Monday, March 31, 2014

joy in the morning

"Which of you fathers/mothers, if your child asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?... If you then, though you are sinful, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" Luke 11:11-13

Mornings are my favorite part of the day.  This made for ideal tag teaming for Mrs. B and me in the library.  I arrive early to open, and she closes late.  Besides enjoying a few quiet moments and getting my coffee, i also witness some special bonding between parents and their children. 

I love our early morning visitors.  Watching the dedicated parents help their children prosper and succeed with their reading is touching.  It reminds me of our Father above and His relentless dedication to fill us with His goodness...  growing the fruit of the Spirit within us.

Whatever you are doing, wherever you are going, God is already there.  He will teach us in the way to go.  We just need to sit still before Him and listen.

have a peace-filled day!

Friday, March 28, 2014

checking out -- pride

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the LORD... It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Colossians 3:23,24

Do you look at numbers?
Curiosity enticed me to check out numbers, i previously claimed as irrelevant. Yet, monitoring the number of "hits" for my blog left me feeling yuck.  They weren't increasing, but were stagnant. There's some truth in curiosity killed the cat, as it interfered with my focus in writing devotions.
The dismal numbers created doubt.  Maybe the devotions weren't needed. Maybe the time of their usefulness was over.  Maybe admission of some of my failures was too disappointing.  Maybe my writing didn't possess enough flair.  Maybe it was too preachy.  Then i remembered.

I remembered i never liked writing, but God filled me with an unquenchable desire to write and share Him.  I remembered thanks from people i'd never met face-to-face, only heart-to-heart. I remembered encouragement from friends.  I remembered what God put on my heart, only He should remove. And most importantly, i remembered in the beginning it had never been about numbers.  Being obedient to what we are called to do by God is what counts.

I also remembered, it is His Word, and His alone, that brings change, healing, growth, peace and LIFE.  And if God uses my fingers to get His Word out and share His goodness with just one, i am honored and blessed.

Lord, forgive me for checking out numbers.  Remove that crazy, foolish pride from me.  I want to be found checking out obedience to You. You are my Number One, and the only number that matters.

What are you checking out in your life?  Remember Who and what truly counts. God has something He wants to accomplish through each of us.  Whether we touch one or thousands, let's remember every one matters to Him.

have a release-filled day!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

a Mighty Word ~ brokenness

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

Jesus is greater than any brokenness in our life. He has the power to overcome and mend our broken hearts, broken ways, and broken dreams.

Thank You, Jesus!

have a healing-filled day!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

looking for hope

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

Spring is officially here.  But looking out the window yesterday, i could only chuckle. Sleet poured from the sky like salt out of a shaker with no top.  And snow covered the ground, not many miles away.  Winter is trespassing on Spring, and i want it gone.

But there is beauty in every season, including winter.   I was reminded of this recently by some kindergarteners' paintings.   The message with the above painting is "Winter: created by God like all the other seasons".

God is in all our seasons... the ones we like and the ones we don't.  In the mist of a bleak, cold season, there are signs of hope and restoration -- we need only to open our eyes and heart to God's Presence around us.  

I believe one important step to our peace is to live out Romans 12:12 -- all at one time. Stay hopeful AND patient AND prayerful. Like the cardinal in the snow, the beauty of our faith and obedience will bring glory to our Father.

Sing a song of thanks to our Father.  He has us covered... with His love.

have a grate-filled day!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

a Mighty Word ~ strength

"... in quietness and trust is your strength." Isaiah 30:15

Strength -- it's available to everyone because of Him.

Thank You, Father!

Monday, March 24, 2014

surviving the seasonS

"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven... He has made everything beautiful in its time." Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11

There is beauty in every season with God.

In easy seasons, He dances with us.
In hard seasons, He wipes away our tears.
In unbearable seasons, He wraps His Arms around us.
In defiant seasons, He waits by our side.
In peaceful seasons, He harmonizes with our songs of praise.

Whatever the season, He is with us.  God sees each episode coming before it crosses our path and prepares the perfect plan to free us and bring forth His glory.

Thank You, Father!

have a hope-filled day!

Friday, March 21, 2014

let it go, let it go

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

Are you frozen in...

You do not need to stay there.

Let it go, and let God rule over all areas of your life.  Only when we are out of control can God be in control.  

Recall His promises...  
I am with you, I will help you, you are the apple of My eye, call to Me and I will answer, do not be afraid, when you pass through the water I will be with you.

Let go of whatever is holding you captive; trust Him; He has you.

have a freedom-filled day!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

a Mighty Word ~ filled

"... be filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18

To be filled with the Spirit is to be rich in His fruit... 

more love, more joy, more peace, more patience, more kindness, more goodness, more faithfulness, more gentleness and more self-control.  Let the overflow cover our land.

have a Spirit-filled day!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

so through with you!

 "You, Lord, have filled my heart with greater joy... I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety."  Psalm 4:7-8

The first sighting of it was awesome! 
The glistening snow, colorful mittens, robust snowmen.  But now, all i think is...

Snow, ice, mittens... oh my!
I'm so done with you, good bye!

My joyous Winter welcome has completely fizzled out.  I'm ready for warm, sunny days. What once was fun and eagerly anticipated is now dreadful.   

In most cases "the first" is great, and then.... hmmm. This weariness doesn't apply to just snow, mittens and winter.  It could be first day at work or school, first class, first friend, first project, first love.  What causes the dullness of a time to grow in our restless heart?  Does any first produce lasting joy?

Yes!  Our first realization of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is an everlasting joy.  And the best part, the more we come to know and understand His immense, unconditional love for us, the greater our joy.  

Let the snow come, and let it go, just as my love for it does too.  Jesus is my One ever-increasing delight and joy, and He is enough.

have a faith-filled day!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

a Mighty Word ~ Cheerful

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit." Proverbs 15:13

Happy, happy, happy i am to be found in You.  Father, help me bring cheer to others, not heartache.

have a peace-filled day!

Monday, March 17, 2014

feeling lucky?

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up... Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9,10,12
After one failed relationship, it seemed like a good idea to seal my marriage on March 17th.  Surely the luck of the Irish would smile favorably on all our days, right?  But, it wasn't so.  A relationship built on luck it like rolling dice.  Some days you are lucky-in-love, and some days not.  Our not days grew. And we parted.

What i learned from this and from God, i took into my next relationship.  Again, i married on a special day, but this time it revolved around labor not luck.  My Labor Day marriage defines the reality of our relationship  -- it's an ongoing  labor of love between my husband, God and me.   It takes all three of us for it to work.

Life throws sticks, rocks and hurtful words into our days.  We constantly face situations, trials or events that can rip apart a relationship... family, friends, co-workers.  Left on our own, we don't have the ability or stamina to ride through hard times.  But when God is a part of our relationship, His Love can guide and sustain us through turbulent seasons.

So, Happy St. Patrick's Day! May the luck of the day bring smiles, and may the strength of God's Love bring us into lasting relationships with each other and with Him.

have a wonder-filled day!

Friday, March 14, 2014

who do you think you are?

"Show me Your ways, O LORD, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long."  Psalm 25:4-5

For the past 9 years a friend has called me in her 13th hour-of-need. Trouble constantly surrounds Sarah; and calls from her seem to only come on the heel of problems. Her call this past December left me strangely irritated. Then last month her 13th hour-of-need call, unraveled me. My lack of joy in helping her weighed heavily on me, and i confessed my feelings to a friend.  Her words rattled me.

"Who do you think you are?  Jesus, Jr.?"

What?!?  She pointed out instead of helping Sarah over the years, i was an enabler.  My desire to step in at her beckoning call had possibly created more harm than good.  I had not diminished her problems any, but kept her stuck in them. Seeing the situation through the eyes of another, i backed off in helping her.  I felt guilty for "abandoning" Sarah, but days later she texted me a note, "All glory to God, He answered my need!"

This revelation opened up  new questions.  How often do i interfere with God's plan?  How often do i jump in to "fix" a situation, only to impede God's work?  Is helping another sometimes mean not helping?

Lord, help me to first focus on You and Your will.  Give me discernment on how best to help others, when to help and what to do.  I want to water the seeds of faith in others, not drown them. Only You can make things grow.

have a obedience-filled day!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

a Mighty Word ~ power

"See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and His arm rules for Him... He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young." Isaiah 40:10,11

The only sound sweeter than a generator on a cold powerless night,  
is the Voice of our ever Powerful and Present Father whispering,
"Rest, My child, you will all be alright."

Thank You, Father.

have a power-filled day!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

how do you count?

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8

"Mrs. Williams, my birthday is in four years."
"In four years??"
"Yes! I am five, and I will be six in four years!"

Forget common core math!  I love McKayla's math.  In this day of new and improved, try this try that, i am grateful not everything rides on a better-than-ever roller coaster promise.  Many constantly search for a better relationship... improved career... higher security... greater income... newer health aids. A continual search for change begets unrest and anxiety.

As a believer, there is one area of our life we can count on for being solid as a Rock.  A place of complete rest, refreshment and acceptance.  We can depend on God, our Father, as our firm, Perfect foundation.  In an ever changing world, we can completely trust our unchanging God. 

Whatever you do today, count on God.

have a believing-filled day!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

a Mighty Word ~ created

"I praise You because I, (your name), am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14

Made by You, for You.  Thank You, Father!

having a joy-filled day!

Monday, March 10, 2014

what we deserve

"Yet to all who receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12
Jesus said...
"I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life." John 6:47

As soon as i spotted it, i smelled trouble.  The pens, bookmarks, erasers and other gizmos in our Book Fair were intriguing, enticing, desirable.  I easily mistaken the Twirly Twist eraser for candy; i was not the only one. As we closed the Fair, i found an open wrapper behind the bookcase.  (S)he didn't get what (s)he wanted, but what (s)he deserved -- nothing.

I was glad the child left the eraser behind, and i hope they learned a lesson.  I couldn't help but be reminded of another child... me. As a child of God, how does He feel about my wrong doings? The times i speak sharply to another, lose my temper, selfishly hide the box of Girl Scout mint cookies, ignore the homeless man on the street, judge the looks or smells of another.

Clearly, God sees and catches me when i'm about my own business and not His.  Like the student, i too get what i deserve -- uneasiness, no peace, anxiety, emptiness. Due to my frailties and weaknesses, i deserve nothing good. BUT, God does not walk away.  

Because of His unconditional love, grace and mercy, He picks me up, cleans me off and loves me still.  God promises eternal life to all who believe in Him.  Not all who are perfect, not all who have it all together, not all who cross all their t's and dot their i's... but to all who believe in Him.

Thank You, Father, that my believing You is enough.

have a sweet-filled day!

Friday, March 7, 2014

survival of the moment

"When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider:  God has made the one as well as the other." Ecclesiastes 7:14

Book Fair... this past Tuesday i doubted my survival for the long, busy week ahead.  And during yesterday's packed  Family Night, my anxiety teetered back and forth.  Focusing just on the one person before me -- ringing up one book at the time -- kept me calm. Two hours later the crowd dispersed, the lights flipped off and a warm dinner filled my belly. We survived, and it was good.

When the path before us is gray and desolate....

remember, it will not stay that way.

God desires to fill our lives with His blessings.  He takes our bleakest seasons and still creates breathtaking moments.  No season lasts for a lifetime, even the good ones. When we are faced with harsh times, God in His goodness provides a glimpse of what's to come.  A sweet reminder to encourage our hearts -- we are not forgotten.  

Tough day? Tough week?  Look around. God surrounds us with His promise this season will past.  What  appears unbearable, it not.  God has the power to bring good out of all times, including bad ones.

Believe... take life one day at a time, and be filled with the warmth of His Light and Love.  We will survive the moment, and it will be good.

have a peace-filled day!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

a Mighty Word ~ strengthen

"For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him." 2 Chronicles 16:9

Let me be found by You, in You.

have a power-filled day!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

what price will we pay?

"YET, the LORD longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!" Isaiah 30:18

It happens, and it breaks my heart.

Unable to control their wants and desires, students "took" what they wanted from the Book Fair.  For a day they reveled in their treasures, but soon the ugly truth caught up with them.  Items wrongly taken were confiscated, and they lost the privilege to return to the Fair.  And still to come is the saddest truth of all.  On the last day of the Book Fair, students in need are treated to a free book. Their impatience cost them a wonderful blessing to come.

Is there anything you are moving forward with in life without God's direction?  Anxious to take matters in your own hands?  Tired of waiting for God to answer?  May our desires and wishes not propel us forward without God. 

Father, it happens. I want it, i get it and it breaks Your heart.  Grow in me the wisdom to seek You in all areas of my life and to patiently wait for Your guidance.  How often have i missed the treasures You have for me because i refused to wait for You?  I want to trade in my pitiful temporary fix for Your sweet divine blessings. Trip me up, slow me down, break my leg; just don't let me miss any blessings You have for me.

What God has in store for us far exceeds our expectations... every time.

have a patient-filled day!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

a Mighty Word ~ help

"...Where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2

Thank You, Father!

Monday, March 3, 2014

no secret

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation... I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12,13

A major transformation has occurred in our Media Center. All regular activities are on hold; we are dressed and booked up for a busy Book Fair week.  It's this little taste of retail each year that renews a greater appreciation for all who work in retail and a greater appreciation for my regular work responsibilities.  It's no secret i'll enjoy the week, but Friday will be my favorite day.

Father, thank you for the opportunity to experience different scenarios in life.  During such times, we often find ourselves feeling uneasy with the situation or inadequate in our role.  What a relief to have You to lean on when uncertainties and anxieties cloud our day.  I am thanking You now for the strength and patience i know You will provide to me this week.  It's no secret when i am weak, Your strength will carry me on. With You, i am eager to face the week. Let the cash register ring!

have a joy-filled day!