Sunday’s Comin!

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Today has been one of those days where everything seemed a little hopeless, a little dark. Outside my window I could see that winter still had it’s grip on the earth. No leaves on the trees, no flowers blooming, neither snow nor ice on the ground either. Just another day of nothing in particular.

Ever had those days? “What are you expecting today?” “Oh, nothing in particular.” And that is what you get: Nothing in particular.

I did the usual things to wake my spirit up to His goodness and love, but….by afternoon I was still not feeling it. No spark of joy when I read my devotion; no revelation as I read the Word. So I just did the usual things you do. I was tired, and wanted to take a nap.

Finally, I walked out into my yard. It was a delightful day outside and I decided to go for a long over due walk around my neighborhood. Rather than call one of my children and talk as I walked, I listened to music. One of my fav is Gungor’s “The Earth is Yours.”

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The upbeat sounds began to sink in my soul and my step picked up a little bit. I found myself smiling and singing along. Then I began to see. The sun was going down and the beautiful pinks and purples and oranges were filling the skies through the stark branches of the trees. The yellow bells were beginning to pop out of bare stems that just last week had no life at all. Sort of like from my lifeless heart a little flicker of unexpected joy began to rise. Not so much, mind you, but a tiny spark slipped out!

One neighbor had put in some new landscaping that looked so nice and manicured. I liked that. New neighbors? When did they move in with their cute little purple playhouse and the trampoline in the back? I watched as the youngster did a flip and throw her hands up in victory. I shared her imagined moment of triumph as she received a ‘10’ for the Olympic gold! Was that a surge of joy I felt? Oh Yeah! Now I’m feeling it!

Suddenly I began to see the signs everywhere: The tender little lily pushing up the hard soil; The green buds getting ready to burst open on the Japanese magnolia and the buttercups. The hope that comes as signs of spring begin to emerge from the dormancy of winter was slowly awakening from the hidden places in my soul.

It was then that the Holy Spirit whispered quietly, “It seems like Friday night, But Sunday’s comin!” The Friday night after the Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross seemed very dreary, hopeless and dark. Jesus’ followers went into hiding as fear rose in their hearts. The one they had looked to for deliverance was now dead and buried in the grave. Oh yes, my friend, that was a dark Friday night. They just didn’t know that Sunday was coming!

I didn’t get the winter snow that I love so much. There are still no leaves on the trees, the days are short and my flip flops are tucked away in the deep recesses of my closet. My day started off a little dark and dreary too. But just as these little signs speak of the hope of spring, my heart shouts “It may feel like Friday night, But Sunday’s Comin!”

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His world is a beautiful place full of hope, joy and beauty, even in the winter. And even in the winter season of your life. But don’t despair,

Sunday’s comin!

and so is the spring.

THE EARTH IS YOURS!

by Gungor

January 29 – Mount Tabor

Excellent for anyone pressing deeper into His presence. the signal fire has been lit for our soul to ‘go up to the mountain of the Lord!”

THE RIVER WALK

Mt Tabor

Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? (Psalm 24:3)

Read: Exodus 8:1-9:35, Matthew 19:13-30, Psalm 24:1-10, Proverbs 6:1-5

Relate: Above there is a picture of a mountain followed by today’s verse asking who may climb the mountain of the Lord. I just want to clear up any possible confusion by saying right up front that no, the picture above isn’t the mountain of the Lord. The “mountain of the Lord” is Jerusalem. Often called Mount Zion in the Bible, Jerusalem has a much more gradual incline than this mountain pictured here. Just because the climb is gradual, however, doesn’t mean it is an easy ascent. Anyone coming from Galilee in the north to worship in Jerusalem during one of the festivals would not consider that final stretch very easy. They would head south towards Jericho and then cut west up to Jerusalem. From Jericho to Jerusalem is a…

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Winter, Where Did You Go?

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Love winter

I love the cool, crisp air of winter! I love sitting by my fireplace, drinking coffee and just ‘Being.’ I love to watch breath freeze as others are talking and laughing and perhaps even building a snowman, although snowmen are rare in North Mississippi.

Basically I enjoy all of the seasons! but winter is my fav. Two weeks ago we had snow, ice and temperatures in the teens. Then POW! it turned to spring. after only one week of winter. Today the temperature climbed to 73 degrees, with a promise of the same tomorrow.

The scripture ‘be ready in all seasons’ takes on a whole new meaning. Get out your coat and gloves. Nope! Find those tee shirts I had already put away. This morning I felt a little grumbly because I wanted it to be cold weather. It is January, for heaven’s sake! I felt the quiet nudging of the Holy Spirit to shift my attitude to gratitude. Be thankful, even when the winter doesn’t feel like winter. Be thankful for the small window of cold and snow a couple of weeks ago.

Looking back over the seasons of my life, I find that many of the seasons I enjoyed so much were over way too short also. One minute I was getting a grip on being the mom of toddlers, and Boom! They were teens. I blinked and we were planning weddings and having grand babies. Just like our short week of winter, I miss those short seasons too. But rather than complain, I am grateful that I did have those seasons, as short as they seemed.

Today, I will remember the good seasons of my life and be grateful for the sweet memories. And I will choose to be grateful for 73 degree weather in January, smile and remember that we DID have at least one week of winter!

Soon it will be Spring. Then Summer. Then Autumn. AND THEN it will be winter again!

Actually I love all the beautiful Seasons!

He Came

He Came.

In the still quietness of a manger, He Came.

In my heart, desperate for peace 45 years ago, He Came.

In the heartbreak of losing a precious loved one, He Came.

In the excitement of the birth of our children, He Came.

In the hustle and bustle of opening presents, the chaos of big families and in the company of just a few, He comes.

His presence is evident in Tree ornaments, on billboards, in store windows and in the hearts of His people.

Today, look around in your home, in the streets and on the faces of friends.

Breathe deeply the truth of His word.

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HE CAME!

Lesson in a cup: Wise men still seek him

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All of the Turkey is gone, the pecan pies eaten, the Christmas tree up, the floor vacuumed and for the most part towels and sheets have made it to the laundry room.

Thanksgiving was absolutely wonderful with all 20 of my family at home for five days. Chaos of the best kind.

This morning as my son left, rather than enjoy the quiet, I felt a little lonely. The house is sort of straight, I’m looking out my back door at the beautiful green, gold and red leaves, amazed once more at the beauty of autumn.

So why the lonely feeling? My mother’s heart is praying for my children.

Perhaps your tribe is the exception, but most of the time, in the commotion of gathering for the holidays, there are un-thoughtful words spoken, expectations unmet, past wounds un-healed and unknown future responsibilities weigh heavily on hearts and minds. Each of my children carry burdens that become mine as I pray for them.

That’s called family. The issue is not that all of this takes place, because it does. What makes the difference is that after all is said and done: we are family. We are for, not against, each other. When one is hurting, all the others feel the pain. Even when there is discord we know that ultimately when push comes to shove, we will pull together to help each other overcome and make it to the finish line.

As each one left to go to their homes to face their own family trials, we sent them off with prayer and hugs all around, feeling the oneness and love of family. Arriving home they began texting about old songs that are a part of our family history. The message still rang true after all these years.

 

He Didn’t Bring Us this Far to Leave Us

by the Imperials

He didn’t bring us this far to leave us

He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown

He didn’t build his home in us to move away

He didn’t lift us up, to let us down.

(Click here to listen) 

 

Can you feel HOPE arise?img_3487

HOPE to run our race with integrity.

HOPE in the Wisdom of the Father as we seek Him.

HOPE to finish well.

Jesus Christ, the HOPE of glory!

 

Then I looked at my first cup of the season and smiled: Wise men still seek him.

 

 

My prayer for my family:

“Lord, as my children face uncertain futures and past hurts, may they truly realize that Wise men and women still seek You.

Today, I pray not for riches, fame or even joy for the holidays. I pray for wisdom. Because as wise men and women, they will seek you, and there they will find Your Peace, which is the answer to everything.”

 

A Little Texas Boot

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“It’s just a little Texas boot Christmas ornament.” Tom said as he placed it in my hands at the Fort Worth Cattle Stockyard.

img_1392-1We were visiting our friends in Arlington, Texas, and they wanted us to see ‘the real Texas’ just like in the olden days. A cattle drive at the FW Stockyard.

The smells, the sounds took me back to a time in my childhood and I remembered my daddy’s beautiful red cows with snowy white faces. It was a big day in the tiny village of Walthall when he moved the cows from one pasture to another. Anyone who could ride a horse joined in the fun.

But the best day of all was the Cattle Sale. Daddy would round up the calves to take them to theimg_1411 sale, and many times my older sister, Chalie, got to go with Daddy. She came back talking about the auctioneer and how he rattled off words so fast it sounded like a he was yodeling. She ate hot dogs and drank Coca-Colas for lunch. Oh, My! It sounded like a grand day. I was assured that one day I’d be old enough to go to the sale too.

That day finally arrived. All week, Daddy had said I could go with him. My excitement soared as I tried to decide how many hot dogs I could eat, and for sure at least two Coca-Colas.

Early that morning I could hear the heifers lowing as Daddy loaded the calves into the trailer. My day had arrived. I ran out to be sure he didn’t forget me, but Mama stopped me at the door. She told me that one of Daddy’s friends showed up and wanted to load a couple of his own calves with Daddy’s and there would not be enough room for me in the truck. I must stay home this time.

Crushed. Disappointed. Shattered. Those words hardly scratch the surface of my wounded heart. I ran to my room, crawled under a table and cried and cried and cried. Mama was so sweet to me that day, knowing how disappointed I was. When Daddy came home he brought me a present, but somehow it just didn’t make a difference any more. I had missed the big event. And life moved on.

I don’t remember dwelling on it, but for years I noticed a huge fear of disappointment. It seemed that the pain of disappointment for me was a little out of proportion. At a restaurant, if my order was incorrect I would be so upset I could hardly eat. Or if someone didn’t fulfill a promise, I was deeply wounded. Rationally I knew this was ridiculous and I was always asking myself, “What is wrong with me?”

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And then Tom Schleuter placed a little Texas boot in my hand. Suddenly tears came to my eyes and I could hardly talk as I felt the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit. This little boot was a gift from my Heavenly Father.

I heard that gentle voice speaking tenderly to my heart. “Your Daddy didn’t realize how disappointed you were that day. He had a job to do, herding cows to the sale, and he did it. But I saw every tear under that table. I saw and I grieved for you.”

“I am a good Father, Ruthie.” He continued. “I have brought you to the most famous sale of all: The Fort Worth, Texas Cattle Stockyard! It doesn’t get much better than this one. Spend this delightful day with me watching the people have a good time; listen to the music of guitars; see the sidewalk bronze stars like Wild Bill Hickok; breathe in the smell of the cows and horses. This is our day together at the Sale. Enjoy this day to the max! Release the pain of that little girl crying under the table. I’ve waited a long time to bring you to the best cattle sale of all.”

After that trip to Texas, I took a morning alone time with my Father. Oh what a delightful  time remembering every step of that day at the Stockyard. I laughed, I cried, I praised and I worshiped as I held that little boot. I realized once again how specific our heavenly Father is and how extravagantly he loves us. There is never one tear wasted, nor hurt so small that he does not notice. I had actually forgotten that day under the table, but my Father had not. When Tom placed that little boot in my hand it all came rushing back, every detail so vivid, but no disappointment. What joy to see how my Father remembered all the details and met every expectation of my heart.

Since that time I realize that when I am disappointed, it just doesn’t hurt quite so deeply.

After all, my Dad took me to the Cattle Sale at the Fort Worth Texas Stockyard and healed my heart.

And I have the boot to prove it!

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Thanks, Tom.

 

Would Jesus know the score of the Texas/Notre Dame Game? Recreation creates Community

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David Hartwig Photo

 This morning as I listened in on a conversation between my husband and his friend Roger, their joy and laughter peaked my interest. Were they talking about a church service? A great move of God? Both love with Lord with all their hearts, what were they enjoying so much in their conversation? They were rehashing the Texas/Notre Dame game from last night. “Mmmm, not so spiritual,” I thought. But maybe I was wrong.

Would Jesus know the score of the Texas/Notre Dame football game? In the reality of the Kingdom of God, this is probably not even on the list, but the joy, camaraderie and fellowship around a football game? Maybe so.

Recreation creates community-it’s a God thing.

Recreation means, “Activities done for enjoyment, when not working.” My friend, Julian Goddard, an awesome man of God, studied Recreation at ORU. He explained it this way: “We were created spirit, soul and body. When we break down the word recreation, we get Re (to renew) and Creation (our physical body and soul). Recreation is a spiritual component of the whole man.”

Recreation is close to God’s heart. He and Adam enjoyed one another’s company as they walk in the garden. Perhaps they investigated the new bean crop, checked on how the pecan trees were producing, laughed and raced to the barn to see the new colt with wobbly legs. Recreation and communion at it’s finest. Adam had worked all week tending the garden. On Sabbath, he and God strolled, chatted and enjoyed the Creation together. This refreshed Adam’s spirit for the coming week, rested his body, renewed his mind and also enhanced the relationship between the Father and Adam, building the first community.

Recreation creating community-it’s a God thing.

Jesus fished, laughed and enjoyed recreation so that he could connect on a different level with his friends. Recreation creating community.

For me, there is nothing more invigorating than a brisk walk on a cool crisp autumn morning. It clears the cobwebs from my mind so that I can hear a fresh word in my spirit or not. It allows me to just ‘be.’ But it’s always better when I walk with neighbors, chatting about recipes, children and the beauty of Fall. Recreation creating community.

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Ronald Saunders

I love the exhilaration of accomplishment that comes from a good work out-that is, when I do it. But it is much easier when someone else is there to spur me on. Watching a great football game with friends or any time spent with my grandchildren as they swim, play soccer or baseball is recreation. Cookouts, luncheons, football tailgates. I have a long list of fun things I enjoy. Most involve food, but that is for another day. Recreation creating community.

What do you do for fun? What makes you laugh? What refreshes you and connects you to others in the joy of community? What refreshes your soul, re-creates you?

Enjoy recreation with a friend today. Laugh together because laughter is like a good medicine. High five when your team scores. Go for a walk or run with a neighbor. Pull away from the busyness of life, clear the cobwebs and have some fun. Be RE-CREATED with the Joy of the Lord in community.

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Recreation creates community-it’s a God thing.