Showing posts from 2016

Merry Christmas

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Matthew 2:10 (KJV) For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government of the world will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government there will be no end. Isaiah 9:6-7a Whatever translation you read, whatever verse is your favorite, (the ones above are three of mine) this is the season of exceeding great joy, of gospel (good news) and of light. Jesus came and He's coming back! Some people struggle with the hustle and hurry of preparing for Christmas. Some thrive on the energy. Some of us are surrounded by noise, children, extended family and friends. Some are barely able to control their grief or are drowning in sadness, loneliness. Which ever side of the spectrum you

Christmas Everywhere

When they saw the star they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. Luke 2:10 (This was written two years ago but is so precious I had to repost it. Abram is now almost four and is now showing his little sister Margaret "Christmas everywhere.". 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 aga

Make Room

  “ Let every heart prepare Him room...” Joy To The World While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn,a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:6-7 What happens at your house when someone special comes to stay? Do you do a little extra cleaning and primping? I do and I'm sure that hotels are no different. Mr. and Mrs. Ordinary are checking in today. Okay, we're ready. The room is clean. But what happens when King Someone and Queen Super Special check in? Is the room clean, like amazingly, sparkling clean? Good. Now let's add a vase of flowers and some snacks. Maybe some nice new fluffy pillows? Oh yes, when it's “somebody” checking in, the preparation amps up considerably, I'm sure. Here in Luke 2 we see that the King of kings is about to be born. The God of the entire universe! Whoa! What is that prep like? Well, it

Broken Chains

  “ Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother and in his name all oppression shall cease.” O Holy Night If my people called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 It's Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas, what the secular world refers to as “the Christmas season.” During this time radio stations of all varieties, stores and many other public venues play Christmas music. The song I quoted above, “O Holy Night” has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. As often happens for me, the other day, I truly heard the lyric above, “chains shall he break for the slave is our brother and in his name all oppression shall cease.” In his name. We live in a time of finger pointing, “hate speech”, an obsession with tolerance and bullying. There are people in this world, far too many o

In The Air

  "Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “ I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, even the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:39-40 A few years ago my mother was visiting from New York and we went shopping. Our first stop was a shoe store. We'd been there just a few minutes when Mom touched my arm. “Trish, is this a Christian song?” She asked me. I stopped just idly humming along and actually listened. “Yes it is.” Mom seemed baffled by that but didn't stop to comment as the shoes were too distracting. Next stop a department store. While the shoe store is regional, as in they don't have them in New York, the department store is national, Mom is very familiar with that store. Once again she stopped. “Trish! This is the same song that was on in the shoe store! It's a Christian song. You said it is.” Not sure why this needed to be mentioned again, I nodded. Yes, it was the same song. She then went

Cursed or Blessed

  Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands: he will not see prosperity when it comes. But blessed is the man who trust in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. Jeremiah 17:5b-6a, 7-8a Jeremiah 17 has so much to say! In referring to the man who is like a tree planted by the water the Lord goes on to say that “it does not fear” and that “it has no worries.” Doesn't that sound wonderful? Why does that tree live with such confidence? The answer is in the verses above, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord.” The part of the verse that first caught my eye many years ago, was this, “He will not see prosperity when it comes.” It doesn't say it won't come. It says the man who trusts in his own flesh, his way, will not see prosperity. You know a “ma


  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities: the punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 (emphasis mine) In responding to a note from a friend I was reminded of my childhood. Once I got to an age where I could make decisions and plans of my own, I seemed to have my parents' trust. I would provide information about my plans and for the most part, they okayed them. Then my sister did something that really upset them and the hammer came down. Bear in mind, the sin, if you will, was hers. She did it all by herself. I wasn't with her nor did I have any knowledge of what she was doing. To add insult to injury, when our parents confronted her she lied and that is the day that trust went out the window to be replaced by inquisition. Her lies led to my being cross-examined. At that point my behavior, my choices and integrity no longer mattered. One horse had gotten out of the barn

For Your Good

  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 Recently a friend of mine went through a ridiculously humiliating experience. I won't recount the actual event here because I love her and the details aren't all that important. Suffice to say, she was headed for a once in a lifetime experience when something went glaringly wrong. Humiliated and at a loss for a solution of her own, she approached someone she hoped could help. At that moment in time her thought was to salvage what she could of the event. The person she asked for help saw it differently. My friend was trying very hard to fly below the radar, be as inconspicuous as possible. Her helper was having none of that shrinking violet routine. Instead she took the matter a little higher up the chain. My friend went from the very back of the room, so to speak, to the front row. She went from being mortified to being elated i

In Spirit

  For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18 Has anyone ever said this to you? “I'm so sorry, I can't be there but I will be there in spirit.” It is spoken to be supportive, to show a desire to share the experience but it's impossible for anyone who isn't Jesus Christ. I cannot be in one place while my spirit is in another. Having been invited to an event, I may keep the invitee in my thoughts. I can pray for her, for the success of her venture. I cannot however, “be their in spirit” because I cannot separate my spirit from my body. Jesus can and did and does. Deuteronomy 31:6b says, “for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you.” John 14:16 says, “And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with your forever--- the Spirit of truth.” Matthew 28:20b says, “And sur

Be Still

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:13-14   “ Be still.” Say it out loud. “Be still.” If you have children or work with children you probably say those words fairly often and then cannot understand why the child isn't still. Now, personalize it, add your own name after the “be still.” Hm.... maybe you're beginning to understand the kid a little better. It isn't easy to be still or do nothing or wait. For most of us it is our nature to be active. So we pray and then we take action, not waiting for God to speak to us, direct us or just take care of the matter Himself. After all, “the Lord helps those who help themselves” right? Wrong! So, so very wrong. If right now you're thinking “but that's from the Bible!” I assure you it is not. One of the

Not Fair

  “ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:7 The stories in Luke 15 of the lost sheep and the prodigal son beg for the whiny response, “that's not fair” because on the surface, from our worldly perspective, it's not fair. Look closely. Ninety-nine sheep are sticking close to the shepherd and he leaves them to search for the one who wandered off. That one didn't get left behind, the shepherd didn't abandon him, he wandered off of his own volition. Willfully doing what he was taught not to do. Then there's the prodigal son. This brat said, “Give me my money Abba, 'cuz I'm over you and this dreary farm. So, basically I'm wishing you were dead and I could do my own thing. See ya' later.” Like the sheep, this boy was not thrown out of his home, his very comfy home. No, he threw it all away in a fit of se

Who Wins

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. Revelation 20:10a I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the Last the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13 The other night I was watching a television show with my husband. It's all about the conflict between good and evil. It's wildly imaginative and fun to watch. It's also quite a bit farfetched, even for its genre. At one point one of the main characters said to another, “Face it, darling, the villain always wins.” I laughed at that, first because every fairy tale I've ever read, no matter how gory parts of it might be, has ended with, “they lived happily ever after.” Sure there's death and destruction in some of the original, darker tales but in the end, good always trounces evil. Tells me that somebody's reading their Bibles. The other reason I laughed was because I know that is the world view in s


  Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22 Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12 For whatever reason, I seem to be experiencing a season of testing in the area of forgiveness. It's not just my own challenges either. I've had a couple of friends come to me to talk about how much we're supposed to forgive, how often and what that means going forward. In those conversations it's easy to quote the Scriptures about forgiveness. It's easy to talk about the next steps, reconciliation or moving on from those people who are toxic to us.* The conversations are easy. The actual living out that forgiveness is hard, very hard. As flawed human beings, when the offense is too much for us, or has happened too often, we say, “That it's! That one is unforgiv

Yellow Brick Road

In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 This morning during my prayer time I was talking to God about feeling a bit lost. I so dearly want to do His will and go only where He directs. I prayed for a clearer vision, for more Holy Spirit power. Suddenly I found myself talking about the yellow brick road from the Wizard of Oz. How great would that be? Can you imagine? You take your question, decision, confusion to God and turn it over to Him. There in front of you, path illumined! If only the Holy Spirit would take us by the shoulders, turn us toward our goal and say, “follow the yellow brick road” or shiny white way or whatever color the Holy Spirit likes to use. Throughout the day my mind wandered back to that thought. What if? It isn't like it would be all smooth steps from there. We would still encounter trials and potholes. Think about Dorothy&

Mountains and Valleys

  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name sake. Psalm 23:1, 3 My husband and I live in Florida. It is flat here, very flat. Having transplanted from upstate New York, that flatness was odd at first. Now, rolling hills, valleys, mountains, those are things we visit and feel awe. As each of us walks our faith we often encounter teachings, sermons, devotional messages about the mountains and the valleys. We want, we're told, the mountain top experience, where we can see for miles, beauty, majesty. I love the view from the top of the mountain. While visiting Tennessee, Otto and I went to Clingmans Dome, which is the highest point in Tennessee. It is magnificent. Let me get back to, we live in Florida, flat, flat Florida. I'm not an athlete of any kind. I'm a grandma in decent but certainly not good shape. That walk to Clingmans Dome was not easy. It was beautiful and awe ins

All About Me

  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 For the last few weeks I've been revisiting some familiar songs. They are songs from a movie series my grandchildren loved. Now one of my students is allowed to watch videos of the songs as a reward. Listening to them I was struck by two thoughts, all three movies follow the same exact formula. Each one contains the anthem, the breakup song, the song of angst sung by the male lead, and so on and so forth. One set of songs stood out to me and I realized that it is a part of the problem in today's society. One female character is convinced that she is someone special. She pouts, she poses, she manipulates and she schemes, all to get her own way. Her innate selfishness and exaggerated self-image is demonstrated in each movie by a song. In the first one, she's going to the top of the heap, no one will get in her way. In the second one, she announces t


  “ 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 A few weeks ago I was at dinner with my husband, daughter and three granddaughters. It was a special dinner, so of course we had our phones out to take pictures. After leaving the restaurant we began to walk along, stopping to watch a street performer. As we did I reached for my phone to take a picture of my granddaughters and it wasn't where I usually put it. I mentioned that I thought I might have left it in the restaurant. I delivered that information with no fear or panic in my voice. Would it be a an inconvenience to walk back through the crowded, tourist filled area to the restaurant? A little. Was I in utter panic because I'd left my phone? No. That last piece of information was too much for my daughter. “Mom! Why aren't you freaking out? It's your phone!” She said to me in a tone that suggested we&#

Seeking God

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. “ Woe to me!” I cried, “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 6:1, 4 The past couple of weeks have not been easy ones. It seems that the enemy is not content to attack one area of my life but rather likes to hit multiple targets and he has great aim. There is no avoiding the attacks. They are blatant, loud and disturbing. On one front I'd made up my mind to just not look at it. Ignore it and it will fade away. That didn't work. Meanwhile I continued doing what I do, seeking God first thing every morning, meeting with Him in prayer, reading and simply being together. From there I've had the strength to face each day and though there are dents in my joy by evening, I have my nightly refresher with my Abba and as promised in Sc


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 On Sunday I took part in a class on authentic faith. The object of the class is to make people comfortable with sharing their faith journey. There are various levels of comfort in sharing something that personal. This was my third time participating in this class and I've seen everything from total comfort, an eagerness to share, to the “okay but this is uncomfortable” all the way to the not there yet, maybe someday but not today response. The latter I understand completely while the former is maybe somewhere in my future, I sit in that midrange, mostly dependent on who is listening. The group I was with on Sunday is easily my favorite so far. It was comprised of lovely, open, absolutely delightful people. One in particular is a young woman named Olivia. I met her shortly after I joined this church and immediately loved her. She is a beautiful girl, inside and out

Divine Protection

Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house. Matthew 12:29 Several of my friends are gun owners. I joke that a gun in my hand is weapon for whoever is coming against me because I have no clue how to use a gun. I do however, have weapons that can keep my worst enemy away and those are praise, worship and thanksgiving. My life has never been threatened by someone with a gun. I've never been in danger of losing my possessions to anyone holding a gun. I have been threatened by someone, namely Satan, attempting to steal my peace, my joy and my faith. Satan could care less if I own a gun or whether or not I can use it. He is not deterred by guns. What does deter him is any attention that I give to God. In the past few days I've been challenged on both the professional and personal fronts of my life. In my humanness I felt attacked, disrespected and hurt. It woul

The Gift of Faith

  But because of his great love of us God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, – it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:5 It is part of my morning to time with God to write down ten blessings. It's a great way for me to start my day. On a good day when I wake up feeling just fine or better, it's an excellent reminder of why I have that contentment. On a bad day, when I feel challenged or ill, it's a way to switch my focus off of what isn't going well and onto the gifts I've been given. This morning one of the things I wrote was, “the gift of faith.” Just seeing the words in print made me feel so, so blessed. Faith isn't something I set out to earn. It is a blessing. It is absolutely a gift. I love to talk to people who are aware of that truth, the kind of people who recognize the truth of James 1:17, that every good and perfect gift comes from our Father in heaven. The look of joy

A Simple Prayer

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 Those words are familiar to most Christians. In some denominations they are prayed so often that for some people, for most people at some point, it's just words. Think for a moment about those words. “Your kingdom come.” If you've read the Bible you know that the condition of our world today is pretty far away from God's kingdom. What words come to mind when you think of heaven? For me it's words like beauty, peace, joy, love, warmth, comfort, caring, grace and mercy. Those things are pretty hard to find in the news today. I avoid the news as much as possible. The words that come to me when I think of the current state of the world, the “news” are words like selfishness, greed, darkness, fear, hatred, pride, disaster, anger, and death. Every now and then, however, I see glimpses of God's kingdom. Thankfully I'm currently attending a church where, for the most

God's Will Be Done

  May the Lord grant all your requests Psalm 20:5b Read that verse again. “May the Lord grant all your requests.” Hm... At first that seems great, doesn't it? I know I've read it many, many times because it is in Psalm 20 which includes verse 7, one of my favorites, “Some trust in chariots, some in horses but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” I love that verse! I go back to it a lot and often read the whole psalm so clearly, I've read verse 5 before. Today, however, those words really grabbed my attention. Instead of thinking, “Yes! Please grant all my requests!” I was overtaken with dread. What if God really did answer all of my requests? Not the well thought out, continually prayed requests that really might do some good or be in my best interest or that of a loved one but what if He granted all of my requests? As I thought about it several small, petty, self-serving requests came to mind. Then, horrifyingly, some bigger things, like saying that I w


When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. Isaiah 43:2a O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. Psalm 8:1 Last week I was blessed to have a five day vacation at the beach with my husband, my daughter and granddaughters. I love the beach! If you are now picturing me jumping into the surf, choosing the biggest, highest wave, stop right there and let me tell you, I. Can't. Swim. That's right, I can't swim and beyond that, I have an outsized fear of the water. Still, I love the ocean and the pool in my backyard. Love them! Over the last year I've been blessed to be at the beach several times. Each experience has been different. Last September I was at the beach with my husband and pretty much o one else. In the early mornings we would head to the beach and while my hubby did his metal detecting I would walk the beach, stopping every now and then to just