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Thursday, September 19, 2019

TRANSPARENCY

It never ceases to amaze me how I can read one sentence, one word, see one sight, or hear one thought and my mind is off racing.  I am reading another historical fiction --based upon real events. The author embellishes fact with a free hand of dialogue and interpretations.  Without revealing what I am reading, here is the quote that began the wheels turning~

"If transparency is a sign of true love"

There was more to the sentence, but this one phrase caught my eye and challenged my ideas.


One must begin the process by deciding exactly what is transparency.  We need to go back to the root word- transparent and explore.   Mr. Webster tells us this~

Definition of transparent

1a(1)having the property of transmitting light without appreciable scattering so that bodies lying beyond are seen clearly PELLUCID
(2)allowing the passage of a specified form of radiation (such as X-rays or ultraviolet light)
bfine or sheer enough to be seen through DIAPHANOUS
2afree from pretense or deceit FRANK
beasily detected or seen through OBVIOUS
creadily understood
dcharacterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices

As you would expect I am writing today on the second definition.  I have certainly been very forth coming on this blog, but there is a part of me that I have not revealed.  For many reasons, there are deeply hidden secrets, I have not revealed to anyone.  I would dare to say most of us have secrets we are not ready to share.  Why?  Why would there be anything about ourselves that we would not share with anyone?  Fear drives us from sharing these deep secrets.

We fear we will not be liked, we might shock someone, the world will turn away and reject us, and on and on.  We have talked before about the power of secrets in our lives.  There is no denying the hold they can have over us.  The question becomes, if we love someone deeply enough--completely enough--are we transparent?  Do we reveal all?  Is there anyone who knows it all about you?  I can only answer for myself, but for me--No--there has never been anyone who has known it all.  My insecurities drive my lack of trust in revealing it all.  It has not gone well, in the past, when I have opened up Pandora's Box of secrets and revealed parts of the inner most me.  Past experience drives today's tightly held truths from being brought out in the open.  Man and his feet of clay create a deep distrust of our fellow man.  We don't trust him to keep our secrets, to not judge us when we reveal our secrets, and to not turn from us when he knows the truth about us.  Fear of being ostracized is a powerful force and can shape who we are and how we act, without us even realizing it.  We need relationships.

BUT GOD, we forget or ignore the fact that God knows it all.  NOTHING is hidden from Him.  AND YET, He still loves us, He is faithful to us, He not only does not reject us, but embraces us.  But God--we are transparent in His sight and He really understands us, and there is no deceit or pretense with Him---AND HE STILL LOVES US!  So thankful!

God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart.
Psalm 44:21

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

BEGGARS



One of my favorite things to do while hiking is hike all the way to the top of a ridge or pass and sit down to have lunch while enjoying the beautiful view.  Almost every place we have ever hiked, these little nuisances on my friend's foot show up for lunch as soon as we take the food out of the back pack.  NOW--before all you animal lovers get up in arms---bear with me while I tell my tale.


OH, YES, He's cute, but they do not know the meaning of scram and you cannot eat your own lunch for them begging for food.  It is a BIG NO NO to feed the wild animals, but they sit there on their haunches and make these squeaky little sounds and before you know it someone has fallen for their act and given them a morsel of food.  "GAME ON", says Mr. Chipmunk.  If the picture had been taken with a real camera instead of a cell phone, you could see that his cheeks are stuffed to the brim.  He quickly takes a bite, stuffs it in the side of his cheek, and is back begging for more.  They are professional beggars.  It is NEVER enough--for you see at some point he scampers off to put the banquet in his den.  He is using you to supply his winter provision stash.  The little beggar is not going to work, he has learned to just wait for a hand out.  There are usually plenty of hikers on the trail and he has come to rely upon handouts instead of scrounging for his own self.


And then there he stands in the middle of the group, waiting for anyone to supply his needs.  He will not go away (well unless you threaten him with a hiking pole like I am prone to do) until you pack up and walk away.  He might even try to follow you down the trail, unless he sees another unsuspecting hiker headed his way.

Here is something we all need to keep in mind---HE IS A RODENT!  That would be part of the rat family!  If a rat came up to you and begged, he would be pummeled with rocks, but this little fellow has the advantage of being cute.  He is still a rat and a beggar.  He has come to rely upon handouts from the Big Hiker coming up the trail.  He has lost the incentive to work, and might even lose the ability to provide for himself if enough is handed to him.  We all enjoy the chippies on the trail, but the chippies are not helped by our handouts.  Instead they become dependent upon man, who will soon disappear with the change in the season to winter.  We enjoyed his antics, but he also bit the hand that was handing him the food.  OH--NOT TO FEAR---skin was not broken, but they can carry disease and it is not a good idea to have one bite you.  Serious consequences can come from a bite riddled with germs and possible disease.

I was reminded of God's own chosen people wandering in the desert waiting everyday for God to give them a handout.  AND THEY COMPLAINED about what He was providing.  Same thing day in and day out--only manna, God!  So God then provides them with meat.  The only stipulation is only gather enough for the day and two days when it is the Sabbath.  But were they happy, satisfied, content?  OH NO!  Gripe-Gripe-Gripe.  40 years of griping!   WHEW!  God is definitely a patient God--who could stand 40 years of day in day out griping ?  ONLY GOD!  

Here we are all these years later and are we content with where we are, what we have, with an abundant life?  I'll let you answer that question.  Are we content and joyful in all circumstances or are we like the little beggar and always coming back to the table for more.  Is it ever enough?  Food for thought---pun intended.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:11-13

Monday, September 16, 2019

WINTER IS COMING

 I have been off on another adventure in the beautiful mountains of Oregon.  The change of season is beginning to appear high up in the mountains.  With low temperatures in the 40's and high 30's, there is definitely a sign of fall in the air.  Winter will quickly show its face-especially high up on the mountain.  Snow fell one of the nights we were there on the top of Mount Hood.  A few of the trees had begun to show their vivid fall colors, but the slopes were still green as you can see in the picture above.  The last of the wildflowers gave a beautiful contrast to the verdant green of the grass carpeting the mountainside in the tree line.

We become so accustomed to a long summer and a fall in the deep South that we only experience a couple of months of moderate winter.  We experience season change, but nothing like our friends in the upper latitudes and higher altitudes do.   Winter is surely coming, for all of us, but winter can look very different depending upon where you are.



These beautiful wildflowers will continue to show their color until the first deep frost of the season.  When winter finally comes, the color will disappear, but until then the hardiest flowers continue to bloom and paint the mountainside with glorious color for all to enjoy.  Winter is coming, but summer and fall fight to hold their grip until winter finally wins the battle for dominance until Spring.  The Mountain Ash berries will make a beautiful backdrop when those first snowflakes begin to fall, but they too will soon disappear as winter comes to stay.


As I hiked those mountain trails, I thought how similar to our lives this changing of seasons is.  Winter will come for all of us at some point, but we cling to fall as long as we possibly can.  Fall and winter are not always completely devoid of fruit and flower in our lives.  Many are able to continue to bloom and show their colors even in the midst of the winter of their lives.  Even in the deepest and most barren of winters, there is often great beauty to be found.  Often we see brightly colored berries from holly bushes in the deepest winter and birds of all colors can grace the most barren of scenery.  Winter is coming, but winter does not always mean complete dormancy.  Often winter can be the most beautiful of all the seasons.  It is all in how you look at what surrounds you and how you meet the day.  Come on winter---we are ready!



16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
II Corinthians 4:16

Sunday, September 15, 2019

BLESS HIM

BE CERTAIN

YOU LISTEN

TO THE FINAL

WORDS OF CHARLES WESLEY

"JESUS, MY ONLY STRENGTH
THOU ART"




SABBATH BLESSINGS,

DEAR FRIENDS!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

GOOD AND GRACIOUS

BY YOUR LOVE

I AM ACCEPTED

YOU'RE A GOOD

AND GRACIOUS KING





SABBATH BLESSINGS,

DEAR FRIENDS

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Friday, September 6, 2019

FULL HANDS

Good manners are only second to the Ten Commandments by a hair here in the South.  My mother and my great Aunt Lora were on a mission to be certain I understood The ABC's of Emily Post from my earliest memory.  




One of the rules was never arrive as an invited guest with empty hands.  Any invite always comes with the question, "What can I bring?"  Now this can backfire on you, since some are on a mission to have everything surround a theme.  In that case, a simple gift is a nice gesture.

Recently I walked into a volunteer meeting with my hands full.  It occurred to me what a beautiful gesture it is to arrive with hands filled.  I simply handed over the offering with a request to pass it on.  With the transaction over my hands are now empty, but my heart is full.  

As I thought all of this over, I remembered at times in worship, I find my hands palms up.  Empty hands.  What does this signify?  I looked up what the WWW had to say about palms up and found this

A gesture made with the opened palm raised to an appealing, imploring, or "begging" position. Usage: Uplifted palms suggest a vulnerable or nonaggressive pose that appeals to listeners as allies rather than as rivals or foes. Throughout the world,palm-up cues reflect moods of congeniality, humility, and uncertainty.

What a beautiful reflection of what this simple act of worship signifies.  I am admitting to God I am vulnerable, coming to Him in humility and appealing to Him to see my acknowledgement of Who He is.

I love to walk in any door with my hands full, but even more beautiful is my hands empty and my heart filled as only God can do.   We can NEVER out give God!

“Give, and it will be given to you.
 They will pour into your lap a good measure—
pressed down, shaken together, and running over.
 For by your standard of measure
 it will be measured to you in return” 
Luke 6:38

Thursday, September 5, 2019

AND HERE IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY!

The volunteers have begun their sessions with their sweet kindergarten students this week.  I had my first session on the futon in the classroom with my two students.  One is quite precocious and the other extremely shy.  BOTH love having books read to them!  This is going to be a great year reading to the littles--I have never worked with this young of an age.  It is going to be so much fun!



Everyday this first week, I am checking how the first day went for each volunteer.  Here is a story that brought me to tears and is exactly why I am investing time with these precious children.

Me-
"How was your time with your student today?

Volunteer-
"One was super easy and the other is learning English so it will be slower going but she's precious.  Having grands who are in school in a foreign country where they are learning in another language gives me such a heart for this one to help her anyway I can."


BE STILL MY HEART!  NOW--you need to understand the process of assigning children to volunteers.  The teachers give me a list of children and a time we can come read in their room.  The volunteers sign up based upon the time slot which is best for them.  I take these two lists and randomly put children with a volunteer based upon matching times--nothing else.  Was it the luck of the draw that these two were paired?




You have this child who does not know English and you have a volunteer whose grands are in a school where they are taught in another language.  She "happens" to get this child.  NO---this is no co-incidence--this is another example of a beautiful God-incidence.  I see God all up in the middle of this.  What a wonderful -marvelous- assurance that God sees, God knows, and God is using us---WHAT A BLESSING!


For we are his workmanship, 
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
 which God prepared beforehand, 
that we should walk in them
Ephesians 2:10

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

BUT I'M BUSY

Social media affords some really great things (we will not discuss all that is negative about it.)  I have watched the videos this week of all the colleges beginning their school year.  I distinctly remember those exciting times.




I went to college, got busy, and somehow God got put on the back burner.  I see college students today who do a great job of staying focused on God, but without excuse, I can truthfully say, I did not.  Oh, I never denied Him, always knew He was there, but I also took it for granted and forgot to seek Him.



This began to be a pattern in my life.  I was really busy~family, career, home, extended family ~~~there was more to do than there were hours in the day.  I rose early and fell in the bed exhausted late.  Always sleep deprived and busier than a hive of bees making honey, I carved out a couple of hours a week while in church to pause and remember.  As soon as I walked out that door and got in the car, I was off to the races once again.  THAT is a sad story, My Friends!



How much easier would my life have been had I kept God first always?  I lost my sense of priorities and fell into the "busy" trap today's world affords.  It took a lot of heartbreak and a sharp jerk back to reality for me to realize how messed up my priories were.  God never turned from me, but I got busy and put Him on hold.  Life consumed my time and energy and I didn't realize how much more difficult I was making my trek by forgetting or postponing time with Him.




Today, I still fight my "busy" addiction.  Never have I been one to sit around, so I tend to overload, over commit, and under communicate with the One who created me if I am not careful.  Many of you begin your day with your quiet time.  My days start very early and I tend to have quiet time mid morning many days or in the afternoon.  When I am sitting writing, I am also spending time with The Father.  Seeking His wisdom as I write these blogs, studying my small group lesson, and searching The Word for answers.  My thoughts now tend to be a conversation with The Father.  He is the One I bounce ideas off of, share my struggles, recount blessings, and confess my needs off of.  I look to Him and seek His advice and counsel.  I have finally learned and now practice Seeking The Presence of God is more important than any other thing in my life.  He is faithfully by my side and constantly present--He is never too busy for me---and I should never be too busy to seek His face.


Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:6


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

ALL IS STRIPPED AWAY

If we live long enough, one thing is inevitable, our "things" will begin to be stripped away.  There are certainly exceptions to this, but bear with me.


As time passes and we grow older, we begin to see a slow shedding of all things worldly.  You transform from the obtainer to the shedder in the mere blink of an eye.  As families grow up and begin families of their own, suddenly you no longer need the huge house.  The huge house with huge upkeep and expensive maintenance.  You find yourself weighted down by the bulk of all the possessions of a lifetime and needing to lighten the load.  You can do as my mother and allow your children to decide what goes and what stays, or you can do as I did and make your own decisions.  Very few things which I released from my grasp have I missed or needed.



Sadly in all relationships, one usually goes before the other.  We find ourselves alone--without a mate.  Being alone is one of the most difficult transitions in life.  After a lifetime of being part of a family or one of two, you are suddenly thrust into a world of singleness.  Slowly with time, you accept this new state of oneness.



I saw my sweet in laws out live almost all of their peers.  They were no longer able at the end to enjoy the company of the few who were still with us.  We all have lost sweet friends along the way.  As we grow older, it begins to be more and more frequent.  We miss the good company of those who lived life beside us.  The world is slowly shrinking until one day we find ourselves alone and with few possessions.  Our families may be still with us, but they are responsible for families of their own and the big responsibility which comes with a family.  We begin to feel the shrinkage of our social world.



NO, I am not down or depressed or looking at the gloomy part of life.  I am wondering--when all else is gone--when all is stripped away---Will God be Enough?  Has my relationship with God deepened to the point that even in the solitude of the desert, He will sustain me?  God has always and will always be enough.  Have I allowed the world and all it contains to block my vision of His importance?   Is God enough?~HE IS MORE THAN ENOUGH.  When all is stripped away--there will still be God---He knew us when we came into this world and He will know us when we leave this world.  God desires a deep relationship with us---He is all we truly need!

5 You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands. 
6 How wonderful are your gifts to me; how good they are! 
7 I praise the Lord, because he guides me, and in the night my conscience warns me. 
8 I am always aware of the Lord's presence; he is near, and nothing can shake me. 
9 And so I am thankful and glad, and I feel completely secure, 
10because you protect me from the power of death. I have served you faithfully, and you will not abandon me to the world of the dead. 
11 You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever.
Psalm 16:5-11



Monday, September 2, 2019

HOW DEEP~HOW WIDE

I never really understood the true depths of love until I had children and grandchildren.  Certainly I have loved before--but there is nothing quite like the depths of love we have for our children.  Difficult to understand how this goes wrong for some, but we will not go down that trail.



Last night, I watched the Netflix documentary about Kara Tippetts~a Christian author who was taken at 38 by breast cancer.  She does a wonderful job of teaching us how we should love.  It was amazing to hear her say, "I am not afraid of dying, but I am not ready to die."  All of us mothers understand the natural order of life is for us to go before our children.  We desire to see them grow up, and then successfully leave the nest.  Kara will not have the joy of seeing that beautiful launch.  There was no doubt though that she loved them deeply, loved her husband and family without reserve and loved her friends well.  She was a walking textbook on how we should love one another.  Dying to self and placing others before ourselves.


As I thought over what I had seen, it occurred to me we never really comprehend how deeply God loves us.  Why are we not able to grasp the depths of His love?  We do not have a clue as to the depth of God's love because we are human--finite--and infinite love is beyond our comprehension.  Most of us love with expectations of a return for our investment.  God's love has no expectations.  In fact, God knows up front we will disappoint Him. Yet He loves us with a breadth and depth beyond our human understanding.  God loves us not only without expectation, but in fact, with full confidence we will never love Him to the depth that He loves us.  And yet~


God is love.  All of us fall far short of His love.  BUT GOD, desires to teach us, mold us, and shape us into creatures filled with God's Love.  His desire is for us to all have the blessing of loving without reservation and without expectation.  He wants us to love as He loves us~an eternal love 


John Piper, one of my favorite theologians says it perfectly, "We are his heirs.  And his love was free.  Nobody took his life from him.  He laid it down of his own accord.  He loves his people-those who will have this love as their treasure-with a love that cannot be greater than it is.  If you will receive it as your treasure and cherish it, Christ loves you more than you can comprehend."  As he continues this writing, he reminds us the first fruit of the Spirit is love.  The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of love in us and He shows us how to love others as He loves us.  What a beautiful picture.  I love because He first loved me and gifted me with His love to share through the Holy Spirit.  A beautiful gift to be cherished and shared with all He places in our paths

May you be rooted and grounded in love,
and thus be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth and length
and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ
which passes all understanding.
Ephesians 3:17-19

Sunday, September 1, 2019

YOU ALONE

ONE OF THE FIRST

PRAISE SONGS

I LEARNED

STILL ONE OF 

MY FAVORITES




SABBATH BLESSINGS,

DEAR FRIENDS!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

GRAMMA AND GINGA

IF YOU HAVE

 NEVER WATCHED 

THESE TWO-

YOU HAVE MISSED

A LAUGH

TWO SASSY SISTERS!




IS THIS WHERE

I AM HEADED??

Friday, August 30, 2019

I NEED AN INTERPRETER

We have begun a new study on this book in Small Group


If you want to hear the true depths of silence, toss out the question Who is the Holy Spirit?  Deep - dark silence~ slowly followed by stuttering unsure answers.  We associate the Holy Spirit with Pentecost---and no disrespect to my Pentecostal friends but the very attempt to discuss the HS can make us squirm more than a huge can of worms.  We have been accused of not receiving the Holy Spirit if we don't  ~ ~ ~ ~  Fill in the blank.  If you have not experienced someone being "Slain in the Spirit" or talking in tongues, you probably do not realize it can send most of us main line Protestants running for the door.  We are out of our comfort zone and into that which we do not understand.  There is SO MUCH more to the Holy Spirit than tongues that I would dare to say that is only a small part of the truly broad subject of the Holy Spirit.


We all listed Who the HS was to us for part of our discussion.  My very favorite Holy Spirit descriptor is Interpreter.  For you see, my prayers can fall pitifully short when I am trying to communicate with The Father.  I know what I want to tell Him, but it gets lost sometimes in my gobbly gook of "religious speak".  It is a huge comfort that the HS knows my thoughts, knows what I am trying to say and interprets for me to The Father.  I have spoken before of the times in life I could not get beyond, "OH GOD".  Knowing my thoughts and words were being interpreted without speaking another word is such a blessing. He knows my thoughts and feelings even better than I know myself.  When I am at a loss, He stands before the Father and speaks for me.  I thank God for His wonderful gift of The Advocate.

My feet of clay are woefully stuck in the mire of the mud of the fallen human world.  Absolutely at a loss for how to communicate, I fail to pray or cut my prayers woefully short.  God has better things to do than to listen to me.  BUT the Holy Spirit knows my longings and my yearnings and He goes to the Father for me and places me before The Throne.  No need for flowery prose like prayers, no embarrassment because I lack the power of some who pray so beautifully, only the sure assurance--He has sent my Interpreter Who is taking my feeble attempts and beautifully lifting them as incense before the Throne of the God of the Universe. 

If you love me,
keep my commands,
And I will ask the Father,
and He will give you another advocate to help you
and be with you forever-
the Spirit of truth.
John 14:15-17