Thursday, December 14, 2017

Simple Things

I have found joy in simple things
by Grace Noll Crowell

I have found joy in simple things
A plain clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread,
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof over my head,
And in a leaf-laced square along the floor,
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through a door.

I have found such joy in things that fill
my quiet days: a curtain's blowing grace
A potted plant upon my sill,
A rose fresh-cut and placed within a vase,
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I have long loved beside me there.

Just a few pictures of the simple enjoyments in my life.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Matthew 4:18-20 ~ As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Matthew 9:9 ~ As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Luke 5:27-28 ~ After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.  

Matthew 10:27 ~ My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

When I was 14,  I clearly heard the voice of God calling me and telling me to follow Him into full-time ministry.  I thought that meant I would be a missionary in some foreign land.  I didn't end up overseas but I did follow Him without hesitation.

Dan also heard that same call during his college years.  As he sat through a church service, he clearly heard the call on his life into full-time ministry.  That voice led him to seminary and then later on, led both of us to the inner city of Paterson, NJ. and then into the pastorate.

As you read about Jesus' call to the disciples to follow him, it is amazing that those who stayed with him to the end followed without hesitation.  Simon and Andrew left a family business and their boats and equipment at once.  Matthew left a lucrative job, got up immediately and followed.  Levi, too, left his business and followed without hesitation.

I'm sure their family and friends didn't understand that call.  They may have received flack for following Jesus.  People probably talked among themselves about how these men had gone off the deep end.  They may have even felt resentful towards the disciples for deserting them. When God calls the mark of His followers is to follow immediately.  

Is God calling you to something today?  Do you hear His voice, telling you to follow Him?  What will your response be?  Will it be to tell Him that you are not ready yet?  That you need to get your affairs in order first?  Or will it be as these men did and get up, follow immediately, and without hesitation?

The disciples couldn't see the end result.  They didn't know where this path they had chosen might lead.  But because of their faithfulness, the good news spread throughout the world.  

If you hear God's call and follow Him, you too, will be vessels that can be used to do His work.  Listen, get up and follow immediately!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Multitude Monday

Luke 2:8-14 (HCSB) ~

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!

The shepherds were out tending their flock when the angel appeared to them.  The text tells us they were terrified, so can you imagine what they felt when the multitude of heavenly host showed up?  

The magnitude of this event was so tremendous that all of heaven opened up and cried out His praises.  I would have loved to be there to witness it. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have something like this happen today?

It often seems as if my faith is stale and I'm going through the motions. Days bleed into each other and it's the same routine day in and day out.  Yet, if I truly take the time and look around me there is so much for which to praise God.  I see God's hand on me on a daily basis.  I just have to be aware so I don't miss them.  It means shutting out the noise and distractions and paying attention.

I may not have a multitude of heavenly host singing in my ear, but I can sing His praise for the multitude of blessings in my life.

This week I'm thankful for blessings, 3189 - 3200

3189. A husband who is a wonderful father.  He is engaged and present in his children's lives.

3190.  Friends who make me laugh and support me in prayer.

3191.  Seeing new people getting involved at church.

3192.  The blessing of holding a newborn baby for whom we have prayed.

3193.  The enjoyment I find in creating in my kitchen.

3194.  Stephen will be finished with his degree this week and then will be home until he finds a job.  I'm thankful I'll have a bit of time with him before this happens.

3195.  My daughter who calls me and shares her life with me.

3196.  Being able to bring dinner to a friend.

3197.  The joy of new fallen snow.

3198.  Children who make me laugh and bring me joy.

3199. Sunday afternoons which generally are times of relaxing and doing nothing.

and finally...

3200. Recognizing the multitude of blessings in my life.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Pause in Advent: Elusive Peace

I was awakened from a fitful sleep with a 4:30 a.m. knock on our bedroom door. We have a lake effect snow storm going on and Nathan wasn't sure what to do about getting to work.  He was scheduled to be there at 6 a.m. and the plows hadn't gone through yet, and it's coming down hard.

I stumbled out of bed and into the kitchen to turn on the coffee.  Fifteen minutes later, as I was taking my first sip, Nathan knocked his full cup over.  It ran all over the dining room table and down into the carpet.

Since he was now running late, I chased him away, and started to clean it up.  Dan decided to drive Nathan to work since he isn't the most comfortable driving in snow, and I sat down in the silent house.  

Ahhhhhh.......sweet silence.  But I wasn't peaceful. I had basically snapped at everyone in the confusion. Why, oh why, can't I ever react sweetly?  Why can't I calmly take things in my stride?  Why can't I accept the things that come my way with grace? Why does peace always seem to elude me?

I read the story of the angel's visit to Mary and I'm struck by her response.

Luke 1:26-38 (NIV) ~

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

She hears words that will change her life forever, and forever give her a reputation. No one would believe her and no one would look at her the same.  And yet, what is her response?  Calmness, quietness, peace.  In short, "So be it, Lord."  She didn't argue.  She didn't whine, complain, cry out, rage, or argue.  She just sweetly accepted it.  Later on in the chapter she says, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!"

All I dealt with this morning was an hour less of sleep and some spilled coffee, and my internal peace was destroyed.  A bumpy start to my day and there was chaos. Mary's whole world changed and she was full of peace.

This morning we light the candle of peace at church and my prayer is that I would learn to be a woman of peace.  A woman whose response is one of grace and mercy to those around me.  A woman who can accept both the small annoyances and the life-changing events in a way that reveals an inner tranquility that cannot be shaken.  

May God's peace be present in all our lives.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


I feel as busy as one of Santa's elves this year.  I've been baking up a storm as I prepare for different events at church, our own Christmas and our Holiday Open House.

🎄So far I've made eight different kinds of cookies and have a few more to go:

🎄Gifts are beginning to show up beneath the tree.

🎄Christmas cards are still sitting in their boxes and waiting to be filled out.  Some of that will happen today.

My ministry life has been busy too:

🎄Advent readings are being worked on for church, as well as Christmas music.

🎄I'm working on a 3D Kid's program for the 24th during our morning service.

🎄I mentioned before that I passed my accreditation interview.  I have since received a letter from our district office, and the next step is that in order to issue me a license the church had to be willing to create a licensed position for me.  I met with the elder board Tuesday night and I am now the disciplemaking ministry director for our church.  It's not really anything different than I was already doing, but it's just an official position now.  I'll be receiving my license in the mail and then I have 24 months to finish course work and then go before the licensing committee for my official consecration interview.

🎄I've been busy getting details together for a January mailing that needs to go out to all the churches in our district for a spring retreat.

My days are full and busy and I'm enjoying life at the moment.  Emily comes home next week and Stephen the week after. I want to be able to slow down and enjoy them while they are here which is why I've been busy getting everything done now.  

Speaking of Elf, tis the season to start watching those Christmas movies!  I think I need to dust them off and get busy. Have a wonderful day everyone!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

I came away from a conversation last night feeling a bit unsettled.  I was trying to explain why I was pursuing something and just couldn't articulate it in a way that I felt was being understood.  I hate when that happens and it leaves me frustrated and defeated.  I wish I was more eloquent at times or thought quicker on my feet.  I often think of a perfect response to a question hours after it has been asked.

I was still feeling uneasy this morning when I opened up my Bible to the following passage.

Romans 8:26-27 ~

In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit's mindset, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

I often can feel frustrated when I'm praying too. I have a hard time articulating what I'm thinking or feeling and come away from my time of prayer with the sense that I just didn't communicate well.  I'm so thankful that we have an intercessor who puts our inadequate words into the ear of the Lord. And not only does he articulate my prayers but he pleads my cause!

Later in the same chapter it mentions that we have another intercessor as well.

Romans 8:34 ~

Who is the one who condemns?
Christ Jesus is the One who died,
but even more,
has been raised;
He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.

While my words may be inarticulate and inadequate, the Lord hears them as intended because of the intercession of the Holy Spirit and Christ and for that I'm so thankful! 

You may not be an eloquent prayer warrior, but pray anyway!  You may not feel as if you can articulate things well but tell the Lord just the same.  You have someone who intercedes for you before the throne of God. And that is encouragement for today!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Multitude Monday

Last night a Super Moon was shining down, meaning the moon was the closest to the earth it had been all year. But no matter how bright and light the moon is, nothing compares to Jesus, the Light of the World!

John 8:12 (NIV) ~

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

I'm so thankful that I was reminded of this in many ways this past week.  Because He lives within my heart, I too can have that light illuminating my path, and shining out for others to see.  I love this time of the year which causes me to reflect on these things and be thankful. 

This week I'm thankful for blessings, 3176 - 3188.

3176.  A very productive week.  I cleaned and rearranged furniture all week.  It felt good to be moving and active.  My plantar fasciitis is hurting like crazy but I'm thankful that I've been able to get things done, regardless.

3177.  A friend came home from the hospital after being in a car accident.  She has a long road of recovery ahead but at least is back home.

3178.  A great start to our new children's program, 3D Kids.  I'm thankful that I had a lot of help and that we now have enough children at church to be able to do something like this.

3179.  Etsy sales!  My Etsy shop has picked up some steam and I've made a number of sales. 

3180.  Our town has a town-wide Christmas celebration each year.  All the schools have craft fairs, there are children's activities, and a parade.  I had planned on setting up shop at the craft fair on Saturday.  But a few weeks ago as I was thinking about it, I decided that I'd rather represent our church and do a free make and take craft for children.  I'm so glad I did!  I had 90 children come through and they had a wonderful time.  I was also able to pass out some flyers to advertise our new children's program.  It was a fun day and the time flew by!

3181.  Decorating the church for Advent.  I love how just a few decorations make it look so beautiful.

3182.  A full house and uplifting service yesterday.

3183.  Christmas trees, both large and small.

3184.  Dan and I bought tickets to go see Handel's Messiah yesterday and I'm so glad we did.  It was two hours of beautiful music and peace.  The Hallelujah chorus brought tears to my eyes.  Spectacular!

3185. We went out to dinner afterwards and it was nice to sit and chat and enjoy one another's company.

3186.  The beauty of the night sky.

3187.  I must have been wiped out from the busy, busy weekend.  I kept falling asleep in the chair last night, went to bed at 10 and slept straight through the night until 7:15 this morning.

and finally...

3188.  A new week to shine my light!