Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lord, You Need To....

I sat in my darkened office this morning, waiting for the vestiges of sunlight to splash across the floor. The only light came from the lamp on the table beside me.  Over the years I have dedicated my life to the Lord, many times.  However, this morning I felt the urge to do so again. Rededicate my life to Him.  I started to pray, and tell the Lord what my plans were.  It was then I heard that still small voice I love so much.  That little voice reminded me that almost every time I dedicated my life to Him, it came with conditions.  You know, like, I'll follow you, if you answer this prayer.  Hmmmmm...
So this morning with new conviction I said, Lord, I give my life to you, heart, body and soul.  I sat for a moment, reflecting on the importance of what I had just said.  I opened my Bible to no particular scripture, but I was preparing to read the scriptures that go along with my daily devotionals.  Before I started, I lifted up to the Lord a scheduling problem I have next week.  I started to say, Lord you need to........ It was then I heard Him say, "Are you kidding me? You are already telling ME what I should be doing?" I think He was laughing at me, His silly but faithful child.
I am reminded Lord, that when I dedicate my life to you, that means I let go of all the control, and simply lean on you.
Before I picked up the first devotional "something" led me to the Bible, now open on my lap.  My eyes focused on a verse that almost seemed to be in bold, standing out from the rest of the scripture on that page. It was 2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (NIV).

Friday, January 13, 2017

I Can Do This!

Yesterday I printed my schedule for the next eight weeks.  After I set up both folders, my eyes kept returning to the syllabus.  The more I read, the more overwhelmed I felt. Like trying to move that boulder by myself.  As I sat facing the computer, I continued trying to find a balance where this schedule was concerned.  Every scenario I formulated in my head, there was a conflict with it.  After about a half hour, I sat stoic.  I can't do this Lord.  There was no lightening, or no burning bush, but the Holy Spirit touched my heart.  That still small voice I've come to lean on was not so still or small at that moment.  That voice seemed to say, 'why are you focused on what you can't do during the next eight weeks? You aren't going to tackle this project right now, but only over the next eight weeks!'
I hate it when I hear my own advice, and know that it's directed towards me.
I pushed my chair away from my desk, and looked at both the folders.  With new strength and resolve, "I can do this"! I said to no one.  One day, one hour at a time...I can accomplish all that I need to do.
Right this minute I am not feeling overwhelmed, but rather joyful.  I have been singing this morning, praising the Lord for the sunshine, my health, and the project I need to complete JUST this WEEK!. Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. 
Yes, I can do this.... 

Monday, January 9, 2017

I'm Sure the Lord was Laughing at Me...

For a Monday morning, the day didn't start out that unusual.  However, when I sat down to read my Bible and several devotionals I had several distractions.  I came back into the office, sat on the love seat, opened Jesus Calling (Young, 2013) and immediately felt blessed. It was exactly what I needed to hear this morning.  It wasn't until I started looking up the Bible verses I realized I was on the wrong page, the right month, but the wrong day.  I'm sure the Lord was laughing at me, because I smiled myself.  It was exactly what I needed to hear.  Slow down, enjoy the day, and don't worry about tomorrow.  For the past few days I have been struggling, knowing my "vacation" is almost over.  It will soon be time to go back to work, and start all the craziness and busyness (is that a word?) in my life.  In fact, I have thought so much about "tomorrow" that I stopped enjoying today.   One of the phrases my Grandmother used to repeat to me (often) was don't worry about tomorrow, it will have it's own problems.  Really?!  It wasn't until I became an adult that I realized how smart she was. And she was quoting scripture! Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own (NIV).
I don't believe in coincidences.  The fact that I was distracted enough to pick up my little devotional and read the wrong page was not an accident.  It was a preface to what today's message was. And the last line on the page said, "Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My Presence" (Young).
Ok Lord, you have my full attention, and I am walking... Beside the still waters.......

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Even the Sparrow...

Rain was gently pelting the roof of my office, as I sat quietly reading my Bible and several daily devotional books.  The particular devotion I was reading was about a little bird.  A sparrow. That thought reminded me of Psalms 84:3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself (NIV).  I sat quietly for a moment reflecting on my surroundings.
Meko slept on the love seat beside me.
                  Annie was perched on her favorite spot on the sofa behind me and
 Noah was asleep at my feet on the floor in front of me.
 Both Annie and Noah are rescues.  We found Annie, but Noah found us. My solitude and prayer time was interrupted when Annie, quietly slid from the back of the couch and wiggled her way onto my lap, settling on top of my Bible and little devotional book. She looked up at me as if to say, "Ok, it's time for me."    
I wonder how often I have made the Lord feel like that.  He has to literally "get on top" of the book (or situation in my life) to get my attention.
I can't ignore these furry "people" in my life, anymore than I can ignore the one who created me.  I am reminded daily of His words. John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (NIV).

Saturday, December 31, 2016

I Hate Sugar

When I finished reading Jesus Calling  (Young, 2004) this morning, I took the ribbon marker from the last page back to the first page.  It occurred to me that tomorrow is not only a new day, but a new year.  It's only one day, but it feels different.  I usually write the previous year on a few checks I write the beginning of a new year.
I love this graphic, a rainbow over water.  I love rainbows (and the ocean too).  God promised us in Genesis 9:13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.   A new beginning.  Granted, getting rid of old habits isn't as easy as flipping a few pages and starting at the beginning of a book. However, it is a place to start.
For years I spent lots of time writing out (what I thought were) brilliant new year resolutions.  Usually about a month into my endeavor, I lost the list.
This year I plan to eat healthier and exercise more. End of list.   I realized that when I set goals for myself that are unrealistic, I will not stick to them.
One of my friends and I were talking about our goals for the coming year. She shared her goals are basically the same as mine; staying healthy.  She said one of her daily mantras is "I hate sugar."  After we stopped laughing..........

Thursday, December 29, 2016

I Know the Plans

When I was much younger one of my favorite Bible verses was Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. 
I'm thinking one of the reasons that particular verse resonated with me at that time is because I was "weary", from trying to do it all.  I thought I had to be all things to all people. I rarely said "no" to anyone.  My calendar was hard to decipher some days.   I tried to live up to other peoples expectations of me.  One day, I heard myself say to someone else. "You need to slow down. I think you are so tired because you are putting so many other people before your own needs".  Seriously!?
And over the next few months, I heard that same sentiment from other people, directed at me. I needed to slow down? Have you seen my calendar? How do I do that?
A friend called one day, sharing some pretty difficult life issues she was struggling with.  While we were on the phone, I picked up my Bible, hoping to find some inspiration to share with her. I started to flip through the pages when it fell open.  And for whatever reason, my eyes fell on Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, "declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  We hung up, but I held on to that verse.
I remember sitting there that day, tears filled my eyes.  I asked myself, when did I let go of trusting the Lord for my plans? My life?  I was so busy trying to do what I thought everyone wanted me to do, that I had stopped listening to that still small voice. 
By late afternoon, I had written several letters expressing my regret that I could no longer be involved with that organization.  As I walked to the mailbox my heart was heavy. Am I doing what you really want me to do Lord?  I placed the letters in the mailbox, raised the flag, and walked back into the house. I felt so much relief.
Today at times my life (and calendar) are still hectic. However, I believe I am truly where the Lord wants me to be.
And that's a good feeling...

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Our Christmas Eve service was beautiful last night.  One that I will remember for years to come.   The sanctuary was decorated with the usual pine roping and poinsettias.  Both the organ and piano complimented each other.  The lights in the sanctuary were dimmed as the service began.  I felt at peace, waiting for the usual tribute to Jesus.  The reason I came to this service, to celebrate His birth.  We also celebrated Communion last night. As Pastor Matt began reading scripture I realized this service was going to be different. 
After communion Pastor Jon gave instructions that were new to me, regarding the lighting of candles.  His special instructions were to close the service singing, Joy to the World, carrying our lighted candles out of the sanctuary.  The new instructions were for each of us to take our candle, find one of the unlit luminaries, which had been placed outside on the sidewalk surrounding our church, and light that luminary.  
My husband reached for my hand as we found our car in the parking lot.  We both agreed that the service was beautiful.  However, it wasn't until about an hour later that I was awestruck.
One of the reasons the service was special was that my husband was strong enough to go with me.  He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's over four years ago, and most days he doesn't have the strength to do much.  My sweet hubby knows, I am like a child at Christmas, I love to drive around to see the Christmas lights.  So we went home after church, changed clothes, got mugs of hot chocolate, the "boys" (Bailey and Meko) and set out to "see the Christmas lights".
We had been driving around for a while, and finally decided to go back home.  For whatever reason, I decided to drive back past our church. It was then my eyes filled with tears. 
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said "Let light shine out of darkness, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (NIV).        
The luminaries that we had each lit earlier, lined the sidewalks outside our Church.  Jesus said in John 12:46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. 
And there in the darkness, His light was shining brightly for all of us to see.
Merry Christmas.....