An anthill celebration …

“God sits high above the round ball of earth. The people look like mere ants. Isaiah 40: 21,2

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Today an army of ants formed a huge anthill on some grass growing between a crack in a sidewalk. They looked like man’s thick brown beard and clung together like they were trying to claw down to the bottom of the pile. There probably is an ant hill nearby and  someone rang the dinner bell.

I stay away from events with big crowds because I don’t like the feeling of possibly being trapped. I’ve seen news articles of people trapped in a nightclub or at a concert and, because of a fire or structure problem, were brushed during a stampede to get out of the building.

One year Glen and I took my granddaughter and her mother to the Phoenix Cardinal stadium for an Easter service. Thousands of people crammed together at one end of the stadium to worship and praise God. I immediately began to feel closed in. But when the pastor drove in on his Harley motorcycle, I forgot about my well being and became part of the crowd roaring and singing along with the “rock band.” We sang for a half hour and listened to scripture and a spirited message.

This is not my normal style of worship, but I found it interesting and inspiring. To God it must have looked like a hill of ants celebrating the Resurrection!

Lord, let us gather together in different ways to worship you. Amen.

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I regret …

“I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse!…When I told my story, you responded; train me well in your deep wisdom.” Psalm 119:25,27

I himageave a new iPad Bluetooth keyboard, due to the fact I wore out the delete key in my old one. The life of a writer–write and edit. I wish I had a delete key that could wipe out things I’ve said that came out wrong. Just as Mr. Trump said during a recent speech, “Sometimes … you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that, and believe it or not, I regret it.” I agree with him because I have regrets too that have lead to the need to apologize.

I think of the words of Jesus and how it was as if he was scripted at all times. Perhaps he had the gift of channeling directly from his father. When I speak to a crowd–usually around fifty people at a retreat-type setting, I have a script to follow. But I go off script when a thought comes to mind that seems appropriate. I understand how Mr. Trump says things before digesting the affect it might have on others.

It’s an awesome responsibility to represent a group of people through the spoken word, because everyone processes information in their own way. That’s why I pray for guidance before speaking and later forgiveness when I’ve put my foot in my mouth.

Lord, help me speak words that you approve of. Amen.

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Be salty for God …

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be saltseasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.Matthew 5:13

IMG_0574This morning Mason (my six-year-old grandson) decided he wanted to eat “grandpa’s cereal” and pulled the box of Wheaties out of the pantry, filled his bowl, got through half of it, and abandoned the rest. “I’m full,” he said, but I think he just didn’t like it. It didn’t have the same taste of the mixture of Cherrios mixed with a small amount of a sugary kid cereal his mother concocts.

When Glen and I were first married, I arose every morning to make him a “solid” breakfast—eggs or pancakes, etc. One day he said, “Honey, I’d rather just have a bowl of Wheaties for breakfast before going to the base.” He continued to eat Wheaties until a few years ago when the medication he took for rheumatoid arthritis messed with his taste buds. Nothing had any flavor, especially Wheaties, which made it difficult for me to plan meals. Eventually, his taste buds returned, but he never returned to Wheaties.

Sprinkling salt on our food brings out the flavor of the ingredients. Jesus said, “By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”  [vs.16] That’s why God wants us to be the salt of the world to others.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of faith and the skill to become a seasoned inspirational writer. Amen.

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Remembering moments …

“When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. John 16:21,22

remember momentsWhen I try think of my earliest memories, it is fuzzy before kindergarten. I remember moments, not days, such as getting into trouble for crossing the field to visit a friend or my baby brother’s stroller getting stuck in the mud in our farmyard. I have a few memories of kindergarten, like my friend braiding my hair during recess. There are some years of school that I have no memory of, not even the teacher’s name. Probably just ho-hum years with nothing happening to mark my brain.

God gives us selective memory—think of going through childbirth and then doing it again, and again. That time of painful experience fades, for which I’m grateful for I might not have had more than one child. And, then there’s the memory of days such as 9/11 or when President Kennedy was assassinated.

I’m grateful God gives us moment memory instead of day-long scenarios. My brain is full of enough trivia. For the past few months, I have tried to recall the memories of the last whirlwind day before Glen went to hospice. Already, details are fading, as is the pain of witnessing him so sick. Hopefully, painful memories can be replaced by pleasant thoughts.

Lord, thank you for the gift of memory. Amen.

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Not just any old wallet …

“Don’t keep a tight grip on your purse. No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs.” Deuteronomy 15:7

seeThis morning Mason’s mommy gave him two dollars and put it in his wallet and proudly said “It’s Grandpa’s wallet. Nate gave it to me. But I can’t find Grandpa’s picture. It was in here. Can you get me another one?” Well, he dug a little deeper and found the picture. Immediately, my eyes got teary, and once, again I’d had a mini meltdown–this time over an old, cheap wallet. After Glen died, I removed all the cash and important cards and gave it to Nate, who passed it on to his younger brother.

Glen’s wallet revealed so much of what he meant to me… the driver’s license which gave us permission to see the USA, the cash he’d pull out on Friday date night, a picture of our beloved grandchildren, my business card—the one with the picture on it he had taken of me leaving the house one day to go to a speaking engagement. And, the medical insurance card…the last card he pulled out of his wallet to receive treatment at the ER for a high fever and a persistent cough. [More tears.]

Glen didn’t have a picture of Jesus in his wallet. He didn’t need one. His faith resided in his heart and soul.

Thank you, Lord, for holding my loved one in your arms until I see him again. Amen.

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Don’t trip!

“If I keep my eyes on God, I won’t trip over my own feet.” Psalm 25:15

feetThere is a sorry joke about someone having big feet is outstanding in his own field. I can control my weight, how tan I allow my skin to become, the color of my hair (should I choose to dye it), but I can’t change the size of my size 12 feet or hands, nor my height. Sometimes my big feet cause me to trip over the smallest items.

Falling is a huge concern for seniors. My doctor told me due to osteopenia, if I were to fall, I could break a hip. I’m taking calcium and trying to walk to build up strength in my bones. But in walking there are possibilities of tripping. Glen tripped last summer while walking to a Starbuck’s because he was looking for his Starbuck’s card and missed a curb. Another day I missed a step and fell leaving a Starbuck’s because I wasn’t paying attention to the warning sign on the door.

Much of life is spent walking around in a fog. I park my car at a shopping mall and then can’t find it an hour later. It is not my memory but the failure to pay attention to where I parked. And, when I stop paying attention to my daily prayers and meditation, my life becomes one big trip to the land of discontent.

Thank you, Lord, for keeping your eyes on your children at all times. Amen.

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Protect me!

“God’s name is a place of protection— good people can run there and be safe.” Proverbs 18:10

learn to trustLast winter my dog, Daisy, was attacked in our backyard by two of our Sun City roving coyotes. If I hadn’t been watching her, she would have been carried away, never to be found. I felt as if I had failed to protect her, because I was not right by her side.

It had taken months for Daisy to trust me. She had been a street puppy found in Phoenix in my son’s yard. We have no history of her, but when she sees anyone (especially a man) with a stick, pole, or rod, she goes into flight mode. So, I can assume she may have been abused.

Last week Daisy bit the hand that feeds her. A big dog burst through an open storm door and charged at Daisy, nearly getting her by neck. But as her protector, I pulled her up by her leash into my arms. While the dog continued to lunge at her, she reeled around and bit the tip of my middle finger. I am grateful she has little teeth.

Daisy is too small to take care of herself. As her protector, I am responsible for her well-being, not just the one who rubs her belly and fills her food and water dish.

God serves as our protector who holds on to our “leash” and pulls us out of threatening situations.

Lord, thank you for being my protector. Amen.

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Don’t tell me I’m not going to Heaven!

“You send scouts to search out the latest in religion, send them all the way to hell and back.” Isaiah 57:9

I remember riding the school bus as a kid—a long, hour ride in the morning. One day a girl from my class, Suzie, said, “If you aren’t a Catholic, you will go to Hell.” I was probably in third or fourth grade and didn’t know anything about religion—especially Roman Catholics. And, I didn’t know much about Hell except for pictures in Sunday school papers showing a flame to represent the heat of Hell. I wasn’t too concerned about her comment because I knew Jesus loved me.

 

Without proper education and experience, it is dangerous to be a theologian. But sometimes one has such a strong conviction about what they believe, it becomes the gospel truth to them. Today, there are people who just don’t understand Christians.That’s easy to understand because of the different styles of worshipping, the difference in beliefs about social issues, and how one interprets what they hear from the pulpit. I believe it is reasonable to ask questions, “Why do you believe that?” It is imperative to understand what you believe so that you can share it from your heart.

 

My theology is super simple: God created man; not man for God. Leave the judging to God. Noone can convince me I’m not good enough to go to Heaven.

 

Lord, thank you for making my road to eternity paved through understanding your power. Amen.

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Amazingly, we are saved …

“The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

forgiveLast Sunday I was singing along with the opening hymn in church when the organist changed key and transitioned into the hymn Amazing Grace. I wasn’t prepared to hear this song, and elephant-size tears threatened to ruin my mascara and put a damper on worship. But I held it together and later explained to my friend Pat, “This was the last song Glen heard shortly before going to the hospice center. It will always be heart wrenching for me.”

Pastor Al called earlier in the day and asked if he could come to visit and bring communion. I said, “That would be appreciated as he’s going to hospice later today.” Pastor Al has a way of not dramatizing doing communion in the hospital by asking for soda crackers and any kind of juice to consecrate and share. He read scripture from the Bible, prayed, and then shared the cracker and cranberry juice with all surrounding Glen’s bed. Then we sang Amazing Grace—Pastor’s strong voice leading.

After re-reading the words to the song, I feet they weren’t appropriate to describe Glen—anything but lost or a wretch. But as prisoners of our sin, we must rely on God’s amazing grace to save us who are lost.

Lord, help us sing boldly the song Amazing Grace as we confess being a prisoner to sin. Amen.

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Are you able?

“We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.” Proverbs 16:9

capableMy mother used to say, “Don’t sit on the table or you’ll be married before you’re able.” Glen and I had originally planned to be married in August after I graduated from high school. However, one sunny afternoon while lounging at a beach in California, we both started talking at the same time. We were both saying, “I think we should wait to get married.” Glen had a WestPac cruise coming up that would take him out of the country for nine months. I’d be a new bride alone in an apartment in California along with other navy wife “widows.

I spent seven months alone before Glen mustered out of the Navy. By then I had sort of figured out how to be married and how to survive alone. So much of life cannot be prepared for, like when I had my first baby. Even with nine-month’s warning, it took me by surprise as to how my life changed.

When I return to my Arizona home, I’ll discover how ably I will adjust to doing things like eating meals and attending social events alone. As wise Solomon said, “God makes us able to live it.” I’ll take it one day at a time and lean on friends and family members to fill the void of having a life-long partner.

Lord, I can never be “able” to experience life without your assistance. Amen.

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