I Wish

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Stuff of dreams
Of hopes thought prayer

I wish for
A world of promise

I wish for
All to know the
Light that shines

I wish for
Joy down deep

I wish for
Peace within

I wish for
People to
Respect each other

I wish for
Compassion for all

I wish for
Others to be encouraged

Desires of life
Do justice
Love kindness
Walk humbly with God

 

*Micah 6:8

 

Hide and Seek?!

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“…98-99-100. Ready or not, here I come!” The excited words of the children’s game of “Hide and Seek” are familiar to all of us. I remember well my childhood days of playing outside in the summer twilight with my brothers and neighborhood friends. As we hid among the bushes, behind a shed, or a corner of the house, the one who was “it” would try to find and catch us, as we ran laughing about the yard.

Life is marked by a series of “seeking.” We all have those times of anticipation, doubts, and questions. What will I do when I graduate from high school? … Where will I work? … What do I really believe and why? … How can I honor God as I search for the best path? … Who will I marry? … Where will I live? … What is that next step in life, as an individual or as part of a larger community?

Like in those childhood days of “hide and seek,” sometimes the growing shadows and cooling air of twilight bring comfort and rest. Friendships and laughter encourage us, and faith is strengthened… At other times, we find ourselves darting about, straining to see through the darkness or to hear any indication of the presence of someone who cares. “Ready or not, here I come!” We may question life and wonder if there is a God. The writer of 1 Chronicles said, “If you seek him, he will be found by you…”

That is such a comfort! But, sometimes I have just been too exhausted and overcome to seek Him. The psalmist turned this around when he asked God to “seek your servant!” Luke reminds us that God’s Son “came to seek and to save.” There God is, already with us and looking for us while we struggle with our own confusion or need. Not hiding, but patiently and lovingly waiting before us.

I am so grateful for God, who seeks us and who encourages us to seek Him! I pray that He will grant each of us faith to trust Him more, knowing that He is with us even when we are struggling or unable to sense His presence. Thank you, God… for being that companion along the way, for next steps and new directions.

 

*1 Chronicles 28:9, Psalm 119:176, Luke 19:10

Springtime Promise

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Brrr!! The calendar says springtime, but cold rain, sleet, and snow have been falling! Some people find the cold season invigorating. For me, those first buds and sprouts are a promise that warmer days are coming and with that promise comes anticipation. Even as the earth stirs as from sleep, I too stir… contemplating the year ahead and the winter past. It reminds me of some verses from a seldom read passage in the Song of Solomon, which my father loved: For lo, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

I look forward to new opportunities and growth, windows open wide to greet fresh air, and summer gardens and lawns. Even the responsibilities of work, church, and family seem more enjoyable. It is easier to turn loose of the “stuff” that tends to pile up during cold, lonely, or difficult seasons. When faced with challenging times, my mom would often say, “this too shall pass” … and she was right! Even as winter passes into springtime, so life moves on. Mom’s reminder and optimism was much appreciated, not that all would always turn out as wished but that we can be assured that God would get us through.

How my impatient or hurting self sometimes struggled to see that though. It is in more recent years that I have come to better experience the peace God provides for each day. Snow melts and sunshine warms! That’s why I love the springtime. Flowers appear. Singing comes. Life is renewed.

*Song of Solomon 2:11-12 (also known as the Song of Songs)

Gentleness?

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“Ouch! That hurt!” …Whether a scrapped knee or elbow or a stumped toe, childhood memories for this tomboy keeping up with three brothers included the inevitable mishaps. My mother’s gentle, but no nonsense, ministrations with band-aide or ice packs taught me of compassion and strength. Care and concern was mixed with encouragement that all would be well.

Jesus modeled this gentleness and strength throughout his ministry. He reached out to heal and to provide for those who came to him. He also called them to show by their good life that their works were done with “gentleness born of wisdom.” *

Wow! That’s not so easy! We have all had our rather “unwise” moments when we’ve blurted out things without considering their consequences. “Bite your tongue,” people used to say when less than thoughtful words came out, or “I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying what I was thinking!” In listening to people, especially in news reports on television, it seems many are talking at once with little respect for others. Self-control and kindness are often disregarded… Our words and actions do not always reflect wisdom or a gentle spirit!

It can be tough to say or do things in a gentle (and more positive) manner, rather than just from a “self” focus. It seems significant that when Paul told the Galatians about the “fruit of the Spirit,” the last two fruits he listed were gentleness and self-control… We have to work at it, but the results are worth it.

One thing that helps me, is to take time to rest and de-stress as regularly as possible. It’s so much harder to respond in positive ways when I’m overly tired! Sometimes I need to remove myself from a situation or conversation, if only briefly, so I can calm down or take time to think first. We all learn what works best for us.

Gentleness? God grant me a gentle heart, so I can serve You better!

*James 3:13

Cling

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“Ahhhh!” Tearing plastic wrap off to place over a plate of food takes a knack! Have you ever wrestled with it, only to end up with a wadded mess or pulling out half the roll in attempts to get off a small piece?! After carefully pulling the mess apart or taking the whole roll out of the box and rolling some of it back up, the job is finally done.

I am reminded of a young child fearfully clinging to a parent when faced with a new situation or new people. It may take time to calm those fears as hands pat, kisses convey love, or words explain. That clinging speaks of a trust and a need which is basic for us all.

The psalmist spoke of clinging to God. “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” Like the child clinging to that source of security, when we hold determinedly to our source of help and strength we are comforted.

Likewise, when I climbed the ladder to the roof of our house to clean out the gutters (Yes, I did that!) …I clung to the ladder and to the snow guards, secure as the work was done.

We have that same security in God as we cling to Him and to His words. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said to “cling to what is good.” Sometimes things may seem to be a wadded-up mess, but when we stick with God, He helps us work through our difficulties. Our lives reflect His presence… Because He is our help, we can sing, confident that His hand holds us up.

There It Is!

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I see it! There it is! As we approach the broad river and long bridge, our excitement mounts. Hours of watching for landmarks and anticipating our visit with relatives were soon to be rewarded. There’s the road, we proclaim as we turn up the hill on a winding country lane.

Whether traveling to visit family or friends, a special concert or conference, sports event, or other occasion… it is satisfying to finally arrive and to be a part of the activity. Focusing on landmarks, road signs, and other directions (maybe that voice from our smartphone), we are guided to our destination.

In my work, I do a lot of traveling over back roads to provide services in homes and day cares. I like to know how to get from destination to destination before I head out, although I am up to an occasional “adventure” as I connect less familiar roads when needed. Landmarks are welcome aides.

The prophet Jeremiah encouraged the Hebrew people to return not only to the land of their people, but also to God. Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take. Return, Virgin Israel, return to your towns, he said.*

But how do we get there? How do we travel through this life and how do we recognize the “road signs” to God? It can be a difficult and long journey. The landmarks may be new or forgotten along the way. The psalmist said, But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.*

I love that God gifted us all with an awesome road sign, his Word to us… a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.* Announcements! Encouragement! Cautions! Wake-up calls as well! As we look forward, God shows us. This way! There it is! I welcome suggestions, wise counsel, and support from others, especially those who have traveled similar paths. Think of all the people in life who have in some way impacted your movement from one destination to another. Decisions, small and large, are guided by our relationships with others and by our life experiences. Our faith is central to that.

The angels announced, “This will be a sign to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” The road signs were true and “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

With all the “stuff” crowding my vision and thoughts, I don’t always see the road signs. May God grant us quiet moments to refocus, to see and praise Him, our hope and our guiding light for each day. There it is!

     *Jeremiah 31:21, Psalm 39:7, Psalm 119:105

Christmastide Journey

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Zechariah and Elizabeth upon the path
To them came joyful word
Rejoice, a son to fill their lives
Messenger to prepare the way

Mary and Joseph lead by God
Angel-greeted, faithful, and true
Rejoice, rejoice Messiah to come
Emmanuel, God is with us

Through Nazareth and Judean hills
Arrived at lowly stable
Rejoice, Bethlehem to see the child
Angel-announced and shepherd-followed

From eastern lands the wise men traveled
Followed a shining star of hope
Rejoice, rejoice a king is born
Gifts offered to humble home

To Egypt now, as former time
Now flee, oh flee far from
Earthly king 
blinded to good news
The story will continue 

Jerusalem upon the mountain
Journey on, journey true
Rejoice, oh people of faith
Step now, for Christmastide

Faithful comes a mighty God
Light shines to show the way 
Place of shelter, gift of grace
Worship now… u
pon this Christmastide journey