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) 

 

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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.”

 

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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.

 

 

 

60 Second Vacation To Change your Day

 

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I do it me self!

Those are the words I heard from my sweet three-year-old granddaughter, Paisley. She is all about independence, from putting on clothes, bath time and buckling her own seat belt. In reality I was there to help, still in control, at least most of the time.

Watching her struggle to put on a tee shirt, getting it all twisted up was precious. Finally becoming frustrated, with big, tearful eyes I heard that sweet little voice cry, “Memaw, I need help!”

And over and over during our week of babysitting, quietly the Lord reminded me that I do the same thing. “I do it me self!”

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Many times overwhelmed, I continue to push on with my ‘to do list’ worrying, trying to handle tasks that are too big for me, thinking, “I have all this to do and I have to do it myself!”

Preparing the house for company, buying the groceries, cooking and cleaning. “I have to do all of this myself!”

Getting ready to teach a workshop, to speak at a retreat, answering emails. You’ve got it! Do it all myself!

Father, forgive me when I forget who is really in control and sends me help when I call. Just like Paisley, I am mistaken that I don’t need any help. But when push comes to shove, You are there. You’ve always been there waiting to help me.

So I stop for one minute. I take a 60 second vacation and connect with my Father.

The Psalms says “You show me the path for my life, and you surround me with songs of deliverance.”

When I get tangled up with the cares of everyday life, overwhelmed by circumstance,  He shows me the way out, the path He has already cleared for me.

And HE sings!

He doesn’t shout at me that I should have known better. He doesn’t say I told you so. He sings.

And as I stop for just 60 seconds, look to Him and listen for His voice, I hear His song: His song of deliverance. His song that releases peace in the middle of my turmoil. His song that says “I’ve got this one!”

I stop, take a deep breath and remember who is really in control. I still have much to do, but somehow the load seems lighter, my mind is not so troubled and my day goes a little easier.

In my heart I feel a strange sensation called ‘Joy’. I find myself smiling. And with the joy comes strength and energy. Rather than a burden, I actually enjoy the shopping, the cleaning. I get new insight as I prepare for the teaching. He really is my help in times of trouble, even in the small tasks of everyday living.

So today, in the middle of your busyness, stop, take a minute, 60 seconds, to breathe.

Breathe deeply, asking for his help and thank him for this one moment in eternity that you have connected with him. Acknowledge his presence and his help.

Thank Him for where you are and what you are doing. Shopping? Thank him for the provision you have so that you can shop. Transporting kids from one place to the next? Thank him you have children and the means to transport them. Cleaning toilets? Take advantage that you are on your knees and pray for some one who needs a little extra boost today.

Take a 60 second vacation. Stop. Breathe. Connect. And give thanks. It will change your day!

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Sunday’s coming!

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Resurrection day! He is risen!!

But this resurrection morning, I felt heavy. As a family we celebrate with a Seder meal on Thursday evening and all of my children and grandchildren try to be here. And this year was amazing, But now they were all gone, the house was quiet and I felt lonely. But why? Surely this is not what I should be feeling? Isn’t this the glorious victory, the climax of the story we had just celebrated on Thursday?

There, I’ve admitted it. I am ashamed to say it, but yes, as my mama used to say, I was down in the mouth.

As I sat with my first cup of coffee, a blog I usually read popped up. “Mmm, he doesn’t usually write on Sunday” I mused. So I read it.

It was as if this blog, “Wisdom from a Father” (Click here to read) was directed toward my leaden heart. He discussed how we lead up to Resurrection day with fasting and a strong focus on the cross, the agony of the suffering, and how our own sin is cause for this suffering. We sometimes get ‘stuck’ on Good Friday, but whole point of the narrative, even the entire Old Testament, is Sunday Morning, Resurrection day.

As I read his post, I realized I had a choice. Yes, Jesus died for my sin, my shame, my bondage, but the greatest message is He didn’t stay dead. Yes, He paid the price, but He did much more than that. He defeated death and brought us to complete victory, resurrection of our spirit and hope for our future.

I remembered a song by the Christian artist, Carmen. “It seems like Friday night, dark and hopeless….. But SUNDAY’S COMING!”

Hope began to rise in my heart.

Later at church, our pastor, John, read the story of The Resurrection what really hit me was the power of the resurrection. When Jesus rose from the dead, the entire earth shook with resurrection power. Not just the portion around Jerusalem. The earth shook in Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia. And the Bible says, “The same power that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you!”

My heart exploded in hope! He Is Risen! The heaviness gone, and joy flooded in.

Earlier it seemed like Friday night, but Sunday’s coming!

I want to leave you with this sweet story sent to me by my friend, Brenda Malone.

There was a little boy named Phillip who had Downs Syndrome. In Sunday School the other children really didn’t pay him much attention, because his responses and actions seemed foolish to their eight year old minds. The week before Resurrection Day their teacher gave them all an empty plastic egg. They were to spend the week looking for things to put in the egg that reminded them of resurrection life. On Resurrection day the children eagerly awaited their turn to share the treasures they had collected. One shared a seed and the teacher was pleased. Another shared a butterfly, which delighted the teacher. Then came Phillip’s turn. When Phillip opened his egg, it was empty. Some of the children laughed. “He didn’t do it right!” said the little girl with the pretty pink bow. But little Philip hung his head and whispered quietly, “I did do it right. It’s empty because Jesus’ tomb is empty. That’s why we have new life.” Suddenly, the boys and girls got very quiet. They ‘got it.’ Phillip was right. The empty tomb was exactly what Easter was all about. The empty tomb. Resurrection. Jesus didn’t stay dead; he rose up to bring us all new life.

Yes, we never forget the cross, the pain, the suffering, the death. But we must not stop on Good Friday. No matter how dark your Friday might seem, no matter the depth of your heart ache, the tomb is still empty, resurrection power is still available, and Sunday’s Coming!

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Be blessed this day with Hope, Joy and His Resurrection Power.

Bayou Bible School, Milly, the Deer Hunter

11951895_10206576568788815_5607146155687526682_nMildred Bean, an amazing Bible teacher and dear friend grew up in the Bayou Country of Louisiana. Recently she called and, tongue in cheek, told me she was developing some new teachings called Bayou Bible School, because she realized that some of her foundational lessons of life came from the Bayous of Louisiana. I have asked her if I could blog some of her tales.

Bayou Bible School Lesson: The Deer Hunt

As I reflect on my early hunting experience with my dad, I learned by observing and mimicking. My dad was my hero and role model. When he stopped, I stopped. When he looked into the trees, I looked into the trees. We did not chatter as we walked, but were as quiet as possible as we trudged through the forest floors laden with tree limbs and dry crunchy leaves. We would walk a short distance, then stop and remain very still, always looking and listening. Was this early training for me to be a watchman for the Lord? Even then God was preparing me to walk by His Spirit, to do what I see him do. Not only were we alert for our prey, but also for sounds that might signal danger. More than once we heard the shaking of a rattlesnake’s tail. But regardless of the danger, I felt perfectly confident that I was safe. I was close to my dad.(Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov. 22:6 KJV)

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Annie Oakley??? Nope! It’s Mildred

Not only did I squirrel hunt with my dad, we also went deer hunting. The strategy for deer hunting was quite different than squirrel hunting. On these hunts we went out very early in the morning while it was still dark. Again I walked step by step with my dad because he knew where he was going, even though I did not have a clue. He would make sure that I had what I needed for the long hours I would be left alone on a deer stand. This was before the days of modern deer stands high up in the trees. In the early morning darkness I was positioned on a tree stump. Dad assured me he would return at some point later, but that he would also always know if I needed him. With no cell phones back then, how would he know? I’m not really sure, but I do know this: he knew where the other hunters were positioned. Our strategy was that anyone could shoot in any direction and not harm another person, yet if a deer tried to slip through between the different stands, someone would see it and have a chance to make a kill. My dad was a wise hunter.

Sitting on that stump in the pitch black dark, my imagination ran wild. I would sit intently still and wait. And wait! And wait! Turning my head sharply at every sound, peering through the slight break between trees and seeing movement, it was difficult not to jump or run at these shadowy forms. But as daylight crept through the trees, most of my fantasized objects of dread turned out to be only big, dry bushes or hollowed out trees and the movements came from birds or squirrels foraging for food. After much ‘on the job training’ I learned to discern whether this noise was something, someone, or just a noisy armadillo trying to cause a distraction.

“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:13-14 NKJV)

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Mildred, the deer hunter!

Proverb 4:18 declares, “Yet the way of those who do right is like the early morning sun that shines brighter and brighter until noon“. (The Voice)

Many mornings I would become very restless after a few hours, but I knew that to leave my position would be dangerous. I could get lost or too close to another’s firing range. But most importantly I needed to remain right where my dad could find me.

He seemed to always know when I was too cold or too tired, and showed up earlier to take me back to the warm, crackling fire of the camp house. Looking back I realize that I never doubted that he would come back for me. He was there when I needed him, and I was secure in my father’s love.

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Mildred’s Mom and Dad

Bayou Bible School, Little Milly and the Snake!

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Mildred Bean, an amazing Bible teacher and dear friend grew up in the Bayou Country of Louisiana. Recently she called and, tongue in cheek, told me she was developing some new teachings called Bayou Bible School, because she realized that some of her foundational lessons of life came from the Bayous of Louisiana. I have asked her if I could blog some of her tales. I think you will enjoy hearing the story of little Mildred and the snake!

“About one third of Jesus’ teaching was in parables, brief stories from everyday life told by way of analogy to illustrate spiritual truths”. (New Spirit Filled Life Bible)

Bayou Bible School Lesson 1

“Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.”Psalm 85: 13 (NKJ)

I began to go hunting at an early age (6-7 years of old) with my dad. Today I realize that it was not because I liked to hunt – I had no clue at that age- but is was because I wanted to spend time with my dad and I liked what he liked.

05-bayou-pop-top-ladyThe woods in central Louisiana bayou country are very dense with trees, briers, thorn bushes, palmetto (thick fanned shape plants), with scattered boggy water holes during the rainy fall and winter months.

I remember that my dad made certain I dressed properly for the hunt, not so much for me to be camouflaged, but for my protection as I followed him through those thick, brushy woods. Thicker pants and a long sleeve shirt or hunting jacket was my attire. When the briers would try to tear at me, I was protected. And of course I needed good boots, not only to keep my feet dry through the muddy water holes, but also and more importantly, for protection against snakes.

11041145_10205882926688196_1187870115772654674_nMy dad loved to tell stories of my first few hunting adventures with him. On these grand exploits he would walk directly in front of me to forge the path through the thick undergrowth, protecting me from the briers or Palmetto branches that would want to flip back into my face. Being taller, he could see where we were going and where to step carefully. I knew it was very important for me to step where he stepped. On one particular adventure a snake suddenly appeared on our path and my dad stopped dead still. Fear gripped me and I began to run, back through the woods, away from my dad and this deadly snake! After a brief run through the thick brush I finally heard my dad’s voice shouting at me to stop. And I did. My Dad would laugh and enjoyed telling the fact that, first of all this was not a poisonous snake but a blue runner, and that I was running side by side with the snake. He couldn’t decided who was more afraid, the snake or little Mildred!

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The Holy Spirit began to speak to me through the remembrance of this tale. “In this season, you will be walking through some ‘dense places’. Your Abba Father has made sure you are clothed correctly for this journey. It is important to walk directly behind your Father, stepping in His footsteps. He knows where He is going and can see when you can’t. He will forge the path ahead of you so don’t let sudden fear lay hold of your heart and change your path. Don’t run with ‘fear’ or with snakes, for that matter! Walk in faith and trust! Stay next to your Father, listen to His voice, and obey Him.”

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP  

Run away or Come Away!

Have you ever wanted to run away? I certainly have. We have an old children’s video about a lost puppy who is adopted by a family of rabbits. Any time danger came near, the bunnies shouted “Run away! Run away!”  This was so against the puppy’s nature, but he learned to run away at the least little scare. When things get stressed or hectic in my life, I often hear that same voice shouting, ‘Run away! Run away!” I feel panic rise in me, because I don’t know where to run. Or do I?

Recently when browsing through a Southern Living Magazine I came across this Go RVing ad:

“AWAY is a place that’s not on any map. But you know it when you find it.”

Go RVing ad, SLM, July 2015
Go RVing ad, SLM, July 2015

I heard the Lord’s voice whisper, “I’ve not called you to run away, I’ve called you to Come away!”

This ad is true spiritually. Away is NOT on any map, but you know it when you find it. It is that quiet, peaceful place in your heart where you feel and know. That secure, safe place where he speaks softly, “I’m here and I’ve got this.” It is simply taking a moment to STOP and acknowledge His presence, His love, His kindness, His magnificence, His majesty, His gentle peace. In this place you can stay a few moments or a few hours. In this place your spirit rises up to connect with His Spirit and He brings your weary or frightened soul into His peace.  In a busy mall or in a tranquil, fragrant garden, in a chaotic household where every other word is ‘Mommy!” or a by a crashing, rushing waterfall, he calls us to ‘Come Away!’

Life always has those moments of decision. I believe the Lord allows these times to come so that we have the option to choose his blessing of peace or the chaos. It gives Him great joy and pleasure when we make the right choice.

Will you choose to run away?

or Come Away?

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