Showing posts from 2015

Time Share

  In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will also come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:2-3 The other day while my son and daughter were visiting us, my husband received a promotional letter in the mail. He carried it into the kitchen and asked if any of us were interested in a cruise. Of course we all said yes. Otto then went on to read us the several great options we had for trips, including a few different cruises and one trip to Hawaii. Our son Paul laughed and asked how long the time share presentations would last. He joked that out of that week in Hawaii at least one full day would be spent with the promo people. He’s probably right. As my former salesman father would be quick to tell you, there’s always a catch. Sometimes it’s worth listening to the hour or so presentation for the gift at th

Tidings of Great Joy

  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone all around them and they were terrified. Luke 2:8 In writing about the birth of Jesus, Brennan Manning describes those who initially greeted the baby as “turkeys, losers and dirt-poor shepherds.” No one of notoriety stood or knelt in the stinky stable. No king, no prince, no president, no celebrity, no pastor, just simple shepherds. Simple. That seems to be the way Jesus liked it from the very beginning to today. So, if you're a nobody in the world's eyes, rejoice! This is our day! This day, this glorious day when we celebrate the event that changed the world and is still changing the world, this is our day. Those of us who work and pray, pray and give, who live in light of the events of that amazing night, this is our day. Manning also uses the word “shipwrecked” to describe the follow


  In the same way I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of angels over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10 This verse is from the parable of the lost coin. It is sandwiched in between two other parables about loss, the lost sheep and the lost son. All three parables reference the rejoicing, the celebrating, when something lost is found. Celebrating. It is December 22 nd , and therefore, I've been concentrating on celebrations for a few days now. I've been baking, planning and wrapping. This morning the pile of wrapped gifts were a bit of a distraction to me in my quiet time. They are in my office right in front of my prayer chair and they easily cause my mind to wander. I said to Abba, “I'll be happy when those are out of here and I'm not distracted by them.” Then I thought, oh, but then the celebration will be over. Quickly I realized that the real celebration, my relationship with my Savior will never be over. Thankfully, Abba was quick to co


  God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites. I AM has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:14 There is a worship song that I just love. I can’t say it’s my favorite because before I could finish typing that ten others would cross my mind as “favorite.” In any case the name of the song is “Great I Am.” The lyrics say just what you would expect from the title that God is indeed the great I AM, holy, powerful, unique, awesome, in the truest sense of the word. I love that song! The bridge includes the truth that the enemy runs from God, that even the mountains tremble in His presence. All true. Listening to the song just a few minutes ago, hearing the words repeated “the great I AM” something occurred to me. I Am, what? As Christians we don’t ask that question because we know or think we do, what that means. It’s the name of God Yahweh, the great I AM. But indulge me for a moment and think about it. God is the great I AM. If anyone else said to any

Use Your Words

  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Matthew 2:10 KJV When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. Matthew 2:10 NIV Words are incredibly powerful. There are many verses of Scripture that make that very clear. While in the desert during his time of being tempted Jesus responds to Satan by beginning all of his remarks with, “it is written.” (Matthew 4:1-11) How and what we write and speak says a lot about who and what we believe. Do you suppose when the Magi saw the star, the incredibly, beautifully bright star they said, “Ouch! My eyes! Oy vey! That light's a little overwhelming.” No! My guess is that their reaction was much more like, “Oh my God!” in the truest sense of those words. “They rejoiced,” the verse says, “with exceeding great joy.” I'm a word girl and so I prefer the King James version of that verse, “with exceeding great joy.” Not a little celebration, a huge, loud thing that I can't help but believe was exceedin

Share Hope

Share Hope Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:8 While we wait for the blessed hope-- the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13 Yesterday the headlines brought us news of another celebrity dead by his own hand. I found out about it through a text message from my daughter. My response to her was, “How incredibly sad.” It is tragic, truly. Thinking about this man who “had it all,” except, he didn’t. I was reminded of people much nearer to me who have chosen the same end and in particular of my neighbor, ironically named Faith, whose life ended the same way five years ago, just a few days off from this death. The morning my neighbor died I was sitting in my chair enjoying my quiet time with God when I heard a loud boom. My first thought was gunshot which immediately seemed ridiculous but turned out to be true. Just behind where I was sitting a woman approximately the same age as I, took a gun and ended her life. Why? I do not know. There w

Christmas Everywhere

  When they saw the star they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. Luke 2:10 (This was written a year ago but is so precious I had to repost it. Abram is now almost three and has welcomed his little sister Margaret into his life. He still finds Christmas, and pretty much all of life, “amazing.” I wish more people had his attitude and his humor.) Our heavenly Father, from whom all blessings flow (James 1:17) has blessed my husband and me with ten precious grandchildren. It might be a bit biased to say that they are the sweetest, cutest kids ever but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Just the other day our youngest grandson Abram came to see us. It was his first time at our house since the arrival of the Christmas decorations. Walking in to our living room he stopped and said, “Grammy, it’s Christmas everywhere!” His voice was filled with the awe and wonder. As he moved through the house and saw more and more decorations he repeated his sentiment again adding, “It’s a

The Light That Shines In The Darkness

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 I love this verse. I love to read it and sing it. I love to hear it read and sung. It's huge and so powerful. I t was written long before that child, Jesus came into the world. It is a prophecy that we have all seen fulfilled. Take a look at the second verse from the same chapter; “ The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Now look around, here in 2015, in the shadow of the Paris attacks, of San Bernardino, while we still mark time and recall events in reference to 9/11/2001.... What do you see? Do you see that much of our society, too much, is people walking in darkness? What then, is the responsibility of those of us who “have seen a great light?” I&#

Spiritual Giving

Calling all his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:43-44 Lately I have read and heard a lot about grace. I have also heard about works. Oh how people love to quote James 2:17. It makes us all feel as if we have some stake, some control of our salvation. That to me, quite frankly, is laughable but it wasn’t always. For years I tried to think of ways to earn the favor of God and all I can do today is praise Him and thank Him for setting me straight on that one. So, the questions beckons, why do good works? I think I’ve learned that answer from three of my grandchildren, in particular my granddaughter Faith. Last year our family, as a group, chose to bless the World Vision organization as a part of our Christmas giving. Everyone would contribute and everyone would choose gifts

His Ways

“ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8 Several years ago there was a campaign with the slogan, WWJD, what would Jesus do. At first glance that seems like a great idea. If we all stopped to think, what would Jesus do, we'd make better choices. Sure, if we could even begin to know or understand what Jesus did and how he did it. We don't. So we did what humans tend to do, we made up our own idea and based it on a small part of Jesus' personality. The WWJD campaign suggested that we be meek and mild, like Jesus, always calm and caring. Sometimes that is exactly what is called for but it negates a large part of the person of Jesus. There was no gentleness when he was flipping tables at the temple. No meekness when he called the Pharisees hypocrites, blind guides, a brood of vipers (Matthew 23:13-36). There was no meekness there because Jesus knew exactly who he was and exactly who they were. Just as he

You and You and You

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town David a Savior had been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 The other day I was listening to a modern version of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and something stood out. In this particular version the singer sings the words, “He’s coming back for you and you and you and you….” As I listened I began to smile. I heard a very different voice, the voice of a young friend of mine who lives with a mild version of autism, among some other challenges. My little buddy fixates on certain songs or movies and repeats them over and over for a time before moving onto the next one. Right now one of the songs he loves contains the line, “You and you and you and well…..all of you!” See the connection? While listening to the promise that Jesus, Emmanuel is indeed coming back for you and you and you, I thought of his willingness to come for us at all. We

Seeing or Believing

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 It is Advent or what is referred to in the secular world as “the Christmas season.” During this season I love to watch old movies. My favorites are mostly the ones in black and white but my husband and grandchildren make other requests. One of their favorite movies includes the line, “seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.” It’s corny, incredibly, ridiculously corny in a way that is only tolerable in the red, gold and green of the season but in its own corny way there is a certain profundity. Think about it, “Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.” Does it strike a familiar chord? Remember Thomas? He’s the disciple that had to see and feel Jesus’ wounds to believe that Jesus had in fact, risen from the dead. (John 20: 24-28) He was an, I’ll believe it when I see it, kind of guy. Hebrews 11 is the faith Hall of Fame. In it are listed some people who believe in impos
Shivering And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:8-12 ( note: This was written in 2005. Faith and Isabelle are now ten years old and sometimes have to be convinced that a jacket is necessary. This week the temperatures in sunny Florida have remained quite warm. We do have predictions of temps in the 60s. The girls better find those jackets!) This morning I was singing along with one of my favorite Christmas songs, “Do You Hear What I Hear.” As I sang the words “a child shivers in the cold” I was shivering too. It is important to mention that it was 52 degrees at the time, not exactly freezing. While my formerly Y

The Gift of Friendship

  A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 Perhaps it is because Thanksgiving is a few days away. It could be because I just spent some time with my friend of longest standing. (We do not use that nasty word, o_ _!) Or it could be because of some communications I have had with another long term friend. Whatever the reason, I have been a bit nostalgic lately. I've spent quite a lot of time thinking and praying for various people who have crossed my path of life. Those thoughts and prayers have brought me to a place of realization, I am who I am in part because of those relationships. Surely I have changed and grown over the years but some things remain, some ideas, opinions, desires are still a part of me because when I was much younger certain people influenced my life. This is a tribute to them. As I said, the catalyst to this whole train of thought, most likely, was being with my dear friend Mary and talking about so many

Giving All That You Have

  But a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins worth only a fraction of a penny. Mark 12:42 Yesterday was Youth Sunday at our church. It was a mix of preciousness and chaos. The preciousness coming from the fact that to most of us, though they see themselves as pretty adult, these people are still children. The chaos results from the fact that they are not children so much as they are the “youth”, teenagers, people who don't need a lot of advice or guidance, as far as they are concerned. They're in church every Sunday. They help out. They watch how things work and therefore know how things work. They've got this, right? Um, not so much. What we saw was a comedy of delightful errors, delightful from the seats, terrifying from the perspective of the kids, I'm sure. One young man was designated to give the sermon. Much like Monday morning quarterbacks, many people know what they would say and/or how they would say it. It looks pretty easy. Get u

Eyes, Ears and Hearts

  Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one, the Lord is one. Love the Lord with all your heart and with all our soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 I work in an elementary school where I am blessed to know a young woman named Shelley. Shelley is precious. She has a sweet, infectious spirit and her smile lights up a room. Even when she seems frazzled there is something about her that suggests joy. Her personality is very positive. She is the kind of person you want around when you need comfort or encouragement. Whenever Shelley is attempting to get the children to focus on her she says, “All eyes, ears and hearts on me.” I love that. It is a gentle and loving way to say, “Focus people!” Her gentle, charming method works. The chatter stops and the children put their eyes and ears, so one supposes, their hearts as well, on Miss Shelley. The other day while at an assembly I noticed that she changed her directive a little bit and I missed, “eyes, ears and hea

Believe in Miracles

  “ I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” Many people today talk about the lack of miracles in our world. They point to Bible accounts of healing, provision or protection and bemoan the fact that those things no longer happen. I heartily disagree. Miracles happen but far too often they are explained away as coincidence, science or fate. For anyone who needs to know that miracles are still very much a part of our Father's love for us I have a few examples. Nearly thirty-five years ago I was given some tough news about my first born son. A well-respected neurologist told me repeatedly that he was brain damaged and only a miracle (that word spoken in a voice dripping with contempt) would change that.

In Good Standing

He has showed you O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 Recently I was blessed to spend some time with an old friend. Although we have remained close over the years our actual face to face encounters have become a bit rare. I looked forward with great expectation to having those few hours with her. Once those hours began I wasn't so sure. My friend and I have very different lifestyles, that is glaringly obvious, but I've always thought we had the same worldview, the same spiritual perspective. We, as it turns out, do not. For a time we were joined by another friend and the subject of church came up. In a few short sentences I realized that form far outweighs function for my friend, that she had relied on the church to give her children any spiritual perspective and that “faith” in her home was really just a prayer at the dinner table, if someone remembered. Th

Who Does That

  We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 Have you ever heard these words spoken in a tone that suggests insanity and is tinged with disgust? We see some awful evidence of man's inhumanity to man and we ask, in voices dripping with incredulity; “Who does that?” Contrarily and far less often we see people go out of their way for someone else and ask with the same level of incredulity but having exchanged disgust for disdain; “Who does that?” I was thinking about that today while praying for a dear friend, whose name I won't use because she abhors the limelight but I am praying she recognizes herself here. This woman without seeming to make any effort leaves people feeling better than they did when she arrived. She has a knack for making you feel as if your tiny effort were some Herculean task but her Herculean tasks are no big thing. Beyond that she does what she does almost surreptitiously. She is the personification of “if your brother asks you to go wi

Rejected..... Never

  ...for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6b I am the Vine and you are the branches, if a man remain in me and I in him he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God. 1 John 3:1 My life has been an interesting set of ups and downs. I intend to share a bit here, not for sympathy or accolades but to demonstrate the amazing, powerful all-consuming love of God. I am the fifth child of a woman who was not shy or reluctant to say that she only ever wanted two children. I've lost relationships with parents, siblings and some extended family. I've been the mother of four only to be told by more than one child that he would prefer I not call myself his mother. I've had friends walk away and I've done more walking away than I should. On the opposite side of that coin, I have an amaz

He Knows My Name

  I don't need my name in lights I'm famous in my Father's eyes Make no mistake He knows my name Francesca Battistelli Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands Isaiah 49:15-16a Courage is an odd thing. I live in a Navy town, so we often think of courage in military terms. Over the last couple of years I've come to see it more and more often in children, precious, tiny children fighting huge, disgusting demons, otherwise known as various forms of cancer. Because we see these awful, debilitating, life altering circumstances as an horrific affront most of feel pulled to do whatever we can to ease the suffering or make the good days brighter. There are many organizations that reach out to children with life threatening conditions and God bless every one of them! One such organi

I'm Here

  In the same way I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:24 My granddaughter Faith is currently living with us. Any time she leaves the house and returns she announces, “I'm heeeeere!” She knows that having her here with us is a great source of joy. She knows that we miss her when she is gone and are happy when she returns. She knows this because she is secure in our love. In his book, “The Return of the Prodigal” Henri Nowen talks about the deep love of the Father for all of His children, wayward or not (although frankly I don't know anyone who's never been a wayward child). The story of the prodigal illustrates how our Father actively waits for us. The prodigal returns broken and apologetic but the father isn't looking for apologies. We all wander off, far for an hour, a

Fiery Arrows

  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16   It seems that there are people who in order to prove their point, to demonstrate the validity of their claims find attacking the faith of their adversary the best way to go. Fair enough if the faith of the adversary can be called into question. We all know plenty of nominal Christians who cherry pick the Gospel for their own ends. I am not one of those and yet this isn’t the first time my loyalty to my Father has been questioned. My faith is not hidden. There is no bowl over my light. (Matthew 5:15) Having ignored this type of attack before I was a little taken back at my own reaction the other day when it happened again. The circumstances surrounding the remarks are entirely too ludicrous to explain. Suffice to say that someone didn’t like a choice I made and turned a molehill into Everest. My dear husband and sweet daughter advised