Monday, November 25, 2013

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Reading: Colossians 3:17--"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Thanksgiving will arrive in just a few days. I must admit that it's one of my favorite holidays. It's all about thanks--thanks for family and friends that gather, thanks for the good foods that are shared with one another, thanks for the past seasons that allowed many of those foods to be grown and harvested.

It's nice to have a holiday where it's all about the thanks. It's too easy to overlook gratitude in our hectic lives. Focusing on being grateful for what we have in front of us is a relaxing and enjoyable feeling. There's no planning (other than cooking some food--but isn't it nice that most any combinations of food works well on this holiday?), there's no expectations of those in attendance of gifts other than the company of one another (and that good food, of course!).

Another nice thing about Thanksgiving is the name of the holiday itself--thanksgiving. Giving thanks. What could be more gratifying--giving thanks for everything good and right in our lives. For different people, this could be different things: a new job, perhaps, or a new spouse or child; good news from medical reports; just being alive on God's beautiful earth. No matter what the event or occasion, giving thanks is a beautiful tribute to our all-watching and all-loving God and his son, Jesus Christ.

So, I'm thankful today for a holiday of thanks...I'm also thankful that I can extend that holiday into each day of my life. Yes, I'm most thankful for Thanksgiving!

Peace be with you all.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Keeping an Eye on the Storm

Reading: Matthew 16:3--"'It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times."

Last Sunday was a day that many will not soon forget. Across the Midwest, horrific storms and tornados roared through towns and the countryside, taking with it homes, businesses, possessions, and life itself. As tragic as it all was, we were still at a great advantage due to the weather service giving us warnings hours and even days in advance that prepared us as much as possible for the storms. Nevertheless, none of us knew the exact location of where the storms would hit--even advanced weather radar is still unable to give pin-point accuracy. So, we prepared. We planned our day's activities around the time of the storm, we made sure we had needed supplies in case we needed them later, and we checked on loved ones to make sure all were okay. We do our best to be wisely prepared.

All throughout time, we have watched the skies. Weather plays a very crucial part in our day-to-day existence. It not only predicts whether the ballgame or picnic will happen, it also alerts the boats on the water and the planes in the sky of impending trouble. Watching the weather is certainly not a new invention. Even in Biblical times the adage "Red sky at morning, sailor take warning" was much-depended upon for safe sailing of the seas. With the passage of time, we now have very elaborate equipment that can forecast even the suggestion of a storm, much as it did last Sunday.

God tells us that He, too, is a forecaster--the perfect forecaster. He's always 100 percent correct in his predictions. He tells us to become better at being forecasters of our surroundings here on Earth. The world is indeed changing, and not necessarily for the better. The winds are stirring; the storms are brewing. The proverbial sky is red and threatening. These signs of inclement weather are our watches and warnings to be prepared for in heading to shelter--the shelter of God's perfect love and protection. We need to be vigilant in keeping a lookout for ourselves and others to stay safe from the coming storms. We'll never have a better storm shelter than the one God offers us; upon acceptance of Him and His son as our Savior, we have constant shelter. As the children's Sunday School song goes, "His shelter over me is love." What more could we need?

So, let's all keep alert with an eye to the skies. Let's also keep alert for the signs of the ultimate beautiful day of Christ's return.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Blessed by Examples of Godly Women

Reading: Proverbs 31:26  "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue."
 No one, I doubt, would disagree that our world is quickly changing.  I think age might have a little to do with it, but even remaining "young at heart" has become a real challenge in some areas--like TV. Tom and I usually go to church on Saturday evenings, so Sunday mornings are sometimes comprised of sipping coffee and enjoying CBS Sunday Morning. I'm guessing it's considered an "old people show", since it has a variety of low-key stories of people and events. This morning the TV got turned on a little earlier than usual and we ended up wading through some morning shows while waiting for our dependable Charles Osgood. And wading seemed to be the correct term--maybe even wading through molasses. We were bombarded with one meaningless story after another that had very little content and pretty much was just a lot of noise. I'm not sure this kind of change is what we all need.
 As I sat and watched some women participate in a cooking segment, my mind started mulling over just how difficult they were making easy steps of preparing a recipe. No woman I had grown up with would approach a meal in this way. The women I grew up watching and learning from could tackle a church supper feeding 500+ people without blinking--no running around, dancing, or posturing about the kitchen. And feed the masses they did--year after year. They worked passionately so that their friends and neighbors could enjoy a great meal and some equally great fellowship. And then they took their earnings and gave it back to the community. I have been richly blessed by these examples.
Those particular church suppers are in the past these days, but I was a recipient of a priceless treasure of those times. My mom was, for years, one of the main planners and cooks; I have her hand-written notes from years of planning. So many women's names listed quietly and efficiently pitched in, baking pies, making dressing, preparing massive amounts of mashed potatoes, baking endless turkeys. They cooked, they shared, they cleaned up, they planned for the next one--Godly women who worked harmoniously together as Godly women have worked harmoniously together for generations throughout the Bible and in times since.
 One of those Godly women listed as a strong participant in those notes will be marking a particularly momentous event on the 14th. Marian will be turning 100; and yes, she is still just as kind, gracious, and lovely as she was during all those suppers in years' past. Many, many of us throughout the years have been blessed by her example of what how a Godly woman lives. As the Proverb above states, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue". Ask anyone--they would agree that this particular verse is a loving definition of this dear lady.
 So, Happy Birthday to you, Marian...a blessed example to so many of us of a Godly woman. Thank you for being you.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Family Ties

Readings: Genesis 28:14--"Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed."

I had the opportunity to spend a day yesterday with a family that was not my own. Every year, most all the females of this family gather together to visit and to assure that cousins, cousins once-removed and so on know who each other is beyond the yearly Christmas card picture. It was a nice time for this outsider to witness. I do like it when families stay families.

The ages of these ladies ranged from three to beyond 80. All decades were well represented. There was one happy incident that made this gathering all the more positive. The cabin had a tin roof and the over-all location in general made for lousy phone reception. Yep...a cabin full of 21st century females and not one working smart phone. What a nice site to see. The family members weren't strewn throughout the cabin staring at screens; on the contrary, they were talking--face to face. They were laughing, not LOL-ing. It was refreshing to see. They were truly connecting. Conversations could be random just that way they should be when sitting in the same room having eye-to-eye chats. No "????" message needed. The facial expressions and voice inflections gave all the needed clues to be able to keep the changes in conversation topics flowing.

We live in a precarious time when technology is horning in on one of our most important needs as humans--we need people-to-people communication, no electronic device-to-people communication. Sure, it's great to use in a pinch or when distance is an issue. But in the same house, in the same room, it has no place. We need to get back to learning what it truly means to look one another in the eye. We need to keep our family ties strong so that our future generations will know the sanctity of family love and trust. 

Peace be with you.