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