Let the children come …

“He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, ‘Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.’” Mark 8:36-37

childrenAs part of my effort to do volunteer work, I signed up to help with Vacation Church School where my grandsons attend church. I hadn’t participated in VCS since my kids were young and had no idea of what to expect. I failed to tell the volunteer coordinator I don’t relate well to preschool children, unless they are part of my bloodline. I sighed when I learned I’d been assigned to the fourteen squirming three-and four-year-old darlings with short attention spans. My job is to keep the children from getting lost, to help them write their names on projects, and to make sure they don’t hit, bite, or head butt one another.

It’s good to be around little kids to remind me they have so much curiosity, they don’t have preconceived ideas about whether or not they like something or to try something new (except food). Jesus said, “…embraces one of these children as I do…” (vs. 37). Today, as we dismissed the children, one of them flung herself into my arms for a hug. That made the day worthwhile.

There is one day left. I think I’ll get through it without pulling out my silver hair.

Thank you, Dear Lord, for giving me time to spend with children. Amen.

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A penny from heaven …

“Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’” Luke 15:8-9

pennyYesterday I lost a 20-dollar bill. When I shoved it into my pocket, I knew I should have put it in my wallet. Later in the day, I went to my car to retrieve a package I, and I saw a tinge of green between the seat of my car and the center console. I dug down and pulled out the 20- dollar bill! Yeah! I celebrated all the way to the house and when I showed it to my grandson, they jumped and down celebrating with me.

As a child, when out walking I’d find coins on the ground. Usually, a penny and now and then a nickel, dime, or quarter. I never considered them to be pennies from heaven. Since Glen died, and I find a penny, I tell my grandsons they are a reminder to me that Grandpa is in heaven, and we shouldn’t be sad because he is in a good place.

When you look closely at the small copper coin, you see the words, “In God We Trust.” In God I trust my life will be as shiny as a new penny.

God, remind us to put our trust in you! Amen.

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Slow to anger …

“Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.” Proverbs 14:29

imageI had an elderly friend who when made a mistake would confess, “This is the first mistake I’ve never made and I’ll never do it again.” Everyone accepted her admission with humor. It is humbling to admit making mistakes, and in her fun way, she was saying she knew she had made a mistake, but it was easier to make a joke of it.

Recently, I wrote a terse note on an invoice voicing my opinion about business left undone after Glen died. I’d had enough of the situation, and my emotions were running close to the surface. His request was the last straw, and I reacted in anger. Later I learned the request was to be of assistance to help resolve the situation. Now I need to backtrack my statement and ask for forgiveness for being mean-spirited.

The man who “stepped on my last nerve” was innocent. However, he was not a good communicator either, which could have helped me understand what he really wanted was to offer his help. My communication skills failed me, also, because I could have asked him “Why?” instead of shutting him down.

The wisdom of Solomon reminds us quick-tempered actions make us look stupid. When one is slow to respond, even when angry, there is time to gain understanding of the situation. Wise words.

Dear Lord, forgive me when I use my talent of writing in a negative way. Amen.

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Never lost …

“Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are lost; they’re confused. The wilderness has closed in on them.’” Exodus 14:3

findI heard the term “widow brain,” described by a woman who had lost her spouse, in relationship to being scatter-brained. Earlier today before driving back to New Jersey, I told my daughter Susan, “I’m not going to use the “widow brain” trump card just because your father passed away.”

On the drive from Susan’s home in New York to my daughter Karen’s home in New Jersey, I felt I knew the directions well enough to avoid using extra cellular data on my iPhone’s GPS app. I sailed along the route enjoying the scenery when I realized I’d been on the road for two hours and still on I-81. “I should have been on I-380 by now,” I thought, and pulled out my phone to check the map. I had missed that intersection about an hour earlier and now an extra hour away from my destination.

I decided when I told my daughter of my bad decision to not use the GPS, I would blame it on “widow brain.” Why not? I should use this excuse as long as I can get by with it. However, those who know me well can attest I have been lost most of my life.

 During the drive I never felt lost because I had my phone GPS map and the best GPS: “God’s Protective Service.”

 Thank you, Lord, for help in navigating us through our lives.. Amen.

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Don’t miss out …

“Stay alert, be in prayer, so you don’t enter the danger zone without even knowing it. Mark 14:37

waitMy grandson Nate swims as a seven year old on the Hackettstown Hurricanes. It is his first year, and he swims free style and breast stroke. He’s never finished first, nor has he come in last. Nate is faithful to his team by showing up for practice and meets even though the away meets are quite a distance away.

Swim meets are a trial for parents and others to stay alert while waiting to watch their kid swim less than two minutes during a two-hour meet. And, it can be difficult finding your kid waiting to swim dressed in their swimwear with the little swim caps.

Last  week I drove Nate to the wrong pool and got him there just in time for the meet to begin. He missed the warmup period, and I breathed a sigh of relief he wasn’t disqualified. I proudly stepped up and recorded his free-style event. While waiting I talked to another “waiter” and missed his breast stroke event. I felt terrible–all that work to get him there, and I only got to see him swim half of what I had driven him to do.

Life is like a 28-second event. If you don’t pay attention to what’s happening around you, you may miss out on something important. At the next meet, I talked less and watched more.

Lord, help me learn to wait and watch. Amen.

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What a friend …

“And these God-chosen lives all around—what splendid friends they make!” Psalm 16:3

imageToday was special. I met up with my buddy from Florida in New York State. My friend Liz grew up about an hour north of where my daughter Susan now lives. When I learned they would be spending some weeks in New York, I made plans with Liz and her husband John (also Glen and my buddy) to meet for a couple of days.

The best thing about good friends is that time away does not ruin a relationship. When we see each other, about every year or two, we catch up on family and news within the first few minutes and continue as if we’ve seen each other regularly, like when we worked together, traveled together, and spent leisure time together in Illinois for twenty-five years.

When Liz and John learned Glen was seriously ill, I got a message from Liz, “We’re coming … we’ll leave in the morning.” They packed their bags and drove three days from Sarasota to Arizona be with me and my family. When I read they were on their way, I cried. To know someone loves you enough to put their life aside for you, is the greatest feeling. That’s what true friends do, like another good friend: “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.” When our friends arrived, no words were needed.

Lord, thank you for the gift of friends–more precious than gold. Amen.

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Identity theft …

Picture1“Our true identity is flat and plain, not puffed up with the wrong kind of ingredient.”
1 Corinthians 5:7

Last  year I went to a seminar about cyberspace identity theft. The presenter filled us with good advice–“If you don’t know the sender, don’t open it,” and reminders about never giving out your social security or personal information. Even when the rules are followed, it is possible to get scammed, because scammers are professionals.

I liked Stephen Covey’s quote about identity theft–when you allow someone or something to rob you of your spiritual identity. But there is one more robber of identity theft: Loss. If you lose a job, your title changes. When your grown kids leave home, you may experience the empty nest–not knowing what your identity is with such a drastic change.

I experienced identity crisis when Glen died. I kissed my husband goodbye and became a widow. Immediately, I felt as if I had no identity. Fifty years being Mrs. Glen Gillis. Now, I’m widow Linda Gillis.

I have found the past four months a struggle to find my true identity. Sometimes I feel I am playing a game. Will the real Linda Gillis stand up? I’m still a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, friend, writer, and speaker, but I feel within each of those titles, my life has changed. Time will tell what my true identity will become as someone single, not by choice.

Lord, reveal the identity and direction you want for me to take. Amen.

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The Gem …

“I’m making jewelry for you, gold and silver jewelry that will mark and accent your beauty.” Song of Solomon 1:11

FullSizeRender (1)For the past few years, Glen has been commissioning his friends at the silver shop in Sun City to make me jewelry–lovely necklaces made from clear stones or unique stones from the lapidary club. I guess the older he got, the more sentimental he became.

A few days before Glen passed away, he said, “Call Oran at the silver shop and ask him about the necklace and earrings he is making for you.” It wasn’t Mother’s Day or my birthday or our anniversary, so I was a bit surprised he had ordered me jewelry. It pleased me and yet made me sad. I promised him I would follow up with Oran.

Last week I received the pendant in the mail. Stones were placed in the shape of a cross on a brushed silver platform. The oval stones in the cross represent our family–two December birthstones (zircon) for Glen and me and three stones for our three children–February (Amethyst), November (Topaz), and May (Emerald) birthstones. But the most important stone, placed in the center of the cross, a round bluish-green stone to represent God.

Glen was a faith-based person, so it did not surprise me that he put God right in the middle of our family. I’ll proudly wear the pendant to honor the memory of Glen.

Lord, thanks for the gift of gems–the human ones too. Amen.


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Tragedies and Comedies …

“He [Jesus] is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.” Matthew 28:6

charliechaplin102081I’ve heard the tragedies of today are the comedies of tomorrow. From the study of Shakespeare, we know that a tragedy is play with something very serious and dramatic, while a comedy is mostly funny of ridiculous. So how can you compare the two?Life is full of tragedies. I’ve yet to see anything of a comic-nature in any of my personal tragedies–especially the death of my husband. The good news is that I’ve learned from his death that life goes on, and I am having fun and enjoy laughing again. And, it is ridiculous to believe a tragedy can be tomorrow’s comedy.

The only tragedy I know that ended with a positive slant (not a comedy, though) is the death of Jesus. God orchestrated the birth, life, and ministry of Jesus with the betrayal, beatings, and death by being nailed to a cross to be a tragedy. All this to save us from our sinful ways! The story turned into a “comedy” for those who put Jesus to death, when three days Jesus arose from the grave, walked again on Earth, and left in a cloud to return home to his Father. Surely his followers must have felt the whole episode had been ridiculous, but were grateful for the unbelievable ending to the story.

Dear God, help us never accept tragedy as a comedy. Amen.

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Frozen peace …

“May the Master of Peace himself give you the gift of getting along with each other at all times, in all ways.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16

peaceToday on a Facebook post, one of my cousins, “DB,” posted a picture of her grocery list—nothing too uncommon on it except at the bottom of the list was written “frozen peace.” Many thought it was funny, but I saw it as a description of the condition of our world today. Peace is frozen in fear, unreasonable expectations, false ideas, religious ideology, lack of respect—and the list could fill the rest of my 250-word post.

When I have a sore back or a muscle ache, I grab a bag of frozen peas out of the freezer to dull the pain and reduce inflammation, which can be molded to fit the area of the body that needs attention better than the icy bags my chiropractor gave me. It would be great if we could thaw out the attitudes, hatred, and the mean-spirited ways of people like a bag of frozen peas against a warm body. Unfortunately, peace will only happen when it is wanted badly enough to sacrifice one’s own perspective on everything and begin to listen to people with different opinions.

Dear cousin, you are not a Ditsy Brunette after all. You are the author of a concept of unfreezing peace to make the world a kinder, more loving place for everyone.

 Lord, re-make us in your image so that people will find peace. Amen.

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