I simply love Spring; birds singing, warmer temperatures, the sun finds us a bit more and all that new growth! Since I've been staying "home-side" now with the virus raging, I have totally fell in love with my daily walks on the trail. Countless people of all ages are walking, skating, biking, jogging and basically enjoying the great outdoors. In fact, everyone you meet has a smile and a hello. We are wanting and needing contact with humans!
During my walk this past week, I came upon the nest pictured above. Now I don't know if it was last year's home or new construction for this Spring, but it reminded me that life is goes on. Spring has sprung again; babies are being born, birthdays are being celebrated (maybe with not a lot of fanfare, but celebrated from afar or in driveways practicing social distancing!), weddings are taking place and we are still rising each morning. We have much to be thankful for although there is an extremely dangerous virus among us.
This is just a reminder to focus on the good in life and all your many blessings. Tomorrow might bring news researchers are on the brink of a cure for the coronavirus, but nonetheless, another dawn of day will occur. How will we spend our moments as we wait for a cure and life to return to normal? I don't know we will ever find life "normal" again, but we can glean invaluable lessons from our experiences.
"He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge..." Psalm 91:4
You have to admit, there are a ton of concerns cascading through our minds today. Who will be the next President of the United States? Will there be a cure soon for the Corona Virus? Why do so many people have diseases that ravage their bodies until they no longer can fight the good fight? This list could continue, but you get my drift. Life often hits boulders in the road and if you are not personally experiencing a difficulty, there is probably a person in your life who is.
Instead of running around like animals in the barnyard covering their heads believing the sky is falling, we need to stop living in fear and trembling and begin to face the wind with the Promises of God. Believe it or not, God is still on the throne. He sees and hears everything that is transpiring on this earth and He waits to see if in all this turmoil we lift our faces toward heaven, believe in His promises and pray.
I know, you immediately begin your defense by saying something like, "If God knows everything and can control all that is taking place in the universe, why can't He give us a break and stop the mayhem?" And that statement, the first part anyway, is totally true. God is in control and nothing can happen that isn't allowed by Him. But have you considered the disasters of the world are allowed because when trouble rolls our way it's the only time some people even mention God's name. Unfortunately, it's often to blame Him for not stepping up and quieting the bad events in life.
On the flip side, during all those calm, blessed moments of your life, did you ever once stop to thank Him for allowing you to enjoy a peaceful existence? Important issues like health and strength in your body? Kids that are able to learn and think for themselves? Parents that are alive and well? A roof over your head, a car in the garage and a paycheck regularly scheduled to meet your obligations? I would dare say the majority of us don't think about the God factor until there is a dire emergency and then we aren't happy He "allowed" said emergency to wash up on our shore of self-determined direction.
If you do need encouragement, peace and tranquility, I would suggest heading to the Bible, or type into Google, the Promises of God. You will be amazed at the number of promises God has made on our behalf to quiet our spirit, feed our souls and get us through the disaster of today. I've printed one of them below that I love to read especially when the fear factor nips at my heels. Satan loves to cause us to doubt our faith and belief in the Lord Jesus, but he is only allowed to bother you if you let him. Rebuke him and he has to retreat. Fill your heart and mind with the words of God and while you're at it, pray. Have a conversation with the only One who can change the outcome of your situation and walk alongside you when the answer isn't what you desired.
"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8
Funny thing happened on my walk recently, I met up with a telephone pole that appeared to be growing hair! Actually I thought I had met up with Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy (I'm a bit of a Marvel movie geek), but that was not the case. Enjoying a beautiful sunny day in Pittsburgh, about 52 degrees which is an oddity on February 24th, it was simply wonderful to be breathing in fresh air. Of course, I couldn’t let this photo opt of "Groot" pass because I immediately began thinking about devotionals and how this scene relates to life!
First, the inclusion of power lines. If not for those multiple lines households in our neighborhood would go without electricity. Imagine what chaos would transpire; no lights, no stoves/microwaves, no garage door openings, no television…yikes! How would we exist? Then we have all those tiny branches. Of course, they provide marvelous shade and home sites for Springtime bird families and squirrels, but when the two shall meet (branches and power lines getting on each other’s turf…well, it’s not a good thing). Looks like the township staff needs to inform the power company that a little Springtime cleanup is in order and hopefully we don’t experience any sudden ice storms until the deed is done.
What’s this got to do with devotionals or spiritual lessons? Simple. We need a spiritual power source in our lives that works to limit interruptions from worldly influences. Take for instance those tiny branches (unhealthy influences) growing underneath our noses, or weaving around our spiritual lives. Since they aren't really bothering us, we don't notice their move into our space until they become dangerously invasive. Anything (self-wisdom, materialism) that takes our focus off our true power source (serving and believing in the One True God) will eventually sever important functions (the ability to recognize who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for us). Often we don't realize the process, twig by twig or bit by bit, until the interference has become woven into our lives bringing our power to a halt.
Although twigs are a part of life and often work their way into our orb and become part of our daily life, they mistakenly lead us to believe we are not in need of any power source higher than the one provided by ourselves. Somewhere along the journey of life a standstill will occur; an unexpected the ice storm or horrific winds rage and destroy what was thought to be solid. Maybe it's time to re-evaluate the power source that runs your life.
Don't become complacent and allow Groot to grow on you.
Thought for the Day: Psalm 46:10 “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Today as I was walking at our local Rec Center, I decided to listen to a few pre-recorded messages by various teachers on my iPhone instead of listening to music. The main theme of the broadcasts centered on our need to take a few minutes and pause from our busy schedules. Among the discussions I kept hearing the phrase, be still. Even after all these years of being a busy wife, mom, teacher and now retired wife, mom, speaker, teacher and gramma, there has been and always will be a need to simply be still. Many ask how is that accomplished with all the hustle and bustle of life swirling around us at an ever-increasing pace? My answer, and I guess it comes with age and experience, write out your daily schedule and then subtract items that don’t necessarily need to be accomplished in the next 24 hours. There is always tomorrow for those pressing “to dos.”
I learned as a child and have kept the rhythm as an adult, don’t leave God in the dust when planning that daily schedule. Increasingly, the world is trying to impress upon our hearts that we drive our schedules, our lives, our businesses, our lifestyles, our families and the need for a God that doesn’t seem to answer prayers when called upon…well, why waste time that you don’t have trying to pray or picking up a Bible when reading is totally out of the question. The plumb line for life is simple, just let the world dictate your direction by looking at stats, informational articles or books written by those who don’t have an ounce of God in their daily lives. And actually that “be still” phase, maybe it happens as you soak in a hot tub, hit the sofa after putting the kids to bed or possibly while you are breathing in the fresh air and sunshine at a beach. Don't get me wrong, those resting times are important, but they can't replace time with God.
Being still usually doesn't rank with spending a few minutes a day with the God who created you, loves you and has blessed you with every possible convenience, because He didn’t do it, you did, right? You went to college or a training program, worked hard, made the sacrifices to get that degree. God didn’t have anything to do with it, right?
It took ten years part time and full time for me to finish my undergraduate degree in Education. It was a difficult process. We had two children, I was home caring for them in the day, my husband worked diligently at his job and often traveled and we had no family close by to help with babysitting, but we got it done. Would I ever say God wasn’t a big part of that success, that it was all hubby and me? Absolutely not. God gave me the desire, the courage and the fortitude to continue when I wanted desperately to quit and walk away from all the class assignments, exams and travel time.
God blessed me with the ability to learn, to study, to see what this degree would mean to our little family and kept me looking forward. The Holy Spirit that lives inside me can never be dismissed. It’s a power that has to be experienced in order to realize its potency. In order to truly experience how to be still, you need to discount yourself and put Christ into the driver’s seat. His influence, power, energy and peace will bless you with the ultimate in being still. It’s a time out with the Master.
The Sounding Board Ministry
A updated website, a healed body and a revised ministry name; three ingredients for our journey through the months ahead in 2020! Praises to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for walking with us through my recent adventures with breast cancer. All credit is due Him and the many prayer warriors who went to war on their knees in my behalf. I do not take my healing lightly and realize I have been given, once again, the opportunity to proclaim the mercies and grace of our Father God until He calls me to my eternal home. Our heartfelt thanks to Justin Portz for developing a new logo for the ministry and updating our website including the time spent teaching this girl about technology advancements!
Lastly, these last couple of months have renewed, refocused and rebooted this ministry. Hopefully my readers and supporters will be blessed. If you so desire, you may send your email address to us and I will be able to send out a "blast" when a new devotional or special event is occurring with The Sounding Board Ministry! I'm very excited because Justin has paved the way for it to work very smoothly (as long as I remember what I've been taught!).
So come along on our journey for 2020 as we delve into the pages of scripture for devotionals, special events I'd like to share, great books I am reading and material for Bible studies we discover. There is a contact button if you care to ask questions or would like to send comments in our direction.
Bit by bit, let's grow spiritually this year!
Ephesians 1:17-18 New International Version (NIV)
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
Thought for the Day: He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10
I have a wooden block on my desk that my hubby gave me in my stocking this past Christmas. It has verses from the Bible, or partial verses, inscribed on each six of its parts. Today, as I glanced over it read, “Be Still” and I thought, how incredibly perfect.
You see, I have been gleaning from every friend I know with any medical knowledge what they think about this scan or that report, or why the doctor has ordered further tests and it hit me when I looked at the block that I need to quiet myself, pray and allow my heart and mind to just “Be Still.” God’s got this.
How very often I have taught classes and spoken at retreats concerning patience and waiting on the Lord and here I am demonstrating my humanness as I try to take control of the situation instead of simply resting in the Lord. In one of my devotional books, Being Led Beside Still Waters, I wrote about the giants of life and the experience David had with Goliath. A small boy, five smooth stones and a giant of a man to stand against. Did David consult with all the entire army to map out a plan for a sneak attack? Did he ask for perfectly sized armor to protect his body from any harm? Did he ask for specialize equipment to fight this giant? No, David rested in the fact that God had already given him the ability of defeat implementing his slingshot and those five stones to meet the danger head on and overcome any fear.
If God did that for David, why do we hesitate to think we need to help Him in conquering our fears in our lives today? Isn’t God the same yesterday, today and tomorrow? As I have previously written, “There is nothing in life we face that is insurmountable for God. Whatever the object weighing you down and prohibiting you from moving forward, give it to God. Call out to the Almighty, the Maker of Heaven and Earth naming the fear, hindrance, obstruction or barrier that is keeping you tie in knots and surrender that giant to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I am appreciative that God has renewed in my mind that I, too, need to “be still” during this time of testing. May God continue to bring all the lessons I have learned throughout life to bring honor and glory to Him and healing to my bones.
Two simple words, Lord, “be still” that carry a message of hope and healing as we turn our faces toward You. Enable us to let go of our desire to orchestrate and assimilate all the fine details of our lives and hand the plan back into your most capable hands. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
I usually don't post twice in one day, but the notes, messages, cards, gifts and well wishes have been so abundant that I must address with sincere thanks what all of your words, prayers and thoughts have meant to me.
Taking care of others is sort of what I love to do. Having that reversed has somewhat caught me off balance. On many days, I simply don't know how to respond. But God is teaching me to just "be still" and let others do what He lays on their hearts and for me to be grateful I have the friendships, family love and community of believers within my church and neighborhood that are looking after not only me, but my family.
Oh, how I long for this to not be my journey, but God allowed it for a reason so on we march forward. I just want to be found faithful and as courageous as David as he walked up to face Goliath, Esther, as she appeared before the King to ask for the lives of her people, Ruth as she chose to follow her mother-in-law who believed in the one, true God, and our Lord as he prayed with great drops of blood that the cup be passed from him, but instead faced what was ahead because it meant those he came to save would live eternally.
Journeys are not usually mapped out by each one of us, but for those who believe in Jesus Christ, the final destination is a much greater reward.
My surgery is scheduled for next Wednesday, January 15th. I am honored and blessed to have so many prayer warriors. Thank you again for all the kind remembrances and inspirations being sent my way.
I thank my God every time I remember you.
Philippians 1:3 NIV