Wednesday, November 25, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  Are you thankful?  Can you still praise God in this time of solitude?  Will you celebrate even if you don’t gather with friends and family this Thanksgiving?  We are a blended family and for our Thanksgiving gathering this year, for the first time ever we were going to have my parents and all five of our children, their spouses, and our grandchildren all together at one time.  Being that they would be coming from three different states, this was going to be the first time for some of the grandchildren to meet.  Needless to say, I was rather bummed last Thursday when we cancelled our gathering. 

Yesterday afternoon I received a call from my husband informing me that our garage had been broken into and thousands of dollars worth of tools and equipment gone that quick.  Yes, we have an emergency fund and insurance, but who wants to deal with the hassle of it all and you never remember all of the tools you had until you go to use something one day and realize you didn’t account for it in the claim.  Yes, this is not the first time my home/garage has been broken into. 

Distractions like these can very quickly turn our focus to a negative, “Why is the world hating on me.” attitude.  This type of attitude can lead us down paths that draw us away from who and who’s we truly are.  And this attitude shift may find you trying to be someone you aren’t.  To paraphrase one of the devotionals I read this past week…You will never succeed at being who you truly are, if you’re trying to be someone else.  You/I can’t allow these lame attacks from Satan’s band of demons take hold and control us.  You/I need to rise up and flick that little demon off our shoulder.  These annoying, frustrating shots that Satan hits us with may dent our armor a bit, but if we don’t put on our armor and let his shots pierce into our souls and get the better of us, that’s when he wins.   

Thinking on these events, I’m reminded that not having our family gathering and having these things taken away from us (that took years to accumulate) is such a small sacrifice compared to the sacrifice Jesus made for me and you.  Count your blessings and be thankful for ALL that you have.  Focus and act as who you are, not as Satan wants you to be.  When all is said and done the Lord is our creator.  Just like those thieves stealing our tools, Satan is trying to steal us away from God.  Put on your full armor and stand firm in the Lord.  Bless others and be blessed.

#ChrisTomlin – Who You Are to Me featuring Lady A

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  You’ve been there.  You know you have.  You’ve buried your talents, hidden them away.  Maybe it was because you didn’t quite know what to do with them.  Maybe you didn’t really understand them.  Maybe you were just lazy and didn’t want to have to work at them.  Maybe the thought of your talents scares you.  Yes, at some point probably everyone of us were like the servant in Matthew 25: 14-30 who buried the talent his master gave him, in order to give him back exactly what he was entrusted with.  God used this Gospel reading Sunday to bring home the fact that I’ve been putting Him off.  For the past few months He’s been planting seeds to get me to move, develop, use, and multiply the talents He’s given me.  But I keep telling myself, “Life is good.  I’m at a point that I can do what I want, when I want and not have to worry about any “real” commitments other than work.”  Maybe you haven’t experienced this, but I’ve been a bit selfish with my time lately.  I want that freedom and lack of commitment so that people don’t have to rely on me.  Can you relate?  But you know God.  He knows we can be selfish with our time and talents so He keeps talking with us and patiently waits for us to move where our talents are needed.  Not for our sake, but for the good of others, He patiently waits for us to move.  This makes me think of a tree that a couple friends and I saw Sunday afternoon while hiking through John Bryan State Park.  It was an older tree, straight and tall.  I know that doesn’t seem too unusual, but as we looked more closely, we saw that the trunk was completely twisted.  I can’t help but think how much taller that tree could have been.  How much higher it’s branches could have reached, if the trunk wouldn’t have been all twisted.  But yet, the branches didn’t seem twisted, only the trunk.  We can get lost, wrapped up and twisted in our own world and as God invites us to grow, He’ll send out that straight branch from our core reaching out, moving in the direction of the Son.  He will guide us in directions we hadn’t planned.  He will grow us to reach potential beyond our estimations and expectations.  But He is never growing you, just for you.  He knows there is so much more to you, so much that we have to offer and share with others.  Lord, I pray that we/I follow your lead.  We/I look beyond our/my own wants and needs to see and move toward the lives You are preparing us/me for.  No fear.  No Doubt.  Be my fortress and may Love lead the way.  Bless others and be blessed.

#TaurenWells – Famous For (featuring Jenn Johnson)

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  In America today we celebrate Veterans Day.  We honor all our military veterans and active military members who are still serving our nation today.  One day a year, attention is directed to those that have voluntarily and involuntarily stepped to the frontlines for you.  Yes you.  They may have never known your name, but still they have put their life on the line, ready to go at a moment’s notice to protect you and the freedoms we soooooo often take for granted. 

In John 15:12-13 Jesus first tells us “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.”  Jesus then followed up His words with action by literally being beat, whipped, spat upon, pierced, hung on a cross, died and stabbed with a sword.  Jesus also tells us in John 6:37-38 “Everything that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and anyone who comes to Me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”  And in Luke 22:42 we hear Jesus praying and asking His Father, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not My will but Yours be done.”

It all comes down to and starts with love.  We are created by and made for love.  Unconditional love.  Jesus didn’t want to go through all the pain and torture of our sins.  He even asked His Father if He could skip the whole death on a cross thing.  Seriously, who would want to do that.  But He loves YOU too much to want to see you being tortured and hanging on a cross. 

Without you realizing it, there are people in your life (some that you don’t even know) that step to the front lines everyday sacrificing their time, money, prayers for you, without the intention of recognition.  They do it for love of you and love of the Lord.  God will never leave you.  He stands always at your side, loving you, guiding and protecting you.

Take a moment, especially today to thank God for being such a loving Friend who never leaves you and is so willing to fight for you.  Also call, text, or write a letter to those in your life that you are particularly thankful for that willingly stand up and sacrifice their lives for you.  Bless others and be blessed.

#MatthewWest – The God Who Stays

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you. Typically I save money that I receive for my birthday for something big, that hasn’t quite presented itself yet, but this year I used some of my birthday money and bought myself something that I’m pretty excited about. Yes, it’s something I already have and actually have multiples of in different versions. I do have a favorite version, but lately I’ve been missing something. Actually, what I bought is just a part of the whole. Lately I’ve been in a solemn mood. Maybe it’s the shorter days, our kitchen remodel coming to an end, turning another year older, or maybe planning to have all our kids and their families together for the first time ever this Thanksgiving, but seeing those plans drift apart. It all just feels like a very strange season of changes that is drawing me to find deeper meaning. Have you figured out what I bought? It’s the Word on Fire Bible Volume 1, which is the New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition of the four Gospels. But it’s not just the Gospels. It’s commentary from early Christian theologians and more recent saints. It’s digging into some of the original Greek New Testament text and incredible artwork from throughout the centuries. It’s thicker pages and single column text. All these features are great and for me a new book gives me a feeling of great possibilities, but in the end it’s just a book, words on a page until you bring it to life. The life you bring is your heart, attitude, willingness, time, desire, curiosity, open mindedness and faith in what the Lord is handing over to you to bring forth to new life. So yes, I’m pretty excited about this journey I’m beginning and what He is taking this season to prepare me for. I pray that I stay committed and focused in order find and soak up the wisdom and compassion He’s leading me to, in order to assist others with their journeys back to Him, which is also my prayer for you. Bless others and be blessed.


#TheBelongingCo – Just Want You

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  I want to share with you a picture that my Mom took on 10/13/2020.  There is such great depth and coloring in this picture.  For all of you jigsaw puzzle fans, wouldn’t you agree this would make a great puzzle?????

You may want to enlarge this picture to draw the full beauty, detail, and hidden treasure within this picture.  Let me share with you what this picture is showing me. 

This is a life.  Your life, as well as mine.  There are some dark veins running through at different times.  Some thicker, more dominant and others barely noticeable and well hidden by the leaves.  Your eyes are more times than not, first drawn to the dark spots.  It’s so easy to find and focus on the dark negatives in our lives, but once you divert your negative focus, you’ll see that there is more color in our lives than there is darkness.  The beauty of the colors run a spectrum from clean and crisp to a blended medley.  The bright, cloudless sky is the limit, so dream big and believe that you can reach it.  The Son is at the heart of it all, penetrating in and through the leaves and a Mother’s spirit is always close by.  There are too many moments (leaves) in your life to be counted.  Some are hidden by others, while some blend together so well that they appear to be a single moment.  You will experience green growth at the same time you experience the reds, oranges, and yellows of transition and eventual sheading of that which must die in order for you to live.  But make sure you view your life right side up.  When you start looking at your life sideways or upside down, you may be looking at your same life, but it will have a very different look and feel about it.  It could even seem like you are no longer looking at your own life.  Have you ever had a moment like that?  If you’re like me, you may have had a moment in your life when you looked at yourself in a mirror and realized that you didn’t even recognize the person looking back at you.  Seriously, save the picture and rotate it around to see how different it looks with each turn.

Your life is a response to God’s love.  Choose your response wisely and share the beauty of your colors with those God places in your life.  Never stop letting Him amaze you.  Bless others and be blessed.

#Hollyn – In Awe

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  I have to admit that I tried to talk myself out of the message I’m about to write.  You see, I don’t want it to come off sounding prideful, so I just told myself not to write this message.  Then God showed me otherwise.  You see, when you do something with the attitude of glorifying Him, then it is not pride or self-focus.  Besides that, if I don’t share God’s movement in my life, then that makes me no better than an unbeliever. 

As a friend was preparing for a recent trip, I told her I would pray for her everyday at 6 a.m. and of course I would also pray for her every time God placed her on my mind.  On October 7th, the day before she left for her journey, I was having a conversation with God and He shared something with me that I question whether I should share it with her or not.  God won out over my “I don’t know if I should tell her or not because she’s going to think I’m strange” attitude.  I stepped out of the way of myself and shared what God asked me to.  “I was talking with God this morning as I was getting ready for work.  I was asking Him to bless your travels and all those that would be serving you on your journey.  We also talked about those you would encounter.  He showed me a lady sitting in an airport, but it wasn’t the Dayton airport.  She was sitting by herself.  Her head was kind of down.  There was a sadness, worry, concern about her.  I’m not sure what your encounter with her will be or how it will affect each of your lives.  Please be watching for her.  He will guide you and let you know who she is.  Listen for His guiding words.”  Now if you received a message like that, it could freak you out a bit.  You could choose to just ignore it and go on with “your” life.  I had a sense that this wasn’t going to happen on her flight out, but I wasn’t sure if that was just my thought or His words, so I didn’t share that part.  I continued to pray for her multiple times a day during week long journey, but not really focused on what day she would actually be coming back home.  Last Wednesday, October 14th, I was out walking during my lunch break when I received a text message at 11:45 a.m. which exclaimed, “You foresaw it.  I just helped the woman.”  “It was big.  Need to cry for the beauty and Truth of that.”  “Your first text description, spot on.  Sadness, worry, concern.”  WOW, you talk about being humbled and just in awe.  He chose me to deliver His message.  His message fell on a willing servant’s heart and mind and she willingly, gracefully, peacefully acted in His name with His hurting daughter.  Can you see, feel the magnitude of His love.  How many of those messages do we let fall on deaf ears and an unwilling heart.  How different would your life be if you weren’t afraid to go out of your way and act upon His promptings.  Seriously, how much better would our world be?  Do you want to see a change?  Then it starts right here.  It’s got to start right now.  Peace doesn’t start with the world, it starts in a single person who shares His message of love, peace and hope.  His message and acts of love will touch a single life that will flow into the family, pouring into our neighborhoods and work places, flood our towns and cities, across our county and to the world.  Do you REALLY want to make a difference?  It’s got to start right here.  It’s got to start right now.  Be the change…be HIS change.  Bless others and be blessed.

#MichaelJackson – Man in the Mirror

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  This past weekend I was able to spend a day with my youngest daughter to celebrate her birthday.  Maybe it’s because we both have October birthdays and she learned by watching me, but there are certain birthday/fall traditions that we shared, a corn maze adventure, the beautiful fall colors, warm apple cider, spice cake in the shape of a pumpkin with a jack-o-lantern face made out of Reese’s Pieces.  It all makes my heart smile thinking about it, but it’s not just this moment that I’m smiling about.  It’s years of shared moments, celebrations, and memories.  Sure, our day together would have been fun, even if we didn’t have the history of our shared birthday/fall adventures but the history, the traditions make it that much better.  It’s like sitting in front of a campfire or wrapping up in a warm blanket on a chilly day.  Traditions and shared memories are like the feeling of coming home after a journey or being wrapped in a big hug without a word being spoken.  Can you feel it?  With the needed social distancing in our world today, it’s easy to feel a little lost without some of our “normal” tradition.  Like me, some of you may be getting a little too used to online church services.  I greatly appreciate that they are available, but I have found myself from time to time becoming a bit lazy and not making the effort to actually go to church to celebrate Mass.  It’s more comfortable in my house.  The temperature isn’t to warm or cold.  I don’t have to take the time to drive there.  I don’t have to worry if someone is sitting in “my pew”.  Oh come on…you know what I’m talking about.  But no matter how easy it’s becoming to talk myself into watching Mass online, it always feels a little empty.  It’s been a tradition from the moment The Father created Adam that we gather to share in the Lord’s presence and goodness and praise and worship together with Him and others.  There is definitely something missing when the people of God lose physical contact.  I’m sure if you’ve ever watched a fire you’ve seen how a glowing ember set off by itself gives off little heat and quickly dies out.  As opposed to the heat a pile of embers gives off and the fact that they keep each other burning strong and bright.  Don’t allow your ember to get too far from the fire for too long.  We all need the presence of God’s community to help keep us burning strong and bright for Him.  And others need you to help fan their embers, encouraging them to burst back into flames.  Don’t get too comfortable in a solitary world.  It won’t matter how bright your light shines if no one is able to see it and share in its warmth.  Keep your social distance, but get out and feel the warmth of the Lord that you’ve been missing.  You’ll be happy you did.  Bless others and be blessed.

#SEUWorship – Fire In My Bones

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  Change, change, and more change.  Those words very well describe my work environment.  By choice, I moved to a new team in which of the three Specialists, only one (myself) have Specialist experience.  When I started in this position 20 months ago, I was told that it takes five years to feel comfortable in this job.  Well, I still have over three years to get comfortable.  It is a high volume, mentally draining job.  Taking time to train new co-workers will very much slow the process for a season, but a good investment of time and training in the beginning will produce a great harvest in time.  I know it will be a great challenge for all three of us Specialists, but one thing I am very thankful for is that this team has something that can’t be taught…a willing attitude, eagerness to learn, and WORK ETHIC.  We don’t just have bodies filling a chair.  We have workers that are willing to get their hands dirty.  In the past two weeks, I’ve thanked God multiple times for bringing our team together to tackle the modernization conversion. 

Reflecting on what a breath of fresh air it is to have such a willing team and how positive I feel about our future, I began to think about the attitude, eagerness, and work ethic we as Christians bring to the JV team every day.  (I guess I should explain why I call us the JV team.  Many years ago, a co high school youth leader said the Disciples were the Varsity team and we are the Junior Varsity team.)  We are all at different levels of willingness to learn, act, and teach.  Some work harder trying to get out of doing work for the Lord than it would be to just do His work.  Some people will kind of pick at it like cold vegetables on a plate.  Some people will jump in when they have some time to fill or just nothing more exciting to do.  Some will be purposeful about committing a set amount of time to serve the Lord.  And others act every time He whispers in their ear.  On any given day, I would say the majority of us are a combination, depending on the time, day, who we are with, and maybe even the weather.  If given the choice, I think God would choose a willing spirit, eager to learn and act over a know it all spirit that keeps their knowledge to themselves, unwilling to share what the Lord blessed them with.  Even if we don’t say the perfect words and it sounds like gibberish coming out of our mouth, the Lord will smile and be pleased with your willingness to step out of your comfort zone and be bold in Him.  Seeking and searching for a better, deeper, more meaningful relationship with Him brightens His days and fills you with a power and desire that’s hard to describe and contain.  The more you seek Him, the more you want to share Him, the more you will act for Him, the greater His team will grow and flourish.  You’ll know when you’re acting in the proper attitude and spirit for Him when anything/everything you do brings with it joy and not a sense of work, desire and not a sense of obligation, peace and not a feeling of being overwhelmed.  Do you act with joy, desire, and peace or are your actions more like work, obligation, and a sense of being overwhelmed?  You might as well be honest with yourself.  He already knows the real answer.  Compared to where you are today, where do you want to be?  Are you willing to change your spirit to get to where you want to be?  No one can change it but you.  Blaming this, that, and the other thing won’t get you anywhere.  He has already placed the desire in you to act, so what are you going to do about it?  He’s calling you this very moment.  Listen to Him.  Don’t just be a body filling a pew.  What did He just say to you?  Get up and act.  Bless others and be blessed.

#TheChurchWillSing – Make Room

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  This past weekend I had the pleasure of staying at a log cabin in Hocking Hills, OH with 23 other ladies.  It was a great time with God, friends and not having to focus on chores for a few days.  I named the weekend Friends Camp 2020, but I was informed that my daughter that wasn’t able to join us called the weekend Glamping with God.  I’m not sure if she knew how right she was.  There were definitely many moments of experiencing God’s presence during those few days and I imagine all 24 of us walked away with a slightly different experience.

It’s interesting to me how we can find God’s message to us in the most common, ordinary things.  On Sunday morning as we were cleaning up before our departure, I was looking for a clean washcloth so I could wash the countertop.  I went through the kitchen opening every drawer searching for a washcloth.  It’s always like a seek and find game when you’re in someone else’s kitchen.  I finally came to the conclusion that we must have used them all, so I got one from the bathroom.  A few moments later when I was standing by the sink looking into the living room area, someone opened a drawer and from that angle I could see that there were towels in the back half of the drawer that appeared to be empty when I opened it.  Originally, I was too close to the drawer and only had a narrow view of what I was looking into.  Similarly, when I was a landscaper, I would have to step back to get the full affect of what we were installing.  And even just a few months ago when I went to a paint night with a friend, the instructor kept telling us to step back to look at our work.  When we are too closely involved in what we are doing, we can be very easily blinded to what’s going on right round us.  God, He’s got that world’s eye view of what’s happening in our lives and can grasp the whole picture, which is why He is constantly tell me and maybe you as well, to stop, take a step back and look at what’s really going on around you. 

Some of the adventures we jumped into during Friends Camp 2020 was a 7 mile canoe/kayak trip on Saturday and Sunday we did a 7 mile hike from Cedar Falls to Ash Cave and back.  One of ladies that made the 7 mile hike is recovering from knee surgery she had a few months ago.  With walking sticks in hand, she powered through the highs and lows, stepping over rocks and roots, and climbing over fallen trees.  At the end of our hike I complemented her on being such a trooper and powering through.  She said it takes persistence.  With that thought in my head, I imagined a rainbow, God’s symbol of His promise to us.  I started to think how God’s promise to us is so massive and wide, but we try to look at it with a microscopic view and far too often miss the big picture of what he is offering us.  I imagine Him guiding us through the Roy G Biv (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) lines of His promise and feeling that our life, more times than not, feels like an uphill battle and we’re constantly trying to make that climb.  He starts us out in that violet arch which is more narrow and has less overall area to travel.  As we work through the indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red seasons of His promises, we will find that the arches gradually get a little longer with a little more incline to work up.  These arches may require a little more patience and persistence to work through them, but we need to keep in mind to step back and get the full affect of the beautiful rainbow He is painting in our lives.  If we don’t, even though we become covered in the rainbow He has painted with our lives, we may never recognize the beauty He has created.  Don’t just take a snapshot, step back and look at the full picture.  Look at where you started your relationship with Him and what it has grown into.  Celebrate the hope of His promise and keep your eyes open for His rainbow.  He may even bless you with a double rainbow.  Bless others and be blessed.

#Madisa&JohnReddick – You Keep Hope Alive

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  The setting…11:45 a.m. Friday, September 18, 2020.  The sky was blue, with a few clouds floating by.  It was a warm 63 degrees with just enough breeze to put a good ripple in the flag.

I was approaching the first pond on my lunch walk when I saw three geese high tail it out of the pond onto the land.  Seriously, I’ve never seen geese move that fast.  That’s when I saw it, a black plastic grocery bag had blown into the pond and the three geese were afraid of this strange, unknown object.  But it didn’t stop there.  About 10 or so geese that were to the west of the bag started to form a semicircle around it and more geese on the east side of the bag were also approaching, while the three stood on the bank watching.  This scene reminded me of being part of a Christian community.  Satan blows strange unknown objects at us to disrupt our peace and calm, get our hearts beating wildly, and scatter us to places we really didn’t want to go.  But when we surround ourselves with a strong community of Christ believers, without thinking or regard for themselves, they circle up in your defense to take down the enemy.  If you’ve ever had someone stand up for you like that, give me an AMEN! 

The Lord did not put us on the earth to live this life on our own.  He offers us a family of sisters and brothers in the Lord to do life with.  Even Christ didn’t do life alone.  He had His brothers in the Lord that he traveled with.  True, one time in particular they scattered like the three geese when the trash blew in, but they eventually regrouped and fought Satan all the harder.  Sometimes life will scatter a group of Christians, but as Jesus showed us, it’s in the rising that lives are changed.  In His rising, He showed us that although things may seem dark and appear to have no way out of your tomb, NEVER GIVE UP.  RISE UP and reach for the blessing…His blessing on the other side.  And don’t be surprised to find that almost all of those blessings will be accompanied by a fellow Christian to share your blessing with.  The song I want to share with you today is The Blessing by Elevation Worship, but given the theme of community, I want to share this special community version with you.  Bless others and be blessed. 

#ThePitsburgBlessing – Virtual Church Choir