Friday, April 30, 2010

Prayer for our Teens

Today, I drove Allie and Austin to school.  No big deal, but I am glad I did.  As we drove up the long, upwards drive to the school, I noticed that there were these little yellow flags lining both sides of the driveway.   Austin and Allie both told me that each of the small flags represents one of the 480 plus people who died in a drunk driving accident last year during Ohio's prom season.

This weekend is Lebanon and Monroe's prom, and a bunch more.  The last two days at Monroe have been somber.  I got a text from Allie saying several people she knows died! On Wednesday, the Grim Reaper visited the school and went in to classrooms and had people follow them.  Those chosen, were to be silent throughout the day.  Each participant that was killed, received a black t-shirt that told on the back how they died.  This has been a lot of the topic of conversation at my house.

Yesterday, there was a massive vehicle pile-up to simulate what could happen to those who get behind the wheel drunk. Then a gathering in the gym, where the "dead" were laying.  I think a lot of it hit home to at least Allie and Austin.  All through school they are taught that excessive drinking is wrong, yet it doesn't change the fact that a lot of them do participate.  I am sure that home life, peer pressure and such plays a huge role in this.

Today, let's pray for all the teens of America.  Let's pray that they will make the right choices and that they will have a safe and fun prom.  Let's keep them all in our hearts and minds today as they prepare for their parties and that next year there will be fewer flags lining school drives.

Psalm 71:1-7

In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
         Let me never be ashamed.
    2In Your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
         Incline Your ear to me and save me.
    3Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come;
         You have given commandment to save me,
         For You are my rock and my fortress.
    4Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked,
         Out of the grasp of the wrongdoer and ruthless man,
    5For You are my hope;
         O Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth.
    6By You I have been sustained from my birth;
         You are He who took me from my mother's womb;
         My praise is continually of You.
    7I have become a marvel to many,
         For You are my strong refuge.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Don't Get Mouthy!

Today has been a crazy day.  I have taken inventory, phone calls, packages, emails, faxes, etc.  You know, everything a receptionist should do.  I have made a couple of mistakes, but I have corrected them.  This is the first time I have been able to take a deep breath all day.  Things have been coming at me all day.  I feel like a ninja, knocking down each task and taking a punch once in a while. 

Christianity can be compared to this.  You are going along, doing your own thing and suddenly there is an obstacle.  Maybe it's something someone said (that you took the wrong way), maybe it's a choice that you hurriedly made and now it seems to be the wrong one.  It could be anything.  But we have to roll with the punches.  It's like trying to keep your kids on the right path.  You try to let them make their own decisions and as they grow up and their personalities come out, you want to nurture them. 

Timm has a mouth on him that is going to get him in a lot of trouble one of these days.  Timm has an opinion about everything from politics to football.  He usually has a pretty good handle on what is going on in most arenas. But once you get him started, the mouth starts going and sometimes the brain shuts down.  Teaching him to be sensitive to others is one of the hardest things to teach.  If he thinks something is wrong, he lets you know in no uncertain terms.

I think God thinks that I am the same way sometimes.  If I think something is not the way I want it or just not the right way, I will stew about it.  I will talk a lot about it to God and let him know what I think.  I am an adult and I try not to let others know about my anger, though I do have those I vent to.  But God, each time, gently uses the problem to teach me a lesson I need.  It usually is something that really isn't as big a deal as I made it out to be.   Sometimes I don't want to quickly accept it as a I should.  I am getting better at it, though.  Being sensitive is a sensitive subject.  Maybe both Timm and I need some extra sensitivity training.

Galations 6: 1-5
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.
For each one will bear his own load.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stick It on Your Car!

I spend way too much time in my car.  I drive an hour to and from work, 35 minutes to church and back, school functions, shopping, etc. Only my drive to and from work am I alone.  That is when I am least distracted. I see lots of bumper stickers, signs and personal license plate messages.  I even have one on my Edge now.  It says, STUDENT DRIVER.  I like to warn everyone that there is a new driver and that is why the car is acting like it is. Yesterday on my way home from work, I saw a sticker on the back window of a vehicle.  It said   

3:16 The numbers of Love.

Isn't that just a wonderful thought?  Now why didn't I think of that?  of all the numbers and ways to say it, someone had a brilliant idea.  Of course, I am not sure if the word John was anywhere on that sign, but that is because I knew immediately what that meant.  I mean, the only book I have been exposed to that has every chapter and verse numbered is the Bible.  But what about those poor souls who haven't been informed?  Would they look at this and ask "What does that mean?"  How can three little numbers and a colon say so much? 

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

That is one of the first verses I put to memory.  That verse tells me that God loves me.  That verse is Love.  Thank you to the person who made this sticker.  My only question is, where do I get one?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


This morning, my husband told me about a radio station he found that played 80s music.  He thought I would like it.  So on my way to work, I dialed it in.  The first song I heard was Madonna's Like A Prayer.  Ah, that takes me back.  Remember how controversial the media made the video of the song because in the end the statue of the saint came to life and kissed her?  I think a lot of people thought the statue was of Jesus because it was in a church setting.  The song itself is one of my favorite songs by her.  But I digress.

The name of the radio station is called REWIND.  To rewind is to go back and revisit.  I love the rewind button on my tv remote.  If I don't understand what is being said or what is going on, I can go back endlessly and listen and watch again.  But that is just for fun and fantasy.  You can't really go back.  You can't go back and relive those moments.  In real life, you have to keep moving forward.  God doesn't want you to live in the past.  He does however, want you to remember.  Remember what you were and learn from the mistakes you made.  He doesn't want you to remember the bad things in a sense that you can't deal with your life.  He just wants to gently tell you that though you are a sinner and have done horrible wrongs, there is still time to repent.  Just ask and he will forgive you.  Then you can live in the joy of His light!

Hebrews 8:12

Psalm 103:12
As far as the east is from the west,So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

So go ahead and do a little rewinding today.  Meditate on where you once were and where you are now.  the key is to know what your goal is.  You know, where you are heading.  Lord willing, that is heaven!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Changing It Up A Bit

Welcome and thanks to all the new interested bloggers.  I hope that here at Lifting You Up will be an inspiration to you and that if you feel it's worthy, you will pass this along to others that may need to here this message.

For those who are new, this devotion started as a need to connect with the people my family loves and who loves us.  The need was to help my parents.  My father was diagnosed with throat cancer in February of 2009 and there were so many things happening at once I started email everyone I knew almost every day to give them  updates so they wouldn't call my parents constantly and ask them.  As time went on this grew and now I email almost 90 people Monday through Friday a devotion.  I don't think I am very good at it and sometimes I feel I get lost in the daily grind, but people seem to like what I have to say, so I keep with it.

Last night at evening service, we sang a lot of older hymns we don't sing as much during the morning service.  My dad and I have two songs that we always change the words to to make the song more personal.  Most of you know the first one, Love Lifted Me.  The chorus goes like this...

Love lifted me, love lifted me,
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me.

Love lifted me, love lifted me
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me.

Now, here is our version of the chorus.

John three sixteen, John three sixteen, 
When nothing else could help
John three sixteen.
John three sixteen, John three sixteen,
When nothing else could help
John three sixteen.

How so very true this change is.  When nothing else helps you in life, you can remember that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  How many times have I said that verse just when I felt like no one loved me or a situation was hopeless?  That someday, because I do believe in Jesus and accepted him as my Personal Savior, I will not perish, but have eternal Life.  Praise the Lord!
The second song was one we sang last night...Have You Been To Jesus (not quite sure that is the title, but that is the first line of the song).  This chorus goes like this.

Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
I think in our hymnal there are three verses for this song.  On the last verse we change it to say this.
I am washed in the blood,
In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb.
My garments are spotless, they are white as snow.
I am washed in the blood of the Lamb.

I like to make that proclamation to everyone that I am a bonafide, soul-cleaned sinner and I want to tell you all about it.  So, do you have a song that you change the words to make more personal to your life?  Let me know. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Letters to God

I am doing a plug today.  This plug is for a movie.  Now, I know, I know.  Most of you probably haven't been to the movies in years because of the prices and the feeling that there isn't any movies out that are decent enough for Christians and families to see.  I agree.  But, I keep seeing this movie in little commercial snippets and finally was intrigued enough to watch a trailer on my computer.  It brought me to tears.  I have to see this movie.  Maybe alone, even.

This move is called Letters to God.   Inspired by a true story, Letters to God is an intimate, moving and often funny story about the galvanizing effect one child’s belief can have on his family, friends and community.   A young boy is sick and starts writing letters to God. What happens to transform people is what the movie is about.  I know that this will be a tear-jerker.  I love them.  But this one is so much more.  It's inspirational and maybe it will give hope to those who feel hopeless.  To find out more, go the  It tells more of the plot, and it even gives you an opportunity to write your own letter to God.  You can publish it for the world to see or you can keep it private, just between the two of you.

It just occurred to me that I am reading and drawn to things that is making God very personal to me.  Not that he wasn't before.  But right now, I am not feeling as close to him as maybe I should.  Life gets in the way sometimes, you know?  I sometimes look at this devotion as my own personal letter to God.  Boy if that is the case, I have written a lot of letters in the last year or so.  This is something that keeps me going.  I like talking to God.  In my head, I talk to him a lot.  I ask him questions, prod him to come with me or keep someone safe.  Today, as I was driving to work, Careflight took off right over me.  I prayed for the workers to get there safely and to help whoever they were going to help.  It's random, but it is how my faith is.  I pray a lot for others.  I care for others.  Most of you probably don't realize that I have prayed for all of you at one time or another. 

Luke 21:38  And all the people would get up early in the morning to come to Him in the temple to listen to Him.

What is your letters to God?  Do you talk to him as I do, or do you listen more during your devotion time?  Do you let God talk back to you?  I honestly think there is no wrong answer.  God made us all different in how we give and receive that what is easy for me, is not good for you at all.

P.S.  If anyone would like to get together and go see this movie, let me know.  I know that I really want to see it. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 2010

Today, driving in to work, I heard that it is Earth Day.  What comes to mind when you hear or heard this?  First I think, shouldn't every day be a day we recognize and try to better the earth/environment?  Do you recycle?  I recycle cans and glass.  At work, we have a guy, who every Friday, recycles all the paper we throw in a few boxes and dumps them in a recycling container somewhere on the premises.  Jokingly, the first time I saw him do that, I called him Recycle Man.    I told him he needed a green cape with a big letter R on it.  So now, every Friday as he walks past my desk, he says, "Recycle Man.  Recycle Man."

It is nice to take a few minutes to think about the earth.  But what I like to think about most is the verses in the Bible where it says that the earth will praise God.

Psalm 66:1
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth;

Psalm 69:34
Let heaven and earth praise Him,The seas and everything that moves in them.

 Psalm 100:1
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.

Psalm 148:13
Let them praise the name of the LORD,For His name alone is exalted;His glory is above earth and heaven.

And of course there is the praise song we all love, Shout to the Lord, by Darlene Zschech.  The chorus goes: 

Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing
Power and majesty, praise to the King.
Mountain bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name.

I sing for joy at the works of Your hands.
Forever I'll love you, forever I'll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.

Earth Day is okay, but I like that the earth and all within it praises God.  A much better scenario in my opinion.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Psalm 42:1

Today is April 21, 2010.  I decided to look up a passage, so I typed in Psalm 42:1.  Here is what that is.

  1As the deer pants for the water brooks,
         So my soul pants for You, O God. 

Isn't that strange?  I honestly didn't know what to expect, but what a wonderful verse!  I love the song that was made from this psalm.  This verse always make me think of spring.  I think because of the warmer weather, when it is easiest for most of us to become thirsty.  We sweat as we work outside in the yard, and then we go get a drink to quench that desire.
During Dad's days of treatment, the radiation killed his saliva glands.  He has none.  His mouth is always dry and he has to have water with him constantly.  The doctor told him that if he goes eight or more hours without liquid, he would be in serious jeopardy.  Dad always has the metal coffee cup or a bottle of water with him.  He prefers ice water, and almost always asks someone to fill his cup with ice and water.  I scares me sometimes when I think about how close Dad could be to dehydrating.  But, there are so many people around him that will make sure he is taken care of.  

This verse is a good picture.  I see a young doe, down by a stream, dropping her head to take a drink of the cool water.  I see my spirit, delving into the Word, getting another glimpse of what God has for me to learn today.  That is how I see reading the Bible.  Each day that I read, I feel God has something for me to take from that reading.  Sometimes it is private and something I need for me.  Sometimes it is something for me to teach my kids or talk over with a friend.  But each time I read, I know I want more.  

Here are the words to the praise song that I love to sing.

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after Thee
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship Thee

You alone are my strength, my shield 
To You alone may my spirit yield 
You alone are my heart's desire 
And I long to worship Thee 

You're my friend and You are my brother
Even though You are a king
I love You more than any other
So much more than anything   

I want You more than gold or silver 
Only You can satisfy 
You alone are the real joy giver
And the apple of my eye 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Be a Kid again!

Sunday evening, our church brought our service to Mason Christian Village.  There were a lot of people in attendance.  Our church family, as well as those who live in the village.  Several things happened during this service.

During the prayer time, the leader mentioned several people to pray for.  He gave a short testimony about a young boy that was mentioned by someone every week.  He also mentioned about someone who had passed who every week asked for prayer for our men and women in the military and the leaders of our nation.  He then opened up the floor for requests.  As we were sitting there, the leader mentioned Helen Rainey had asked for prayer for her daughter or daughter-in-law.  Of course, the minute her name was mentioned, my head snapped up to attention.  I looked over at my mom, who wasn't sure what to think either.  It had to be a relative.  There are more Rainey's than you can shake a stick at in this neck of the woods.  Come to find out after service, that Helen was married to one of Dad's cousins.  Dad's grandfather was a twin, and this was the twin's grandson's wife (I think that is it).  But it was unexpected and nice for dad and mom to re-acquaint themselves with Helen.
As I was watching some of the people come in to the service, one woman struck me.  I want to call her, little, but she wasn't really.  What struck me about her was that she carried a doll.  A porcelain doll.  She had her arms around it and it was something that was not distracting, I just noticed it.  I didn't see her again.  But her image stuck with me.  I think because our Mother-Daughter Banquet Theme this year centers around dolls.  That image puts in to play how as children we are trusting, playing with our dolls, and as we grow up, we put away what we think are childish things.  But when we have children of our own, we are back to playing with little dolls, as we dress our babies, and then later when our children are playing with their own dolls.  By the time we are old and ready to rest, I think most of us don't sit and play with dolls, but that the image of being like children again rests on our minds.  To be child like is something we can all aspire to now.  To not think about it, but just accept things for how they are or should be is hard when you grow up and learn to think about the consequences or what others will think.

Mark 10:13 - 16

And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
"Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all."
And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

When I think of the last verse, ...He took them in His arms..., I think of the lady that brought the doll to the service.  She was careful and tender, just like I imagine Jesus was with those children.  I am sure he looked at them and the children felt safe and loved.  The way we all need to let ourselves be in our relationship with God.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Scenes from Heaven

I am reading a book that many of you may be familiar with. It is called The Shack. I am not very far in to the book, and before I even got this far, I noticed a co-worker had the book on her desk. I mentioned it to her. She said, "I really hope this is what heaven is like." As I am reading this book, I am a little disturbed by what I am reading and that she wants heaven to be this way.

Now, I am not usually one that takes a book very literal if it is fiction. The Bible is such a straightforward piece of literature, and I know that it is God-inspired and true. I have no doubts when I read the Bible that every word in it is for me and telling me a piece of history. This book, while I have no doubt will get more entertaining, has not shown me anything about heaven. Of course, I am hardly into it. But the Bible tells me that heaven will be gold, jeweled, with crystal water and a light that never goes out.

Revelation 21:10-27

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,having the glory of God Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.  It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west.  And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.  The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.
And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.  The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.
The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.   And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.
In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;
and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;  and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. 

But this is my favorite scene of heaven that John has described for us is in Revelation 4:5 - 11

Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.  The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle.  And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME." And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever,  the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,  "Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created." 

I like that the living creatures are giving God glory.  The creatures are imaginative, and the description of what will happen is so astounding.  I can't wait.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Just Do It!

As I was driving to work this AM, the station that I was listening to features a town of the week that the two DJ's go to and record their adventures.  Today's town was Eastgate.  The main focus was the Yellow Ribbon Support Center, which was started five years ago when Army Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin went missing.  Did you know that in that time they have sent 15,000 boxes to soldiers?  I found that to be amazing.  They even interviewed Matt Maupin's dad, who was working there packing boxes.    You can find more about the center at

Lending a helping hand to those in need is an important part of Christianity.  I try to teach my kids to do some community service projects. I try a do a few things myself.  But it is always to find time for that.  You have to plan, just like with anything else.  I have a schedule that I keep to make sure I know what I am doing when.  I put everything from choir practice, band rehearsal's, football games, appointments, etc. in my smartphone and it keeps me straight.  If it every dies, I may be in trouble!

As busy as my life gets, this time of day when I am writing this devotion for me and you gives me time to think about things other than what the world is doing.  I try and focus on what God wants me to do.  Helping the needy and less fortunate is important to God, but I do not let it make me feel important.  It should be something that you want to do because a) God wants you to do it and b) you want to obey God.  It doesn't have to be some elaborate thing like packing boxes, it could be just giving away clothes, giving money or canned goods to a free store.  Just do something for your community.

Matthew 25:35 - 46
'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'  "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'    "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;   I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'   
"Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'   "Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'   "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Attitude Check!

Time has flown by.  We are planning for the Mother/Daughter banquet, the end of the school year, spring sports are in full swing, and VBS is just around the corner for us.  If you let it, busyness can alter your attitude.  You can begin to be cynical about life and what your priorities are.  Where do your priorities lie? 

Looking at my life and seeing it from my children's perspective, I see that it is all about church, work and school.  We have school for them, work for Mike and I and church interspersed throughout.  We are trying to teach them that you have to work for what you want.  You have to do things you don't want to do, but know you need to do.  You have to do things with the right attitude.  If they hear us complain about work, or another school project, or another church service, what does that show them?  I need to change.  I need to let my kids see that work/school or whatever the situation is, is necessary.  If that can not be done, maybe it is time for an attitude check.

When you hear your spouse or children complaining, listen to what they are saying. Is what they are saying sounding like things you say or think about your situation?  Maybe they are getting it from you and you do not even realize it.  I know that my kids have picked up things I have stated or thought out loud and it has surprised me.  It makes me shameful.  So what I need is an attitude adjustment in certain areas.  I pray that God will show me the changes I do not know I need and help me with the ones I am praying about.  I hope you will do the same.

Philippians 2:3 - 8

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bunny vs. Crow

As I pulled in to the parking spot this morning, I saw a crow swoop down and grab something furry.  As I watched with wonder, the crow landed again.  It held the furry creature down with i's claws and picked and pecked at it with that black beak.  The victim struggled to get away.  It squirmed and twisted, trying to aggravate the black feathered villain.  The crow grabbed it up and tried to fly with it again.  Again it set it down in the middle of the lane, where the cars drive to get to the parking lot itself.

As I got out of my vehicle and walked closer to the crime, I saw that it was a cute, brown baby bunny.   I wasn't angry or mad, just sad.  This is how life goes.  I walked over toward the predator and its prey, and the crow hopped off the bunny.  The bunny just laid there for a couple of seconds.  I stood there and told it to get up.  I looked at the crow and told it to leave.  It flew up to the closest tree to keep watch over its victim.  The injured animal struggled to flip over on to its stomach and hopped a few steps.  Stopped, laid back down and tried again.  I again told it to get up and go.  It tried again.  It hopped a few feet and then a few more, stopped and rested.  It's back or hind legs were hurting and injured.  I watched as it went under a parked car, headed toward safety.  Then I walked into the building.

I am a little amazed at what I saw.  Usually you have to be quick and only see these things on Animal Planet or something.  But to see that crow and bunny be apart of the food chain in action makes me realize that we can't always protect the weak.  We all have good causes and try to help them out when we can, but usually they have to make their own way in the world.  We give to charities, collect coats, buy things during the holidays, bring in non-perishable food items, but still it doesn't always seem to be enough.  There will always be a need.  The biggest thing we can do is pray and keep giving.  Do not stop giving.  Give in the way you feel most comfortable and then give extra.  God will provide for you and you will never go without.  He blesses us more than we can imagine.

Luke 6:38
"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." 

Malachi 3:10
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Teach Your Children Well

I am tentative.  Saturday, Allie passed and received a temporary driving permit.  It is funny because the question I get asked most is, do you feel old now that your daughter has her permit?  You know, I am a realist in many ways.  I am sad when someone passes away, but I don't dwell too much on it because I know that it is a fact of life, the way God set life up for us.  In my mind, I know that someday I will see them again.  I also realize that kids grow up.  You can't stop them, and I have loved seeing my kids grow into the young people they are becoming.  So the answer to the question is no, I am not feeling old.  That doesn't bother me.

What bothers me is this...can I teach her the best driving methods?  Can I pass on to her the knowledge I have and she use it to the best of her ability?  I never thought of myself as a good teacher.  I am horrible in math; Timm goes to Allie for help.  I am very much the laid back parent in a lot of ways.  I ask the kids to do chores.  I give them a time limit to get it done.  If it isn't done, there are consequences.  I have shown and told them what I want them to do, but rarely show them.  I want them to do it their way.  They each learn so differently.  Allie wants to watch a while before she jumps in and tries.  Timm wants you to specifically tell him.  Each time they forget something or can not figure out how something needs to be done, like when they are preparing a meal, they ask questions and I give them feedback.

Last week, I asked Allie to go through all our plastic lids and match them to a container.  If there was not a lid for a container or a container for a lid, get rid of it.  Those accumulate so fast.  She did this.  She also came up with a new way to keep track of them.  It is not the way I would do it, and I may go back to my old way, but we are trying it and she showed some initiative.  So maybe I am doing something right.  Mike has always seemed to be good with teaching and showing the kids how to do things.  His patience maybe shorter than mine, and trying to understand teenage girls is impossible for him, but he does have his moments to shine.  In fact, Allie wants him to take her driving so she can see if he would be okay to drive with.

So the question today is, are we teaching our children or at least providing our children with the right teachings and opportunities to learn about God, Jesus, life and all that is needed?  I just pray that Mike and I are doing just that for them.

Psalm 78:1-4

Listen, O my people, to my instruction;
         Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
    I will open my mouth in a parable;
         I will utter dark sayings of old,
    Which we have heard and known,
         And our fathers have told us.
    We will not conceal them from their children,
         But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD,
         And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Use Your Gifts

My kids have a new saying... "Would you like a side of Epic with that Fail?"  Every time things do not go the way they think they should, no matter how big or small a deal, they say "Epic Fail".  There is even a website dedicated to this called...Epic  It has all sorts of pictures and videos of people trying but failing at things.  Some are funny, but some are horribly wrong and just sad.

I tell you this because I was reminded of this yesterday during the sermon at church.  Our minister gave a message on how to be a failure.    Actually it was a lesson in learning from the mistakes of others and what we can do to succeed.  What are you a success in?  I think this is a better question to ask than what have you failed at.  The answer will be a) more uplifting and b) probably not as long.  I usually hate tooting my own horn, so to speak.  I don't think I am very good at most things.  I know I am good at baking, singing, and reading, but so are a lot of people.  I am not good at many more things.  I am not looking for encouragement here.  I look at others and see what they are good at.  Many of you would deny what you are good at.  Most of us do not think of ourselves in a really positive way. 

Christianity gives each of us the opportunity to encourage others in what they are good at. 1 Corinthians 12: 4 - 6   There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.   We all have a gift.  I know in the church that mine is singing.  I know that others are playing instruments, teaching, encouraging, visiting, preaching, fixing things around the church, lending a helping hand, etc.  Your gift doesn't have to be better than anyone else's.  In fact, what you believe about how good others are at something, they believe exactly the same as you, only mirrored.  This means that if you believe Tom is better at teaching than you, Tom feels that you are better at it than him.  Don't try to deny it.  There is always someone better, but they think it is you!

So before you go get bent out of shape, the message here is to use your talents.  You might be good at just shaking hands and talking to people.  I know a lot of you can talk and shake hands.  There is an opportunity to use this talent next Sunday evening.  Our evening church service is going over to Mason Christian Village and put on the service.  Won't you come and help us.  You will be blessed and will be a blessing.  And, most of all, using your talents won't make it an Epic Failure.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Prayer with Faith

1Chronicles 4:9-10
 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain."  Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.

This is a favorite passage of mine.  Smack dab in the middle of the geneology of the Israelites, this little bit of information, a story if you will, is placed. God had to have this person mentioned.  His mother states that she was in pain when she gave birth to him.  And God wants us to know that Jabez is better than his brothers.  He prayed to God for safety, blessings and bigger area to own.  Seems a little selfish to me, now that I think about it.  But God liked this guy.  Jabez must have followed God's will and done all he could to be the best person he could be.  The last sentence says it call.  'And God granted his request.'  

It's kinda cool to pray for blessings and safety, even to have your area expanded.  More land, more work, more touching lives.  He didn't really pray for money, though the expansion of his territory would seem to be wealth.  He asked to be kept from harm so he would not have pain.  Would you think about asking for that?  Maybe he was in some pain.  Maybe he had seen others suffer and didn't want to go through that. 

Anyway, Jabez was specifically mentioned in the middle of all the clans and "the father of...".  An interesting thing is that his mother states that she was in pain when she gave birth to him.  Was that labor pain or some other kind of pain?  Did she not have labor pains with all her other kids?  Apparently this pain was worth mentioning.  I think may she wouldn't let him forget he caused her pain and that is why he asked God to keep him free from pain.  

I like that.  I usually don't pray to keep me pain-free, but to keep other's without pain.  I prayed for Dad while he was going through the radiation and chemo, Allie when she was having attacks, my friend who had surgery and is having more surgery next week.  I pray with the same faith Jabez had and I know that God grants my requests too.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Free To Be Us

I am a little excited this morning.  I bought a new refrigerator.  But, it was damaged.  There is a little bitty dent in the side of it, so they took a chunk of dollars off of it and made me a deal.  I am happy.  I don't get it until next Friday, but I am excited.

It got me thinking about being new, and being damaged.  When we hear the gospel, and our hearts are ready to accept it, we come to Christ not new, but damaged.  Satan had battered and beat us to a point that we are unrecognizable.  We have done, said, been all the things that are ugly and gross.  We are ashamed and embarrassed.  But, when that moment of truth hits, the light bulb comes on and we realize we can change and be changed.

Christ wants us to bring the dents and broken pieces of our lives to him.  He loves that he can make us perfect in God's eyes.  He covers us with his blood because he, the perfect lamb, died on Calvary.  He makes us new in him.   1Peter 4:8  says, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."    Colossians 1:  19-20  says "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross."

I love the image of being dented and torn.  There is a song sung by Francesca Battistelli called Free To Be MeThe chorus is...

‘Cause I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
On my own I'm so clumsy
But on Your shoulders I can see
I'm free to be me

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Doubting Thomas or Faithful Fred

John 20: 19-25

 19Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
 20And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD.
 21Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
 23Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
 24But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
 25The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 

Are you a doubter?  I am.  It's not that I don't believe.  But I want to see it.  I want to feel it.  I have trouble telling if you are putting me on or not, so I want proof.  I have learned, especially from certain family members, that you can't believe everything you hear.  I usually don't believe the tabloids or the news. If it is something that is really far-fetched, I probably won't believe it.  But if it is something that isn't too outlandish, I will put my whole belief system into.

Sometimes we see things with our very own eyes, and still do not believe.  We as a church have seen miracle after miracle happen.  Everyday miracles happen.  There are always things that are believable.  Babies being born, people being healed, people being saved by Christ.  Doubting these things, that the Bible says we can trust is silly.  The promises we have are not always lasting.  My dad is cancer free, but that doesn't mean it is forever.  I am realistic about that.  I know that someday we are all leaving this world.  It's not something we want to really think about, but it is reality.  Some of us will be here a lot longer than others.  I have not doubts about that.

I think that what I read in the Bible is totally trustworthy.  I put my faith in this.  I always go to Hebrews 11:1...
 1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

The disciples were lucky.  They saw Christ.  They could tell instantly his truthfulness and they each put their faith in Him.  We have to just not doubt and have faith of what we have never seen...God or Jesus.  We have to make that leap from being a doubting Thomas to Faithful Fred.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What's on Your Fridge?

Last night, a series of storms worked it's way into the Tri-State.  There were lots of lightning flashes, thunder rolls and rain.  At the beginning of the storms, Allie Timm, Austin and I were in my Edge and the sky lit up with lightning.  The boys when, "Whoa!"  Allie said, "Aww, I wasn't ready."  She likes to think of the lightning as God taking her picture.
It is an interesting thought.  We have all seen the saying that God loves you enough to put a picture of you on his refrigerator.  A lot of us put some of our most prized pictures on there.  My fridge has magnets from past Mother/Daughter Banquets, Home Spun events, items given out by the church, various businesses and they a lot of them are holding something to the front of the refrigerator.  Sometimes we have the church calendar up there, or a reminder of a verse I like, or a big note about something important.  The fridge is a place where everyone goes to more than once a day.  So they see it.  Everyone opens the door, looks inside, but doesn't always like what they see or find.  Sometimes they see exactly what they are looking for.  Sometimes they see something, not knowing it will satisfy them and they try it.  Sometimes they just close the door, still feeling empty.

Just like Christianity.  People seek Jesus to satisfy a need.  Sometimes it is enough, sometimes it leaves them wanting more.  Others look for Jesus, see something interesting and is hooked.  Once in a while, someone doesn't fully get it and leaves, still unsatisfied.  It is all up to you what you find.  No matter what, Christ can satisfy you in a way that even food can not.  The Samaritan woman didn't even know she needed a Savior.  But, when she came face to face with the Lord, she was amazed.  

Now, when I started typing this one, I had know idea where I was going with this.  I thought I was going to tell about needing a new fridge.  But, the Lord, as usual, had better plans.  Look at your Christianity.  Do you need to be satisfied all the time?  When you were a babe in Christ, it was the simple texts that you soaked up like a sponge.  Now as you have grown, so has your understanding of the Word.  Where are you in your walk with Christ?  Are you still that babe or are you growing?  Put a verse on your refrigerator.  Look at it and memorize it.  Let it sink in.  It could be as simple as John 3:16.  It could be the 23rd Psalms.  But just learning one verse usually leads to a few more. 

I love listening to the kid's radio show, "Adventures in Odyssey."  There was a show where there was a storm that blew out a window and hurt one of the main characters.  As he sat there, trying to stay calm and keeping his friend calm, he started repeating Psalms.  When I am down, I try to repeat verses I know.  It helps me feel better sometimes.  It also helps me understand that God is always there.

John 4:13-14

13Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Go and Tell

Christ is resurrected!  I loved that yesterday dawned bright and sunny. That kind of weather always makes me imagine what the morning must have been like when the women went to put the spices on the body of Christ.  I can just imagine the grass wet with dew, the flowers just barely opening their buds and the shadows still long.  The sky may have been  pink, yellow and orange with clouds on the horizon, fluffy and white.  As the ladies came down the pathway, they were wrapped up in their shawls, keeping comfortable from the cool air.  That is how I have played it in my mind's eye on that Resurrection morning.

The ladies stopped in their tracks at the sight of the tomb unsealed, and the man in brilliant white in front of them.  I am sure they put their hands to shade their eyes from his light. They must have been frightened, until he spoke.  Then as the realization dawned on them of what he was saying, their hearts leaped in a mixture of fear and joy.  Christ was what?  Wait, this can't be true.  I don't understand, how can this be?  I can't even imagine what was going through their minds. 

But to come to the garden in the peace of  the morning and then chaos that developed, it was probably like a bad dream at first.  But then it turned into a joyful celebration.  When Mary saw Christ and finally recognized him, what exuberance she must have felt.  I know she ran to tell the disciples that she had seen him and what he said to her.  That is not something you would want to keep to yourself.  So now that we have celebrated Resurrection Day, I pray that there is someone you want to run and tell that He is alive!

John 20:13-18

 13And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him.
 14And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
 15Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
 16Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
 17Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
 18Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Quiet Prayers

Matthew 26:36-44
36Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

40Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. 41"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

42He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."

43When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Where I grew up, we lived across the street from a field.  On the other side of that field was a fence, and then a cemetery.  I remember talking long walks in that cemetery, rolling down the long, steep hill in the back of it, picking up buckeyes that had fallen from the tall trees and seeing the headstones of those who occupied  the ground, including my Dad's grandparents.  I loved the quietness of that place.  (At this point, I hear my dad chuckling and saying something about worrying if it was noisy.) 

I always have imagined that this cemetery was like the Garden of Gethsemane, quiet, grassy, with long shadows cast by the trees.  I could see Christ, on his knees, hands clasped, head bowed in prayer.  And suddenly, his prayers break the silence!  Christ didn't pray quietly.  He vocalized his prayers.  That's how he taught us to pray.    He said "You should say." (I think I paraphrased that.) 

That night in the Garden he was not alone, but he might as well have been.  The disciples who went with him couldn't stay awake.  They were suppose to be praying, but they slept instead.  They didn't realize or understand what was about to happen.  They didn't know that the soldiers were coming.  I am sure that they had played the "what if" game for the rest of the night and all the next day.  What if we had been ready?  What if we had protected Jesus?  What if, what if, what if?!  We have their stories and we have their lessons to learn from.  We don't have to make their mistakes.  We can break some of the same cycles. 

Find a quiet place to pray.  It could be your garage, your home, a closet or a cemetery.  Ask God to show you His will for you and that His will will be done. If you are asked to pray for someone, don't back down, forget or go to sleep.  Write it down and pray about it. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

You Are Not Alone

As we prepare for this weekend, there are several things I am trying to make time for.  First, the biggest thing on my mind is the choir's performance Sunday evening.  This is a musical celebration of our lives free from the world, not just a remembrance of Christ's death, burial and resurrection.  It is full of a lot of relevant songs that the choir has worked very hard on.  I am also wanting to put my heart and mind in the right place.  So maybe on Friday evening, Mike and I will watch The Passion of the Christ.  Have you seen this movie?  Honestly, it is very hard to watch.  When I went to the movie theater, I literally shook almost the whole time.  Plus, it did live up to the hype.  I thought it was a good interpretation of last hours of Jesus' life.  As a family, I want the kids to have the traditions still go on.  Coloring eggs, going to the Good Friday service, new clothes, getting together with family and friends for lunch at grandma's house, all the things I remember as a kid.

The gospel of John spends a lot of time on the hours leading up to Christ being taken into custody.  Christ talks to the disciples of what is about to happen, what will happen while he is dead and when he has left them.  He tells them that they should pray with him, that they should love everyone, that they will be given a Comforter, who will be their guide and teacher.

John 14: 23 - 31

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

I find it interesting how John gives us so much detail of the conversation. The questions the disciples give.  How, until He died, they did not understand.  Some of it we still do not understand.  But, reading these verses have given me a new insight into those last hours, spend around the table, talking with his family and friends.  He told them and us that no matter what, we will not be alone.