Scripture Thought: “The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” I Kings 19:11-13
Elijah, the prophet of God, is hiding in a cave to escape the evil Queen Jezebel’s edict to kill him for proclaiming the message of God. To be perfectly honest, I would have been right beside him. It’s not easy standing up proclaiming words from scripture when the tide of political correctness is against you. In verse 9 of I Kings 19, the Lord came to Elijah and asked what he was doing in the cave? Have you had those moments when you’ve hidden from your current situation and questioned the Creator of heaven and earth wondering if deliverance was on the horizon? Evidently, we aren’t alone; Elijah shared those feelings and took up residence in a cave.
God’s desire is to bring us out of despair; therefore He instructs Elijah to head to the mouth of the cave and stand on the mountain in His presence and watch as He passed by. Tremendous acts of nature explode, but it appears Elijah is stuck in the cave of doubt not appreciating the three displays of majesty taking place within his reach. First, God sends a great and powerful wind; so powerful that the mountains are torn apart and the rocks are shattered! Don’t you think you might be peeping from behind your laced crossed fingers?
Those the turbulent wind funnels were followed by the second display of majesty; an earthquake, but Elijah remains clinging to the side of his cave, fingers embedded in those dirt walls. Finally, a fire erupts. In all honesty, if these three events happened on the heels of one another, I’d probably be so far back in the cave seeking shelter it would have taken a week to find me or the entrance. However, scripture notes the fire gave way to a gentle whisper. It was then Elijah proceeded to the entrance of the cave to commune with God.
Although numerous lessons pour from these verses, a main point to be emphasized is God deals with each of us in differently. Just as we have varying personalities and spiritual gifts, so are our personal situations God uses to teach and mold us. He might speak in a turbulent encounter as demonstrated by the wind which tore apart mountains and shattered rocks, or an earthquake occurrence which breaks our stubborn will; while another walks through an all consuming fire of intense trials. Whatever the circumstance or event, if we quiet our activities and our multitasking lifestyles, God will speak in a gentle whisper. Why a whisper, you ask? Maybe it's during those times when we finally realize there is nothing humanly possible we can do to change our status or situation, we decide to quiet our hearts and minds and simply listen. Our Creator, our Father in Heaven will guide us through those challenging and arduous times to the quiet shores of His waiting arms.
Lord, train our ears to hear your voice and never delay coming when you call. When faced with opposition, doubts and worry assist us with courage and wisdom to follow your direction. Only when we are fully immersed in your Word will we be strengthened to face our foes. Use us to bring honor and glory to the Kingdom of God. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
My sincere thanks to those of you who have followed me these past five weeks as we have walked the journey of a pandemic that kept us close at home! May we continue to pray for those who have been infected and those still being quarantined during this time. Let's pray that soon God will send a cure that can be taken by all ages and rid our nation and our world of this virus.
I don't believe I have much to share on this blog today (my viewers did not offer a lot in the way of recipes, book titles or conversation!). I will be taking down this particular blog and replacing it with devotionals very soon.
But once again, thank you for allowing me into your iPhones and computers to rattle on and keep you company! God bless!
Being true to my word, here are some of the tips we were given on the Facebook Live event this past Tuesday, May 5th!
First, Mary Nolte mentioned her sister had made quite a lot of pillowcase dresses for the Samaritan's Purse Christmas Box project already this year. I asked if she would pass along a picture of some information. Mary clarified that her sister didn't use pillowcases, she uses bandanas! So, here you go in case you want to give it a whirl!
From my sister: “This is two bandanas and two yards of bias tape. It's for the 2-4 yr olds at Operation Christmas Child (OCC). I like making these because the bandanas are "finished" and the bandanas cost about $1 each. I bought some on clearance for 25 cents.”
(I’m still working on getting the pillowcase picture.)
A sweet relative of mine, Kathryn Mason (whom I have now figured out is my Aunt's great-granddaughter!), is selling a product from a company called Arbonne. This is a nutritional, skin care and makeup products that are all made from plant based ingredients. They are vegan and free from 2000 ingredients. Everything is organic and free from animal cruelty.
You can contact her for more information at http://KathrynMason.arbonne.com/ Look her up and see what this up and coming company has to offer!
Kathryn also mentioned she and her children were painting rocks. I asked if she would share the results...what a great project with kids!
I have not received any recipes or names of good books, but we'll wait until another time. Thanks for sharing, ladies! God bless and have a wonderful sunny day! (Take advantage of it Pittsburgh...the rest of the week isn't lookin' so hot!)
As part of our Tuesday morning "chit-chat" time, this is the blog area for sharing. If you have something you would like to comment about the Facebook Live event; a new recipe, a discovery while cleaning out a closet, a way to connect with others, a favorite book, a product for us to try, anything you would like to share, please post it here in the comment section.
This will allow me to share your thoughts next time we are together. I do believe anyone can read the comments that are made by clicking below. If you have suggestions of topics or want to ask questions, I might not have answers, but we can put it out there for those tuning in!
Thank so much for joining me and I hope to read your comments and be a part of your Tuesday morning lives until we are "released" into the world again.
Blessings to all of you,
Thought for today: "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
I love to listen to music. There is just something about singing lyrics with harmonic voices that lift my spirits. Being raised on gospel music, I have heard more songs than I can count in four-part harmony. My favorite, of course, is Bill Gaither and his quartet whose members have changed over the years, but never lost a beat presenting outstanding harmony.
As time has passed there have been many variations of songs being presented in our congregations today. It's all been wonderful and brings my heart into a worshipful spirit continually. I do hope that you have found time, during this pandemic, to find music as part of your daily life. Although there are countless songs to choose from, I am sending out one today that is on my playlist when I walk each day.
With my mom turning 98 on Sunday and my inability to be with her, this song has pulled at my heartstrings each time it plays. I hope you enjoy it and possibly it turns back the clock to days gone by and the way some of us was raised. It is sung by Little Big Town and my suggestion is to close your eyes and listen to the lyrics.
God bless, my friends!
By now every life has changed. The Coronavirus has been raging for weeks; there are countless numbers infected, thousands of deaths caused by this pandemic and many are on the front lines placing their health and life on the line. Americans have been directed to stay at home, social distance from others, and only go out for groceries and/or needed medications.
I could ask a nonsense question such as, "Did you ever think an event of this magnitude would ever occur?" The response resoundingly would be, we didn't. Several opinions immediately circle through our communication avenues suggesting:
1. Maybe this was a direct attack on our country to cripple our economy.
2. Could it be a forerunner of biochemical warfare, something we have always viewed in movies and wondered if possibly it would find its way to us?
3. Still others are stunned we are facing a disease with such profound affects because this country has brilliant researchers and medical intelligence. Certainly they will discover a cure soon!
4. Are we left scratching our heads wondering if we will ever feel free to mingle with the outside world once these restrictions are lifted?
What lessons have we learned? Where do we go from here? All these concerns add up to same emotional hazard...fear. Instead of fearing this pandemic, what positives can be gleaned from these weeks of isolation? Are the questions listed above where you spend the majority of your time and effort? Is there fear instead of hope continually in motion within your mind? There are countless constructive ways to pay it forward.
*Give to those in need. Share food and the over abundance of clothing and material goods to those without employment. After all, haven't we been cleaning out closets during the pandemic?
*Check on the aging living independently. Don't know of anyone? Call your local churches and I'm sure they will share a few names.
*Write cards, notes, and express positive thoughts and encouragement to any one of a number of individuals. People are hungering for contact with others.
*Call facilities often where family members and/or friends are residents to make sure they are healthy and spend a few precious moments of conversation with them. Not good with calling on the phone?
*Do you sew? Crochet? I'm sure masks are needed; crochet afghans for those not being able to purchase any "extras" but have needs.
Being a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I rejoice in the fact this human station in life is temporary. That statement might not be very encouraging for those reading this entry who do not believe in God's Son, Jesus Christ, but it's true. You were not made to last forever. One day your body will simply give out due to age, disease, an unknown accident or any number of unforeseen circumstances, including a pandemic. We just aren't going to be here forever. That is a factual true statement. Doesn't it make sense at least to consider what happens next?
The state of our country is one I don't believe any of us have experienced in our years of human existence. But this I know, God is our Protector, our Strong Tower to whom we run and can find shelter in the midst of the storm. I don't know the end of this story, but I do know how my story ends...eternal life with Jesus. It certainly puts fear to rest.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
This Easter I have been reflecting on celebrations from years past. It's amazing what you recall when we consider what is normal disappears! For instance, I have been remembering my mom always making sure I had new clothes as a child for Easter. I'm sure the entire family followed suit, but I remember a new Easter dress, patent leather shoes, a purse, gloves and a bonnet! It was a wonderful Sunday celebration and most of the time, in the south, it was sunny and warm so we didn't need a coat, but often mom would purchase me, what was then called a 'duster' to go over my dress in case it was a cool day.
Mom wore a corsage with her new dress and dad and my brother wore suits with ties. Yes, sir, it was quite the special event...going to church on Easter Sunday!
This year will be quite different. There will be no big family gatherings, no big Easter egg hunts, no going to the Washington County fairgrounds to see the bunnies and chicks, no one gathered around our tables to celebrate this pivotal event in the Christian's heart and mind.
Although we are not going to experience, in all my years on this earth, gathering with our brothers and sisters in Christ to celebrate the empty tomb of Jesus, it doesn't negate the fact that HE IS RISEN! I pray you will still feel the specialness of this day and will honor our Lord with prayer, praise and thankfulness that we have a home in glory. Our eternal home will not encounter viruses, sending hugs and kisses from a distance, being alone, feeling depressed or deserted, and never experiencing fear again.
This Easter will be different, but we pray many hearts will turn, or return to the Savior; lives uplifted, refreshed and rebooted because we were made to slow down. May God render us a sweetness this Sunday that perhaps we have never experienced before.
I am reprinting a beautiful story shared through our church newsletter. May your heart be uplifted by these words.
Happy Easter, my friends!
A Holy Saturday Meditation
The stars were just beginning to fade as I made my way back to Golgotha. A warm orange glow lay at the horizon as the sun just began its early morning ascent. The same glow painted the few clouds that drifted lazily across the heavens.
The cross was but a shadow against the sky as I made my way up the hill for the second time in as many days. As I approached the cross, the centermost of the three that still stood on the hill, I was overcome by the memory of yesterday’s events. I dropped to my knees, tears pooling in my eyes.
I felt a sharp pain in my right knee, and I brushed my hand under it to remove what I thought was a pebble. I quickly raised my hand when I felt a pinch and sting in my finger.
A thorn from the makeshift crown the Romans had fashioned for the King of the Jews. It was not the first time I would feel its sharp burn.
I was pressed into service yesterday to carry the patibulum of a man sentenced to crucifixion on this very hill. Being from Cyrene, my complexion and dress differentiated me from the rest who had come to see the prisoners led to their deaths, and it may have been for those very reasons that the centurion singled me out. The man was so badly beaten, and since he had fallen more than once, they were likely afraid that me might die on the way. They were determined that the man would survive so that they could put him to death on their own terms.
So the centurion tore me from my place in the crowd and told me to take the patibulum from the man. After the centurion had untied it from the prisoner’s arms, he helped me shift it onto my own back. That is when my arm brushed the crown of thorns.
I plucked the thorn from my finger and sucked at the pinpoint of blood that formed in its place. I looked up at the cross, its rough-hewn texture now visible in the brightening sky. Dark smears of dried blood marred the surface. Nails still lay on the ground where they fell when pried from the prisoner’s lifeless wrists and feet. Another dark stain corrupted the ground where he had been lowered. I still remember how his mother’s tears mingled with the driving rain as he laid in her trembling arms. I remember the blood being washed from his body there.
The sun rose higher still, and it seemed to be mocking me. Yesterday as I stood on this hill and watched the man die, the earth shook, the sky rumbled, lightning streaked to the ground from the heavens. The whole earth seemed to be in turmoil. I had never seen anything like it before. But today was beginning like yesterday never happened, and it angered me. How could the anger and rage cease so suddenly; how dare the sun rise and the sky turn blue again? But then the sunglow touched my face, and even in the cold morning air, warmth enveloped and embraced me.
I rolled my shoulders, suddenly aware that the pain and burn that I still felt this morning from the heavy weight I bore yesterday was gone. In fact, they felt lighter than they ever did. I felt for the bruises that the patibulum had left behind on my upper arms. No tenderness. No pain. I stripped off my outer garment and rolled up my sleeves. No discoloration. No trace of the yellow-green bruises that had been there just this morning. I checked my forearm—the cuts that had drawn blood from the thorns yesterday were gone—no scars; not even a thin red line as evidence of their existence.
Yesterday, I had been meant to ease this man’s burden, but if what I had heard was true, he had lifted the burdens and healed the hurts of many while he walked the earth. And now I knew, without a doubt, that he had lifted mine. When I made my way to the cross this morning, I was a hurting, bruised, and scarred man. When I knelt at the cross, I was healed.
If only there was a way that I could thank him for what he did for me.
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.