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Monday

December 29




Life is full of endings and beginnings.  The end of a way of life or of a project or of anything is the beginning of whatever is next.  Let us look with hope at what this next year will bring for us.  Let us embrace with joy the gifts of each day as we follow our Lord Jesus Christ.

"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope."    Jeremiah 29:11

"You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hid.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."   Matthew 5: 14-16

Saturday

December 27


Father, bless me and make me a blessing.

Take time to list the blessings in your life...

What blessings in your life provided the experience of joy, friendship, support, love and faith?

What blessings in your life provided purpose, contentment, study, wonder, pause and trust?

What blessings in your life were a surprise, detour, change, new direction, or new opportunity?

What blessings in your life were from a neighbor, doctor, stranger, co-worker, friend or family member?


Take time to list the blessings in your life...

Thursday

December 25


Heavenly father, remind us throughout all the stress of the holiday season to prepare for the coming of your son Jesus Christ. Let us enjoy time with family and friends and remember the reverence behind the season. Remember the story, remember the joy, remember the miracle of the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and our Savior. Let us not be focused by the gifts we've received, but let us enjoy giving gifts to others. Remember most importantly that Jesus is the Reason for the season.


Amen.

Tuesday

December 23




Come and Worship!

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story,
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth:
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the new born King!
(Angels from the Realms of Glory, Lyrics by James Montgomery, 1816. Music by Henry Smart. In the public domain.)

Towson United Methodist Church
Christmas Eve Services at 4 pm, 7 pm and 11 pm.

Come and worship!

Sunday

December 21


Thank you, Lord God, for those who are more talented than I am.  Thank you that I can hear and see those who bring such joy with music this Christmas season.  Thank you for the genius that caused persons to invent instruments that make sounds of wonder.  Thank you for the silence between notes and the rhythm and melody and harmony.  Amen.

Friday

December 19



               One of the sayings we often hear when some disaster befalls us, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I know a version of that which has become one of my favorite sayings, “When life gives you lemons, make grape juice, and then sit back and let the world wonder how you did it.”
                Sometimes I think that sums up God’s attitude toward His creation. Not that God is malicious and delights in doling out assorted miseries; rather, that God does all these wonderful things so that we can wonder – and delight – in how He did them all.
                We are finite beings with a finite lifespan, and trying to comprehend an infinite God is clearly impossible. There are so many things in this world, from dazzling sunsets and starry nights and vast expanses of ocean to the warmth of a smile, the love of a pet, and what most of us would consider “ordinary,” that there is much for us to wonder about. How did God do all this? But that could be missing the point. Maybe the point of all this not to wonder how God did it, but to be lost in the wonder and delight of the fact that He did it.
                In this season of Advent, as we anticipate the coming of the birth of Jesus Christ, let us remember one of the greatest wonders of all: that God sent His Son into the world to redeem us, and that He came in the humble guise of a baby. That, perhaps, is the greatest wonder of them all.

Lord, You have created us to wonder at all the marvelous things you have done. Help us to keep that sense of wonder as we hail the birth of Jesus this Advent season. Amen.

Wednesday

December 17





I'm tired and it's only December 17th!  So, I pause for a bit and consider how tired Mary and Joseph must have been on their journey to Bethlehem, especially Mary.  I remember how tiring it was to be at the end of a pregnancy.  I remember how tired I was of being pregnant, and yet how fearful of the process of giving birth and then caring for a newborn.  How amazing that God, the very creator and sustainer of the universe, could be the baby whom Joseph and Mary awaited on that journey so long ago.

"Since Joseph belonged to David's house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David's city, called Bethlehem, in Judea.  He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant."  Luke 2: 4-5

Lord, please be with all of us who are tired today.  Especially be with those who are awaiting a child.  Enfold them in your arms and help them to know that you  understand that waiting time.  You have waited for humanity to turn to you and be welcomed as daughters and sons.  Thank you for your patience and love.  In Jesus' name, Amen.



Monday

December 15






I don't know a whole lot about sheep.  I have met a few sheep, and I had some conversation with a delightful couple who were shepherds.  I also worked briefly with a man who was literally a rocket scientist, but who also kept a herd of sheep. This man was letting us use 3 or 4 of his sheep for a Live Nativity.  However, a couple of the sheep were close to giving birth.  His concern for them and how we would treat them was tender and sweet.  Frankly, I thought they were stubborn and dirty, but he obviously loved them.  We were gentle and careful with the sheep, and they both gave birth to healthy lambs without any trouble not long after they played their roles in our enactment of Christ's birth.

My conversations with the older couple about their sheep taught me that shepherding is often about the art of understanding relationships and how change in one area creates change in another.  My time with the scientist shepherd taught me more about loving those who are limited in their ability to return love or to understand how the actions of their shepherd were acts of love.

Gracious and loving Shepherd, you are ever vigilant on our behalf.  You take care of us in ways that we don't see.  Please help us to trust you and be gentle with us in our stubborn and sheep-like ways.  Amen.


Thursday

December 11





Our theme for worship last week was questions.  It is better than OK to ask God questions.  Asking questions is how we learn.  It is also how we struggle with hard issues in our lives.  Asking questions is a way that we live with integrity: we admit that we need help and that our knowledge and our lives aren't perfect.  The really hard part is not getting a clear answer or not getting the answer we want.  We like to believe that we can understand anything if we only work hard enough or long enough, but that isn't true.  Some things we will never understand in this life.  Can we still trust God in our unknowing?  Joseph and Mary did!

Lord, you are almighty and all knowing.  Please help us in our limitations and in our frustrations with those limits.  Help us to trust you at all times.  In Jesus' name, Amen.



Tuesday

December 9



Several times in the last few days, someone has said to me, "Christmas time
is so stressful". December is typically filled with such activities as shopping
for gifts, wrapping gifts, decorating, extra baking, and holiday concerts
and parties. Add these to an already busy schedule and the result is stress.
Instead of spending time preparing for the birth of Christ, the
Light of the world, people lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.
Christ brings God's promise of hope, love, and joy, but to experience these,
we must spend time with God.

Let's not forget Christ this Advent season.

Dear Father, Guide our activities during this Advent season. Help us take time
to be in the presence of God, so we can experience the joy of Christ's coming.

Sunday

December 7




I grew up in a rural area where I could see tons of stars on crisp winter nights.  I miss seeing that, now that I'm living in a more urban area with light pollution.  But- I know the stars are there.  I do see many stars, but I know that there are many, many more that I cannot see.

There is much of God which I can know, but there is so much more which I am unable to comprehend.  Still, I know that God is there and I can trust in God's steady presence.

Thank you, Lord, for those things which I can see and know.  Thank you even more for those things which I cannot see and which are beyond my limits to know.  In the name of the unknowable Word, our Lord, Jesus, Amen.

Friday

December 5


Yikes!

Yesterday we were talking at work ... the 3rd floor staff ... it was the end of the day, saying goodbye to each other.  When asking what each other was up to over the weekend we realized that there are only 3 weekends left until Christmas.  YIKES!  

I prefer to create my Christmas gifts, I just like the uniqueness of the gift.  While I am sewing or throwing clay or soldering stained glass or knitting I think and pray for the person.  My niece asked me to crochet a blanket for her -- that won't be done before Christmas -- but I am looking forward to picking out the right yarn and thinking and praying for her while I crochet.

But three weekends left?
  
Jesus' birth
the love is overwhelming
ready or not 
the love is unconditional
here it comes!


Wednesday

December 3

    
        Lately, I have not welcomed the first  awareness of morning when I have wakened up!  I’ve had numerous important responsibilities to fulfill—forms to fill out with hard to get  data; phone calls to make that were  likely to lead to more phone calls;  not one but numerous task areas to be completed, so that a step forward in one offered little satisfaction.  I’d wake up not rested and ready for the day, but restless and challenged by all  that needed to be done.  The day looked foreboding while lying there in bed.

            But each day I realized that as I got up and started to get organized, that feeling of being overwhelmed faded.  I instinctively started humming a hymn in my mind, and remembered some favorite scripture about God’s loving presence, and I was awake enough to be aware it was not just a day being faced by me, but by God and me.  God was not a task-master there to keep me focused, but the loving mentor sustaining me in carrying out the day’s responsibilities.  In short, it was more pleasant to be up and about with God than to be in bed waking up and facing the day all by myself.

            No wonder God is spoken of in the Bible as a shelter, a light, a guide, a parent, a friend.  Larger than all the challenges, the perils, the responsibilities, the tough choices, the disappointments of the world in each  new day is the presence of the living God, the loving Lord!


            Thank God for the sustaining positives that fill our days when we face them with God!

Monday

December 1


This is a difficult day for our country as the pains and wounds of decades of racial, economic and social injustice have come into play for everyone through the events in Ferguson, MO.     Let us join today in prayer for people in Ferguson and around the country who are working to act peacefully in a tense situation.  It is important to step back and remember that the overwhelming majority of the population there and around the country support engaging in peaceful demonstrations and do not condone violence in any form.  At the same time, we are reminded that it is very difficult for someone to know what it is to be in another’s shoes.  It takes time and a good deal of energy to try and understand another’s experience.  We sometimes think that we do, only to find out that our assumptions can be completely wrong.   

     Fortunately, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  Jesus comes as one of us – all of us.  He came into a world of suffering and injustice to make clear that God is for us, not against us, and that nothing can separate us from God’s love.  Jesus’ heart was for the poor, the sick, the captives and the oppressed.  He came to identify with those most in need and to bring reconciliation and hope.  I encourage us to look to him today and to see him in the faces of the many people of Ferguson.

     We will have various points of view regarding the outcome of the Grand Jury’s deliberations.  However, let us not lose sight that the divisions within our culture continue to be real and they cry out to be addressed.  The church has a unique place of trust in our society and can be a place to hold the difficult conversations which need to be held.  Let’s make opportunities to be in honest dialogue in a context of mutual acceptance.  Greater understanding can come as we all open ourselves to listen, hear and allow ourselves to be blessed by deepening our understanding of each other.

Saturday

November 29


Recently while traveling I passed a gas station that had the cheapest gas I had seen in years.  I made a mental note to make sure I stopped and filled up there on my return home.  When the time came to return, my plan was to make one stop for gas, water and bathroom break.  Before I got to that stop, I saw another place that had gas even cheaper.  So of course that is where I stopped.  This place was not one you really wanted to go in and use facilities or purchase a drink, so I filled up with gas and figured I would just have to stop again.

Now, having to make two stops does not help the quickest return time record you always try to achieve, however, it was in the best interest of my travel crew that I find a cleaner place to stop for the other needs. When I was about 15 minutes from home, traffic came to a dead stop.  Obviously there was a problem as there were many fire trucks, ambulances and lots of flashing lights ahead.  When we were able to move again, the reason for the delay became clear.  A car had caught fire and exploded.  It was completely gone except for the frame.  There was no question that had there been cars passing by at the time this happened that they too would have been involved.

My mother, who was with me, turned and said "If we had not made that last stop, we would have been right there when that car exploded".  I was reminded then that God puts us where we need to be and does so in His time.  She was right, the timing would have been exact and we would possibly have been victim to that accident too.

God knows where we are, He knows where we have come from and He knows where he is leading us.  Never doubt that you are where you are for a reason and that regardless of that place, there is something God needs us to experience. Sometimes He just needs us to slow down and sometimes He needs us to be reminded that He is always with us, protecting us from things we could not have foreseen.

Thank you God for your guidance and for putting extra pit stops in our path that cause us to avoid tragedy.

2 Corinthians 2:14

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 


Thursday

November 27


T            Time for relationships
H            Hearts to embrace  
A            Answers to prayers
N            New possibilities
K            Keys for living
S             Spirit-filled lives


Our Father,
T-H-A-N-K-S, for your direct involvement in our lives; ever present, ever steadfast, everlasting.

                                                                                                                                           Amen

Wednesday

November 25





Remember to be observant of the beauty of God's great creation. It is obvious whenever you see something put together in a special way, that an intelligent being, a human, created it. A house for example. It didn't happen by accident. It was well planned out and carefully detailed so that someday it could serve a higher purpose.

In the same way the creation of the earth and all the unique and exotic creatures of it was in no way just an accident. The emergence of intelligent life forms was again no mistake. We were created by an all powerful all loving God to serve a higher purpose in his eyes.  


Sunday

November 23


God’s “More”

Dearest Father,

                In this season of Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for Your steadfast love and Your endless blessings. And I wonder, what more can I do for You?

I look at other people’s ministries and they seem so dramatic and important and life-changing. I compare them to my own and always find myself lacking. It can get discouraging and downright exhausting.

The frenetic mental exercise I engage in goes something like this:  I want to do Your will and expand Your kingdom and be the woman You created me to be, and be the best mom and the best wife and the best friend and be accomplished in my job and in my home and use my spiritual gifts and not lose myself while I am juggling everything – and trying not to drop any balls. What does doing more than all of this look like for me? If I figure it out, how will I find the time to do more? Will I get it right? Won’t someone just tell me what to do?

 I pray to You for peace of mind; for guidance in what Your “more” might look like for me. I pray that I can stop, take a deep breath, and see myself as You see me – a person You loved enough to create and establish a relationship with – not the person filled with self-doubt I see looking back at me in the mirror.

Today, I will take another deep breath and invite the Holy Spirit in to order my next steps. I know that when You call us, it is with a positive energy.  The negative voices and thoughts are not Yours, and I ask the Holy Spirit to help me turn them off so I can hear the call of Your “more”.  
                                                                                                                              
  Your loving daughter




Wednesday

November 19


OK- I admit it: I adore chocolate.  I also enjoy chicken noodle soup, fuzzy slippers, stars on a cold night, a good book, finishing a project, and hugs.

Almighty and personal Lord,
Thank you for the many wonderful things which you put into my life.  Thank you for the many wonderful people in my life.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday

November 17


When I was a child, my mother would sing a little song, which you might know:
Rain, rain, go away, come again another day!

Yet, when I was grumbling about the rain today, someone else replied that we need the rain right now.  It has been too dry.  Funny how our perspectives will give different meanings to the same event.

Gracious Lord,  please help us to see our lives, our decisions, our circumstances  through your perspective.  Let how we speak and act be filtered through your love.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday

November 15




My grandmother lived in a small town that had old maple trees lining many of the streets.  In the Fall, the leaves would pile up in the corners of the sidewalks and against bushes at the edges of yards.  I used to love shuffling my feet as I walked along, kicking up the leaves.  The sound of the leaves rustling and the smell of the dry leaves as they swirled and fell lifted into the crisp sunlit air of a perfect autumn day.  Isn't it marvelous how God chose to design the world?

Almighty God, thank you for creating seasons and rhythms to mark our lives.  Thank you for giving us senses so that we can enjoy your creation.  Thank you for surrounding us with the evidence of your loving care.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday

November 13




Psalm 62: 5(CEB)
“Oh I must find rest in God only, because my hope comes from him!  Only God is my rock and my salvation - my stronghold! – I will not be shaken.  My deliverance and glory depend on God.  God is my strong rock.  My refuge is in God.  All you people:  Trust in him at all times!  Pour out your hearts before him! God is our refuge!”

What is trusting God? It may be as simple as believing God loves you, God is good, and has the power to help you. We trust in so many other things, but why is it so hard to trust God?
 God wants to be first in our lives. Do we put our confidence and trust in God all the time, in everything? When we go beyond what we want, what we think and what we feel, and do what  God guides us to do, we come to a place where the blessings of God overflow in our  lives.


Tuesday

November 11





I was away for a few days.  When I returned home, I discovered that my dog had been spending time on an old sweater I had left on a chair.  He growled and fussed if someone tried to move the sweater and insisted on curling up there.  If only I were as attached to the things of God!  If only I were as fiercely protective of my space to be with God.  If only I longed for time with God as much as my dog longed for time with me.

Sunday

November 9



Solitude is an important discipline for our spiritual life. The busyness of our lives makes finding time for solitude a challenge.  Our daily schedules are filled with work, family responsibilities, various appointments, social activities, etc. We think that when life slows down, we will have time for solitude and time to spend with God.


Don't wait for that time; it may not happen any time soon. We need that  time to be alone with God. Quiet time without disruptions allows us to listen to God. Jesus often withdrew into solitude and silence to be with God....to pray and listen to Him. Solitude and silence are important in strengthening our relationship with God. Schedule that solitude into your life. It could be 15 minutes before the rest of your household wakes up or a weekend away from all your responsibilities
where you are alone and quiet, so you can listen to God.

Very early in the morning while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left
the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.  
Mark 1:35

Dear Lord, Help to find that quiet time alone with you, so I can listen.
Amen.

Wednesday

November 5


BLESSINGS

Opportunities come our way everyday.  There are some we like; then there are some (at the time) we don't like.  To call them all blessings ... seems weird.  But when you look back at the good and the not so good opportunities, we see that we gained.  With each opportunity there is an experience, and maybe a lesson, maybe a new friend, maybe information about a friend that you learn they weren't really a friend after all.  A bad opportunity could lead us to learn more about our self, maybe it means we need to take a class or seek help.  A good opportunity could lead us into a new direction.

God blesses us when we don't think we need it, before we need it, and continues to bless us, not because we deserve it, just because.  Wow.  Pretty cool.

Thank you, Lord, for seeking me out, for hanging in with me even when I don't think I deserve it, and before I even get out of bed in the morning!  Stay close to me, hold me, and wrap me in your arms.  Please do the same for others.  And, please continue to seek out those who don't know you, yet.  Amen.


Monday

November 3



“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in  me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

            Years ago there was a section of the beltway I traveled regularly where the sound-blocking walls had just been completed. There had been some small plantings put in place for landscaping, but as yet the walls were rather stark in appearance.  Then one day I noticed a small slip of a vine that obviously was growing on the  other side of the wall where I could not see it.  But a small branch had found an opening in the wall and was growing through.  Over the months that followed it got bigger and longer, at last spreading out to give some green and some grace to the walls’ appearance.  I was glad that no one on either side of the wall had chopped the vine or the branch off.  It was doing on the highway side of the wall what the vine was meant to do on the opposite side where it had been planted—give the kind of character to that bland, brown wall that only living things can do.

            How like that branch of that vine our lives are!  Jesus said as much:  “I am the vine, you are the branches”, he said.  When we are in relationship with Christ, our lives are energized to love and care as he did; even when we find ourselves having broken through a hole in one of life’s walls, we can grow and flourish with the love of God in Christ. 
And if the  connection with Christ is broken and we stop abiding in him, we are like a vine branch broken off from the vine’s main stem.  We cannot do what we are meant to do as God’s people in Christ.

            Lord, let me so abide this day in your life giving presence that I may know the joy of your love shared with the world around me.  Amen


Read John 15:1-12

Saturday

November 1

   

      I was privileged to hear Rev. James Lawson speak recently.  He is a retired United Methodist pastor, now in his 80‘s, and living in California.  He was a close friend and colleague of Rev. Martin Luther King and served as one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.  His talk was inspiring in that he focused on the spiritual aspect of their work together for freedom and rights for all people.  

     He said that they understood themselves as followers of Jesus Christ first.  They recognized that forces of violence and prejudice were strong and could not be addressed simply by means of social and political action.   As a result, they spent a lot of time in prayer and Bible Study.  Prayer kept them strong and focused on the dream rather than on retribution for the enmity that came at them.  

      Rev. Lawson went on to say that the need for prayer and Bible study, in order to be renewed, challenged and strengthened by God’s presence and Word, is even more critical today even than it was back then.  This is a time in which we are in danger of becoming complacent and to discount the power inherent in our faith. Prayer offered individually and collectively is the greatest resource there is for our own freedom and redemption as well as for others. 

     As we recall and give thanks for our saints on this All Saints Day, let us also remember what it was that made them saints.  For the leaders of the Civil Rights movement, flawed as they were, they did what they needed to do in order to stay in close partnership with Jesus.  Saints are not perfect people.  They simply know from whence their help comes - their help comes from the Lord who is the maker of everything.

    We give thanks for our saints today, those who are living and passed, who continue to point us toward you, O God.  May we find in our time, the courage and fortitude to keep moving towards you even when we feel lost and confused.  For you are the light and hope not only for us but for all people.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.  



Friday

October 31


The style of jack-o-lanterns which my children carve has changed through the years.  They are considerably more elaborate now.  Yet, they serve the same purpose.  They are a delightful and fun activity.  They give the kids a sense of accomplishment as they are displayed on our porch.  They lend a semi-scary touch to the trick or treating scene. They are a tradition.

The way we relate to one another changes as we grow, but we are still called to the same purpose.  We are still called to love one another as Jesus loves us.  We add more complex ways of reaching out and helping others.  We may better understand how what we do helps others.  And, we remain deeply loving.

Loving God, we thank you for walking with us in all stages of our lives.  We thank you for your patience with  us.  We thank you for teaching us and encouraging us to grow.  Please nudge us in the directions that challenge us to become the persons you want us to be.  Amen.

Monday

October 27



A slow moving waterfall
Coming, flowing, over
Prayers fill our hearts


       

  Dear God,
  Come. Enter our hearts. Flow through our minds. Bring your answers.







Saturday

October 25


          It is not by any means unusual to find yourself stressed because you don't get enough sleep or you are working multiple jobs. For me, the first quarter grades are almost due. But no matter how stressed I am during the day, it always feels great to come home and enjoy a home cooked meal with my family. If you don't have enough time to eat dinner as a family, or to pray at night, you don't have enough time. Remember to set aside time for God, for extra sleep, for relaxation. (That may help you regain sanity!)


Thursday

October 23


You’re Invited


            You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all – irrespective of how we got here – in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you. Fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together.  We see it taking shape day after day – a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.  Ephesians 2:19 -22. The Message.

Tuesday

October 21


Our dog is a sweet little thing and mostly a well mannered dog.  Still, he is a dog, and does doggie stuff like trying to eat disgusting whatever from the front yard or stealing part of a slice of cake we accidentally left at his level.  He reminds me of my children when they were toddlers: spurts of energy followed by naps and plenty of exploring to see what interesting things they could find.  My children grew up and left toddlerhood, but our dog will not.  As he ages, he will probably slow down and nap more, but he will never grow in wisdom.

In my faith journey, I hope and pray that I will not be like my dog: never growing up.  I pray that I will continue to grow in understanding and love.  May God grant me all that is necessary for growing into the person God created me to be, a mature disciple of Christ.

Glorious and merciful Holy Spirit, please work within me that I may become who you would have me be so that I do what you would have me do.  Amen.

Sunday

October 19



Scripture tells us that we are to lay our petitions before God, and so I do, not with the hope that I may change God's mind about something or get God to follow my wishes, but just so I may lay my earnest desires in that holiest of places.  If I pray for someone in difficult circumstances, I pray not so much for a favorable outcome--God knows I want that--but that that person may have strength to endure, hope, and comfort.

Why do you pray, and what do you pray for?


Friday

October 17





I remember when I first graduated from high school.  I felt so adult.  I worked, made decisions, bought my first and very used car.  As I think back on those years, I realize how little I knew, how little I had experienced.  How little we know about our world, no matter how many years we have lived!  I am astounded by the enormity of God, by how much God knows and sustains.  Little me is secure in the arms of God, even if I cannot see that now.

Almighty God, I am awed by your power and majesty.  You create and sustain all things.  Grant that I may rest confidently on you, my Rock and my Foundation.  In the name of Jesus Christ the Lord, Amen.


Wednesday

October 15



Merciful God, we read in the news of so many things which cause pain and fear.  We don't understand how humans could do such things to other humans.  But, you know because you experienced cruelty and violence for yourself.  You experience it again with us.  Help us to forgive as you do.  Help us to return anger with love and to work for peace.  We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday

October 13


My fingers have been cold most of the day.  That makes is more difficult for me to do almost anything else: grip things, type, ... .  It reminds me of the verses from 1 Corinthians about Christ's body!

"If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it.  You are the body of Christ and parts of each other."   1 Corinthians 12: 26-27

Gracious God,
You are generous and loving.  Please be merciful and forgive me when I forget how much the well being of others is linked to my own well being.  Please help me to remember that helping others is the key to my own abundant life.  In the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen.

Saturday

October 11



Our church supports many missions and ministries which strive to help, both to alleviate immediate need and also to encourage long term improvement.  John Wesley taught us to do good to all people as much as we can and to do no harm.  The questions arise when we aren't sure what is good and what is harmful.  Even tons of research and consulting experts can leave us with questions.  When are we enabling and when are we really helping?  I believe that is when we leave our doubts with God. We should be vigilant in order to be good stewards with our ministries, but we should also be willing to take some risks.  We pray for God to bless our efforts and our funds and we trust.

Thursday

October 9


In this day of new and better and always changing, we can lose sight of the value of what is "tried and true".  I was sitting and waiting yesterday and happened to glance at a magazine which had an article about new and improved grilled cheese sandwiches. What is wrong with the old and delicious grilled cheese sandwiches?  I wouldn't eat them every day, but once in a while, I enjoy a gooey, buttery sandwich.

Lord, you are the same yesterday, today, and forever, yet you are always creating and re-creating. Help me to appreciate the goodness of the world and people around me.  Help me to be open to what is new and different.  Guide me to be led by you and not to be lured into complacency in the safe and familiar or into dissatisfaction with anything not new.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday

October 7




I find prayer beads useful in my prayer life.  They help me to focus as I pray, lessening distractions as I concentrate on the prayer for each bead.  Sometimes, I simply hold the entire set in my hand as I pray.  I am reminded of prayers I have prayed previously using the beads.  For others, the beads may be a distraction, leading their minds from Christ to the beads themselves.  Our conversation with God is most important, not the specific way to hold that conversation.

Gracious and Holy Lord, help me to concentrate on you and your will for my life.  Help me to know what you would have me be and do in this moment.  May your Spirit open my heart to love you more and to love those whom you place in my life.  In the name of Christ, my Lord, Amen.

Sunday

October 5



Fighting

I am a fan of Korean drama, especially that which deals with personal relationships.  There is a word they use in Korean, that is actually an English word, "fighting."  It is not a word they use to hit with fists, or swing kick, or seek revenge.  It is always said with arm gestures, hands raised up to about shoulder height in determination, and a smile on the speaker's face.  It is said after a friend has come for a heart-to-heart talk, a focus has been discovered, and a goal has been set for the person who has come worried and confused.  The listener encourages the friend by repeating the goal, letting them know with the gesture, "I am with you, I am behind you, go for it!"  The listener ends with a smile, and says,"fighting!"

When I pray, I go heart-to-heart with God.  She is the listener, I am the one who is worried and confused.  I am still missing the part of finding the focus and goal, but I'm not missing the part of the encouragement.  In fact, at times, I feel the push behind me, when I see no one there, but God is saying, "fighting!"


Friday

October 3


O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”  Psalm 136:1
       

            What a strange psalm!  It consists of twenty-six verses, and twenty six times that line cited above is repeated—at the end of each verse.  The first line of each describes something about God, or about our world, or about our experience of it.  But the last line is almost a drumbeat reminder that God’s love never let’s go of us or abandons us.

            I’m not at great peace first thing in the morning when I first wake up. I’m suddenly restless in thinking of my schedule that day.  But as I get up and become aware that this is  another day God is granting me, my anxiety eases; God’s love surrounds me and that makes all the difference in the world.

            What we need most is not a clear agenda for each day, or the drive and energy to get through our schedule—that’s secondary.  What is primary is knowing the steadfast love of God that endures forever;  in that is our peace.


            Prayer: O God, enable us to know the presence of your love in each and every day of our life journey.   Amen

Wednesday

October 1


Gracious Lord, when the world seems to bear in upon me, grant me your freeing grace.  When it seems that everyone I know wants me to DO something, help me to rest in your presence.  When I am so tired, help me to take your yoke upon myself.  Help me to turn to you for each day's priorities.  In the name of the Good Shepherd, Amen.

Monday

September 29


Our True Self is Always Visible to God

Recently I had the opportunity to visit a quaint little tea room for lunch with my mother.  Nestled in a row of antique shops and family owned stores, it was truly a hidden treasure.  As you entered you were met by a wall of hats . . . .all shapes and sizes, colors and styles.  There were gloves and scarves if you felt the need to fully dress for your afternoon tea.

Although we opted to dine as we were, it was quite entertaining watching the two little girls that were having tea with their grandmother.  They dressed up in all the accessories and pretended to be someone else, other than their 8 and 9 year old selves. Their smiles and the constant changing of the hats and accessories indicated they were opting to be different people every few minutes.

I thought about the fact that we too as adults often dress up in an effort to hide something we don't wish to share or others to see.  It may be a hurt or a disappointment and we would rather put on a smile and pretend all is well rather than admit there is sorrow or pain going on.  We pretend to be someone we are not or someone different.  Someone whose life is perfect or without trouble or discord.  Society tells us to smile and the world smiles back at you, so we should never let them see us down.  Yet there are times that healing cannot begin until the wound has been fully exposed.

Just like that scrape that we try to cover up to keep any additional infection from entering in, it will not fully close up until the air has a chance to encircle it and allow it to breathe.  So it is with our pains of the heart, we have to expose them rather than cover them up pretending they don't exist.

God knows our hurts . . . God knows our hearts. . . . all the hats and dress up in the world will never hide us from Him.  He gives us friends, family, clergy and churches and wants us to allow them all to embrace us.  He has given us the opportunity to heal . . . it is up to us not to hide from His offerings.

James 5:16


Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Saturday

September 27


Dear Father,

      Thank you for the blessing of the autumn season. The cooler days and changing colors remind us of your seasonal patterns. The coming of the next season reassures us your timing is perfect. Whether it is the turning of fall leaves, or the changing of something routine in our lives, we need not fear. Your timing is right for the 'harvest moments' in our lives.

Let us find comfort in Jeremiah 5:2- New Century Version (NCV)

They do not say to themselves,
    ‘We should fear the Lord our God,
who gives us autumn and spring rains in their seasons,
    who makes sure we have the harvest at the right time.’

Thursday

September 25


I was reading the story from the Bible about how Jesus fasts in the desert for 40 days after being baptized by John the Baptist. What caught my attention was that Satan was desperate for sin. His whole goal was to test the messiah to see if he was strong enough to resist the temptation of sin. Jesus each time responded with quotes from scripture and never gave into very easy temptations that surrounded him for 40 days.


To our own lives, this can serve as a reminder to us that God watches over us and cares for us and will provide for our spiritual needs, and that the temptations that we face can be conquered through devotion to prayer.

Tuesday

September 23


Loving Well

The husband of a dear friend died this past summer.  The couple was especially close.  The gift of their chance meeting so many years ago was something they celebrated every day. The looks, the touches, the kindnesses.  The special way they spoke of each other.  The laughter and the fun.  They loved each other well.

Both believers, they had no doubt that he was going to be with the Lord.  Despite the comfort of that faith and knowledge, she is still struggling with sadness and loneliness.
But the beautiful thing is that she has no regrets because of the selfless way they loved each other.

Do you love those around you well?

In today’s intense, stress-filled world, it is hard to get what we think we need.  And we can get very impatient when our loved ones don’t deliver what we want. Won’t he ever pick up his socks off the floor?  How could she be late meeting me again? Why does he vacuum around the things on the stairs instead of moving them? Why is she still carrying those ten pounds of extra weight? In our preoccupation with self, it is easy to deliver such messages in a distinctly unloving way.

Maybe God gave us these differences so that through working them out, we could grow more like Him. The remarkable changes that would take place in us would be visible to everyone as we learned to love each other as God made us to love.

And in the end, we would have no regrets. Just wonderful memories of a life well-loved.


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22.  New American Standard Bible

Sunday

September 21



"It is the Lord who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.  When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth."  Jeremiah 10: 12-13a  NRSV

Thank you, Lord, for small miracles.  Thank you for the beauty of Fall leaves.  Thank you for the misty mornings.  Thank you for the crisp cool breeze.  Thank you for the sparkle of the stars and the brilliance of the sun.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Friday

September 19


It is hard to believe that in a couple days, it will be Autumn.  Fall is my favorite time of year.  The crisp air is invigorating, and events and programs that were paused for summer are beginning again.  Plans made in the warmer months are put into action.

Lord, thank you for times to pause and plan.  Thank you for times to act and implement.  Thank you that for everything there is indeed a season!  Amen.

Wednesday

September 17





On those nights when I find it difficult to sleep, I swing between feeling stressed that I will be too tired the next day to function well and feeling at peace in the quiet house.  If I can put the worries of tomorrow from my mind and heart, those moments are times of deep prayer.

"So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.  Today's trouble is enough for today."  Matthew 6:34  NRSV

"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."    Matthew 11:28  NRSV

Monday

September 15




Sometimes interruptions can be fun.  We receive wonderful surprises if we open ourselves to receiving the unexpected.  However, sometimes interruptions are difficult.  We let people down when we are unable to meet a deadline or miss a meeting.  All we can do is ask for pardon and remember to be merciful the next time someone lets us down.

Merciful Savior, thank you for your forgiveness and love.  Help us to be merciful, too.  Help us to be open to learning and growing through life's interruptions.  Amen.

Saturday

September 13


Someone found a small cache of charms and gave them to our church.  The charms are mostly crosses.  Have you ever looked in the pockets of a jacket you haven't worn for a while or cleaned out your glove compartment and found a peasant surprise?  Jesus can be found in unexpected places.  We haven't been there or met that person or tried that activity, but we can know that Jesus will be there before us.  Anywhere we go, anything we try, any person we encounter is already known by Jesus.

Thank you, Lord, for going before us.  Thank you for walking with us.  Thank you for going behind us.  Thank you that we can never leave your loving presence.  Amen.

Thursday

September 11



What burdens are you carrying today?
God knows that you are burdened.  He knows that you are tired. Sit with Him for awhile.  You can trust Him with your needs.  You can trust Him with your heart.
Do not be afraid. Pour out your heart to Him. Ask Him to replace your fear with faith. Ask Him to show you the way out of your anxiety.
You are His precious child. He wants to be in relationship with you. That’s why He created you.
He loves you and will never leave you. Ever.


She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up.  She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with. At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him.  He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” Mark 5 27-30. The Message.




Tuesday

September 9


     In our world today, much of what we see and hear in the media is directed toward improving our outward appearance.  In the stores, we experience the same thing. For example in Target, there are at least two aisles devoted to cosmetic products that will supposedly make you more beautiful, and twenty or more kinds of shampoo that will transform your hair.  In the mall, we see advertisements in the store windows that picture young people wearing clothing that costs hundreds of dollars suggesting that the clothes will make them more successful and more popular.  This message influences many people. People spend a great deal of time and money on their appearance. What you wear is not what concerns God. The inner you is what matters most. Taking care of what is on the inside is more important. God looks at what is in your heart.

Lord, Guide my thoughts, intentions, and actions, so I may have a heart that pleases you.

But the Lord said to Samuel, "Don't judge by appearances or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn't make decisions the way we do! People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at a person's thoughts and intentions." 1 Samuel 16:7

Sunday

September 7


People who are experts at something make it look so easy. Dancers flow and twist across the floor.  Singers reach our hearts.  Mechanics make engines purr.  Yet, we know that many hours, even years, of effort have gone into making it look easy.  What do you spend a lot of time and effort doing?  What is worth working hard to do?

Lord God, there is nothing too hard for you.  Grant us grace to work hard on the things you want us to do.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday

September 5



I walked outside church today to change the sign out front.  It was a pretty day, not too hot, so I was looking forward to the break.  On my way back into church I had to walk under the scaffolding that has been in place for almost a year.  (You see a restoration contractor has been repairing the church steeple, which is almost 60 years old.)  As I walked up the handicap ramp, I looked up because the birds were singing and dancing and I wanted to see the fun.  And just over my head, where the tree has worked its branches around the scaffolding, I could see a bird's nest ... precariously resting between the scaffolding pipe and a thin branch.  Oh dear.  I had my phone in my back pocket, so I used it to take this picture.  I don't know if you can see it ... right in the middle of the photo, just below and to the right of the red painted pipe ... is the bird's nest.  I walked up and down the ramp in amazement of this bird's architectural achievement!

Look at the birds in the sky.  They don't sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns.  Yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Matt 6:26


Wednesday

September 3



For several years, including this past summer, we had wrens living on our front porch.  They live in an old toy quiver which my husband made for our children long ago and which has been hanging under the eaves of the porch.  I enjoy their noise and darting flights.  The cheeping of the young birds and the numerous trips with insects which the parents make are delightful.  I miss them when they move away.  However, sharing a porch can be problematic.  We do not sit on our swing while the baby birds are growing, and we try to keep our time on the porch to a minimum.  The parent wrens' scolding is rather fun, but they hesitate to bring food to their young while we are there.  We adjust because we want to share our porch with the little birds.

Don't we all have to make adjustments in order to share our lives with others?  As much as we may enjoy being with our friends or families or co-workers or neighbors, we must make adjustments to share our time with them.  From deciding which show to watch on TV to when to meet to shifting our schedules to care for a neighbor's dog, we adjust our lives so that we can share our lives.

Almighty Lord, you have created us to share our lives with one another and with all of your creation.  Please grant us patience, mercy, and wisdom as we work out how best we can live together.  In Jesus' name, we pray, Amen.

Tuesday

September 2


Anxiety is often our first reaction to conflict.  We feel that if we really care about the issues, we will worry and be anxious.  We may think that the more we worry, the better the outcome will be.  Not true!  Our best problem-solving resource is peace.  Anxiety can block us from finding solutions.  We can cultivate peace as we intentionally seek to surround ourselves with that which nurtures peace.  What nurtures peace for you?  Do you find peace in beautiful music or a walk in a garden?  Do you find peace in alone time in prayer or in conversation with a trusted friend?  Let us trust that by nurturing peace, we are opening ourselves to solutions to our conflicts, problems, and fears.  Let go and let God.

Heavenly Lord, you have promised us peace that passes understanding.  Help me to find that peace and open myself to your Spirit. Amen.

Friday

August 29



Sometimes we are intimidated about asking questions.  Either we think we should already know or we think that everyone else already knows.  We feel foolish asking.

All- knowing Lord, we thank you for your love and mercy.  We know that you don't think that we should already know, but that you encourage us to learn.  Help us to be brave and ask questions so that we can learn more about you and how to be who you want us to be.  In Jesus' name, Amen.