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Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunny Skies and Moderate Temperatures

It's a good thing I don't control the weather. Last week's weather served as a reminder of how much I enjoy the beginning of spring. The warm sunshine. The cool breeze. The long days. New life. It's beautiful, and I love it. So, if I were in control of the weather, every day would be the same. Sunny skies, light breeze, and temperatures ranging from the mid-40's at night to the low 70's during the day. To me, that's perfect weather.

However, viruses would be at an all-time high, and we would be suffering a severe drought. You see, while I want every day to be "perfect," the fact is that God knows how to control the weather much better than I do. He knows how much rain we need, what the temperatures need to be, etc. He is in control, not me. So, when the sun is shining, I should be thankful. And when the rain is falling, I should still be thankful. God is in control. He is making all things to run as they should, which could not be said if I were in control.

Another problem with "perfect" weather is that I would never get anything done inside. During those beautiful days, I spend all my time outside. I hike. I write. I read. If it can be done outside, I do it (which is why my house currently looks like a tornado came through). Yes, I need some days that are not so "perfect" so that I can get some inside chores done. After all, laundry and dishes don't do themselves. . .unfortunately.

Sometimes in our Christian walk, all seems perfect. We're healthy, happy, and strong. Other days are not so bright, but it's during those times we would do well to remember that we need those times too. Just as with the weather, God is in control, and He will give us what we need. Just trust and be thankful for what He gives.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

It's a popular question -- one that has been asked down through the ages. Why do bad things happen to good people? Our finite minds can't fathom why a loving Father would allow His children to endure such suffering. Why would a faithful pastor lose his 3-year-old daughter to a brain tumor? Why would a Gospel singer and songwriter be taken from this earth when there was so much more he wanted to do for Christ? Why would a devoted church-going couple be facing financial ruin? Why? It just doesn't make any sense.

"Punish the wicked," we want to say. "They deserve whatever they get. They have no love for You, no desire to serve You. Punish them, Lord, but not us, Your faithful children."

During those times of confusion, if we will quiet our souls and listen to the still small voice of our Savior, we will hear the same answer He gave to the disciples when they questioned Him about tarrying in the city after they had received news of Lazarus' illness. It is all for the glory of God!

What? Glory? How can God get glory through our suffering? Actually, there are many ways, but I'll share just one example with you.

My pastor was the one who lost his 3-year-old little girl to a brain tumor. On his way home from the funeral, he wrote a song entitled "Resurrection Ground." People from all over the world have been blessed by that song. Without the tragedy, the song wouldn't have been written, and so many other lives would not have been touched.

Knowing that God has a purpose for our trials doesn't make them easy to bear, but it does help us to look at them from a different perspective. Instead of asking God why we must suffer another trial, we can ask Him to use our trial to be a blessing to someone else and to bring glory to Him.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wow! This is Awesome!

I know that it's not Christmas time, but I ran across this video and I just couldn't resist sharing it with you. This is Mark Lewis playing "Carol of the Bells," one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kaleidoscope by Patsy Clairmont

Kaleidoscope by Patsy Clairmont is a witty and insightful journey through the book of Proverbs. Chapter by chapter, Clairmont presents a unique look at 32 of some of the lesser-known verses in the book of Proverbs. Her style is direct yet lighthearted, giving a balanced feel to the book and the lessons contained within.

The thing that I liked best about Kaleidoscope is that the author chose to deal with verses outside of the "norm." There are a handful of Proverbs that seem to get all the attention while others simply go unnoticed. Clairmont digs out some of the nuggets that tend to get overlooked by many other authors. Her sense of humor and unique perspective make the book a joy to read. The short chapters allow the reader the ability to pick up and put down the book when necessary due to time constraints, but the flow and enjoyment factor sucked me into reading for long periods of time. I didn't want to stop reading!

For an unexampled look at the book of Proverbs, I highly recommend Kaleidoscope.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Inspiring Quote

Monday, March 15, 2010

More Is Not Always Better

I recently read a cute anecdote about a recipe gone wrong. The story reminded me of some of my own cooking mishaps. You know of my cardboard pizza, but I can promise you that was not the worst of my culinary disasters. I think the worst one would have to be my 10-Alarm Chili. Yes, I said "10."

You see, when we were first married, we were both working full time and going to school at night. It was hard and exhausting, so I blame all mistakes on my lack of sleep. Anyway, I was making a lovely pot of chili when I realized I had no chili powder. Typical! Thinking to save myself a trip to the store, I decided to used crushed chili peppers instead. This is not really a bad idea IF you don't use the same amount of chili peppers as you do chili powder. Actually, I didn't mean to add that much, but the cap came off while I was sprinkling it in, and I just shrugged my shoulders, continued stirring it in, and thought Oh well, Jason likes it spicy. NOT THAT SPICY!

It was inedible. One bite set my mouth, my throat, my nose, my chest, and my stomach on fire. We had to toss the entire pot and call for pizza. I learned a great lesson that day: more is not always better.

Now, if we could just get hold of that concept in all areas of our lives. More money. More time. More cars. Bigger. Better. The problem? We get so caught up in working to attain more that we forget to be thankful for what we have. It's great to have goals, but if we lose all joy and gratitude because of constantly striving for greater things, we're liable to get burned. . .and I'm not talking about chili peppers.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Shame on Me!

Wednesday night at church, Ricky (one of our members) was telling about a wonderful experience he had while working at the nursing home ministry on Sunday morning. He told how they were talking about how good God is and how much He loves and cares for us no matter what our current circumstance may lead us to believe. In closing, he asked if anyone had any comments. A frail man in a wheelchair struggled to stand to his feet. Once standing, in a feeble voice he quoted a beautiful poem about the goodness of God.

Afterward. Ricky went to the man to thank him for his poem. The gentleman informed Ricky that he had memorized it many years ago but that it always brought him peace. Knowing the hour was late, Ricky asked the man if he would be there next week. When the man said he planned to be, Ricky asked him if he would write the poem down for him because he'd love to have a copy of it. The man placed his hand on Ricky's shoulder and said, "You're welcome to the poem, but you'll have to write it down. You see, I'm blind." Ricky barely made it to his car before he burst into tears.

As he told this story, Wednesday night, my mind immediately went to the complaining I had done the night before. You know, the usual pity party about how life's not fair, money's tight, nothing seems to go the way I plan, etc. Tears streamed down my face as the shame of the situation struck me. Here I am complaining when I have so much, but this man who is blind, frail, and nearly lame can stand and quote a poem about how good God is. Shame on me! God, forgive me for allowing my circumstances to dictate my thankfulness. I pray that I will be more careful in the future.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Charles Blondin Story - a Lesson on Faith

Blondin's greatest fame came in June of 1859 when he attempted to become the first person to cross a tightrope stretched over a quarter of a mile across the mighty Niagara Falls.

He walked across 160 feet above falls several times, each time with a different daring feat - once in a sack, on stilts, on a bicycle, in the dark, and once he even carried a stove and cooked an omelet!

On one occasion though, he asked for the participation of a volunteer.

A large crowd gathered and a buzz of excitement ran along both sides of the river bank. The crowd “Oooohed!” and “Aaaaahed!” as Blondin carefully walked across one dangerous step after another -- blindfolded and pushing a wheelbarrow.

Upon reaching the other side, the crowd's applause was louder than the roar of the falls! Blondin suddenly stopped and addressed his audience: "Do you believe I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?"The crowd enthusiastically shouted, "Yes, yes, yes. You are the greatest tightrope walker in the world. You can do anything!"

"Okay," said Blondin, "Get in the wheelbarrow....."

The Blondin story goes that no one did!


(Later in August of 1859, his manager, Harry Colcord, did ride on Blondin's back across the Falls.)

The story of Charles Blondin paints a real life picture of what faith actually is. The crowd had watched his daring feats. They said they believed, but their actions proved they truly didn't.

It's one thing for us to say we believe in God. It's true faith though when we believe God and put our faith and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Don't worry, Jesus has carried many across to Heaven's gates. He can be trusted!

Devotion courtesy of

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Promises, Promises

While preparing to speak at a ladies' meeting, I've been studying a lot about the promises of God. Today, I would just like to take a few minutes to share some of my favorites with you.

Hebrews 13:5b
For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Psalm 48:14
For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.

Isaiah 41:13
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

Isaiah 40:29
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Proverbs 3:6
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Isaiah 25:8
He will swallow up death in victory: and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces.

Deuteronomy 20:4
For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

Lamentations 3:25
The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Do You Smell Something?

Why do dogs roll around in poop? For the life of me, I just can't figure that out, but I know for a fact that they do. At least, mine do. Not their own poop, mind you, but the poop of another dog or animal. One minute they're walking down the trail minding their own business, the next, their noses are exploring, and before I realize what they're about to do, they push their head to the ground and smear the nasty mess all over. Gross!!!

Unfortunately, dogs are not the only ones who stick their noses where they don't belong. Christians have a bad habit of doing that as well. Gossip. Complaints. Giving "advice" and "suggestions" where they are warranted. Yes, we Christians have a knack for sticking our noses where they don't belong and dirtying our lives with the filth of these sins. We often hide our fault under the guise of calling it "sharing a prayer request" or "simply speaking our minds," but the truth is we would be much better off if we minded our own business. I don't know about you, but I have enough of my own faults to deal with to have time to worry about anyone else's.

For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. - II Thessalonians 3:11-12

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Want to Make You Smile

Many times, Lord, I come to You presenting my requests
Of things I want and things I need and things I seek addressed;
But this day will be different, for I come not to ask or to seek.
Today, I bow before you, Friend, and out of my heart I speak.

I want You to know that I love You, not just for the blessings You give
But I love You because You gave all for me that with You I will forever live.
You are with me when I feel discouraged and when troubles and problems abound.
You are there when I walk through the darkness, and in You a guiding Light I have found.

I want to draw closer to you and to strive harder to do Your bidding.
I want to do every task that You ask with joy and great thanksgiving.
I want to leave behind my own needs and to focus on You for a while.
I want to make You proud of me, and I long to make You smile.

I love you, Lord, and I hope that today I will live a life that pleases You and brings honor to Your name. I do long to make you smile! Thank You for giving me the chance.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Complete Makeover

Last weekend, our church youth group had a work day. Our goal? To paint and decorate all the bathrooms in the church and fellowship building. It was quite a chore, but we had fun. Some of the youth had never painted before (which was quite evident by their work), but they put their hearts into it, and that was all we asked of them.

I think the bathrooms that got the most positive response were the bathrooms in the downstairs of the church. When we started, the white walls were scuffed, stained, and drab. The light fixtures consisted of a light bulb hanging from the ceiling. The mirrors were large pieces of glass held to the wall by clips and screws. All in all, the bathrooms were functional but not very inviting.

Now, the walls glow with a lovely honey-colored paint. Large, oval, wood-framed mirrors hang over the sink. Matching fixtures hug the ceiling, obscuring the light bulbs, but enhancing the light. Everything has been cleaned and straightened. The bathrooms look like new (well almost new).

The whole process reminds me of salvation. Jesus took my life which was scuffed, stained, and drab. He set it aglow with His gift of salvation, and now when He looks at me, He sees a new creation. He sees something inviting. He sees a worthy vessel!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Take It Easy

Last week, I was sick with some sort of stomach virus. I felt horrible for the first half of the week. I didn't want to eat. I felt queasy and weak. All I wanted to do was sleep. I hate feeling like that! I despise being sick. The worst part was not the queasiness or the fatigue; it was the effect that all of this was having on my poor brain. I was so "out of it" that I was doing the dumbest stuff. . . but none as dumb as the following:

Jason had been taking care of the cooking and the housework when he got off work each day in addition to taking care of me. He had his hands full. On Tuesday, he had to work late, and I didn't want him to have to fix dinner for himself when he finally got home. So I pulled myself out of bed, went to the freezer, and pulled out a pizza. I checked the directions for a temperature setting and time, then unwrapped the pizza, stuck it on a pizza pan, threw it in the oven, and set the timer. That was enough to exhaust me, so I went and crawled back in bed while waiting for the pizza to cook. (Besides, I didn't want to stay in the kitchen where I could smell it. Yuck!!!)

Jason came home, and shortly after that, the timer went off. He was busy taking care of some other things, so I went out to the kitchen to get his pizza. As I began cutting the pizza, I realized something was wrong. The crust was strange, and it didn't seem to want to cut. It wasn't hard and crunchy. It was more like cardboard. That's because. . . it was cardboard. I was so "out of it" that I didn't even realize the cardboard was still on the bottom of the pizza. I had cooked it that way. As I stood there, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

I called Jason and explained what I had done. He laughed, gave me a hug, and told me it would be fine. Then he proceeded to try to cut the pizza and scrape it from the cardboard. To top it all off, he ate the pizza without complaint. What love! What forgiveness!

Today, when someone around you does something really stupid, take it easy on them. First of all, we all make mistakes. (Some of us make more than others, but we won't go there right now.) Second, you have no idea what that person may be going through. Perhaps they're sick or upset or just having a bad day. Before we fly off the handle at others, let's take a moment to pray that God will help us to be patient and forgiving. That forgiveness may be the one thing that can brighten that person's day! Besides, cardboard doesn't taste THAT bad! We'll be alright.