Saturday, July 04, 2020

A glorious Fourth of July to you!


I hope that each of you Americans reading this will have a glorious Fourth of July celebrating the birthday of our beloved country! Whether you celebrate with family, friends, or church family, whether you are here on US soil or elsewhere, whether you're enjoying a picnic, a parade, fireworks, or possibly even a meaningful visit to a cemetery, I hope that each of you will take a moment sometime throughout the day to thank God for the land He has blessed us to be able to live in. Our country has many serious problems and flaws, but it is still a wonderful place to live and has many blessings which we often take for granted. The wonderful song "America the Beautiful" includes these powerful words:

"America! America!
God mend thine every flaw.
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!"

I've often been reminded that truly, God is the only One who can mend our flaws -- but we have to want that to happen and we need to beseech God that it will happen. I've often thought, too,  how so many of our citizens are so confused concerning the balance between liberty and self-control. Our land offers us many freedoms, yet we take them for granted and many times do not see the need to exercise self-control or self-restraint in any area of life. We want what we want, when we want it, and then when we meet the inevitable consequences of our lack of self-control, we expect our government to take care of us.

 Our flaws have never been more obvious, it seems, and never have I been more aware of how fragile our liberties are and how easily they can be snatched away.  Let's take time today to beseech God to help us "mend our flaws" as a nation, and to thank Him for the privilege of living in this land.

Today I'm also sharing a few links to previous Fourth of July posts that might be fun or encouraging reads today.

From 2019: Independence Day Medley

From 2018: Praying for our country

From 2017: July 4 Hodgepodge

From 2016: This Land is Our Land

Hope you'll enjoy them!

Last night, we arrived home from our vacation.  This morning, I read this from Rachel Wojo: Faith Like Fireworks.  The photo with Rachel's post reminded me of something fun that we did on our last evening in Nevada with the grandkids: we all lit sparklers and stood in a circle waving them into the darkness until they went out.  As Rachel points out, "As Christians, we must not be afraid to shine God’s light into the night sky, revealing the beauty of the Gospel to a dark world."  It truly seems as if our world has never been darker, so let's be sure we are faithfully shining God's light into the darkness.

Happy Independence Day to all of you!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

A prayer on Sunday ~ June 28



Here's another prayer I've written in the past.  I'm attempting to blog from my tablet, so it's slow going, but I hope that this prayer will be a blessing to someone else today.

"Dear Heavenly Father,

I am so thankful for Your loving-kindness, mercy, and grace.  I am thankful for Your sovereignty, for Your omniscience and omnipotence.  I thank and praise You that You have a good plan for my life, and that You will work all things together for good.  Help me, Lord, to accept my trials as part of Your good plan, and to be joyful even when life is not joyful, for Your sake.  Help me grow to the utmost point of usefulness to You and others.  Thank You, Lord, for the good work You have begun in my life and the work You continue to do ... even through trials.

I love You, Lord.
In Jesus' name,
Amen."

I hope this simple prayer is a blessing to someone today.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Encouragement from Psalm 108

I've been working through a study of Psalms 101-150 with Women Living Well.
Recently I was meditating a bit on Psalm 108.  The verses I was looking at in particular were verses 3-5 and 12-13:

"I will praise Thee, O LORD, among the people; and I will sing praises into Thee among the nations.  For Thy mercy is great above the heavens; and Thy truth reacheth into the clouds.  Be Thou exalted, O LORD, above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth ... Give us help from trouble; for vain is the help of man.  Through God we shall do valiantly; for He it is that shall tread down our enemies."
And here's what I observed about these verses:

David begins the psalm with praise to God for His mercy, His truth, and His holiness.  His prayer is for God to be exalted.  He goes on to rehearse what God has said concerning His own people and some of the heathen nations.  He asks that God will go with him and his armies as they go forth to battle.  He knows that only God can give them victory over their enemies.

And here's my application of this verse:

This psalm is a wonderful encouragement to me today!  I need to begin today and every day with the recognition that God is holy and merciful and entirely praiseworthy -- that all of life is to be done into His glory.  As I do this, and as I rehearse all that God has said in His Word and all that I have seen Him do in the past, I am strengthened to move forward in faith, knowing that God will help me to "do valiantly" as He gives victory over my enemies.

And lastly, my prayer after studying these verses: 
"Oh Lord, what a blessing it is to look at this psalm today!  I do praise You for Your mercy, truth, and holiness, for the truths of Your Word and for Your dealings with Your people in the past that are such examples to us.  I am so thankful that You are with us and will tread down our enemies -- both the enemy of our souls and the enemies of Your people.  I praise You for how You will work!  In Jesus' name, Amen."

I found these verses a special encouragement in these crazy times we are living in.  Hope they're a blessing to others as well.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

A prayer on Sunday ~ June 21


Today's prayer was written during my study of Finding God's Path Through Your Trials.  This book by Elizabeth George is life-changing.  I have worked through the study three times -- twice on my own, and once with my ladies' Sunday School class.  As you can see, even the cover of my copy is looking a bit dog-eared.  If you never read this book, you need to.  I've heard it said that every believer is either going through a trial, just coming out of a trial, or getting ready to go into a trial.  Not to mention, our whole world is experiencing some major trials right now.

Here's one of the prayers I wrote during my studies of this book:

"LORD,

I do thank You for how You work in our lives through trials.  I thank You for the lessons You are teaching me through my current trials.  Thank You for helping me to understand that trials are a part of life and that I can count them as joy because You have a good purpose in them.

Lord, I know that You allow trials in our lives to test the reality of our faith, and I praise You that my faith is passing the test.  Help me, Lord, to develop staying power, as this is an area where I really need to grow.  Help me to continue steadfast in my trials and to cooperate with Your good plan, no matter how long the trials last.

I praise You, Lord, that Your strength is made perfect in my weakness.  Help me to count on Your power and draw on Your might, through every moment of each trial.

Lord, I pray that You will help me to stay in my trials, walking through them in Your strength while I wait for You to work.  I praise You for all that You are doing in my life!

In Jesus' name,
Amen."

It's interesting to me, as I look back on some of the hardest times in my life, to see how God did just what I was asking for in the second paragraph: He helped me to develop staying power.  Not that I've "arrived" in this, or in any other area, but my staying power has definitely increased over what it was.  There were times when I thought particular trials would never pass -- and indeed they have not gone away completely -- yet by God's grace (and only by God's grace) I was able to remain in them.  Now I can look back and say that part of the purpose for those trials was surely to help me gain staying power and to grow in emotional stability.

There are some trials, of course, that we may not understand the purpose of in this life.  We may never comprehend just why God allows some things to happen.   Yet as the old Gospel song reminds us, "farther along we'll know all about it."  We can cling to the fact that God does have a purpose in all that He allows, and His purposes are always good.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

A prayer on Sunday ~ June 14


Today's prayer is one that I penned during one of my studies through Elizabeth George's life-changing book, Loving God with All Your Mind.  This is the first one of Elizabeth's books I ever read -- over 20 years ago now -- and it truly did change my life.   I have read through this book countless times and worked through the study guide several times, including once with my ladies' Sunday School class.  If you don't own this book, or if you have the book but not the study guide, I highly recommend getting both and working your way through the study.  It will truly help you to look at life in a very different and more biblical way.  Right now,  with the "pandemic" still very much a reality in our world, this study can be an incredible help to us.  You can find the book and study guide not only at the link I've shared, but also on Thriftbooks or Amazon as well.

Here is the prayer I wrote after my study of the chapter Accepting the Unacceptable:

"LORD, 

I am so thankful for Your deep, unfathomable wisdom and knowledge!  Truly, I can take every inexplicable situation in my life and file it between the bookends of Your wisdom and knowledge.  Lord, Your judgments are unsearchable, and Your ways are untraceable.  They are so far above my ways!

Lord, You know all about the most unexplainable events in my life.  I can't understand them, and I have reached the conclusion that I will never understand them.  And that's okay -- I don't have to understand them and I don't need to understand them, because You do.  I have not asked 'Why?' and I don't feel that I need to know why.  I can let You be God, realizing that these hard situations are part of Your unsearchable judgments and Your untraceable ways.

I understand that the people in these situations are part of your plan, as well.  You can and do use even the most difficult and abrasive people to achieve Your purposes, and so I can thank You for them, although this does not come easily for me.

Lord, I thank and praise You for all You have taught me from Your Word, and how powerfully it has impacted my life.  I pray that You will continue to teach me to love You with all my mind, and that Your perfect will is accomplished in my life.  I love You, Lord.

In Jesus' Name,
Amen."

If you are struggling with a difficult trial today, or if it's "just the pandemic" that's getting to you as it is to me, this study can surely help you.  I hope that even this simple prayer can encourage you today. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

A few blessings from this week


Graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Here are a few blessings from my week:

1.  Being able to be back worshiping with our church family this past Sunday was a huge blessing.  Yes, things looked and felt different, but we are worshiping and serving the same changeless God!

2.  Another major project accomplished for my dad's trust.  One more big task (and a bunch of smaller ones) to go!

3.  Getting a lot of painting and cleaning done at the cottage; getting some furniture moved there.  Lots still to do, but it's looking good and smelling a lot less musty.
4.  Being able to hear our young friend Sam preach a message at his church on Sunday afternoon.  Such a joy to see our spiritual children walk in truth!
Another by Abby
5.  Seeing plans come together for some upcoming time with family.  Details to follow, but here's a hint ...

And those are some blessings from the week just past.   I hope that your week has held many blessings as well!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Wednesday once again


Yes, it's Wednesday once again.  How do they do that -- come around so quickly?  It's an unanswered question, so let's instead consider the Wednesday Hodgepodge, in which Joyce asks the questions and bloggers provide the answers.  It's a lot of fun, so if you'd like to join in, head over to From This Side of the Pond and get the questions from Joyce, then answer them on your own blog.  Here are this week's questions:

1. Last thing you said yes to? Did you regret it?

Making a gluten free chocolate cake layer to be served at a wedding, as the groom-to-be is gluten free.   The couple knows that I often bake gluten free and they think my gf creations come out well.  (The secret is really Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour.)  I haven't yet regretted saying yes, since the wedding isn't until August, but I did say I would try a few different recipes and let them sample before I settle on one.  Life has been so busy I haven't had time to bake -- and the weather has often been so hot that I haven't wanted to!
The secret ingredient to my successful gluten free baking
2. No big deal, no contest, no dice, no hard feelings, no ifs ands or buts, no kidding, no offense, no pain no gain, no way...choose one and tell us how it applies to your life currently.

Some of these are difficult phrases to apply right now, in this time of corona.   I guess I will go with "no pain, no gain" because we are working hard at a couple of projects currently: clearing out my childhood home, and trying to rehab the summer cottage of my childhood which is becoming a repository for some of the furnishings from the homestead.  It's all hard work and requires a lot of thought and planning.  But hopefully in the end it will all be worth it!

3. Thursday June 11th is National Making Life Beautiful Day...in this strange season how are you adding beauty to your days/life?

I am trying hard to notice the beauty around me every day.  Being aware every moment of God's power and might and wisdom and glory in all that He has created really helps me to keep my eyes on Him and keeps me mindful of all that He is able to do. Truly, nothing is impossible with Him!   Below are some beautiful things I'm seeing right now.
The soft greens of spring and early summer
Lily of the valley, both here and at the home place
Irises in the back yard
4. According to an article found here, these six foods taste better in June than at any other time of the year -- strawberries, asparagus, peas, peaches, beets, and garlic. How many of these have you tasted so far this month? Anything on the list you'd say 'no thank you' to trying? Rearrange the list starting with your favorite (1) to your least favorite (6).  

I have tasted strawberries and peaches so far this month.  Garlic too, but it wasn't fresh garlic so I suppose it wouldn't count.  There isn't anything on this list that I don't like.  My rearranged list would read: 1) Strawberries; 2) Asparagus; 3) Garlic; 4) Peaches; 5) Beets; 6) Peas.

5. Describe your current mood in three words.

Hmm ...  how about these three?  Simply trusting God.  If I was not doing that, my mood would involve fear and anger and many other emotions.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

I find it incredibly sad that because of draconian regulations on the part of our state, our local grandkids and hundreds of other New England kids will miss out on summer camp this year.  Our state is filled with iconic camps on the various lakes, some of which have been in operation for over a century.  It's hard to imagine any of them operating under these regulations -- and in fact, the ones I checked are not going to.  Although we know God knows the end from the beginning and is in complete control -- and even that He has a good purpose in this trial, our hearts can't help but hurt for our friends at The Wilds of New England.  It will be a blessing to see what good God brings out of this.

Happy Wednesday, all!