Monday, December 29, 2014

The Next Morning

The Bible doesn't tell us about the next morning. The morning after Jesus was born when daylight appeared and the sun shone down upon Bethlehem. We are left to wonder what the day was like for the new mother and her baby king. I wonder if the star was still visible in the sky. I wonder if Mother Mary had trouble feeding baby Jesus. Did people still gather around the  stable and peer lovingly into the manger? Was Joseph tempted to shoo people away so Mary and Jesus could rest?

Did the city of Bethlehem rumble with the sound of voices as people passed the word about what had happened that night? Or was the Holy Family alone with the animals still trying to grasp the reality of what had happened the evening before? We don't know how many days the shepherds traveled to follow the star but we do know it was probably years that the Magi traveled to reach the baby king.

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19 NIV) She must have been overwhelmed with love for infant Jesus and by the worshipful shepherds as they came to behold the baby. Surely the shepherds told Mary and Joseph about the star overhead that led them to the stable that night. Perhaps Joseph even slipped outside to take a look himself. The star must have reassured him that the message the angels brought was true. Their baby was the "Son of God", "Son of the Most High", "Immanuel", "God with us", "Jesus".

The unanswered questions don't matter. What does matter is that our Savior arrived that night in Bethlehem and he continues to reign in our lives today. May you celebrate today by praising God for sending his Son to save us. Amen and Amen.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a beautiful Christmas with the story that never gets old.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 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.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night, An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Star is Born

"The star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house they saw the child with his mother Mary and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh," (Matthew 2:9-11 NIV).

Herod was a jealous king. There wasn't room in his kingdom for another ruler so he set in motion a plan to kill all the baby boys born in Bethlehem. When rumors of a special child being born reached Herod, he sent Magi to track this baby and report back so he could go and 'worship' him also. Herod's plan didn't work so well. The Magi were wise and knew the prophecy that had been written. The ruler was to be born in Bethlehem and he would shepherd the people of Israel (Micah 5:2 NIV).

There was a star, so bright and unusual, that the Magi were in awe of it. They followed it east and were filled with joy when it stopped over the place where baby Jesus and his parents lived. They bowed down and worshiped him and presented gifts worthy of the highest positions - gold worthy of a king; incense often given to deity, and myrrh given to those who were about to die. Strange gifts for a little baby or young child, yet so appropriate for Jesus Christ, Immanuel, Son of God.

Shining brightly, the star appeared brighter than all the others in the sky. His life would glow in perfection of a human man. He would lead others who became followers by his example and purity. He would warrant gifts of the very best praise and worship. The one and only Savior who came to light up the world with his love. Jesus Christ, the Star is born.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Joseph's Dreams

"An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:20-21 NIV).

I don't suppose it is unusual for engaged young men to have dreams before their weddings. But, Joseph's dreams were different. There are three times in Joseph's life that it is reported that angels appeared to him in dreams. All were in direct regard to his son Jesus and fulfilling prophecy.

He was pledged to marry Mary, a virgin carrying a child of the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a righteous man of integrity and he didn't want to publicly disgrace her. He respected her and considered quietly divorcing her. But the angel changed all that. In the midst of a dream the angel appeared and told Joseph it was okay to marry the blessed Mary. Joseph was part of fulfilling a prophecy of Jesus, born to the line of King David, the Savior of the world. So he did the right thing. He obeyed God and married Mary.

Later, when Jesus was a young child, another angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him to take Mary and the child into Egypt to escape King Herod's plot to murder the holy child. They fulfilled another prophecy. After Herod died, another angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take Mary and the child into Israel, settling in Nazareth; fulfilling yet another prophecy that had been spoken.

Though Joseph was not the human father of Jesus he lived and followed the Jewish law as any father would. He saw that Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day and that Jesus was presented to God as the firstborn son, at the age of one month. God used Joseph to bring the Savior into the world and raise him up as the special man he was to become.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sheep on a Hillside

One of my greatest pleasures of living in the country and raising sheep is watching the sheep out in the pasture. Sheep are funny creatures. They like to be with the crowd and follow a leader. If one sheep isn't paying attention and suddenly finds itself alone, it hurries to catch up with the group. They spread out over an area to eat grass and settle in for a good meal as long as the rest of the flock is near by.

In ancient times owning a flock of sheep was a sign of great wealth but after that they must have realized how stupid sheep really are and in Jesus' day they were owned by 'lowly' shepherds. Shepherds were plain and ordinary folk who wandered with the sheep, moving them from pasture to greener pasture. They must have roamed the hillsides for days trying to find the best feeding areas before returning home, tired and dirty. The sheep and shepherds would rest at night under the stars, watching for predators.

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you; You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about" (Luke 2:8-15 NIV).

It was the shepherds who traveled and saw baby Jesus, the Lamb of God, just as the angels had told them and they quickly spread the news to others 'glorifying and praising God' for all they had experienced. They were humbled to be chosen to hear all that the angels had told them.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What to do about gray days

Part of my depression involves seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and the past week has been exceedingly gray. SAD (such an appropriate acronym) is common this time of year and I have a light therapy box to use, but with my office in disarray I haven't set it up yet.  Just as the clouds block the sunlight, my life seems blocked from joy. I could hide under the bedcovers or turn on all the lights in the house but they don't change the heaviness that's hanging around outside.

One of the best ways I've found to get through a gray day is to turn on music; Christmas music this time of year. That always help me be distracted from the gloomy setting outside. It's the songs of praise and worship that turn my attitude when nothing else will. The scriptures heard in the words of music help brighten the day with rays of light.

Reading scriptures is another good way to fight the drabness outside by bringing the good news and its light inside. Visualizing Jesus' face brings brilliance to any room. Hearing his words of promise and hope helps break the day's anguish and despair.

"Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears let him hear" (Matthew 13:43 NIV).

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mother-to-be Mary

Advent season is here and I'm thinking a lot about Mary. Since I'm not Catholic my perspective is probably rather humanistic though I in no way intend to be irreverent. Mary was a poor young girl who loved her Lord. She was engaged to marry Joseph and was making preparations as was common for her day. Suddenly, an angel appears to her and her life is changed forever.

Scripture tells us, in Luke 1:26-38, Mary was a virgin who found 'high favor' with the Lord. What an honor to be recognized by God as "highly favored"! Especially since nearly all those favored before here were men. By our standards she had three strikes against her: she was young, she was a girl, and she was from a poor family. Yet, God chose her. God knew she would obey what was required of her and He knew she would trust Him. Others were less worthy of this honor. Others may have ignored the angel's proclamation or disbelieved the profound announcement. Mary was chosen with good reason.

Mary reacted with her human emotions, she was troubled at first by the angel's message that she was favored by God. She must have been humbled by this praise and questioned what was coming next. Difficult to imagine, Mary asked how she could bear a child when she was a virgin. She listened to the explanation from the angel and immediately accepted her mission with honor. She didn't question the angel further, nor ask about Joseph, which must have been on her mind. She obeyed, accepting the angel's final words, "For nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37 NIV).

I can only try to put myself in her place and imagine how overwhelming the angel's message must have been. How do you process such a prophecy? One day at a time. Fortunately God gave her another honored one to share this amazing plan with, Elizabeth. The miracle of bearing such a holy baby with such a divine role to live would be beyond the mind's conception. Only Mary could respond, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said" (Luke 1:38 NIV).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Good day to Praise God

I had a bad day on Monday. After I finished my blog and accomplished several other tasks the day went down hill. It was time to put the tree up so I hauled the necessary equipment from the basement and proceeded to put up our 25 year old artificial tree. It's been time to replace it for several years but I always thought, 'just one more year' because it looked good when it was decorated. I proceeded to put it all together, then came the ornaments. I have a large box of sheep ornaments. About 98% of the ornaments on our tree are sheep. I always enjoy looking at all of the different sheep as I put them on the tree.

There are sheep in sweaters, wooly sheep, fluffy sheep, wax sheep, ceramic sheep, sheep with wiggly legs, a sheep that sings, a sheep finger puppet, sheep in wagons, sheep faces, patriotic sheep, sheep bells, wooden sheep, sheep in a barn, sheep at the manger, a shepherd holding a lamb, sheep on sheep, sheep with bows, sheep on sleds, silly sheep, and peaceful sheep.

I was nearing the bottom of the box when as I placed another ornament on the tree, the tree fell over. On me. Ornaments went scattering everywhere. I grabbed the center trunk and held it but there was no chance at steadying it or getting it to stand again. The tree stand was broken. So I spent the next hour or so removing the ornaments from the tree and putting them back in the box while holding up the tree. Glad no one was watching. It must have been a hilarious sight. Once I had all the ornaments safely in the box I let the tree fall to the floor, lights and all.

After the man of the house officially announced there was no hope for the tree the clean up began and a new tree was purchased. It took several hours to get the new tree together but we have a decorated tree in the house again and hopefully it won't be falling over for at least 25 years.

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him my Savior and my God" (Psalm 43:5 NIV).

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thankful hearts

Our pastor did the coolest thing. She asked us a week ago to write down on a notecard what we were thankful for. Yesterday she had a printout of the entire collection of what 50+ churchgoers had written down. It covered an entire page in 6 point type. It was fun to look through to find what others are thankful for. There were lots of names listed, special people that others were thankful for. Lots of homes and families mentioned and pleasantly a lot of jobs. Many mentioned the church and church family, specifically Bethel Grove. But mostly people were thankful for Jesus, our Savior, a personal relationship with Christ and for being saved by Jesus Christ.

When you take the time to write down all that you are thankful for you realize just how much we really have here in America and so much that we take for granted on most days. Running water, a shower, food in the cupboard, a refrigerator, fresh milk, shoes, tissues, clean water to drink, transportation at our fingertips, a cozy bed and pillow, automatic heat or coolness, windows, carpet or hardwood floors, communication by phone or email or Facebook, and so much more. So many people in the world don't have any of those things. That's humbling.

Even though Thanksgiving Day has passed for this year, the Advent season is upon us and our attitude should still be one of thanksgiving. For there is no greater gift that came to earth than Jesus Christ. Perhaps as a way to keep Christ in Christmas this year practice being thankful for one thing each day or list all you can think of each day. There is much to be thankful for and all of it comes through the Lord as blessings.

"And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:15b-17 NIV).

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).

Happy Thanksgiving! What a perfect day to give thanks for all our blessings, for family and friends. For the fragrance of roast turkey and lamb filling the kitchen. For the many pots and pans filled with dressing, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, yams, and green bean casserole. For the array of salads worthy of any salad bar. For rolls and relishes; for veggies, cheese and crackers. For pies and desserts and so much more. For stomachs filled to the brim and beyond.

For fresh water to drink and tables to gather around; for prayers and praises lifted to heaven. For laughter that echoes and catches on and moves around the family circle. For teasing and joking and stories remembered and shared. For smiles and satisfaction. For comfort and peace with those you know best. For love and mercy, forgiveness and trust; for happiness and tradition carried on. For a home roomy enough for all to belong, rubbing shoulders and elbows, sharing hugs once and again.

So much to be thankful for in just one single day. We gathered together and asked the Lord's blessing. For the safe travel and wellness we offer our praises. For little ones rushing about and the ones who have grow. For parents and grandparents, sisters and sons, brothers and fathers, cousins and daughters, husbands and wives and loved ones so dear. Thank you dear Lord for the moments of time and for this day to be thankful.

"Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20 NIV).

Monday, November 24, 2014

Feeling Thankful

My NIV Life Application Study Bible offers four components of true thanksgiving that are found in a psalm written by David in 1 Chronicles 8-36. First, remember all God has done for you. Second, tell others what God has done for you. Third, show God's glory to others. And fourth, show your thanksgiving by giving of yourself, your time and your resources.

As I think back on the many ways God has blessed my life one of the most powerful examples I recall is when I decided to go back to school at age 39. I always wanted to attend college and study journalism. Shortly after I got married my husband took me to the college and allowed me to check things out. I was insecure and had a boatload of self doubt. I hadn't been a great student in high school, mostly B's and C's but I loved to write. I wasn't convinced that anyone else would see anything good in me so I decided not to try college in my late teen years.

Later, in my twenties or early 30s I again went to the college and talked to a counselor. She had me take career testing and discussed possible options with me. Again, I didn't follow through with signing up for college. I continued to work in various jobs and gained experience and some self confidence.

Then I got a job writing at a local newspaper and began to get positive response from my stories. I worked for four years and the school bug hit again. This time I had enough self confidence that I was determined to start getting my education. I began with one or two classes at night and saw that I could get good grades. I was capable of college and I loved learning. All my life God had been preparing me to study, to grow and to learn. It was time.

God took that shy, unconfident young woman and changed her into someone who could follow God's plan for her life. Amazing. What a blessing He gave me. What a powerful plan He had for my life.

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the heart of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced" (1 Chronicles 16: 8-12 NIV).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More Snow Stories

After I blogged about our little coating of snow I became aware of what was happening in Buffalo and Cheektowaga, New York, and I feel very foolish. In case you haven't heard they are getting lake-effect snow at 2-3 inches an hour. The last I heard yesterday they had over 80 inches and it was still snowing and blowing, creating a record setting snowstorm.

I can't even imagine how you deal with that kind of snow. You can't throw a shovel-full high enough to get over the piles. People must be stuck in their homes. It's a dangerous situation. I'm praying for my friend Jeanette and hoping she is rescued soon.

One of the only really big Iowa storms I can remember was in April of 1973. It was fence post to fence post in our lane  and we had to wait for big equipment to come dig us out. There was another big winter storm that affected us for many days when I was younger. My sister and I had to walk on top of the snow to get to the school bus. Another time daddy prepared a lovely carriage ride for us and drove through the field to take us to the hard surface road. The carriage was a manure spreader with straw bales for our seats. It got us where we needed to go but we were very humbled by the experience.

Weather is one example of God's control and power in nature. Jesus responded to the religious leaders when they challenged him to show them a sign from heaven.  "When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather for the sky is red' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times" (Matthew 16:2-3 NIV).

Our weathermen and women try to give us a forecast everyday but only God is in control of nature. Let us remember to thank Him for the sunshine and the storm as it's a reminder our Heavenly Father is near.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The First Snow

"Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the spirit of his masters" (Proverbs 25:13 NIV).

The first snow arrived Saturday afternoon as tiny little flakes, making it slippery underfoot and under cars, too. Gradually the flakes grew larger and softly fell to earth as if pouring a coating of white over everything. Yesterday morning we awoke to a glittery blanket of white, sparkling in the sunlight. Just enough to coat things generously and give us a clean new slate, hiding all the ugliness of man's world. For a short while the world looked perfect, perfectly beautiful.

Then the snowplows and shovels get busy and make way for the people to hustle about. Fortunately in the country we can cherish the beauty a little longer. The white blanket is only slightly disturbed by the rabbit and dog tracks and the sheep selectively create trails out to the feeding grounds where they must work to get to the hidden grass.

"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater" (Isaiah 55:10 NIV).

Some crops remain in the fields waiting to be harvested. Fortunately this three inch snow won't hinder the farmers' efforts too much because it is remaining cold and below freezing for a number of days. In time the snow will melt away and water the earth as God intends.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Small Smooth Stones

I grew up loving stones and rocks. I loved to search for stones of beauty, smoothness and uniqueness. I collected these stones in piles, in my pockets and any other vessel I found to hold them. I used stones to frame my flower beds and mark garden rows. Stones are useful and beautiful. David agreed.

"Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine" (1 Samuel 17:40 NIV).

I have a small brass pitcher filled with special stones I have selected through the years. Living in the country rocks are common but these stones are not. I like to feel them, their smoothness or roughness. One stone on the top is red like the rocks of Sedona, Arizona. It is oval and porous with flecks of other colors through out. It fits perfectly in the palm of my hand. The next stone is hard and shiny with a 'v' broken out of it. It is olive colored and shaped like a lop-sided heart. Most of the rest of the stones are round or oval. There is a white one that's nearly a perfect round shape. A blue one is more flat and smooth. Another red one is the size of my thumbnail.

The stones remind me of how carefully God has created us all. He has made us unique like the stones. Perhaps the stones have rolled and been reshaped by abrasions or perhaps they were made as small smooth stones. They remind me of God's touch on all earthly things. They cry out with the truth that God is the Creator of all things.

"Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" "I tell you," Jesus replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out" (Luke 19:40 NIV).

Monday, November 10, 2014

Changes in the Church

I'm not so fond of change. I like to keep things comfortable and easy but life isn't always comfortable and easy. That's the case with things at my church right now. The 96 year old portion of the building is tired and sagging. It's sagging so much that it is no longer safe to worship within its walls.

I've attended this church all my life, in fact they announced my birth on that Sunday morning at church. It's been through remodeling several times but the cracks are now serious and the needed restoration is major. No decision has been made yet by our building committee so the outcome is still unknown. That's uncomfortable.

Within those crooked walls I became the person I am. At three years old I was flower girl at my sister's wedding. At 12 years old I was baptized. I attended Sunday school and performed in Christmas pageants. We were married there and held our wedding reception in the old basement. Our babies were dedicated to the Lord within those walls and they too chose to be baptized in the baptistry.

"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given us" (Romans 12:4-6a NIV).

The church is its people, not the building, so we will get through this change with a little patience and a lot of prayer. This is the third building for Bethel Grove Church so our predecessors have been through this challenge before us. The church remains strong due to its members. The congregation will endure.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9a NIV).

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I'm cleaning out my office. Twenty years worth of stuff fills this 12 foot by 12 foot room. There is a computer desk, a writing desk, several cubby hole storage units, two tall bookcases and one large shorter one, two chairs, a file cabinet, a fireproof safe, and a laundry basket (since my office is across the hall from the laundry). It's a hodgepodge. None of the furniture matches but I don't mind. It's comfortable and everything is right where I know where to find it. But it drives my husband crazy.

As a writer I have a plethora of writing books, dictionaries, thesauruses and reference materials such as a shelf of Bibles and concordances. I kept many of my college textbooks on journalism, English, and public relations so when I was working I'd always have a good source to go to with questions. There is a whole row of cookbooks. There is paper and more paper, and pens and pencils and more pens and pencils. My computer is on one desk and the printer sits atop a storage bin stack. There is a lamp, the weather radio, and an electric pencil sharpener. And there are cards, lots of greeting cards waiting to be sent.

The office is where I write and pay bills and read and sort laundry. I spend most mornings and late afternoons there. There is not a television within sight of my office and that's a good thing. I can accomplish a lot when I'm in my office, in my little filled-to-the-brim office. Mostly I write, on the computer, or at the desk. There is a window that sits above my desk where I pause to look out at the sky and the wind blowing the tree branches.

It's a hodgepodge of my life, this office, and it's getting a make over. I didn't realize just how much stuff I had in here until I started packing things up in boxes. I've run out of boxes already so now I'm making stacks of books. The biggest change has been taking all the pictures and plaques off the walls. It almost echoes in here now. Quite a difference.

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me" (Psalm 51:10-12 NIV).

Monday, November 3, 2014


We are back in Standard time as of 2 a.m. yesterday.  It's always nice to get that extra hour of sleep and now, according to the clock, the sun rises an hour earlier. My body wakes up at the same time as always. That's the luxury of retirement I guess, getting up with an internal clock rather than an alarm. God's blessed us with beautiful sunrises both mornings but they have been sneaky - come and gone as the clouds moved to block the sun. I've always been a morning person until retirement. Now I don't mind sleeping in occasionally, if the internal clock permits.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV).

I accomplish much more if I get up early and start on a project. I like having a plan for what to do. That's one thing I miss from working. My days were always busy when I worked and I usually had a firm schedule to follow that typically went beyond the 40 hour week. Now I set my own "to do" list and can can decide "to don't" if I want to.

"My times are in your hands," (Psalms 31:15a NIV).

Prayer: Lord, be with us and let us cherish the mornings you give us. Guide our bodies and minds to use the gift of time we are granted to bring glory to Your Name. Amen.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Talking heads

Tis the season of political ads. They have been especially prolific on television and some are getting very old and tiresome. Very tiresome. I know some people are muting the political commercials. It does no good to change the channel because nearly every station is carrying the same ones. It's like they follow you around and the talking heads just keep spitting out the nasty messages.

I'm all for the political process and I vote in nearly every election because I cherish our rights to take a stand and count in the decisions being made. I even went so far as to run for a county position back in my younger and less wise days.  There were no television ads to buy, thankfully. My budget wouldn't have supported it and my target audience wasn't watching any one station. I used one-on-one contact by going door to door, attending all the community parades that year of centennials, spoke at many club meetings, and tried a couple of newspaper ads. I lost but gave it a pretty good try.

"I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13 NIV).

My campaign was far different than those running the ads on TV this fall.  I'm not sure I've ever seen such vicious attacks and use of half-truths, exaggerated photos, figures from thin air, and fabricated stories that give such a misleading messages by both sides of the races. It's really sad to see the lengths the candidates have gone to to try to win the election.

I'm hoping the winners are Christians and they can remember the words from Matthew 5:11-12 NIV: "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

What bothers me most is thinking of what good the money they spent on ads could have done if used in another way.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Football Season

I love football. I love a great play - a great pass or a wow of a touchdown. I don't get everything that happens so I ask my son and husband a lot of questions. But I especially love watching my grandson play football.

Calvin (grandson age 14.5) played his last freshman football game on Friday night.  It wasn't a good game to end the season on. They lost significantly. But Calvin played a great game so it was still a fun game for me to watch. It didn't matter to me that they lost. It mattered to Calvin. He was crushed.

A freshman football game isn't like an NFL game where you have television commentators, video replays and commercial time outs. There are volunteers running the line markers with slightly paid coaches, and referees dressed in black and white but with questionable certification, or so it seemed this night in particular.

I don't know if the other team's players were just way better, bigger and faster. I don't know if our coaches just weren't calling the smart plays we needed to win. I don't even know if the referees' calls were slanted to the home team or not. I know our quarterback threw several passes that were way off mark and their team seemed to know our every play. Bummer. And we never knew what they were going to do, it seemed.

So our players were sad and disheartened. They did their best and still lost and next year they play on junior varsity, never getting to erase the loss by a win. These boys will ache for a while then gradually move on to the next sport season and strive for wins there.

Paul reminds us that all things are considered loss compared to what is really important - knowing Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:8-9 NIV: "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ --the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."

Thursday, October 23, 2014


"Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8 NIV).

Today is the only day we have to live. It's the only day we can use now. What you didn't do yesterday can't be changed now. What you want to do tomorrow may not happen. Today is all we have. So, how will you use your today?

I can pray today. I can encourage today. Today can be a beginning or an end. I can communicate today. I can accomplish today. I can meditate today. I can give, today.

"But encourage one another daily, a long as it is called Today" (Hebrews 3:13 NIV).

I can listen today. I can console today. I can be the person God needs me to be today. I can be the face of Jesus to someone today. I can reach out or I can hide away. There is no other like today. We can't relive it or erase it. We can only use today, today.

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Matthew 6:9-13 NIV).

Thank you Lord God for Today.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall Harvest

When I was a child my daddy farmed his land with equipment that would be considered primitive by today's standards. Nevertheless I remember the excitement of harvest season. Sometimes I would get the chance to go along to the field and sit atop a small wagonload of corn or soybeans as it waited to be unloaded in turn. The grain filled my shoes and pockets as I felt its slick surfaces slide through my fingers.

Farmers wait expectantly with patience for the crops to mature. It is a wonderful time of year when farmers finally reap the harvest they sowed months before and cared for all summer long. Fields are filled with crunchy brown crops that are ready for harvest.

"I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest" (John 4:35b NIV).

I love watching the huge machines slowly glide over the crops like a vacuum eating them cleanly off the soil as the heavy cloud of dust hovers over and around the combine. Their silhouettes look like dinosaurs creeping along the horizon or in the dark like UFOs that have suddenly landed with their blinking lights.

The crisp air is heavy with dust as the tractors and wagons carefully follow the huge beasts across the fields, ready with perfect timing to transfer a load and transport it to a waiting semi tractor or nearby bin. It's a far cry from the harvests I experienced as a child. But the blessing of a bountiful harvest is still the same joyous occasion.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Birth Days

I wonder how many people take time to think about their mothers on their birthdays. Today is my husband John's birthday and I'm taking time to think about his mother. There would be no birthday without a birth day and a mother laboring hours for a baby. Thank you, Donna. I'm thankful for your hard work 61 years ago.

"To the woman God said, 'I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you'" (Genesis 3:16 NIV).

John's mother was a lovely and very private person and unfortunately I don't remember any stories she shared about that day. She was a dedicated and loving mother and she had great pride in her children and grandchildren. John was the second born and had a loving big sister who helped lead him through childhood.

Birth days are unforgettable to mothers. The experience is so powerful and the process so painful that the memory seldom fades away, except for the pain part. It's surprising how quickly we forget the pain and move on to delight in the precious life God has given us. Life began on the birth day and it's no wonder we celebrate such a blessed event each year, at least as children and until adulthood. Mothers remember the special days but as adults there comes a point when birthdays don't seem so special any more. Instead they are reminders of growing older. Then around 80 the birthdays become days to celebrate once more!

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1 NIV).

Monday, October 13, 2014

Living in a Cloud

It's a foggy morning and I can only see a portion of what I usually view from my windows. It's like living inside a cloud. I'm so thankful that every day is not like this. Fog encompasses you with its gloom and prevents the sun from coming through. Fog is dangerous to drive in. It makes me very nervous when I can't see at intersections. I roll down my windows and turn off the radio and try to listen hard for approaching traffic. When it is quiet, I venture out to make my turn. Mostly it takes faith to move forward cautiously when you can't see what is around you.

When I'm safely inside I think about how God is like the dense fog. When you seek Him, He is close to you, surrounding you with His presence, sheltering you from the evil that lurks in dark alleys. His voice is quiet but strong; He speaks right in your ear with warm words you understand. His voice is calming and tender, yet bold and straightforward. His arms hug you tightly until you are relaxed and feel greatly loved. That's what it's like to be with God. The world is closed out and you alone are His.

"Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him" (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).

I want to please God with my eager pursuit. I seek Him with faith. I believe in Him. I want to live in the cloud of God where I'm protected from the world and its evil. I want to rest in His loving arms and absorb all that He can teach me.  And mostly, I want to experience His rewards.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Car Wash

It's nice to have a clean car so I went through the car wash the other day. My car was layered with brown mud all around from a few too many trips down a muddy gravel road in recent weeks. It looked terrible and it probably wasn't very safe as the mud covered the taillights. Now it is shiny and clean and I can see out of the windows without looking around the bug spots. I know it won't stay clean for very long but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

The inside of our car stays fairly neat and clutter free but it gets a layer of dust and the floor mats gather mud and rocks or sand. I do a pretty good job of keeping the inside cleaned up so we can pick up our guests without embarrassment. I've found it is easier to take off each layer one at a time, rather than a heavy accumulation, whether it is litter or mud.

Although the following scripture sounds like it's talking about washing dishes, the meaning goes much deeper. Maybe you can apply it to washing cars, too, but Jesus is really talking about the heart.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean" (Matthew 23:25-26 NIV).

Jesus was angry when he said these words to the Pharisees. His time on earth was getting short and he wanted the teachers of the law to see the wrong they were living. His message speaks to us, too. We can become complacent and lazy and forget the ways we are supposed to live. We drive around in dirty cars and honk at someone when instead we should clean up our act and live the life of a true Christian.

Maybe the sight of a car wash can serve as a reminder to clean up our insides first.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Shine Your Light

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house, In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV).

These verses must have inspired the Sunday school song, "This Little Light of Mine." Many of us remember the words to that song and have shared it with our children and grandchildren. "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine." But do we really let our lights shine?

We received a new flashlight last evening. It is a pocket flashlight with an amazingly bright light. Only about three inches long, the flashlight shines a strong beam clear across the room. It's a great way to bring light into the darkness of night, removing the fear of the unknown and making your steps sure and safe.

As believers, Jesus told us we are the light of the world. It is our task to shine our light brightly so it reaches everyone in the room. Let them be touched by the warm glow that shows your love for others, not so we can be admired, but so God can receive the glory. Let your light direct the attention of others to our Father in heaven. "Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I'm easily excited. Monday as I walked to the mailbox I passed under our pin oak tree. I saw something on the ground and looked closer. Baby acorns! Tiny little caps and corns were scattered around the trunk. The body of the acorns are green and the little caps are brown.  As far as I know this is the first year our tree has produced acorns and our resident squirrel is just as excited as I am.

We planted this tree about 10 years ago and have watched it grow and mature a little each year. It's a beautiful picture perfect tree; tall and perfectly proportioned for a pin oak tree. Its leaves are changing colors from green to a deep red and it holds them all winter long. It has endured several strong storms unscathed and has quietly provided a shady area where our sheep like to seek coolness to rest.

I watched the squirrel maneuver the young branches yesterday, gathering acorns as quickly as he could. I would guess there aren't any acorns left on the ground, except for the little caps. He only travels a few yards to his home in the old maple across the lane. Making trip after trip, he's preparing for the winter ahead.

Guess that's a sign that we should be preparing for winter also. Harvest is underway by the farmers and the squirrels. May we pause to view the many wonders of the harvest season and give thanks to God for them all.

"I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him" (Ecclesiastes 3:14 NIV).

Monday, September 29, 2014

Clipping Coupons

I clip coupons. It's a regular routine of mine to read the Sunday newspaper and separate all the coupons pages in a stack. Then I get my scissors and excitedly go through and find the coupons for products I use. I have a coupon envelope that organizes them by areas of the grocery store so it is easy to find what I need. Sometimes I pull out all the coupons I want to use and make a list and go shopping with my coupons. That works best for me to actually get the coupons used.  I also use my grocery list then go through the coupons to find what works for items on my list. Either way I am able to save some money on my groceries.

I love coupons that are dollars off of something! Or the buy one get one free coupon! I really feel like I've saved money when the dollars off add up to several dollars worth on my receipt. I even do the refund or cash back by mail rebates if they are for dollars. You can save a lot of money on products in the drugstore, if you aren't particular about the brand name.  And I love combining the store's sales with a coupon! That's like a double win.

But, to be honest I'm not a great coupon user. I get frustrated that the coupons expire before I get them used, or I can't find the 'new' product in the stores yet, or the brand on the coupon isn't the one the store carries.  I don't like the ones where you have to buy two or three of something either. The 25 cents off coupons are hardly worth the trouble. I get frustrated when the no-name brands are much cheaper than the item with a coupon. The worst though, is when I just plain forget to give the coupons to the clerk. So I've become at best, a part-time coupon user.

I'm really glad that God doesn't require coupons for me to be saved. He made it so simple for us to have a Savior. Jesus Christ hung on a cross to save each one of us once and for all. Grace is the true bargain.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8 NIV).

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fall Colors - God's Masterpiece

I love autumn for its crisp air, its warm and mellow colors and its beautiful sunrises and sunsets, but mostly for the colors of the season. Just last night we started noticing the change of colors of the leaves. The sun shining on the leaves exploded the color right before our eyes. The soybean fields were the first to reflect the changing season, turning from the deep green to the golden color of harvest, prior to turning to the bronzy brown that screams, "I'm ready!" to the farmers.

I imagine God with his palette of paints in each finger, reaching out to touch each leaf, each stalk, each bush, each plant, creating the color burst that changes our landscape into an artist's canvas of color. The burning bush is tipped in red as are the sumac bushes. The mums bloom in happy colors of bronze, yellow, rust, reds and purples.

It's the season when the vegetables and fruits ripen. The concord grapes turn a rich purple. The pumpkins are a beautiful orange. The apple trees begin to burst with apples ranging from a faint yellow to brilliant red as they mature. The beautiful eggplants ripen to a shiny royal purple. The final tomato plants bear their fruits in reds and yellows and the peppers do the same. The nut trees begin to drop their produce to create a layer of brown on the ground.

Enjoy this feast for the eyes; it doesn't last long. Thank you Lord for showing us how beautiful life is.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV).

Monday, September 22, 2014

Being Young

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12 NIV).

Where has this scripture been all my life? Why haven't I noticed it before? What an amazing message for our youth to hear and know! I love what it says. Even though I now feel myself in the 'old' category, I am still younger than some so it applies to me and to you - whatever age you are. It speaks to new Christians and old Christians alike.

"Set an example for other followers by what you say and do, as well as by your love, faith and purity" (1 Timothy 4:12b CEV).

"Be their ideal; let them follow the way you teach and live; be a pattern for them in your love, your faith and your clean thoughts" (1 Timothy 4:12b Living Bible).

We have a responsibility to help lead others to faith through our life, love, faith and purity. What a great reminder the Word has provided to me today through this verse. Share this with every young person you know.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


It's only a few days away. The season will change. Another division of our calendar will occur, separating a period of time. It's a reminder that what is ahead will be different from what was yesterday. The drones of the locusts have been getting louder and deeper. The soybeans are turning golden. An occasional leaf comes drifting by the window. The air is moist and cool. Football is the sport of choice outside. Mums and asters are blooming. The garden's produce is slowing down with the pumpkins bright and orange and squash is firm and ready to store for winter. Autumn is almost here.

The weather is the most obvious variable in the seasons, at least that is true in Iowa. But our weather has been so unusual this past year that I'm not sure we can define our season by the weather on a single day. The season in totality is usually correct, but one day of the season often doesn't equal the definition. In Iowa, fall is usually comfortable sunny days and cool nights.

When autumn arrives we know to prepare for days where shoes and socks feel good and a jacket is a true comfort. The geese begin to fly south in their distinctive "V's", and they honk the warning to others as they pass by. The boxelder bugs and asian beetles or ladybugs begin to hover along the south side of the house, waiting to bask in the warm rays of sun, and sneak their way inside. It is time. Be on alert. Watch for and listen to the signs and be ready.

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage --with great patience and careful instruction, For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear" (2 Timothy 4:2,3 NIV).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Change of View

Sometimes it's good to get a change of scenery as we recently did with our vacation to the Flagstaff, and Sedona, Arizona areas. Surrounded by mountains and scenic views in every direction it was a refreshing break from daily tasks,  John's work and sheep chores.

The red rocks of Sedona were the highlight but we found enchanting views farther south where small towns sport striking skylines of the Mingus Mountains. We saw the town of Jerome, located several miles up a steep mountain where folks have historic buildings that once were alive with copper mining excitement. There are now shops and restaurants that call people to drive for their unique entertainment on the mountain side. Flagstaff showed us forest-lined mountains with the curving roads that wound around them.

We saw contrasts of homes from the very modest to the extravagant. We watched people from all over the world snapping pictures at every angle and bus loads of tourists from Japan purchasing memorabilia of their U.S. travels. We were blessed by the kindness of others. We made new friends we will always cherish, and we visited a great church, alive with the power of God.

As breathtaking as the vacation views were, it will be good to get home where all will be new again. Wishing you a day blessed by a change of view.

"I will sing the Lord's praise, for He has been good to me" (Psalm 13:6 NIV).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Martha's Scolding

There's nothing worse than a sink of dirty dishes to make a kitchen look messy. Thank goodness for dishwashers; we can hide those dirty things away and wash them whenever it is convenient.

I wonder if Martha had dirty dishes in her sink when Jesus came to visit (Luke 10:38-42 and John 11:17-45). Luke tells us that Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Here she was trying to put together a meal for guests and her sister was off chatting with Christ. She had flour to grind and fish to catch and there was Mary listening to Jesus, offering no help at all. I would have been upset, too.

But wouldn't you know that Jesus took Mary's side and suggested that Martha's priorities were all wrong. Who would have thought the story would end like that? Bummer. Wrong again. Martha was trying to do the right thing, being hospitable and all but Jesus wasn't concerned about a meal. He wanted to spend time with his friends, sharing the good news and letting them know what to expect in the future. Martha and Mary both loved Jesus but Martha just let a few dirty dishes get in the way of what was really important.

How easily we are distracted from the right thing, even with automatic dishwashers. There is so much more valuable work we can do to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, yet those dirty dishes get in the way. Maybe it isn't dishes for you; maybe it is a television show or a golf game or a manicure that gets in your way. Jesus understands but he still wants us to get our priorities straight. Good thing to think about this week and every week.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Pitcher Collection

I have a pitcher collection. It's my grandmother Springer's fault. She had a collection of her own when I was a child and I'm quite sure they were 'hands off'. I admired them greatly for their beautiful differences and eventually I received one as an heirloom to treasure. It happened that I also received a pitcher from my maternal grandmother and thus began my collection. Though neither of these original pitchers were blue, I decided to collect blue pitchers. I began with small handmade pottery pitchers and later, when  I could afford it, the pitchers became larger.

There are about 30 pitchers of various sizes, shapes and shades of blue. Most are pottery with painted accents of blue including stars, hearts, circles, sheep, and vines. There is a blue tin coffee pot and a matching set of blue and white pitchers from a dollar store. Some were gifts and some are memorabilia from a place we traveled to. The shame is I don't use them as pitchers. Most sit atop my kitchen cabinets getting washed about twice a year. There are flowers in a few but most sit empty.

I love my pitchers; not so much that I couldn't live without them but they bring me joy because they are unique and pretty.  They are reminders of how blessed I am and I should pause everyday and thank God for filling my life with His blessings, even the blessing of pitchers. What in your house reminds you of God's blessings?

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it" (Malachi 3:10 NIV).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Horse Tails

My father owned many horses and he loved them all. Some were work horses, a team, that he used to pull a wagon before he got his first tractor. For several years he milked cows and delivered milk to customers in Albion, using his team, Kate and Queen. He once drove that team to Clear Lake from Albion for a college boys' vacation.

When I was growing up we had one riding horse Chip, and he was joined by a number of others through the years. Chip was daddy's horse but I never quite figured that out until after a number of incidents happened. My nephew Randy would come out and spend the day and we'd try to ride Chip. Since there was only one horse we would try to ride bareback. Dad would even help us get on Chip and send us on our way. As soon as we were out of his sight Chip would stop and we'd try and try to get him going again. We'd get so frustrated one of us would lead him a ways then we'd try to get back on and go again. He would stop again and refuse to go. At least twice we had led him quite a ways from the barn and gotten on only to be bucked off as Chip went running back to his barn.

Once some neighbor friends rode their horses to our place and I planned to ride back to theirs. Chip would go for awhile with the other horses though it was never an easy ride. It seems like it was a constant battle to keep him moving. I made it to their house two miles away. When I decided to go back home Chip didn't want to go. It was a battle of minds as we made it the first mile. Then we came to our corn field. Chip knew where he was and decided it was time to go home. Fast! He took off between the corn rows through the corn field as fast as he could go. I hung on for dear life. All the while my legs were being sharply slapped by the corn leaves. Eventually we reached the clearing and Chip trotted nicely to the barn.

Chip knew I wasn't his owner. He didn't know my voice and he wasn't going to obey anything I had to say. I think that's the way daddy wanted it. Daddy rode Chip in many parades and herded cattle with him, never with a problem.

We need to be like Chip, following only one; the Shepherd. "The sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out...they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice" (John 10:3-5 NIV).

Monday, September 1, 2014

Important Work

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody" (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV).

Paul is one of the few authors who addresses the topic of work in the Bible. He realizes that most people must work for a living in addition to living out the ways of a Christian. He stresses the importance of being self-supporting and encourages us to work at something that earns the respect of others. I don't believe he means a high-paying job or one in the spotlight but instead he is encouraging us to work at a job that brings us happiness and satisfaction.

A job needs to be one you are excited about getting out of bed to do every day. It makes you happy to go to work and you enjoy what you do whether it is working as a babysitter, a homemaker, machine operator or directing a big company. If you are fortunate your job utilizes your God-given talents and you are able to work with people you enjoy. That would be the ideal situation.

But, what if you have a job that just pays the bills and doesn't provide all that's good about working? These days you are lucky to have a job and not everyone can be choosy. In those situations I'd suggest making the most of your hours there and work with a positive attitude. We can't always be in the ideal situation but we can do a job faithfully and with a loving heart toward those we work with. Be the one with a smile and a kind word; the one who does the job well and works hard, using work time efficiently. The one who God would say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rainy Days

We've had a string of rainy days. The kind I like, a few hours of rain and sunny the rest of the day. I love the fragrance of rain, so fresh, so life-filled, and cool. The trees and bushes are happy today as they stretch their branches to gratefully accept this plentiful gift.

Earlier this summer I got caught in an all-day rain storm. Not the kind I like. I was on an outing and didn't have much choice about getting in and out of the rain. The rain was falling from buckets it seemed and there weren't many breaks to take advantage of. So I braced myself and used my little umbrella to keep the rain out of my eyes and trudged through the puddles and waterways. My jeans were soon soaked and my sandal-footed feet grew wrinkly. Before long it didn't matter that it was raining; I was already wet. Though it was less than comfortable I wasn't in pain or too cold.

Sometimes it is okay to be uncomfortable. It stretches us and makes us grow when we try new situations. We learn new things and have valuable experiences. After walking through the downpours it didn't seem like a problem to walk through a little rain shower.  I was acclimated to my surroundings.

Life offers us many challenges similar to rainy days. I could have chosen to stay in the car and miss all the sights and fun that happened on that downpour day.  I could stay inside and not risk getting my hair wet. But I think God wants us to enjoy His rain sometimes. He promised us He would never flood the whole earth again and we have the rainbow as a covenant.

"And God said, This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come. I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember" (Genesis 9:12-16 NIV).

The raindrops are bigger and falling faster now as I write this, but I'm confident that God will bring us a rainbow again to enjoy. I'm not afraid of getting wet anymore. God will see me through, whatever the challenge.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Hairy Story

"And even the very hairs of our head are all numbered" (Matthew 10:30 NIV).

One thing that happened before each new school year was a haircut and perhaps another occurred before school pictures. I was born with fine, straight hair. There is no curl whatsoever. Not even a thought of a wave. What I have now is all fake from a perm. I realized as an adult I needed to give my poor head of hair a boost of volume using a perm for body and curl.

Mother tried to give me curls. There were home permanents that did strange things to my hair, but mostly she just settled on keeping it short in a pageboy type style with bangs (or fringe as my hairstyling friend corrects me). By the school pictures I can tell she tried rollers and pin curls sometimes. By the time I got to junior high and high school she gave up and let me do whatever I wanted which wasn't much.  Long and straight was the style in the 70s so of course that's what I did. One school picture shows a terrible problem with oil, common in teenage hair. After that one disastrous photo I seemed to do a better job of keeping it clean. Most likely mother pleaded with me to wash it again and I refused; I don't remember.

I do remember another hair disaster in my early teen years, though. I was in seventh grade and I had a small part in the class play. On the second night, a Saturday, I needed to wash my hair and we were out of cream rinse so daddy took me to the tiny grocery store in Clemons, IA to buy some. The only choice was Alberto VO5 Conditioning Hair Cream. I'd never used anything like it before and I clearly didn't read the directions or listen to anyone's advice. I took a palm full of the cream and put it on my freshly washed hair on Saturday afternoon. Then I proceeded to wash and wash and wash my hair to try and get it out. Time ran out and I ended up with plastered down hair that I finally had to pull back into a ponytail because it was so greasy. I remember feeling humiliated on stage and as my friends asked what I did to my hair. Ah, the value of life experiences.

The worst hair story I have was before my sister's wedding. Everyone got to go to a salon and have their hair done for the wedding. I was a teenager and I didn't want my hair done. I carried on terribly about it but ended up having to go. Only to come home and cry about my hair looking terrible and proceeding to comb it out and maybe wash it so it looked quite terrible for the wedding. I'm still ashamed about how I acted.

God knows every hair on our heads. Even the gray ones that have a mind of their own and the thousands that fall out every day leaving thinning on the scalp. God cares, not about the style, the color, or the cut. He knows each hair because it is yours and a part of who you are - His creation.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

School Days

School has started for most children this fall and I can't help but reflect on the days I started back to school. I remember being anxious and excited at the same time. One year I moved and started school in the middle of the year, in kindergarten. I was very shy and nervous that day but a lovely little girl took me by the hand and became my first friend there. I still remember her standing by me and calming my worries.

Another year I had gotten a cute new wool skirt and sweater set and I wanted to wear it on the first day of school. Mother tried to talk me out of it but I wore it and it was a typical hot September day, I finally understood why I shouldn't wear wool on the first day of school...ugh.

I remember being so excited to get the new textbooks. I wanted to dig in and read the whole book right away. It was a joyful time to be a student. I attended school before the days of backpacks. What on earth did we do without them? Was it because the school supplied most of our paper and pencils? I don't remember having a lot to carry back in my younger school days.

Then, there was the ride on the school bus. Luckily I had the same bus drivers for many years and they were the best. It was always interesting to see who was on my bus route, old friends, or new kids on the miles. Sometimes we had assigned seats but most often we were allowed to sit anywhere as long as we didn't cause trouble. School bus drivers deserve rewards for taking on such a challenging job.

My favorite first days of school came much later in my life, when I returned to attend college as a 40-year-old. It became pure excitement to learn in each new class and for once I had self-confidence in my abilities to learn. What a joy it is to learn. We must never forget that.

"For attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young--let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance" (Proverbs 1:2-5 NIV).

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Jobs

Summer was a great time to earn a little money to help with school clothes and shoes and the most obvious task was babysitting the neighbor kids. I did quite a bit of this when I was preteen age but as I grew older I was eager for more money and willing to work for it.

Walking beans was a job I did for daddy at first and then later I walked for the sharecropper who farmed our land. He paid really well and believe it or not I was excited to get up before dawn and brave the cold and wet beans to earn a paycheck. We usually worked at least until noon or when the field was clean. It was plenty warm and dry by the time we finished. Unfortunately there were only so many beans and the job ended too soon in the summer.

When I was 14 or 15, I had the opportunity to clean house for a shut-in lady who became a good friend. I would clean her house every other weekend. I learned responsibility and how to take pride in my work. It always felt good to complete the job well and to her pleasing. This job led to another cleaning job for a woman who just came home from the hospital. I was her caregiver and cleaned her house and then spent time helping prepare meals and helping her around the house. She taught me to cook salmon, something I'd never seen before. She was quite a talker so I learned a lot about life by assisting her for a  few days a week for several weeks. Surprisingly, my parents trusted me to drive to these ladies homes before I had my license. It was just a few miles away and I usually stayed on the gravel roads and never had an incident.

These little jobs taught me responsibility to others and prepared me to take a 'real' job at a book store when I was in high school. God uses even little things like walking beans and cleaning house to mold us into the person he wants us to be.

"He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6 NIV).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Swimming Lessons

When I grew up, many decades ago, one summer tradition was swimming lessons. The Red Cross sponsored swimming lessons for all the area schools and the school sponsored the school bus to take learners to and from. My memory isn't very good but I do recall feeling frightened and anxious. These were days before my school had an indoor pool and there weren't any "aquatic centers" yet. Marshalltown had the only pools I was aware of and my lessons were at the Riverview Park pool that's been gone for many years.

The instructors were all young confident swimmers and I admired them for their cool talent. Since pools were rare and busy it seems our swimming lessons were early in the morning while it was still very chilly outside. I remember not liking to get into the cool water but once I was in, the water was warmer than the air so I'd huddle down with only my head exposed. I believe by the time I got home it was usually nice and warm but the shivering and chattering teeth lasted several hours.

For a country girl to take swimming lessons was quite a special treat. Usually my summers were lonely without many chances to see friends from school. I had a good friend I saw at church and spent time with, and occasionally I'd enjoy a visit to a girlfriend's house. I spent most of the summer playing by myself. I loved to play house or school outside in a shed or off in a dry creek bed where the tree roots created rooms to play in. I'd go to the dump on our farm, left by the previous owners, and find all sorts of fun stuff to play with: broken cups, bottles, old pans and more. I had a great time.

The creek was the next best summer play spot. We would go wading on a hot day and cool down. Exploring the creek bed for treasures, pretty stones and drift wood that would make its way back to the house to show mom and dad. We learned that leeches lived in the shady areas of the creek. It's a wonder we didn't get hurt more often. Only rarely was the creek deep enough to swim in, so the swimming lessons were a probably a good idea, just in case.

"He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers" (Psalm 1:3 NIV).

Monday, August 11, 2014

What I learned at the Iowa State Fair

Watch your step.
Working with animals builds character.
Farms are learning grounds for life.
Be patient; it's worth the wait.
Get a bird's eye view on the Sky Glider.
Don't wear flip flops to do chores.
Wait your turn.
Fair animals are treated like humans - bathed, brushed, blown dry, fan on the face...
The cleanest bathrooms are the least used.
Everyone in Iowa is a photographer or wants to be one.
If you strive for a purple, be proud of what you get.
On a hot day head for Ye Old Mill.
Big isn't always better but it's sure impressive: Big Bull, Big Boar, Big Ram, Big Horse, Big Pumpkin...
If you climb high you get a reward on the big slide.
Seek air conditioning when it's hot.
Everyday offers something new.
Don't ride the Ferris Wheel after eating a butterscotch shake.
Hold hands with the ones you love.
4H's are: head, heart, hands and health.
Ice cream comes from cool cows.
Not all cows are made of butter.
Wash your hands after you throw a cow chip.
Use a free bag for all your fair stuff.
The governor has a steer show.
Purple pays a premium, but so do blue, red and white.
There's nothing better than being an Iowa State Fair Champion.
Iowans are proud to live on Century Farms.
Find your honey in the Agriculture Building.
Farmers, faith, family and fairs go together
Anything can come on a stick.

"Thus you will walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will live in the land and the blameless will remain in it" (Proverbs 2:20-21 NIV).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Iowa State Fair

As the song goes, "The Iowa State Fair is a great state fair" and it is now a summer tradition for our family. As a child I remember going down early on a Sunday morning and arriving while it was very cool and moist outside. We'd always seem to park near the big barn on a very steep hillside (back in the day you could still park on the grounds). We'd head to the church service and attend there before exploring the rest of the Fair.

Daddy would sit in on a horse show and Mama loved the food and textile judging or she would seek out the 4-H demonstrations and exhibits. They both enjoyed a trip through the Varied Industries building, checking out the new machinery, and tasting some Fair food along the way. We'd always explore the livestock buildings being sure to include the horse barn, the sheep barn, and the cow barn. A look at the dairy cows usually resulted in an ice cream cone. Our visit included a trip back to the car for a picnic lunch and my favorite treat of all - a ride in Ye Old Mill. That was as close to the Midway we got.

During later years we would stop at one of the church food stands along livestock alley and find a shady place to sit and listen to music or watch the Bill Riley Talent Search. There would be a small bag of taffy and cotton candy to take home and a stop for lemonade or root beer during our day trip. I'd sit in with daddy at the horse show and he'd usually treat me with popcorn or a Frosty Malt so I'd sit still a little longer.

The State Fair was our vacation. Daddy was a farmer and that meant chores morning and night so we never took a real 'vacation'. The Iowa State Fair was a special day trip for the whole family and created great memories for us all.

"He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how an he take are of God's church?)" 
(1 Timothy 3:4-5 NIV).

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mama's Canning Time

One rewarding aspect of summer was canning time. When the bountiful garden overproduced the need for a meal and the plenty could be stored away for a winter treat. I've done my share of canning over the years when we've had a large productive garden but my mother topped anything I've ever done.

During her healthier days she would reap produce by the bushel basket full: peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, okra, potatoes, onions, carrots, sweet corn, turnips, broccoli, zucchini, and more. She had a king size upright freezer, more like a commercial brand. I've never seen another one like it. She would fill the shelves with mounds of vegetables and neatly stacked boxes that were ready for a winter's day meal.

She would spend hours preparing homemade catsup and fill up saved bottles and store them in the freezer. There were pots of pungent pickles that would brew to fill the awaiting sterilized jars. Lime pickles, dill pickles, vegetable relish, green tomato mincemeat, cherry olives, pickled okra, and picked beets. She had the most beautiful relish trays, all from the jars she stored in the cool, dark basement.

There were jars of tomato juice, tomato sauce, and tomatoes ready for any recipe. And when the concord grapes ripened there were jars of grape juice, grape pulp, and jams and jellies. Those joined the rhubarb, raspberry (black and red) and strawberry jams. There would be bags of chopped peppers and onions in the freezer that were time savers and boxes of berries ready for a special dessert.

Somehow she always seemed to be the recipient of bags of apples, someone else's surplus and she would make amazing applesauce with the peel left on, and containers of apple pie filling. She used her time so wisely and always had something in store for a delicious meal or to make a delightful treat as a gift for someone else.

Mama lived through the depression era and never ever wasted anything. She was a wife of noble character, a Proverbs 31 woman who earned her reward at the heavenly gates.

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies...She gets up while it is still dark; and provides food for her family...she opens her arms for the poor and extends her hands to the needy...when it snows, she has no fear for her household... " Proverbs 31 NIV.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer Camp

Each summer of my pre-teen and early teen years I attended church camp in several different locations. The experience was similar at each one. I was a shy little girl so attending camp where I didn't know anyone else was really a stretch for me, yet I went back several times. Now I realize how important those camps were to my faith life. They gave me a place to practice sharing my faith with others and to learn from watching others share theirs.

There were the usual craft times, songs around the campfires, caring counselors, swimming, sunburn and mosquito bites. I think church camp was where I discovered my love of nature and where I learned that worship in nature came so easily. The peacefulness of God's surroundings made it easy to talk to God and sometimes hear His response. The beauty all around sparks a desire to praise God with all my heart.

Church camp taught me to fellowship with others, to laugh and cry together, to share heart to heart. I found acceptance even though I was a timid, gangly teenager. I discovered that God loved me too, just as I was. I learned to search the Bible for answers and direction and to turn to it often. The counselors became mentors for that week and when I returned home I was a different girl because of the acceptance I received and the new friends I made. For months afterward I would exchange letters to the one or two special friends I connected closely with. Sometimes we even met again the following year.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned at church camp was how to encourage others and to be encouraged in faith. It's a valuable tool I still need to remember.

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25 NIV).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Focus on Today

It's a new week and almost a new month, and if you're one to really look ahead, it's almost a new year. Slow down. Today is enough to concern yourself with. Today alone needs to be my focus. How many times have you spent time planning for something that didn't happen? I'm not a big worrier anymore but I do like to plan ahead, but my nature of procrastination makes me a better last minute planner.

As a writer I've found I do my most efficient work when on deadline. If I try to work ahead too far, I come up empty of ideas. It seems the closer the deadline, the better I think. Whether it is procrastination or not, I find that when I'm most dependent on God - as in desperate need of an idea - that's when God gives me the words or thoughts I need.

That's what God wants us to be - dependent on Him every moment. I liked how "Jesus Calling" talked about being too much of a planner. "All that planning ties you up in knots and distracts you from Me." (July 26, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young). Jesus gives us what we need, when we need it; "the now and the next".

This weekend we lost a very dear friend suddenly and the shock hasn't worn off yet. It made me realize just how important it is to focus on today and Jesus. He guides our day and that's all we have - today. Walk with Him hand in hand today and you'll be where you need to be especially if He calls you home. I know my friend was there and that's where I want to be, too.

"What do we gain by all of our hard work? I have seen what difficult things God demands of us. God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future. I know the best thing we can do is to always enjoy life, because God's gift to us is the happiness we get from our food and drink and from the work we do" (Ecclesiastes 3: 9-13 CEV).

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sounds of Summer

One of my favorite things about summer is the chance to have the windows open, letting in the fresh breeze that gently floats the curtains out and back. I hate it when it gets too hot and the air conditioning must come on and the windows must close. Fortunately we've had several days, like today, that are perfect to enjoy the sounds of summer through the open windows.

When we first looked at this acreage it was a spring morning. We got out of the car and stood in awe of the chorus of birds that surrounded us. Our trees have grown, making more homes for the birds and everyday we enjoy their manifesto in tune. There are busy chatters, rhythmic patterns that repeat and repeat, and the occasional urgent warning call of "someone is getting too close to my nest". The trill that seems to demand attention and the short melody that expresses joy. The house wren has a light twitter that's high and throaty. The cardinals have an identifiable tone that makes me rush quietly toward the window to catch a peek of their brilliant color. While the bluejays' sharp caw, caw, caw warns the other birds to get out of the way, he's moving in.

The feeders attract a variety of birds and they all sing in happy voices while they help themselves to the goodies. I watch birds but I'm not a real birdwatcher so I don't know the voices of all the different birds and it's even a challenge to find the words to describe what I hear. There are other noises during the summer time that catch my attention, too.

On our sheep farm there is always the baa of someone but you'd be surprised how quiet they are once they've been fed. It's at feeding time they make the most ruckus. They see the shepherd coming and all baaing breaks loose. During the day it's usually the lonely bass baaing of the young ram, or a single ewe who can't find the gate to come through so she can join the rest of the flock that has retreated to the barn.

This time of year the yellow airplane buzzes back and forth, up and down as it takes target over the area corn fields, releasing its spray. The train whistle warns as it approaches the road crossings, I can count Knapp, Jessup, and Ingram as the train moves west and out of hearing range. There is the occasional rumble of the trucks that get too close to the edge of the highway. And of course the barking of our guard dog when a delivery truck comes up the lane. I love the sound of the children next door when in the middle of the afternoon it is swimming time. Their screams and laughter make me wish I could join them.

"Let me hear joy and gladness;" (Psalm 51:8a NIV).

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Well-Watered Garden

The spring rains have been wonderful for the gardens this year. The plants have become lush and green and are beginning to reap bountiful produce. It's such a blessing when the fruit begins to grow on the plant and your mouth begins to water as you await the first taste of fresh green beans, that red tomato, or juicy sweet corn. Oh, my. There is nothing better than garden produce.

I grew up helping in the garden and a big garden it was. Though I'm sure I grumbled at the work when I was young, I grew to love getting my hands into the rich, dark soil. Watching the seeds pop through cracks and burst forth with eager strength to reach toward the warm sunshine. Then the blooms would appear and we knew the fruit was soon to follow. There were weeds to pull and rows to hoe as we waited patiently, or not.

Finally the tiny fruits would appear on the plants, then they filled out and harvesting began. Using a big bowl or a long shirttail, I'd finger through the leaves and select the ripe produce, harvesting it at the perfect time. What fun looking for the beautifully formed and neatly placed fruit, located along the stems or in a row under ground, each bloom turned into a vitamin-packed vegetable. Then the reward... the meals that came from the harvest.

"The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail" (Isaiah 58:11 NIV).

How I wish to be like a well-watered garden, never parched or longing for a drink; always fruitful and giving. With the Lord's help I can be that productive garden, well-watered and yielding a surplus of bounty. He will guide me always and satisfy my needs and strengthen my frame. What a blessing.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fresh Hay

Growing up on a farm I grew to love the fragrance of fresh cut alfalfa hay. In contrast to the smell of a freshly mown lawn, hay has a bold, musky odor that permeates the surrounding air. It's a mixture of alfalfa blooms and pungent cut and crushed leaves and stalks. It instantly takes me back to younger years when I rode along with my dad as he baled or when I was old enough to help out by stacking the rack or driving the tractor and baler, or unloading into the barn.

It takes a lot of things to go right in order to get a crop of hay - from the preparation of the land, to the seeding, germination and growth, to winter over till spring, then grow again with plentiful rains, then a stretch of dry weather for several days so the hay can be cut and conditioned, raked into windrows then baled. (Usually the hottest days of the year.) Then the physical labor begins as the small rectangular bales are spit out of the baler, one by one, onto a waiting hay wagon where they are stacked, bale upon bale till the wagon is full. The heavy green bales then move to the final resting area in a barn where again they are stacked and stored for feeding the animals when no grass is green in the pastures.

I remember the feelings of that intense summer sun, and the hay baler's rash - located on any bare arms or legs and created by the sharp cut ends of alfalfa and an occasional prickly thistle or sharp pointy sand burr. I remember the unquenchable thirst when your body is overheated and screaming for a cool breeze or a rest in the shade. Still there was that wonderful feeling of accomplishment when the barn was full, and the confident knowledge that a store house of food for the animals was ready.

When I watch the sheep in the winter, as they frantically pick the individual leaves and stems from the flake of hay, it's easy to see how thankful they are for all the summer's hard work that put those bales from the farm field into the barn on the hottest day of the year.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9 NIV).

Monday, July 14, 2014

Working Toward the Grand Prize

I know not everyone raises show sheep so this blog may be one you skip, but it is the apex of our showing season and I am consumed by sheep and shows. This week is county fair for our grandson and all-consumed father and grandfather. I just take pictures and marvel at how a judge can tell the sheep apart and select a winner.

Back in January the lambs were wobble-legged with long wavy tails and dark curly wool. They learned to find the source of nutrition (their mamas) and to stay back when mama goes to lie down. They watched mama eat hay so they began to nibble on hay and one day they found a trough of tiny pellets to chew on. They also were joined by playmates of all different sizes and mamas, lots of big mamas.

The way we learn isn't so different from sheep really. It is trial and error and hopefully enough successes to keep us healthy and growing strong. It's that way in our faith, as well. We are bottle fed the Word in Sunday School, children's books, and words of our parents and pastors. It begins to form us into humans who care about other people and we begin to learn about having a relationship with Christ. We stumble and fall some and we grow stronger and wiser.

"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good" (I Peter 2:2 NIV).

The show sheep have learned to walk with a halter, hold their heads up high in a sheep stand, walk in circles on the merry-go-round, and keep pace on the treadmill (yes, a sheep treadmill). They are hand fed appropriate amounts of feed to establish the perfect silhouette and exercised to achieve appropriate muscling. Wish someone would do that for me!

Actually the Holy Spirit does that for us if we look to Him for guidance and help. By seeking His Word and studying the life of Christ we are given the opportunity to become more like Him. Each day we can choose to do what Jesus would do, to pray to Him and to listen, and one day we will look into His eyes, face to face, and be awarded the grand champion prize.

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Another year older

Another year older and creeping ever so close to another big "0".  My hair is a little grayer and my body a lot pudgier. I have aches and pains that slow me down but I'm blessed to be healthy and happy, so it's a good day.

I should be questioning my mind this week after two incidents of wrong day, wrong place. Twice I've shown up a day early for something and discovered the error. Oh well, I'm retired so it didn't create a major problem. Today it was just a nice hour's drive that I didn't need to make until tomorrow.  It helped me pause and appreciate how beautiful the day is. The air is so refreshing and cool and the birds are singing. The sky is blue with soft puffy clouds moving gently in the breeze. God has blessed us with another lovely summer day.

Mama used to enjoy telling the story of the day I was born. Iowa was in the middle of a heat wave and she was ready to deliver any time, so the doctor put her in the air conditioned hospital to wait. She was delighted to be in cool comfort. There was no air conditioning at home. I was born on a Sunday morning so my birth was announced at church by my proud (or relieved) grandmother.

How blessed I am to have come through years of turmoil to reach this stage in my life. Truly, God redeemed my life from the pit of depression and has crowned it with love and compassion. Being a grandmother is the greatest experience of all time. Life is filled with ebbs and flows that carry us along in the ocean of purpose, crafted by God's hands.

Thank you to all who wished me well on this day. Truly you are part of the good things I desire.

"Praise the Lord, O my soul, All my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's (Psalm 103:1-5 NIV).

Monday, July 7, 2014

Laundry Day

Back in pioneer days Monday was always laundry day and Tuesday was ironing day.  Now it seems everyday is laundry day. Our laundry rooms are equipped with a dryer so we can toss in a load without considering if the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. This morning I started the week with mounds of dirty clothes from the long weekend. What a meaningless task laundry is! I'll spend all day washing, drying, sorting, folding, and putting away, and maybe even ironing some, then turn around and do the same thing tomorrow.

The Lord sent me to Ecclesiastes 1 today to discover some of Solomon's wisdom. It is a perfect fit (of course) for my day. Solomon, a wise and wealthy king, is found grumbling about the emptiness of worldly tasks and treasures. Instead, Solomon discovered that the only meaningful activities are those that are done with pursuit of God. Everything we say, think and do needs to be done with God in mind.

It didn't take much convincing for Solomon to get the message through to me; laundry done for laundry's sake is worthless and meaningless. But, laundry done for God's sake is rewarding and meaningful. No, God isn't going to wear the clean T-shirts and jeans but John will and though he probably won't say anything, he will appreciate wearing fresh smelling clothes.

Solomon asks the same questions we ask as he evaluates his purpose and direction for life. Am I fulfilling God's will for my life? What is my purpose? Why does my life seem to feel so frivolous? What good am I? For two chapters Solomon debates the uselessness of everything until he finally shares his observations in the familiar verses of Ecclesiastes 3.

"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven:..." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV). Solomon concludes that when we can find satisfaction in all our work -- this is the gift of God.
"So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot (Ecclesiastes 3:22 NIV).

As you go about your routine chores today, may God remind you that your life is a gift and all that you do can be a gift to God - if you just remember Him as you do it -- even laundry.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Let the Nations Praise Him!

Flags and fireworks, picnics and watermelon; the elements of Independence Day on the 4th of July. We're so fortunate to celebrate our freedoms on this day established by our forefathers. It is so easy to forget the celebration and take these freedoms for granted but this year can be different. Though it's a summer holiday that is made for delightful times with family, the flag waves overhead for a serious reasons.

I'm not from a family of soldiers but I have the greatest respect for our service men and women who give up their lives and their time with family to keep us safe and free. Thank you to all of you who served your country so unselfishly.

Our country once was the greatest in the world and in many ways it still is, but we've lost touch with what gave us the greatness, our faith in God. Our founding fathers were filled with faith when they established the Declaration of Independence and this country. Together these patriots from varied heritage gathered and formed a land with rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The Declaration of Independence spoke openly about God, as the Creator, the Supreme Judge of the world and the Divine Providence whose protection was relied on. And that has not changed. God is still our Creator, the Supreme Judge and our Divine Providence.

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord (Psalm 117 NIV).

Monday, June 30, 2014

Storm watching

Iowa has been in the midst of its monsoon season for a couple of weeks, it seems. It came with black skies, thunderous echoing and sharp strikes of lightning. The weather radio signals have become commonplace and the weatherman saves us from the summer reruns. We're warned to remain alert for rapidly changing weather conditions. The evenings of strong winds, hail knocking on the sky lights and rain-swollen creeks remind us God is in control.

Last night our prayers were focused on areas north of us as a strong cell moved across the countryside. All you can do is take shelter and pray, for God's power is so much greater than our own. How often do we struggle on our own, trying to fix a situation or use our own strength to make a change? Yet the power we need is only a prayer away.

Once we moved out of a mobile home, my family began to anticipate the big storm with excitement. I remember the boys telling of standing at our big windows watching trees bend and fall all around the house, while John and I were away at work. I obviously didn't do my mothering job very well when it came to safety plans. The basement, boys, go to the basement!

We've been so fortunate to have escaped the real devastation of an Iowa tornado but we have experienced the force of straight line winds. Either way I'm thankful that God has the power to bring good from the most destructive elements of nature. And I'm thankful I have my God to call out to in all the storms of life.

"My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power."
(1 Corinthians 2:4-5 NIV).

Thursday, June 26, 2014

New Beginnings

Welcome to my blog. This is a work in progress as I begin to gather and post collections of my writing to share with others.

Since childhood I wanted to be a writer and the dream came true when I was hired by my hometown weekly newspaper in 1990. I was fortunate to have a caring boss who mentored me for several years as I learned the ins and outs of news media and writing in a small town. By year five the learning bug bit hard and I enrolled in the local community college taking all the English and media related courses possible, plus the requirements I needed for an Associates in Arts degree.

I soon gave up my newspaper job and focused on my education. Earning my AA degree in Dec. 1996 and my BA degree in Dec. 1998 with a major in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in English. Fortunately, I was hired as a supervisor of media relations at Iowa Valley Community College District where I worked for 12 years.

My passion is for sharing stories that strengthen the reader's faith or encourage exploring his or her spiritual or emotional journey in life. I write inspirational non fiction in several formats and hope to bless you with a tidbit of positivity when I share a blog.

Thanks for reading and if by chance something touches your heart I would truly appreciate hearing from you. Thanks for joining me on this journey.