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LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD

HUNTING

The woods were so frightening! Was that a giant black widow in the web above my head? Maybe a bear was behind the tree, or even a skunk. The loaded gun felt weird tucked under my right arm and balanced with my left hand, and knowing it was ready to shoot caused me fear also. I had always heard that Indians could walk so softly that no one could tell they were in the woods, so I tried my best to make no sound. Behind me, in single file, my grandpa and grandma were also walking quietly. My grandpa must love me a lot, I reasoned, to take me hunting for the first time in my life, and let me lead the way! If I got off the trail at all, he would whisper a quiet encouragement to guide me left or right, back to the trail. I didn’t have to look back to know he was there; for one thing, he was my Grandpa and would never leave me alone in this fearsome place! For another, his quiet words of command to stay on the path, though like a gentle whisper, were evidence that he was there. I didn’t know which was greater, my fear, my excitement, or my pride.

That happened more years ago that most anyone who reads this can conceive, yet I can still feel that experience as though it happened yesterday. I was maybe eight years old, but he gave me such a gift that day as he did what no one else had ever done: he showed he trusted me to handle a gun, lead our way, and listen for his voice.

Now, so many decades later, it is the end of another year and a time to look back at this past twelve months. Did you walk an unknown path, knowing your heavenly Father was behind you, never leaving you, or did you doubt His faithfulness? His still, small voice is a command to our heart if we are about to get off the path; did you listen for it? Sometimes it is a red flag of warning if you don’t want to listen–it probably means you want to do you own thing! Did you act in a manner that He found faithful to His wishes? If so, you have done well.

Some days I feel like that eight-year-old, ready to take on the world. Other days, I feel a hundred and twenty, dreading to put one foot in front of the other! But one thing I know, every day has something to teach me. There is not a day that goes by that I do not discover something new. And because of that, I can look forward to 2015 knowing that I still have so much to learn: so much about Jesus, so much about  myself, and so much about what my purpose is in living. He has plans and a purpose for me, Jeremiah wrote, and I find it only by being in the center of His will.

You may be thinking, not me. Nope, not after the mistakes I’ve made. Not after the way I messed up last year. Not after the sins I committed, when I flagrantly yelled at Him, “Let me do this on my own!” Yet Isaiah 57:15 tells us, “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.'” There is such hope for the backslider! All you need is a humble spirit of sorrow for what you did when you got off the right path, confess it to Him (1 John 1:9), and you are forgiven! You can start 2015 out with a clean record! How much better can it get?

Do  you have goals for 2015? It seems only once in a great while that a “New Year’s Resolution” is actually kept for the year. But a goal, ah–that’s different. That’s a commitment to stay on the path that God has for you, so that you can be more like Him. What does that look like, to be like Him? Do you actually hunger and thirst to be righteous? Do you want to let others go before you? Do you mind if someone gets credit for  what you’ve done? Do you let someone else have the last word? Do you love others more than you love yourself? Yikes. That stabs. Do you keep the church’s sticker off your back windshield so that if you cut someone off in traffic, they won’t know which church you attend? My license plate says “EL EWE.” LU. I know that no matter how I drive, someone is going to recognize that I am associated in some manner with a certain university and church, and that God’s reality in my life shows in my driving. Ouch. It causes me to drive better, I will say that!

So what about 2015? Can we make some commitments that we will handle this year better than 2014? That we won’t waste as much money, perhaps eat healthier to keep our temple in better condition, that we’ll treat our family as we treat our boss, etc? We could fill up a dozen pages. But let’s go back to a few posts to the “Do Not Fear” and pull out the two greatest commandments: Love the Lord with all that we are, and love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. We can reduce our huge list to two things. And we can trust Him to be behind us every step of the way, whispering if we start to get off track, and loving us. What a God to walk with in the next year!

Holy Father, how we fail You, but how faithful You remain! Your word tells us that even when we are unfaithful, You stay faithful to us. You are willing to save anyone who calls on You, but how can they call unless they hear? And how will they hear unless we tell them? Give us boldness and courage to know You have our back, have ordained our path, and are accompanying us ever step. We love You, Lord. Thank You for the cross. Amen

ATTITUDES OF GRATITUDES

gratitudeThe idea came from a magazine article, and seemed so appropriate! The suggestion was made to create a “Thanksgiving Jar,” large enough to hold one year’s worth of hand-written notes. This is good, we thought! As the year went by, any time something happened that was worthy of a grateful attitude, the instructions were to write it down and put it in the jar. The reason was quite obvious since most of us, in our busy lives, remember only the major incidents. We soon forget the hundreds of things that happen, like that car that almost pulled into our lane and ran us off the road, the driver who stopped for a green light and we almost plowed into the back of them, and hundreds of other (non-driving!) happenings.

And so we began the day after Thanksgiving: getting our jar, we put it in a prominent place on the mantle. Soon it began to have notes put inside, and for once good intentions were carried through! The year went by and it wasn’t long (those of you who are over forty will understand, perhaps, better than younger people) before it was Thanksgiving again.

Feasting on turkey with all the trimmings, satiated with the type of meal that required easy-activity while it digested, we brought the jar to the now-clean table. Each of us would take out a note, read it, and if necessary remarks were needed (most of which were, “Oh, my goodness! I had forgotten about that!), it was talked about before being passed on to the next person. It was truly a Thanksgiving to be remembered, and we sat in awe at the situations God had brought us safely through!

Recently my husband and I were discussing our daily Bible reading. I learned many years ago that I need a “goal” to focus on in order to get through some of the more difficult (okay, boring) chapters: for instance, the long instructions for building the temple, the decisions on how to handle those with leprosy, the numbering of the tribes of Israel, and more, which are easy to skip unless you want to apply your mind to learning why God has those in the Bible. I had decided that reading it through for this year would be with the goal to learn why the disciples had asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. That is so strange, to me! Nehemiah prayed, Esther prayed, David, Isaiah–why praying is all through the Old Testament. So why did they ask this particular question?

My husband, though, suggested that it might be worthwhile to take a sticky note, put it at the point where we begin our reading for the day, and see what can be found for which to be “grateful”–or something, as it were, that we can thank God for, as we read. Tough. As you read through much of Moses’ writings, he was instructing the tribes how to give sacrifices (that one is easy–how can we ever say “thank You” enough for the cross, and the once-for-all sacrifice?), the list of do’s and don’t’s for the tribes as they entered Canaan, and hundreds of examples. I’m sure it will get easier as soon as Joshua enters the scene, but it is still causing us to focus on “attitudes of gratitude”  that we tend to overlook as we read! Never do I want my Bible reading to be a check mark on my “to do” list! I want to always remember to tell God “Thank You” whenever He does something small or large, easy or hard. On an aside note, it has never set well with me for a parent to have to remind a child over perhaps five years of age to say “thank you” when someone does something for them! They are given a lollipop, and Mom says, “What do you say???” The child, like a robot, says “Thanks.” The mom is right, it needs to be done, but if you begin it early enough it should be an automatic, true, heart-felt response by four or five. But then, how about us? By forty, fifty, or more, do we remember to say “Thank You!” to God for what He does for us? Waking this morning? The air we are breathing? The sight to read? Have you recognized His authority in your life, and realize that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow of turning?” (James 1:17 )? We should have it down long before we reach middle age!

This year why not start your own Thanksgiving Jar? Then, next Thanksgiving, take time as a family to read each note, and prepare to sit back and be amazed at the faithfulness of God through the year! Sure, it may be a tough year. But one thing is a promise if you are truly one of His own: He will never, not for one second, leave you or forsake you. What a promise to start your jar with! How much better can thanks get than that?

By the way, I chose the picture because these two sweeties–eight weeks apart–were so grateful to be cousins. It is good to see the pure love two young ones can have in their innocence!

Thank You, God, for waking me this morning; for the wonder of technology that I can write about Your eternal mercy and grace toward us, Your children, to any person who reads this; thank You for the cross, Lord, for exchanging Your glory in heaven to live on this earth, be crucified, but raised again by Your own power, to triumph over death! Thank You for the promise that You will come back for us, and so we will ever be with You. It will take all of eternity to thank You for everything. Amen, and amen!

SO LITTLE TIME, SO MUCH TO DO…

SOWREAPPLANT_cropAh, the feeling of crawling into bed, lights out, getting comfy between the covers, and realizing the day is over–you can really relax now. The nicest moment of the day!

Then comes the thoughts hitting the brain like little b-b’s: “It was a wasted day.” “I didn’t get anything important done.” “What did I do today that meant anything to anyone?” “Oh, shucks, I forgot to…” and so on. Myriads of things that could have been done, should have been done, but would you have fit them in?

For me, the wasted day theme hits me almost every night! As I lay there, I know I have worked–and worked hard for many hours. I have tidied the house (but there’s so much left to do!), … did I do anything else? .. ad nauseum.  And then I realize, Paul himself said, it is only the things I do for Christ that counts (loose translation, Philippians 3), and I understand that my spirit is depressed because I felt there was no fruit in any of my labor. Do you ever feel like that?

If you desire above all things to hunger and thirst after righteousness, to be more Christ-like each day, then thinking that we have accomplished only the busy things that make up our lives leaves us as an open target for Satan to tell us we’ve wasted our day.

Do a self examination! I get (you’ll think I exaggerate) between 200-400 emails each day; the ones I respond to have the verse from Romans 1:20 after my signature: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” I take that for granted (that it is there), but what if it directs one person toward Christ? Did I sow or water? My blog address is also under my name on my emails: does that ever cause anyone to click on the blog and possibly wonder why I write? Does anyone ever wonder why I’m so amazed at His grace, at His goodness toward me, the chief of sinners (I was worse than Paul)? Was I kind in the many telephone calls that came in, and did I take the opportunity to tell the person at the other end, “I’ll pray for you to have a safe weekend”? Does God look upon my day as wasted, if just one person looks to Him? No, and my focus is wrong!

I need to be praying that my tiny little seeds will fall in a piece of fertile soil, so that someone else may come along and perhaps put a little water on them, and someone else may fertilize. I need to get my focus off myself and my “half a glass of water,” and realize Christ can make that water “living!”

I tend to forget that His POWER is what drives the universe, holds it together, but I still worry?? Then I am limiting Him to my own world. I pray He helps me remember that the same power that resurrected Him is in me, and I just need to put fears aside and keep on keeping on.

God, thank You for the power You have given to Your children to change the world. Grant the seeds that we plant turn into a crop that is a hundredfold! Thank You for the cross, Lord! Amen

One last thing, on an aside: I am getting many comments, and they are like reading the Amplified version of the Bible: for every word there are forty parentheses, etc., that leave me out in left field. If you ask a question and really desire an answer, know I’m trying to figure them out! I do remember to check Facebook about once every month or so (I’m telling you, time is not on my side!), so leave me a message there, and eventually I will get it! Either under “Love Notes” or Sandy Day. If you have negative comments, just keep them to yourself and remember your Grandma telling you, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything!” :~>

 

 

 

 

THE GLORY OF CHILDREN………FATHER’S DAY

 

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Pizza sounded sooooo good! I had to decide: would it be worth it when it came back up? For nine months I had lost almost everything I had eaten, but this time–this time–I was giving in to my craving! So the pizza went down, every yummy, cheese-dripping, bite! And sure enough, within thirty minutes it was coming back.

Carrying this baby–and the future four–was an act of love, and I could hardly wait for her to get here. The agony of the birth itself, the long nine months when one goes from “normal” to waddling like a duck, the back aches, trying to get a good night’s sleep–all that was forgotten the second I held her in my arms. But. The glory of children is their Father. (Proverbs 17:6).

Not fair, Lord! We’re the one who feeds them, changes their stinky diapers, plays airplane with their food, remembers to write everything in the baby’s book, and smells like spit-up 24/7! We’re the ones who carry a two year old on one hip, a purse over one shoulder, a diaper bag over the other, and lug a twenty-pound car seat/carrier with the infant in it! But. The glory of children is their father.

The class stood at attention: some were Pilgrims, some were Indians, a few turkeys, and some had signs. Moms, for the most part, and tons of grandparents, were sitting as close to the front as possible, cameras flashing. The little one on the back row–the Indian–kept his head straight, looking at his teacher, but every thirty seconds he cut his eyes to the right. Finally, a light bulb was turned on in his face–his daddy had arrived to watch the program. The glory was reflected in his face. The glory of this child–my grandson–is his father.

Summer has come, and mom has to come up with tons of ideas as to how to keep the children occupied, especially during rainy days, when going outside is not even considered! Oh, the things we think of to do! Making tents over the dining room table, having lunch in the “campsite,” playing Hide and Seek. But waiting for that special moment when daddy comes home. The glory of children is their father.

A new car is needed now, one that will carry all the kids and all their gear, their musical instruments, and presents for parties, and mom becomes not only the nurse, the cook, maid, but now the chauffeur. But the glory of the children is their father.

God, how can this be?! We pour our souls into these children, we take care of every need, are You sure this is right? And He says, yes, it’s right. My Father is My Glory, and I want to be the Glory of your children, as well. And we say, “But God, what about all the homes where Dad has left, and Mom has to carry all the burden? He doesn’t even send money except when the courts make him!” And God says, he will answer for it, because I created him to be the glory of his children.

So–this week we honor fathers. Let’s make sure we honor those who go to work day after day, and bring home the money that takes care of a home for their wife and children; we honor those who are trying to keep America free by being willing to not only be deployed but also willing to die, if necessary, only being able to see their sweet babies on Father’s Day by way of a webcam; we honor those who try to make it to the school programs, the ball games, the concerts, and the camping trips. We honor those who are fathers in love and in deed.

And if, by circumstance, you are a mom who is role-playing the difficult task of being both a mom and dad, God Himself will give you grace and strength; teach them every moment that He has promised to be a Father to the Fatherless. And somehow, in all of it, He will get glory from your children.