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Little Reminders

cardinalsLittle Reminders

I question the workings of God just as anyone else does. There are times that I don’t understand why he allows certain things to happen or why there seem to be certain prayers that are left unanswered. I see all these little quippy sayings like “when he doesn’t answer prayer it’s because he has something better in store for you” but that doesn’t solve the problems for that day.

I understand that his ways are not our ways, that we will never fully understand the way he works until we get to heaven and then everything will be revealed to us. I guess it is the waiting, the wondering that gets to me once in awhile.

While I try to tell others, those that don’t understand why he doesn’t seem to be moving in their lives or why they still have to go through trials and tribulations after receiving him, when they are ready to give up because nothing significant has changed since they accepted Christ, “God never promised that life on earth would be easy. He promised that when we get home everything will be perfect.”

Sometimes I need to really practice what I preach. I need to listen to what I am telling others and take it to heart. I need to follow my own advice and let God have his way, still there are times when I just feel like he is ignoring me, that he isn’t paying attention.

Then something out of the blue will remind me that he is nearby. Literally out of the blue. There is a myth that Cardinals are a sign that angels are nearby. The Bible has never said anything about this nor have I ever heard anyone preach about it. All I know is that I love the other creations of God. I love nature and all the life that comes with it and Cardinals are beautiful, one of my favorite birds.

As I stood out on the back deck, where I like to say a morning prayer, a cardinal flew down on the railing. Now, while we feed the birds out there, it isn’t that often that they will come very close to us. This one, however, landed not more than three feet away from me. I talked to it for a minute, then it flew up to the Mimosa tree next to the deck, still only a few feet away.

This activity went on for a few minutes, flying down to the railing, going back up in the tree, flying down and sitting, cocking it’s head a little when I spoke, and then going back up to perch in the tree and watch me.

The Lord sends me little reminders that he is always near, and this little Cardinal was one of those precious messages. I love the little reminders he sends and he always know just the right time to send them. Even though there are times I feel lost, lonely or hurt, even though there are times I wonder why he doesn’t make his presence known, these little reminders tell me he is always near.

Watch for those little reminders, for even when we think he isn’t near, he is always there beside us.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

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turtle speed limitLimitations

I was standing out on the back deck looking at the yard and thinking about what really needed to be done to it. The old rickety garage that will some day fall down has weeds growing all along the side that really should come down, but Sam, the guy that mows and weed-eats for us can’t get to them because I have old wood from the tomato plant and pots and other gardening stuff scattered along there, making it impossible for him to get to the weeds.

I know I need to do it, but it will take me awhile as I don’t have the energy and physical strength that I used to have. I have to do some chores in increments instead of whipping them out in half an hour or so like I used to do.

As I thought about these limitations, Kim came to mind. She was a little woman that Ken and I would visit at the nursing home. She was born with a type of debilitating arthritis and club feet. She had never walked a day in her life. Her family couldn’t take care of her and that was why she lived in a nursing home.

She used to come to church in a van that would drop her off in her wheel chair and then come back and pick her up, but at some point that was stopped because the family just couldn’t financially afford to do it anymore.

Kim had an outlook on life that amazed me. Even if we could tell she was having a rough day when we would visit, or was not feeling well, she would get this big smile on her face when she saw us and tell us that she was just doing wonderful, feeling blessed and praising the lord.

You see, she never complained. She was happy to be alive, she was happy to have family and friends that cared for her, she was happy to be in a “good” nursing home and she was totally devoted to the Lord. She never looked at her situation as being limited. She never once thought she had any limitations. This was her life, she accepted it, thanked God for it and lived it.

I felt ashamed of myself when she came to mind. How could I, a person who has had mobility all her life, one who has enjoyed things like swimming, going on hikes and picnics, driving or walking without any effort feel sorry for myself over my limitations, when she had never nor would ever enjoy any of these things.

I think the Lord was impressing on me that I don’t have limitations, I have a case of stubbornness. I have been unwilling to realize that I have gone to a new level and at different levels things are done differently. It is not necessary for me to do everything at once and it is not necessary for me to let little things become big things. In thinking that way, I am creating my own limitations.

Like the good father he is, he is always teaching me.

Psalms 147:5 Our Lord is great, and rich in power; his understanding has no limitation.

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Memorial Day

american flagMemorial Day became a Federal Holiday on May 30, 1868. It was established to honor those who died in battle protecting our country and helping protect other countries as well. We have been in more wars than most people realize. The American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Indian Wars, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan were the ones I found while looking for wars that Americans have fought in. While we are still fighting on other shores, it amazes me how much we had to fight on our own land.

It reminds me of all the wars and battles I’ve read about in the Bible. Someone was always trying to take over the Israelis. David and Saul fought for years to keep God’s chosen people from being under the rule of non-believers. It was 2000 years before Israel finally became it’s own nation once again, on May 14, 1948 after being ruled by others including the Ottomans and Great Britain, and still, there are those factions, those who think that they should rule Israel fighting near her boundaries and around the surrounding areas.

When I looked at the figures of those of our service men that have died through the years fighting this wars, I was shocked, Between the American Revolution up to the War in Afghanistan, close to one million service men and women have died protecting our freedom and the freedom of others.

Yet, in my opinion, we have wars going on right here in our own country. Small wars that may at some point escalate into a full Civil War that will leave us vulnerable to outside forces. Between the specially formed groups like BLM, WLM, Neo-Nazis, different gangs that take over whole neighborhoods and have turf wars and different Mafias that are doing the same, we may at some day have to defend ourselves and our homes.

I worry about this generation that will some day step into the roles that our government holds right now. Society has become complacent and allowed an “everything goes” attitude to take over our nation, yet, we have young people who want to take away our right to protect ourselves, and we have young people who have to have a “safe” room to go to if someone hurts their feelings, and we have young people who feel it is alright to just take the lives of those they don’t like and we have ones who don’t think their generation should have to work for a living.

Are we shortening the days of this once great country by ignoring the wars on our own land? So while everyone is enjoying that Barbecue, that picnic, that fun time with relatives and family, think about where our country is heading and wonder, how many more Memorial Days will we be allowed to have.

I am thankful to have been raised in a generation that was proud of America, a generation that believed in our freedom, our way of life, a generation who thought it was their duty to serve and protect us no matter what the cost.

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On Fire

campfireOn Fire

The church I was saved at played some awesome music before each service. It touched your heart and helped the congregation focus on being in touch with the Lord. Some of the old time hymns we sang brought tears to my eyes as well as to the eyes of many in the congregation.

Sometime in the early to mid 90’s things seem to be changing in many Christian Churches. Revivals were breaking out all over, younger people were getting more involved and the music sung was changing to fit the newer, younger crowds. Christian rock was used to describe some of it and later it was termed Charismatic Christian Music.

It appealed to the younger generation and, true, it seemed that many were turning to Christ and sharing the message among their friends, neighbors and families. The growth in many churches was astounding. People were soon dancing in the aisles, jumping up and down, waving their hands in the air and many were being blessed by the Holy Spirit in speaking in tongues. Many talked about being on fire for the Lord.

I remember sitting back and watching, from church to church, the changes that were taking place. Many of the “old” crowd strained themselves to keep up with the exuberance of the younger people, trying to bounce up and down and dance in the spirit until their faces turned red and the sweated profusely, finally having to sit down from pure exhaustion. Of course we know that wasn’t from the spirit, all the same they wanted to be included.

Maybe the changes were need to draw in new people, younger people, to keep the churches going, but I don’t think that the older ones needed to try and keep up. There was nothing wrong with the way they worshiped, but sadly I saw a few pastoral couples encouraging everyone to jump up and down or dance around and I saw many elderly couples leave the church because they just couldn’t keep up with the youngsters.

Church growth is great. Speaking in tongues, dancing in the spirit, waving in the air, jumping up and down is just fine if it is, in fact, of the spirit, David did it, in fact he encouraged it, but I have seen the pretenders. They were drawn in because it was like going to a concert. They didn’t want to be saved but “thank God” many of them were. They were there because of the atmosphere and acoustics.

People need to understand that when you come into the presence of the Lord, in many circumstances, it is a private affair. Following the crowd is not always a guarantee that you will be blessed as others have been. The Lord isn’t looking for acoustics, he’s looking for faith, and love, and obedience and worship.

I have always been the type of person who likes to stand off in the shadows. I don’t like to be noticed or pointed out. I’ve always wanted to serve in a servants area, behind the scenes, helping those who are more vocal and more up in front than I was.

Yes, I’ve worked with praise and worship teams, I’ve been on the stage in front of others, but most the time I was the person who set things up and helped others behind the scenes. It doesn’t mean I am less intent on my worship of faith to the lord.

I’ve spoken in tongues and I’ve prayed with groups, and I’ve been slain in the spirit. I haven’t danced in aisles or jumped up and down. I have lifted my hands to heaven and I have fallen to my knees in worship. It’s how the spirit has moved me.

If I don’t dance in aisle in a church, if I don’t scream and holler or jump up and down, it doesn’t mean I am any less a worshiper than others. If that way of worshiping works for others, it’s great, but it doesn’t mean that “we” others who worship in a more quiet way are less on fire for God, it simply means that our fire burns inside and we have a different, deep and private relationship with the Lord. Today I am thankful to still be “on fire” for the Lord.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

2 Samuel 6:14 And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.

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The Back Porch

cardinalsThe Back Porch

I’ve lived a lot of places in my life. For a long time, I lived in some major cities, sometimes in a house where you were so close to your neighbor that you could crawl from your bedroom right into theirs, and sometimes in apartments with very thin walls where you could hear everything going on in the next apartment.

I’ve lived in some dangerous neighborhoods and some upscale neighborhoods. I’ve lived in 55+ parks and I’ve lived on farms. I’ve lived in the country and in the suburbs and a five minute walk from downtown Cleveland.

I’ve always like the outdoors. Fresh air, a blue sky, trees, flowers, grass and plenty of wild birds, squirrels, chipmunks, possums and yes even skunks doing their own thing ignorant of any and all around them, is, I think, the most beautiful setting in the world.

I’ve dealt with rush hour traffic, bumper to bumper, accidents and inclement weather, construction, parades, school zones and rerouting when driving to and from work. I’ve driven down so many streets in some of the bigger cities that I could draw you a map without a problem, but I have always preferred to drive in rural areas.

The best move I ever made was to a small rural town where people are just completely different from what you find in the big cities, where they actually talk to you and look out for you. I’ve lived in three houses here and I have to say this one is the best. It has a front porch and a huge deck/back porch and I have always loved porches.

The back porch is my favorite. I’m out there first thing in the morning while my coffee is heating up. I grow plants on it and I feed the birds on it and sometimes I just stand on it and drink in the peacefulness of it. On many days I just stand out there and pray, thanking God for all the blessings in my life and thanking him for my back porch. It is one of my most favorite places to be. Today I am thankful for the peacefulness of my back porch.

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The Rain

lighteningThe Rain

I know I haven’t posted much lately, but it is going into summer and I am bound and determined to spend as much time outside as the weather allows this summer. We have had thunderstorms all day today and they are predicted throughout tonight, tomorrow and most of the week so that kind of puts a damper on my plans.

However, I love the smell outside after a refreshing rain. I don’t like the water bugs that show up on the back deck afterwards, and I don’t like how slick the deck steps get. I don’t like the puddles that lead from the steps to the garbage cans, but I do like the fact that when it rains I don’t have to water the plants,

The Bible talks about the droughts that God inflicted on people at certain times. You’ll find references to droughts in Amos, Isaiah, Chronicles, Kings, Leviticus and Haggai just to mention a few. Droughts were often used to punish people or to try and get them to turn from their wicked and sinful ways.

The weather over the last ten or twenty years has changed considerably around the world. There are more strange weather conditions, more tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis than ever before. You never know what to expect from the weather anymore since they say that it can be affected by solar storms, volcano eruptions, earthquakes and Ocean disturbances. Sometimes it seems like it is just a toss of the dice.

I read, not long ago, that our water tables are still low from the last drought we suffered a few years ago. The water tables are important because without water the crops will die, the animals too will suffer and many will die. We drink it, we bath in it, we wash our clothes in it, we play in it and we water our crops, herds and household plants with it. We also use it to generate power. Today I am thankful for the rain, even when it interferes with my outdoor plans.

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wringer washerMother

It seems like I am always running behind on things, but Mother’s Day and Monday were pretty busy. We had an ER visit on the one and running to do on the other. That’s my excuse.

Mother’s should be celebrated everyday, not just one day a year. A good mother spends most of her time seeing to her family’s needs, taking very little time for herself.

The Bible says a lot about what mothers are to be: Titus 2:4-5 says and “so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands that the word of God may not be reviled”. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 refers to being available morning, noon and night “and these words I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk about them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you arise” and the famous one that applies not just to mothers but fathers as well Proverbs 22:6 “train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he shall not depart from it”

Motherhood, today has changed. It is not as is it was in biblical times. Most households have to depend on both parents to work so the children end up in daycare or with relatives so the strong bonds between a mother and her children are often weaker than they should be. Then you have the single mothers, those who didn’t choose to wait until they were married and those who have lost their spouse, either through divorce or death.

Too many parents have chosen different ways of raising their children, trying to be open minded and allowing them to be exposed to all the evils of the world without warning them of the consequences. Others have just stepped away totally from any kind of interaction with children, allowing others such as the school, daycare workers or teachers the job of teaching their children, often, also depending on electronics and technology as babysitters so they can have their “me” time.

Some mothers weren’t meant to be mothers at all. Everyday in the news I read about some horrible abuse perpetrated on children by their parents, some even starving, beating and killing their own children. No, society has changed the face of motherhood a long time ago. Many of these abusive parents didn’t want children to begin with but were careless and didn’t take any responsibility for curbing their sexual appetites. Others were addicts and some must have been mentally ill.

I’ve had five mothers and several who acted as mothers in my life. Some were good, some not so good. I had two foster mothers and my own mother who really loved and cared about me, and two who didn’t see any reason to treat me as family. I’ve been blessed by having more than one good mother. I’ve been blessed by having others who treated me as their own child. If you have a mother, even one who could not always be there because of extenuating circumstances such as illness or the need to work, celebrate her every day. Love her, be there for her. Today I am thankful for all the “real” mothers I have had in my life.