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.