Stoop Down

 A few of our neighborhood Geese

November 30
No one around here likes having geese on their property.  They are ornery, messy critters.  They are a fabulous lesson in teamwork and camaraderie though.  While, I'm not certain that they work on restoring one another if they fall into sin, I do know they lighten the load taking positional turns in their "V" flight formation and they have one another's back on land. Rarely, so you see one wandering off alone.  
The Body of Christ has been designed to function in a similar fashion to a flock of geese.  Many hands make for lighter work, so we should share one another's burdens, and we bestow a blessing when we stick our necks out for one another!    

"Live creatively, friends. 
If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comment for yourself. 
You might be needing forgiveness before the day is out.  
Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed.  
Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law.  
If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived."
Galatians 6:2 MSG 

Stooping down takes more effort as we age.  When our grandchildren leave things on the floor, I remind them they are closer to the floor than I am and it's a great help when they pick things up.   We've all been around people who send off the scent that they are above stooping down.  God's Word says they "are badly deceived."

My guess is that we will each have the opportunity to live creatively today and be a blessing to another.  Looking up to Jesus, doesn't mean we won't be called to stoop down.  It' a humble position and God calls us to be humble. 

Let the Christmas Cheer Begin

This little one is counting the days until December.

November 29
Slumbering soundly beside my bed, on a mattress on the floor, the past couple nights has been this lump of love. Her two year old brother sleeps down the hall in his crib. A house can be decorated and all aglow, but it's the love and excitement of little ones at Christmas time which brings it to life. It's been so much fun having them here, although yesterday I broke my little toe and then stepped on a white metal jeep with my other foot and cut the bottom of my foot!  I laughed as I limped around and popped another homemade snickerdoodle  in my mouth giving thanks for grandchildren.

Last night we watched a movie called Santa Paws,which was a knock off of Annie. It led into a great conversation about those who are less fortunate in so many ways. There will be those without presents under the tree, maybe their houses are not warm, nor their families filled with love.  Our granddaughter thought it would be a great idea for us to take in some girl orphans and she would be their friend.

This Christmas season may our hearts look under our own trees less and out to the needs of others more.

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"  Matthew 25:40 

Give Thanks in Waiting

November 28
No one likes to wait! But it's a key element in life.  It would be interesting to look back on life, especially as a teacher and a parent, and see how many times I said, "Wait! Wait!" I bet we could quickly make a top ten list of our current "waits."

The She Reads Truth author for this final entry related to thanksgiving writes of living life always waiting in hopes the next season of life will be better.
"All that hoping for the next season stopped when I found myself in one unchangeable, immovable time. There was nothing I could do to change my circumstances. There was no way around this time of life, and the only way I was going to come out on the other side was to endure... I learned that sometimes waiting is the season. Sometimes endurance is the lesson. Sometimes simply getting through it is the most sanctifying, holy thing you can do...I was forever changed when I stopped looking to the next season to make my life better and started looking to Jesus...So, while you groan, while you wait with expectation, can you also look to Jesus and ask that He sit with you?"

This has been such a powerful study.  Thanks for letting me use this format the past two weeks.  Now Advent awaits us!  The coming of our King!  For today let us pray... 

Heavenly Father, we are truly thankful. Thankful for the way you love us and long to be with us forever.  We choose to allow the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts and for his word to dwell richly in our lives, teaching and admonishing us in all wisdom, singing to God psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thanksgiving in our hearts. By the power of the Holy Spirit we desire that whatever we do, in word or deed, it may be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. For he is good, he is faithful. In Jesus' Name. Amen

Give Thanks In Wandering

November 26-27

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
 Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
from “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” by Robert Robinson

Last week I referenced how a two year old had wandered off from his home in this rural community we live in. A whole community went searching and it was hours before he was found.  If we are honest, we will admit we've all wandered off from God.  It makes me sick to my stomach to look back on 44 years of a faith walk and remember all the times I tried to do it "my way" without God.  I wish He'd snatched me back in just a few hours.

The She Reads Truth author for this entry describes holding her third child, a son, in her arms as he took his last breaths.  She writes:

"I felt empty, forgotten, dropped. I began searching for God—where did He go during this? Why had He let my child suffer so much on earth?...My wandering often leads to more doubt. I search scriptures, read books, even Google questions—and I have to catch myself at times. I realize I’m looking for an answer that isn’t mine to know yet. Rather than insisting on finding the answer, I can rest in the certainty of the One who is The Answer.
When we wander in search of God, our faith is challenged and shaken. It might make us angry, and we may want to run to something that brings us immediate, earthly answers. Yet, if we allow it, even in the midst of confusion, wandering can lead us closer to a God we may not fully understand but we can completely trust.
When we seek Him, we will find Him—His Word says it’s true. And so we give thanks. We cling to Him and to the promise of Him, and we give thanks. For although we may feel lost, we know He never loses us."

Proverbs 25:2 says: "God delights in concealing things." So, is He a fan of "hide and seek?"  I think so.  For God knows that by concealing things we will go searching and in that search the hope is that Jesus is who we find!

There is a story in 2 Chronicles chapter 15 where Azariah the son of Obed is  moved by the Spirit and says, "God will stick with you as long as you stick with him. If you look for him he will let himself be found; but if you leave him he'll leave you."

Let's pray
God, you are always up to good, yet we wander away at times thinking we can do better. Forgive us.  Your Word says you delight in concealing things, and it also encourages us to seek You. So, today we coming seeking You with all our heart and we cry out "Help our unbelief! We can't fathom Your mysteries!"  When we are prone to wander, place Your Word before us and woo us with Your Holy Spirit so we are found faithfully walking close to You.
In Jesus' Name, Amen

Give Thanks In Want

November 25
Life is definitely different after the stroke. Whether it is simply my priorities which have changed or more than likely some brain readjustments, it's different and it's okay!  Everything sequential seems to take so much longer. Cooking, which was a joy, is now a chore. Decorating for parties/holidays used to be one of my passions. I could get up at 6AM and work on Christmas decorating even if it took until midnight to complete.  This past week, after four days of attempting to decorate, I told my husband to just put all the boxes away, I'd had enough.

Tis the season for wants.  Santa is making his mall appearances this weekend and will have a lapful of little ones listing their wants.  So many of those gifts will disappoint before Christmas day is even over, but the festivities and traditions of the season still bring joy. 

What is your greatest heart tug (want) right now.  Whew! President Elect Trump probably wants his cabinet in place.  There are so many who want healing to come to their bodies or their loved ones to come to a saving knowledge of Christ. I prayed for a young woman this week, who is longing for job security.  Santa can't provide these things, but with God all things are possible! Also, God deciphers what is best for us and sometimes has to take us down a different path to bring us to that end.

The She Reads Truth entry takes us to the book of Habakkuk 3:171-18 and the author writes:
"...look what Habakkuk says at the end of his prayer—after he’s just listed out all of his legitimate needs that seem to have gone unnoticed by the God he unwaveringly serves:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation."

She points us to another important passage which brings peace. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I am giving thanks for you and for the encouragement you are to me and other brothers and sisters in Christ.  I know God knows your wants and more than likely each of you has a desire for someone to fall passionately in love with Jesus. An answer to that prayer is the greatest gift we could receive.

Let's pray:
Father, we have this treasure, which is that we know there is an all-surpassing power from you!  Not from us. We may be hard pressed on every side, but not crushed. We may be perplexed, but not in despair and we may have experienced persecution, but we are not abandoned.  Maybe we have been struck down, but we are still here and not destroyed.  Okay, this truth is making me want to do my hallelujah dance!  God, what you did in your earthly form as Jesus through his death and resurrection is all we could ever want for. It has been finished and we do rejoice even in the midst of these light and momentary troubles, for we KNOW that our eternal glory far outweighs all of them.  We fix our eyes, not on our earthly wants and what can be seen, but on our greatest desire, implanted in our souls by You, Glory with God in the highest!  In Jesus' Name Amen

The best gift is yet to come!

Give Thanks In Plenty

A childhood friend is a wonderful nature photographer in Nashville.
Aren't these turkeys terrific!

November 24
As I studied this lesson, The Doxology came to mind.  When I googled to see if I could find it on Youtude this amazing acapella opening to a wedding came up!

We have so many blessings, but the ones we are quick to give thanks for are the tangible/earthly ones. Family, food, housing, jobs, friends, etc. Likewise, when we enter a time of prayer, our wants related to those in our face needs surface  more quickly. Our greatest blessings and therefore our greatest needs lie in the spiritual realm and are heart related.

The She Reads Truth writer for this entry reminds us:

"For the believer, plenty and want are both constant states of being. Yes, we all have real, felt needs. And we have noticeable, tangible blessings. But beyond the surface—in light of eternity—our constant state is a want of grace, and God is our constant and plentiful supplier. HE is our plenty... Our cups overflow with the grace and mercy of an Everlasting God—they overflow because there is always more than we can ask or imagine. THIS is our plenty...And let us give thanks." SRT

"You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."
Psalm 25:5a

Think how much grace one saint requires, so much that nothing but the Infinite could supply him for one day; and yet the Lord spreads his table, not for one, but many saints, not for one day, but for many years; not for many years only, but for generation after generation.”
–C.H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

Let's pray a prayer using 1 Chronicles 29 and Psalm 105.

We sing praise to you, Lord, you are from everlasting to everlasting and we will make known to all the nations what you have done.  Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power, and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.  May the hearts of those who seek you, Lord, rejoice. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.  In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.  Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. Through the name of Jesus, who makes our access to You possible.  Amen

Here's another fun link. This ballad collage was made by the folk singing family the Gundersons. 
The songs radiate the thoughts in this lesson.

Most likely Psalm 23 is memorized and deep within your heart.
Let's use The Message Translation today and praise the Lord as David did.

'God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True is your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure.
You served me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
I'm back home in the house of God for the rest of my life. 

Give Thanks in Sorrow

November 23

"Be brave. Be strong. Don't give up.
Expect God to get here soon."
Psalm 31:24 MSG

Okay, the Psalm above is my newest encouragement prayer! I'm going to teach this one to the grands.

Picking up a prisoners' prayer list from church transformed my perspective on my day. What do these individuals give thanks for? Giving thanks in tough times can be a tough order.  I've been praying with several friends who are surrounded by family members in situations involving prison time, house arrest, or legal limitations.
These are not quick fixes. In one friend's case she's been waiting thirty years for her son to get out of prison. Whenever these people share their updates my first thought is, "God, what good can come from this?"  Then in a mental flash I'm reminded He can work all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.  So the first prayer becomes one of salvation for all parties involved.  Then we need to pray Psalm 31:24 together!

The She Reads Truth entry for this day states:
"It's easy to forget that all songs of thanksgiving don't have the same sound....I can guess that many of the Psalms were instructed to be played 'with sorrow.' God doesn't ask us to silence our sorrow in favor of thanksgiving. Rather, He uses our sorrow to proclaim a type of thanksgiving we wouldn't be able to express otherwise...Thanksgiving doesn't devour your sorrow, but it acknowledges the Glory 
that will. The thanks be to Him who says our sorrows will be worth it. The giving of our souls to say that, even if our earthly hopes have been deferred, our eternal hope will never be lost."

"If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there;
if you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath."
Psalm 34:18 MSG

"You've kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book."
Psalm 56:8 MSG

Let's Pray:
Father, you've kept track of my every toss and turn through sleepless nights, each tear that has dropped down my cheek and every ache in my heart.  When I think no one knows or cares how I feel, I can give thanks that the One who created me holds me in the palm of his hand and doesn't miss a moment.  For if my heart is broken, if I've been kicked in the gut, if I sense no one hears my cry, I need only look to You and see You are right there to hold me up and carry me until I can take the next step.  I can give thanks in all things because You are with me in all things. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Give Thanks in Injustice

"I will give the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness.
And I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High."
Psalm 7:17

"But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, 
what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is far and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love, 
and don't take yourself too seriously-take God seriously."
Micah 6:8

November 22
Oh, how I pray that our new leaders are praying Solomon's request found in 1 Kings 3:9
Here's what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well discerning the difference good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?"

The wisdom Solomon desired came into play in that poignant story of the two mothers both claiming a child was theirs. Whew, talk about injustice...stealing someone's baby really riles my blood. A two year old in a nearby community went missing from his front yard on Saturday and the thought that someone had abducted him was devastating.  My heart prayed earnestly for his safe return as I imagined what a call would be like receiving a call saying one of our grandchildren was missing.
The community came together and found him!!!!  Evidently he had wandered off.

There is so much injustice in our world.  The She Reads Truth  author below writes in a way which has us hold up a mirror and look inward for a moment.

"In this season of Thanksgiving, let us remember that God is good all the time. Even when things look unjust from our earthly perspective, or when we ourselves act unjustly, God's grace abounds. Weighing His good gifts-rain and sunshine, shelter and food, and arms linked in friendship-against my transgressions shows that the injustice is clearly on my side, not His.
A few days ago we had lunch guests, and they were joking about how my four sons are going to make great cheap labor when they are old enough to mow the lawn and chop wood. I spoke right up and made it clear that they would never be able to earn money from me because of all the things of mine they have broken and all the money they have cost us. They will NEVER be able to dig themselves out of all the debt they owe me.
And that is exactly my position with Christ. I have broken so many of His commands, I have thrown away His good gifts, I have cost Him so much-I will never be able to dig myself out of my ugly debt to Him. But unlike me, He lets it go. He looks at all the precious things I have destroyed and forgives me. I have so much to be thankful for. I want to be like Christ!
(She prays)
Lord, help us to forgive those who wrong us. Help us to see the big picture of Your blessing when we encounter injustice.  Make us like Christ."

Let's pray:
Dear God, your ways are higher than our ways. We sing praise to Your name and bow before you. Your Word instructs us to be loyal in love, to be compassionate and to do what is fair and just to all others.  The only way for that to happen is through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and our seeking and surrendering his guidance.  As we step into today may each step, each look, each word uttered from our mouths be Spirit directed and pleasing in Your sight.  Where we see injustices occurring, fill us with wisdom if we are to assist in righting any wrongs.  In Jesus' Name, Amen

Give Thanks In Stress

November 21
On November 18th the temperature peaked at 76 degrees, so I stopped my chores and slipped outside to be with the Lord in the beauty of his creations.  Boats were cruising by, not wanting to miss this day on the water.  Just as I got situated in my chair the blue heron spread her wings and thrilled my heart as she skimmed the water and landed on one of her favorite perches.  Opening my study on Thanksgiving, I chucked as I read the key verse for this particular day and was thankful I'd stopped my chores and was sitting at Jesus' feet

"But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,
but one thing is necessary.'"
Luke 10:41-42

I journaled...Lord,  I thank you for how quirky my phone has been lately, it almost seems as if you are shutting it off at times, like just now, because you want me to seek only you.  You know the aches of my heart right now, when no one else does.  I bring these burdens to you and trust.  There are days I'd rather just be beamed up to heaven and avoid the heartache, but me of little faith.  That's not my call. Have your own way Lord, have your own way.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

The She Reads Truth author wrote:
"Some days I am undone by the noise of this life. Anxiety and I have a complicated relationship...There is the constant chatter, the onslaught of internal and external voices telling us which way to turn.  The squeaky wheels that never seem to get enough grease.  The 'to do' list that looms like a towering giant, frowning down on our best efforts. Those dreaded should's that make us feel we're not enough at best, defeated and worthless at worst...We are waiting and we are rushing all at once.  I can hear Jesus say, 'Why do you stress yourself out like this? I have what you need and it's free! Drink and be truly filled; eat and be deeply satisfied. Your money and toil are no good here.  This is my gift to you.' 
I want to dismantle this stress mountain brick by brick, take it apart and hold each piece up to the light of God's Word. I want to remember there is good in the noises of life, gifts to be given and gave to be received. I want to give thanks for the promise that He brings peace to chaos, that redemption awaits, that rest is for those who lie down at His feet like sheep.  I long for the peace of God which transcends understanding to cover me like a blanket so I can rest in Him and give thanks." Amanda

Let's pray Amanda's prayer:
"Lord, make us lie down in green pastures and lead us beside still waters.  Lord, restore our souls.  We confess that we choose rush over rest, we choose busy over best. We bow down to expectations and worship over lists.  Forgive us Lord.  You are steadfast.  Thank You. You give us rest. Thank You. You slow our steps and calm our hearts and allow us to sit at your feet. Thank You.  Thank You. Thank You.  We will praise you in the noise, will we praise you in the stress; for you remain unchanged and we are found in you.  Amen"

Give Thanks in Certainty

November 19-20
The car pulls into the driveway and the man gets out and knocks on our door, ready to chalk up witnessing hours required by his faith. He's a Jehovah Witnesses.  The saddest part of the whole spill is that there is no certainty for him in his faith.  My husband always kindly asks, "When you go to sleep tonight wouldn't you like to know for sure that you are going to heaven?"

We have these certainties through Jesus.
"Our Redeemer lives."                                               Job 19:25
"He will come to us."                                                 Hosea 6:3
"Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever."      Hebrews 13:8
"No word from God will ever fail."                           Luke 1:37

She Reads Truth writes:
"When we are young we see our world as permanent. But now that we are adults, we know all too well the truth; precious little is permanent and sure bets are hard to come by.  So many things we thought would 'always be this way' are distant memories aren't they?"

"I write you these things so that you may know you have eternal life."    1 John 5:13

Let's Pray:
Father, we love you and often struggle to comprehend why you love us.  You are like no one else, who has ever existed.  The assurance given to us in Your Word is exuberant!  Jesus is sufficient and the Sealer of our salvation. Your promises are steadfast and will never fail us.  May our lives be an affirmation of the greatest certainty we have. Jesus is alive and just as life giving, just as loving, and just as powerful today, as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. In His name we pray, Amen

Give Thanks in Suffering

Giving thanks for our newest grand-dog.  Samson is an English bulldog!
November 18
Give thanks in suffering? Are you kidding me? That goes so beyond human nature. Wait, but Jesus is way beyond human nature!  And that's a big reason to give thanks!

"It's hard to be thankful while your world is crashing down. The ending of a joy, the illness of a loved one, the loss of something you never dreamed you'd lose-so many circumstances in life take our breath away...No one wants to suffer, yet we all experience it at some point in our lives. And when we do, there is no shortage of advice on how we should handle it....Shouldn't we be ashamed that our prayers were not answered? Should we be embarrassed that we believe in a God who, to someone on the outside looking in, seems to have ignored us?...the Gospel never has made sense on paper, has it?

Isaiah 53:3 calls Jesus himself a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief...he did not allow grief to define His life. His life on earth was defined by love...Jesus who died for us in love and rose again in love, so that all that is broken can be redeemed, so that in the midst of terrible pain we can know this isn't all there is." She Reads Truth

We are going to suffer on this training ground called earth. The essence of our problem with the suffering issue, lies within our difficulty to realize there is more than this life.  There are two passages, from The Message, ready to remind us there is more to come and suffering is part of our preparation for the future.

"Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner."  1 Peter 4:12-13

"There's more to come: We continue to shout out praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.  In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged.  Quite the contrary-we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!"
Romans 5:3-4

Let's pray..
Father, you are a God of purpose.  You are a God who has plans for a prosperous future, an unimaginable eternity, for us.  Forgive us for growing anxious in difficulty.  You certainly faced adversity walking upon this earth.  Help us to look at our trials as sandpaper having purpose and smoothing out the rough surfaces of our lives.  Even in our troubles may we have confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit in us to persevere and never feel short changed, because we know the character of God.  We can erupt in shouts of praise in the midst of our problems and stay expectantly alert for what God is about to do, because we have seen his faithfulness time and time again.
In Jesus  Name, Amen

Give Thanks in Joy

November 17
"So often in life we place God in our sights between us and the thing we long for, the thing that seems far out of reach.  And we pray.  We see God as the pathway to it, the gatekeeper to what we want, what we need.  And when we arrive, what then?  Do we dwell there in gratitude? Do we offer up a thank you to correspond with each please? Or do we shift our gaze to the next thing on the horizon?
When Jesus healed the, only one of the ten came back to thank him." (Luke 17)"
"Each gift is an opportunity to turn to the Giver."
She Reads Truth

Reading this made me think of a young child's birthday party when they receive an overload of gifts.
They are opening packages so fast and tossing them aside without even making eye contact with the giver in most instances.

The blessings we say over our meals can become rote...God is great, God is good... and lack a sincerity of gratitude or personal connection with the Giver.  Some mornings I awaken and am on to my devotional writing, Bible Study or prayer list without ever saying good morning to God or thanking him for seeing me through the night. I walk into the day, like the 9 lepers, oblivious to the presence of Jesus and the influence he has on my life.  Fortunately, in those times, reading the Word of God has a way of awakening the Holy Spirit and rightly aligning my soul to it's true need...humbling myself before my Creator.

Taking some verses from Psalm 30 and Luke 17, let's pray...
Father, time and time again in our lives you have turned our mourning into dancing and filled us with gladness, but the measure and longevity of our gratitude doesn't equate with the intensity of our crying out and the emotion of our distress.  Please forgive us.  We don't want to be like the nine lepers who were healed and walked away without even a thank you.  May our accolades of thanksgiving out number our cries for help.  When we ask for prayer may we always be quick to resound with grateful hearts full of praise. May the "thank you's" in our day outweigh our wants and supplications.  In Jesus' Name, Amen

Give Thanks in Everything

November 16
As I was just about to close my eyes Monday night when God brought to mind that earlier this Fall I had purchased an old, 2014, study from She Reads Truth called "In Everything Give Thanks"  It's a 12 day study, so it will take me through Thanksgiving.  For now the plan is to share with you excerpts from the study and the prayer the study challenges the reader to write each day.

"Our circumstances are big, but our God is bigger.  As we learn to trust the bigness of our God and the sureness of His sovereignty, we find His will is not as much a path as it is a way of walking.  Thanksgiving is not just an emotion.  We are to declare God's goodness in every circumstance!  We are to let the world know what He has done and what He is doing!  We are to pray to Him, seek Him, give Him thanks with an expectant, joyful heart.  God is good. In everything, He is good." SRT

Let's pray:
Father, Your steadfast love never ceases, your mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning. As we put our heads down tonight, we can do so with rejoicing and thanksgiving knowing your faithfulness is great and our hope is in You.  You are our portion.  It is by grace we have been saved, not of anything we ourselves have done.  What an amazing gift to receive!  Whatever tomorrow brings, we know You are sufficient to see us through and for that we say, "Thank You!"
We lay our petitions before You, trusting the outcome to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Improper Perspective

November 15
Taking a "photo" walk recently, I was amazed by the beauty of these brown leaves. What some see as a nuisance, needing to be gathered up and removed, I took the time to see as part of God's design.

An improper perspective can creep into our lives due to our self-centered agendas.   The person who is driving WAY to slow, may be saving us from an accident.  Patience begins running out when you've picked the wrong grocery line and are behind the individual who doesn't have enough money to cover the bill and has to determine what needs to be put back. Maybe God is prompting us to give sacrificially.  We turn our heads away or tell our kids not to stay at the handicapped person in the wheelchair, when what they really need is a gentle touch or listening ear, for God has created them with a purpose and sees them as precious.

"Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!"
Psalm 66:5

Next Door

10 years ago at one of our son's weddings.

November 14

Often we wait to say wonderful things about a person after they are gone.  Nineteen years ago we moved to our home on Smith Mt Lake and God gave us the greatest gift in a next door neighbor. She loves Jesus, has loved all of our children and grandchildren, is full of wisdom and been a steadfast friend in happy times, sad time and how in the world will we get through this times.  So in this month of Thanksgiving, I want to thank God for the best next door neighbor a girl could have.

"A friend loves at all times."
Proverbs 17:17

It's a Wonder!

November 12-13
Jesus Calling, on November 8th, read like this...
"Learn to appreciate difficult days.  Be stimulated by the challenges you encounter along your way.  As you journey through rough terrain with Me, gain confidence from your knowledge that together we can handle anything...Look back on your life, and see how I have helped you through difficult days."

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  
Isaiah 41:10

Whatever you are facing this weekend, my prayer today is that you realize you are not facing it alone. The Holy Spirit is our Equipper. We are so programed to think we have to "do it ourselves," but that's the world's programmer, not God's.  Paul figured it out and shares that realization in 
2 Corinthians 12:9

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

It's not a weakness to say, "I need Jesus."  It's a wonder!

Encouraging believers Paul writes:
"...having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from 
the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is 
Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
Colossians 2:2-3

Berry Good

Fall is a berry good season!
November 11

"A proud man is always looking down on things and people; 
and of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above."  
C.S. Lewis

Isn't it amazing how each of us can read a quote like the one by C.S. Lewis above, and our minds can drift in dozens of different directions.  An arrogant actor, a prideful politician, a calculating colleague, am asinine athlete, or a nagging neighbor may come to mind. Instead of allowing that individual to continue to needle our nerves we should begin praying they hear Jesus calling them to take the focus off themselves and look up! 

"First pride then the crash-the bigger the ego, the harder the fall."
Proverbs 16:18

Been there done that. No fun.  Pray for God to place people in our lives, who love us enough to come alongside us, pray with us and help point us in a direction that helps us avoid the crash.
Then pray we will have ears to hear.

Mums Not the Word....Here are more Sabbath thoughts.

For some reason the November 9th post will only post before the 8th, so you will have to scroll down. Sorry for the confusion today.  It's a precursor to the post for the 10th. (Thursday)
November 10
Our Nashville daughter has also been under some excellent sabbath teachings by Randy Pope. (An Atlanta minister.)

He shares that on the Sabbath we are to consider our "creaturely dependence" on God and says of the Sabbath's purpose: "It's purpose is to draw our attention to something that is even bigger than life itself. The pattern is in place to cause us to regularly gaze upon the One from whom our life springs, and in whom our lives have meaning."
Pope asks us to consider this scenario:
"Imagine that you and God are standing in a room together. The room is empty except for a treadmill that is placed close to you on one side. On the far side, a solitary window looks out at another world where you have never been.  God turns to speak to you, 'Child, I want you to get on the treadmill and run.  Run as hard as you like with all the strength I have given you, and for the sheer joy of running. Sometimes it will feel like you are running downhill; you will feel strong, leaping hurdles easily.  Other times it will seem that you are running uphill against many obstacles; but you will learn to trust My strength. Only know this: every seventh day you must stop running, go to the window and look out on what I have prepared for you. For the day will come when you will leave this room and your running will cease. And you must not think that running is all you were made for.'"

"Imagine that you begin to run and it feels great.  You can just tell you were built for this.  It feels so natural and good and right.  You continue to run and you get used to the rhythm.  You run hard and fast for six days, and then the seventh day comes and you remember what God said.   You realize then you have three options.

1) You could keep running.  You look around and notice for the first time that there are many rooms with many other people running on their treadmills. Some of them have run further than you.  You find yourself envying what they've achieved.  Many of them aren't showing any signs of fatigue, and you notice that they aren't getting off their treadmills. You wonder if you can keep up with them. You wonder if you're supposed to try.

2) You could just sit down and take a breather. You notice that's what a lot of people are doing. It looks like they're enjoying the change of pace. Some are just sitting. Some are busy with things they've collected while they were running.  Others are fiddling around with their treadmills and they seem pretty concerned about what they've achieved so far.  Some seem pleased; some don't.  You wonder if you should join them.

3) You could go over to the window and see what God has in store for you.  You remember that God said that running was not all you were made for. If not running, then what else?  You notice a few others who are looking out windows o their own.  They are so still, they seem entranced.  You begin to be curious about what you would see out your window.  You wonder how that vision might affect the way you will run tomorrow.

Now think about the three options.  Which describes the pattern of your life?
"Without a Sabbath we would keep running on the treadmill of life, wrongly believing that our work and accomplishments prove our significance and bring us the glory we crave."

These thoughts on the Sabbath have stirred me to make it about more than make it about my Redeemer!

Burnt Fern

Festive Fall

November 8
I received this prayer from a friend in Kentucky this morning. Her young son had forwarded it to her, which in itself brought me such hope that the younger generation still remembers the history of this great nation.

Our Father in heaven, we come before You today, acknowledging You as our Creator. You are the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac, the One who established Your chosen people and through whom You gave Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. You established the promised land of Israel and demonstrated time and time again that if Your people sought You, worshiped You, and obeyed You, that You would bless them with guidance, provision, and protection. But that if they turned away, then You would remove Your hand and allow judgment.

Lord, we also acknowledge that just as Israel was dedicated to You at it’s founding, that another country years later would also seek Your blessing and dedicate themselves and their land to You. The first president of these United States of America, on the day of his inauguration sought Your hand, Your guidance, and Your blessing on our new country, and the people prayed and celebrated in agreement.

In the following years, Lord, You did more for us than we deserved. You blessed us with military strength, economic strength, with inventions, medical discoveries, academic achievement and national prosperity. You lifted us up to lead the world as we proclaimed that our blessings came from You and that “In God We Trust”. Our constitution acknowledges You as our Creator and our founding fathers noted that our people should never be led without Your Word.

But as You blessed us, we eventually became prideful in our success, believing that it was also by our own hands that our nation was elevated, and that You owed us blessings and protection. In time a generation rose that became calloused toward You, Oh God, and we chose our own prideful logic above Your truth, abandoning You in our schools and ignoring You in our courts. Yet, You showed patience and mercy, and called out “Return to Me, America. Return to Me.”

But instead we embraced our sin, claiming we were Lord over ourselves. We abandoned You by giving credit to the creation of our world to astronomical chance, and began throwing out Your moral boundaries for our selfish pleasure. We oversaturated our hearts and minds on immoral entertainment until our conscience was seared, and began shedding the innocent blood of our unborn children who were an inconvenience to our lives. Yet You kept calling, “Repent, America. Repent and return to Me!”

But we responded that, “We’ve done no wrong.” And we justified our sin as our right and liberty. We chased money, physical pleasure, and the belief that we are entitled to what we do not deserve. And now we stand on the precipice of redefining what You have already called “sacred” for a definition of our own.

Lord, what You call wicked, we now call good. And we’ve now begun persecuting those that proclaim Your truth. You’ve sent warnings, allowing breaches in our security, and instability in our economy. You’ve allowed drought to begin touching our land, and civil unrest in our cities.

Lord, even the people who claim to still acknowledge You have become apathetic and complacent in our comfort. Our worship has been lukewarm and our prayers passionless. We shake our heads in shame as our nation weakens around us, instead of repenting of our apathy and inaction. Where are the people of God? Where are those that still cry out to You with broken and contrite hearts?

Lord, we deserve judgment. We deserve Your wrath, for we have sinned and sinned greatly. And we know that Your judgment starts in the house of God. Our righteousness is as filthy rags, and our hypocrisy as a cancer in our land. But we cry out to You, Lord! We have nowhere else to look but You! There is no other answer. Man cannot redeem us. Remember Your mercy! Remember Your compassion! Break our hearts, Oh, God! Help us to love what You love, and to hate what You hate. Give us the courage to call sin what it is, and to define our lives by Your truth. Remind us of Your love for us, and call us to repentance. May every heart that knows You as Lord seek You this day! May we grieve over our sin this day; that You might show us mercy and forgiveness.

Lord, for those that heed Your words, and repent with open hearts, restore us to You. And unify those that love You. Raise up a generation that seeks You and worships You with their whole heart. Raise up a generation that is not ashamed of the gospel, and that hates to be lukewarm. Grant them faith, love, and courage to live according to Your Word, and to pray with power and to act with conviction. Raise up leaders, Lord, who will not compromise when under pressure, or abandon You for the approval of men. Raise them up, Lord, that they may call upon Your name, and confess Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Break up the hard soil in our hearts, Lord, that You may take joy in our worship of You, and bless us again. Call us to holiness, that we would once again be the light of the world and draw all men to You. Awaken us, Lord! Rekindle our fire, and stir our hearts. We confess our sins, and we seek Your face. Forgive us, Lord God, that we can again proclaim, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.

We ask for Your forgiveness and cleansing. We pray against those who reject Your truth. Turn their hearts to You or confound their logic. But don’t let wickedness take our land. Don’t let them succeed. Stand in their way, Lord. For America is Yours! And like Israel, may she remain undivided and in Your care. Keep our bond strong with Israel, Lord, and our leaders loyal. Or remove them from office. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Amen.

- Alex Kendrick

Keeping the Sabbath

Sunday was a gorgeous day to be out in creation. God's hand was evident!

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  
Exodus 20:8

 November 9
Sabbath means rest.  So as we read the verse above, we remember what the word means. Step two is to do what God intended us to to do...keep that restful day holy.  Make is special!  Make it about more than just resting...make it about resting with God.

One of our daughters is a first year professor at Covenant College.  Recently, she shared how she'd never thought much about her Sundays.  As a doctoral student there was always plenty of catching up with school work to do after church.  That is greatly discouraged at Covenant.  They instruct their faculty and students to refrain from school work on Sundays. The college doesn't even have their athletic facilities open, so that no one has to work or is putting emphasis on themselves.  The emphasis is on encouraging everyone to take time on Sundays to concentrate on resting their bodies, but beyond that keeping their focus on their holy God.

For years I've had tried to institute the restful part. Looking all the way back to my childhood, my parents emphasized going to church, sharing a nice meal and then they locked their bedroom door for a two hour nap!  When our children were younger, sporting events took up the weekends, out of town soccer and tennis tournaments and horse shows often ran into Sunday.  We only made it through traveling soccer one year (with children on three different teams) realizing what it was robbing from us. School sports took place on weekdays which helped, but the element missing from our Sabbath all these years has been the intentionality of staying in worship mode and seeking intimacy with God throughout the day.

As we worship Him and meditate on his Word, maybe we will see something new in nature that He has made. The awe His creation brings about can cause us to hear from Him in a way we may have never heard before.  Isn't that beautiful?

Are our Sundays all about an interactive relationship, which has us living with the expectancy of God showing up?

John Piper expresses this thought: "Many professing Christians enjoy sports and television, and secular books and magazines and recreation and hobbies and games far more than they enjoy direct interaction with God and his Word or in worship or in reading Christian books or in meditative strolls.  Therefore, inevitably people whose hearts are set more on the pleasures of the world than on the enjoyment of God will feel the sabbath command as a burden and not a blessing."

Whew, I've got a long way to go to keep my entire sabbath day holy.
Help me align my life to receive the blessing Jesus! In Your name I pray, Amen

Grammatical insight: Some "experts" say Sabbath is a proper noun and should always be capitalized.
Others say you capitalize it when used as a religious reference and keep it in lowercase when it means a period of rest.  As for Exodus 20:8 reference above the NIV capitalizes it and the NASB uses a lowercase letter.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

November 7
After the stroke, when I was learning to walk again, steps were a major hurdle.  The left leg was so weak.  My PT taught me to go up with the strong leg first and descend with the weak leg going first.
I truly had to practice putting the best foot forward for each specific feat.

Isn't it a blessing that we can seek God's direction when it comes to which way to step in life.
Tomorrow is a pivotal day for our nation. For months the resounding question has been....
"How could we be in this position to have no better choice for leadership?"
My response is: Are you kidding me?  Look where we, as voters/or worse non-voters, have allowed our nation to go morally.  Why should God bless us?  Okay...I'm stopping that tangent there.

God is in control and he puts rulers on their thrones, for HIS purpose.  I will trust Him with the future. May we all put our best foot forward and seek God's wisdom as we carry out our responsibility to vote in the most knowledgable way which we believe will honor him.

May we remember Jesus' words in Matthew 19:26
"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Biblegateway's verse today is: 1 Timothy 2:1-2
"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." 

Last night a friend forwarded me Joel Rosenberg's voting decision, which he posted on his blog.
I thought is was very well said.

May we all be steadfast to pray for our nation every day!

Do What is Better


Ha! This one has been enhanced.

November 5-6
We'd been traveling in the car for over 6 hours by the time we pulled into the driveway. The car was loaded with "stuff" from my week away. Costumes, food, way more clothes than I should have taken, computer bag, camera bag, knitting bag, etc. The day was gorgeous and possibly one of the last 80 degree days, so we dropped it all and ran for the last couple daylight hours on the boat.

Having a stroke at 58 years old was such a shocker, but it definitely alerted me to how important it is to stop and enjoy a pretty day, to welcome an unexpected visitor even if the dirty dishes are still in the sink, to make the time or cherished relationships and to take captive every opportunity to tell someone about Jesus. 

I'll follow this up Monday with some thoughts about the Sabbath.

Father, find us faithful this weekend to drop everything and inquire of Your agenda for us and join you right there.  In Jesus' Name, Amen

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."  Luke 10:41-42


November 4
Traveling along I-81 I shot these photos out the car window.  (No, I was not the driver.) Unfortunately, the fall colors were not as vibrant as others years, but no problem...the color can be enhanced with one click on the computer.

Just open any magazine and look at people's faces. They are flawless. They've been enhanced.  Have you search for a new home online lately?  The proper camera lens can certainly enhance the visual perspective on the size of rooms.  Wonder why some chicken breasts are so plump...chances are those chickens ate an enhanced diet. Wondering how grandma's wrinkles disappeared...?  Tune into any drug advertisement and learn how life can be enhanced.

Jesus is the ultimate life enhancer! Go quickly and tell others of the difference He makes!

"But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night and day difference he made for you-from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted."  1 Peter 2:9

"A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might."   Proverbs 24:5


#1 These designer paperclips and scripture cards will be delivered to 10 ladies at a special location.

November 3
The word was so clear, I had to step aside from the order of the day and see where God was going with this one.
Invest: "Devote one's time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result."

God was not directing me in a financial investment, so where was the path leading?  The computer's dictionary definition above laid out the first steps...
It will take time.
It will take effort.
It will take energy.

10-10-10 is what came to me.  This new adventure will involve 10 assignments, which will cost $10 each and take approximately 10 minutes to carry out!  November is going to be exciting!  Stay tuned!
Assignment #2 just popped up on Facebook!  The 6th grade class at Christian Heritage Academy have made bracelets to help with a school fund raiser.  When I saw 10 hands I knew that was #2!
Heading there today.  This is so much fun. It's like a treasure hunt with God!

Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 in The Message is the biblical co-part to what God is up to with me.

"Be generous: Invest in acts of charity.
Charity yields high returns.
Don't hoard your goods; spread them around.
Be a blessing to others.  This could be your last night."

If you want to nibble on a little more about work ethic...
"When the clouds are full of water, it rains. When the wind blows down a tree, it lies where it falls.
Don't sit there watching the wind. Do your own work.  Don't stare at the clouds.  Get on with your life. Just as you'll never understand the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman, so you'll never understand the mystery at work in all that God does. Go to work in the morning and stick to it until evening without watching the clock.   You never know from moment to moment how your work will turn out in the end." Ecclesiastes 11:3-6