Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year's Resolution

Trust God to help you deal with offenses

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Christmas program

Presentation shows how life doesn't always go as expected

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snow lesson

The snow is blowing and drifting outside.
It's 10 degrees, but the windchill factor is 36 degrees below zero - not exactly warm, balmy weather!
Earlier today, BeBe, our little Boston terrier wanted to go outside. Now, BeBe hardly has any fur - not like Buzz, our Shelti-cross who has a much thicker coat.
So I decided to put the warm-looking pink coat that Chuck bought for BeBe onto our bouncing little dog before she headed outside.
This isn't the first time I've tried to bundle her in the coat, but each time I get the same result.
She jumps around and paws at me as I sit on the floor and try to get one of her skinny little black legs through the hole of the vest-like garment. Sometimes, she yelps as I try to get her leg in. I usually manage to get in one leg and then the other and quickly fasten the Velcro sides under her belly.
The last time I didn't even manage to do that, before she darted out the door.
BeBe runs like the wind when she gets outside. It's not hard to miss her with that bright, pink coat. When it's cold, she doesn't stay out very long.
I'm guessing that cold weather isn't her bag.
But it amazes me that she seems to fight something that can keep her warm - something that's meant for her own good.
You'd think she'd get a clue.
Yet, I guess, we as humans can be pretty clueless when it comes to God and his word.
God gives us commands in the Bible for our own good. His word is filled with direction and guidance.
So you think we'd be set, right?
Maybe not.
Sometimes, I think we're a lot like BeBe - pawing wildly, or at least not paying attention very well, when God is trying to help us.
In the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Proverbs, the writer urges his readers to embrace wisdom.
In verse seven, we read: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline."
Throughout the book, we find so many words of wisdom.
For instance:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight:" Proverbs 3:5.
And how about this:
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:24.
And then there's this:
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1
And what about this:
"A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much." Proverbs 20:19
Oh ... and here's one that I need to remind myself of often:
"He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity." Proverbs 21:23.
Here's one of my personal favorites:
"Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passerby who meddles in a quarrel not his own." Proverbs 26:17.
And here's more good advice:
"A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense." 19:11.
As I page back and forth through the Scriptures, I recall times when the Holy Spirit reminded me of these things.
I know I've kept out of a lot of trouble by not meddling in quarrels. I've worked to let things go, because the words about overlooking offense came to mind. And I've prayed many times for the Lord to guard my mouth. ("Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." Psalm 19:14)
I certainly haven't done everything perfectly, but as I recall BeBe pawing at me while I try to get that coat on her, I know I must yield more to the Lord - even when it's not easy.
It's a matter of trust. It's also wise to let the Lord envelop us in things that can help shield us from life's storms. That doesn't mean we can avoid every storm, but we can face them with the help of a loving God.
And come to think of it, I might have a better time of getting that coat on BeBe if I prayed about it first.
That's probably one of the best thoughts I've had all day.



Friday, December 10, 2010

Our shield

God protects us as we face life's rough battles

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What if

Last night, I gave a program at the library.
I talked about my book, "Real Spiritual Spinach - Faith for the Journey," and read excerpts from it.
Four people showed up.
Two of those included the library director and another employee.
Under other circumstances, I might have been discouraged.
But I wasn't.
Well, partly because it was such a good experience. I had the chance to share things God has taught me. I got the opportunity to talk about my columns to a receptive audience. I was very comfortable around kind, friendly people who supported me. And the local director for a Royal Family Kids Camp in our community also had the chance to talk about the August camp that took place in our area.
Best of all, I know God was there.
I sold eight books, double the number of people who attended. Not a bad deal at all.
But more than that, I think I'm re-evaluating this thing we call success.
If my main intent is only to autograph and sell books - and I don't have time to talk to someone who's really hurting - then what have I accomplished?
Oh, I believe the books can really help people. After all, they contain some of God's word and Bible stories. Yet if I get so wrapped up in selling books so I can buy more books to sell and don't minister to people, am I really fulfilling what God has for me to do?
It takes time and patience to listen to people sometimes.
Even so, I think God has given me some wonderful experiences.
Chuck and I went to Altoona, Iowa, for a book signing on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Business was slower in the pharmacy/bookstore that day. The manager said the store was swamped the day before - Black Friday. I may have been able to sell a lot of books that day.
We sold 10 on Saturday, not bad at all.
But that's not necessarily what I'm going to remember from that day.
What I will remember is the joy of reading some of my stories aloud to the manager and the clerks when customers weren't coming in the door.
And I hope I never forget how - at the end of the signing - the pharmacist came from the back of the store and bought a book for his wife. He had been listening while I read the stories. I have a good, loud voice and he could hear them in the back of the store, while I sat near the front.
He walked up and told my husband, "Your wife is a good reader," right before he had me autograph a copy.
That was a wonderful moment.
Also wonderful was hearing a couple of the store clerks sing. And after the store closed, the owner and his wife took us to a very, large, modern church - complete with theater-style seating and cup holders for cappuccino sold in the large foyer. The church had a worship band and words to songs were projected onto two very large screens. It was Saturday night and one of the pastors, decked out in a T-shirt, jeans and headset, sat on a stool and preached, while images of some of what he talked about flashed on a screen overhead.
After the service, the manager and his wife took us, and some of their family members, out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. That was a treat.
We went back to our hotel (the store had put us up in a nice hotel for two nights). We left five extra copies of the book on consignment at the store. We got up and had breakfast, compliments of the hotel for the second day in a row, and then headed home.
In October, Chuck and I went to a bookstore in Des Moines, Iowa, for the day. The owner and clerks were great.
One elderly woman came in to buy a book. She said her sister-in-law was dying in a hospital and that Saturday probably would be her last day on earth.
But the woman wanted to get an autographed copy of my book. She and her husband came and were so kind and friendly.
And I was touched.
The store owner fed Chuck and I lunch and gave us a coupon to buy something at the store.
That was great, too!
We sold 14 books, not bad at all since we're not known in Des Moines.
But the kindness of the people in the store was what I'll remember most. Once again, it was a lovely experience.
In the Bible, there's a verse that, in part, talks about not despising the day of small beginnings.
I think there's a lot of truth to that.
I don't know where God will take us on this journey, but I'm determined to enjoy the journey and not only be focused on the destination - whatever that might be.
And perhaps that's one of the greatest gifts of all.



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Room in the Inn

Nebraskans show kindness to weary travelers