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A Winner, A Loser and A Judge

Our granddaughters are growing quickly, as grandchildren seem to do. They are two wonderful people of whom I am very proud. Not too long ago they amazed me once again when I picked them up from school. What a blessing to live so close.

Upon arriving at their house the first order of business was saying hello to all pets. Homework and snacks followed. A 250 piece puzzle was next on the list.

After awhile the girls decided to finish the puzzle later, so we switched to a drawing game instead. Our 8 year old volunteered to be judge. Her job was to decide what her 11 year old sister and I would draw. Then she would determine which picture was the best, and award a paper ticket to its’ creator . Whoever had the most tickets at the end of the game would be declared victor. Everyone was satisfied with the rules, so our competition began.

About 5 drawings into the game I happened to win two tickets in a row. I suggested to our fair and confident leader that it would be okay if there were ties. Her sister, recognizing what was happening and said, “Don’t feel bad Granna. I know how to lose!”

Taken aback by her comment I asked how she had learned such an important lesson. With laughter in her voice she explained that when she first started playing soccer, her team NEVER won. Encouraged by their parents and coaches, they continued to play and have fun anyway. They gained experience and their skill level improved. By the end of the third season, her team was winning most of their games.

The girl’s parents arrived home a short time after her explanation. We had four more drawings completed by then. I smiled when we counted our tickets. I was not the one with largest stack.

On my drive home I marveled at the excellent way our young “art expert” had handled her position of authority. She remained objective, and we agreed with her decision every time. I also reflected on the fact that in life we win and we lose. That in our families, our work, and our friendships, there will be opportunities to lead. As a follower of Jesus I realized just how important it is, to learn to be good at all three. So I pray the following prayer:

“Lord, when we are winning help us to be humble, for pride comes before a fall. May we truly rejoice with others, when they have opportunities to succeed. Their success does not mean You love us less. There will be times for us to win too. When we are losing, Jesus help us to trust You. We know that You turn all things to good.
When those around us are experiencing times that are hard, give us words of encouragement to speak to them. Help them to feel secure in You, for they are far more than any loss in Your eyes. When we are called to lead I pray for wisdom and compassion, that those you give us to care for will encounter Your Unfailing Love.
In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Colossians 3:17 KJV And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the LORD Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

1 Peter 3:8 NKJV Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;

James 4:10 KJV Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD, and he shall lift you up.


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A Birthday Gift

Last Saturday was my birthday. My husband, daughter, son-in-law, our two granddaughters and my mom had a family dinner Friday night. We also spent time together on Sunday. Our son and future daughter-in-law who live in Seattle called me and said nice things. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the day of my birth. While all of this was happening, I found myself surrounded by a quiet joy and peace. As I wondered where they were coming from I realized, they were gifts from God.

I am not one to be shy about my birthday. It is not unusual to find me walking around the house singing “Happy Birthday To Me. Happy Birthday To Me. Happy Birthday Dear Meeee. Happy Birthday To Me”, numerous times throughout the week. This is not because I think I am so great. There have been times that I haven’t even liked myself. It is because GOD thinks that I am special, and He loves me just as I am. And whether you spend your birthday with family or friends or alone with Jesus, God loves you and He thinks you are special too.

So today I want to share my birthday gifts that you might have His peace and joy as well. You will find them contained in the scriptures below. There is one for each day of the week. Let Jesus use them to share His Truth about you. They are things that He wants you to know.

You don’t have to be perfect to be loved by Me.
Hebrews 10:14 NKJV For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
*We see ourselves through the filter of our failings. Our Heavenly Father, however, sees us through the perfect sacrifice of His Son Jesus, as we learn to walk in His ways.

I Am thinking about you… all of the time!
Psalm 139:17-18 KJV 17How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! 18If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
*While you are sleeping. When you awaken. Jesus’ thoughts are ever upon you.

I know every detail about you, and I love you.
Mathew 10:30 KJV But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
*One hair grows in. Another falls out. Jesus keeps track of each and every one, and every aspect of your life.

You bring Me joy!
Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV
17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet
you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

*Every single day.

I long to cover you with the protection of My Love.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;

*Jesus is waiting for us to run into the shelter of His wing!

I Am with you. You are not alone.
Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
*Though others may fail or forsake us, Jesus will not.

I knew what I was doing, when I purposed to make you who you are.
Psalm 139:14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
*Thank You Lord for making us, just the way we are.


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We Just Don’t Know

I was leaving the dentist yesterday after having my teeth cleaned. Driving toward my next appointment I was happy. There were no new cavities in need of repair and my mouth felt great. I was celebrating on the side road of a busy intersection waiting to turn left. Experience told me that the light would change quickly because the road doesn’t have much traffic. You have to be on the ball to make it through.

I was surprised when the signal turned green and the oncoming car didn’t move. Inside was a young woman who looked to be in her late thirties. I couldn’t tell what she was doing, but it appeared that she was just sitting there, staring straight ahead.

Now, I am not against giving a quick toot from behind to get someone moving. Still, I try to use my horn sparingly when driving in town. I hate it when someone honks at me. I wasn’t in a hurry, so this time I decided to silently wait.

Eventually she became aware that the light had changed and went through in time for me to make my turn. As I watched her pass by I couldn’t help but wonder; what had caused the delay? Was she sneaking a peak at her phone messages or her e-mail? Or was she listening to a favorite song on the radio? Perhaps she was thinking about her next destination. Was she lost in worry because her child was having trouble at school? Perhaps she had received some troubling news about a loved one’s health or her marriage? Maybe she was daydreaming about an upcoming vacation? The fact is, I did not know.

So instead of honking I said a prayer. A prayer that I say for other drivers too. Drivers who are dangerously speeding by me, or driving exceptionally slow. Those who are frantic or who don’t take their turn at the stop sign. People in cars that are old or all beat up and obviously need to be replaced. “Lord bless them, whatever that means.”.

Every day we have a choice as to how we will respond. In a car, at the store, in a meeting, or at home, we get to choose. Will we let others raise our blood pressure or cause us to silently curse perceived offenders under our breath for things we have also done? (Believe me, I have).  Will we become offended, taking their actions personally when they have absolutely nothing to do with us? Or will we speak forth blessings as Jesus has called us to do?

I can’t see into the hearts or the lives of others. Sometimes not even those that I know really well. One thing I know for certain is that Jesus can. He knows every hope, every sorrow, every need and every joy. He wants us to be patient and not to judge. He wants us to bless one another. This for their benefit and our own.

Ephesians 4:2 NKJV with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,

Colossians 3:13 NKJV bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

Mathew 7:1 KJV Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Note- I love this week’s picture. It is a gift bag given to me by a friend, and the trivet I got for Christmas from my Sis!

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Not Strong Enough

Happy 2020! It has started off at a rapid pace. I am excited to see what this new year has in store!

One of the things I am looking forward to is having back surgery. Yes. Looking forward to it! While I am not anxious to go through the actual procedure, I can’t wait to be free from the limitations that my overuse has caused. While I didn’t realize it at the time, for far too long I have lifted things that were too heavy for me.

An incident comes to mind that brings me to spring a long time ago. We had put our heifers, (cows having their first calf), in the pasture behind the house where we could keep an eye on them. More often than not things go smoothly for these young mothers. Still, there are times when assistance is needed because of their inexperience giving birth and their small frame size.

Typically when a calf is born it slides onto the ground and the impact causes the amniotic sac to break. In this case, however, the membrane was extra thick so it to stayed in tact. I could see that the calf’s nose was completely covered by the sac and that he couldn’t breathe. I quietly slipped out and removed it as he lay struggling on the ground. Then, without thinking, I picked him up and tossed him onto a bale of straw that was near by. The impact startled him, causing him to take his first breath.

Rocks, haybales, motorcycles, and even my kayak are just a small part of my heavy things list. Sometimes the lifting is borne of necessity. That slippery 65 pound calf would have died without my help. Other times my actions haven’t been necessary at all. It would have been better to have left them undone.

My desire to please and to help when help is needed, often causes me to pick things up when I should let them lie. Stubbornness has also played a role. Impatience and the desire to get things done have been culprits too. A lack of awareness of what I was doing to my body as I worked has caused me to harm my spine. As I make preparations to undergo surgery I now realize, this can happen in the spiritual world too.

Unforgiveness is a crushing burden. Bitterness can be so heavy that it injures our heart. Holding on to words spoken against us instead of giving them to Jesus causes us pain. Worrying instead of trusting can make us feel responsible to fix everything. Bearing the weight of others’ behaviors and decisions is not what Jesus has for us.

So this year as I get my back repaired, I am asking Jesus to show me where my spirit needs healing too. That He help me be wise in those things that I choose to pick up, physically and spiritually as well. May He show me those things that come from Him, and help me to walk away from the rest. I pray that I will always remember to ask for His help, and from others when it is needed. I know I am simply not strong enough to carry all things on my own.

Psalm 28:7 KJV The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

Ephesians 6:10 NKJV 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

1 Chronicles 16:11 KJV 11  Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.

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Christmas Distractions

There is less than two weeks until Christmas!  Our house is decorated, although not quite as elaborately as usual.  Our backs have been a limiting factor this year. Still, favorite decorations are out to celebrate and reflect memories from the past. It looks nice in spite of not having a tree. Our tall plant filled with candy canes for our son-in-law will have to do the job.

Next week my Mom and I will cook ahead for Christmas dinner. I still want to make fudge for my niece and get it in the mail very soon. The gifts are wrapped and ready for Christmas morning. I am excited because I found a perfect gift for someone.  While I am not famous for my gift giving originality, I believe I accomplished it at least once this year!  

Indeed, gift giving can be a challenging and expensive part of Christmas.  The quest begins for many the day after Thanksgiving. Some leave the table and their families, even on Thanksgiving Day, to save money and begin that daunting task. They head for work or to shop in the many stores that are now open for Black Friday. Time for giving thanks to The Lord and enjoying family is cut short.

I was talking to someone about all of this recently. They referred to Black Friday not as a shopping day, but as the day that Jesus was crucified. We remember His death on Good Friday. The skies turned dark as He gave the greatest gift of all. Yet, as the Christmas Season begins and we head to town to buy presents, His sacrifice is the last thing on our minds.

There are many distractions in the Christmas Season. Concerns about parties and what to wear to an event can come to the fore. Finding that just right centerpiece or poinsettia for the dinner table gathers our attention. Cooking and cleaning to make things look just right leads to exhaustion. Stress and anxiety can rob us of the joy of Jesus’ birth. It can become an every year trap.

In this season filled with “Jingle Bells”, “Rudolph” and Santa Clause, I pray that the coming of Jesus will be on our minds. May the wonder of the birth of Our King cause us to turn to Him and share our faith. That we avoid spending too much time trying to please others, but make time to reflect Jesus’ love. May there be room in our days to celebrate and spend time with Jesus. He is what Christmas is all about.

Luke 23:44-46 NKJV Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’

Luke 2:7 KJV 7  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

John 14:27 KJV) 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.

Song of Solomon 2:10 My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away.

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Enjoy One Another!

Next year our son will be getting married to an amazing young woman. Our family is excited to have her join our clan. She is no doubt a gift from Jesus to all of us, and a wonderful partner for our son.

Our future daughter-in-law has a large family. It includes parents, aunts, uncles and cousins who live in the Mid-West. They are a tight knit bunch who love one another, and they are not shy about saying how much they love our son.

Because of the geographical distance, we haven’t met her family in person. I have, however, been communicating with her Mom. “Mom” sent a note introducing herself and expressing her excitement about the upcoming union right after they shared the news. That is the wonderful kind of person that she is.

It has been fun getting to know her via text and e-mail. I look forward to sharing our kids and grandkids for the rest of our lives. Like her daughter, she is an exceptional person. I have learned that she is generous and fun and giving and wise.

On Thanksgiving we received a card from her. It was a holiday greeting with a warm message inside. My initial thought was, “How lovely!”. It was quickly followed by another. “Oh no! She is so very thoughtful! I will never be able to keep up!”. My guilt at not sending a card to her immediately disappeared, however, when I determined that I am not even going to try. I have decided that I am not going to compete or keep up. I am going to enjoy the wonderful person that she is instead.

Indeed, we are all part of God’s family, and He does not want us to compare. We are uniquely created to love and strengthen one another, each in our own individual way. When we focus on the good, not what is lacking in ourselves and others, it brings a smile to Our Father’s face.

So, I am placing this relationship into Jesus’ hands. I ask Him to bless and keep my new friend. I pray that I will be a gift to her, as The Lord protects our friendship and our children throughout the years. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

2 Corinthians 6:18 NKJV “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”

John 13:34 NKJV 34  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Psalm 139:14 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

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Thankful, Beginning to End!

Thank You Lord for the sunrise!
It brings promise of a brand new day!
No matter what comes You are with us.
In times of joy and sadness You are near.

Thank You Lord for the sunset!
It is a reminder to give you praise!
You give us life and our very breath.
We spend every day in Your care.

Thank You Lord for Your beauty!
Reflected in days’ beginning and end.
May we start each day by giving thanks.
May we finish it in the same way.

Whether your day is quiet or filled with bustle,
May THE LORD overwhelm you with His Love.
May we make some time to give Him thanks,
Today and every day!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

Psalm 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.

1 Chronicles 16:34 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

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Temporarily Grounded

I have long wanted to take a good picture of an eagle.  From time to time I see them, but it is not often.  When one does make an appearance it is usually unexpected. The result? Either I don’t have my camera, they are too high in the air, or I am not fast enough to capture their image.  I have been trying to get a photo I am happy with for years.

I had always imagined that my successful shot would be accomplished with a bird in flight.   Instead, my prize comes in the form of the above picture; an eagle that is at rest. Taken when my husband and I visited a wonderful zoo last fall, it is very special to me.

We came upon this magnificent creature in an area where eagles who had been injured were being cared for. There were several in the enclosure, and it was obvious that they could not fly. Still, they were majestic. Their power and beauty remained unmasked in spite of their grounding. They were not struggling against their situation as one might think. Instead, under the watchful eye of their Keeper, they patiently waited until they would fly once more.

In this life we too can become grounded. Betrayal, devastating loss, or rejection can bring wounding to our lives. During this time our Keeper is ever so close as we rest and wait on Him.

If you are feeling broken right now, I would like to say to you:

You are beautiful, even if you don’t feel it.
You are stronger than you know.
Jesus is with you, and His healing will come.
One day you will soar again.

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Psalm 33:20-22 NKJV 20 Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name. 22 Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, Just as we hope in You.
***Note: The Hebrew Lexicon describes waiting as:
To wait, look for, hope, expect, to wait or look eagerly for

Ephesians 3:17-19 NKJV 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.