KEEP LOOKING UP!

Life isn’t always what we want or expect it to be. We have disappointments, pain, anxieties and even tragedies that can turn our worlds upside down.

BUT GOD. . .the Bible says. . .”works all things for the good to those who love Him” (Romans 8:28)

Does that mean we don’t suffer? That we aren’t anxious or fearful? No, but it does mean that even in those most difficult times, God is working on our behalf. He has promised to never leave us or let us go. We have to remember that truth; and make it the abiding principle of our daily lives. That’s why I’ve begun a new theme for this new year. I see so much confusion, anger, hopelessness and depression in the news, and even often spreading into the lives of Christians. We’re human. We live here. We are part of our culture.  But we are citizens of Heaven; we have a new life in Christ. He has transformed us and given us an eternal hope. That’s what I want these short messages to relay to you. Remember that song, “This world is not my home; I’m just a passin’ through.”  But as we’re passing through in the years God has entrusted to us, we have the opportunity and privilege to enjoy the “Good Things” God is doing in and around us. I guess I’m especially aware of this as my life is nearer the end than even the middle, and I want to enjoy the gifts of God in the midst of the dailies! I want you to as well. Those good things “keep us young and strong as an eagle.” (Psalm 103:5)

So whether you’re a parent or a grandparent, young or old, a teacher or a student–you matter to God so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for your sins and mine. He has many good gifts for us, and we just might miss them if we’re not looking.

For weeks it’s been pouring much-needed rain in Northern California. Not many days have been sunny, and there’s a danger of depression when the clouds hang dark and heavy. But even if the day’s events are gloomy, even if you see the future with no bright light at the end of the tunnel, God is still the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

Let’s determine to look for them. It may be just the sight of birds at the feeder, the smile of a stranger at the market, the coo of a baby, the ability to see,  hear, or speak–these can be things we often take for granted.

Yesterday I had the joy and opportunity to help out a dear friend who needed a ride to the doctor’s office. That was a “Good Thing” for both of us. We enjoyed the ride to and from, and stopped to have lunch and talk some more. I was more blessed, I’m sure, than she was. She’s a widow, a cancer survivor and an encouragement to many.  She loves Jesus, and she loves people. On the way into the restaurant, she stopped to tell a passing woman how pretty she looked in her bright blue coat. Then as I pulled the car around to pick her up in a downpour, she couldn’t get her umbrella to fold into place. Suddenly, from out of the rain, a woman appeared and not only got the umbrella into shape, she helped my friend into the car.  Smiles all around!

That was a good thing! And for me, just this morning as I am writing this, two of my daughters called: one to tell me that if I or her dad needed anything today, we shouldn’t get out and drive. She would gladly pick up whatever we need and bring it to us! A few minutes later, another called just to talk on a rare day off from work.

Good Things!

I hope that today after reading this, you’ll look for some of the good things God is bringing your way. To cement it in your mind, won’t you leave a comment at the end of this blog to let me, and others reading it what gift, however small, you see as a “Good Thing.”

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” ( James 1:17)

 

FROM MY JOURNAL….NEW YEAR’S EVE 2016

Well, Lord, this is the last day of yet another year, a year that I’m sure I received many blessings and gifts that I took for granted.  I’m sorry about that, Lord. I know that even the act of my writing this, seeing it, breathing, and feeling the early morning warmth of the furnace are all gifts from you. I open my eyes to a husband who loves me and, even now, I hear him preparing for our traditional Saturday morning breakfast of bacon and eggwp-image-394450654jpg.jpegs. These blessings are some of the “ordinary things” that I often neglect to notice. You are the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, yet you gift me with the “extraordinary” every day.

As this 86th year of my life closes and the 87th begins, I put my trust in You and await each new day with wonder and gratefulness. There will no doubt be moments of joy, laughter, and even tears. There will be days of bright sunshine and comradery; but life consists in so much more than sunlight and brightness.

There will also be days, maybe months of sadness, pain and grief, as well as times of confusion and even doubt. This, too, is but the unfolding of life on planet earth.

You know it all! You lived it all, Lord Jesus when You, the Lord of Glory, God of very God, took upon Your Holy Majesty the form of a human being, wearing the frail body of mankind.  Yes, You showed me how life works, how the Father is always present and holding His own close to His heart. You showed me how along with joy, trouble and heartache, You strengthen the souls of those who live and die trusting in You.

You didn’t just tell us to “Trust in God,” or to “Hang in there.” You didn’t once give the idea that there is no hope for change as the characters on my favorite TV show repeat, “It is what it is.”  There’s always hope for change, for better days ahead.

You faced the devil head on; You touched the leper’s hand; You held children in Your arms; You wept when your friend died; You gave hope to a man on the cross beside You.

You forgave those who rejected You, beat and spit upon You, and finally pounded nails into Your hands and feet.

That morning when You walked out of  Your own grave, You proved that regardless of fear, pain and grief there is joy, life and hope.  You left this temporary abode for a throne at the Father’s right hand. You give me hope for the year ahead–opportunities for my faith to grow.

There will be days when I grumble and complain, even forget Your promises; but you’ll never leave or forsake those who have come to the cross and trusted You as Lord and Savior.

So as we step into the unknown with You as our Friend walking beside us, I say with those of like faith, “Thank You for the year that has passed, and for the New Year that begins tomorrow.

“Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

 

THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER

My hubby and I have been sick for the past week, coughing, sneezing, blowing! Not  wanting to infect family and friends with what some unknowing person passed on to us, we called off our Family Feast for today, and instead woke up to a very unusual “Christmas Day.”  Alone!

The tree has fewer ornaments;The lights are mostly dim

The gifts area clearly absent; All we have is HIM.

We’re sick with colds and coughing; we’re  clinging to a limb.

The Kleenex box is empty. All we have is HIM

Our children are not with us; We could feel very grim.,

Because “Christmas” is not here today. All we have is HIM.

HIM!  Jesus Christ IS here today; He’ll always be our Joy.

We celebrate that King Jesus was once a little boy!

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“Jesus Christ, though in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2)

 

May your Christmas and every day in the New Year be blessed with the awareness of God’s Presence through the Spirit of Jesus Christ!

                                                               Even so, Come Lord Jesus!  

 

I changed  a line  that I used  to rhyme  phlegm with Him.:) sorry about the  faux pas…but it did get a few laughs and raised  eyebrows  from family members!

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OUCH!

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This was not fun! I’m not sure I’m out of the woods yet, even though both my sons are  so computer wise. They took over my poor hacked/scammed computer as well as my crushed spirit and worked wonders! They uploaded this, and downloaded that; they worked alone and together for two days; and all because I fell for a scam. How embarrassing. How frightful.

So this is not only a tell-all, it’s a warning to others who may fall for such a plot.

I was searching for a site on Google when suddenly my screen started flashing with big blue letters, making loud sounds and talking, talking talking. “You have a virus. You are being taken over by Trojan software.”  I couldn’t get the voice to stop yelling at me, and then noticed: “Call this number! This is Microsoft giving you a final warning.”

So…I called. Big mistake. I asked the man who barely spoke English, “Is this a scam?” Of course, he said, “No, this is Microsoft. We’re here to help you.” Yeah, sure. Like he would admit to being what he is/was.

He convinced me with written contracts, good advice, and a hefty fee, to sign up for a fail proof virus protector. He told me that the one I have is useless. (Well, it didn’t catch this guy.) I’m truly ashamed to admit that he convinced me to give him my credit card number and assurance that my computer would now be safe. (Sounds a bit like a “promise from the pit,” doesn’t it?)

The day after this fiasco, a good friend told me that she was sure I’d been scammed. So I immediately checked out the phone number he had given. Sure enough, there was a long list of complaints about this and other often used numbers to get information from not- so- wise computer operators. I immediately called my credit card provider. She had the charge in front of her, wiped it out, and closed that account.  “Whew!”

But these creeps still had some of their stuff in my computer.  So a call to my son in Oregon was my first thought. Though involved with his own company business, he took at least 45 minutes to help me clean out much of the junk. Then he called in his older brother, who planned to be here the next day. Together they uninstalled lists of unwanted software and hardware in my Dell.  They  installed MalwareBites, a company they both use in their computer work, and a free virus protector, they both trust.  Then they ran scans and were pretty confident we had eliminated this ugly and false information that had been loaded into my desktop.

As far as I know, it’s okay now, although last night it started a strange ticking noise at about midnight, and wasn’t even turned on. When I unplugged it, it made a “whooshing” sound that I couldn’t find the source.

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But since today is the day after a beautiful Thanksgiving with family, I’m praising God for His love and concern over what was a serious mistake that I made. I am also thankful for my sons who so sacrificially gave time and effort to pull their Mom out of the “Pit” that threatened to take the joy out of what was a lovely day with so many wonderful family members, all the way down to great grands!

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:1-3)

 

 

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW

20161107_142117.jpgNo, this isn’t about politics or elections. It’s about having too much stuff! Too many knick-knacks. It’s about de-collecting. and I have started the process.

But at one time, my cry was, “Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere, and not a place to sit!”  I should have known that when I let friends and family know that I like rabbits, they provided my tables, counter tops and corners with every kind of rabbit you can imagine…not any that hopped around the house though. They were made of cotton, velvet, ceramic, pewter, wood and stone. They sat outside in the garden, and on signs pointing the way to a special area of that garden. Like their counterparts, they multiplied. They sat on the bed, perched on a shelf and eventually came to rest in the back of my closet in a box. Poor bunnies! I gathered up only a pittance of that hoard (I had about 50 of various construction) for this photo. Most of them have been given to grandchildren, and to places that distribute toys to children.

But there are also other collections that I enjoy. China tea cups and saucers; an antique vase and blown glass flowers. My curios are spread throughout the house, and although they represent very little monetarily, to me they’re precious because most of them are love gifts.

There’s the little blue handmade pillow that Becky designed in the eighth grade, a carved gazelle from Barby’s trip with a neighbor friend. And I could never part with the red tray Danny created in machine shop or the breadboard Greg made when he was 12. Then there’s the pot Kathy threw on the potter’s wheel, and the many greeting cards Christy has composed over the years, and ginger jar Les gave me, and the . . . (All these many years later, some of those precious treasures have disappeared, but the love remains.)

We all save things–perhaps too many things–things that we’ve picked up in souvenir shops or along the seashore. Most wouldn’t even make it to a garage sale, but to us they’re special because of the memories they evoke, the sentimental value we attach to them.  

I wonder if we’ve stored up God’s treasures in the same way: a special Bible verse, a hymn, a blessing–closed away in a curio cabinet to take out now and then. We don’t use them; we just save them. Perhaps on special occasions we show them off, but then we return them to their place on the shelf.

How about today? Who is God to me today? Did I seek His face? Have I a fresh word from His Book? What neighbor am I praying for NOW? Memories as well as souvenirs are reminders of days gone by, and we cherish them, but as children of the living God we need to remember that He is always present. We must believe that He is, and not just that He was.

  Today let’s throw open the doors of our curio cabinets and allow the fresh, cool breeze of the Holy Spirit blow the dust off our stagnant “knick-knack” experiences and fill us with a new awareness of Him–an awareness to take the dusty things off the shelves of our hearts and share them with others.

“O sing unto the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gotten Him the victory” (Psalm 98:1).

P.S. My newer collections are beautiful vases and pots, and small decorated boxes.  Well, come on, you gotta save some things!

I’M ALL STOPPED UP!! HOW ABOUT YOU?

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I gripped the long handle of the over-sized suction cup and shifted my weight forward, backward–then pulled up with all my might.

Down. Up. Down. Up. What a plugged drain!

The only water that escaped the sink was on the floor–and on me. I’d already used two bottles of liquid drain cleaner that didn’t move whatever was obstructing the flow; and all my puffing and panting had done nothing at all. I guess I’d have to give in and call a plumber. He arrived the first thing next morning–cool, clean, and confident. He left three hours later–dripping, dirty, and defeated after calling an older, more experienced man. Finally, after much grunting, heaving and undertones of exasperation, the new guy did it: we heard that beautiful sound, “S-l-u-r-p! Glug. . .glug.”

At last, with the pipes free of collected grease and grime, the stagnant water drained out of the sink as fresh, clean water splashed in.

Before he left, I hemmed and hawed around, trying to think of some way to share Christ with him. Nothing seemed right, so I muttered something like, “Ah–ah–do you go to church?”

“No,” he said while handing me the bill.

I had nothing else to say, but “Thank you,” as I gave him the check. The man who unplugged our drain and restored our sense of order walked out the door. I might never see him again, or maybe I would.  (See next picture)

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I really want to be a witness for Jesus and tell others about His grace and forgiveness, so why is it so hard to speak out for Him?  I tried…or did I? I had the Word of God, the Water of Life–but it just wouldn’t flow. My pipes were all stopped up!

I have to confess that accumulated bits of indifference and apathy had been hardened by unconfessed sin. The garbage of worldliness and self-righteousness had blocked the flow of life-cleansing words. I needed the Plumber.

As I confessed my sin and failure to the Lord, He applied the cleansing power of the blood of Christ to my life (see 1 John 1:9). Once again I was in fellowship with my God, and I was an open channel of His love.  I try to remember that if I want to be an effective witness for Christ, each day’s accumulation of this world’s dirt must be confessed and cleansed.

Jesus said, “You blind Pharisees, first cleanse what is within the cup and platter, so that the outside of them may be clean also” ( Matthew 23-26).

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Sometimes, the time and words just aren’t available to speak to someone about the gospel. Two people have demonstrated to me by their lives and actions one way to reach just about every one that crosses our paths. My stepfather, Opa, was so faithful in giving out tracts, (small pamphlets with the message of salvation) to clerks, waiters, and even people he met in a parking lot or on his way into a store.  My friend, Carol, goes even further–besides all the above, she leaves them in women’s restrooms, on store shelves, and in doctor’s offices; the good news is sprinkled along the path as she goes her way. Much like Hansel and Gretel with their bag of bread crumbs we, too, can leave even small pieces of the Bread of Life (God’s Word) for those hungry and lost souls who are on their journey homeward, searching for a purpose to their lives.  Try it. You’ll like it!

 

GOD BLESS YOU AS YOU LIVE OUT YOUR DAYS AS A COMMITTED FOLLOWER OF KING JESUS!

“OUR GOD REIGNS”

Love is the answer,

Shirley

 

“HOW GREEN IS MY THUMB”

Thumbs are handy little digits; they can help hold a cup of coffee; encourage with a “thumbs up” for a good show; and if you’re bored or anxious, you can twiddle! I’ve done all of those things, but there’s an action that my thumb is lacking.  It’s definitely not GREEN.

Here’s the story. I love house plants, and after spending the day at my friend’s home, I decided I’d like to bring the outdoors in, like she does.  I busied myself (with a hope-filled heart) and began to decorate my rooms with plants. I had them in various places–on a stand, a coffee table and on the f20161019_073204.jpgloor under a window.  When my husband walked in the door that evening, he called out, “Hey, either send me a safari guide or pass the machete.”  Well, maybe I did overdo it a bit, but time took 20161019_073244.jpgcare of my trial at greenhousewifery.  The plants all died or are in the process of dying! There’s still a split-leaf philodendron that split down the middle, a spider plant that has crawled back into its web, and an asparagus fern that looks like it’s ready for hollandaise  sauce.  I don’t know what I did wrong. The books said that if the plants get too much water, they’ll turn yellow; if too little, they’ll turn brown. Nothing was said about black or white leaves.

There were also instructions about light; but the same room that’s filtered in the morning is brilliantly hot in the afternoon. I wore myself out moving plants around the house all day.

The growth of all life depends a great deal on the proper amount of water and light. Even our spiritual lives will dry out and curl up if not properly cared for. As parents, ( and even grandparents) we’re also responsible for the tender young ones in our care. The Bible speaks of the Word of God as Water, and Jesus Christ as the Light of the world. As we satisfy our thirst with God’s Word and walk in the Light as He is in the Light, we’ll not only grow, but we’ll enjoy a continuous fellowship with God.  And that’s what I covet for all the children in my family.

Let our loved ones see how we walk with Jesus today. Water their parched spirits with the Word of God. Oh, how they need spiritual nourishment in this world that blows a cold wind across their young lives!

“Those that are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God”  Psalm 92:13

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