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.


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.’


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.