Carry me until I’m old and gray …

“Listen to me, family of Jacob, everyone that’s left of the family of Israel. I’ve been carrying you on my back from the day you were born, and I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old. I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray…” Isaiah 46:3-4

My neighbor had a fussy baby, and she carried him on her chest in what I called a “mapoose,” a frontal version of the Native American papoose worn on the back of the mother. Marilee would cook, clean house, shop, and even iron with this child tucked close to her heart. I never did this with my children. As a bit clumsy, I no doubt would have scalded the child or burned him or her with an iron.

Since then, I’ve seen many different ways of carrying an infant; most frequently a cotton baby wrap, which is soft and stretches to make a sling to carry the baby on the chest. How comforting for the infant to feel the warmth of his mother (or father) and hear a heartbeat which he or she had known in the mother’s womb.

I picture myself being carried from infancy to adulthood in a sling on my Father’s chest. He promised the people of Israel he’d carry them on his back until they were old and gray. I trust he will do the same for you and me.

Thank you, Father, for carrying us throughout our lives. Amen.

 

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Can you choose to be positive?

“Return my sons from distant lands, my daughters from faraway places. I want them back, every last one who bears my name, every man, woman, and child.”Isaiah 43:6

Recently, I overheard a conversation about a man and his relationship with God. He said, “I made a pack with God, if he doesn’t mess with me, I won’t mess with him.” This guy has suffered disappointment no different than many other people—loss of a loved one, money crisis, and health issues. Some people draw closer to God during times of trouble, and others draw down an invisible shield protecting them from the very thing that could save them—a closer relationship with God.

Nearly fifty years ago, my late husband’s father and brother were killed in a dirt cave in while laying sewer system 18-feet deep in the ground. Glen’s family had no connection with a church, and my first reaction was to call my pastor. He came to our side and officiated at the funeral for two people he didn’t know.

Everyone has a positive or negative side that surfaces under crisis. I, either by nature or through dedicating myself to being a positive person, rarely succumb to a negative reaction under stress. And, I challenge anyone to give me a reason to say something is bad or can’t be done, and I’ll give you more reasons why it is possible.

Thank you, Lord, for being present to those who want to block you out of their lives. Amen.

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Don’t let the church become a circus…

“We must not turn our religion into a circus as they did—“First the people partied, then they threw a dance.”1 Corinthians 10:6,7

I remember going to a small traveling circus as a kid, but can’t tell you much about it other than there was a tent, some animals, clowns, and trapezes acts. Today, while visiting in Sarasota, Florida, I went to the Ringling Museum with my friends, Liz and Frank. The history of the circus is captured in this museum through pictures, posters, costumes, equipment, circus wagons, and even the first railroad car used by John and Mable Ringling.

On a poster I read how the first circus-type events originated around 2000 BC – 1750 AD with chariot races and other competitions using animals and people. Over the past 200 years, the circus in America became an artistic display of feats performed by highly trained and skilled humans and animals. Large circuses needed over a thousand employees to set up, tear down, and  keep the equipment working, to care for the animals, cook, clean, and perform. It’s no wonder once young men and women saw a circus they were tempted to run and become part of the glamour and excitement.

Apostle Paul warned the people of Corinth to not let religion turn into a circus. We tend to do the same today when we forget worship is the main event of a church, not the social activities that become a big part of the life of the church.

Lord, help us keep the church focused on worship instead of entertainment. Amen.

 

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Who is your enemy?

“You’re familiar with the old written late, “Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate our enemy.” I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.” Matthew 5:43,44

Sunday, I heard a sermon about loving your friend and hating your enemy. The pastor used Jonah as an example of a servant of God who hated the sinful people of Nineveh and chose to run away rather than minister to them. After spending three days of “thinking” time in the belly of a big fish, he gave in and went to Nineveh to do the job God assigned to him. However, it didn’t sit well that God forgave the sinful people, and Jonah pouted and complained to God–even asked for God to take his life. He could not love his enemy.

Years ago my three co-workers in a law firm harshly judged and shunned me for having been appointed the manager of the office. Each of them had been led to believe they would be chosen. I became the enemy, and it took weeks for each of them to work through their frustration and accept me as the manager. I felt hated for being the “chosen one.” In reality, the position turned out to be a challenge with more responsibility and no extra money. In reality, they became satisfied with their role in the office.

Lord, help love everyone, including the unloveable, and leave the judging to God. Amen.

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Remembering those who trained you.

“That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice.” 2 Timothy 1:5

grandmother Twedt was an important influence in my life. I remember her every time I make my bed and tuck the sheet into a nice square military corner just as she taught me. She showed me how to serve a nice Sunday meal on good China, and made sure there were Kringla and Chocolate cake ready for “coffee time” desert. She’s been gone for nearly fifty years, but when I think of her, she I still get that “sting” behind my eye as if tears were trying to form.I also remember how much she loved the Lord and never missed a televised Billy Graham crusade.

Marc Chernoff posts daily on Marc and Angel Hack Life and wrote “12 Things My Grandmother Told Me Before She Died.” She had written words of wisdom in a journal, and one message was “Breathe in the future breathe out the past.” Basically, she wisely knew that the past is gone forever, so expel it and breathe in the future. One can miss a lot life if always expecting, assuming, or demanding something that can’t be changed or that is unrealistic–just do your best to live for the day.

I wish I had written down some of the words of wisdom my grandmother shared with me.

Lord, let us learn from the wise people we have known in our past. Amen.

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Random Acts of Kindness …

She [Ruth] said, “Oh sir, such grace, such kindness—I don’t deserve it. You’ve touched my heart, treated me like one of your own. And I don’t even belong here!” Ruth 2:16

This week has been set aside to observe National Random Acts of Kindness. The story in the Book of Ruth epitomizes acts of kindness. When Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, became widows, in order to survive Naomi chose to return to Bethlehem and encouraged Naomi Ruth to go home to her people, Ruth refused, saying, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live.” (Ruth 1:16) An extreme act of kindness.

Naomi introduced Ruth to her cousin, Boaz, and Ruth began to glean his fields to provide food for Naomi and herself. Boaz, out of a random act of kindness, instructed his field workers to leave extra grain for Ruth to easily glean. Eventually, they were married.

Research shows when married couples do random acts of kindness to one another, they become more emotionally involved as a couple. Acts of kindness have always made me feel loved and cared for far more than bringing me flowers or candy. On Valentine’s Day, my friend, Frank, knowing how much I love popcorn, kindly purchased a jar of popcorn and popped me a big bowl full the old fashioned way. Today, I’m making him chocolate chip  cookies.

Dear Lord, help us be kinder and more loving all year long. Amen.

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God knows …

“God, order a peaceful and whole life for us because everything we’ve done, you’ve done for us.” Isaiah 26:12

We pray for something specific things and wait for results. Sometimes, our prayers are answered in a way to protect us from ourselves. Other times we are simply blessed.

Shortly before retiring, I took a four week writer’s class in Sun City. I did it more out of curiosity than with the goal of becoming a published author. One day during a session, I read a story I had written about my marriage therapy and recovery. Someone in the class suggested I try to get the story published.

I put the idea in the back of my mind until one day I picked up a Guidepost magazine at the office and a thumbed through it. Staring at me was the invitation to submit an article to the Guidepost Writer’s Workshop.” Maybe this would be a good place to submit the story, I thought and emailed it to the magazine editor.I had no idea I had entered a contest. A few months later, I learned my story had been selected, along with eleven other winners, and I would go to Rye, New York, and spend a week working with authors and editors, and my story would be published.

After this event, everything I became comfortable in the writer’s world. Now in retirement, I have found peace and satisfaction in writing daily meditation moments. God knew just what I needed.

God, you are good all the time! Amen.

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Don’t believe it!

“God says, I’ll knock the wind out of the Egyptians. They won’t know coming from going. They’ll go to their god-idols for answers; they’ll conjure ghosts and hold séances, desperate for answers.  Isaiah 19:1-2

At a slumber party, I was introduced to an Ouija board. A circle of junior high-age girls sat on the floor in a circle and watched while two girls took control of the small heart-shaped piece of wood called a planchette. One girl would ask a question, such as “Will Dennis ask me to the dance?” and then both girls would put their fingers on the planchette and wait until it began to move. It usually started out slowly and then would dart toward either the word “yes” or “no.” Or, someone would ask, “How many children will I have?” and the little piece of wood would point to a number. It was even possible to spell out words.

After reading Wikipedia, I discovered some scientists consider the movement of the planchette to be caused by ideomotor response. I always thought one of the girls just pushed the planchette to get the results she wanted.

Some Christian groups consider the use of a Ouija board to be seeking information from the supernatural, not God. Whenever we seek answers from a source other than from another human or God, we are not in line with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, from which the truth comes.

Lord, bind our hands and minds when we seek help from sources that can lead us astray. Amen.

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Choose the best for you!

“You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others.” James 2:9

Yesterday I took my friend to an ice cream shop for a Valentine treat. The place is known for their homemade ice cream. The guy behind the counter generously offered us samples before making a choice, but other than sampling the cornbread ice cream, I took my chance on bacon ice cream, strawberry, triple chocolate, and salted caramel. I thumbed my nose at the avocado, peanut butter chocolate, and others. We sat on the patio and tried to pretend like we were enjoying this overly priced homemade ice cream. In realty the flavors I chose did nothing to complement one another.

Life is about making choices and works well in retirement. I can get up at any time I choose, go out for the day or stay home in my PJ’s. I can eat breakfast at noon and popcorn for dinner. I can travel or stay home. Life is good. But like ice cream, making too many varied choices of activities in one day can make for an exhausted evening and a sense that I didn’t enjoy any of it as much as I would have doing one great adventure or outing. And, if I had chosen chocolate, my favorite ice cream, I would have been more pleased.

Dear Lord, help me remember to choose to spend time with you each day. Amen.

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Have faith …

Whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.” 1 John 2:1

A friend shared a “dark” story with me: Jan lives alone in the farmhouse in which she grew up in Southwestern Nebraska.
One night during a blizzard, she awoke and discovered the electricity had gone out and everything in and outside was pitch black.

Jan knew she needed to get to the kitchen to make a call to the power company. When she flipped on the flashlight, the battery was dead, so she inched her way across the living room and tripped over a footstool. A few seconds later, her cat came up alongside her and guided her safely to the kitchen where she was able to find another flashlight and make the call. Soon the electricity was restored.

Hatred is like stumbling around in the dark with dead batteries. We need intervention—something to soften the heart and guide our way to a peaceful settlement.

Lord, please catch me when I stumble over a relationship gone awry. Amen.

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