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, December 27, 2014

Fish and Follow

Luke 5: 8-11
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”  For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Not aware of the activity around them, Peter and his co-workers cast nets through the night, with no results. Not even a minnow. The next morning, Jesus encouraged them to toss their nets in the water one more time. I can imagine Peter and his fishing buddies shook their heads, shrugged their shoulders, then threw the nets overboard with little to no expectation. When they tugged and pulled the catch back on board and the fish flopped all over the deck, they must have stood with their mouths open, in awe. When the amazement calmed, Peter and the other men acknowledged their faith, parked their boats, and followed Jesus.

In 2014, I chose a specific word to pray about and apply to my life. When I focused on the word ‘fear,’ I had no idea how it would play out. I had to push fear aside several times, including a major surgery and an unexpected move, pretty much at the same time. Because I gave my fear to God, he eased my anxieties and helped me through. This year, I’ve chosen the word ‘follow.’ This requires me to stop and listen, to hear God’s guidance and requests. I long for the faith of the disciples as they dropped their plans and obeyed Jesus. I can’t wait to see where he’ll lead.

What word would you choose for 2015?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown.

Charlie Brown: Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

Linus: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.

[moves toward the center of the stage]

Linus: Lights, please.

[a spotlight shines on Linus]

Linus: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’” Luke 2:8-14

[Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown]

Linus: That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

I’m sure you recognize this quote from Charles Schultz’s famous A Charlie Brown Christmas. Did you know that Mr. Schultz had to hold his ground to get the show on the air back in 1965? CBS thought the program would fail because the general audience wouldn’t like the long Bible quote from Linus. They didn’t think the jazz sound track would fly with the children. And they were sure they’d never air it again due to lack of interest. But Charles Schultz knew he had an important story to tell that someone needed to hear. I’m so glad he did.

As I watched the timeless classic with my six-month old granddaughter on my lap and my (almost) five-year old grandson by my side, I thanked God these children have hope in Jesus. With all the world’s problems, there’s still joy, peace and love that can be found in the man who came as a baby and grew to be the man who’d take on the sin of all mankind.

As my family and I celebrate Christmas this week, I praise God for his son. Merry Christmas!

P.S. I’ve watched A Charlie Brown Christmas every year for 49 years. I guess CBS was wrong. 


Thursday, December 11, 2014


Luke 2:8-11
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Sometimes Christmas isn’t jolly or merry. Spirits sag because someone may be away from home and unable to spend the holiday with loved ones. Illness doesn’t stop because we celebrate. I can remember a few Christmases when I was sick or my kids were. Mom spent Christmas in the hospital one year. When our grandson Eli was born, he and his mommy and daddy celebrated in the maternity ward. I think about the folks who work in health care and public service, who sacrifice to care for people. I’ve never worked retail, but I can imagine the holidays may not be pleasant with all the shoppers on the prowl for the perfect gift at the perfect price.

Even as I contemplate the sadness and stress that can surround the holidays, I know the message the angels carried to the shepherds makes all the difference. They didn’t just say Merry Christmas. Instead, they brought good news of great joy. A joy that overcomes all weariness, sadness, and pain. As I go through the season, I want to share God’s love and joy by saying a kind word, thanking people for their service, hugging those who need encouragement and praying for those in need. Jesus is not only the reason for the season; he’s the joy in my heart.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Little White Sheep

 John 10:14-16
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

Our neighbors raised sheep. When sheering time came the fluffy creatures lined up, marched to the barnyard, and took turns getting haircuts. When the wool fell to the ground, the sheep didn’t seem to mind. They trusted their keepers. At Christmas time I set out the Fischer Price nativity set for my grandchildren. Front and center stands a sweet little white sheep. He looks happy to be part of the joyous occasion.

We see pictures and nativity sets with the shepherd and their sheep at Jesus crib. Perhaps they took some of them. I doubt the whole flock went to see the baby. Years later, when Jesus preached his message of salvation he didn’t want “sheep” left behind. He wanted all the people to follow him. Jesus is the good shepherd, the one who laid down his life for his sheep. Unlike the lambs, ewes and bucks, I didn’t just line up and follow Christ, instead I chose to accept him as the one who’d change me and give me eternal life. As I celebrate Christmas, I am thankful for the baby who grew up to become my shepherd. Praise God for the gift of his son.

Friday, December 5, 2014

At First I Panic!

I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar every month.   
–Harlan Miller

It happens every year. About mid-November a switch flips inside me. At first I panic.

So much to do:
  • decorate
  • make gifts
  • buy gifts
  • wrap gifts
  • bake
  • send cards, etc.
Christmas lurks around Thanksgiving’s corner.

How do I handle the panic?
  • focus and pray
  • stop and enjoy Thanksgiving
  • remember the reason for the season
  • make lists
  • enlist help
  • listen to Christmas music or whatever music brings joy
  • read a Christmas book
  • read the Christmas story
  • simplify
  • enjoy the people I love
  • give things away
  • give to a good cause
  • cherish the memories created
Have a Happy Christmas season!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Family Holidays

Ephesians 3:14-17a
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…

The holidays…a time for family. Whether you spend time with your biological family, adopted family, framily (friend family), or church family, it can be a time of joy, laughter, craziness, sadness, or stress. My family keeps me grounded, reminds me where I came from and who I am. We are a mixed up bag of funny, goofy, smart, and spirited. Even when we agree to disagree, we love each other and step up to the plate when someone’s in need.

God intended for families to care for each other. To bring strength to the weak, love to the lonely, share tears in mourning and laughter in joy. Whoever I spend the holidays with, I want them to see Jesus. Being with people exhausts me. It’s that introvert thing, but after I’ve spent hours with the people I love, I am so blessed. I love my family, framily, and church family. It’s a joy to share this time of year with all the people I love. I pray for each person reading this as you head into the Christmas season, that this will be a time of love and joy.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Complete Thankfulness

 Matthew 26:26-29
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

This week we’ll join with family to celebrate our American heritage. Turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and green beans are a few of the yummy foods we’ll share. And I can’t forget the pie. I love pie—pumpkin, pecan, apple, whatever fills the dessert table. As delicious as all the wonderful dishes are, there’s a meal I partake of each week that fills me with complete thankfulness.

Jesus met with the disciples for the last supper, the final time he’d break bread with his beloved friends before he died on the cross. When he broke the bread he referred to as his body and shared the drink he called his blood, he gave thanks to his Father knowing he’d be crucified and resurrected. I’m appreciative we take time each week during communion to remember and thank God for his Son. I’m grateful I have the freedom to attend a church that worships Christ. I’m praise God for the opportunity to celebrate America, family and Jesus.

What Thanksgiving foods will you share with family and friends this week?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sing Out!

Colossians 3:15-17
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I’m not a musician but I love music. The worship music at church, songs I hear on the radio, and thanks to 93.9 Christmas music. Yes I’ve been listening to “O Holy Night,” “Away in a Manger,” and the instrumental music from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Plus lots of contemporary carols. Maybe I’m a little early, but it renews my spirit of thanksgiving and joy.

I like that the folks at the church in Colossians taught through music. Psalms, hymns and songs were filled with wisdom and shared among the people. Their voices lifted in praise. Some of my favorite hymns remind me how much Jesus loves me and how he died for me. I don’t know many Thanksgiving songs, but I know several that express thanks to the Lord. Psalm 100:4 paints a beautiful picture of rejoicing in the Lord. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise give thanks to him and praise his name.” I picture a group of people dancing and singing and praising the King of Kings. This Thanksgiving, find the song in your heart and praise the Lord!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nehemiah Prayed

Nehemiah 12:27-28
At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. The musicians also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem…

Nehemiah watched his beloved Jerusalem fall because the people who lived there ignored and mocked God. His heart broke as King Nebuchadnezzar’s men annihilated the city. The walls fell and the people fled in terror. Nehemiah lifted prayers of restoration to God. Jerusalem’s walls were restored. The city rose again. In celebration of thanksgiving Nehemiah invited musicians and singers to praise the work of God’s hand.

If you read the scripture, you find many stories of devastation, destruction, and sin. People trudged through the muck and mire of illness (lepers), catastrophe (the flood), and loss (Job). Yet believers in God prayed their way through and found reason to celebrate. They lifted their voices in thanksgiving. Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” And hope stirs a thankful heart.

In November, Americans focus on being thankful because our forefathers founded a free land. I’m thankful for the freedom to worship God. I pray that our country will always be a place where I have the freedom to believe in God and praise him openly with thanksgiving.

What are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I'm Waiting

Psalm 27:14
 for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.


I’m not naturally patient. Maybe because I’ve lived in an era of “Have it your way”, “Just do it”, fast food, and text messaging. I often find myself encouraging my grandkids to be patient. Then wonder if I’m setting a good example. I’m probably more impatient with my writing than anything else in life. As I tap on the computer keys and read books about writing, I pray for God’s guidance and ask him for…patience. I hope someday to publish a novel. The truth is— that will happen in God’s time. That doesn't mean, I sit back and dream the day away. Instead, I plug away and make the effort.

With God’s help, I’ve learned to wait on him. Every time I’ve run ahead of God’s plan or gotten frustrated with waiting, he reminds me he designed me and knows my life. God’s timing is perfect, whether we agree with it or not. I’d rather wait on God, than fail miserably. So many times in my life, I’ve run ahead and made mistakes. When I’ve fallen on my face, I’ve realized once again that God knows what’s best for me. Praise God for his patience with me.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Matthew 5:9
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.

Disruption, arguments, or an unsettled atmosphere causes stress. Stress brings an unsettled feeling that steals peace. By nature, I’m a peacemaker. But then Satan’s temptation wiggles in and gets me to snipe at somebody. Afterwards, I feel terrible. The peacefulness I had is obliterated.

I prefer to live by my life verse: “…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) This doesn’t mean I ignore people and hole up, but that 
I spend time being productive, caring and doing God’s work. Then I live a peace filled existence, instead of a stressful, chaotic life.

God wants me to seek peace. I’m talking about inward tranquility, the calm that Jesus gives as I trust him. When I’m at peace with the life God gave me, the same serenity flows through my days and onto whatever I’m doing and whoever I’m with. His peace passes all understanding, and I’m thankful for that.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Love With Actions

1 John 3:16-18
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

I will never forget my aunt Peggy showing up at my front door with two bags of groceries. I was a single parent with three little girls to feed on a fixed income. We did okay, but some weeks the food budget shrunk because one of the girls needed something. This particular week was one of those where I’d tried to stretch the budget, but it didn’t quite make it. Bless her heart, without knowing what I needed Aunt Peggy brought exactly what I would have purchased. God knew what we needed, placed it on her heart, and she delivered.

God also knew what we needed as his people. Jesus came to live as a human so he could teach and in the end save us from ourselves. After Adam and Eve opened the doors to destructive behavior, God implemented his action plan and sent his precious son to live among the people. Jesus sacrifice allowed us to be saved from the sins of the world and to be delivered to heaven. I praise God for people who see the needs of others and live their life serving and giving. Even more, I praise God for his plan of redemption. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to meet Jesus in heaven. It will be a glorious day.

Share a story about someone reaching out to you when you needed help.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pure Joy

 James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

When I think about the word trials, I’m reminded of the breadth and depth of hardships and pain people go through. I don’t want to discount any suffering my friends, family, neighbor or anyone else go through. Some folks seem to be slammed with so much grief; I wonder how they get through. Others may worry about finances, illness, surgery, or difficult relationships. With each trial James tells me to find joy because perseverance will result if I walk through it with God.

No matter what circumstances come, God shores up his followers. I’ve been tested as I’ve recovered from surgery. Some days I wanted to crawl under a rock— not exactly the most comfortable place, but better than the pain I suffered. But God gave me hope. He knew I’d be stronger and that I’d persevere. Sometimes the physical ailments are easier to trek through than the emotional and spiritual. Yet with God, I’ve learned to pray my way through. And in the end, I’ve grown. Praise God for his foresight and desire for me to grow in him and the pure joy he's shown me through trials of life.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Inheritance in Heaven

1 Peter 1:3-6
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

The wind blew through the orange and yellow leaves of the young maple tree. I thought about how many seasons that new tree would go through before it reached full growth. Year after year, the rings on the inside would expand, and the trunk and limbs would reach higher. The leaves would green up, then change to dramatic shades of autumn and tumble down with the wind. With every barren winter, the tree has the hope of spring.

Much like the tree, I go through seasons of growth, times of rest, days when I feel like my leaves are falling. Trials come and go in life. Some shape me more than others. Occasionally the trials slow me down and even cause grief. Yet with every trial I face on earth, I know Jesus offers his living hope, the gift of heaven. An inheritance that never fades waits for all who love and accept Jesus as Savior. Praise God for his gift of hope and heaven.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fountain of Life

Psalm 36:6-9
Your righteousness
 is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

In junior high our history teacher taught about, Ponce de Leon, an explorer who traveled to Florida and supposedly discovered the legendary fountain of youth. It’s told that people would drink from the fountain and regain their youthfulness. Since that tale was told, people have searched for ways to stay youthful and slow down the aging process. From Botox to diet mania folks work at looking and feeling younger. Being healthy, feeling better and looking good are all positives, but they’re only a small part of life.

In Psalm 36, the writer says God has a fountain of life. Not just youth, but the whole life experience. Now that’s something I want to take part in. With God in my life I have the freedom to dive in and see what he has in store. Jesus Christ has lifted the bonds of worry and guilt and given me enthusiasm for his purpose. Through his light, I see the light in life. Praise God for his unfailing love.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

His Purpose Prevails

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

A few years ago Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, flew off book shelves. People wanted to know their purpose. Have you ever been introduced to someone and the person introducing you tells them your job? “Hi. This is Penny. She is a technical services manager in an academic library.” Yes that’s my job, but it’s not my purpose. When I think about whom I am and what I do, I can list numerous responsibilities and talents, but they don’t explain my purpose. I can plan activities and goals, but if they don’t match my purpose, they won’t pan out.

Proverbs 19:21 speaks loud and clear to me. If my purpose doesn’t align with God’s purpose for my life, everything I try to do, will not work out for the best. The Lord’s will prevails. Not mine. I am responsible for listening to God’s call and fulfilling the purpose God’s given me. I know without a doubt, God wants me to share the love of Jesus with others. He wants me to be kind and read his word. He calls me to follow, pray, and obey. I may do all these things through the talents he blessed me with, in the job he led me to, or among my family and friends. Then I’m on the right track because I’ve allowed God’s purpose to permeate my life. Thank goodness God has my best interest in mind as he leads me through life.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Caught Up in the Clouds

1 Thessalonians 4:14-18
For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.

One evening last week, Tim and I traveled west on SR 32. As the sun prepared to set, it reflected gold and pink on whispy clouds against an azure blue sky. The result was spectacular.  I am constantly amazed at the beauty God shares. As I watched the gold clouds brighten, I couldn’t help but think about Jesus returning in magnificent splendor with the saints who have gone before.
In Thessalonians, Paul paints an exciting picture of Jesus return. There’s both comfort and amazement in his words. He reminded the readers that those who followed Jesus and had passed away would come back with their Savior. What a joy to know I’ll see loved ones again. How inspiring to know that Jesus will come from heaven to take his own. Paul’s words encourage me to continue to follow my Lord. I hope they encourage you as well. Praise God for his perfect plan.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Romans 5:3-6
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

I missed posting a devotion last week. Wish I’d been clear-minded enough to type something coherent. Instead, I rested. That is, except when I suffered through “the exercises”.  Not long after I woke up at the hospital, the nurse and physical therapist had me walking to the bathroom and around the hallway. My new knee protested, but I pushed through. Once home, a therapist visited several times throughout the week to work my knee more. And I had exercises to do in-between. Thank goodness they directed. On my own I’d have wallowed on the couch. I’m pretty sure that only produces more wallowing.

Between the therapist, my daughter, Hannah, and my husband I’ve successfully continued to stay on the exercise track. Suffering and perseverance aren’t much fun, no matter whether physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental. But, I’m happy to say that I have the hope of walking normal again without excruciating pain. God knew I’d need stamina to push through and to continue. He not only gave me the strength, he gave me the people to help. Many folks have pitched in this week, and I know there will be more. He gave me a home that is perfect for recovery and the desire to get better. Praise God for pushing me when I need it and for my hope in him.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Exciting and Exhausting Summer

Psalm 116:1-2
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

Too much to do in a short amount of time, life changes I didn’t expect, and some I did made this an exciting and exhausting summer. In May, the college I work for initiated renovations on the library I work in. In June, our daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Meanwhile at the library, the staff and I withdrew books, moved DVDs which required a lot of computer work on my part, and updated the periodicals. These are all time consuming above my normal work load and continued through Aug. 22. In July, I spent a week with Sara, Eli and baby Ella Cate. My Jeep went in the shop three times. And Tim and I started the process of purchasing a new home. We closed August 21 and moved yesterday, August 23. With every spare moment we sorted, tossed, packed and donated as much stuff as time allowed. (My advice-purge on an ongoing basis) We still have work to do— most of it falls on Tim because I go in for total knee replacement surgery on Thursday, Aug. 28. And that’s just a quick overview.

Why am I sharing this? To give glory to God. With every step, we prayed. Many times when I felt stressed, I held our new grandbaby, and peace washed over me and sustained me. At work, God gave me wisdom to figure out some complicated processes and a great group of coworkers to share the burden. God led us to an amazing financial officer who helped us navigate the loan process. And he led us to a new home that is perfect for us. He provided an excellent group of family members to move us and several folks who helped us along the way. The weather on moving day was cooler than it was supposed to be, plus no rain. Best of all, we moved in before the surgery. Like David in the Psalm, I love the Lord. He heard our cries and he answered. I cannot praise God enough for his loving care.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Psalm 62:5-8
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
 Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

My daughter called to tell me actor, comedian Robin Williams had died. Apparent suicide the news said. Shock and sadness swept the nation. How could someone who made people laugh take his own life? I don’t know the answer. But I do know that depression and suicidal thoughts are more prevalent than we want to believe. And taking your own life is not the answer. God wants us to live life and turn to him for help and hope. Please don’t assume I just don’t understand, because I do. I’ll be transparent here and tell you that I have an anxiety disorder that goes hand-in-hand with depression. It’s not fun, at times I want to curl up in a ball and hide. But, prayer keeps me going. I’m also blessed with a husband who senses when I go there and helps me climb out of the hole.

In the Psalm, David cried out to God many times. He suffered from depression fed by guilt. His sins caused a great deal of damage and hurt. Yet, God loved him. No matter what life brings, hope remains. Depression comes from many sources; hormonal changes, guilt, physiological imbalances, mental health issues to name a few. But no matter what a person struggles with, God offers hope. He wants to heal and renew. As I follow Jesus, I pray that I am aware of the people around me who are hurting, so I can reach out, pray for them, and love them. Depression is real and so is God’s hope.

I’m sad for Mr. William’s family and continue to pray for them, as well as folks dealing with the dark shadows of depression.

How have you dealt with depression?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Purple and Refreshed

Psalm 145:8-9

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.
 The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.

Ephesians 4:22-24

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

A brown plaster elephant stood in Mom and Dad’s living room for as long as I could remember. He stood about two feet tall, topped with a small slab of marble for a table-like top. Every Saturday I dusted him as I cleaned. That old elephant wormed his way into my heart. Over the years, he moved with Mom and Dad from house to house. With each move, he suffered a few chipped edges as the paint wore away. By the time Mom and Dad moved to an apartment the elephant looked pretty tired. But I still loved him like an old friend. When Mom said she no longer had room for the elephant, I took him to my house. He sat in the corner for awhile, still brown and still chipped. Today I pulled him to the back porch and painted him—purple. Yes, purple. He’s beautiful and refreshed.

As much as I loved that old elephant, God loved me so much more. I’ve had times in my life when I felt worn and chipped. God poured his care over me and renewed my spirit. His compassion and love covered me and gave me a new attitude. Paul reminded the Ephesians to put away their bad habits and poor choices and put on Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Many around them had separated themselves from God and allowed their hearts to harden. Paul reminded them that Jesus’ grace had the power to refresh the soul and offer hope of new life~ as it still does. Praise God for his love and compassion.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What do Sassafras Leaves and God's People have in Common?

Ephesians 4:14-16
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

When I wandered through the woods as a kid, I was fascinated with the variety of trees God created. My favorite, the sassafras tree, bore three different leaves. Not many trees can claim that. A mitten leaf, three “fingered” and kind of an oval leaf live together on the branches. Even though the leaves are different, they feed from the same source and draw life from the same nutrients.

As followers of Jesus, the church is filled with a variety of people. All different, but all feeding from the same life source— Jesus. God created each person as a unique individual with specific talents and gifts. I love when all those believers come together and show Jesus to the world. My daughter directs Vacation Bible School each year at the church she attends. Every year challenges rise. This year was no exception. Yet because all the people involved focused on God, both children and workers were blessed in abundance.  Maggie posted this on Facebook, “…I love seeing God's servants come out and work so hard for these kids…Service is what this week was all about, and the example these kids witnessed through my dear church family's willingness to give of themselves is the greatest lesson they received.”

God created us to work together for his kingdom. Praise God for those who obey and serve.

Share a time when you saw people work together for God.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Courage to Survive

Job 33:4
The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

I jumped and held my breath when the sirens blared and the lights flashed. That was the speaker’s purpose. She wanted me to understand when faced with a threat, I freeze up. She’s right, I took a breath and held it. The blood rushed to my heart and caused my hands, arms, feet and legs to turn into noodles. Debbie Gardner of the Survive Institute spoke at the staff retreat. Her excellent advice on overcoming fear with courage could save my life. If I’m threatened by someone intending to cause harm, I need to breath, inhale and exhale. If I can escape, go. If I can’t, grip my hands in fists to keep the circulation flowing, then step back to create space between me and the attacker. Instead of focusing on fear, focus on the people I love and want to live for to stir the courage to yell “No!” and/or go for the throat. If all they want are valuables, give them the purse. If they want your life, go for the throat, with a water bottle, marker, keys, my hand, whatever works to stun them. Then run, call 911 for the police and an ambulance.  

Debbie’s instruction addressed physical threats and the importance of being prepared mentally in a crisis. But what about spiritual threats and attacks. How do I prepare for those? Job was attacked over and over and he continued to inhale. He knew God authored his life with his breath. When I am attacked by Satan, I need to take in the breath of God. To escape, I want to turn away from the temptation and run the other way. That creates space between me and the problem. If he keeps coming after me, I will shout “No!” and focus on the people I love and don’t want to harm by my actions. Then I go for the throat or as I like to picture in my mind, poke him in the eyes with spike heels. Yes, I actually think this sometimes. It my way of saying, “get thee behind me Satan.”
I praise God for people like Debbie who care enough about other people to instruct, and I praise him for the life he’s breathed into me.

To read more about the survive institute, go to

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Guard Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.

Tim and I wandered around the IKEA store a week or so ago. If you’ve never been there they are a huge furniture store, originated in Sweden, they sell ready to assemble furniture in fun styles. Unlike other stores, IKEA sets up complete rooms of furniture. We strolled through living rooms, bedrooms, amazing kitchens and even bathrooms. The employees set up visually appealing interiors to grab the buyer’s attention. Of course the furniture is attractive and inviting, but they represent a house, not a home. There’s no personal touch, no heart.

Without the heart, the designs look nice, but have no personal appeal, no depth of character. They lack individuality. God created every person with heart. Not just the one that pumps blood through the veins, but the heart that overflows with joy and aches with pain. The part of us that rips apart when tragedy strikes or oozes with love at the sight of a newborn baby. The creator knew we’d need to protect our hearts from evil in the world, temptation, and the frozen diffidence of not caring. Proverbs warns us to guard our hearts. Protect them from the things of the world that make them hard and cold. Instead shore the heart up with Bible verses and prayer, positive conversations, and hugs so that good things flow from it. Praise God for wanting us to have loving and peace-filled hearts.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Don't Worry, Trust God

Matthew 6:28-34
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Every July I’m delighted by the flowers in the fields. God sprinkles black-eyed Susans, chicory, Queen Anne’s Lace, and orange tiger lilies along the roadways and in the fields.He dresses them up for summer with blooms wrapped in splendor. The rainbow of petals reminds me that God meets my needs. If he cares that much about the flowers, he cares even more for his people.

Yet some days I find myself drowning in worry? Why? Satan wants me to doubt God and his generous spirit. He wants me to take on the burden of worry so that I’ll no longer trust the Lord. But, worry empties joy from the day and steals peace. And it’s exhausting. Instead I choose to trust God, who time and again has met every need. Today I celebrate my 57th year of life. I have much to be thankful for, a wonderful husband, beautiful family, a church I enjoy, great friends, a good job, but most of all a Savior who loves me more than I can imagine. Praise God for his love and care.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Truth Will Set You Free

John 8:31-36
….Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” 

I am thankful I live in America where I can worship God without government interference or worse—persecution. Without that freedom, I couldn’t write my devotions every week and send them into web world. Corporations like Hobby Lobby have an opportunity to defend belief. Churches meet as often as they desire. I pray with all my heart the freedom I enjoy doesn’t disappear.  

If I ever had to worship in secret, be persecuted in public, or die for my beliefs I know that I am still free in Jesus. His truth has set me free. Only through repentance and total surrender to God do I have total freedom. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Pray with me for those folks who live in countries where the government dictates belief and for people who have not heard Jesus' truth. I don’t ever want to take the freedom I have for granted.

Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

I'd Dance If I Could

Old Clock by George Hodan
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens
a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Some days are so filled with joy that I want to dance. On Tuesday, we welcomed a sweet granddaughter into the family. I don’t know how other grandparents feel, but for me the birth of a baby never fails to make my heart flip-flop. I am so amazed at God’s creation that I have trouble putting into words the joy that bubbles up and overflows. The tiny little toes, stretching hands, little lamb voice, unblemished face and turned up nose, even a dimple, and her sweet, pure soul reflect the beauty of God’s love. When I held her close she smelled new, like fresh rain.

Even as I rejoiced over the birth of my granddaughter, a dear friend was letting go of someone she loved. The circle of life. Although my friend knew her loved one was joining Jesus in heaven, she mourned the loss of this precious soul. Ecclesiastes tells us that there’s a time for everything. A time to mourn, a time to dance, a time to weep, and a time to laugh. God knows the best time for everything. 

Praise God for the miracle called life, and the time to rejoice in his love.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What Bible Verse are You?

Isaiah 40:30-31
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
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.

If you are a fan of Facebook you’ve probably run across one of those little quizzes (5-7 questions—unscientific) that asks, “What kind of flower are?” “What color is your brain?” “What Disney movie are you?” I’m pretty sure my brain is the same color the text books show, and well… I took the Disney one and turned out I should be in Alice in Wonderland because I’m artistic. Hmmm… not my favorite but hey it’s just a goofy, little quiz.  A new test popped up on my feed the other day that asked “What Bible verse are you?” Out of curiosity, I played along.

The culmination of information drawn from about 6-7 questions gave me Isaiah 40:31. When I read the verse, I thanked God for the timely reminder. Even young people who are still physically able get tired. I’m not old, mind you, but I’m up there, closer to 60 than 50 now and I do grow weary. The current heat and humidity make my arthritis ache. Balancing several tasks at work makes me tired. And I could continue to whine—but I won’t. I am thankful I have a strength that defies human ability. When I’m exhausted from daily living I have a God who bolsters me, he gives me his strength and helps me move one more step. I love God and know that no matter what happens in life, he has my back. He never leaves me hanging and he comforts me. He alone renews my strength.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What Will You Eat or Drink?

Matthew 6:25-27
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

My daughter, Maggie, noticed a nest of baby Robin’s in an arbor. We watched the momma bird find worms and carry them to her babies. When the momma flew to the yard, we peeked at the precious ones. The new little creatures, totally dependent on their parents, opened their beaks in anticipation. In the robin species, Mom and Dad both gather worms and berries for their hatchlings and even carry away their excrement to keep the nest clean. Just as the babies are cared for by their parents, Mom and Dad Robin are taken care of by God.

Matthew reminds me not to worry about what I wear or what I eat. God provides. As a follower of Jesus I’m assured that my heavenly Father takes care of me. Even when I think I’m without I never am. I am saddened that sometimes I spend too much time thinking about my next meal, what I’ll wear to work, or when I’ll sleep. All basic needs and all met by my Father. Why worry when God takes care of me better than I ever could. I’m blessed to have a husband who loves me and our wonderful children and grandchildren.  And if you see me you know I have plenty of food and am well clothed. This all reminds me not to worry and instead to praise God for his love and care. He is my Father and I love him.

Happy Father’s Day!