Keep Your Heart

Heart made with stones_beach_by AnnaER_Pixabay

When I was a teen, I helped my neighbor clean her home on Saturday mornings. She was a retired teacher and the bit I earned gave me a little spending money. My parents had taught us the importance of keeping our own home as well. We were expected to clean our rooms each week and beds must be made before we went to school or did anything else for the day. Keeping our home clean, and helping outside the home as well, taught us the importance of caring for what we had. Some seasons or days were busier, but the established pattern of keeping our home in order helped ensure that we would catch up. Of course, a bit of prodding and reminders from our parents were sometimes needed!

There was much more involved in keeping a home than cleaning! My dad was a handyman and he made sure the house was cared for, involving all of us in that work as well. Maintaining a home was a continuing job and safety was important too. I remember always checking that the doors were secured each night.

Like keeping our home, keeping our heart is important too, and it impacts how we develop and grow as a person. For me, this is a life-long challenge! What we allow to come in – our thoughts, what we see, and what we listen to – has an effect for good or harm. A favorite verse in Proverbs says, “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” *

Good “heart care” prepares us to face temptations and difficulties in life. Leaving my “windows” wide open to negative or unhealthy influences when storms of life come or when things seem dark does not protect or keep my heart. Throwing open the doors to them allows the prowlers to come in. What situations are we putting ourselves in? What do we listen to each day? What are we watching? … I so need God to help me with this heart work!

God reminds us of the importance of examining our heart and allowing Him to guide and help us. I am thankful to Him for giving us positive influence and support of parents, mentors, friends, and Christian community. We can all help each other to “keep our heart” so that what flows from it is good and life-giving.

*Proverbs 4:23

Reflections on Sawdust

sawdust-by Alicja_pixabay

The bits and pieces we leave behind speak of life lived
• We gain in wisdom as we are shaped
• The remnants we leave are our legacy
• A protective surrounding will shelter and nourish new life
• Warmth and support bring contentment
• A soft bed and peaceful rest are not to be taken for granted
• The smell of worked wood inspires creativity
• The unfolding of outer layers can be difficult
• An artist forms things of wonder and beauty
• The Master’s hand can form beauty from the roughest exteriors

Reflections on Slippers

Slippers 1_IMG_1466

• Each day needs slipper moments
• Rise to a new day with anticipation of good
• A warm smile and kind touch bring comfort
• Soft words encourage healing and rest
• Protecting others is a most noble call and occupation
• Reach out to others like a warm home on a cold day
• Slip on true friendship and slide off falsehood
• Put on that which will enrich life
• Embrace laughter and silly slippers for a joyful heart
• A peaceful evening of rest is a great blessing
• Knowing we are useful brings contentment
• The Comforter is always with us

Reflections on Noses

Nose_fallow-deer-602253_1920_pixabay

• What we take in determines life
• Sometimes harmful things enter
• It is important to filter what comes in
• Ridding ourselves of harmful influences can be difficult
• Approach that which affects us with prayerful consideration
• We each have distinctive attributes
• It is important to determine what is central
• We are connected to others
• Shade and sunscreen can protect from overexposure
• Deeply breath in the Spirit in your daily walk

 

 

Reflections on Skunks

skunk

• Unexpected or misunderstood actions can create alarm
• We raise the alarm when threatened or endangered
• It is wise not to ignore a warning
• When alarm is raised we may react unwisely or prematurely
• When we react unwisely others are affected
• We often emit foul odors when threatened
• Attempts to protect ourself may be perceived as being antisocial
• Beauty is difficult to see when we focus on the negatives
• Negative expectations can create bad outcomes
• Positive expectations guide peaceful encounters
• Skunks want to enjoy good food and family like we all do

Hold Us

children arm over shoulder - bw

Hold us, oh Lord
In your encircling arms
So wide so strong
Hold us, oh Lord
Quiet shelter

Hold us, oh Lord
We rest in You
Your unfailing presence
Hold us, oh Lord
Do not turn away

Hold us, oh Lord
We rejoice in You
Secure and protected
Hold us, oh Lord
Block temptation’s sway

Hold us, oh Lord
When doubts say flee
When fears would darken
Hold us, oh Lord
Your hands to calm

Hold us, oh Lord
Strong ship in storm
Firm tower in battle
Hold us, oh Lord
When our soul would faint

Hold us, oh Lord
We abide in You
Source of life and hope
Hold us, oh Lord
God Eternal

REFUGE

Blog Post 7_Poem REFUGE 1A

Have you ever noticed how a mother bird will spread her wings over her chicks to provide protection and to hide them from the eyes of predators? That space under the shadow of her wings is a refuge, a place of safety and comfort. The chicks trust the hen and so they stay close-by and are nurtured, protected, and guided.

What a powerful image that is for us when we feel overwhelmed, attacked, or swallowed by grief and despair! In the books of Ruth and Psalms, God is a loving protector who gathers us in the shadow of His wings. Like the chicks, we are His children, knowing our own weakness and need. When we come to Him, He offers us a place of security.

Ruth realized that her mother-in-law Naomi had something special; she came to God when all seemed lost. The psalmist said, “Hey, this is a good thing! I’m going to stay here with God forever, walking close-by and covered when times are tough!”

How easy it can be to wander off. Jesus lamented, grieved deeply, for the people of Jerusalem who had turned away those God had sent. “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37 & Luke 13:34). At times my own thoughts churn endlessly, stressing over a day’s events or unresolved issues and troubles. This image of God surrounding us with His sheltering wings provides comfort, security, and hope for everyone and reminds us to stay close to Him.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 36:7 (NIV)