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, November 18, 2017

A Thankful Heart!

Colossians 4:2
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

I have fond memories of my dad praying grace over our meals, when I was growing up.
Tim's prayers at our dinners bless my heart. My girls learned to pray their prayers at bedtime with honesty and sweetness. Oh, how I enjoy our grandkids' little voices speaking to their heavenly father. Over the years, I've been asked to pray out loud, and I'll be honest, I get nervous. I'm not comfortable leading others in prayer. As a matter of fact, I used to struggle with how I should communicate with the Lord, at all. But I've learned, I don't need to be nervous or shy about prayers. I simply need to go before God with whatever is on my mind. Sometimes I write my prayers in a notebook. Other times, I talk to him whenever a need comes to mind. The truth I know is—God wants to hear from me.

Paul tells the Colossian church to pray with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Even though my words may be simple, I don't want to be distracted when I call up words to Jesus. Instead, I need to be attentive. And I should always go before the Lord with thanksgiving. It's easy to think of what I'm thankful for, with Thanksgiving Day around the corner. But what about next week? Or during the hustle and bustle of Christmas, if I become irritated and tired. What about next year, after the new diet doesn't work out and the scales are stuck? Yep, even then I need to go before God with a thankful heart. What if all is well? Do I stop talking to God? No! I need to shout words of thanks and praise! I am grateful that God has set up a way for us to communicate. I love talking to him and listening for answers. This week as Thanksgiving approaches, give thanks to the Father who loves us and wants to hear from us!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Hebrews 10:10
For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

I was honored this week to witness a group of second graders giving respect and
recognition to our veterans. Behind the children a giant flag filled the wall, created by grades K-2. Around the walls, stars hung with names of military men and women inscribed by the kids. On the risers, second graders stood proud to sing about the ones who protect our country. Two of our grandchildren sang with their classmates; "America the Beautiful," "Armed Forces Medley," and "You're a Grand Old Flag." The first graders displayed America's White Table for MIA and POW men and women. The program reminded me how important the militaries' protection is for the very children standing there singing.  I am thankful the schools still teach children to respect the folks in the military and to appreciate their sacrifice.

As I'm thinking about the sacrifice made by the people who fight to keep us safe, I'm reminded of the ultimate sacrifice made for life itself. Jesus gave his life so that we could all have the hope of heaven. I believe in life after death. I know God has prepared a place where we can live with him forever. But I also know, I can't get their of my own accord. No more than I could have my freedom on American soil without the military. Jesus is my only way to eternal life in heaven. He gave his life for mine and yours. I believe with all my heart in Jesus as my Savior. As I remember those who have given their life for freedom, I also remember the freedom Jesus has given me from sin. Praise God for the hope we have in Jesus and the folks who protect our freedom to worship.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Cross and Crown

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Sunday morning at church, the worship team led us in a beautiful rendition of "O Come to the Altar" by Elevation Worship. As they strummed guitars and voices rose, I focused on the words. The song talks about Jesus and how he has his arms open to us who may be hurting or searching. The words reminded me that Jesus wants me to come to him and bow down, seeking his love. As I sang along and we came to the end of the song, this line grabbed me"Bear your cross, as you wait on your crown."

That line describes life. Temptation and testing happens every day. The devil never misses an opportunity to poke his ugly fingers into our lives. He'd love more than anything for us to succumb to his wily ways. But that's only part of the story. The second half of the line, "wait on your crown" is overflowing with hope. As I seek Jesus, he shores me up and equips me with the tools to fight back and knock Satan out of my life. Jesus provides resistance and strength. As you bear your cross and wait on your crown, know that Jesus stands with you.
...hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Ephesians 6:16

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The View from Caesar's Head

Psalm 95:4-7
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
    and the mightiest mountains.
The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
    His hands formed the dry land, too.
Come, let us worship and bow down.
    Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
    the flock under his care.

Tim and I drove down to see Hannah in South Carolina. On the way we cruised through the Great Smokey Mountains. As we powered along, I watched the landscape for any signs of autumn. And bears—I always watch for bears. From the highway, we looked over the ridges and felt we were well above the tree-strewn valleys. That is until Saturday, when Hannah took us to a place called Caesar's Head. From our point of view, about 3200 feet above sea level, the scene took my breath away.  A valley, that stretched as far as I could see, housed a vast forest dotted with gold and red. A lake as smooth as glass sprawled between hills. The majestic mountains rose in the distance.

We stood on top of this rock formation called Caesar's Head
Gazing over the beauty, reminded me of two truths from Psalm 95. Number one: Everything was created by and is owned by God. As I stood on the top of Caesar's Head, I saw wonder in God's natural world. I drew in fresh air. I imagined what animals roamed those mountains. (Maybe, a bear or two.) Number two: God watches over me. He cares about me and loves me just as I am. I needed that reminder, because sometimes I forget or take for granted our incredible Lord. He has more love than we can imagine, and he wants to pour that out on us if only we seek him.

Let us come to him with thanksgiving. 
Let us sing psalms of praise to him.



                                      -Psalm 95:2

Friday, October 20, 2017

Two Ears and One Mouth

James 1:19-20
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

I have a confession. Sometimes—I lose my temper. Unfortunately, that's a true statement. The weird thing is, I am usually at work when this happens. And almost every time, someone has told me something and instead of listening and thinking about their words, I let my mouth fly open. "Why did this happen?" "Why did that happen?" "That's not fair!" The one not being fair might be me, because I don't know the whole story. Yet God does, and he sees my behavior. I have proof—last Friday I was feeling bad about something I'd spouted, so I prayed. The next morning, in my Bible app, the verse of the day was James 1:19.
from commons.wikipedia.com

God knows my thoughts and my heart so well, I'm thinking he knows yours too. That's why I'm sharing this. James is a smart man, the brother of Jesus, and an inspiration to me. I love the book of James. Evidently, I need to read it more to remind myself of God's truth. When I read the verse on my phone, I was reminded of something I used to tell my elementary students at storytime. We have two ears and one mouth. We need to listen more than we talk. Sounds like I need my own advice.

On Monday morning, when I returned to work I taped a copy of James 1:19 on my computer. That little verse has been a great reminder, and practicing the wise words has given me a better week. What's God trying to tell you? Do you need a visual reminder. So far that method has helped me. Consider God's wisdom, it's the most amazing life transformer I know.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sun and Soccer

2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

We've spent several Saturdays watching grandsons play soccer. Sitting on the sidelines our view often faces the sun. The bright rays make us squint. We have to lift our hands to block the glare (when we forget our baseball caps.) The sun makes watching the games a bit uncomfortable. But we tolerate the heat and brightness  because we love our grandsons and want to support them.


With Jesus, the opposite happens. In life we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations. Maybe a loved one has died or we've found out we're ill. Perhaps our hearts break for a sad situation or we've experienced abuse. What happens in this world is sometimes so difficult we don't understand. But then the light of Jesus warms our hearts. His light breaks through the darkness and brings comfort and peace. His light is so brilliant, once you let it in, the radiance of hope outshines the darkest night. But that's just it, we have to choose to let Jesus in. He wants, more than anything, to fill our lives with his light. His offer of comfort, peace and joy is open to everyone. His light is not something to tolerate, instead it's something to cherish. If you need light in your life, seek Jesus. He loves you.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Do You Now the Joy?

1 Peter 1:6-7
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

Our three-year-old granddaughter bubbles over with joy. Born with a huge personality, she entertains and loves in a big way. She sings about Jesus and dances with delight. Her precious little smile causes me to melt, especially when her eyes twinkle and her sweet dimple shows. She loves life and shares that love with a joy-filled heart.

Our world is filled with tragedy and grief. On the days when evil rears his ugly head and causes pain and sorrow, I find it difficult to grasp the joy that's "down in my heart." Growing up we learned a fun little song, that Ella Cate is probably being taught in Sunday School. "I have the joy, joy, joy—down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart." That joy, delight, elation comes from trusting in Jesus. When I dedicated my life to follow Jesus, he poured his love and yes, joy in me. Even when I've suffered heartache, illness, distrust, or tragedy, Jesus' joy sustained me. No matter what happens on this earth. No matter how scary, heartrending  or catastrophic— because I love and follow Jesus—I still have a glimmer of hope.

So when I visit with my granddaughter and she bubbles over with joy, I'm reminded of the joy that bubbles in my heart! That hope fills me with peace. I pray for peace for all who are going through trials. I pray for the joy of Jesus to overflow.

Luke 18:16 Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children."

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Letting Go of the Leaves

Psalm 55:22
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I was walking down the hall at work, a walkway with top to bottom windows, when I paused to peer out at the woods that surrounds our campus. Some of the trees already donned their autumn wardrobe. As I watched for a moment, a tree let go of a leaf and sent it tumbling to the ground. The deciduous trees sense winter is coming, so they begin their hibernation by letting go of the old leaves. Once the brilliance of fall ends, the leaves cover the ground and the tree hopes for a new season in the spring.  

That single leaf falling to the ground reminded me of the seasons in life. The ones where we need to let go of old things. Maybe a sin from the past that hangs on with hawk like talons. A sorrow so great, your heart breaks over and over. Words that sliced you like a knife. Or words you flung at someone else. The baggage we hold onto weighs us down. Like the trees, God wants us to let go and place our burdens and cares in his hands.

The trees were created by God to sense the time to let go. As believers, he gives us his word that tells us to cast our cares and anxieties on him and he'll take care of us. I know I need to trust God with my heartaches and my burdens. I know, like the trees do that there's a time to let my problems drop into his hands and let him take care of me. God loves us so much. The desire of his heart is for us to pour out our hearts to him. If you have a sin, a sorrow, a worry, a confession—tell Jesus. He listens and forgives. He helps us move on to the next season. Praise God, he loves us so much!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Puffins, Fear and Faith

Matthew 8:23-26
Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.


Off the coast of Maine, Tim and I waited with several others for our puffin tour to begin. Once the tour boat launched we'd travel out about half an hour to see the little birds in their habitat. The captain announced the excursion would be delayed because of a mild storm. Rain drizzled down around the boat as clouds rolled over. Once the dreary weather passed, the captain pulled the boat out into the choppy ocean waters. Thirty minutes later we stood on the deck and spied the puffins. The boat rocked, the puffins bobbed, and I hung over the side with my hand wrapped around a pole to snap photos. Although I should have been afraid of falling in, I wasn't. For two reasons—Tim was watching out for me and my focus wasn't on fear. Instead the purpose for the tour held my attention.

Matthew tells another story about a storm and the fear that gripped the disciples when the waves crashed. Although my experience wasn't like theirs, nor was it like the folks who just went through hurricanes, I learned a lesson. Instead of letting fear grab my attention, I was able to focus on why I was on the boat. Through determination and anticipation, my fear took a back seat.

So many days troubles come, storms of life if you will. And what do I do. Too often I focus on the fear, the anxiety, the possibility of failure. What should I do? Pray and trust Jesus to see me through. Also, I need to keep my eyes on my purpose and remember God has a plan for my life. The storms I go through are not just storms, they're lessons and opportunities. Our storms give us the chance to show others our faith in Jesus. Let's praise him through the storms!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Treasures of my Heart

Proverbs 24:3-4
By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

Tim and I hiked through one of Kelleys Island's nature preserves. We trekked along a grass and dirt path until we reached a boardwalk, made of recycled plastic, that rambled through the woods and over the wetland. On the other side, the trees opened up onto a lovely little beach. White sand, created from waves breaking up tiny white shells, sparkled in the sun. As we wandered along the water's edge, we searched for treasures. Not gold or silver, but pretty rocks, pebbles, and lake glass. Lake Erie did not disappoint. We found pink, red, and interesting green rocks along with white, green (two shades) and brown lake glass. As we wandered along, some children playing nearby showed us their finds, including a live turtle they were watching. What a fun trip!

Once we got back home, I cleaned the rocks and glass and added them to my growing collection. I love my treasures. They are memories of my life. Our home is filled with things that remind us of the people we love and the God we worship. So much of what we own reflects the gifts God has created and given. 

Proverbs 24 reminds me my home should be built with wisdom, established on understanding, and that treasures come from knowledge. I believe the wisdom refers to the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit. For my house to truly be a home, God must come first. Understanding reflects our relationship with Jesus and the personal interest he has in us. Knowledge represents God's word of truth, the Bible, which is chocked full of rare and beautiful treasures. Without these elements, my home would be empty. I want Jesus' love, joy and peace to fill our house. I love my rocks and lake glass, but I treasure the heart of our home so much more, which is Jesus.

The treasures that fill the home should also fill the heart.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Lord is my Rock

Psalm 18:2
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.


I had something else in mind to write today, but I've tucked those words away for another time. Instead, my mind and heart are with the folks who have been through or are waiting on the forces of nature that have let loose. Texans dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Harvey, Floridians and other southerners who watch and wait on hurricane Irma. The folks out west praying for rain to put out the wildfires.

Dan Walsh, an author whose books I've reviewed, lives with his wife in Florida. He's been giving updates on Facebook as they pray and watch the weather channel. After so many changes in predictions, Dan posted that he was putting the situation in God's hands. I would hope in the same situation, that I'd have the faith to trust God. But how difficult that would be. Worry loves to wiggle in and take over. But God counters those thoughts with instruction to trust him, even when the situation seems impossible. Don't think for a minute that I haven't fretted. I've done my share. But I'm thankful I have a place to go with my concerns.

I'm sure we all know someone affected by the disasters around the globe. Please join me as I pray for the folks in the eye of the storm.  


Proverb 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The One Who Created Science

Genesis 1:27
So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

A magazine came across my desk this week. The front cover posed this question, "Where did we really come from?" Curious, I opened to the page of the article. I thought maybe there was a tiny chance that someone was writing about the creation story. Instead I found another argument for a different theory.


Understand this about me—I love nature, and I respect science. In biology class, I was fascinated with photosynthesis, the life stream of plants. I enjoyed learning about flowers and found animal habitats interesting. I still enjoy being outdoors watching birds and wildlife. I was excited in Maine when we learned about the lobsters and puffins. So when I read the question, "Where did we really come from?" I already knew my answer. I've prayed and studied over this for a long time.

I believe with all my heart that God created me. He held me in his heart before I was even born. God made me to reflect his image. I may not always do that because we live in a sinful world, and I confess, I sin. But I know, without doubt, that God put me on this earth with purpose. He knew me and he knows my life. Some might wonder how I can embrace God and science. My answer—because I believe God invented science. The galaxies? God tossed every star into place. The butterflies? God painted every delicate wing. My grandbabies? God formed them before we knew them. God gave us the gift of science to help us cope with this crazy world. He has his hand in medicine, technology, astronomy (remember the recent eclipse) agriculture (he did plant the first garden) and every other science we know. My faith in the truth of the Bible leads me to believe that God is the giver of life. He is the one who understands everything because he created everything. I praise God, because his works are amazing! 
Psalm 139:13-14For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

God Got our Attention

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
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.

Photo by Maggie Wickline-Jowers
On Monday afternoon, I joined the large group gathered on the commons in front of the college. A buzz of voices bounced about as we waited to see the much anticipated solar eclipse. In Ohio, we knew we'd only see about a 92% eclipse, nevertheless folks were pumped. Would the skies grow dimmer? Might the temperature drop? How would it look? As the clock approached two-thirty, several of us popped on our solar eclipse glasses and gazed up toward the giant star that lights our days and the satellite that orbits the earth. The moon passed over the sun. At 92% a sliver of sun remained visible.  The sky's appearance looked as if I was wearing Polaroid sunglasses and the temperature dropped a few degrees. After I finished checking out this rare phenomenon, I loaned my glasses to folks near-by. As I watched the crowd, I had to smile. For several minutes on a Monday afternoon, everything stopped. No matter who I stood beside, we shared the same purpose. People smiled and laughed, chatted and shared their experience. A little bit of peace covered us.

I loved that we all stopped what we were doing, put away our concerns, and tucked in our differences to gaze on the wonder God created. In all the chaos of this life, God grabbed our attention.

Since then I've thought about another time when everyone will stop what they're doing. A moment, expected yet unknown. A time when all eyes will look to the sky. We won't need NASA certified glasses to cover our eyes. Instead we'll need hearts that have accepted and believe the Lord Jesus Christ is Savior. There won't be a specific time designated by astronomers. Instead, he will come in the twinkling of an eye. Jesus will appear in the clouds to collect his followers, both those who have died and those still alive on earth. All eyes will look to Jesus on that day, the day he returns to gather his children and take them to heaven. I don't know about you, but I'm excited to see Jesus. I'm not sure when he'll come back, but I know he will. I have faith in the truth of the Bible and that God keeps his promises. When Jesus appears in the clouds, everyone will stop and look up. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Freedom and Hope

2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Sixty-five lighthouses dot the coast of Maine. Those historical lights drew Tim and I to visit the beautiful north-eastern state. I've loved lighthouses for as long as I can remember. I'm not sure when I first learned of their existence and purpose, but it seemed I always knew the grand buildings saved lives and provided safety for fishermen and ship's crews. One of the lights we visited, Portland Head Light, is a majestic white structure surrounded by a home and several smaller buildings. As I wandered the property, I rounded the corner of the house and spotted a large stone.  A plaque told me the poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, sat and penned his lighthouse poem there.
Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same,
Year after year, through all the silent night
Burns on forevermore that quenchless flame,
Shines on that inextinguishable light!
The poem reminds me of the hope I have in Jesus.

Steadfast—He's always here for me.
Serene—The calm in my storm.
Quenchless flame—His light cannot be put out. 
Inextinguishable light—Always shining, no matter what.

The world is a mess right now. Every day we hear stories of death and destruction. If I'm being honest—and I am, the terror scares me. I think of the world my grandchildren are growing up in and speculate about what it will be. Yes—I've gone down the road of "what if." But before I get too far gone, the Holy Spirit taps me on the shoulder and reminds me of the light. The one light that brings hope. The one that is never extinguished. You see, regardless of all the evil in the world, we have hope. Constant hope in Jesus. He's the one who brings peace and joy, the one who gives freedom from the world. He's the one who hears my prayers. He gives me freedom from fear and worry, because I know he has me in his hands. I pray for this world and the hurting. In my prayers, I ask that everyone will find comfort and peace in Jesus. He is the one who gives true freedom. The one who offers hope.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

He's the One Who Knows My Story

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.

This summer, Tim and I had our first experience in kayaks. I loved splashing through the fast-moving water as much as drifting quietly along the river. A number of times we hit rapids that sprayed up and soaked us. We were having a blast.



Then around one of the curves, the river forked. I rowed left and Tim paddled right. I went over some rapids and thought I was free and clear—until I hit a pile of rocks. I tried to push off with the oar, but I wasn't strong enough. I looked for Tim. He was too far ahead of me to paddle back against the current. Thinking I could get out of the situation by myself, I climbed out and promptly plopped into the water. After I laughed at myself, I stood up and tried to maneuver the kayak so I could get back in. But the rapids kept tugging, as I tried pulling. I wasn't winning. Finally I asked God for help. In a few minutes, another kayaker reached me and helped me climb back in. Then he shoved me off the rocks.

So many times in my life I've thought "I can do it myself," but I couldn't. Too many times I've fallen into the water of life and gotten stuck on stubbornness and blinded by selfish ambition. I struggled and wrestled with a situation, before I'd cry out to God for help. Why didn't I turn to him when he's the one who knows my story, the one who loves me inside out. I'm trying to be better about seeking God's wisdom before I get stuck. I know I trust him with all of my heart. But knowing isn't enough. I have to bow before him and seek his guidance. Every.Single.Day. He's my refuge and my rock.



I can't do life on my own. I need Jesus. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Start the Conversation

Psalm 55:16-17
As for me, I call to God,
    and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
    I cry out in distress,
    and he hears my voice.

As a new mom, I didn't get much sleep. My babies' cries stirred me out of bed, sometimes more than once a night. For the most part I'm a sound sleeper, but for those years when my little ones needed me I heard their call. As my children grew into teens and tweens, they'd come to me— sometimes excited about their day, sometimes in tears. When they went off to college, my phone would ring and their sweet voice would say, "Mom." Joy filled my heart. Even now, I react the same way. When my children and grandchildren call my name, it fills my heart to overflowing, even when the tears flow.

On my desk at work I keep a little knick-knack. From a clay base, two stars shoot up on each end. In the middle, the words "Pray Often" are carved. I love that reminder. I need that reminder. God loves to listen to his children. If I wake up in the middle of the night, God is there to listen. When I'm driving, working, playing, God is there to listen. So what keeps me from calling on him? Distraction, lack of faith, too busy, don't care? There's no excuse that should keep me from talking to my heavenly Father. He wants to hear from me. Whether I'm rejoicing or sobbing, God has my heart. He hears my cry. And he answers. Through the Bible, other people, circumstances—HE LISTENS and ANSWERS! Wow, that's good news.


Don't wait to pray when you're in a panic, start a conversation and just talk to him. He's available 24/7. He wants to hear from us. He loves us.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Broken and Blessed

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

I just spent the weekend with amazing ladies—dear, dear friends—from Kentucky Christian College. We first met over forty years ago, when we all attended KCC. Since then our paths diverged all over the country; yet it's like we were never apart. That's because we've all kept loving Jesus. You see he's the reason we all converged on KCC in the 70s. We loved the Lord and wanted to serve him.

Thanks to social media, snail mail, and phone calls, we've reconnected and found our love for each other and God still holds true. I'd venture to say that love is even stronger.  We discovered, as a group, we've suffered broken hearts, failed relationships, parents growing old, our children's heartbreak, health issues, and the oh so human struggle with sin. Our dear friend, Holly, shared a devotion with us. She talked about the tears of God and how we shed tears in times of fear, sadness, depression, and even joy. But he takes them and stores them in his bottle, on his scrolls—Psalm 56:8. He gathers our tears and heartaches because he loves us. He holds our tears and understands our sorrows.

I'm a broken person. One who has lived life, suffered, struggled, and sinned. I'm also one who has asked forgiveness and felt God's grace and love pour over me. Even though my friends and I have all experienced the pains of life, we've been blessed by the hope that comes only through Jesus. Jesus is the way to a life of joy and peace. He's the way to heaven. I praise God for friendships anchored by the hope that is in him!

Psalm 116:8-9
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.





Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Measure of Growth

Colossians 1:9-14
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

When we vacationed in Maine, Tim and I took a "Lobster Tour." Our first afternoon in that beautiful state we boarded the Lucky Catch, on the Casco Bay in Portland. The little red boat held about fourteen tourists ready to learn about the trade of lobstering. First, we filled mesh bags with chubs and herring, then tied them into the traps. The captain taught us about the traps, how the larger lobsters get caught and the little ones have an escape hatch. The whole experience was hands-on. When we pulled in the traps and found a female, they showed us she was a layer and threw her back. Then the captain demonstrated which of the larger male lobsters to keep and which to send back to the water.


The captain grabbed the lobster and a gage. He hooked one end of the measuring tool to the socket behind the lobster's eye, then drew the other end straight down along the crustacean's carapace (back). The minimum length had to be three and a quarter inches for him to keep it. Otherwise back to the deep they went for a chance to grow.

Like those lobsters that get thrown into the sea, God wants me to keep growing. My Father knows where I am as a believer. He knows my heart and sees my soul. When I think of ways to grow spiritually I call up the verses in Galatians where Paul names the Fruit of the Spirit. My love needs to multiply. Does God draw me through the fires of life to increase my compassion for people? I'm willing to say yes. Does he require I wait to develop patience? Of course. How about experiencing hurt and pain to remember to be kind and gentle. Yes! God wants me to grow in my relationship with Jesus. He wants me to strengthen my knowledge of his word. Does he use a gage to measure my growth? No, instead he checks my heart. Jesus knows me. He loves me and he wants me to be filled with joy. And that takes growth—in learning his word, in prayer, and in obedience.


Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

God's own Hands

Isaiah 44:23
Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.

I never get tired of experiencing God's amazing creation. On our trip to Maine this week, we spent a day in the rural area between Portland and New Harbor. We journeyed up the coast across parts of the Casco Bay. Trees lined the roadways; not just fence lines of scrubs or a spruce here and an oak there. Instead we passed by forested areas grown by God's own hands. I couldn't help but wonder what animals roamed the woods. Maybe a bear or a moose. But those were left to my imagination. Other areas we crossed were covered by wetlands and waterways. Everywhere we looked, beauty sang a song of glory to the Creator.

As I prepare to leave the great state of Maine, I thank the Lord for the experience to visit another area of the world. No matter how large or small the geographical areas in my life are, I know God's hands formed everything. From the sandy beaches to the evergreen trees to the call of the sea gulls, I witnessed the glory of God by his presence in this amazing environment. I love his incredible imagination and wisdom.


Shout to Him with joy, for He is good!
Do you connect to God through nature?  

Friday, July 7, 2017

I'm Not Home Yet

John 14:1-4
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Have you ever prepared for a long trip? A journey to a new place? An adventure of a lifetime. We've spent the last few months booking places to stay, creating lists of things to do, pages of what to pack and mapping out a route. Maybe you do this for vacation, taking a child to college, or moving across the country. This year, we'll be packing our bags for a week long excursion across several states. I'm excited to go places I've never been and see things I've only dreamed of. But to go from dreaming about the trip to actually loading the car and driving off, we've had to get ready.

In John 14, Jesus talks about a different kind of journey he's designing for his followers. Building 429 sings, Where I Belong, a song that talks about not being home yet and looking forward to the time when they'll meet Jesus face-to-face. Even as Jesus sets the table in his Father's mansion and lays out a path for me to follow, I need to prepare for the journey. I can't just sit around and dream about the day I'll see Jesus. I need to pray and listen to his voice. I want to follow his map, the Bible. I try to obey my God and Savior, as I anticipate his coming. He's promised to return for the faithful. I praise God for his grace and the opportunity to spend eternity in heaven. I know I'm not home yet. But someday I will be spending my days at the feet of Jesus' throne.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Reflections of the Heart

1 Corinthians 13:12
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.


Before July ends, I will celebrate another birthday. I've chalked up a lot of experience in the years I've lived. As I looked in the mirror this morning, my reflection stared back. White hair, tired eyes, wrinkles and frown lines. Life mapped out on my face. Sounds depressing doesn't it. Until I look past the physical markings and see the cheeks my husband, children, and grandchildren kiss. The hair I still have. The eyes that take in the beauty of the natural world. I see hints of my mom and my dad, resemblances to my siblings. Years of worry and sadness are balanced by many more moments of joy and love.

Somewhere in the reflection, I recognize the love Jesus pours over me. The grace he offers freely. Even as I live on earth, I see Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 13:12, the apostle Paul talks about "a reflection as in a mirror," as in what we see now—today—here on earth. But "then we shall see face to face," not in a mirror but face to face. Jesus will return to take his followers, the believers, the obedient—and then we will see him face to face. Not just a reflection, but our true Savior will stand in front of us in all of his glory. What a joy that will be!

As I reflect on my life, I pray that my heart reflects the deep love I have for Jesus and the grace he's given me. I praise God for many years lived surrounded by people I love.
Proverbs 27:19 As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.

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."