Advanced Preparation

As I write this blog post, Hurricane Harvey is barreling into our country (Texas). The news footage is filled with scary scenes of people either fleeing for their lives or else digging in and trying to weather the storm. Either way, having prepared in advance could make the difference between life and death. This thought had me contemplating some ways we can all be better prepared for the future.

Create a disaster plan. – Think through what would be most important if you had to leave your house suddenly, possibly never to return. What would be reasonable to take with you? It is prudent to have a backpack stocked with some food and water. It is also wise to have important documents copied and kept in this pack. I’m sure we’d like to take it all, but you may only have time to grab what is handy and reasonable to carry. What if you were confined to your house for a lengthy time? Be sure to have water, canned goods, medications, and batteries in enough supply that you could survive for at least a few weeks without leaving your home.

Take a CPR class. – Generally this suggestion won’t save your life, but it could be the difference between life and death for someone you love or even a stranger that is in medical distress. Check out various places in your community that may be offering training – the library, fire station, or churches sometimes offer classes. There are even online classes, although I would strongly recommend taking a physical class at least the first time so that you can practice chest compressions on a CPR dummy. Even after taking a class, you may feel fearful to put your knowledge into action. You may not move through the steps in perfect form, but at least you’ll have a better idea of what you should do. How horrible to have to stand around helplessly because you’ve never taken a class and have no idea what to do.

Carry a medical card in your wallet or purse. – I work in the healthcare field. Part of my job is to update people’s medical histories. When I ask patients what medications they are taking, more often than not I get incomplete lists. Some people know what condition they need to take medication for, but cannot remember the name of the drugs they are treating it with. I’ve actually had patients pull a pill out of their pocket and show me, like I’d have any clue what it is. I’ve encountered a number of men who answer my question with a shrug and say, “I don’t know what I’m on. I just take the pills that my wife sets out for me!” I’ve also had people tell me one or two medications and then end with the statement, “I think that’s all you need to know!” All medications have potential for cross reactions, including supplements. Non-prescription medications do count, as even an 81 mg aspirin can change bleeding time. My best advice is to make up a medical card that you can carry with you and update it frequently. You can alternatively keep a list on your smartphone or even take a picture of the prescription bottles. If you ever are in a serious health crisis, you may be too flustered to think through what you are taking or you may not even be able to talk. You can write out your medical info on an index card or you can create one online. I just made one up for free through CVS Pharmacy – https://www.cvs.com/drug/wallet-card-report.

Have an eternal plan. – Finally, as a Christian, I would be remiss to not advise that you think beyond this life. Although most people’s bodies don’t live more than 100 years on this earth, the Bible tells us our souls live forever (John 5:28,29; Luke 12:20; Matthew 16:25,26). What good does preparing for temporary disasters do, if you aren’t prepared to meet your God (Amos 4:12)? We may suffer setbacks for not preparing for natural disasters or health emergencies. Our lack of preparation could ultimately result in our or someone else’s death, but failing to face the consequences of our sin will assuredly send us to a place of torment that we’ll never be able to escape (Mark 9:42-48, Luke 16:19-31). When a hurricane threatens to destroy us, authorities tell us to flee to safety. When our sin threatens to destroy us, God (our ultimate authority) tells us to flee to the safety of His own Son (John 3:16-18; Romans 8:1). We don’t have the resources God requires to escape judgment. It is only through the gift of life that God’s Son, The Lord Jesus Christ, provides for us that we can ever be safe from the fury of the wrath of God (Romans 1:18; Proverbs 11:4; Psalm 2:12; Ephesians 5:6; John 3:36). Take heed! Don’t wait for another day!

Breaking News on the Blog: On September 5, Maturing With Grace will celebrate a year since my first blog post was published. It has definitely been a year of learning. It has opened this old mind to an area of the internet that I had no idea existed just a short time ago. I’ve had some fun adventures through gathering material for articles and it has pressed me into trying some activities that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. It has made me search God’s Word for truths to convey, not only to my readers, but to the edification of my own soul. It has been fraught with difficulties, as I’ve had to try to keep up with the demands of weekly postings. Each blog post that I’ve written has behind it hours and days of research. My sweet husband has had to put up with me pouring over the computer for hours each week, all the while neglecting time that I could be spending with him. He has been with me on many of the adventures that I’ve later written about. It would be minimizing the sacrifices he has made to say that this last year has affected him too. I have had frustrating times trying to correct images that have resisted being upright and finding html codes that would create a seemingly simple box around a paragraph. I appreciate you readers who have stuck it out with me through the thick and the thin. Thank you for weeding through the grammatical errors to get to an article that may have helped your insomnia. Although my solid readership was only about a dozen or so people, I found it interesting that along the way people from all over the world have stopped by briefly (Canada, UK, China, Philippines, India, Australia, and Brazil – in descending order). I am starting into a demanding work schedule that will occupy much of my time over the next couple months. I have decided to take a leave of absence from blogging at this time. During my hiatus, I will examine whether it would be better to take it up again or lay it to rest permanently. I have gone ahead and renewed my domain name (maturingwithgrace.com) so that I have an option to use it in the future. Again, thank you all for taking this journey by my side and supporting me along the way. You are welcome to contact me either publicly by commenting on my blog or privately at heidi@maturingwithgrace.com.

God’s blessings!

Praying for Leaders

Hello Everyone!

Last fall, as our country was gearing up for the presidential election, I wrote a rough draft of this article.  I ended up not publishing it, mostly because I was seeing so many other bloggers writing in some way about the election.  I personally felt saturated politically and didn’t want to read one more article referring to it, even if it was my own.

So why send this out now?  I really thought (and hoped) that all the political hub-bub would have blown over by now.  Unless you are living on a deserted island with no cell phone coverage, you know that conflicts are still raging and likely escalating.  As the evening news airs each evening and our country’s latest governmental battles are examined in detail, I find myself feeling frustrated and helpless.  Will there ever be even a semblance of peace again?

My knee jerk reaction is to start looking for that deserted island.  I don’t want to hear anything anymore from either side.  Unlike many people, I’ve never enjoyed debates.  I don’t see them as entertaining contests, but as polarizing arguments.  I want to literally plug my ears and pretend our world is a happy place.

The amazing reality is that I’m not as helpless as I feel when it comes to affecting my governmental powers.  When I read the Bible, I find that I should be personally involved, rather than pretending my leaders don’t exist.  Now, if that last statement has you grabbing your sign to rally for your favorite side of a cause, I’m afraid you may be looking in your Bible for a long time to find supporting verses.  What we are told is to pray for our leaders.  They need our prayers, even when they don’t know it (in fact, maybe especially then!) and they need us to keep praying!  By the way, this includes, not just those in the volatile United States of America, but any of you from other countries who have leaders.  I think that includes all of us!

Reasons we should pray for our leaders, even when we don’t feel like it:

1) – We are to pray for all people. We are to pray for our fellow believers. Got that. We are to pray that our loved ones are saved or are restored. Got that. We are to pray for our enemies. Hmmm. We are to pray for the king. Hmmm.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2) – We are not only to pray for our leaders, but be thankful for them. Hmmm.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Colossians 4:2 – Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

3) – Our leaders, as bad as we may think they are, stand in God’s place. I believe this is similar to the mandate that children are to obey their parents. Children are not told to decide if their parents are God-like and then obey if they are. God has made certain hierarchies of authority and we are to respect and obey that position, as long as obeying them doesn’t keep us from obeying God. When we do honor them, we honor God in return.

1 Peter 2:17 – Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Titus 3:1,2 – Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

4) God put our leaders where they are. This is a hard one for many Christians to accept. My questions are:  Is God in the minority when people vote in an ungodly ruler? Could God be doing something at this moment differently if some other ruler had been voted for? Is God powerful, except in the voting process?

Daniel 2:20-22 – Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.

5) – We were put in this country to pray for it. This country is just a temporary stop in our eternal lives. We could have been placed anywhere by God, but He put us here. Instead of entangling ourselves in the earthly affairs of our stop-over, we are to pray for our country and those who are leading it.

Jeremiah 29:7 – But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

6) – Finally, we are to pray for our leaders because they could repent and be saved. When you think of your governmental leaders, do you think there is any chance that they could get saved? Are those in your country’s leadership any farther away from God than I was before I was born-again? Can God save someone in our church, but can’t save our president? Is there anything that is impossible for God? Just think for a minute with me…can you imagine what would take place if our leaders repented and turned to God with all their hearts? I’m pretty sure there would be a huge attempt at covering it up because things would have to change. I think the best Washington DC psychologists would be called in because certainly some sort of mental illness must be responsible for such a radical change. Isn’t that what was implied with Paul (Acts 26:24)?

Jonah 3:5-7 – And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water….”

May God give us all a renewed urgency to pray for our leaders – ALL of them, no matter what political party they originate in. May He guide each person in authority, whether they know it or not and may He work His ultimate purposes through them, even if His purposes are to bring us into the last days. Last, but not least, may God show His ultimate power by enlightening their eyes to His truths and even, in His will, saving some to our amazement!

Today no matter if your country is run by President Trump of the U.S., King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister May of Great Britain, Chairman Xi Jinping of China, or some other leader – pray for them.  You say that they are corrupt and ungodly?  Pray all the more!

 

Quick ‘Wasteful Living’ update:  We went through the pile of things we knew we had to donate and separated the items seasonally  Then I added a few more items from my closet and our son put in a bag of items from his closet  Although I’m sure I could have selected more things to bless others with, we ended up with a fair share to take to our local distribution center.  Sometimes it’s better to just take what you have rather than just waiting to see if there are more goods to add to the pile.

A Proverbs Work Ethic

Have you ever noticed how many times verses in Proverbs talk about laziness?  If the book of the Bible composed of wise sayings has a lot to say about being industrious, maybe we should take note.  One thing I should point out before heading into this subject is that the author has a lot to learn in this area too.  In fact, part way though preparing to write this post, I thought maybe I’d just take a nap and work on it later!

Below I will be listing proverbs on laziness (combining references where they are essentially discussing the same thought).  Following the verse(s) will be a brief explanation of what I believe it is referring to and/or how it can be applied to our present day situation.

Proverbs 6:6-11 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise,  which, having no captain, overseer or ruler,  provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.  How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?   A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep–  So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.  (See also Prov. 30:25).   A couple points emerge from these verses in my mind.  First, I should have a game plan of my own to work on.  I shouldn’t use an excuse that I haven’t been directed as to a course of action because I should be self-motivated.  Also, the effects of not working can take a toll very quickly.  It doesn’t take long to drain a bank account!

Proverbs 10:5  He who gathers in summer is a wise son; he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.  We need to work while we can.  There may come a day when there will not be an opportunity to work or we won’t have the ability to do so.  Don’t put off to tomorrow what can be done today.  Old age is filled with regret for many of what could have been done, but the time is now lost.

Proverbs 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor.  We may be given the choice as to whether to work today, but some day that choice may no longer be ours and we may have to work hard to pay off debts.

Proverbs 12:27 The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession. (See also Prov 8:9) A lack of energy to do something with what I have on hand today may result in wasting the resources God has provided.

Proverbs 13:4 The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.  Our dreams of the future are impacted by the choices we make today.

Proverbs 14:23 In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty.  The saying is “Talk is cheap”.  Talking about doing something instead of doing it will not amount to anything.  Also, productive time can be wasted by talking – either in person, on the phone, or using online resources.

Proverbs 19:15  Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.  It’s amazing how quickly time can go by while engaged in idle endeavors.  We may have to sacrifice having a decent dinner because time was not spent in preparing it.  Choosing to engage in activities other than work can eventually lead to not having money to purchase food and other necessities.

Proverbs 19:24  A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again. (See also Prov 26:15)  Laziness leads to more laziness.  More time can be spent trying to evade work than doing it, even when it impacts us negatively in the end.

Proverbs 20:4 The lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing.  (See also Prov 21:25)  Life has many decisions.  Sometimes we may not like doing a particular task, so it will be put off.  Procrastination can end up being costly.

Proverbs 22:13 The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!” (See also Prov 26:13)  When we want to really do something, nothing will stop us.  When we don’t want to do something, we will become very creative in our excuses.

Proverbs 24:30-34 I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;  and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down.  When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction:  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest;  so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.  This analogy is easily seen in literal form every day.  Drive down the street and see a home or business that was abandoned months ago and notice the weeds that quickly take over.  It can also be seen with so many barns that have roofs that have fallen in.  A decision to not make the effort today will not be met with a truce from nature around us.  Weeds will continue to grow, termites will continue to gnaw, the dishes will pile up, and our children will go their own course.  It takes continual effort to even keep our lives in a static position, not to mention trying to make progress.

Proverbs 26:14 As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed.  When a choice is made over and over to do what appeals to us rather than what needs to be done, it starts to become a way of life.  Others around us may step in and do the work that we’re avoiding.  Soon not only do we not expect to do the work, but others don’t expect anything worthwhile from us.  We define our role in life – we are a hinge that others rotate around.  It takes a conscientious effort to change our course of action and our reputation.

Proverbs 31:10-31 This lengthy portion deserves a careful pouring over.  It is the classic example of a woman who is industrious in every aspect of life.  Some may say she is stifled by the frenzied pace of constantly caring for her family.  Yet, no where do we read that she is depressed, exhausted, or envious of less active women around her.  Instead she is held in high esteem by her husband, her children, and the community that she serves.  She may go to bed tired, but she sleeps knowing she has sacrificed her “me time” for the ultimate goals all of us should have – serving God and loving our neighbors.

We all have different realms of work.  Some of us having paying jobs, some of us have families to care for, some of us volunteer in our community, and some of us serve God by bringing the Good News to our communities and the world beyond.  Frequently our lives encompass many different aspects of work.  The challenge is to see if we using the abilities that God has provided us with to the best of our potential.  Have we made “You deserve a break today” our life motto?  Instead, consider replacing it with this one from Ephesians 5:15,16 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

The God of Impossible Situations (+ FREE course)

Hello.  If you recall, a couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post on how God uses seemingly insignificant people to accomplish His plans.  I was glad to find that this truth resonated with a lot of people.  Hopefully your faith was uplifted to believe that He can use you too, no matter how small you may feel in this world.  But what if you aren’t as much worried about how you can be useful as much as you see obstacles around you that seem insurmountable?  Should we ever see something as impossible?  Let’s look at some examples from God’s Word and find out what we can learn.

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Chosen by God

“If only I was more persuasive.  I’m not important enough to be able to accomplish this.  I don’t know enough about the subject.  They’ll never listen.  I trip over my own words.  Maybe someone else would be better….”  Moses came up with every excuse in Exodus 4 to try to convince God that he wasn’t the right person for the work God had chosen him for – leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  The trouble, however, didn’t lie in Moses’ mouth; it was in his ears.  He was so caught up in his own insecurities that he totally missed what God had said.  God had introduced Himself as the I AM.  It had nothing to do with Moses.  All power rested in God alone.  Although an onlooker would later see Moses leading the people out of Egypt, he was just a human representative.  The true Deliverer was God and He would be heading the mass as they moved from captivity to freedom.  The real question wasn’t whether Moses was capable, but was God?

Time after time God has chosen the weak to carry out His purposes.  He has used those who, for one reason or another, would be overlooked by the mainstream of society.  When I was in junior high, I dreaded gym class.  It didn’t matter if the sport of the week was basketball, tennis, or gymnastics.  I stunk at them all!  I have never made a lay-up.  I was equally talented at hitting the net with my tennis ball and lobbing my ball over the neighbor’s fence.  My final gymnastics grade depended on me doing a two minute routine.  I couldn’t do a decent somersault, let alone anything that resembled a cartwheel.  I’m convinced that the only reason I passed was because the teacher couldn’t handle me being in her class another painful year.

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Breeding Worms (aka Wasteful Living)

I have a problem…I am wasteful. No big deal, right? I mean in the scope of sins we can commit, wasting must be near the bottom. But, it is there, over and over again, in the Bible.

The first thing that comes to mind is the story of the manna. In case you don’t recall the story in Exodus 16, here’s what happened: The Children of Israel had been delivered from their Egyptian task masters by a miraculous parting of the Red Sea (chapter 14). They were elated and they expressed their joy to God by composing a song about how great His deliverance was and how the Almighty would bring them into the Promised Land (chapter 15). Their satisfaction with their delivering Savior didn’t last long.  They hadn’t been on their journey very long before they angrily complained about being hungry. They went so far as to say that they should have never left their servitude because it was better back in Egypt. Instead of punishing these insolent people, God graciously provided special small, round pieces of bread, called manna. The people were to go out of their tents and gather it every morning. The one stipulation was that they were to take a specific amount. This guaranteed that they would have enough to eat, but not more than they could consume. Of course, some tested God. They took more than they needed and ended up leaving it overnight. In the morning, their wasteful bread attracted worms and it stank.

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When You Can’t Ask For Prayer

We were racing down the runway towards liftoff, but something wasn’t quite right.  I don’t know much about planes, but I’d never felt shaking like this on any other flight I’d been on.  It felt more like I was in a truck speeding down a pot-holed dirt road than in a modern jet on a smooth runway.  I found myself clutching the arm rests with my sweaty hands while I desperately tried to see past the plane wing that was blocking my view of the ground.  What was going on?  To my relief, we finally left both the ground and the shaking behind. I continued to hold my breath as we banked into a turn, but when we leveled off and seemed no worse for the vibrations, I started to ease into normal breathing and loosened my grip.  My respite was short-lived.  The pilot’s voice came over the PA system.  He acknowledged that the sensation we’d all felt was due to a malfunction.  The tread on one of the plane’s tires had been lost.  We would continue on to our intended destination where emergency crews would be waiting to assist our landing and the process of getting to our gate.

So many thoughts were going through my mind.  Shouldn’t we turn around?  I nixed that idea, as it would still involve landing on our problematic tire.  What would happen when we landed?  Would the pilot lose control and careen off the runway?  Would the friction cause a fire?  Maybe the plane would flip over.  I quickly counted the rows to the nearest exit and squeezed the hand of my son, who was sitting next to me.

The strange thing is that no one else around me seemed to have any concern.  There were no cries, no whispers. I couldn’t even identify a panicked glance.  Everyone continued on like it was a normal flight.  The attendants served drinks.  People watched movies.  Others read books.  Was I the only one that was worried?

I realized that my fears were not productive.  Each dire possibility that entered my mind just fueled my anxiety.  I couldn’t do anything anyway.  Or could I?  I decided that it would be more constructive to use my energy to pray.  I prayed that God would protect us.  I reminded myself that He had complete control over everything that was happening.  I didn’t claim to know His purposes, but I knew whatever way this story ended, His will was perfect.    I can’t say I prayed once and then left it with God.  I prayed, prayed again, and prayed some more.  Every time the fears would well up in my mind, I’d pray again.

I so wanted to call my parents to ask them to pray for us.  They’ve been such faithful prayer partners for years.  They’ve prayed for me in so many different instances and I knew they wouldn’t hesitate to pray intensely at this time.  I reasoned that, although I couldn’t call my dad and mom while in the air, maybe I could send off a quick email alert.  I’ve never tried to email anyone while I was flying.  I tried to figure out how to connect to wifi, but had no success.  I asked my son about using data, but he was sure it wouldn’t work.  I tried anyway.  It didn’t work.  I was so frustrated.  I needed people to pray, but there was no way to ask for them to do it.

What about you?  Have you had a situation that you desperately felt needed collective prayer, but were unable to ask for it?  Maybe, like me, you were some place that prevented contact with those who could have prayed for you.  Maybe you even now have a situation that is too personal to tell anyone about.  Whatever the reason for it, I think most of us have times when we feel very alone in our situation.

I’ve been thinking about Hannah in 1 Samuel.  There we read of at least two others that knew her deepest desire – to have a child.  The first was her husband, Elkanah.  He may have been praying that the Lord would open his wife’s womb, but we are not specifically told this.  He did go yearly to worship and offer sacrifices, but we don’t know if these actions were accompanied by prayer for his wife.  He seemed resigned to her plight.  The other person in the ‘know’ was Peninnah, Elkanah’s other wife.  It is doubtful that Hannah found a prayer partner in her, since this ‘other woman’ seemed intent on taunting her. The surprising thing is that Hannah didn’t even seem to ask the priest to pray for her when she went to the tabernacle to pray.  If she had, Eli wouldn’t have mistaken her silent prayers for drunkenness.  I think both Hannah’s lack of reliance on the priest and his reaction to her showed just how far the priests were at this time from fulfilling their God-given role of intercessor.

When we encounter a need in our life that we are not able to share around the prayer circles, what are we to do?  Do we despair because we are in this on our own?  I think the key is understanding we aren’t alone.  Over and over again in the Bible, God reminded people that they weren’t facing circumstances by themselves.  Do you think that these verses have an asterisk  that sets you apart from this promise?

Fear thou not; for I am with thee:
be not dismayed; for I am thy God:
I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;
yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.  Isaiah 49:10

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.  Joshua 1:9

Yea, though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Psalm 23:4

I sought the Lord, and he heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears.  Psalm 34:4

 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask others to pray for us and with us when we’re able to do this.  I strongly believe that God has allowed people to intervene on my behalf through prayer.  I’m sure that only Heaven will reveal the many times people have prayed and God has hearkened to their cry.  But I also don’t think that God is impotent in His own strength.  He doesn’t coldly wait to react only if a certain number of prayers reach Him.  He loves us and He is all powerful to orchestrate any plan that is in His will – all…by…Himself.

Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:  Psalm 59:1

 

Dear friend, if you are in a place today where your burdens feel like they are borne by you alone, look up!  God knows all about your circumstances, even if no one else does.    He will carry your burdens for you, if you’ll only let Him.

Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

 

 

 

Pineapple Tidbits

Hey everyone,

We just returned from a lovely vacation to Maui.  It was our first time on this island and it definitely had the “WOW! factor” everyone had told us about.  What do you think of when you think of an island vacation?   I suspect most people would immediately dream of relaxing on a beach chair and soaking up some rays.  If that is your idea of an exotic holiday, I will warn you never to travel with us!  We don’t ever lay out on the beach for the following reasons:  (1) Other than our daughter, none of my family were born with an ability to produce a tan.  The rest of us start working on our sunburn on the walk from the car to the hotel.  We plaster sunscreen on every exposed inch of skin, wear hats and sunglasses – and still we burn.  I actually freckle and burn.  My only hope of ever returning from a trip with dark skin is if my many freckles coalesce together some day!  (2) We want to see the sights unique to the area we are traveling through.  I feel like it would be a shame if we returned from Maui and all we could say was “we saw the sun”.  Granted, sun can be in short supply in Michigan, but if I want to get burned, I can lay out on a chair in my backyard and look at the same sun.  (3) I hate sand!  A couple of times I took my children to the beach when they were younger because I felt like it was a motherly sort of thing to do.  It might have been fine, if we could have ignored the sunburn pain, but there still would have been the SAND.  Ugh!  It finds its way into everything.  We’d always come away with it lodged in our eyes, ears, mouth (that after-the-dentist feeling), hair, clothing, and towels.  I’m pretty sure the beaches around here were a little lower from the erosive effect our family’s presence had.  The sand would then continue to show up for the next week at our house.

So now that you’ve made a mental note never to join us and expect a relaxing vacation, let me tell you about one thing we did on Maui (while avoiding the beach scene) – we went on a tour of a pineapple plantation.  There I learned a number of things about pineapple and had a chance to eat pineapple right in the field.  I really enjoy fresh pineapple, but I’ve never had really fresh pineapple before.  It was so much sweeter than any I’ve ever eaten before.

Here are some of the things I learned about pineapple growing: Continue reading

Being an Agreeable Person

I’ve been musing over some Bible verses lately.  Although some are almost humorous, all are essentially convicting.  These verses address the question ‘What am I like to be around?’  Unless you are stranded on a deserted island, you likely interact with others on a daily basis.  You may or may not live with someone, but you come into contact with people at work, at the store, on the road, at church, and/or at school every day.  Let’s look at what the book of Proverbs says.

Proverbs 13:15 – A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.  When something angers me, I seethe and stew it over in my mind.  As I mull it over, I dwell on the injustice of the matter.  How dare they!  I nurture my victim status in my mind.  I formulate what I should say (or have said) to set the other person straight.  Modern therapists would tell you not to hold it in.  Venting your anger is much healthier.  I can tell you that once I let my anger emerge from my mouth, I initially feel good, but in the end hurting someone else doesn’t solve the problem and often I live to regret my words.  Time may heal the relationship, but you can never retrieve the words you release. Continue reading