Positive Presence

When my daughter was very young, she would sometimes awaken at night, afraid and crying. I would go to her and hold her, pray with her, and just be with her until she had relaxed and was able to go back to sleep.

There is something about the physical presence of a loved one that brings comfort and joy. Whether a parent with a child, friends, or family, their nearness fills a deep craving and brings satisfaction through that companionship.

How many of us after long separation have spent hours talking and “catching up” or enjoyed activities together? In the case of illness or injury, the presence of someone sitting quietly close by can bring a sense of security or well-being. Words are not always necessary. What a gift one’s positive presence can be!

In the same way, God’s presence with us is a great gift. In all of life’s challenges, sorrows, and celebrations God is with us. His presence is strong, steady, and eternal even when our pain or busy thoughts and activities are unable to perceive Him.

The psalmist praised God and thanked Him for being with him.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. *

As David fled enemies and faced impossible odds, he was fearful, angry, and sometimes depressed. Where was God during all of this?! Later, there was guilt too, as he faced his own failures and wrong doings. When the prophet Nathan came to David after David wrongly took Bathsheba, David expressed his great need and desire for God’s presence. He pled with God, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. *

While I so greatly need my personal time alone to process and rest, the presence of others is greatly appreciated too. Throughout my life, I have welcomed the comfort, companionship, and support of my family and friends. What a gift it is to know that there are others praying for me and to have good positive relationships with people who accept me for who I am and with whom we can join in our journey to grow closer to God.

How humbling and awesome that God’s presence came to be with us, giving us the ultimate example and filling that need. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). *

I pray that we may take comfort and strength from Him and faithfully reach out to others, even as they offer their own presence in times of need and times of celebration.

* Psalm 16:11, Psalm 51:11, Matthew 1:23

Requirements!

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Papers please… Don’t forget to renew by… You must have… Payment due… Reports needed!

Life seems to be a never-ending cycle of requirements just to keep the daily gears turning! How do I keep up? Sometimes things come all at once. I get flooded with extra work to do, insurance payments, certification and dues renewal, vehicle registration and inspection, extra commitments, and more.

Honestly, sometimes I wish that I could just sit back and let go of some of my responsibilities. Don’t we all feel overwhelmed sometimes? Whether from a paid job or volunteer positions, there are always associated requirements.

Yet in the midst of all of that, I am ever aware of the richness of life and I am thankful. A job and income provide basic necessities. I have a car, which enables me to drive so that I can work. I have a home to live in and family around me. There are friends to share with. Church, music, dance, and writing have special places. My life is full.

As I think about that, I am reminded of what Micah, a prophet living in Judah in the early 700s BC, said. “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” * In that is the true stuff of life, isn’t it?!

Even when I tire of the many requirements, they are a part of all we do and are not always a negative thing. They provide direction, maintain what is needed, and allow us to follow our call. What does the Lord require of us? To give our all, to extend His love to others, to walk humbly… with Him! Despite all the craziness or stress, the pain and grief we may encounter, and the loss of loved ones… in those words there is fulfillment and contentment.

 

*Micah 6:8

Southern Rhythms

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Anna Grace and Joseph Lee
Mary Jane and Patrick James
Polly Sue and Charles Thomas

Southern names with long traditions
Folks and family and ties that bind
…Echoes too of days gone by

Celebrations and building community
Proudly looking to new tomorrows
Trading stories and raising kids

Long warm summers and cooling days
Hard-working lives and close-knit ways
Country folks and city slickers

Local grills and jawing guys
Department store sales to catch the eye
Lazy times and long day’s work

Fishing and farming
Reunions and schooling
Parades and speeches for passers-by

Sunday worship and Christmas plays
Small hometowns and storefront displays
Dusty roads and rain-filled skies

Life’s rhythm like swaying trees
Flowing creeks and drifting clouds
Voices echo… fade and grow

SNOWY WINTER CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

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Our recent snowy weather has stirred up childhood memories of winters past with my family. Building snowmen was a group affair full of laughter and the usual banter. There were cold noses, snowball fights, sledding, and then hot chocolate to greet us when we arrived indoors to warm up.

In December, as Christmas approached, the house brightened with colored lights, ornaments on the tree, and candles. Angels, a wreath, greenery, and bows brought cheer and the manger scene had a special place in the living room. Putting up and decorating the tree was a story in itself as we rediscovered ornaments made in Christmases past, remembered times gone by, and heard tales of long-ago family Christmases. The kitchen was a special gathering place for baking and decorating Christmas cookies and cakes and for preparing the Christmas meal. Christmas day was family time, hearing the Christmas story and the reminder of God’s greatest gift to us, the excitement of opening a few simple gifts, and perhaps watching some Christmas programs on the television or playing with a new game. Good memories.

So, as we enter another “Christmastide,” may we cherish the simple, make way for quiet enjoyment with friend or family, reach out to others, and be thankful for God’s greatest gift of all through His Son, Jesus.

*Luke 1:30-33; Luke 2:1-20

HOME

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I’m on my way home! “Home,” a word that fills me with many emotions. During busy days away, I anticipate the time when I can return. Home is more than just a place, it is a comfortable and familiar environment where I feel most secure. It’s where I can relax and be replenished.

Sometimes home means moving. Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth rejected him and so he made his home in nearby Capernaum. When others expressed a desire to follow him, Jesus reminded them that he had no secure place to “lay his head” as he traveled about the land to share God’s news to others. As the early church spread out, it discovered the strength and support of community. They met together, sharing meals in each other’s homes, praying, studying God’s Word, and enjoying fellowship with one another. *

I think there is something within each of us that longs for “home,” for acceptance and love… where we can feel secure and be replenished. What does home mean for you? I have found that making a home requires a lot of prayer and hard work. It has not always been easy and I’m so thankful for God’s strength and guidance!

I’m thankful too for His promise of an eternal home with Him. He has gone to prepare a place for us! * Two of my dear friends have just completed their own final journeys home to that place called heaven and their earthly bodies have found rest. How I miss their friendship and our times together! I’m so glad to have an eternal home to look forward to.

My prayer for us is that God will watch over our homes. I pray too that we will invite Him in as family, to share each day with us.

* Acts 2:42, 46; John 14:1-4

Who Are You Jesus?

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Who are you Jesus …
with your piercing eye
and your kind touch?

Who are you Jesus …
who would call me from my tasks?
… A “fisher of men” you say I will be.

Who are you Jesus …
that my heart should race
just to hear your voice?

Who are you Jesus …
that you would accept one such as I,
… reaching out to touch my hand?

Who are you Jesus …
to welcome me into your family
and challenge me to become?

Who are you Jesus?