At the End, It is a First

Hello friends. Crazy title for a post isn’t it, but that is what December has been like here in Iowa. We had crazy record breaking highs in the 70s combined with February cold in the teens. No wonder people are running around with the sniffles. But today is the first snow for December. It wont last. It will turn to rain by lunch but it is a sign of what is to come. This coming weekend may prove to be what the weathermen have been telling us all through the fall – winter is going to be cold.

First Hint of Winter

The changes of the weather can sometimes be a reflection of the changes in our lives, some days hot, some days cold, and what we really want is comfort in the middle. My daughter gave me a fabulous gift for Christmas. Its a sandscape picture with soothing colors of blue, white, black and a smattering of glitter, The picture is filled with water and oil and as you flip the picture, it changes in a most mesmerizing way, soothing and calming to the nerves. I have heard these do wonderful calming effects for children in the autism spectrum to help them focus. I can see why, and can sit and flip it for the better part of an hour as every turn creates a different picture.

When you flip the picture you see the oil bubbles float to the top creating small gaps for the various sands to fall through creating a mountain range of various shapes. Coming from the southeast and the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this reminds me of the peace and tranquility of those mountains. A most fitting feeling as we walk through the last week of Christmas being reminded again about the Prince of Peace coming as a small defenseless babe.

This sandscape also reminds me of life and how it moves, sometime fast, sometimes slow, and sometimes all at once that can create a mess if we don’t have our feet grounded.

But regardless of the speed of the sands of life falling, if we stop, listen and breathe…we will feel the peace and comfort of God surrounding us.

So as we close out another year, let us focus on a new year to come with sands of beauty as God gives us the strength to stand firm in however they fall.

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Regardless of how your sands may look to fellow man, to God they are all beautiful. So share your beauty of your creation with others so that they too will understand the beauty of their own sandscape. And as always, remember to be kind. It helps unlock those doors of fear.

The Second Week of Advent, Peace

Good afternoon friends. I don’t know about you but I am loving this quick flash of warmer weather we are having here in Iowa. Us old southern birds like our warm weather.

Our pastor explained in Sunday’s sermon, that this is the week of Peace. We so often think peace is so hard to obtain but Jesus came to bring us a unfathomable gift of peace – a whole different kind of assurance. I have this small resin picture frame that sits on my shelf to remind me daily that while chaos may be swirling around me, God has given me the ability to stand strong through any conflict I face.

Think of the most peaceful scene you have ever seen. Maybe it’s a beautiful garden, or a graceful waterfall, maybe it’s the beach. Somewhere, through your senses, you can momentarily escape the  stressful world around you. But God’s gift of peace is a different type of peace – this peace came in to the world with the angel’s proclamation of Jesus’ birth.

 At His birth, Israel was looking for a mighty warrior, one who would conquer their enemies. But He came as THE Prince of PEACE, not peace as in a feeling but peace in a person. And He shares that gift of peace with all of us.

Seeing this, knowing this, hoping this, …we still have a tendency to go…”But God”…remember,  there is no but with God. His love is above all buts.

So we need to pay it forward with our fellow man. Sharing the peace we have been given freely so that others may understand it and reach for their own allotment.

The peace of God will not be understood by those who do not know the Lord, so we must reflect His peace to draw others into His love. For when we have His peace, the anxiousness of life can be coped with and we can all live in harmony.

May you enjoy the rest of this week of peace. I am looking forward to Sunday’s gift of Joy.  What a wonderful time of year to share the Joy of the LORD. Be safe and remember to always be kind.

Names at Christmas

Good evening friends. When we as parents knew a child was coming to join the family, much work went into making sure the name fit the child, that it would carry the child courageously through this life. But then in life, nicknames come about that are sometimes more dear than the actual name and the nickname will stick. Names are just something people call you by. Even treasured family positions get nicknames like Gramps, Nana, Pop to name a few. I like Pop. We think of Pop as a nickname for Father and what better Father do we have other than our Heavenly Father. I think of that nickname lovingly as an acronym when I think of Jesus. Pop – Prince of Peace…

The Peace He brings us with nothing else can, it can’t be measured. Isaiah 9:6 reminds us that even at this writing, Jesus was not born yet but it was no mistake that He already existed. Wonderful Counselor – someone we can go to in an instant for much needed advice or assurance; Mighty God – The all powerful creator of everything, the guider of all paths and the one who creates extra paths for us to travel on when we take a wrong path where He hopes we will get back on His designed path; Everlasting Father – Everlasting, forever and ever, not ending, never quitting, always present Father, ultimate caretaker.

THIS is the endearing reason for this season…

In today’s message Jesus Calling, Sarah wrote as Jesus… “I am the Prince of Peace. As I said to my disciples, I say also to you: Peace be with you. Since I am your constant companion, my Peace is steadfastly with you. When you keep your focus on Me, you experience both My Presence and My Peace.. Worship Me as King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Prince of Peace.”

It is His Peace that allows us to face any given situation with courage, conviction and hope. And with this hope we can then follow His guiding hand with assurance.

I got tickled this morning with my pastor’s morning devotion on having that one favorite ornament that helps you focus on the meaning of Christmas making us revitalize our love for Him. To some of us we can’t just focus on one. It’s like training your dog to sit and a squirrel runs across the yard…as I spot yet another ornament and run across the store to see if it is one I just have to have. For now it doesn’t matter which room I go in, it all makes me smile…even the bathroom. So as we face these uncertain times that are all over the world, remember the true reason for this season. He came because His love for us is overpowering, so and let His love flow over you as you enjoy the symbols we use to honor Him on His celebrated day. 

Now that I am FINALLY through tinkering with the big tree(1 of 4), I give you my sunroom at night. Have a blessed evening and always remember in all that you do show the kindness of Christ.

Evening Encouragement, Peace

Good evening friends. Sometimes in life we find ourselves in a predicament, and a lot of times it is self-made. And when we fret over the complications we have made, we lose our peace of mind and our step with Christ. Then we are in a real mess. The way to fix that is to turn and go back the way we know we should go. I have been reading a little book called “Keep it Simple” by Ellyn Sanna. It’s a wonderful little short book of quotes and scripture to help us Find Peace in a Hectic World.  So tonight I am posting a few of her thoughts and quotes.

Take One Day at a Time

When we learn to take one day at a time, one step at a time, we begin to see the beauty in the stillness around us. This beauty was created by God to give us the peace we would need knowing this life would indeed be hectic.

Teach me the art of creating islands of stillness, in which I can absorb the beauty of everyday things: clouds, trees, a snatch of music…Marion Stroud

I believe that in each little thing created by God there is more than what is understood, even if it is just a little ant. Teresa of Avila

Now that we are surrounded by this virus and being secluded in the safety of our homes, we have a tendency to worry about tomorrow and what we need to do to fix things…that we can’t fix. It kind of puts us in a chair in front of the window to wait, watch and trust that Jesus will take care of it all…and He will.

True serenity comes when we give ourselves to God. Ellyn Sanna

So I challenge you to put a small table by your chair at the window. As you watch and wait, enjoy a cold beverage or hot cup of coffee and trust in the Lord to make things right. Enjoy the beauty you see and absorb His peace.

If in the US, I send you prayers for a wonderful Thanksgiving and if you are having to be alone this year due to isolation, bring an extra glass to the table for God. I promise He will be with you as well. If not in the US and still in isolation, still bring that extra glass to the table when you eat so God can surround you with His peace.

And as always, I remind all of us the value of kindness in all we do. It may make the difference in one life that is needed.

Beauty, Power and Encouragement, A New Day

Rising Above the Horizon
Photo courtesy Irene Tron, Heaven’s Sunshine

The first light of day breaks through darkness and lets shine forth the beauty of a new day. The last light of day brings rest and fulfilled hope for yet the new day tomorrow.

Habakkuk reminds us of God’s likeness to the new day in that “His splendor is like the sunrise; rays flash from His hand, where is power is hidden.”

Tomorrow when you see the sun climb up in the sky, watching the rays as they filter through the clouds,  feel His love, His power and see the beauty of a new day that He created for you to enjoy.

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As this joy, peace and love overflow in you, allow it to also overflow from you to others who need to feel this peace. And always be Kind.

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Evening Peace

I usually do a morning devotion each morning with members of my church but thought I would also do one for the evening to help shelter in the peace we should have before shutting our eyes in sleep.

During the day hours, we tend to focus on our problems instead of focusing on our faith because sometimes we tend to put faith only on things we only see. But scripture reminds us of a different thought pattern concerning Faith.

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Oswald Chamber’s has a devotion book which I enjoy called “My Utmost for His Highest” which is a wonderful devotion book(also online). A lot of people may not know who he was but he was an early twentieth century Scottish Baptist Evangelist that had a profound way of teaching the truth in the scriptures. And he taught a lot about faith, courage, grace and peace wrapped up in the love of God.

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Trusting in a God, that we don’t see takes faith, which builds trust, which produces hope for us to survive anything that may come along our path of life.

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And that process is what brings us Peace.

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May you feel God’s peace tonight as the day winds down and you close the doors of today’s problems in  hopes of starting a new day tomorrow with renewed kindness from above.

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Fears, Lies, Trust, Love & Peace

As we traverse these difficult times I am reminded of a passage in  Jeremiah, chapter 38, in the how trickery of people’s gossiping and how it can influence those who are weak in God’s teaching and begin to believe those lies. I see this same thing going on today with so much “he said/she said”, this one is lying, that one is lying. Who do we believe and who do we trust. So it is imperative we stay close to God, for He is who we can always trust. 

Jesus Calling devotion books reminds us this morning that God is not careless. He allows difficult times to come to equip us for other things in the future. I love the saying that “Sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes he allows the storms to rage but calms our hearts.”  This world is definitely in a storm but we must breathe in and relax in God and trust in His strength and counsel to keep us above water. So this morning let’s trust in His unfailing love.
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He is a mighty God and nothing is too difficult for Him. So do not fear from our seemed weakness. Lean on God’s possibilities.
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Our weakness is designed to show his strength, so don’t let your presumed limitations measure the wall that is before you. Stay connected to God and He will show you how to climb that wall.
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As we stay connected with God, we are encouraged by His love we for we know He is always walking with us.
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So just remember to talk with Him and then listen while he guides you through every challenging situation.
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As you feel the comfort of His love and peace, remember to share the peace and kindness with others. Now more than ever kindness is needed to spread across this world to bring us all a bit of peace.
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His Presence, His Perspective

Good Sunday morning friends. After a couple of dreary days here in the midwest, today promises to be bright and beautiful. And like the dreariness of these past two day, we ourselves can become dreary with self pity if we focus on this current obstacle surround the entire world. With each passing day it gets harder as our thoughts dwell on ‘will this ever end?’ and I promise you it will. Sometimes we need to change our perspective of how things seem to be and lift our heads to His light and let the light of His presence engulf us and bring us peace.

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2 Corinthians 4 reminds us not to lose heart,
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and to focus on what is not seen. And what is not seen is more beautiful than we can imagine. We have been taught that God always has us in His hand and while He does not cause difficult situations, He will use those situations to show us His infinite power and love. So I challenge you today to
relax in the brightness of His Presence
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enjoy the fruits of His Love
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Breathe in deeply and smile
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and if you are able, take in a calming sip of laughter
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Its all about perspective. So climb to the top of the ladder and see your life in God’s Presence.
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And always remember, now more than ever, to be kind.
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Memory Prompts

Do you have things you see that bring back an instant memory from the past…preferable a good memory. It is a shame that bad ones come around as well but lets focus on the things that make you smile or laugh.

One in particular for me is a bright moon. When my oldest was about 2 1/2, we lived in Asheville N.C. A beautiful place. We had friends who knew rangers who allowed people onto the mountain fire trails to pick up felled trees for firewood. It helps the people and aides in forest cleanup.

So off we go in search of firewood and it was right chilly. I had my son all bundled up like an Eskimo and we got enough wood to last all season. Coming home it was a clear cold cloudless night and my son spotted the moon. He had just started talking so when he pointed at that bright light in the sky and said moon as only a two year old can, it was a precious time for me and a memory shared in the family through many years.

I thought of that night last night with a clear sky after several days of damp dreariness.  As I was walking the dogs, the moon was perfectly framed in my neighbor’s tree and Venus, I think, is located just to the right. So I thought I would share that spot of peace and a memory that makes me smile.

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The world can really be beautiful if you still the madness of the day and try to look through God’s eyes at His creation. I envision God as He was creating all of this for US with him thinking…’Wait until, they see this,” and 90% of the time we miss the gift. I fully believe He knows the trials we are going through and throws little things our way to distract that trial, for a brief moment to bring us a moment of peace. If we can focus on the brief moment of peace, the moment can stretch and become bigger, allowing us extra peace.

May you all find the small gifts of love thrown in your path that make you smile and for a split second forget the pulls of every day life. And as you smile from these tiny gifts, may they grow exponentially allowing you to share you the gift of peace you feel which will bring you more happiness, more memories and more peace.  With the added peace you feel, may you also add kindness in all you do.

kindness radiating

Reminder for Your Day

Just a reminder to myself as well as anyone else who may do the same thing, if you have laid something at the foot of the cross, leave it there. Don’t go back by and pick it up. I promise that God is strong enough, wise enough and happy to take on any concern you have. Give it to Him and leave it with Him. Go gently and kindly through your day knowing He has you in the palm of His hand. Jesus Calling, as well as God himself reminds us to keep our focused on Him and to trust Him for what ever your day brings you.

I wish you encouragement for this day and may you feel His ever presence surround you with peace for anything you face. Have a blessed day.

And always remember to be kind as He has been kind to us.

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