Category Archives: Devotionals

Scripture based thoughts.

Thankfulness Reset

IMG_2128Be joyful always. Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. Do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything, hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil. –1 Thes 5:16-22

 

I woke this morning with a lot of regrets.  Little nagging regrets but regrets all the same.  I did not choose joy yesterday, I chose ingratitude and bitterness….over nothing! As we begin this month of Thanksgiving, I want to hit the reset button and try again. (And, I may need to hit that reset button again each morning.) As I read the above scripture, I decided that this month I will make a “game” out of giving thanks in all circumstances.  I will test everything and hold onto the good.  What might that look like in my life?

We miss the bus? That gives me a reason to remember to be thankful that we actually catch it more than we miss it. It’s raining? gives me the perfect excuse to curl up with a good book. The tire on my car is low? Might as well stay home and phone a friend. Piles of laundry to be done? I can be thankful that 3 of my children are grown and responsible for their own laundry and the 2 at home are in training.

So though yesterday I allowed myself to become bitter instead of better in the face of changed plans, unmet expectations and general spiritual fatigue, today, I will accept the scriptural challenge.  I will give thanks in all circumstances and test everything.  I will hold onto the good and I am sure to wake tomorrow with a lighter heart!  I challenge you to do the same.

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Keep Your Pants!

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My father in law has been in and out of the hospital many times in his 90+ years.  He has endured long stays and yet has sometimes been released on the same day.  His common joke during these times is to “never let them take your pants.”  He claims that once you have to give up your pants and don a hospital gown you are going to have to stay.  Now, after he has a trip to the ER, when we call to check in he will report, “Well, they took my pants” or “I didn’t let them get my pants” which lets us know if he will be staying or not.  Although I loved his clever way of reporting his health status, I never realized exactly what it meant until recently when I’ve been having some of my own health issues.

In May during some pre-surgery testing, I had an irregular EKG.  I had to have a follow up on that and the repeat EKG was deemed good enough for me to have the minor surgery, however, I now knew there was a blip on my EKG that would cause someone in the medical field to take a second look.  In August, I fell and broke my nose and bumped my head while on vacation in Nashville, TN.  When I got to the ER, they immediately requested all sorts of testing.  When I heard them mention an EKG, I politely refused the test.  I knew the “blip” would appear and I would find myself in a hospital in Tennessee while on vacation.

A few weeks ago, while traveling in Denver, CO, my heart started doing a flip-flop every now and then.  It has done this before and though not alarming, I have a family history of heart issues, so I became more aware of my heartbeat.  (Which is kind of like when someone tells you to be still after you’ve been still and you all of a sudden want to move.)  I became hyper-aware of my beating and every now and then pausing heart. This continued and I traveled to North Carolina where the flip-flops increased.  I toyed with the idea of going to the hospital, but I was out of state and didn’t want to change my plans.

I returned home and the irregularities seemed to increase and caused me to wonder. Should I go to the hospital? I didn’t want to go the day I got home, I didn’t want to miss K’s School walkathon, the weather was supposed to be nice on Saturday and I didn’t want to miss that, I knew I couldn’t go before I attended an event with my husband on Friday, and the excuses continued. I called doctors who all advised me to go to the ER if I was concerned until my upcoming scheduled cardiology appointment.  Still, I didn’t want to go.  I knew the monitor would show something and I had plans.  My plans did not include a trip to the hospital.

I finally entered the ER on Friday night AFTER attending the event and I sat in the parked car feeling my heart beating to see if I truly needed to go in.  With some encouragement from my husband (him refusing to back out of the parking spot and take me home), I went in.  I was told to put on a gown….but I could leave my pants on.  YAY!  The pants stay on, I may not need to stay.  The monitor was reporting the variations of my heart rhythm so I knew they could see what I was feeling. There was definitely something going on and it wasn’t all in my head. I was told it was PVCs, a very common affliction that many people have and most don’t even feel.  I. feel. each. one.  Regardless, I was treated with 3 baby aspirin and told to go home.  They never took my pants, I maintained my control.  However, does my need for control demonstrate my lack of faith?  I really don’t ever have control, do I?

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

In the above scripture, the Roman officer who had control of his army and his decisions realized that he didn’t have control of healing his sick servant, but he knew who did. He knew Jesus was the one who could heal him.  Jesus was pleased with him when he said, “Truly, I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” I believe Jesus knows we want to control things, I mean, He made me, right? So he knows I want to control, but I also think he is pleased when I give up control and turn situations over to Him.

So, I have an appointment with a cardiologist in 5 days, I feel the flip-flopping heartbeat and second guess if I have any additional symptoms from time to time. The ER doctor said I am fine and I’m giving this anxious heart over to God.  He is in control.  I’m going to wear my pants physically, but I’m truly going to let God wear the pants in this relationship.

 

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Joy = Strength

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“I can’t do this. It’s impossible.  There’s no way I will ever be able to do this. I’m not strong enough to handle all of this.”  Those are things we often say to ourselves throughout the day and throughout the week.  We don’t feel like we are strong enough. Strength is defined as the state of being strong.  Wow.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be strong?!  How many of us actually feel strong most days?  I know myself that some days I wake and I feel like I can tackle anything.  All cylinders are firing. Other days, I wake and just drag.  I can almost tell that everything I attempt will be difficult. Where can I get the strength I need to get through this day and ultimately my life?

The scripture in Nehemiah 8:10 says, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  The joy of the Lord is my strength? Joy (aka the feeling of great pleasure and happiness) of the Lord is my strength. I can interpret that two ways and both of them sound fun.

  1. The Joy OF the Lord is my strength. So, what can I do to make the Lord full of great pleasure and happiness?  Surely not waking in the new day that he has given me and grumbling down the stairs to complain about all that I have to do that day.  I don’t think that brings Him joy.
  2. The JOY of the Lord is my strength. So, JOY is from the Lord.  Remember, Joy is feeling pleasure and happiness, so what should I do today to experience it?

Being that I am not a theologian and the fact that I just make this stuff up as I go, don’t hold me accountable, but I think that either interpretation will bring you joy and thus, bring the Lord joy. So, what can we do when we wake having one of those days when we aren’t feeling strong?

Yesterday I listened to a teaching by Hannah Keely that suggested, that we ask ourselves not only, “What do I have to do today?” but also “What can I do to have fun today?”   And, though her message wasn’t exactly what we are talking about, I think that quote fits in perfectly here. When we are trying to figure out what we have to do on any given day, we should also be figuring out how we are going to have fun that day.  I think that would renew our joy and therefore, give us STRENGTH.

Let’s go play and have fun and be strong!

10 Easy things adults can do to be silly and have fun:

  1. Call a friend who makes you laugh.
  2. Put silly photos of your family on the fridge.
  3. Write yourself a fun message on your bathroom mirror.
  4. Blow Bubbles!
  5. Play with your pet or the kid next store.
  6. Wave at people in passing cars.
  7. Read the funnies in the paper & mail the really good one to a friend.
  8. Play a prank on someone you love. (And who loves you enough to tolerate it!)
  9. Blow up a balloon and see how many times you can keep it in the air.
  10. Dance during commercials while watching TV

 

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve for the joy of the Lord is your strength. — Nehemiah 8:10

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Proverbs

stock-photo-the-word-proverbs-one-of-the-books-of-the-holy-bible-in-cut-out-magazine-letters-pinned-to-a-cork-167707772Many of us are not Bible scholars and we even struggle with what to read in the Bible when we do get the notion that we should.  Where do we start?  Many people suggest reading the gospel of John where you’ll find the message of salvation. Others suggest Genesis.  It’s at the beginning which is usually a really good place to start & many of the beloved Bible Stories from your childhood are there.  Very interesting.  So, no matter what else you may want to start to read, I’d like to suggest the book of Proverbs as a way to get yourself into the Bible.  This book is unique in that it has 21 chapters of useful information.  One chapter for each day.  So, simply put, you can read Chapter 1 on the first day of each month.  If you skip your Bible reading for a few days, just pick up on the chapter that corresponds with the date.  Easy.

These wise sayings that help us in everyday life, offering us advice on how to behave in various situations.

  • A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. 17:22
  • There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking. 29:20
  • Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife. 21:19
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. 3:5
  • As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. 26:11
  • Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. 22:6
  • A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; 27:15
  • He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe. 28:27

Solomon gave us these proverbs and many wise suggestions for our daily living.  May I suggest we read them and heed them?  Let me know how you make out.

 

Proverbs 27:15-16 (New Living Translation)
A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day. Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind or trying to hold something with greased hands.

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Pray for Bird Watchers?

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I just finished reading my daily devotional from The Upper Room.  Every morning I open this little booklet, read the suggested scriptures and the accompanying devotional.  It always includes a title, scripture reading, key verse, thought for the day, prayer and prayer focus.  Today’s prayer focus is: Bird-Watchers.  Really?!  The devotional made the point that we can see God in situations if we look closely and that sometimes bird watchers can see birds that others miss because they have trained their eyes to spot them.  Hence, if we train our eyes to look for God we will see Him.  Good message.  Then, the prayer focus….bird-watchers?  It kind of gave me pause.  Since it said I should pray for bird-watchers, I did, but really I have no idea why!  Then, it dawned on me.  I just prayed for someone that I don’t know.  I prayed for an unknown group of people for unknown reasons.  Lord, Bless the Bird-Watchers.  It made me realize that other days on other prayer focuses, someone is praying for me!  I don’t fit the bird-watcher category, but I fit many others:  Mothers, Those who are worried and stressed, Those struggling with envy, Someone who feels forgotten, Those discouraged about helping others, Someone learning a new skill. Some categories may include:  Those who are weary, Those struggling to understand, Those who help their kids with homework, Those doing home repairs.  The ideas are endless.

So, today, I’ll heed the prayer focus.  May the Bird Watchers feel blessed.  And, tomorrow, I may feel an unexpected boost as some stranger may be lifting me up in prayer.  Go ahead, pray for me, I appreciate it!

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  —  James 5:16

 

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Tired or Trusting?

After a big night of Trick or Treating, Kaylee invited her cousin to spend the night.  It’s always fun when these two are together and really it is no trouble at all, so I allowed the sleepover to occur.  Of course, the girls had much more energy than my husband and I and when it was time for us to go to bed, we suggested they did too.  So, I tuck them in and tell them that they are welcome to whisper for a while, but to stay in bed (or on floor as the case may be.)  My husband and I went to bed and watched a little TV.  When it was time for us to turn off the lights, I exhaustedly asked him if he thought I should check on the kids.  He thought they’d be fine.  Relieved that I didn’t have to leave the warm comfort of my bed, I rolled over and went to sleep.

To the best of my knowledge they whispered a while and then fell asleep. In the morning, I came in to wake them and told them how much I appreciated that I was able to trust them and that I didn’t even need to come back in to check on them.  I simply trusted them. I then turned to Kaylee and said, “It’s time to get ready for church, come and show me what you want to wear to church before you put it on.”  Kaylee quickly responded, “Why? Don’t you trust me?”

Ouch.  She got me.  I trusted her to whisper a while in bed because I was tired, but in the morning when I had the energy to be more in charge I stopped trusting and wanted to start controlling.

Do we do that with God?  When we are desperate and destitute, when we are battered and weary, it’s easier to trust, “Lord, handle this, because I just don’t have the energy to!”  However, when we He gets us through our bind, we begin doubting again and our trust wanes. “I feel better, I think I’ll do it MY way again.”

We are to:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” –Proverbs 3:5-6

And we need to: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” — Psalm 37:5-6

Though I searched (not really…), I couldn’t find anywhere in the Bible where it says we are to trust in the Lord when we are tired and distrust when we wake up bright and on top of our game.  We are to trust.  And we are to do it with all our heart.

Kaylee looked lovely in her sleeveless dress & sweater and her open toed sandals.  It was a lovely day in Pennsylvania for fall, but I’m not leaving it to trust again. November 1 is now closed season for summer clothes!

 

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If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL.  Wise words my mom used to tell me often.  “If you can’t say anything nice…don’t say anything at all.”  She used this saying as a response to bickering between my brother and I but today I realized that there is a much bigger application that this can be used in.

It can also be spoken as “if you can’t be positive, be quiet.”  I like that.  I pride (Pride is a key word here!) myself in my positive attitude.  Sometimes I have even been referred to as a Pollyanna. It is said that being a Pollyanna is usually considered a put-down for being naive and unrealistic about things but Pollyanna always made a game of finding “something to be glad about.”  Is that a bad thing?

Regardless, our words have power and even though I can remember to not say anything at all if I don’t have something nice to say to others, I often forget to stay positive when I am alone in my room or in my thoughts.

For example, today something happened and I immediately started saying, “There is no way we can fix this.  This is so bad, how will I figure this out?  There is no way I’m going to make this right.”  Is that nice?  Should I say it?  Even to myself?  And, it definitely isn’t positive. It certainly affected my mood and the mood of those around me.

The minute I stopped saying anything.  Just stopped, I was able to re-frame the situation and recognize that I will be able to do something about it.  Will it be all right? Maybe not, but it will be my best.  I will start talking positively to myself and to others and I think the effort and results will show.  Instead of speaking defeat, I will strive for success.

There’s a story in the Bible (2 Kings 4:8) about a woman whose son had died.  She was running for help and when someone asked her “Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?” she replied, “Everything is all right.” (2 Kings 4:26) Are you kidding me?  Her son was dead!  BUT, what good would it have done for her to lament about her problems.  She was going for help.  Should she stop to complain about the situation?  She said, “Everything is all right” and kept going for help.

What a good example.  I’m going to try to be positive or be quiet.  I will do as I was told and not saying anything if I can’t say anything nice and I bet my day and my attitude will be better for it!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8      (AUTHOR NOTE: Think about such things? Probably includes talk about such things too!)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.           Ephesians 4:29 
(AUTHOR NOTE: Even if the “other” is you!)

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