Sunday, June 16, 2024

Sunday Scripture

 

Time for another Sunday Scripture!  This is part of an ongoing series on my simple study of Rachel Wojo's Everything Beautiful.  You can read about the plan here if you are interested in it for yourself: Everything Beautiful Bible reading plan. My answers and input on this series are a combination of what I learned back in 2018, and what I found in looking over the Scriptures now, six years later.  I'm attempting to SOAP the passages too, though some of them are longer. [Quick reminder that S stands for Scripture; O stands for observation; A stands for application, and P stands for prayer.]  Today's study is from Job 5:8-18.  

S= "I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:
"Who doeth great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number;
"Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields,
"To set up on high those that are low, that those who mourn may be exalted to safety.
"He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.
"He taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the clever is carried headlong.
"They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night.
"But He saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty.
"So the poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth.
"Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore, despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty;
"For He maketh sore, and bindeth up: He woundeth, and His hands make whole.  (Job 5:8-18
)

O= C.I. Scofield titles this chapter, "Eliphaz continues: God is faithful."  As you may remember, Eliphaz the Temanite was one of Job's supposed friends who "made an appointment to come to mourn with [Job] and to comfort him".  In truth, a lot of their time with Job was spent lecturing him.

Here in Job 5, Eliphaz says he would seek unto God and would commit his cause unto God.  He then begins to describe God:

* God does great, unsearchable things
* He does numberless, marvelous things
* He gives rain upon the fields
* He sends water upon the earth
* He sets those who are low, on high
* He takes those who mourn and exalts them to safety
* He disappoints the devices of the crafty, so their hands cannot perform what they've planned
* He captures the wise in their own craftiness
* He carries the counsel of the clever headlong
* He causes wicked people to meet with darkness in the daytime, groping at noon as if it were night
* So the poor have hope, and the mouth of iniquity is stopped
* The man God corrects is happy
* Thus, we must not despise chastening from the Almighty
* God makes sore, yet binds up
* God wounds, yet His hands make whole again.

Cross-reference for "giveth rain upon the earth" (v.10) -- "When He made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder."  (Job 28:26)

Cross-reference for "wise" (v.13) -- "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness."  (1 Corinthians 3:19)

Cross-reference for "saveth the poor" (v.15) -- "All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like Thee, who deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy, from him that spoileth him?"  (Psalm 35:10)

Cross-references for "so the poor hath hope" (v.16) -- "He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the refuse, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory; for the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and He hath set the earth upon them."  (1 Samuel 2:8)

"Yet setteth He the poor on high from affliction, and maketh their families like a flock.  The righteous shall see it, and rejoice, and all iniquity shall stop her mouth."  (Psalm 107:41-42)

Cross-references for "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth" (v.17) -- "Blessed is the man whom Thou chasteneth, O LORD, and teachest him out of Thy law."  (Psalm 94:10)

"My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD, neither be weary of his correction; For whom the LORD loveth He correcteth, even as a father the son in whom he delighteth."  (Proverbs 3:11-12)

"And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto sons, My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him; For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." (Hebrews 12:6-7)

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him."  (James 1:12)

Cross-references for "For He maketh sore" (v.18) -- "See now that I, even I, am He; and there is no god with Me; I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand."  (Deuteronomy 32:39)

"The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich; He bringeth low, and lifteth up."  (1 Samuel 2:7)

"Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up."  (Hosea 6:1)

A= For this Scripture, there were a number of ways to apply it as prompted in the journal.  

"I cannot count all God's marvelous things." -- Rachel Wojo

This thought of course fits with verse 9, which reminds us that God does great, unsearchable things, "marvelous things without number."  It also brought to my mind Psalm 40, verse 5:

"Many, O LORD my God, are Thy wonderful works which Thou hast done, and Thy thoughts which are toward us: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto Thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered."
 
Rachel also shares a "focus word" in each of the devotional pages.  For this lesson the focus word is "beyond". I noted that all God's marvelous things, and His thoughts toward us, are beyond my ability to count them.

The question was asked: What season or circumstance of life challenges me to see God's gifts of beauty?

My response in 2018: I'm still in this season of recovering from injuries received in a fall.  Pain and discomfort definitely challenge me to see God's gifts of beauty or even to see beyond my own situation.

Answering this same question in 2024: Seasons of discouragement can cause our view of God's beauty to dim.  I'm thankful for a study like this one that helps me stay focused on God.

This prompt was given, along with a list: Today I will keep my eyes open for God's beauty in one or more of these places.

These are the places I circled: The words I read; the places I go; the music I hear; the people I encounter; the air I breathe; the weather I experience; the rest I receive.

In 2024 I can note that for the places I go, a friend gave us the opportunity to visit some remote property he owns not far from us.  It was like being in another world, a simpler, more beautiful one.  We saw a bear and cub, many beautiful flowers, trees, and distant mountains.


 
For the music I hear, I mentioned the beautiful voices of a choir of college students singing at our church on Sunday, and the lovely violin accompaniment.


 
For the rest I receive, I noted how we sleep so well at our little cottage.  Now that June has arrived, we are spending 3 or 4 nights a week there.  It's a wonderful way to relax and unplug.



A journaling prompt was this:  List one or more ideas to remind myself to intentionally look for God's beauty throughout the day.

My response in 2018: Walk on the porch.  Soak up any available sunshine.  Notice God's beauty in the color and form of everyday objects.

For my response in 2024, I added: When we stay at our cottage, lift my eyes to the morning light as I walk to and from the outdoor shower.  Pay attention to what flowers, wild and otherwise, are currently blooming.  Seek to identify unfamiliar bird songs.

P= "Lord, I'm so thankful for the beauty of Your Word.  I especially enjoy the poetic yet practical language in the book of Job.  I'm thankful that we can commit our cause to You -- the One who does great, unsearchable, marvelous things -- far too many to count!  What an amazing privilege we have to be in relationship with the God of the universe!   I praise You in Jesus' name , Amen."

 And there is this week's Sunday Scripture!  I pray it's a blessing to someone.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Friday five

 


It's been a long time since I've done a Friday five post, and I probably shouldn't be taking time now.  But I wanted to just put up a quick post and share a few blessings from the week.

1.  My knockout rosebush is blooming again this year.  This is a big deal for me.  Our soil is pretty poor and I'm still not sure the bush will continue to survive, but so far, so good.

2.  Some productive time at home this week.  I'm thankful to have accomplished a lot on many fronts -- cleaning, Sunday School lesson prep, phone calls, and much more.

3.  Getting to stay at our little camp three nights in a row.  It's so calm and peaceful and we are forced to unplug since we don't have internet access there.  

4.  Something I've had on my list of goals month after month after month is to keep up with FlyLady's zone missions.  And I never manage it.  I'm so, so thankful that this week I was able to just jump in and do the Zone 3 missions.  That may be deserving of its own post, we will see!

5.  Increased energy, flexibility, and creativity.  Not completely sure what to attribute it to, but it might be the Redmond Relyte.   I think it really is making a difference for me.

 
As I've mentioned many times, creativity is a must in my life, something I seem to need every day, even if it's only a creative solution or approach to an everyday problem.  Recently I've begun structuring my quiet time in a different way, and it has made such a difference in how much quality time I can spend in God's Word.  I do intend to blog about this, maybe next week.  I'm wondering if I can take a similar approach to crafts I enjoy, and am hoping to work on that soon also.

And there's a simple Friday Five!


Sunday, June 09, 2024

Sunday Scripture

 


 Time for another Sunday Scripture!  This is part of an ongoing series on my simple study of Rachel Wojo's Everything Beautiful.  You can read about the plan here if you are interested in it for yourself: Everything Beautiful Bible reading plan. My answers and input on this series are a combination of what I learned back in 2018, and what I found in looking over the Scriptures now, six years later.  I'm attempting to SOAP the passages too, though some of them are longer. [Quick reminder that S stands for Scripture; O stands for observation; A stands for application, and P stands for prayer.]  Today's study is from Psalm 135:1-7.

S= "Praise ye the LORD.   Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise Him, O ye servants of the LORD.
"Ye who stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God,
"Praise the LORD,  for the LORD is good.  Sing praises unto His name, for it is pleasant.
"For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure. 
"For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
"Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth,  in the seas, and all deep places.
"He causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He maketh lightnings for the rain; He bringeth the wind out of His treasuries."  (Psalm 135:1-7)

O= In The Treasury of David, Charles Spurgeon  points out that this psalm "is mainly made up of selections from other Scriptures.  It has been called a mosaic, and compared to a tesselated pavement."

He then goes on to list all of the Scriptures referenced in this psalm.  These come from other psalms; from Deuteronomy; from Exodus; and from Jeremiah.  (I'm not going to write them all out, but if you're interested in the references, let me know in a comment and I will see that you get them.)

Another note from Spurgeon that was a blessing to my study:  "The whole Psalm is a compound of many choice extracts, and has all the continuity and freshness of an original poem.  The Holy Spirit occasionally repeats Himself; not because He has any lack of thoughts or words, but because it is expedient for us that we hear the same things in the same form.  Yet, when our great Teacher uses repetition, it is usually with instructive variations, which deserve our careful attention."

Several cross=references are given for these verses:

For "the courts of the house of our God" (v.2) -- "I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the LORD's house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem.  Praise ye the LORD."  (Psalm 116:19)
 
For "the LORD is good" (v.3) -- "Thou art good, and doest good: teach me Thy statutes.". (Psalm 119:68)
 
For "chosen Jacob unto Himself" (v.4) --  "Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and He chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day."  (Deuteronomy 10:15)

For "Whatsoever the LORD pleased" (v.6) -- "But our God is in the heavens; He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased."  (Psalm 115:3)

For "He maketh lightnings" (v.7) -- "To make the weight for the winds; and He weigheth  the waters by measure.  When He made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder."  (Job 28:25-26)

-- "Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of the thunder." (Job 38:25)
 
For "His treasuries" (v.7) -- "When He uttereth His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and He causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of His treasuries."  (Jeremiah 51:16)
 
A
= For this Scripture, there were a number of ways to apply it as prompted in the journal.  

"The LORD is great and makes great." -- Rachel Wojo

Warren Wiersbe wrote in With the Word, "The psalmist opened his song praising the Lord four times (v.1-3) and he ended it blessing the Lord four times (v.19-21).  In between he gave four excellent reasons why the Lord deserves your heartfelt praise."

Two of the reasons are these, pointed out in verses 1-7: 

* He is the God of salvation.  In His grace, He chose you; in His mercy, He made you His special treasure.
* He is the God of creation, which means He provides for you day after day ... He is in charge of the storms and uses them to accomplish His perfect will.
 
Rachel also shares a "focus word" in each of the devotional pages.  For this lesson the focus word is "praise". As I mentioned last week, I've set a goal for myself to begin praising God each morning, even before I get out of bed.

The question was asked: Which of my own words have blocked the beauty of God's Word?

My response in 2018: Maybe my own faulty and flawed thinking.  Words like "I can't do this" and "This is hard".  Thoughts like this certainly block the beauty of "I can do all things through Christ" and "My help cometh from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."

Answering this same question in 2024: Any words of grumbling and complaining.  Praise God instead.

This prompt was given, along with a list: Today I will keep my eyes open for God's beauty in one or more of these places.

These are the places I circled: The words I read; the places I go; the music I hear; the air I breathe; the weather I experience; the rest I receive.

In 2024 I can note that for the places I go, we drove through the New Hampshire veterans cemetery with our friend Terry whose husband is buried there.  The flags placed for Memorial Day were still out and so beautiful with the symmetrical headstones.   It looked somewhat like this older photo:


For the music I hear, I noted the delight of being able to listen and watch our 8-year-old granddaughter's piano recital over livestream, three time zones away.

A journaling prompt was this:  Everything God made is beautiful.  Where have I noticed God's beauty in the last 24 hours?

My response in 2018: In yesterday's gorgeous blue sky.  The beauty of several hours of unbroken sleep.  The attractive tracery of bare tree limbs against blue sky.  The beauty of God's Word as I consider the accounts of the Resurrection.

For my response in 2024, I added: In the glowing smile of an 84-year-old waitress at a favorite eatery.  In a deer grazing in a field near our little cottage.  In the beauty of strings accompanying piano as we worship God in song at church.

P= "Lord, I  praise You,  for You are great, and are above all gods!  I praise You that You have done all that You pleased, in heaven, in earth, and in  all deep places -- everywhere, in fact!  You make lightning, You direct the wind -- truly, You are all powerful!  And it is You, the Maker of heaven and earth and all things, who are my Helper  How I praise You!  In Jesus' name , Amen."

 And there is this week's Sunday Scripture!  I pray it's a blessing to someone.

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

A very special cookie for all of your Spring and Summer events

 


Last Wednesday evening my Nevada daughter messaged me on Instagram to ask about this recipe.  Her young daughter had a piano recital coming up and Joanna wanted to make these cookies to add to the refreshments at the recital.  

It's so appropriate!  Decades ago,  I made these cookies for the piano recitals of all three children. They were a great favorite on the refreshment table! In fact, they became such a favorite of the kids' piano teacher that I frequently presented her with a tin of these as an end-of-the year gift. These cookies are quite a bit of work, but the impressively delicious results are worth it!


The recipe (which I originally found in a Farm Journal cookie cookbook) ended up being published in another cookbook, The Wellesley Cookie Exchange Cookbook. This came about in an interesting way.  

 


Our children's piano teacher was an elderly lady with many students.  One of the families whose children took lessons from her lived in a large and beautiful home and they offered their music room, complete with baby grand piano, as a recital venue.  

I wanted to bring cookies as elegant as the surroundings, so I tried this recipe.  And the hostess enjoyed them so much that she asked if she could have the recipe.  Friends of hers held an annual cookie exchange and she thought these cookies were special enough to share.  Later when Yankee published the cookbook, this wonderful recipe was included.

 SPRITZ CHOCOLATE SANDWICHES

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Buttery Chocolate Frosting:
3 Tblsp. butter, softened
4 1/2 Tblsp. unsweetened baking cocoa
3/4 tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
About 6 Tblsp. light cream or evaporated milk

1 cup chopped walnuts

For dough, beat butter until light; gradually add sugar, beating after each addition. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla to blend well. Sift together flour and salt; gradually add to creamed
mixture, mixing well.

Put star plate in cookie press. Working with one-fourth of the dough in the press at a time, press out strips of dough about 2 1/2 inches long about an inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 400° for 6 to 8 minutes or until very delicately browned.  Remove cookies to cooling rack at once.

For Buttery Chocolate Frosting,
combine the butter and cocoa. Beat in vanilla, salt, sugar, and enough light cream to make frosting of spreading consistency. When cookies are cool, put them together in pairs with frosting between. Dip ends of sandwiches in the frosting and then in the chopped nuts. Allow frosting to set before packaging or storing cookies. Makes about 5 dozen sandwich cookies.

A note on the quantity of cookies this recipe will produce.  The original recipe says it makes 69 sandwich cookies.  I had adjusted it to say 5 dozen, which would of course be 60 sandwich cookies.  However, when Joanna made these, she found she only got about 30 sandwich cookies (2 1/2 dozen).  So when making these, be aware that the quantity of cookies can vary greatly depending upon how large you make them.  

Jerusha  about to press cookies

Finished product!

It's so much fun that these cookies are being served at a second generation of piano recitals!

Sunday, June 02, 2024

Sunday Scripture

 


Time for another Sunday Scripture!  This is part of an ongoing series on my simple study of Rachel Wojo's Everything Beautiful.  You can read about the plan here if you are interested in it for yourself: Everything Beautiful Bible reading plan. My answers and input on this series are a combination of what I learned back in 2018, and what I found in looking over the Scriptures now, six years later.  I'm attempting to SOAP the passages too, though some of them are longer. [Quick reminder that S stands for Scripture; O stands for observation; A stands for application, and P stands for prayer.]  Today's study is from 1 Peter 1:20-25.  

S= "[Christ] was verily foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
"Who by Him do believe in God, who raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God.
"Seeing that ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit with unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently,
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.
"For all flesh is like grass, and all the glory of man like the flower of grass.  The grass withereth, and its flower falleth away,
"But the word of the Lord endureth forever.  And this is the word by which the gospel is preached unto you."  (1 Peter 1:20-25)

O= "Foreordained" (verse 20) literally means "foreknown".  It is the Greek PROGINOSKO, "to know before", used in this case of Divine knowledge concerning Christ, according to Vine's Dictionary of New Testament Words.

Cross-reference for "foreordained" is Acts 2:23 -- "Him [Jesus] being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain."

Cross-references for "believe" (v. 21) -- "And this is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son, Jesus Christ."  (1 John 3:23)

"Wherefore, also, it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.
"Unto you, therefore, who believe He is precious; but unto them who are disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner."  (1 Peter 2:6-7)

In relation to "believe", Scofield offers this summary of faith: "The essence of faith consists in believing and receiving what God has revealed, and may be defined as that trust in the God of the Scriptures and in Jesus Christ whom He has sent, which receives Him as Lord and Savior and impels to loving obedience and good works."

Cross-reference for "Spirit" (v. 23) -- "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit."  (1 Peter 3:18)

Cross-references for "love of the brethren" and "love one another" (v. 23) -- "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous."  (1 Peter 3:8)

"A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another;  as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."  (John 13:34)

"And now I beseech thee ... not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another."  (2 John 5)

Cross-references for "Word of God" (v. 23) -- "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the Word of God which you heard of us, ye received it, not as the word of men but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh in you that believe."  (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

"Of His own will begat He us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures."  (James 1:18)

Cross-reference for "all flesh is like grass" (v. 24) -- "The voice said, Cry.  And he said, What shall I cry?  All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, because the breath of the LORD bloweth upon it; surely the people are grass.
"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand forever."  (Isaiah 40:6-8)

"Word" (v. 25) literally means "saying".  This is the Greek noun RHEMA, used twice in this verse to refer to "a statement, command, instruction", etc.  

Cross-reference for "gospel" -- 1 Peter 1:12 refers to "them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, which things the angels desire to look into."

A= For this Scripture, there were a number of ways to apply it as prompted in the journal.  

"Place today's hope where it lasts beyond tomorrow.  Then do it again." -- Rachel Wojo

Warren Wiersbe wrote in With the Word, Men's hopes are dead hopes.  Like cut flowers, they bloom awhile and then fade and die.  The Christian's hope is fresh and fruitful because it is a 'living hope', purchased by the living Christ and promised in the living Word."

Rachel also shares a "focus word" in each of the devotional pages.  I hadn't previously paid much attention to these for the Sunday Scripture posts, but have decided to do so now.

For this lesson the focus word is "repetition".  In thinking of this word, I set a goal for myself: Begin to intentionally practice gratitude on a daily basis.  Morning by morning.  Day after day.

The question was asked: How can I realign the eyes of my heart to see the Father's present of everyday elegance?

My response in 2018: Remember that God's Word lives and abides forever.  I can trust it!  His Word will always be truer than my own thoughts and feelings.

Answering this same question in 2024: Adjust my attitude to one of praise and gratitude at the beginning of each day, before I even get out of bed. 

This prompt was given, along with a list: Today I will keep my eyes open for God's beauty in one or more of these places.

These are the places I circled: The words I read; the places I go; the air I breathe; the weather I experience; the rest I receive.

In 2024 I can note that for the places I go, we took a day trip to York, Maine and saw some glorious sights -- Old white and purple lilacs beside the sea; a white wooden arbor overhung with cascades of lavender wisteria.  I wish we had taken more photos that day, but we didn't.

For the weather I experience, I can say we've been experiencing some beautifully sunny, though breezy, weather.

 
For the rest I receive, I didn't really note it that day, but the following day I realized how re-energized I was feeling just to have had a day away with no responsibilities.  It made a good bridge between our work at The Wilds of New England and the busyness of summer, which kicked off the following Monday as we hosted friends and family at our cottage.

A journaling prompt was this:  List one or more ideas to remind myself to intentionally look for God's beauty throughout the day.

My response in 2018: Look out the window often.  Get out and walk on the porch if at all possible.  Soak up any sunshine that may come my way.  Admire God's beauty in the colors of everyday objects.

For my response in 2024, I added: Make a habit of thanking and praising God when I first wake up.  Make a habit of seeing His hand in everything.

P= "Lord, I do thank and praise You for Your Word, which lives and abides forever.  I praise You that this is the Word by which the Gospel was preached to me and by which I understood my need for salvation.  Now I need to obey its truths and trust its promises every day.  I praise You for how You'll help me to do that,  in Jesus' name , Amen."

 And there is this week's Sunday Scripture!  I pray it's a blessing to someone.

Saturday, June 01, 2024

Some goals for June

Speeding into June!

A new month means new goals (and with me, always some ongoing ones as well) -- so here goes!

* Keep up with Flylady's homemaking zones of the week
* Get back to working through the "Make Room Challenge" from Make Room for What You Love
* Spend time with our friends who are younger believers
* Enjoy our church ladies' gathering
* Post in this blog as often as possible
* Post in my Christmas blog as often as possible
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and crafting any handmade ones
* Use Charles Swindoll's devotional Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life for my quiet time daily
* Continue studying and preparing for my Sunday School lessons
* Continue studying and preparing for my Sunday Scripture blog posts
*Work on Even If, a study of Habakkuk from the Daily Grace Co.
* Continue stocking my Etsy shop and continue selling vintage items
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family
* Touch base with teen grandchildren regarding the Stand Firm Bible study
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating
* Continue to work on memorizing the book of James
* Continue to help a widowed friend with the challenges of life in general
* Get to bed by 8:30 each night we are at home
* Drink enough water each day
* Walk and/or exercise at least 4 times each week
* Do some needed outside scraping and painting of our little cottage
* Help prepare and serve a fellowship meal at church to share with a visiting choir
* Do some planning of meals for a vacation coming up at the end of July

Thursday, May 30, 2024

National Creativity Day

 


Apparently it is today, May 30.  Who knew?  I am just going to share a few thoughts --  mostly a repost of something I wrote back in 2010.  Creativity has always been very important to me and I find that I really need to do something creative each day, even if it's only finding a creative solution to an everyday problem.  I think all of us are designed to reflect our Creator God in this way, even if we aren't fully living that out. 

Many years ago I happened upon some unique Thomas Kinkade calendars at the dollar store. They were unusual because each month emphasized living our lives in light of a particular quality. One that stood out to me was "Living in the Light of Creativity." 

 I was thinking about this concept one afternoon as I worked in my simple scrapbook journal. I had cut out the little picture of this particular calendar page from the back of the calendar, and was preparing to paste it into my journal. I mused for a few minutes on what it means to live one's life in the light of creativity.

The artist, Thomas Kinkade, had written his thoughts on this calendar page. He wrote, "When I create, God lights a fresh candle of joy for the world." I thought, That's undoubtedly true of Thomas Kinkade. Even though he has passed on now, each of his paintings has, or may yet, "light a candle of joy" for countless people all over the world.

But what about me? What does it look like when I live my life in the light of creativity?

When I personally create, I know it "lights a candle of joy" for me. I seem to need creativity in my life to feel truly complete. As I mentioned earlier, a little creativity each day -- be it in the craft room, at the computer, or in the kitchen -- seems necessary for me.

And now I'm thinking that just maybe, those on the receiving end of the creativity -- readers of a poem, blog post,  or devotional thought; loved ones enjoying a magnificent dessert, a homey meal, a cozy room, some homemade fudge,  or a hand-crafted gift -- will have a "candle of joy" lit for them as well. Because when all is said and done, creativity is not just a God-given gift for our own enjoyment; it's a reflection of His own creativity, and it's meant to be shared.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Sunday Scripture

 


Time for another Sunday Scripture!  This is part of an ongoing series on my simple study of Rachel Wojo's Everything Beautiful.  You can read about the plan here if you are interested in it for yourself: Everything Beautiful Bible reading plan. My answers and input on this series are a combination of what I learned back in 2018, and what I found in looking over the Scriptures now, six years later.  I'm attempting to SOAP the passages too, though some of them are longer. [Quick reminder that S stands for Scripture; O stands for observation; A stands for application, and P stands for prayer.]  Today's study is from Isaiah 61:1-11.

S= "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening  of the prison to those who are bound;

" To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

"To appoint unto those who mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes,the oil of joy for mourning, the garment  of praise for the spirit of  heaviness, if hat they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.

" And  they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

"And foreigners shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.

"But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD; men shall call you the Ministers of our God; ye shall eat the riches of the nations; and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.

"For your shame ye shall have double, and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion;  therefore, in their land they shall possess a double portion; everlasting joy shall be unto them.

"For I, the LORD, love justice, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.   

"And their seed shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed whom the LORD hath blessed.  

"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

"For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations."  (Isaiah 61:1-11)

O= C.I. Scofield titles verse 1-3 in my Scofield study Bible: "Christ's two advents in one view."

Cross-references for "Spirit of the Lord GOD" (v.1) -- "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced."  (Zechariah 12:10)

"But they rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit; therefore, He was turned to be their enemy; and He fought against them." (Isaiah 63:10)

Cross-reference for "upon Me" (v.1) -- "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord."  (Luke 4:19-20)

Cross-reference for "Me" (v.1) -- "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven."  (Acts 1:11)

Cross-references for "anointed" (v.1) -- "Then Jesus, answering, said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard: how the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached."  (Luke 7:22)

"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit, and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him."  (Acts 10:38)

William MacDonald wrote of verses 1-4: "We know that the Lord Jesus is the speaker here because He quoted verses 1-2a in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21) and added, 'Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing' (Luke 4:21).  He was anointed with the Holy Spirit at His baptism and His earthly ministry was concerned with bringing the good tidings of salvation to the poor, binding up the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty to sin's captives, and opening .. the prison of those who were bound.  He ended the quotation with the words 'to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD' because what follows, 'the day of vengeance of our God' will not be fulfilled until His Second Advent.  At His glorious appearing, He will proclaim the day of God's judgment."

Cross-reference for "day of vengeance" (v.2) -- "For it is the day of the LORD's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion."  (Isaiah 34:8)

Cross-references for "covenant" (v.8) -- "Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah."  (Jeremiah 31:31)

Hebrews tells us that Jesus "is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.  For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.  For finding fault with them, He saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah."  (Hebrews 8:6-8)

Cross-references for "robe of righteousness" (v.10) -- "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and we all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."  (Isaiah 64:6)

"Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give honor to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of saints."  (Revelation 19:7-8)

A= For this Scripture, there were a number of ways to apply it as prompted in the journal.  

"God transforms ashes into beauty." -- Rachel Wojo

He also replaces mourning with the oil of joy, and He replaces the spirit of heaviness with the garment of praise.

Paul van Gorder wrote in Our Daily Bread, "Praise is powerful! When Scottish pastor Robert Murray McCheyne was troubled with a coldness of heart toward the things of the Lord, he would sing the praises of God until he felt revived in his spirit. Those in his household were often able to tell what hour he awoke because he began the day with a psalm of praise.
"Perhaps you feel as if you are mired in [despondency].   Lift a song of praise to the Lord. The psalmist said, 'I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever'  (89:1). When we do that, the praise will flow not only from our lips but also from our heart. The Lord delights to give 'the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness'!"

Rachel also shares a "focus word" in each of the devotional pages.  I hadn't previously paid much attention to these for the Sunday Scripture posts, but have decided to do so now.

For this lesson the focus word is "replaces".  In thinking of this word, I noted: God replaces mourning with joy, and replaces heaviness with praise.  He replaces our sinful self-righteousness with Christ's righteousness.  There are so many things that He replaces when we trust Jesus as our Savior!

Concerning the "robe of righteousness" mentioned in verse 10, Scofield writes: "The garment in Scripture is a symbol of righteousness.  In the bad ethical sense it symbolizes self-righteousness (Isaiah 64:6).  In the good ethical sense the garment symbolizes 1) the basic provision of God's salvation by grace through faith in Christ (Isaiah 61:10) and 2) the garment of 'fine linen' ... the righteousnesses [literally righteous deeds, the Greek dikaioma] of saints ... works of godliness and goodness produced by the Holy Spirit, as the believer judges the flesh and yields himself to God.  These are the 'good works' unto which we are 'created in Christ Jesus' (Ephesians 2:10) and with which believers are to adorn themselves to bring honor to Christ's name here and hereafter."

Concerning the phrase "the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified", in verse 3, Charles Spurgeon noted: "This, 'The planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified'  ... is the end of it all, that is the great result we drive at, and that is the object even of God himself, 'that he might be glorified'. For when men see the cheerful Christian, and perceive that this is God's work, then they own the power of God; not always, perhaps, with their hearts as they should, but still they are obliged to confess 'this is the finger of God.' Meanwhile, the saints, comforted by your example, praise and bless God, and all the church lifts up a song to the Most High." What encouraging, uplifting thoughts!

The question was asked: What one thought can I surrender to create room for seeing moments of grace?

My response in 2018: The concern of wondering what people will think of what I'm doing to maintain comfort with my back pain.  [I guess I was thinking this because I was returning to church for first time since my injury, and was bringing a rocking chair into the sanctuary.]

Answering this same question in 2024: The thought that I can do or accomplish anything of eternal value -- or anything at all! -- in and of myself.

This prompt was given, along with a list: Today I will keep my eyes open for God's beauty in one or more of these places.

These are the places I circled: The words I read; the places I go; the music I hear; the people I encounter; the air I breathe; the weather I experience; the rest I receive; the grace I give.

In 2024 I can note that for the air I breathe, it was scented with lilacs from two beautiful trees there at The Wilds of New England.  What a delight to breathe that delightful fragrance in our comings and goings around the courtyard!

For the weather I experience, I mentioned glorious sunshine on a spring morning.

A journaling prompt was this:  Everything God made is beautiful.  Where have I noticed God's beauty in the last 24 hours?

My response in 2018: In the encouragement and prayers of others.  In the supportive touch and care of my husband.  Noticing an icicle hanging from the branches of a nearly leafless tree -- a striking decoration (that, I realize now, is another instance of replacing!).  In the servants' hearts of others.  In the insights and lessons learned shared by ladies in my Sunday School class.

For my response in 2024, I added:  Getting to take a jeep ride with friends to a gorgeous, inspirational spot overlooking forests and mountains.  Finding, to our surprise, a patch of beautiful blue forget-me-nots at our cottage.

P= "Lord, I do thank You for how You transform ashes into beauty in our lives!  You are so good and so kind!  I praised You in 2018 for allowing me to be back with Your people in Your house for the first time since my fall. What a blessed encouragement it was to be there!

 I continue to praise You for bringing me through that trial  and for giving me strength to serve You now in so many ways beyond what I had been doing back then.  I thank You for all You have done and for all that You are continuing to do,  in Jesus' name , Amen."

 And there is this week's Sunday Scripture!  I pray it's a blessing to someone.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

A refreshing day by the water

 


Yesterday we took an impulsive day trip to the Maine coast, a brief interlude between the busyness of May at TWNE and a busy summer catching up with things at home & camp as well as a potential road trip in July. 

Dunkin is often a day trip essential for us.  This time it was only a box of Munchkins which I didn't bother to photograph, choosing to use this older more classic photo instead.

 We got no photos at all of the beaches or lighthouse (we have plenty of those from other times and seasons) although we did go to both places.  The beach, though nowhere near as crowded as it will be in summer, was still much too crowded to enjoy walking on, so we were glad we knew of other walking options. 


And thus we got pictures of the lovely flowers along a favorite path, the Fisherman's Walk in York Harbor. 

This path winds along the ocean at the base of a hill and there are many lovely old plantings from the mansions situated above. These lilacs were especially beautiful and fragrant. 


Other photos are of pink bush honeysuckle,

  a yellow flowering bush or tree we couldn't identify,

and a deep purple lilac in the yard of a beautiful old home at the top of a side street. 

The deep purple lilacs are our favorites.

 
We had a refreshing day by the water.  I didn't realize until today how refreshed I feel.  We got home in time for a healthy supper, went to bed while it was still light out, and slept soundly.  Today I feel ready to tackle housework and other tasks with renewed energy.  So thankful for God's kindness in giving us this lovely day away.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Sunday Scripture



Time for another Sunday Scripture!  This is part of an ongoing series on my simple study of Rachel Wojo's Everything Beautiful.  You can read about the plan here if you are interested in it for yourself: Everything Beautiful Bible reading plan. My answers and input on this series are a combination of what I learned back in 2018, and what I found in looking over the Scriptures now, six years later.  I'm attempting to SOAP the passages too, though some of them are longer. [Quick reminder that S stands for Scripture; O stands for observation; A stands for application, and P stands for prayer.]  Today's study is from Acts 3:1-10.

S= "Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

" And a certain man, lame from his birth, was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful,  to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;

"Who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked an alms.

" And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him, with John, said, Look on us.

"And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something from them.

" Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none, but, such as I have, give I thee.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.

"And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

" And he, leaping up, stood and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

"And all the people saw him walking and praising God,

" And they knew that it was he who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.". (Acts 3:1-10)

O= This passage is titled by Scofield, "The first apostolic miracle: the lame man healed."

Peter and John went up to the temple "at the hour of prayer ...  the ninth hour."  (v.1)  A marginal note tells us that this was 3 pm.

Concerning the Beautiful Gate (v.2, 10)  Warren Wiersbe explains in Be Dynamic, his study of Acts 1-12, "There were nine gates that led from the Court of the Gentiles into the temple itself.  Scholars are not agreed, but the Beautiful Gate was probably the 'Eastern Gate' that led into the Court of the Women.  Made of Corinthian bronze, the gate looked like gold; and it certainly was a choice place for a lame man to beg."

Cross-reference for "in the name of Jesus Christ ..." (v.6) -- "Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him does this man stand before you well."  (Acts 4:10)

Cross-references for "received strength" (v.7) -- "And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people ..." (Acts 5:12) 

"And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean.  And immediately his leprosy was cleansed."  (Matthew 8:3)

"And it came to pass that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux; to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.  So when this was done, others also in the island, who had diseases, came and were healed."  (Acts 28:8-9)

Cross-reference for "all the people" (v.9) -- The Sanhedrin "conferred among themselves, saying, what shall we do to these men?  For that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all those who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it ... So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people; for all men glorified God for that which was done."  (Acts 4:16, 21)

A= For this Scripture, there were a number of ways to apply it as prompted in the journal.  

"I long to portray the kind of beauty that makes people stop and ponder." -- Rachel Wojo

I so agree with this thought!   It fits with "all to the glory of God".  This spring Mr. T and I have been serving as volunteers maintaining a truly beautiful place -- The Wilds of New England.  In every season, even winter and spring when the camp is not functioning, it portrays beauty in its buildings and plantings.  I believe it is the kind of beauty that frequently does make people stop and ponder why this organization puts their heart and soul into doing all to God's glory.  And in answering that question they will find the answer to their own hearts' needs as well. 

Warren Wiersbe notes in With the Word: "Peter and John were not so caught up with large crowds that they had no time for individuals.  Nor were they so busy in ministry that they could not pray.  They had learned their lessons well from the Lord Jesus."

He adds, "The emphasis in chapters 3-4 is on the name of Jesus, the name above every name (Philippians 2:9-11).  Faith in the name of Jesus releases power so that lives are changed.  To pray or minister in His name means to ask or act on His authority so that He alone gets the glory."

Rachel also shares a "focus word" in each of the devotional pages.  I hadn't previously paid much attention to these for the Sunday Scripture posts, but have decided to do so now.

So for this lesson the focus word is "miracle".  In thinking of this word, I noted: We see in this passage how Peter and John, in the power of Jesus' name,  did a miracle in the life of a lame man.  And it's another miracle every time a lost sinner comes to know Jesus as Savior!  

This incredible display of the Daffodils of Dunbarton is on both sides of the road on our route to our volunteer jobs.  So beautiful!

The question was asked: What season or circumstance in life challenges me to see God's gifts of beauty?

My response in 2018: This season right now -- being injured and trying to take proper care of myself, feeling pretty miserable a lot of the time -- is indeed challenging.

Answering this same question in 2024:

 I think what might be the most challenging is any time of trial -- whether something physical as in 2018, or another type of difficulty.  As I look back at my responses from that time of injury, I am so thankful that God helped me to see some of His beauty then.  But even more thankful that He helped me grow through that time so I am much more open to seeing His gifts of beauty.

This prompt was given, along with a list: Today I will keep my eyes open for God's beauty in one or more of these places.

These are the places I circled: The words I read; the people I encounter; the air I breathe; the weather I experience; the rest I receive.

In 2024 I can note that for the words I read, I had been reading Isaiah 61 and was struck by the beautiful descriptions of God and His working found in that passage.

For the weather I experience, I mentioned a soft, steady spring rain nourishing the colorful flowers and green grass.

For the people I encounter, I noted the beauty of God's people working together to do all for His glory.

A journaling prompt was this:  List one or more ideas to remind myself to intentionally look for God's beauty throughout the day.

My response in 2018: Look out the window; enjoy the snowy landscape.  Walk outside if possible, soaking up some sunshine, listening for birdsong.

For my response in 2024, I added:  Notice the many beautiful flower beds and plantings here at TWNE, along with the unplanted ones like marsh marigolds blooming brightly in a stream, purple and white violets blooming everywhere, and a solitary dandelion springing up in the middle of a brick patio.

Marsh marigolds

P= "Lord, I too would long to portray the kind of beauty that makes people stop and ponder.  The season of pain and difficulty I underwent in 2018, though, was so very ugly that I just couldn't see how that would happen.  I prayed back then that somehow my trusting and resting in You while waiting for my body to heal would show forth Your beauty in some way.  

Now, with that trial six years in the rear-view mirror, I praise You for bringing me through it and for allowing me now to serve You in a place of great beauty, a place that requires much hard work and planning on the part of many people to maintain that beauty.   I thank  You for allowing me and my husband to be a part of all You are doing there. I pray in Jesus' name , Amen."

 And there is this week's Sunday Scripture!  I pray it's a blessing to someone.

 

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

A bit of springtime

 


We're super busy doing a lot of coming and going for our volunteer jobs at The Wilds of New England.  But I thought I'd share a few photos of spring's beauty.

These are at our house.  Primroses that come back each year.

These gorgeous tulips, along with the other flowers in this post, are at The Wilds of New England.

Magenta phlox setting off all the other colors.

Lastly, some glorious red and yellow tulips.

There you have it.  Just a short little post, but I'm sure readers agree that these photos speak volumes concerning God's creative handiwork and the intricacies of His design. 🌷