Sunday, May 24, 2020

Shadows Vs. Light


Light and Shadow Create Beauty

Shadows are created when something blocks the light. For example, I once lived in a flat desert area, but never saw the sun rise. The mountains to the east created shadows to start my day.

Now I never see the sun set. Houses on the hill above me create shadows as the sun goes down. It's a blessing, though, because it enables me to enjoy my deck in the late afternoon.

I'm now dealing with a different type of shadow, and so are you. We understand the routine of sunrise and sunset. But COVID-19 feels erratic and seems to constantly loom over us.

It's unlike the welcoming shadow of a shade tree on a hot summer's day. It's more the sinister variety, an unknown threat.

Does This Look Like a Heart?
Shadows can sometimes be fun. Have you ever tried shaping your hands and fingers to create animal shadows? Children are intrigued by that and want to try it, too.

The problem is that this pandemic shadow is scary, not entertaining. We want it to be gone from the world, yet such power is not ours. It's more of an individual thing.

It's no secret---when light meets dark, light wins! At bedtime, a child afraid of the dark gives the solution: "Leave the light on."

There is light available for our darkness, too. The Psalmist declared God's word was a lamp to his feet and a light to his path (Psalm 119:105). Light is good, but it must be activated.

Action, Not Explanation, Required
You don't have to understand how electricity works. You just turn on your lamp and darkness leaves. It's the same with God's word.

The Bible is a lamp to our challenging shadows. Turn that lamp on by reading it. There's a lot of wisdom in Proverbs, for example.

Your cell phone has a Bible app called the You Version. There are others. The key is to take action! Experience for yourself the power of light vs. shadows.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Hang on to Hope


This is COVID-19
I have finally lost patience with COVID-19. Today was the first day I felt truly challenged by stay-at-home orders.

The past couple of months, I've had plenty of things to keep me busy. I rarely even needed to go for groceries or necessities. When I did, I observed social distancing and wore a mask.

The thing is, I'm tired of hearing about COVID-19. Opinions are so varied I don't know whom to believe.

I'm also tired of seeing COVID-19 on display around the globe. Epidemics have caused havoc before, but not on such an all-encompassing world-wide scale.

We Are All In This Together
My refrigerator has a magnet that says It Will All Work Out. That's what dad would say after he tried really hard to deal with something and found he couldn't change it.

Sometimes all we can do is wait. When that happens, how we wait becomes important. That's why I'm reminding myself to hang on to hope.

HOPE! Now there's a word worth keeping in your vocabulary. The dictionary describes it as desire accompanied by expectation.

That makes it a dynamic, energetic word. People with hope never give up.

COVID-19 seems to have renewed interest in spiritual things. It seems more people than ever are praying. Many of them have learned that prayer changes things. 

For me, hope and prayer go together because I see it like this:

How Often Prayer Enables

Prayer that enables provides the means, power,
or authority to do something, or get it done.

Pray Anytime Anywhere
How often should we pray? The Apostle Paul said to "pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Prayer is talking to God. It comes from our heart, not our posture. We can pray anytime, anywhere. I do, but why?

Because God is greater than I am, I have hope! Because I have hope, I pray. When I pray, I believe God hears me, whether my prayer is long or short.

HOPE in the form of prayer makes a difference. Even if we feel our faith is as tiny as the mustard seed mentioned in Matthew 17:20, it has power.

Prayer changes things, so don't give up. Hang on to HOPE!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Perseverance, Courage, or Both


If Only World Problems Could Be Handled Easily
Around the world COVID-19 is still an issue. As a pandemic, it’s a wide-spread life changer.

Have any of these changes affected you?

1) Schools are closed, homeschooling and online classes fill in

2) Business challenges abound with “work from home,” jobs cuts and layoffs

3) Food Banks are overwhelmed, churches and civic organizations are trying to help

4) Social distancing is a given, masks are becoming more of a requirement

5) Group size limited to 10 has affected weddings, funerals, and celebrations of all kinds

6) Hoarding has caused shortages in necessary goods and food supplies

7) Needed Personal Protective Equipment for hospitals and first responders is in short supply

8) With a few “essential businesses” left open, the economy is ebbing low

9) Shelter-in-place requirements have curtailed travel and closed the hospitality industry

10) Streaming Online and ZOOM have joined Skype and FaceTime as “personal” connections

I could go on, but you probably have your own list. What we have in common is this: Life will not return to our “old normal.”

Your "New Normal" May Puzzle You
Major events always create a “new normal.” That’s why I am focused on perseverance and courage.

Older citizens may think I’ve got a handle on this. Younger ages may think someone else will cover for me. The truth is, perseverance and courage are personal qualities needed at any age:

Perseverance: continuing to do something in spite of obstacles or challenges; patient effort; persistence; adherence to some action, purpose or belief.

Courage: the attitude of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult or painful; no withdrawing from it; brave.

The apostle Paul wrote that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces character (Romans 5:3-4).

The phrase “be strong and courageous” appears often in the Old Testament---Joshua 1:6-9, for example.

Make A Positive Difference In This World
So . . . how are you dealing with the challenges of COVID-19?

Hopefully your answer will be, “I’m hanging in there” (perseverance), and/or, “I’m looking for ways to deal with it” (courage).

We need both.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

15 Proofs of True Love


Hearts Show Love
“I love you.” These little words are deceptively simple. It’s their major impact on relationships that make them worth exploring.

Some people start dreaming of true love in their teen years, some later. But “true love?” What might that be?

I think love comes first emotionally. Then come physical feelings wanting expression. That’s where “I love you” can present its first challenge.

It wants expression NOW . . . and often says, “I love you. And if you love me, you’ll (do whatever makes me happy).”

Emotional decisions at that moment may cause actions that later bring regrets. Could it be that true love waits?

My husband conducted many wedding ceremonies.
Love Is Not Always A Feeling 
My favorite line was this: Love is not always a feeling.

It’s a great feeling, but for love to last long-term there has to be something more.

Consider these characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

The Message Bible:  LOVE
The New Living Translation: LOVE 
     1.  Never gives up
Is patient
     2.  Cares more for others than for self
Is kind
     3.  Doesn’t want what it doesn’t have
Is not jealous
     4.  Doesn’t strut
Is not boastful
     5.  Doesn’t have a swelled head
Is not proud
     6.  Doesn’t force itself on others
Is not rude
     7.  Isn’t always “me first”
Does not demand its own way
     8.  Doesn’t fly off the handle
Is not irritable
     9.  Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others
Keeps no record of being wronged
     10. Doesn’t revel when others grovel
Does not rejoice about injustice
     11. Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth
Rejoices whenever truth wins out
     12. Puts up with anything
Never gives up
     13. Trusts God always
Never loses faith
     14. Always looks for the best
Is always hopeful
     15. Never looks back/keeps going to the end
Endures through every circumstance

Choose Carefully For Lasting Love 
Note:  No one is so perfect as to display these characteristics ALL the time. But weigh your options with these fifteen (15) proofs, and you may find a love forever true.      

Sunday, April 26, 2020

I Miss You

I Miss You!

Even in Sterile Surroundings Life Has Beauty
We’re still socially distanced, thanks to COVID-19. Not only that, we’ve become masked! Am I the only one who never realized how smiles (or lack of them) clarify our communication?

I like the phrase “Bloom Where You’re Planted.” Artist Mary Engelbreit (ME) illustrates this slogan with a pot of colorful flowers.

I think a lot of people are currently blooming right where they’re planted. With quarantines and stay-at-home orders, they are becoming “creative in place.”

Wish You Were Here 
Consider these examples: I’ve seen people, challenged by technology, push forward on the learning curve. Others have found it satisfying to talk on the phone rather than endless texting.

It’s been wonderful to hear about the creative ways people are bearing each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).

I’ve had inquiries from caring neighbors, and enjoyed plenty of humorous emails. Laughter is such good medicine.

It’s also hard to miss reports of people’s renewed interest in prayer and Bible teaching.

One of These Days We'll Be Together Again
But---I miss you! It will be great to see you again in person, even if we have to wear masks and keep our distance.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Improve Your Life With Evergreen Content



Are you familiar with evergreens? Deciduous trees and plants shed leaves and/or flowers in certain seasons, but evergreen beauty can be enjoyed year around.

thinking search.png
What is Evergreen Content?
But today I'm not thinking of boxwood hedges or flowering rhododendrons. 

It's something much more important: Evergreen Content.

This was a new concept I learned from Jessica Thiefels in an informative article on blogging.

According to Jessica, Evergreen Content is information valuable all year long or for many years to come.

You may be more familiar with evergreen content than you think. I’ll give you four examples:

       (1) Have you ever been to a memorial service and received a leaflet imprinted with The Twenty-Third Psalm (Psalm 23)?

         (2) Have you ever prayed The Lord's Prayer? It was a model given by Jesus in Luke 11:1-4.

        (3) You've probably heard The Christmas Story about Jesus born in a stable and laid in a manger. The most familiar reading comes from Luke 2

        (4) After a rain, perhaps you've marveled at a rainbow. You may have even heard it was a sign of promise after The Great Flood (Genesis 9:11-15).

Just four little examples show why God's Word is Evergreen: Valuable all year long or for many years to come. 

Why stop there? Try reading a chapter of Proverbs or Psalms every day. Pay attention to things which speak to your heart.

Bible Barely open.jpg
God's Word is Evergreen Content
If you don't own a Bible, check out the YouVersion app for your cell phone.

Psalm 119:89-90 says, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations.”

Forever? That's Evergreen Content for sure!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Learning Curve---COVID 19: Part Three


A World-Wide Pandemic
The Corona Virus is still in control. Social distancing, hand washing, face masks and stay-at-home orders are still the norm.

These guidelines have changed my life. How about you?

It’s easy to forget the advice in Proverbs (27:1) which says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

*John Glenn, an astronaut chosen to orbit in space, illustrates this well. After years of training, his mission was rescheduled eleven times.

That means ten times he was ready to go, but someone with higher authority and more knowledge said, “Not today. Mission aborted.”

His flight finally took place on February 20, 1962. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything.” From the description of his orbital flight, I think John would agree it was worth the wait.

Under virus protocol it’s easy to feel like our life is a “mission aborted.”

When we are finally “released for take-off” how will we react? That may depend on our current daily attitude.

Some people will come out of this challenge with new interests and happy memories. Others will have nothing but negative reports and plenty of complaints.

My fifth learning curve: Value Life and Enjoy It One Day at a Time.

Hemmed in by the Blues
I recently woke up in what I call “a blue funk.” I couldn’t find a reason. I was muddling through the morning when a friend called. She said some ladies were joining in prayer, each in their home, at a certain time.

I agreed to join, but when the time came, I still didn’t feel like praying. As a point of faith, I picked up my Bible and started reading. Then I started talking to God about the caller’s prayer request.

As I was praying for that person, I began to feel peaceful. In fact, when my prayer time was over, I actually found myself singing.

That change of attitude was a marvelous experience.

Here’s the secret: I did not pray because I felt like it. I decided to pray by faith. Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) says without faith we cannot please God, but it says nothing about feelings.

That verse further explains that faith means we come to God because we believe He exists, and that He will reward those who sincerely seek Him.

That’s not hard to understand and I can tell you, “It’s true.”

Psalm 62:8 tells us to trust in God at all times and pour out our hearts to Him. All times? Yes. Because faith is based on trust in God’s Word, not feelings.

My sixth learning curve: There’s Never a Wrong Time to Pray.  

*John Glenn: A Memoir, John Glenn with Nick Taylor, Bantam Books, NY, ©1999, Chapter 18, p. 256, Chapter 19, p. 275.