Thursday, June 29, 2017

Quenching My Thirst

Wednesdays are my house plant watering day. I have five plants scattered around the house, bringing me joy whenever I see them. One is in the kitchen, two are in my laundry room near a north window, and two are in my office. Sitting on my desk is a prayer plant (not sure what its official name is). By Tuesday evening it looks like the last flower of summer, limp and slumped, like my curled bangs on a hot humid day.

"I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint," (Psalms 22:14 NIV).

I know that feeling. Sometimes I feel like that wilted plant. I'm tired, without ambition and melancholy about life. My body aches and all I want to do is lie down. Just like my plants I need refreshment. Sometimes I give in to my laziness but I know what helps me revive, so I turn to the Scriptures to gain a new perspective and a new attitude.

"He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth," (Psalm 72:6 NIV).

Yesterday was one of those melancholy days. My back was really hurting and I was in the dumps about having to wait for insurance approval before moving forward with a pain relief treatment. I wasn't sure if I could handle walking my four mile path but I wanted to. So I headed out the door, telling myself I could take the shorter trail if I hurt too much. I reached the shortcut road and kept going. If I reached the halfway point I'd have no choice but to keep walking home. The last half mile is up a gradual hill and it was getting really hot, but I kept walking and made it home.

I'm always amazed at the natural beauty that God puts on my path, even in this city environment. Ankeny seems to be big on natural plantings and putting in ponds. Both draw in birds and butterflies and create beauty. Nature distracts me from the pain and helps me focus on God. His voice begins to ground out my inner moaning and replace it with joy.

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness," (Colossians 2:6 NIV).

Thank you, Jesus, for your thirst-quenching presence in our lives. Amen.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Blog Number 300

If you noticed that I didn't blog on Thursday, you should win a prize. It's been a stressful week with a "fishing scam" attack on my computer, several days without it, and the hassle of changing passwords and reinstalling all the programs. So it meant the delay of Gloria's Glimpses Blog Number 300. That really doesn't seem like a very big deal. It amounts to approximately 255 pages and 109,983 words over three years. I'd hate to admit how much time went into each blog. I'm amazed that a person can actually write a complete book in a month or even less!

My goal in writing this blog has never been to use as many words as possible or to see how fast I can fill the page. Instead, I hope to create a piece of inspirational work that touches a heart with the love of Jesus. I hope that you, the reader, receive a bite of deliciousness to savor throughout the day; that you will be wrapped in the arms of Jesus when you return to your daily tasks. I'm sure I've missed the mark many times. I cannot hope that every blog will touch every reader but I do hope you can at least occasionally connect with a message or find a scripture that truly speaks to your heart.

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps," (Proverbs 16:9 NIV).

Every day I am amazed in what God brings to mind, how He directs me to scripture, to a memory, or to a new concept in His Word that evolves into a devotional message. He knows what you need to hear today and God will make it happen through someone. I'm so blessed that sometimes God chooses me as a tool that reaches out to repair a broken notion, uplift a sad heart, or encourage a spectacular idea in someone else.

Lord, show me Your will and Your way for all that I do today. Lead me in Your service to others and fill my mind with Your good Word. Amen.

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed," (Proverbs 16:3 NIV).

Monday, June 19, 2017

Postlude For Fathers

How was your Father's Day? Did you enjoy celebrating the fathers in your life? I know one family that had the ultimate celebration: the birth of a baby on Father's Day! Congratulations to one excited new Dad!

We didn't do much in the way of a celebration this year, though we did enjoy our neighbors' fireworks Saturday night with Brady's family. Yesterday we worshipped then spent the rest of the day at sheep shows in Ames. I've watched my husband through 43 years of fatherhood and now I also get to see my boys being fathers. It warms my heart to watch as they all love their children through the good and the not so good.

I have an empty place in my heart that still grieves for my Daddy. He has been gone 11 years and I still long to feel his warm farmer arms around me. I was so blessed to be fathered by such a kind and gentle man. I miss his voice, his laughter, his farm boots with red shoe strings, the fluffy hair on his arms, the softball shaped muscles in his arms, his always slicked back hair, and his tendency to be late and drive too fast on the gravel roads, especially over Mormon Ridge road on the way to church. (My stomach still does a flip-flop just thinking about it).

For many years my Daddy volunteered at the Iowa Veterans Home by leading a Thursday afternoon worship service. He and a volunteer pianist would lead the singing of favorite old hymns and Daddy would give a well-researched message based on scripture he had chosen for the day. I wish I had taken time to read his sermons. I don't know what happened to those notes now.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going" (John 14:1-4 NIV).

I am so thankful that I have a heavenly Father who remains with me in my grief and comforts me and guides me in my Daddy's absence. Every believer can share this heaven-to-earth relationship thanks to the sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you, Jesus!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I'm Praying For You

Yes, you, the reader of my blog.

I am praying for YOU.

At the Cedar Falls Christian Writers' Workshop I attended last week one of the big take-home ideas I received from our speakers was, "Pray for your reader." Wow. That concept was such a great reminder of why I write this blog. I want to offer some tiny morsel of a blessing that lifts your spirits, causes you to smile, or gives you a new perspective for the rest of your day.

So, now I will make a point to pray for you before I start writing. I pray that God will use what I write to touch you in your place of need or hurt or desire and that He will lift you up with His presence and hold you until you can smile.

God is so good! I don't even have to worry about your individual pains or problems, for God knows you well enough to direct my thoughts, even a single word, so that it speaks of His greatness and love to each of you. It is God you need, not me or my blog. I'm just a tool that God will use to draw you closer to Himself.

Paul shows me an example of this kind of prayer as he wrote in the book of Colossians to the church of Colosse and believers everywhere (that includes you and me):

"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins," (Colossians 1:9-13 NIV).

May your day be blessed with spiritual wisdom and understanding as you serve Him in all that you do today. Amen.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Our Sun and Shield

It is apparent that Iowa's summer is beginning a little early this year. With 100 degrees predicted this week, the sun is at its peak power overhead, even though the official arrival of summer is over a week away. It is time to get out the sun screen, locate the nearest swimming pool and dive in.

I've watched as the culminating heat has turned the area's grass from green to brown and the potted plants turn limp and wither as the morning light becomes intrepid. Only a cool shower from the garden hose or the blessing of afternoon shade will revive them and keep them alive.

The sun is necessary for life on Earth. Yet, too much sun can destroy life. We also need the shade to shelter us from harm. Only God can be both the sun and the shield.

"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless," (Psalm 84: 10-11 NIV).

Although a "blameless walk" seems impossible to my sinful self, I know that God will see my efforts toward good and forgive my sins when I repent and kneel before Him.

Today, as you seek shelter from the hot sun; be it a shadow, air conditioning, or a cool pool, remember it is God's shield that protects you from all harm.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

True Inspiration

What inspires you most in life?

It might depend on which area of life you need inspiration. There may be many different ways you are inspired. You may be inspired to do different things.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines inspiration as "Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity." Inspire is defined as "to fill with noble or reverent emotion; to stimulate creativity or action."

What do you need inspiration for, today? Today I am off to be inspired. I'll be attending a writers' workshop, listening to authors share their experiences and knowledge about publishing, writing proposals, editing, writing strategies and techniques, organization for writers, and even self-doubt. I'm always blessed by this workshop because it is a gathering of Christian writers and published authors who are willing to mentor and encourage others. Central to everyone is faith in God and a love of writing.

I have another area in my life where I am in desperate need of inspiration - wellness. I have had several temporary successes in the past with programs like Weight Watchers and Nourish but I continue to revert back to my bad eating habits and find excuses not to exercise. I know others have struggled with this problem, too; it's all over the media, everywhere you look.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work," (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV).

No matter what motivation you are looking for, the influence of scripture is what we need to depend on. I've started gathering scriptures that inspire wellness in my life. I have several pages of verses that can give me incentive to eat healthy and activate my physicality. I'm still working on collecting more scriptures that apply to my need for inspiration in this area. I must also develop a way to make these truths real in my life, every moment of every day.

I need God's inspiration for my writing and for my physical wellness. In what area of life do you need God's inspiration? Pray with me:

Lord God, I need Your true inspiration to touch every second of my day. Stimulate my creativity or action to be the person You created me to be. I need to hear Your Word of truth to guide me in the steps of Your will. I trust in You, God, and I thank you for hearing my cry for help. In Jesus' holy name, I pray. Amen.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Take My Yoke and Learn

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light," (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).

I love this scripture. Everyone feels over-burdened at times. The reasons may vary but the answer is always the same. Jesus.

Physical weariness can leave you feeling exhausted and in pain (mostly when you are older, it seems). Emotional weariness results in depletion of energy and motivation. Spiritual weariness leaves one disheartened, without hope, and with a sense of being lost in life.

This past weekend I watched three of my grandchildren work very hard. Showing sheep is hard physical work. There is a lot of pulling, pushing, lifting lambs up on a stand, moving legs to proper positions to show off the lamb's muscles and good qualities, rubbing, brushing, washing, drying, primping, and struggling to get the lamb to move when you want it to and stand still when the judge is looking. There is emotional work, too. The showman must consider the judge, the other showmen in the ring, when to set up the lamb, when to move and when to push into the lamb's brisket so the lamb will brace. There can be confidence if you are winning or frustration if you are losing. You can become spiritually weary from struggling with an uncooperative animal for 15 minutes in the show ring, especially when it is 90 degrees.

                 Payton, Bailey and Calvin prep their lambs for Friday night's lamb show.

Learning to show sheep is a lot like life. There is a yoke to be fitted for and a lot to learn. Every step in the show ring is a learning experience. At first the little ones learn to hold on to the lamb's head and keep the head up to keep the rest of its body in good form while walking or standing. Then they learn to brace the lamb which shows the judge the lamb's best physical qualities. Then they learn to check the legs for good positioning. The showman must learn the anatomy of the lamb and the feeding regimen. Then there is keeping your eye on the judge, anticipating the next move, brace when the judge is ready to feel your lamb's loin, keep enough room between you and the next exhibitor, move up close to the next exhibitor so you keep in line for the judge, move when the judge says move, be ready to catch another exhibitor's loose lamb when it comes running by, and on and on. Whew.

Jesus says, "Come to me," (Matthew 11:28 NIV). Whenever we are tired and overwhelmed by whatever life throws in front of us to deal with, Jesus says, "Come to me. I will give you rest. My yoke is easy and my burden is light," (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).

He doesn't say we can just sit down and sleep our way through life. When Jesus is in our life, when we have a personal relationship with Him, we experience His love, His healing, and His peace. And that lifts our burden so it is shared by Jesus in His yoke. With Jesus, every task we take on is filled with His purpose and meaning. We learn to depend on Him and to trust Him, for Jesus is gentle and humble in heart. There, we find rest for our souls.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Cold Drink of Water

My morning devotional sparked a memory. I can see my daddy sitting at the kitchen table in his barrel-shaped chair, equipped with coasters. It was the most common location for family visits, gathered around the kitchen table, sharing a drink or snack. Perhaps Daddy was sweaty after a summer afternoon chore, still wearing his over the ankle work boots that were worn to a rounded smoothness. Using his feet, he would roll his chair over to the refrigerator and reach inside for a narrow, pale-yellow plastic container filled with water. That was Daddy's jug. He would lean back, lift the jug to his lips and drink in a refreshing swig or two of cold water. I can almost see him smile in gratitude. He loved sweet tea, too, but nothing could beat the effect of a good gulp of water.

When Daddy was still farming actively, Mama would fill a washed gallon milk jug halfway with water and put it in the freezer. When Daddy was heading out to the field on his tractor, Mama would fill the jug up with water and send him on his way. The ice would keep the water cold until he would come back to the house for lunch or supper. Usually, the jug would be empty when he brought it back in.

"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land," (Proverbs 25:25 NIV).

I always smile as I think of my friend, Ann, saying she was ready for an "icy cold drink" on a hot afternoon in the office, or on a summer shopping excursion. Our thirst would always be quenched soon after hearing her phrase as we all became enchanted by the thought of that 'icy cold drink'.

Whether the drink of water comes from a cold flowing mountain stream, the depths of a deep well on the farm, or from a convenient in-door dispenser of your refrigerator, the refreshment of a cold drink of water brings delight and satisfaction to the soul.              

"The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life," (Revelation 22:17 NIV).

May you be blessed by the quenching of a cold drink of water today, and may it remind you of Jesus' ever-available gift of life. Thank you, Lord Jesus.