Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Playing it Safe


  I'm a mom of six children.  For the past two decades my life has been dedicated to these small people.  I've cleaned up after them,  hunted for their lost belongings, folded their underwear, made sure they had hats and gloves for one half of the year, and sunglasses and sunscreen for the other half.  I've searched store after store for coveted birthday gifts and followed them into the bathroom to make sure they brushed both top and bottom.

 

I've also felt a real need to keep  them alive.  It wasn't without a small sense of satisfaction that my oldest turned eighteen a couple of years ago and I felt like I could finally breathe.  He didn't die on my watch.  I did my job.  Honestly, keeping these kids safe consumes more of my energy than I ever dreamed it could!

 

Fingers don't go in electric sockets!

 

Put your seatbelt on.  Keep your seatbelt on!

 

We don't stick table knives in our mouth!

 

Look both ways, I said!

 

No roller skating in the street!

 

Hold my hand.

 

Get off the ladder!

 

A-S-P-I-R-I-N does not spell C-A-N-D-Y!

 

Get down from the roof!

 

Do not spray the trampoline with the hose.  Do not spray your brother with the hose.

 

No jumping from the top of the stairs!

 

 

Last Saturday was no different.  I hustled two of mine through the parking lot and into the store with at least a half a dozen admonitions to, "Watch for back-up lights!"  and, "Get over to the right - don't walk down the middle!"  And, of course, "Don't pick up candy off the parking lot!  Eww...put it down - keep walking!"

 

Finally, I commented to my three-year old, "As long as you hold my hand, you're going to be safe."  She was struggling  against my larger hand, wanting to be independent and walk alone.  I continued, "If you don't stick close to me, you're going to get hurt.  I can't protect you unless you obey me!"

 

The words had no sooner left my mouth when I felt an insistent nudging on my heart.

 

As long as you hold my  hand, you're going to be safe.

If you don't stick close to me, you're going to get hurt.

 

It's not just truth for willful preschoolers, is it?  If I want the blessed coverage of God's fellowship and protection, then I have a responsibility to stick pretty to close to Him, don't I?  The moment I step away from the Lord, convinced that whatever lures me is better than what He offers, I have just allowed myself to become vulnerable to ensnarement, pain, and injury.

 

May we choose to always walk hand-in-hand with God.
 
2 John 1:6
 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
 
 
 
* image courtesy of bestwalls.net


 

 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thankful Thoughts


It was given to me as a birthday gift. Just a small, tastefully designed book with a straightforward title: My Gratitude Journal. The instructions were simple: “Start any time. Jot down a sentence. Keep at it day by day and you’ll create a treasury of gratitude to be cherished for a lifetime.” The potential impact was profound.

Missing the blessing

How many times have I taken things for granted? Things like health, strength, sight, family, and friends. Even the beauty of the trees robed in their fall splendor can escape me when I’m focused on a full schedule.

Taking just a moment to record something I’m thankful for in my new journal will help me stay mindful of an important truth:

O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 107:1
A thankful heart

God’s will is for me to thank Him (click to tweet). And what a perfect time of year to begin a list of things I’m thankful for:

*my family & friends

*health & strength

*the opportunity to share His truth through writing

*God’s Word

*His love & continual presence

*the changing seasons

*a warm home

*wonderful pets

*a church home

*challenges that help me look to the Lord

Your turn


What about you? Are you quick to thank the Lord for things in your life? What step will you take to praise Him today?


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, You are the author of my life. Thank You for this life You’ve given me with all the blessings and challenges. I know Your will is for me to be thankful and draw close to You. I give thanks to You, for You are good: Your mercy endures forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


*Maria I. Morgan is passionate about sharing the truths of God’s Word with today’s generation. Originally an inspirational author and speaker for adults, Maria has widened her circle to include kids. She lives in the muggy South with her husband, two retrievers, and two Maine coon kitties – the perfect mix to fuel her creativity for years to come!

(Just in time for Christmas! You can purchase a copy of her children’s book, “Louie’s BIG day!” on Amazon. You can also find her devotionals and download a free copy of her eBook, God Speaking, at www.mariaimorgan.com)  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Our Faithful God



            My CSI husband, our two year old son, and I had just stepped into an elevator to take the grand tour of our county’s newly built Sherriff’s office and jail.  It was the first time the little guy had ever been in an elevator, and unfortunately, we never thought to tell him the crowded, little room would move. When he felt it begin to rise, so did the decibel level; he screamed all the way to the 5th floor.

            The other passengers, mostly policemen and their families were kind and understood why he was frightened. Isn’t it ironic that the child was terrified in the safest place imaginable? He was with his Daddy, several off-duty policemen, and in the most secure building in the county. But he didn’t know that.




            Fast forward several decades and now it was my turn to be terrified. Recently retired, my husband and I tried the “snow bird” thing and headed to Florida for the winter. He became deathly ill shortly after arriving, and soon I feared for his life. It seemed every time it looked like he would improve, another complication would set in.

 I called his doctor back home. I called our friends and family. I prayed — a lot. I found peace during Sunday services at the church we had discovered a few years before. 

            One Sunday, a woman introduced herself before the service and asked how I came to be there. I poured everything out and the congregation prayed for my husband that day. The people from that church stood by me for the rest of my husband’s hospitalization.

            As I was living through this, God’s people surrounded me with his compassion.  Every time I needed someone, the perfect person would appear. There was the chaplain who put her arm around me when I was struggling to communicate with the hospital staff, and said, “Before I was a chaplain, I was a masters prepared nurse, and you are absolutely correct.”

            A woman from the church sat with me in the hospital and gave me the backbone to intercede for my husband at a pivotal moment.

            In moments of prayer, I wondered why God held me so close and, at the same time, allowed my husband to suffer so much. It then occurred to me that the sovereign God of the universe does not owe me any explanations. I recalled how Job had responded to his friend Zophar’s assessment of his situation. In his suffering, Job remained faithful to God and declared, “Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him.” (Job 13:15 NIV). Now that’s faith!  

            Even if God had given give me an explanation, I may not have understood it anymore than my two year old son could have understood how an elevator worked.

 In the end, God was merciful and my husband made a full recovery. 
 Looking back, I realize that when I thought my husband was going to die, God was holding him in the palm of his hand. Like my son years ago, he was in the safest, most secure place possible. But I didn’t know that.



            Since then, I have learned how faithful our great God is, and like Job, I will put my hope in him no matter what.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Moving Forward into 2015: Replacing Fear with Faith

Last month, we talked about lesson one of moving forward: letting go of the past. Today we’ll move to lesson two, getting rid of the fear that keeps us frozen in our tracks. This year I’ve tried to stay true to the focus of moving forward. However, it took me over half the year to realize that when I move forward, things change and I wind up in a different place.

Scary! The “what ifs” started flooding my mind. What if I don’t like the change? What if this new place is harder to deal with then the old place? What if? What if?

I John 4: 18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.” NKJV

My perfect love? No. The perfect love that God has for me, the unconditional love He showed when He sent His Son to die on my behalf. That love can drive out all fear. When the tormenting “what ifs” come, I can counter them with steadfast faith. God loves me and is with me wherever I go.

David declared in Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; who shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” NKJV

David had much to fear in his life as he dealt with keeping his sheep safe from lions and bears, being belittled by his brothers, facing a giant, and being hunted by a king. Through it all, he honestly admitted his struggles, but always ended with declarations of his faith in God. When fear attacked him, he let his faith in a God who never let go, answer and all was well.


If I am to move forward, I also must meet all fear with faith, not in myself and my abilities, but in a God who has a perfect plan and purpose for me. I rehearse all the good God has done for me in the past and remind myself that He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

So what fears are attacking you today that need to be met by faith? Ask God to bring darkness to light. When each fear is exposed, hold it up to a God who has kept you through the hard times and to the light that is His Son Jesus. As Corrie Ten Boom said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

We can trust Him. He is faithful and through God our fears are overcome.


Father God, we lift up our fears to you today and ask you to show us any that we haven’t yet identified. We choose faith. Faith in You and Your perfect plan and purpose for us. Thank You that no weapon formed against us will prosper and that includes fear. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

http://www.jenniferhallmark.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hold On Tight

She’s very small, and she’s just learning about her world—how to maneuver in it, how to manipulate it, how it all works. It’s a big and confusing place, but she has two parents who are loving her through it all—guiding, encouraging, praising.

She has learned that her hands are great for playing with her beloved toy turtle, for holding her bottle, for grabbing a nose, for throwing crackers on the floor when she’s all done, for knocking down a tower of blocks.

But sometimes she wants to do something with her hands that they are just not ready to do yet. The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Turning on the Elmo app on mommy’s cell phone. Pointing to the owl or the cat. When that happens, she knows what to do.

She takes the hand of the big person who is holding her and she just hangs on tight—when she’s holding on, it’s easier for her to stick out that little pointer finger and find the desired button, the right picture. And if the big hand should nudge her, just a bit, in the right direction, that’s okay, too.

When she’s bigger, she’ll be able to do all those things herself. But for now, she’s very small—she’s just learning, and sometimes the world makes her nervous. We’ll let her hold on tight, for now.

Sometimes, little one, just holding on tight is all that I can do, too.

Church Art Pro




Thursday, November 6, 2014

Priceless, not Expensive



I watch my daughter admire her new glasses in the car’s rearview mirror.  I’m impressed with how seamlessly the temples slide over her ears, tucking in behind her hearing aides.

With the wisdom of a 12-year-old she comments, “Wow.  I’m expensive.”

“Oh sweetheart,” I chuckle, “You are priceless.”

I think about her comment on the drive home. Yes, she’s expensive.  A drawn-out international adoption that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Medical expenses that reached six figures but, thankfully, are now resolved. Hearing aides paid for out-of-pocket. Today, the glasses. Next week, she gets braces.

I’m afraid to add it all up.

 “You’re right. She is priceless, not expensive. And so are you.”

There it is again, the Holy Spirit’s voice reminding me of what I am too quick to forget.

Our physical bodies, our time here on earth, that comes with expenses. All of the costs mentioned above were not things we had planned for in our budget. But God provided the resources when we needed them. Every single time.  

Sometimes He provided with a big flourish, giving me a big “Wow!” moment: like the seat next to a stranger at lunch that led to a job offer, or the unexpected check in the mail that helped meet adoption expenses, or the relative with literally empty cupboards that hit a deer with his car and had enough venison to last him through the winter.  

I like it when God shows off.

But sometimes He’s more subtle, like the car repair bill that was less than expected, or the paycheck that comes twice every month, or the $10 bill you find shoved in the pocket of your jeans. 

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

These costs here on earth, they’re just expenses.  The cost of the cross? Now that’s priceless. 

And God’s got them both covered.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Trusting the One whose got it covered-

LuAnn Kern

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bony and Dried Out

I think I've figured out my problem. My bones are drying out. Slowly, unnoticeably, day by day,  week by week. 

A few weeks ago my SS class studied the story of the Valley of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37. I've read the story in awe and fascination a few times, but I had never taken time to read into it beforeOur study helped unveil the prophesy for Israel that God showed Ezekiel through a miracle.     
Ezekiel was "carried out in the Spirit of the Lord", and made witness to an army of dry bones return to life.  He watched as "bones came together.... and sinews and flesh came upon them, … and skin covered over them... but there was no breath in them."  

The Israelites had grown so fond of their idols for so long, they had grown as dry in spirit as those long dead, now reduced to bones in the sand: dry, brittle, and easily broken, with no hint of the Water of Life that once coursed through their bodies.   

Reading the Scripture and the commentary was the "easy" part. But when our study led us into application for us - believers in the here and now - it got a whole lot more personal.  

In what way have our spirits, our souls, our lives become like the "dry bones" scattered in the desert of Ezekiel's vision?  Yikes.  We talked about many examples, and I recognized myself in all of them. Have you found yourself in any of these situations??

  • Putting off reading your Bible and having "quiet time" occasionally, then more often, until eventually not taking even a few minutes to spend alone with God becomes a habit. Before you realize it, it's Sunday again, and you haven't opened your Bible for a week
  •  Worse yet, you find your Bible is coated with a fine layer of dust and try to remember the last time you read. Or prayed.  
  • Hiding your light for fear of offending a stranger, or someone who doesn't agree with you.  Not speaking up or taking a stand when a door opens. Too many times finding yourself saying "I should have said" or "I could have done" Not being Jesus' mouthpiece and servant -  instead letting fear or  pride have control.  
  •  Putting your children's, your husbands, your team's, or your own needs/desires/will before the Lord's will and desire for your life, for example:  Soccer, softball, hunting, football, the lake, the mountains, or... my nemesis... sleep.  

Do any of these niggle at your conscience?   

Watching sports, taking your kids to play soccer, taking time for yourself, being agreeable....none of these are bad things(Even on Sunday.)  But we have to be careful not to let our priorities shift and let anything become an idol - something we answer to and let control our lives.  

"Idols" have many faces, but all of them have one thing in common: they first distract us, then captivate us, and eventually can draw us away from God.  All the while, our Lord sits on His throneever unmoving, but never unmoved    

Those dry bones Ezekiethat saw come together and take on flesh but had "no breath in them"? God didn't leave them that way. He commanded Ezekiel to prophesy, and "breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceedingly great army."   

So too can we, when feeling as dry and lifeless in spirit as ancient bones scattered on the valley floor, receive new breath and live again.  As God told the Israelites through the prophet "I will put my Spirit in you and you will live." That was God's word to the Israelites, and it is also His promise to all who call on His Name in belief, confession, and repentance.   

Oh, what an army God could rise up if all who were dry in spirit would call on His name!

The next time you say, "But I can't," stop and think. Is that true, or will it just be really, really hard? 

I'm asking myself that question along with you, and I'm finding I  have more than a few idols I still need to cast aside. Ouch.  

God never runs out of breath; call on Him today, right now, and let Him breath new life into your spirit. I'm praying with you. 

I'd love to know that I'm not alone in this. Chime in if you're feeling dried out, too, so we can pray for each other. 

Blessings and prayers, 
Cat 


  





All Scripture from Ezekiel 37, King James 2000

Photo Credits:
"Valley of the Dry Bones:  georgesjournal.net
"Breath of Life": unknown 
"My Idol": ChristArt.com

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