December 24

            What a night this has been. People coming from everywhere, looking for rooms. All because the Romans declared a census and everybody had to return to his hometown. I’d like to catch the guy who okayed that. It’s enough to drive a poor innkeeper such as myself crazy.
            Well, anyway, my inn is full to bursting, when along comes this bedraggled looking couple, she on a donkey and very much pregnant. They want a room. I have to tell them I don’t have any more rooms to spare. He looks very downcast, thanks me, and turns away into the night. I kicked myself mentally, but what could I do? I had nothing to offer them… except… I called to the man and said, “Look, it’s true that I have no rooms left at the inn, but I do have a stable. I know it’s not much, but it has plenty of straw, and at least your wife will be somewhat comfortable.” The man – I later learned his name was Joseph – thanked me, and I led them back to the stable. They settled down for the night.
            Later on, just as I was about turn in for the night, I heard a commotion out near the stable. It looked as though everybody and his brother was crowding around the door. I went out to investigate, and saw shepherds there – I don’t remember how many – looking in something approaching reverence as they gathered. I asked one of them what brought them here, and he told me a wild tale about an angel suddenly appearing to them as they were tending their sheep and announcing to them that the long-foretold Messiah had been born, and that they were to look for a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.

            The Messiah has been born? Could that really be true? I had to see for myself. I squeezed myself past the throng in the door, and there was the baby, just as the shepherd had said. A baby boy. I asked what his name was, and his mother – her name was Mary – replied, “Jesus.” I am not given to imagination, but I would state before the high priest’s court that when I first looked down at the baby, he smiled at me. And that’s when I knew. What the shepherd had told me was no wild tale. It was true. Our Messiah – our Deliverer – has been born. May Yahweh ever be praised!


December 19

I have all of Amy Grant’s Christmas albums. I love all of them, but have my favorite songs on each album. I listen to them each Christmas season. On her album she released last year she has a song called “Another Merry Christmas”. Some would say it was a depressing song, I say just a realistic one.  She sings “It’s happy and sad, the good and the bad, someone’s up and someone’s barely hanging on”. Everyone is supposed to be happy and joyful during the season, right? But the fact is we all can struggle and feel lonely or sad during the season. This past week a colleague at work committed suicide and it took us all by surprise. He was always so friendly, always had a smile and was so helpful. I feel like there is so much emotion wrapped up in the season that it magnifies everything. Never mind all the pressure we put on ourselves. It is easy to get lost and miss the true meaning of Christmas. I make it a point to read our Advent devotional and I really like the one this year that helps us to focus on others and turn away from some of our  own “busyness”. I will be honest, I am in one of those years where I am just trying to make it through the season. My tree has been standing in my house bare for a week. I am trying to hang the ornaments in between writing this, not really too excited about it. But then I found this picture that I took last year of my spot on the tree where I hang all the  nativities with angels surrounding them. Some of the angels and nativities are from my Mom and Dad’s tree when I grew up. I also have the three wise men from them, that I am sure were inexpensive ornaments bought in some department store a very long time ago, but I look forward to hanging them because they tell part of the Christmas story. Let me close with the last lines of the song, “Our painted old nativity is fragile like the lives we lead, silently reminding me God is with us, another Merry Christmas”. 

Blessing and peace to you during this season!

Heavenly Father, help us to remember what this season is all about and be with those who are struggling, Send your comfort and strength to them and help us to reach out beyond ourselves. Amen.


Dec. 4

The Christmas season is upon us.  As for me, I do not like to overlap my holidays. I like to plan my preparations for Thanksgiving and enjoy Thanksgiving with my family before I start preparing for Christmas. I may be in the minority with this kind of thinking. The Christmas season always tends to become a time of hustle and bustle. As we get caught up in decorating, shopping, baking, and attending Christmas parties and concerts, our to-do list grows and grows. Sometimes you might hear someone say they can’t wait until Christmas is over. We may lose sight of the reason for the Christmas season. For Christians, the Advent season began Sunday, December 3rd. During Advent, we wait and prepare for the coming of Jesus. This is a time to think about Jesus, God’s gift to us that first Christmas. He gave us the love of Jesus. We can share Jesus’ love each day. Put “sharing Jesus’ love” at the top of your list this Advent season. Take time to reflect on what God’s gift means to you.


Thank you for the wonderful gift of Jesus and his love. Help us to share his love each day. Amen.


November 26

            “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name, for the Lord is good, and his love endures forever.” (Psalm 100:4-5a) You might be thinking, Give thanks? For what? The world is teetering on the brink of insanity, hatred is drowning out love, and everybody is feeling helpless to do anything about it. And we’re supposed to give thanks?
            While all of that is true, there is still much for which we may be thankful – second chances comes to mind – if we but take the time to stop and realize it. As for me, I am thankful for the people who have come into and gone out of my life. Some of them have shown me who I want to be like; others have shown me who I do not want to be like. There are good people in the world, and though their deeds may not be as widely known as the bad people, they can still make a difference in at least some small corner of the world.

            And the one overarching thing behind all of this is that there is a God who is so truly,  deeply, passionately in love with us that he is willing to forgive at any sign of contrition and penitence on our part. And for that, there is only one thing that can truly be said: Thank you, God.

November 19

“Each day carries the potential to bring the experience of heaven; Have the courage to expect good from it.” - John McQuiston, Always We Begin Again

In this season of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the little surprise glimpses of heaven I get, usually when I least expect it. We usually think of heaven as “up there somewhere”, but I truly believe that we get little tastes of it throughout our lives.
On my walks through the woods with my dog Rudy, I periodically see something in nature that I haven’t seen before. I have to pay attention. I have to be quiet, stop, and look carefully. Sometimes when I do, I get to hear and see an owl, stare into the eyes of a buck and watch him leap away as gracefully as any ballet dancer,  or watch in wonder as a heron dives into the stream then sails up into the treetops and navigates its way through all the trees with its huge wingspan. I see many of my glimpses of heaven in nature, but everyone is different. 
Find your place that refreshes your spirit. And then, be grateful as you get a preview of heaven.

Dear mother earth, who day by day unfolds blessings on our way, Alleluia!  Alleluia! The flowers and fruits that in thee grow, let them God’s glory also show!  O praise ye! O praise ye! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia! - Verse 4 of the hymn “All Creatures of Our God and King” , words by Francis of Assisi.


November 14

Thank you, Lord, for those bright days in the midst of the darker times. Thank you for the splendid carpet of Ginko leaves that filled my path with greens and golds. Thank you for the neighbors saying hello. Thank you for the huge white dog and her owner who let me greet her in the pet supply store. Thank you for warm blankets on cool mornings as I awake. Thank you, Lord, for the grace-filled moments. In Jesus' name, Amen.


October 30

            In today’s world, many voices are clamoring for our attention, and the loudest ones usually claim it. We are being constantly bombarded by voices from politics, news, advertising, religion, entertainment… it’s a neverending stream, and it’s easy for us to get distracted from our seemingly humdrum daily lives. Amid the cacophony, we often get so turned around that we can barely tell to whom we are supposed to listen.
            But as the story of Elijah reminds us, while he was hiding from Queen Jezebel, God sent an earthquake, a violent wind, and a firestorm, but the voice of God was not present in any of those. It was only after things quieted down that Elijah heard the still, small voice of God, reminding Elijah that no matter how wild things seemed to be, all he had to do was listen, not to the loudness, but to the stillness. Then, and only then, did he hear the voice of God.

            Whenever the voices get so overwhelming to us that we feel as though we cannot possibly take any more, we would do well to remember the exhortation in Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God,” for it is only in deliberately tuning out the cacophony of voices in our lives that we will be able to hear the sweetness, the gentleness that is our Maker’s voice. If we work at it, we will hear that voice again.


October 24

Do you ever think, "I'm going to enjoy life once I get through this difficult time"? You may be experiencing a health problem, loss of job, divorce, or some other disappointment. During these times, we tend to focus on our circumstances. When we do so, we are likely to miss God working through us and others. There are moments of joy, no matter the circumstances. A friend calls when you are struggling with a problem. Your neighbor shows up on your doorstep with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from her garden. Another friend bakes an extra pie when she bakes for her family and brings it to you. The man at Jiffy Lube says he is praying for you. A beautiful rainbow appears after a storm. A fragile pretty flower is blooming in the sidewalk crack. We can experience joy even during the tough times because God has given us these special moments. If we focus on God, we are more apt to experience these moments of joy.

Dear Father, Thank you for blessing us with these special moments of  joy. Help us to focus on you and not on our circumstances. Amen

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Roman 15:13(NIV)


October 16

This time of year it seems we pay more attention to trees. They are there all year round, but in the fall, they catch our attention with their brilliant colors and their swirling leaves in the air. Trees are sacred and very spiritual to me.  I like to touch their rough bark, feel the texture of their leaves and enjoy their fragrance. Being in the woods surrounded by trees, brings me peace and brings me closer to the presence of God. I am sitting here right now with my back door open listening to the wind blow through the leaves on the trees reminding me of the Holy Spirits’s presence. Trees can teach us important lessons like swaying in the wind, persevering, keeping our roots firmly planted and embracing the changing seasons, to mention a few. I find it meditative to just sit still and watch how a tree sways in the wind, bending ever so slightly and not resisting. If only I could sway like that when winds blow into my life! 
Many trees have become symbols of survival. One such tree is the lone elm tree that survived the Oklahoma bombing in 1995 and still stands. It was almost cut down due to the damage it took in the blast, but the community embraced it as part of the healing process and named it “Survivor Tree” and felt it represented a symbol of survival and the power to overcome tragedy. Today, seeds from that tree are taken to a nursery and grown into seedlings and distributed across the country to spread hope. And doesn’t that symbolize what we are to do as followers of Christ , spread hope? Yet, one more lesson to be learned from trees.

They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:3 (NLT)

Creator of all things, we thank you for the beauty of trees and for the lessons of strength that they teach us. Amen.


September 28

            Those of us of a certain age or older might remember asking our parents why we had to do certain chores or why we couldn’t do certain things. We might also remember sometimes getting non-answer answers, such as “Because I said so,” or “If Tommy jumped off a cliff, would you?” Or even these classics, when we did something really wrong and got a severe punishment: “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” and “This is my house, and it’s my rules.”
            Those and many other parent “answers” may have cropped up in our lives, and at first, they seemed to satisfy us. But after a while, “Because I said so” just isn’t enough. We need to know why these rules are in place. If we were lucky, our parents explained the rationale behind the rules, usually something along the lines of “We love you, and we just want to make sure you’re safe.”

            To some, the Bible seems to be chock full of rules; so many, in fact, that it seems impossible for anybody to live up to those rules. To us, some of those rules seem ludicrous, such as the rule against eating shellfish. But upon reflection, it seems to me that the Bible has the same over-arching theme our parents had: “I love you, and I want you to be safe.” Although this doesn’t mean we’ll always follow the rules, as long as we confess what we did, God will always forgive us, because He still loves us. And that’s the best rule of all.

September 14

Recently my husband and I took an overnight trip to Shenandoah National Park. I wanted to go there not only because I love national parks and hadn't spent much time there before, but also because my father spent time there in the Army during WWII on training maneuvers . He wrote about some of his experiences in his memoirs. In fact, he spent Easter morning 1943 there and wrote:

“Each night we pitched out tents in the mountains. This in itself was quite an experience to be enclosed in all the trees. We were there over Easter Sunday and it was a free day. I think I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Sunday morning. It was warm and the sun was shining as I sat along side of the clearest water I think I had ever seen in a stream coming down the mountain. It almost made me forget about what was going on all over the world at the time.”

Reading this, I see where I got my love and appreciation of nature and creation. I treasure that, even more since my father died. I feel like I carry a piece of him around with me in my heart. I was able to walk in Big Meadows and look at the same stars that my father looked at so many years ago. 

I think it is similar to carrying Jesus around in our hearts. And even though we haven't seen Him, we know that Jesus walked on this earth and had some of the same experiences that we do. We can remember that and carry Him in our hearts until we are with Him.

Matthew 28:20 …And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Loving Jesus, Help us to know that You are always with us in our hearts.  Amen.


August 28

            It doesn’t take much to see that we are living in troubled times. It seems as though, in this country, half of the people want nothing to do with the other half. Our motto is no longer “E Pluribus Unum,” and that is not a sustainable way to live. We may be able to unfriend someone whose faith/politics/whatever we don’t like, but by doing so, we deprive ourselves of the chance to establish, or re-establish, a relationship with that person.
            A verse that I recently came across has stuck with me, though not for the reason the person who posted it originally intended. It is Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” The person who posted this verse on Facebook intended it as a warning against using swear words. I took that verse as a warning against using hateful and unkind speech – the kind of speech for which the use in this country seems to be increasing vigorously.

            No matter which side of the political spectrum we as individuals stand on, my hope is that people would start to think that whenever we use speech that denigrates others with whom we disagree, we lose the chance to establish relationships. When we look at a person as just some insignificant “other,” when we look at the world with an “us-and-them” mentality, we lose sight of the fact that there is no “us-and-them” – it’s just one big “us.” May we acquire the wisdom to realize that, now more than ever, what unites us is – or should be – more important than what divides us.


August 20

     Waiting is a fact of life. Everybody at some time in their life is waiting for something. Many of us anxiously wait to hear what the results are of medical tests. After a job interview, one waits for that phone call telling us whether we are hired or not. A pregnant women waits for her baby to be born. High school students wait to hear from colleges after sending their applications. We also wait in traffic and lines in the grocery stores.

Sometimes we have to wait for answers from God. Waiting is not easy for many of us. Some people become anxious, frustrated, or possibly discouraged during the time they have to wait. God can use this time of waiting to change us. We may become more patient, more appreciative, and even stronger. A time of waiting can draw us closer to God. We must not forget that while we are waiting, God is with us.


August 9

The Power of Music

I recently experienced a renewed sense of the power of music. I was at a crab feast and there was a live band. I went with my husband’s family and one of his in-laws has Alzheimers. I have seen him at several family functions over the past few months and he has been distant and sometimes angry and inappropriate. But today with the band playing, I saw him smiling, clapping his hands, singing and dancing with his wife.  I also recently got to hear a 90 year old mother play a duet of Silent Night on the piano with her daughter on the organ. They were both playing without written music in front of them. The mother said that she couldn't see the notes on the paper anymore , but her fingers remembered the notes on the piano. I have known the power of music since I was very young, but now I have seen it with fresh eyes. Both of these experiences were beautiful and made me cry and thank God for music. When I hear music, I have no doubt that it was created by God and is a gift to humankind. Perhaps that is why there is so much music in both the sacred and secular worlds. It is a universal form of communication. It can bring peace, reduce stress, soothe a baby’s cry, and reach far into someone’s mind who can’t remember their wife’s name, but can remember a tune and/or the words of a song. There are hymns that I sing now as an adult that I remember singing the 1st and last verse of as a young child in Sunday School and I embrace the comfort and familiarity .  There are many references to music throughout the Bible. Music can draw us closer to God. I have heard people say many times that a song or a hymn has brought them to tears.  Music touches us deep within our soul and I think that was exactly God’s intention. 

Music washes from the soul the dust of everyday life - Unknown

Sing songs to the tune of his glory, set glory to the rhythms of his praise. Psalm 66:2

Gracious Father, Thank You for Your gift of Music. Thank You that it touches our souls in ways that we cannot even put into words. Amen.


August 3

     My thirty-two year old son was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma in May. Our family immediately asked our friends to pray for my son. Social media, especially Facebook, was very helpful in reaching hundreds of people. Some of my son's family and friends texted him to tell him they were praying for him during his chemotherapy infusions which lifted his spirits. Many of our family and friends placed our son on their prayer lists at their churches. My son was amazed by the number of people praying for him. The power of prayer is amazing! He told me that the prayers made a difference. His attitude became more positive, and he became less fearful. His doctor was amazed at how well he did with his first round of chemotherapy. He continues to be positive as he starts his fourth round of chemotherapy. We know there will be difficult days, but my son knows that God is with him and will give him the strength and courage he needs to get through each day.

Dear God, Help us to remember that you are always there with us during these difficult times to give us courage, strength,
and comfort. Amen

As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength. Psalm 138:3


July 26

            I admit, openly and without shame, that I am a nerd. When I was growing up, I was very much a bookworm instead of an athlete. Other kids had sports players as heroes; I had Carl Sagan. It was he who inspired something that fascinates me to this day, and that is my love of astronomy. One of my favorite places to go was the local planetarium. I am always amazed at what new insights have been, and are being, discovered on a daily basis (although, admittedly, many of the new ideas that have been birthed were, and are, beyond my comprehension).
            If I could afford to have a house with an observatory on it, I would do it in a heartbeat – but for now, I’d have to be content with getting a good telescope. Then again, I’d be so excited that I’d hardly know where to start looking.

            It makes good sense to look to the heavens as a source of wonder. The psalmist wrote it best when he started Psalm 19 with, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4a, NIV) The God who created the entire universe has also given us the means to understand it and delight in it. May we use those gifts with wisdom and reverence.


July 17

Life is full of opposites. We can’t really escape it. Just turn to Ecclesiastes chapter 3 and look at the list: born/die, plant/uproot, kill/heal, tear down/build, weep/laugh, mourn/dance, scatter stones/gather stones, embrace/refrain from embracing, search/give up, keep/throw away, tear/mend, silent/speak, love/hate, and war/peace. There are various scripture passages that list the concept of opposites throughout the Bible. 
We may look at these opposites sometimes as a bad thing as opposed to a good thing. Sorry, I just had to put another opposite in there! These opposites help to make the human experience more full and appreciate each side. Take for example the picture I took above, because the clouds are covering the sun. it makes it much more interesting . I have always said I don't think I would like living somewhere that the seasons didn't change. I think I would get too used to the warm weather and sunshine. Think about how when there are days and days of cloudy, rainy weather when the sun finally does shine, it seems brighter and we appreciate it much more. Or think about when it is so dry and it finally rains, we are grateful for the rain to quench the dry earth. During a cold winter day the sun will come out and you might turn your face toward its warmth. Or during the hot summer, there is a break in the weather and the air is cooler and it is literally like a breath of fresh air. I don't want to take opposites for granted. I think God created them to make us more aware of each opposing concept and to remember that nothing is to be taken for granted and to remind us of His blessings each day.

Loving Father, thank you for the opposing forces that you created to help us see and feel Your Presence here on earth.


July 2

                In my younger days, there was a board game called “Can’t Stop,” in which the object was to throw dice and to try to make your way to the tops of numbered columns (from 2 to 12) on a board shaped like a stop sign. You could only have three active columns at a time, and the winner was the first to claim three columns in their color. The catch was that you could stop at any time and save your progress, as it were, but if you threw the dice and they did not add up to any of the numbers you were trying for, any progress you had made would be lost.
                The idea here of temptation is obvious – do you give into temptation and press your luck, or do you stop with what you have? But the columns are not of equal length in this game – the “7” column is much longer than either the “2” or “12” columns, because 7 is the easiest roll to make on two dice, while 2 and 12 are the hardest. If you were new to the game, you might see the short columns and think, “Oh, I only have to do this three times. I have to get many more 7’s to win that column. I’ll stick with the short ones.” That player would soon learn that what seemed to be the easier course is actually the harder one, and vice versa.

                It’s natural for us as humans to try to find the easier way to do things, but we must be careful and, to use a cliché, not judge a book by its cover. It’s the same way with following Christ. As Christians, we may look for the easy way out and not keep in mind that being a Christian – that is, following Christ – is not easy. Discernment takes time and discipline, but if we make a conscious effort, the rewards will be greater than we could even imagine.

June 25

What do you do when you are told devastating news? The news may be the loss of a loved one, a serious illness of yourself or a loved one, a divorce, loss of a job, or another loss of some kind. Do you blame God or do you turn to God? Unfortunately for some people, it is easier to blame God at first. Human nature may pull some people in that direction sometimes. Sometimes the news causes fear, that is paralyzing. It is difficult to process what is happening, if we are so fearful. I know from experience that I am better able to deal with these difficult situations when I go to God and ask for his help. I have learned that He doesn't disappoint me. He gives me the strength that I need to move forward.

Dear God, Help me to remember to turn to you during these difficult times. You will always be there to give me strength and guidance.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

June 18

I heard someone say recently at a church gathering that it seemed like she had said goodbye to a lot of people over the past year. Whether it is a death, or someone moving on with their life, the goodbyes are always hard to say but are a sure part of life. It made me think about the song from the musical “Wicked”  called “For Good”. One friend is saying goodbye to another friend and there is a line in the song : “I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them, and we help them in return.” As a Christian, I believe that God brings people into our lives  at different times to help us with different things. Sometimes those folks are in our lives for a short time and others for a long time. But however long they are in our lives, it is still hard to say goodbye and is sad. As an animal lover, I feel the same way about my pets. I recently lost my cat who was almost 17 years old. I am not really sure what happened to her, I let her out one evening a few weeks ago and she never came back. I suspect she went off to die, but it was sad because I didn’t even get to say goodbye to her. Saying goodbye does help give us closure, but it still hurts. One of the things that gives me comfort is that there is a universal human reaction to someone not being in our lives any longer, we all experience it. It is a change, and we have to adjust. We can remember the lessons they taught us and how they made our lives fuller and happier. And we can ask God for strength, comfort and peace in the midst of our grief.

Second Thessalonians 3:16 “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”


May 11

I recently attended our church’s annual women’s retreat at the Bishop Claggett Center outside of Frederick, MD. The setting was very serene and quiet,  and above is a picture I took on the Sunday morning of the retreat. The women’s retreat has become important to my faith journey. This year’s theme was “Soul Tending”. Our scripture verse for the weekend was Matthew 22:37 - You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 
We all need to tend our souls from time to time to renew ourselves. We were introduced to many different types of spiritual practices: meditation, silence, various types of prayer, caretaking, daily devotionals and several others. These practices were presented as an introduction to help each one of us figure out what works for us. Everyone’s faith journey is different and even though we are all on the same path, we get there in various ways, what works for you, may not work for me at all. This became very evident in my “small group”. During the retreat, you meet in your small group, which consists of a dozen women randomly placed in that group. You meet four times over the weekend and it is a place to share your experiences and faith. It becomes a safe place to talk and really be heard. Each of the women in my small group were on very different places in their faith journey, but the really cool thing was that everyone was listened to and respected no matter where they were on their path. It seems like you don’t run into that in many groups anymore and I truly treasured the experience. It is a practice I would like to continue in other areas of my life such as work, family and friends. It is hard not to compare ourselves to others, but the weekend of the retreat was a gentle reminder that we all have our individual spiritual path that we are on, no one’s is better or worse, it is just our own. 

Let everyone be sure to do his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work done well and won’t need to compare himself with someone else. (Galatians 6:4 )

Loving Father, help us not to compare ourselves to others. We know in our hearts that You created us all as unique individuals. Help us to follow You and make our own contribution to Your creation. Amen


April 29

            The plant wasn’t looking good at all. It had gotten too much sun and was wilted. Its flowers were turning a dull brown instead of the bright pink that they were. Everything seemed hopeless. But somebody noticed the plight of this plant and started tending it. Gradually, with the right amount of sunlight and enough water to keep it healthy, the plant started to perk up. It returned to its beautiful self. The flowers were pink again and pointing towards the sky. It looked the way it was meant to look.
            We might not think of ourselves as plants, but we, too, can get bent over and feel wilted with all of the worries and cares the world piles upon us each day. We might end up with too much of one thing but not enough of another thing. We need a caretaker who will sustain us and bring us back to how we were meant to be.

            Jesus is that caretaker. It is surely no coincidence that in one of his first public acts of ministry (recorded in John 4), he speaks to the woman at the well of “living water.” Or that he speaks of being the good shepherd. As a good shepherd tends his sheep and takes care of them, Jesus will do that for us. And, as sheep will go astray sometimes, the shepherd will hunt for them and bring them back to the flock. The Good Shepherd might not be something we, his sheep, may want, but the Good Shepherd is something that we need so that we may survive and thrive in His loving arms.


April 21

Giving thanks is a very important part of our daily life. It is a challenge for me
at times to give thanks in all circumstances. I was having a difficult time dealing with
someone who was very angry and refused to talk to me. Giving thanks for this
troublesome situation was almost impossible. Then after some reflection, I realized
this struggle had brought me closer to God. I had spent many hours praying to God for
wisdom and courage in dealing with this person. I am thankful for God's presence during
this difficult time. Trusting God will help us develop this attitude of thankfulness at all times.

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
                                                                                                     1 Thessalonians 5:18


April 17

Have you ever wandered in a spiritual desert or wilderness?  Our deserts can be literal or metaphorical. Desert images can be a reflection of our relationship with God, the literal representation that a barren desert can show us what happens when we try to live our lives without God. But the barren desert may also invite us to a deeper spirituality and help us to discover what is truly important in our lives. There are countless literal examples of people wandering in the desert throughout the Bible. When we read those passages, God always takes care of his children and they find their way out of the desert. 

So then why is it so difficult for me when I am wandering in my own personal desert? I have been there many times before. I usually try to fight it, but I have not found that successful.  I want to know “why” I am there and how to get out, like yesterday. Sometimes, we just don’t know why we are there, but sometimes we do. We can learn lessons from our wanderings. I have come to realize that in my own life, it is just part of the many seasons in my life. God brings me out of it, every single time. I know that, but I still struggle when I am there. I tend to isolate myself, even stay away from church and church friends while I am in the desert. That doesn't make any sense to me, but I think maybe with me, it is because I just can’t smile and say everything is fine, and I am afraid to tell folks how I really am. I have a few close friends who I know I can be myself around and I confide in those friends at those times. 

I have come to learn to let myself wander around and try to appreciate the view in the desert. Deserts can be beautiful as well as barren. Sometimes I try to just change my view - put my face to the sun, listen to music, or look around at God’s creation to help me see the beauty while I am feeling spiritually lost.

The deserts of our lives can be troubling places, filled with loneliness, isolation,
doubt and temptation, but they can also be a place of deep spiritual renewal filled with hidden beauty.

Lord, help us to reach out to You when we are wandering in the desert. Help us to trust in You and Your unfailing promises  and know that You will be with us always and forever. Amen.


March 29

            Music, it has been said, has the power to arouse various emotions in us, whether it inspires great emotions like classical music does, or baser emotions like your latest rock band or pop group do. Hard or soft, happy or sad, music touches the very fabric of our souls in a way few other things can. Music is, perhaps, one of our greatest discoveries – beating something with an animal skin stretched over it, blowing air through a tube with holes in it, plucking a string, all of it can come together to create a thing that touches something deep within us.
            Music, I think, is important to God, because it appears so often in the Bible, though we may not realize that at first glance. All of the Psalms were originally set to music, although we have long since lost whatever the tunes were. There were also songs of deliverance; for example, the song of Miriam after the Israelites escaped the host of Pharaoh, and the hymn Paul and Silas sang before the door of their prison cell opened.

            Psalms 98:4 and 100:1 both command us to make a joyful noise unto the Lord and to sing praises. When we do so, we can tap into the awesomeness that is creation, so filled with harmonies. Some ancient peoples seriously resonated with the idea of a harmony of the worlds, and they were far from foolish. It makes good sense to think of harmony in creation, because we ourselves are part of it. May we strive to remember that, as we are a part of God’s creation, we should exist in harmony with God and with each other.

March 20

I have recently been struggling with some health issues that has turned me from a caregiver to a “care receiver”. I think a lot of folks struggle with this role. We find it much easier to give care than to receive care. Some of what I feel when I ask for help is that I am being selfish and self-centered. I like to keep a low profile and not have anyone fussing over me. But the reality is that we need to take care of ourselves or we won’t be able to take care of others. Sort of like putting our own oxygen mask on first, and then helping others put theirs on.
But we all go through times in our lives when we need the help of others. The next time someone offers to help you, try to let them, or at the very least ask them to pray for you. God wants us to help each other and we ought to honor Him by both giving care and receiving care.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either one of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Loving Father,

Help us to know that you put people in our lives to be Your healing touch and to accept that help when it is our turn, so the we can then help others. Amen


March 12

During the season of Lent, many Christians observe Lent by making a change in their lives. The purpose of this change is to bring them closer to God. Self-reflection and repentance are important during this time.Whatever the change or activity initiated, it should be done so with the focus on God. For me, increasing my prayer time helps me focus on God during this time. Spending more time with God strengthens our relationship with Him. When we take time out of our busy lives to sit and talk with Him, God is delighted. During this prayer time, we also have an opportunity to listen to God. If we take the time to listen to God, He will guide us in all we do. During this season of Lent, let us put God first in our lives.

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. 1 Chronicles 16:11


February 24

            One morning not long ago, I was staring out the window at church, and I saw some very tall evergreen trees swaying to the rhythm of the wind. I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to watch the wind gently blow through some trees for a long period of time, but it has rather a hypnotic effect. Upon looking at these trees that were moving to the whims of the passing breeze, I was suddenly struck by the image of arms being upraised to heaven, in worship of the Creator. I like to think of those giant trees silently praising God just by moving whichever way the wind is blowing.
            The wind is a fickle thing. It can be gentle, as I’ve just described, or it can be fierce and terrifying. If you’ve ever lived through a hurricane, you will know what I’m talking about. Jesus and the disciples knew what a fierce wind was like when they were caught in a major storm on the Sea of Galilee. They were in an open boat and being lashed by heavy rain, howling wind, and giant waves. The disciples, bluntly, were freaking out. They were unsure whether they were going to live or die. But Jesus, unconcerned about the storm, stood up and commanded the storm to stop. And it did. Just like that.

            Perhaps this is a lesson we can take away from these rhythms in the wind. Just like those trees, we are going to be buffeted all our lives by winds. Sometimes the wind will be gentle, but other times, it will be gale force winds. At those times, we may feel like the disciples, unsure what the aftermath of the storm will be. But Jesus will come to calm the storm, if we but call upon His name. And He will also be with us when the wind is gentle. Whether the wind is beating a soothing tempo or doing the rumba in our lives, the important thing to remember is that Jesus is still the Conductor.

February 17

I often pray for wisdom when I have a difficult decision to make.
Also I have prayed for a physician to have wisdom when taking care of a family member.
Many of us pray for wisdom for the leaders of our country. 

What is wisdom?
Wisdom is difficult from intelligence or skills.
Many people who are brilliant are not wise.
As we get older, we may or may not become wiser.
When we learn what is true and right,
and we make good judgments based on this and act accordingly,
we demonstrate wisdom.

Wisdom is related to the ways of God.
God’s ways are given to all of us in the scriptures.
The purpose of the book of Proverbs is to teach us about wisdom.
Following God’s path leads to living wisely.
Wise living leads to a happier life.

Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you.     

                                                                                                                                                    Proverbs 2:9-10


February 13

We all seem to have trouble with prayer. Are we praying “right”? I can get hung up sometimes asking myself, is my prayer good enough for God? One of the things that helps me sometimes is to sing my prayer using  familiar hymns or songs. It can be powerful just to sing the same words or verse over and over again sort of like of a mantra. 

St Augustine suggested that hymn singing is praying twice. Singing causes us to breathe deeper and stretch to reach the high and low notes. The important thing is that we are communicating with God, and singing is one way to do that, so we are indeed praying to God. God doesn’t care what kind of voice we have, just that we are singing to Him!

Consider the second verse of the hymn “Breathe on me Breath of God”:
Breathe on me breath of God
Until my heart is pure
Until with Thee, I will one will
To do and to endure

Is it not a pleading prayer? If you don’t want to sing it, then consider saying it aloud as a prayer.

Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the Earth. Psalm 96:1

Gracious and Loving Father,
Help us not to be afraid to pray the wrong way, but just simply take the time to talk or sing to You. Amen.


February 1

I grew up in a rural area and was able to see the Milky Way. Now, I live in a more urban area and never see the Milky Way. I remember looking up and seeing that bright swath in the sky. Now, I can pick out a few of the brighter stars on a clear night. The night sky hasn't changed. My perspective has changed.

Lord, please keep my eyes open to see you. Fill me with your Spirit so that my perspective always focuses on you. You never change; your love remains the same; your mercy is unceasing. May my heart and my mind stay set upon love and mercy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


January 23

            It seems as if the things that dominate our culture today, whether it’s in the news or on social media, are things that highlight the differences between us. It could be liberal-conservative, black-white, male-female, gay-straight, or just about anything else you can think of. Differences are an integral part of our lives – it would be a very boring world if we were all the same – but if we use these differences as excuses to build walls of exclusion instead of bridges of understanding, we cannot establish any kind of meaningful relationship with others.
            It is human nature to people to divide themselves into units such as families or tribes, and all the rest who don’t fit into their group as some “other,” but God calls us to more than that. God wants us to be united as one body in Christ. He wants us to celebrate both the diversity in the natural world and the unity we have, not only with each other, but with the Creation. We are all part of the body and part of the world.

            Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” He later goes on to say (paraphrasing) that just because one part of the body is not like any of the others, it has no part of the body. It doesn’t work that way. We all have our parts to play as both an individual and as a member of the Body. May we never forget this lesson that Christ, through Paul, has taught us.

January 16

Happy Winter! Ok, most folks would say a big Bah Humbug to that and then ask when is spring coming! I am in the minority, I like winter. But even I feel the let down after the holidays.  You know, that blah feeling we all get this time of year on these dreary cold days and long dark nights. The brown earth appears “dead” to us with the all the bare trees only further reminding us that most of the world has ceased to grow. We think all the Christmas magic is gone and we go back to our normal daily boring lives.

So here is an idea to spruce up this dull season we are in. Why not thank someone who has helped you on your faith journey? Why not take the time to tell them that they helped you just when you needed it? Perhaps they sent a card, they listened, they gave some advice, shared a devotional, or said something to you in a new way and you really heard it differently this time. 

A co-worker and I started talking very innocently one morning. We are not particularly close, but I knew she had been having some health issues lately and I asked how she was. And then I told her I had her on my prayer list. This opened up a whole spiritual conversation between us. As we shared some of our faith experiences with each other, she said she thanked her Mom for taking her to church when she was a child. I thought that was awesome!  I decided I would tell my mother the same thing. She and my dad made me go to church every Sunday while I was growing up. I sat down to write a letter to my mother to include in her Christmas card because I knew I would not be able to get it out without bawling! So I wrote the letter and gratitude and tears just poured out . She said she cried when she read it , but since she is turning 90 and not sure how much time we have left together, I wanted to say it and for her to hear it.

I try to tell others when they have been helpful to me. And likewise, it encourages me on my own faith journey when someone says I have been helpful to them. Our faith journeys are not supposed to be a solo act. Paul referred to this in Romans 1: 11-12  “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong -that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith”. So perhaps we can brighten someone’s day by thanking them for their part in fostering our faith journey!

Heavenly Father, 

Thank you for all you have given us, even this bleak, brown, cold season that we are in. Help us not to forget that Your Light is always shining on these dark winter nights. Thank you for putting people in our lives to help encourage us on our faith journey. We cannot do it alone and you provide us with someone to help us just when we need it. Help us also to follow our nudges that Your Holy Spirit gives us to reach out to support others on their faith journey. 


January 11

      God often times uses our friends to guide and teach us. I was having brunch with a group of friends last week, some whom had experienced some difficult times this past year. My one friend, who is in her late eighties, had lost her husband. Prior to that, she had experienced a terrible fall that required rehabilitation for an extended period of time. Her husband had arranged for her to have companions with her when her family members were at work upon his death. This was a surprise to her. This arrangement has been a blessing for her, and she has done quite well with these companions. Once she was fearful about what would happen to her when her husband died. She said she feels God’s presence with her every day and that she trusts that God will be with her no matter what happens. If we put our trust in God, we can conquer our fear during difficult times.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  Prov. 3:5


January 2

Advent is the time when we are supposed to prepare our hearts for Christmas but, with all the business of "getting ready", sometimes we skip the preparation part. Now that Christmas is over, many of us just go back to our ordinary lives and forget about the Christmas miracle. We are ready to take down all the decorations and lights as soon as New Year's is over. But what if we revisit Christmas throughout the year? Maybe on a cold, dark winter night or a hot, humid day in July? We can continue to think about and carry around with us that "Christmas feeling" of joy and love.
I might just leave my nativity up a little longer this year. The nativity has always held special meaning and memories for me. This year, I displayed the nativity that I grew up with since I was a little girl. I asked my mother for it since she is no longer able to display it. My father took a picture of me when I was 4 or 5 years old looking at that same nativity with all the wonder of a child. One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season was to set up the nativity. My father made the stable himself and I was allowed to set up the figures every year and I passed that tradition down to my son. When my son was very young, he called the stable a barn and liked to put everyone in the barn at night and close the door and then set up the figures again the next day. Having a nativity helped teach me and then my son about the Christmas story. Perhaps I need to get a miniature nativity that I could keep out all year as a visual reminder of Christmas.
 And everyone loves Christmas music and has their favorites. Why not play some Christmas music throughout the year as yet another reminder of the joy and love sent down from heaven?

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Gracious and Loving Father, thank you for the gift of Your Son. Help us to remember that You sent Your Son to save us from our sin. And let us not  forget that we are fragile, just like our old painted nativities, but Christmas is about Emmanuel, God with us. Let us continue to celebrate and carry Your joy and Love with us beyond the Christmas season and be filled with child- like wonder. Amen