For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. —Romans 15:4

Saturday, June 24, 2017

He is my Rock

Malachi 3:6
"I the Lord do not change."

I've joked that the most consistent thing about working in a library is change. New software, new methods of teaching, new information, new ways of getting the information. Constant change keeps the library moving into the twenty-first century.

Monday, the three librarians I work with and I set up our office and a temporary library in two classrooms. We moved the essential books and whatever we needed to work in the space, while the library is getting sprinklers and new heating and cooling. I've lost count of the changes that have occurred in the eleven years I've worked for Clermont. But I can tell you this—I've struggled with every single one.

I'm not good with change. I like my routine. I like the workflow I've set up. I like my office space. Yet, every time a change has been made, I've adjusted (sometimes with whining.) But each time, I've learned the new software, pushed my office chair to a different desk, or moved books to a different location, I've adapted.

For all the change I see in my daily life, I am so thankful that the God I love, does not change. He's always the same. He loves me and wants the best for me. He's ready to listen to my prayers and answer them. God is the same—All.The.Time! No matter how frustrated I get, worried I become, or troubled I am, God stays the same. He's my rock. He loves me. He knows what's ahead and why the change is necessary. And he knows what's best for me. Praise God he is the great I am.

For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. Psalm 95:3

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Muck of Worry

Matthew 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

When I was a young teen, I nearly drowned. I was swimming with my friends in their pond and I felt like I was pulled under. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't push myself up. Fortunately, my friend noticed and one of her brothers caught hold of me and tugged me out of the water. I don't know if my foot got trapped in the muck at the bottom or if a whirlpool caught me, but I was sinking with little hope of swimming my way out. Lately, I've had that overwhelming feeling that I'm caught at the bottom of a pond, struggling to swim to the top. That's what worry does.

Worry causes me to take my eyes off of the one who calms my soul. I'm not anxious about money, or my health. I'm not as anxious as I used to be about our kids. Although, I can still work up a good worry about them. But the one area that makes my anxiety go up, like the mercury in a  thermometer on a ninety-degree day, is my grandchildren. With Facebook, Twitter, newspapers and the news, I read way too much bad news. So far this summer I've read probably fifteen different stories about how bad ticks and mosquitoes will be this summer and the diseases they carry. People have posted lots of articles on water safety/tragedies. Then there are the other stories that I hate to even mention, that involve children. Please understand, I take all of this seriously, but I shouldn't let it terrify me.

Instead I should take my concerns to the one I trust the most. The God of all creation, who made the universe and counted every silver hair on my head. Our children and grandchildren are growing up in trying times. One tragedy after another. And all I want to do is protect them all. But that's not my job. No, my job is to pray. To ask God to watch after the little ones, and not so little ones. To seek God's guidance as I share life with them. Instead of spending time drowning in the depths of worry, I hit my knees and asked forgiveness for not trusting the one who holds my heart and the hands of our grandchildren. They are a valuable treasure, God has given me. Instead of worrying I want to spend my time encouraging them and teaching them about the hope I have in the Lord.

Worry is a pariah that results in paralyzing fear. Instead of worrying—pray and trust God.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Heartfelt Thanks

Colossians 2:6-7
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

In the past month, we've received six thank you notes. Two in our mailbox, three on my desk at work, and one via messenger. We've been blessed to be included in a wedding, graduations, the birth of a baby and a housewarming. One was for my years of service where I work. Each time I opened a card and read the heartfelt words, I felt good. My heart was happy at the simple, but kind, gesture of someone taking the time to say thank you. Years ago it was the custom to pen thank you notes and send them often. I'm a little sad that our society has gotten away from that.

From receiving the notes, I realized how I've failed to continue the custom of thanks. A custom that predates our society. The Bible speaks often of giving thanks. Paul told the folks who received his letters how thankful he was for them. The Old Testament is full of moments when people gave thank offerings to God. Daniel thanked God for his wisdom. 

We hear a lot lately about being a kinder society. I believe if we give thanks more often, the kindness will follow. Paul writes in Colossians that we should be "overflowing with thankfulness." Certainly, that thankfulness should be given to God. But let's not forget to thank our spouses, friends, children, co-workers, and family, too. Maybe even write a note of thanks. Try that this week and see what happens.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Did Martha Go Wash the Dishes?

John 11:21-27
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

I like Martha; Jesus' friend and Lazarus and Mary's sister. Too often she gets a bad rap. She's accused of worrying about the practical things while her sister rested at Jesus' feet, learning. But when you read the rest of her story...

Martha loved her brother and sister. It appears she takes good care of the household they share. Of course Lazarus has responsibility as the male in a Jewish household. No doubt, Mary does her part. But Martha makes sure the everyday things get done. Food is prepared, water is drawn, floors are swept, clothes are cleaned. But don't be fooled by Martha's focus on the essentials.

In her story from John 11, her brother Lazarus has died. Martha and her sister sent for Jesus, but he arrived after the fact. I'm sure she and Mary prepared Lazarus body with oils before they laid him in the cave and pushed a rock in front of it. So they knew Jesus was too late to heal their brother. I'm guessing Mary wanted to sit at Jesus' feet again and listen to his wisdom and comfort. But Martha wanted hope. In her heart she knew Jesus' power, she understood his significance, she believed he was the Son of God. That faith paid off. Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave and brought him back to life.

Martha and Mary witnessed this miracle up close and personal. Did Martha go wash the dishes? No, she confessed her faith to Jesus. When Martha needed to, she took care of business. Yet, along with her can-do spirit she worshiped her Lord and shared his hope. I like Martha. She's a nice blend of practical and faithful. Her feet scurried around the house even as her heart was full of Jesus' love.

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Saturday, May 27, 2017

They Will Walk and not be Faint

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.

When I worked in an elementary school library, I met a lot of children. Fortunately for me, my path has crossed with many of them over the years. I enjoy learning who they've become as adults. I've even had a few of them work for me at the college library. Today my story is about one little girl. As clear as day, I still see her sweet face peeking at me over my desk as she waited to check out a book. She had a beautiful smile with a hint of shyness. My husband delivered bottled water to her family, and he'd told me a little bit about them. "Good people," he said.

Hannah attended our school for a while, but eventually moved to a different district. But the Lord had plans for our paths to cross. We met up again at church, where I got to know her family. Though our journeys have taken us different directions again, I still keep in touch with her folks. The other day, her dad posted Hannah's photo on Facebook. In the picture, she's wearing glasses, her hair is pulled back, her cap pulled down and she's carrying a huge pack. But under it all is the sweet, shy girl I remember. And that sweet girl is all grown up and going through basic training as she prepares to serve her country. I'm thankful we have people like Hannah, who love God and the USA. God has blessed me just by knowing her.

This Memorial Day, I say a prayer of thanks for the men and women who gave their all for our freedom. I also ask you to pray with me for those who are fighting the fight. I pray the words of Isaiah and ask that "They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."