"Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, "Go home in peace.  I have heard your words and granted your request."  1 Samuel 25:35 (NIV)

"Keep the peace"!  How many times have we heard those words throughout our lifetime.  They can range in context anywhere from two siblings quarreling to armies battling.  I think as adults, we often do many things to try to "keep the peace".  Most people prefer harmony versus arguing.  What does keeping the peace look like?  Well, it could be one person putting aside their opinion of an argument so as not to let the argument continue.  It may be another person not bringing something up that could cause an argument.  Or it could be someone who intervenes to stop a battle from brewing.  

Hence we come upon Abigail.  Abigail's story is one of courage, yet humility.  She does something very brave to "keep the peace.  Her story involves her husband Nabal and King David (yes, the David and Goliath David).  David is now King and helped out Nabal's servants one time - ensuring their safety and well-being.  When David sent his servants to Nabal to ask the same of him, he answered with an emphatic, "NO" (very ungrateful guy).  As you can imagine, David, along with his many troops, didn't take this answer lightly and decided they were going to wreck havoc with Nabal. 

Along comes Abigail.  Nabal's servants went to Abigail.  They shared the goodness David had provided them and didn't believe Nabal was being fair.  They also shared that a battle was brewing.  Abigail gathered many provisions (wine, bread, sheep, grain, cakes, etc.) and she went behind Nabal's back to bring them to David and company - in order to keep the peace.  When she got to where David was, she offered a humble apology for her husband and gave him all the "goodies" she brought along.  It was then that David shared the words that are above - "Go Home in Peace."  

Abigail walked out in faith and courage to keep peace.  She didn't do it for the glory or the praise.  Remember, she did this behind her husband's back.  Abigail stepped out for peace.  How many times have we done the same?  As a parent, we may sometimes help our spouse to see things from our child's perspective to keep the peace.  As a child, we may help our parents see things from a sibling's perspective to keep the peace.  Outside of the home, it may also happen at work.  Helping to share information or feedback in order to help keep peace.  Typically, we don't do this expecting praise or thanks.  We step out in faith to keep the peace.

This type of stepping out is such a wonderful example of simple faith.  It takes faith in God that He will help the peace be lived out.  God was with Abigail as she approached David.  God is with us when we approach conflict.  He is there to help us keep the peace.  God granted David the words, "Go home in peace," to Abigail.  He says the same to you and me. "Go home in peace, Susan."  I don't know about you, but those words are truly the only praise I need to hear.

There is an ending to Abigail's story.  Upon her return home, her husband was in a drunken stupor.  So she waited until the morning and told him everything she had done.  As the Bible shares, "his heart failed him" and ten days later he died.  When David heard that, he asked Abigail to become his bride - and she did.  Isn't that the same for us?  When we are able to try and keep the peace, God blesses us.  It could be with the peace that we were hoping for.  It could be with greater understanding of the other party.  It could be with His love.  Chances are - keeping the peace can bring all three!  

The next time you think about "keeping the peace", remember our gal Abigail and the courage and humility she showed, and the grace that was granted to her.  Simple faith can bring simple peace.

"Heavenly Father, we thank you for the example of Abigail.  As she showed us, simple faith in you and courage to step out helped to keep the peace and saved many lives.  Help us to be like Abigail, keeping the peace, and may your love shine upon us.  In you peaceful name we pray, Amen!"

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Unsung Hero - Naaman

Doubt - it's a confusing feeling.  Think about the last time you doubted a situation, doubted a person, doubted intentions.  The insecurity and loss of self assurance is profound.  As much as I hate to admit it, there have been many times in my life when I have doubted.  I have doubted one's love for me.  I have doubted the work that I have done.  I have doubted my level of faith.  And yes, I have doubted my Lord.  I am not proud of those moments of doubt, but they are a part of my sinful nature.

Today, we read about Naaman.  Naaman was a soldier servant to a king.  Naaman had leprosy and was told by his servant girl that he should go to a prophet of the Lord for healing.  With permission of his king, he went.  Naaman's expectation was that the prophet would come out of his house and with "a magic wand" sort of event, he would be healed.  That is not what Elisha (the prophet) did.  Elisha told Naaman to go to the Jordan and dip himself in the water seven times - and by those actions he would be healed.  Naaman was disappointed with the words of Elisha and headed back home, not dipping himself.  Naaman doubted what Elisha told him.

Naaman's servants convinced him that he had "nothing to lose" by going to the Jordan.  So Naaman went, and as you would expect, was healed.  With humility, Naaman went back to Elisha said said the words that are stated above, "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel."  Naaman teaches us much in this small story.

As I've shared, there are times when we doubt things in our lives.  When those times arise, just like Naaman, I tend to figure out how I can take things into my own hands.  When the doubt involves lack of recognition (whether in emotion or work), I can fall into self-pity.   When the doubt settles into prayers that are unanswered, I can fall into a lack of praying and focus on what "I" need to do to fix things.  As you can imagine, my ways are never the right ways.  

What Naaman teaches us is to never doubt what God can give us - for His intentions are always right and true.  It may not happen in the way "I" intend it to happen, but it happens in God's correct and right way.  If we should doubt, let us come back to our God with humility and thankfulness.  How grateful we are that God forgives our sinful nature of doubt and brings us back to His righteousness.  Lift your doubt to God - He will bring you healing!

"Heavenly Father, thank you for the example of Naaman.  As I see how doubt can be rooted in may different situations, help me to always turn to you, God.  By your strength, by your direction, and by your love, lift my doubt and bring me to eternal healing in you.  In your gracious name I pray, Amen!"

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Unsung Hero - Andrew

"The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is Christ)."  John 1:41 (NIV)

The white tombstones.  The red, white and blue flags.  All lined up in a row.  There is something about the picture above that has always brought the words Unsung Heroes to my mind.  Each Memorial Day, it is hard not to be grateful for the thousands of men and women who have unselfishly given their lives to let us have the freedoms we have in the United States.  Yes, I agree, every day should be Memorial Day.  Yet, this last Monday of May has always brought reflection, and thanks, to the many who have died so we could have the freedoms we enjoy.

It made me think about the unsung heroes in the Bible.  There are so many who have given unselfishly of themselves in honor of God.  I thought it would be fun to explore some of these unsung heroes during the next 4-5 weeks.  I am certain that there are hundreds, but let's take a look into a few.

Today, I would like to focus on Andrew.  We don't hear a lot about him.  Yes, we know he was a disciple, but Andrew tended to take a backseat to his brother, Peter.  We read much about Peter and know at times he was a pivotal disciple.  Yet, Peter would have never have known Jesus if it wasn't for Andrew.  As our Bible verse shares, the FIRST thing that Andrew did was tell his brother, Simon Peter, that Jesus was there.  

Andrew was known as the one who brought people to Jesus.  He brought Simon Peter.  He brought the little boy who had the bread and fish to Jesus to feed the thousands.  Many times throughout the Bible he is referred to as Peter's brother, typically not referred to as just Andrew.  It seems as if Peter got the "limelight" and Andrew was in the background.  Yet, he brought many to Jesus and was more interested in saving lives than the notoriety.  

Remember, when we believe that we don't have what it takes to bring people to Jesus, let us be like Andrew.  He stood out in faith and just told people.  He shared the good news and brought the necessary people to Jesus to do outstanding things.  Yes, Peter may have been a primary figure in Christianity, but he never would have been without Andrew.  We all have Andrew moments - when we can bring those to Jesus.  We never know what those good people will do.  On this Memorial Day, please remember the unsung heroes of our military.  Also, remember Andrew - an unsung hero of the Bible.

"Dearest Jesus, please be with all the families that have lost loved ones who died in service to our country.  Those men and women fought for our freedoms, that we might be able to say your name proudly today.  We also want to thank you for the great examples we have of unsung heroes in the Bible.  Let us be like Andrew, bringing people to Jesus so that they can do mighty things.  In your name we pray.  Amen!"

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Solar Faith

Image result for solar panels
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  John 1:1 (NIV)

Everywhere I look these days, I see solar panels.  They may be on a house or on a company building, but they seem to be everywhere I look.  I went to Home Depot yesterday and there was a company selling them.  I thought about these panels, what they are meant to do, and how they service us today.

As you are probably aware, they help to generate energy.  The panels attract the light and they store it in batteries until you need to use the energy.  Actually, it's a pretty neat idea.  It's unbelievable what the sun can do for us, but better yet, that there is a way to store the energy from the sun to a time and place when your family or company needs the energy.

It made me think about God's word.  No really, stay with me on this one.  I thought about how the intent of these panels was to collect the sun's energy every day and store it until it is needed.  Let's think about the incredible power and energy of God's word.  When I read God's word, there is an energy that fills me up - it helps me to see things differently and provides me the energy to do what needs to get done.  It may be rising up from a difficult situation, gaining strength when I am weak, or putting love back into a broken heart.  Whatever is on my plate or in my heart, God's word gives me the energy to get things done.

If we steep ourselves into God's word, read it every day, we are doing what the solar panels are doing. We are storing up the energy that comes from God's word so it is available when we need it.  There have been days when my morning time with God can't happen.  Yet, when I'm driving to work, I remember something that I read from that great book or how it impacted my life and a smile passes over my lips and warmth drips into my heart.  Our Dear Lord is good, so good, each and every day.  When we read His word, and let it fill our hearts, we KNOW He will be there for us.  Simple Faith. 

It can be hard to find time to open our Bibles every day.  Yet, when we do, see it as Solar Faith, Simple Faith.  Get filled up with His Word, tuck those words away like stored energy, and bring it out and use it when your energy is low.  The words of God have been selected just for us.  For you, for me, and even for those who have yet to experience the love of Jesus.  Those words are for our hearts.  I pray that you find solar faith, simple faith.

"Heavenly Father, we thank you for The Word you have given to us.  We know the power that those words have in our lives.  Help us to continue to steep ourselves in your word, knowing that there will be days when we will need to call upon those words for energy in our lives.  Also, please guide actions in our days so that we might be able to share your word with others.  In your name we graciously pray.  Amen."

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Silent Friendship

"Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights.  No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was."  Job 2:13 (NIV)

Happy Mother's Day to everyone out there!  This Mother's Day, I am in Chicago preparing for a workshop I will be attending.  It was a bit odd not being able to see my mom and children this day, but that certainly didn't take my thoughts away from the day at hand.

As always, I have a story to share.  The other day, I was speaking to someone about what she could do for a friend of hers that was battling cancer.  I thought back on those days with many differing opinions.  There is a part of me that is very grateful for all the wonderful ways God blessed me through friends and family during that time.  Yet, I thought about a different way that was just as impactful, "Silent Friendship".  At first the person looked at me with an odd expression - of course I asked to explain.  

Sometimes, when the trials and tribulations of the day come knocking upon our door, many around us want to provide advice and counsel.  Nobody does this with malicious intent.  People like to help, and I can certainly relate.  Yet, some of the most profound times when I have needed help have come with someone just sitting by my side.  It's okay not to have words to say - many times we aren't supposed to say anything - especially when things are at their lowest.  Reflect above.  Job had absolutely nothing left in his life - NOTHING.  Yet, his friends came by and sat next to him - just "being".  They did that for SEVEN days - just sitting and letting Job know they were there for him.

The same happens today.  When trials hit us, many times as friends, we just don't know what to say.  Yes, even I struggle with the right words.  Yet, I don't think that's what God wants us to give each other all the time.  He just wants us to be there for each other - just like He is always there for us.  He knows our thoughts, he understands - yes he even gives us hugs and holds our hands - as our friends do for us.  Silent Friendship can be golden.

On this note, I have many wonderful people who have done this for me over the years - just were "being" with me.  One has been my mom.  When I was sick and days were tough - she just came over and was there for me.  That was EXACTLY what I needed.  Maybe she made a silent cup of tea.  Maybe she just sat and read her book - and just let me read mine.  Much was said in those days of no conversation.  The beautiful flowers in the picture are roses my mom gave me for Mother's Day.  Here's to you, Mom - and our silent friendship.

The next time you find yourself wanting to DO something or SAY something to a friend, contemplate that the greatest you may give them is just you "being".  God fills in for the conversation that isn't said.  Let him do what he does best - and may we do what we do best.  For all the mothers out there, I pray that you were blessed with a special day.  Let's face it, as moms, every day is a special one.

"Heavenly Father, help us to know that sometimes silent friendship can be the greatest give we can give to each other.  Just "being" can lead us to feel you, God, among us.  And there is NO greater person to have among friends that YOU.  Please bless all those who need some silent friendship today."

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Art of God

"Yet you, Lord are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand."  Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)

I received a rare blessing today.  I am travelling on business to Charlotte, North Carolina.  I've never been here before and since I got in a few hours early, I thought I would select one "tourist" spot to visit.  There were many to chose from, but today I headed to the Mint Museum (pictured above).  I'm not sure why the GPS had this address plugged in.  I'm not a huge museum person.   I can't remember the last time I was in a museum.

I will walk through a museum, but I've rarely been able to truly appreciate the art.  I admire those individuals who can look at art and it inspires them - I've never been drawn to art that way.  Yet, today for some reason, my heart took me to the Mint Museum.  My experience was dramatically different.  I truly believe God wanted me to see something I hadn't seen before.

As I viewed the beautiful sculptures and paintings, the craft and design work, my eyes were drawn to the stories printed beside the art.  I read about these artists.  Some artists were from the 1800's.  Some were more recent.  Yet, each artist had a story - a reason to capture the world as they saw it.  All of the sudden, the art had meaning.  I found a new beauty in the art that I had not seen before.  As I walked through the rooms, so silent and quiet, it brought my heart to my Lord and the wonderful passage for today.

Just as the artists I read about today had a story to tell with their art, so our Lord has a story to tell through us.  He is the artist, we are His canvas.  He created us with His hands to be able to tell a story - HIS story.  Through our lives, He has worked us, through the joys and tribulations, to create a masterpiece - HIS masterpiece.  Imagine - being God's masterpiece.  The more I thought about this, the greater my heart was drawn to God.  I owe it to God to be the best piece of art I can be. 

If my life tells His story, then I want to ensure it is a great story.  I want to be the best piece of art I can be - so that He, the artist, is glorified.  That means making good choices, living in God's light - the artist's light.  It means reflecting His greatness to those who view me.  It means I need to work on becoming His masterpiece.  That may seem like a tall order.  Yet, there is GREAT news with this tall order - He will be there with us, to guide us, to help us, and to encourage us.  There is no better artist than our Lord.  Will you join me in becoming a great masterpiece?  

"Dearest God, I ask your help as I try to be the masterpiece that you have created.  As the artist, you have a vision of what I should be to the world.  I ask your help in making that possible.  Help me to reflect the art that you want the world to see.  May your grace and mercy help me to achieve this.  In your artist's name I pray, Amen."

Sunday, April 30, 2017

False Expectations

"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked."  Luke 6:35 (NIV)

You've waited all week.  You have saved calories, ate that salad and drank that water - all in great anticipation of going out for dinner on Saturday night and having that slice of chocolate cake.  You get through dinner and order the cake, envisioning how wonderful it will taste.  You put your fork into it and savor it in your mouth and, BAM, it's not as great as you had expected.  All that work for something that didn't meet your expectations.  All that work for nothing!  Just for the reality check - "I" would ensure that cake was still gone!!

Maybe it is a different expectation.  Maybe your expectation is with a new job - wanting to get into a company that you had great expectations for - only to be let down by poor management and less than challenging opportunities.  Maybe your expectation is with a new appliance -  and learning that great new oven really DOESN'T have a self-cleaning feature.  Although all of these things can disappoint us, we can do something about the disappointment - look for a new job, purchase a different appliance, or, yes even go to a great bakery for a chocolate cake.

Yet, when it comes to our expectations in relationships, these disappointments can be more difficult to navigate.  We may enter a new dating relationship with high hopes of romance and chemistry.  As time moves on, the expectations you may have had that were initially being met seem to be drifting away.  We may have expectations of our parents or children, expecting that they will react in a certain fashion, only to be looking for a response that never comes.  The greatest disappointment may come from when we do something great for someone, and nothing comes back in return.  Whether that "good deed" has come through your time, energy, or material items (like money), when we have gone out of our way to do something and don't receive back a response, our expectations are shattered and we are disappointed (and yes, there have even been times when the disappointment can run into anger and rage).  Have you been there?  I have and the degree of hurt and disappointment can be overwhelming.

This past week, I was speaking to a co-worker about people's expectations - what they expect at work, in relationships and in life.  What we came to realize is that when we put ourselves out there, whether it is for people we know or don't know, we can have false expectations - expectations that are unrealistic.  It is one thing to have expectations on a great piece of cake or an awesome new job.  Yet, it is different to place outlandish expectations on others. 

As Jesus says in our verse today, our goal in life should be to do good - to those we know and those we do not know - and not to expect anything in return.  Do good and move on.  This is hard - at least I find it hard.  There have been occasions when I have done something for someone, and maybe all I was expecting was a thank you.  The thank you may never have come.  Have you been there?  Yet, if I were to have approached the situation with a "Jesus heart", there would have been no disappointment and only a happy soul.  Others have no need to reward us - but God will!  God gives us great reward for doing good - without our false expectations.  Living our lives the way God has instructed provides such greater blessing than anything we can expect in return.   

Jesus teaches us so much about who we are and who we can be.  I am sure I will continue to have expectations of things, people, and situations.  What I pray for is a heart that turns my reflection inward and not outward, to see the false expectations I may have set up.  When that happens, I also pray that a smile comes to my face and that a voice inside says, "Susan - you did it again."  May the love that Jesus has for me overcome all of my faults - and false expectations.

"Dearest Jesus, how many times I have entered situations with false expectations!  As I look to your word, I see very clearly that my mission should always be to do good - with only ONE expectation - knowing that at that moment, I am more closely aligned with YOUR expectations than anything else.  Help me to see, Jesus, that the one expectation I can always count on is your love.  In your gracious name I pray, Amen."

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Simple Faith

"Though you have not seen him, you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."  1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)

I know, not a very original title.  That's okay, because this week, as I write about the anniversary of this blog, it brings me to the very reason God has sent each of us on a path for him.  As I reflected upon the last four years and all that I have learned about others and myself through this journey, the picture above seems to sum it all up, the rainbow.  This picture was taken on our vacation to Costa Rica earlier this year.  When I looked out onto the horizon, I truly couldn't believe my eyes.  It was a perfect day with a perfect ending.  I looked at that rainbow and realized, just at that moment, that faith in so many things had gotten me to that point.

Before my story is presented, let's look at all the wonderful examples we have in the Bible of simple faith.  These are people who didn't complicate faith, but truly took our Dear God for all that He is - mighty and merciful.  It starts as early as Abraham, who walked up that mountain with his son, prepared to sacrifice him.  Talk about a simple faith.  He didn't complicate it - God asked him to do something and he was going to do it.  I certainly don't believe I could have done what Abraham did, but I also believe that Abraham had the faith that God was going to be there for him - regardless of the results.  

We move to Moses, who had no idea how he was going to rescue the Israelites.  Here was a man that had thousands of lives in his hands.  Yet, he walked up to Pharaoh and with the faith that only God can provide, walked his fellow Israelites to the Promised Land.  Talk about a simple faith - let's focus on Mary, Jesus' mother.  If there was someone who had incredible faith that God would take care of her and her baby, it was Mary.  At a very young age, she became a mother.  Not just any mother, but the mother of our Savior.  What a level of faith she had to have, knowing her journey from God was greater than any journey before.  

I never thought when I began this journey that it would take me to the place it has today.  I did have faith that whatever it was that God wanted for my life, I would listen (that certainly wasn't always the case).  This weekend, that journey took me to a wonderful group of women who were willing to listen to my story - the story that God gave me.  What a blessing was given to me that morning.  I met new friends, living out Jesus' love in their lives.  They inspired me to have continued faith in the journey God has set me on.  I ask that you spend time reflecting and believing.  Have faith that God has put a journey in front of you that will reap inexpressible and glorious joy!!  That is what He wants for all of us who have simple faith!

"Dearest Jesus, help us to have a simple faith.  Take the complications out of believing and set us on a journey where the simple faith we have in you and the salvation you gave to us can be lived out in our daily lives.  In your gracious name we pray.  Amen." 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Empty Hope

"They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus."  (NIV)  Luke 24:2-3

The shower!  When I think back to when my heart was broken and empty, those moments always take me to the shower.  It is there that I have always felt I can be me.  Nobody is watching, there are no expectations.  No 'having to stay strong', no 'keep a stiff upper lip', just me.  Reflecting on difficult times in my life, I remember feeling most empty as I laid my frustrations, my difficulties, my desperation, in the shower.

I remember when I was told I had cancer.  There was no crying, no pity party.  Yet, at my darkest moment, I remember being in the shower, scars, bald, and scared.  I remember when my dad passed away.  Arrangements needed to be made, things needed to get done.  Yet, when my heart was so empty, I was in the shower reliving last words shared and moments lost.

It was during those times, and many more, in the shower that I felt I had no hope.  I reflected; I cried; I huddled under the water; I was ashamed.  What kind of Christian was I that didn't have hope?  

I can just imagine what it was like when Mary looked into the tomb and didn't see Jesus - nothing!  Just linens but no body.  It was bad enough watching her Dear Lord suffer on the cross for a death he didn't deserve.  Talk about no hope.  Yet, when she went to the tomb with the spices ceremonial at that time, and didn't find any body, how empty her heart must have felt.  Empty tomb, empty heart.  

I'm sure my emptiness can't compare to that of Mary's, but I can relate.  I can also relate to the joy she had when she turned around and after a few minutes of conversation, realized she was talking to the risen Lord!  I may not have the real Lord standing in front of me in the shower, but there is a true joy when I share my emptiness with Jesus.  When I give him my emptiness, He fills me up with hope.  Just as Mary found hope for a new tomorrow when Jesus spoke with her, I also have found hope for a new tomorrow when Jesus speaks to me. 

Through the darkness of cancer, he brought hope of a new life.  Through the emptiness of death, he brought hope for eternity.  I realized, that as the empty tomb brings hope for us in the awesomeness of Jesus, so our empty hearts, when brought to Jesus, can deliver hope for new tomorrows.  The only way we can receive hope from emptiness is by going to Jesus.  When we go to the empty tomb of our hearts, we will receive the hope that keeps us going.

The next time you find yourself so empty, you just don't know where to turn - turn to the shower of hope that only comes from our Jesus.  Tell Him your emptiness, show Him your brokenness, and receive the hope of a life filled with love, grace, and mercy from Jesus.  May you all have a very blessed Easter of Hope.

"Dearest Jesus, just as the tomb was empty on that first Easter morning, our hearts can feel empty with the situations of the earthly life.  We ask, as we go to you with our emptiness, that you fill us up with the hope that only YOU can provide - the hope of an eternity with you.  Amen!"

P.S. - At this writing, I will have been sharing my thoughts for four years.  It's hard to believe that each week, as I sit to write, the Dear Lord provides me words to share with all of you.  I pray that this blog has been, and continues to be, a blessing for you.  It has been a joy and blessing to me.  Here are to the years ahead!!  Love and peace to all.  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Characters of the Cross - Roman Centurion

"And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!""  Mark 15:30 (NIV)

Here we are, the week before Easter.  These past six weeks, we have traveled the journey with Jesus to the cross, meeting those who came in line with him along the way.  Today, we meet the last person who was profoundly impacted by Jesus' death, the Roman Centurion.  

The Roman Centurion had been with Jesus during Good Friday.  He and his soldiers were the ones to beat and mock Jesus, nearly beating him to death.  He and his soldiers led Jesus to the cross.  His soldiers divided Jesus clothes.  The centurion himself is said to have been the one that pierced Jesus' side to ensure he had died.

Throughout the entire scenario, the centurion never stopped anything from happening.  He did his job as he was instructed by Pilate - never once waiving.  We don't know his thoughts along the way, but if he believed in Jesus, he certainly didn't share that with anyone - and certainly didn't stop the brutal actions.  Yet, the centurion had a special seat throughout the presiding.  He observed what was happening to Jesus, and he observed all those around Jesus.  During Jesus' final moments, he stood in front of Jesus, and confirmed that Jesus was the Son of God.  So what can the centurion teach us?

There have been many writings about the centurion, but when I read the scriptures, I can't help but see how he was brought to faith in a very special way.  He saw all the wrong doing and persecution.  In fact he was PART of it all!  He never tried to stop it - never saying it was wrong.  I believe he still had doubt, that he wasn't quite sure if Jesus was innocent.  Yet, as with many in the New Testament, when they saw, they believed.  When they had proof of Jesus being our Savior, faith ensued.  When the earth quaked and the temple curtains were torn, the centurion had his proof.

We may think that we are not be able to see Jesus face to face on earth.  We may not get to see him raise people from the dead, or watch him heal others.  We do have something the centurion doesn't, though.  We have faith.  We CAN see the power of Jesus in the miracles around us.  We CAN see his greatness in our own journey.  We CAN see Jesus face to face, when we look hard enough.  He is there.  We can learn from the centurion that we don't have to see Jesus face to face in an earthly fashion to know that he is truly the Son of God.  We can see Jesus through simple faith and experience his righteousness, his mercy, his grace and his love.  For THAT is when we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus is always there for us.  Instead of letting wicked acts happen around us, we can be the one who stands up in the name of Jesus!

On this Palm Sunday, as we enter Holy Week, I encourage you to continue your reflection.  On Palm Sunday, we rejoice in Jesus, as others rejoiced in Him.  On Maundy Thursday, we reflect on the Last Supper, and the upper room with Jesus and the disciples.  On Good Friday, we walk the journey that Jesus walked to his crucifixion.  This week is an emotional week - a time when we realize many aspects of Jesus and what He did for us.  Yet, there is one thing to always keep in mind.  Through each step of Jesus' journey - His love for us never diminished.  We still feel that love today - in every journey we take.  May your Holy Week find you deeply embraced in Jesus' love.

"Dearest Jesus, as we walk into Holy Week with you, may we reflect on each step you took on our behalf - the ride on the donkey into Jerusalem, the last supper in the upper room, the journey to Calvary, and the resurrection of the tomb.  Help us to read from scripture the words you have for us and may we simply have faith that you love us so that you died for our sins.  In your gracious name we pray, Amen!"

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Characters of the Cross - The Thief

"Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."
Luke 23:43 (NIV)

It's hard to believe that we are on the fifth week of Lent.  As we continue to explore different characters associated with Jesus' journey to the cross, we come to Calvary, and one of the most gracious acts of Jesus to date - his discussion with the thief hanging next to him.

Walking with Jesus on that fateful Good Friday, it is hard to believe that Jesus could even speak as he hung on the cross.  He had endured such incredible agony from the mocking, the beatings, the torture, the walk with the cross, the hammering of the nails, and now he hangs from a cross.  He is STILL enduring hatred from those who made the walk with him - the Pharisees, the soldiers and one of the people who hung on a cross next to him.  Yes, there was mockery from one who hung on the crosses with Jesus.

Yet, there was another one who began to realize.  There was one who, before Jesus' actual death, understood that Jesus was the Son of God.  The Thief!  The thief, who hung next to Jesus was asking Jesus to perform one last miracle, have one last effort, before dying.  He asked for Jesus to remember him.  The thief understood that he was on the cross for good reason, unlike Jesus.    The thief was bold.  The thief was brave.  The thief wanted to be with Jesus.

With dying breaths, Jesus redeemed the thief.  His graciousness and mercy poured out of him just like His blood and sweat.  How wonderful is our Lord?  Until the very end he was thinking of others and never lost focus of why he was on that cross.  With everything else Jesus endured that day, He still healed!  

Picture us as that thief on the cross, because we ARE that thief.  We should be next to Jesus dying right there with him.  Yet, because he hung on the tree timbers, we are set free from our sin.  Jesus shows as much mercy and grace to us today as he showed to the thief all those years ago.  Every day, Jesus tells us that we can be with him in paradise.  Every day, Jesus doesn't let us step foot to the cross we should be hanging on.  Every day, Jesus says to us, "You are set free from your sins."  HALLELUJAH!!  As we get closer to Good Friday, may we reflect on us on that cross.  May we also know the grace that Jesus gave us as he died on the cross - and may we feel His grace every day.

"Dearest Jesus - oh how you showed grace and mercy, even during your dying moments.  May we feel that every day, just as the thief on the cross felt it during his last moments on earth.  Let us reflect that you NEVER are too busy or too disappointed in us to show us your love.  Help us to have that same grace and mercy on others.  Amen."

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Characters of the Cross - Simon

"A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross."  Mark 15:21 (NIV)

The fourth week of Lent, and we are getting closer to the cross.  As we follow Jesus from the people who say, "Crucify Him", we move to the journey of Jesus carrying the cross.  It is so very hard to imagine that with all that Jesus had been through, the beatings and the crown of thorns, was not the end of his journey.  It became the beginning.  Now he needed to carry a huge wooden cross to Calvary.  That walk through town, as people were mocking him, must have felt like light years away from the palms and cheers just a few days earlier during Palm Sunday.

As Jesus was making his way to Calvary, the soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross behind Jesus.  The research I did about Simon was very interesting.  Certainly, Simon wasn't in the crowd saying, "Pick me, pick me"!  Chances were he was thinking more, "Why me, why me?"  Scripture doesn't refer to Simon "proudly" taking up the cross or "jumping at the chance."  He was selected to carry the cross to ensure Jesus got to the point of Crucifixion.  With everything Jesus had been through, the soldiers were unsure he could make the journey to Calvary, so they told Simon to carry the cross.  There is not much shared about Simon, except for one key phrase - he was the father of Alexander and Rufus.  His two sons became key Christians in Rome. 

The fact that Simon's sons had become strong Christians in Rome leads us to believe that Simon's life was forever changed by his carrying Jesus' cross.  As he carried that cross, he knew he was taking Jesus to his death.  What a truly heavy weight that must have been.  Yet, how Simon's heart must have jumped for joy when he realized who Jesus was when He rose from the dead three days later. 

Again, as we reflect this Lenten season, it is so very easy to see ourselves in Simon.  When trials and tribulations fall into our lives, we don't typically "jump to the chance" to endure difficulties.  Usually we are the ones asking God, "Why me?"  I know the times that God has asked me to carry the cross may have been so difficult without a full understanding of "why" like Simon.  Yet, days/weeks/months after, it becomes truly clear that my times of trials were used for greater faith in God or to assist others.  When those realizations occur, my heart does jump for joy - joy that God chose me to suffer in order to bring a better result.  

When life gets difficult and we think that "this cross we are bearing is too much", let's think of Simon of Cyrene.  May we better find ourselves understanding that the cross we are bearing is a bit of Jesus' cross.  At that point, I'm sure we will all try to stand a little taller, despite the heaviness of the cross, knowing that Jesus is with us - just like He was with Simon.  What do we need to do to bear that cross?  We need to have simple faith - faith that Jesus' death provided us the forgiveness of our sins and life eternal with Him.  What a joyous day that will be!

"Dearest Jesus, how our lives were changed by Simon.  As he carried your cross, Jesus, his life was changed forever - and the life of his sons.  Knowing that he carried your cross for you helps us to better understand ourselves when we feel the cross we are bearing is too much.  Help us to always go to you, Jesus, for it is in faith in you that we know you will help us to carry our cross here on Earth.  Let our lives, and those around us, forever be changed by how we carry the crosses we bear.  In your name we pray, Amen."

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Characters of the Cross - Those Who Shouted "Crucify Him"

"But He was wounded for our transgressions.  He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed."  Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)

This is the scene that I always find so ironic.  Just six days earlier, the people of Jerusalem were laying palms and shouting, "Hosanna in the Highest".  They were finally giving Jesus the recognition and praise that he so much deserved.  Six days later - just six days, people were shouting, "Crucify Him"!  

It is this scene that helps us to answer the question, "Who crucified Jesus?"  So many times we look to see who would do this to Jesus - who would put Jesus to death?  Sometimes, we focus on Pilate as the one we can say, "He did it!"  Other times, we focus on the soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross.  Then there are other times when we focus on God, who let his Son go through all of this.  Many times, though, we look to the people in the crowd.  When Pilate brought Jesus in front of the crowd, in hopes that they would release Jesus, they shouted, "Crucify Him"!  Pilate gave the crowd many other options so that Jesus could go free, but that was not to happen.  The crowd refused to set Jesus free.  So ultimately, it was the crowd that put Jesus to death, right?

Once again, during Lent and our opportunity to reflect, I ask that we take another viewpoint.  Were the members of the crowd responsible?  I believe it was ALL of us - the crowd, me, and you.  We are all there saying, "Crucify Him"!  When we look to blame others for this horrific event, we need to look in the mirror again, knowing that we are just as guilty as those there that fateful day, wanting to send Jesus to the cross.  Jesus went there for our transgressions.  Jesus took all of our sins with him to the cross.  It is MY sins that took Jesus to the cross.  It is MY sins that called out "Crucify Him"!  

Our sinful nature can cause us great guilt and shame.  Our sins can overwhelm us, cause us to lead a dark life, knowing that there is nothing we can do to take our sins away.  Yet, on that Friday when the crowd yelled out to put our Jesus on the cross, I was there, yelling out as well.  I was yelling, knowing that our Dear Jesus was walking my sins to the cross.  So when we ask, "Who put Jesus to death", know that we can't look to others - we need to look at ourselves.

As always with Jesus, there is good news.  We may have sent Jesus to the cross, but in doing so, we live knowing that our sins are wiped clean by Jesus' blood.  We know that in repenting of our sins, we have life eternal with Jesus.  We know that Jesus loves us unconditionally, each and every day.  "We know that we are Christians by His love"!  Take the time today to recognize that we sent Jesus to the cross, but we will also see Him in Paradise.  Live in that glory.  Don't live in the darkness of sin - live in Jesus' light on the world.   

"My Dear Jesus, I know that I was the one who sent you to the cross.  I was the one who yelled, "Crucify Him"!  I also know that you, Dear Jesus, walked to the cross with my sins on your back.  You did this because you love ME!  I can't wait for the day where I will see you in Paradise.  Until then, know how very grateful I am that you took the walk for me.  Thank you Jesus.  Amen."

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Characters of the Cross - Peter

"Immediately the rooster crowed the second time.  Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him:  "Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times."  And he broke down and wept."  Mark 14:72 (NIV)

Peter was a disciple that Jesus held very close to him.  Jesus loved Peter as he did the other disciples.  Peter, though, was very dedicated to Jesus and his time on this earth.  As we know, Jesus shared during the Last Supper, that Peter was going to deny Jesus three times.  I'm sure, if I was Peter, that I couldn't believe what Jesus was saying.  In fact, he even responds in Mark 14:31, " . . . Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.".  Obviously, Jesus knew what was coming, in so many ways.

Here is a person, Peter, that spent many years following the Chosen One.  He gave up his career as a fisherman to learn, grow, and do with Jesus.  He gave everything for Jesus.  So what would prompt him to deny Jesus, and not just once, but three times?  Let's go back to that fateful day.  Jesus was carried off as a prisoner.  People were mocking Jesus, calling him all kinds of names.  He was being questioned by Caiaphas and although he was answering yes to being called the Christ, they said they had heard blasphemy.  Obviously the situation didn't look good for Jesus.  Did Peter really want to associate himself to Christ at that point?  Things weren't bad when people were laying palms as Jesus rode in on the donkey, but now, things had turned very dismal.  Peter was being taunted by others for his association for Jesus.  Maybe to save his reputation, maybe to save his life, certainly to fulfill prophecy, Peter denied Jesus three times.

Once again, during this Lenten season, we self reflect.  You may think, "I would NEVER deny Jesus.  I would ALWAYS share that he saved my sins."  Have you?  Would you?  Over my years, I know there have been times when I have denied Jesus.  Maybe not outwardly, but through my words and actions, I may not have been standing in the courtyard shouting, "Yes, I believe in Jesus."  When might you ask?  Over the years, it may have been in front of friends that weren't Christian.  It may have been at work, when others may not have shared my save values.  I may not have said, "I don't follow Jesus", but I may not have stood up the way I should have.

I do know one thing, any time that it has happened, I have felt like Peter.  On my way home from school or work, I wept.  I would beg for Jesus' forgiveness and when I knelt at the Lord's table, the guilt would resurface and then be taken from me.  What a gracious Lord we have.  Even when we reject him, even when we turn our back on him, even when we deny him or disown him, He doesn't disown us.  He continues to understand; he continues to teach; he continues to LOVE us - unconditionally.  Imagine if someone denied you - not just once, but three times.  How would you feel?  Me?  I would have a bunch of resentment - not sure I could get past that.  Yet, not our Lord!!  He loves us so and NEVER leaves us.  

Did Jesus ever forgive Peter?  Not only was their forgiveness, He provided Peter and the other disciples, with the Great Commission, sending them out into the world to tell others about what He had done for us.  Do you think Peter learned from this?  I'm thinking, under all accounts, that he certainly did.  Have I learned when I didn't stand up for my Lord?  I have.  I am hoping that as I get older, my courage has increased.  I no longer laugh off being a Christian, I stand up for being a Christian.   As in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old is gone, the new is here!"  

Peter reveled in his new creation.  I know that I do as well.  How about you?  Is it time, once again, to self reflect and look at what we see in the mirror?  What are you seeing?  If it isn't a new creation, then let's ask God for forgiveness, so we can walk with Him with our heads held up high.  It's simple.  We just need to have simple faith!  Prayers for a continued blessed Lenten.

Oh Dearest Jesus:  Yes, we know there have been times when we have denied you, when we have not stood on the top of the world to proclaim your name.  Please, continue the work you have started in us, so that we will never deny you, but stand up in your name with glory.  Help us to be a new creation - new in your love."

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Characters of the Cross - Judas

"Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them." 
Mark 14:10  (NIV)

As we begin our series during Lent, Characters of the Cross, I wanted this to be an opportunity of self-reflection for us. I believed that starting with Judas was appropriate.  It is how we begin the walk to the Cross.  When we reflect upon the Passion Story, we tend to look with disdain upon Judas.  Yet, if we reflect close enough, will we see more than Judas?  Let's take some time to do so.

Judas' background is an interesting one.  His parents were Sadducees, and actually disowned Judas when he started following John the Baptist.  When he became a disciple, he was seen as one who was very educated.  He was actually the "treasurer" among the disciples.  Judas was always conflicted about Jesus.  While listening to Jesus, his mind saw the strength of Jesus.  He believed in Jesus, but some say they wonder if he truly loved our Savior as the other disciples did.  During times of educating the disciples, Jesus would talk to Judas directly - helping him with the understanding of Jesus' message.  Judas had difficulty with that.  There were times he resented the instruction, as he had ideas of how Jesus should be acting (showing more strength than humility).  It seemed like the last straw was when Mary used an expensive perfume while washing Jesus' feet, in honor and worship to Jesus.  When Judas objected to this, Jesus shared the good reason Mary was doing this. (John 12:6).  Judas began to look for a way to turn against Jesus.  The chief priests were the ones who would help him.  As we know, Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  Later, when he fully realized what he had done, he threw the silver back to the chief priests and took his own life.

Reflecting on Judas, I can't help but take a hard look at myself.  We may look at Judas and see a traitor, one who wasn't on Jesus' side.  Yet, the more I reflected, the more I realized that I, too, have been Judas during my life.  Yes, I may have the knowledge of what Jesus has done for me, but have I "given my all" to him every day?  Have I had ideas of how Jesus should be acting, what He should be doing?  I know that I have given Jesus advice over the years.  Who am I to do this?  The more I look at who Judas was, the more I realize that I have seen myself in Judas.  Yes, it is very sad to admit, but it is the truth.  I am so very thankful that our Dear Jesus has been patient with me, has forgiven me, and doesn't hold that against me when it comes to loving me.  His unconditional love for me has seen me through the dark places and into a wonderful light.

As we reflect on Judas, let us be truthful to ourselves.  Have we seen a bit of Judas in ourselves?  Let us take the time to be honest and be repentant of that behavior.  Let us pray to our Jesus and ask Him to focus our eyes to the cross, each and every day, for each and every situation.   May the blessings of this Lenten season follow us through our lives.

"Dearest Jesus, although you knew of the betrayal long before it occurred, how difficult it must have been to know that one of your closest confidants was going to be the one to bring you to the cross.  Jesus, I know I  have fallen into Judas' character over the years.  Thank you for bringing me out of that darkness.  I pray you continue to focus me on the cross.  Amen."

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Dressing Room

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."  Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

I'm not a big shopper.  I shouldn't say that - I'm not a big clothes shopper.  Put me in the middle of a gourmet grocery store and I'm like a kid in a candy store.  Put me in a mall, and it's all about "What do I need and how quickly can I get out of here."  I am certain that most of this falls into a very self-centered world where I don't think many things look good on me.  Hence, why bother going to get more stuff.

Yet, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself at a store looking for a couple of new items.  After checking out all the options, I selected a few and entered that lovely place of truth - THE DRESSING ROOM.  Yes, with mirrors all around, it is the one place that nothing can escape - no imperfection, no "little too much here or there", it's all there for you to see.  As I tried on a few things, trying to determine what didn't look too bad, I remembered the wonderful verse for today.  This made me smile.

I realized that no matter what fabric or color I might wear, no matter what shoes go with what outfit, no matter whether it is turtleneck season or not, the clothes that are on my body are just that - clothes.  They are truly there for the purpose of ensuring I am presentable for those around me.  At home, when relaxing, I can get away with the best two pieces of clothing ever invented, sweats and a sweatshirt.  When I am off to work, much to the pleasure of my coworkers, I choose something more presentable.  

When I look at the concept that clothes are truly there for the purpose of being presentable for others, this verse is even MORE important.  Am I dressing myself in the things that are to be shared to others?  When I slip on that turtleneck, is kindness joining my presentation?  When I pull on those slacks, is gentleness a part of my wardrobe?  When I read those precious words, it helped me to see that the real things that I put on every morning shouldn't be about the right shoes with the right outfit, but more so, the right attitude for the day. 

Am I clothing myself in compassion for others who may be struggling?  Am I clothing myself in kindness for anyone that I might meet?  Am I clothing myself in humility, truly knowing that I don't know it all?  Am I clothing myself in gentleness and tenderness of words and action - especially to those closest to me?  Of all, am I clothing myself in patience, willing to hold my words and actions before speaking out of turn?  Wow, when I look at the things I should be clothing myself in, those red pumps don't seem nearly as important!

I believe I have had days when I have worried more about wearing the right blazer versus wearing the right behavior.  I realize that throughout the day when I might look in the mirror and I'm not happy about the reflection, it may be regardless of the great outfit.  It is on those days that I fully understand what God is trying to say in this verse, am I putting on the clothes that God wants me to wear?  For as far back as the Bible goes, it has been important for everyone to wear the behaviors that make our days and nights have true meaning, clothing in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Yet, here and now, these words and these behaviors are even more important.  

When you get dressed tomorrow morning, what are you going to put on?  With that nice tie, can you find a bit of compassion?  With that great blouse, can you find some humility?  Let's try it - let's put on the clothes that God wants to see on us - and may we reflect the behaviors of love.

"Dearest God, How one simple verse can change our perspective!!  We ask that as we put on our clothes every day, that we are reminded of what YOU want us to wear, the behaviors that show your unconditional love for us, and the behaviors that we can share with others.  May our clothes reflect your mercy for each of us, and may they radiate the joy of our salvation.  Thank you for clothing us with all that is necessary.  In your gracious 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.