Imagine this scenario. Peter always gets home at 8 p.m., even though he’s only required to stay at the office until 6 p.m. His wife, Katie, constantly asks him to come home on time; to join her and the kids for dinner. Even so, Peter constantly makes excuses: “We need someone to provide for this family,” or “We can’t get through life without work.” Katie once really appreciated Peter’s tender heart towards others and the way he affirmed her. Now she only thinks about his lack of generosity or selflessness. [Read more…]
“Valentine’s Day is coming!” my daughter exclaimed surrounded by pink and red hearts at the store.
“Yup,” I replied, swiftly pushing my cart past the displays.
Valentine’s Day has long been a holiday that caused an inner battle for me. On one hand, I spout that it’s a silly Hallmark holiday and we should show people we love them every day.
Of course, while I’m saying this I secret long for sweet declarations of everlasting love, preferably with a heart-shaped box of chocolates and flowers. [Read more…]
It happens every 365 days, every 52 weeks, every 12 months, every year a new year dawns. The New Year reminds us that what is past cannot be relived; it points to a time full of new beginnings that started at 12:01 a.m. January 1, 2019. Our minds fill with plans, even well-intended resolutions as newness overrides all negative remembrances of the past year.
We are hopeful, we are determined as if our feet are set in blocks of an impending race. Everything about us is tuned to the moment. The shot is fired and we are out of those blocks, running toward our desired goal-to win! It is 12:02 a.m. January 1, 2019.
Determination is heightened; tenacity is at peak level. “No,” “Not,” “Never” has disappeared from our vocabulary.
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. – Nahum 1:7
A man was having critical problems. His wife left him, leaving their three children in his care. He was in the army and his responsibilities were many.
Not only was he doing his work, but he was also the sole caregiver to his children.
He talked with his chaplain who tried to encourage the man to allow God to work in his problems.
But the man continued to say he was going to give up, that he couldn’t do all that was needed.
The chaplain decided to try a show-and-tell lesson. [Read more…]
Words by William Whiting, Tune by John B. Dykes
In December, at the funeral of President George H. W. Bush, the hymn “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” was sung.
This was a song I recognized from the last line of the first verse. The title I was familiar with was “For Those in Peril on the Sea”. My familiarity with the hymn under this title, came from the hymn’s connection to the Titanic.
This was the hymn strongly believed to have been sung on that fateful Sunday of April 14, 1912, at the close of the worship service only hours before the famed liner collided with an iceberg.
The hymn was written by William Whiting, who was an Anglican churchman from Winchester, England. He was born on November 1, 1825 in Kensington, England. He was educated at Chapman College and Winchester College. [Read more…]
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:15-17 NKJV
2019 steps up to the plate with a bat in hand, ready to hit some major home-runs for God’s glory! [Read more…]
Hymn Stories by Diana Leagh Matthews
The New Year is upon us, bringing new beginnings and new hopes and dreams for the future.
However, regardless of where life takes us, one thing is for sure. We need a firm foundation.
How Firm a Foundation was published in 1787 by John Rippon. When it appeared in Rippon’s ‘A Selection of Hymns,’ it was signed simply “K.”
All efforts to identify this mysterious “K” have been fruitless, and the mystery remains to this day.
Some reprints show the author was “Keene.” Dr. Rippon’s musical director was R. Keene and it’s believed he might be the author of the text, although it’s just speculation. [Read more…]
I must have been feeling melancholic on the day I wrote the poem below. I was a young mother with three children, ages two, five and seven.
Only a few months before, major surgery had been necessary to save my life. I was slowly recovering when the words of this poem formed in my mind and found their way into a small book I used for my journal. [Read more…]
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
2 He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.
4 Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
as long as I live.
Safety: this is the first word that seizes my thoughts after reading Psalm 23. The soft rhythm produces a sense of stillness––an inability to do anything but breathe a soft sigh. How many times have we read through this psalm without heralding its true meaning? [Read more…]
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
January is a traditional time for “starting fresh.” We make resolutions that we hope will transform us during the coming year into better, happier people than we were in the year just finished. Usually, those resolutions are to lose weight, work smarter, and a few other similar ones.
It is our hope that making these improvements will bring us happiness—at least that’s true for me. [Read more…]
After the busyness and excitement of the Christmas holiday and the New Year’s Eve celebrations, it is suddenly winter. It is cold and blustery with wind whipping the brittle branches in the steel gray skies. Our windows are covered with misty fog on a winter morning, and give way to frosty etchings on even colder winter nights. It is easy to become weary of the bleakness of bitter winter days, one after another, shrouding our world in shades of gray. [Read more…]
Hello, all. I hope you are enjoying this winter time. It is a rather bittersweet time for me, as I so enjoy Christmas, with all its traditions and Family time, and yet, the promise of Spring is just around the corner.
This specific time of year, before the middle of January hits, I am reminded of my childhood and a tradition that I and my siblings grew up grew up with, that seems to be all but lost in today’s world of technology. Text messages, instant messages, and Facebook postings seem to almost replace pen and paper, as well as actual human interaction. I must admit, at times, I am guilty of this, too. [Read more…]
Each Christmas, flashes of childhood memories transport me back to the innocent days of my youth. Sights, sounds, and even the scents of the season captivate my thoughts in a rush of nostalgia.
My reverie may last a moment or two—sometimes just seconds—before I’m reeled back to present day reality. I treasure each precious image that dances in my head like visions of sugarplums.
Life goes on. For me, it has done so for close to sixty years. [Read more…]
There are thoughtful, sometimes provoking and other times sweet, messages in the lyrics of some songs. Seasonal ones sometimes get forgotten during their less popular times. Then they resurface and stir up the pot of memories like a warm stew simmering on the stove. Mary Did You Know (writers Buddy Greene / Mark Lowry) did that for Samantha Perry.
Samantha had heard the song for the first time a few years ago when she was 13. Now, shortly after the birth of her first child as Christmas approached, she heard it again. [Read more…]
Note: The following is an excerpt from The Pilgrim Chronicles: Thanksgiving Stories for the Stage, a collection of plays/programs with complete production notes designed for schools and churches.
Check out this comprehensive American history enrichment tool by Kathryn Ross, culminating 20 years of teaching this important aspect of American Christian history. Visit www.pageantwagonpublishing.com/thanksgiving-plays.
On October 3, 1863, at the height of America’s Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation including these words of note:
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy . . .
I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands to set apart and observe the last
Thursday of November next as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens . . . it is announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord . . . it has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.
Did you know that there are thousands of this type of proclamations with such language on record dating back to the first Jamestown Thanksgiving in 1619 Virginia? In our almost 400-year American history America’s national leaders and presidents have regularly acknowledged our nation’s dependence and gratefulness to God in this way.
But, when the fourth Thursday in November rolls around each year, it is the picture of the Mayflower, pilgrim men and women, and Native American Indians who are embedded in our collective imaginations.
We gather around tables with our families, feasting on traditional turkey and stuffing. But did you know that in the fall of 1621, in an outdoor setting, European Christian pilgrims and Native Americans actually ate more seafood and venison throughout their three-day Thanksgiving feast dedicated to the God of the Bible?
They had much to be thankful for in that day. And much to mourn.
The Plimoth Plantation Thanksgiving Story
The Pilgrims’ story begins in 1607 when Christians in England met secretly to worship God according to the way the Bible taught, rather than the way King James and his state-appointed bishops mandated that they should.
These brave people came to be called “separatists” because they “separated” from the Church of England. They realized that the Bible taught freedom in Jesus Christ to know right from wrong and the principle of self-government with their hearts submitted to God, rather than mere traditions of men.
Religious persecution increased to intolerable levels. The worshipers fled from England to Holland. William Bradford records the details in his famous diary writings:
Thus, being constrained to leave their native soil and country, their lands and livings, and all their friends and familiar acquaintances, it was . . . thought marvelous by many to go into a country they knew not . . . where they must learn a new language and get their livings they knew not how.
It was by many thought an adventure almost desperate, a case intolerable, and a misery worse than death. They were not acquainted with the trades and traffic, but those things did not dismay them for their desires were set on the ways of God to enjoy His Providence and they knew Whom they believed.
Living in Leyden, Holland, the Pilgrims knew relative peace for about ten years. But all was not well. Leyden was a beautiful place of wealth and worldliness. They were free to worship God, but easy-living made it easy to lose the sense of God’s will.
Their children grew up with no memories of England, greatly influenced by the worldliness of the Dutch children. Through a miraculous set of circumstances, King James, who had persecuted them a decade before causing them to flee, granted them a charter to establish a colony in Virginia, in the New World.
The Pilgrims returned to Plimoth, England to set sail for the American shores. During the turbulent ocean voyage, a storm knocked them off course, bringing them to the Massachusetts shoreline near Cape Cod.
It was too late in the year to sail south to Virginia, so they decided to settle where they were. But, before disembarking for settlement, they drafted the first constitutional document of our nation—a declaration of organized agreement amongst themselves.
The Mayflower Compact set forth in writing the Pilgrims’ purposes in coming to the shores of America, and their commitment to each other and God as a governmental body.
They made settlement in a prepared clearing where Indians once lived but had died out four years earlier of disease. Before the cold of winter set in, they had just enough time to build one common shelter. Though a small beginning, they believed God was on their side.
In January and February of 1621, a “General Sickness” fell upon them. With only six people well enough to care for all who had become ill, they bid farewell to many husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, and children who died.
Of eighteen married women, only five survived. Of twenty-nine unmarried men, servants, and hired hands, only ten survived. By March, spring was in the air. Bravely, they pressed on building six new cabin homes.
With the change of season, the “General Sickness” departed, leaving new challenges before them.
Farming the new land required new skills and wisdom in the use of depleted resources. The Pilgrims prayed to God for help to farm in unfamiliar soil. The Lord sent two Indians into their midst who had met Englishmen before and knew the English language.
They also knew God, having converted to Christianity some years earlier. They helped the Pilgrims make friends with the surrounding Indian tribes. Trade was established, providing necessary goods.
The Indians, Samoset, and Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to farm new foods like corn and squash and pumpkin.
In the fall of 1621, one year after the Pilgrims arrived on Plimoth Plantation; God’s blessings were evident in a plentiful harvest, inspiring plans for a Thanksgiving feast. They invited the Indians and the great chief Massasoit, who brought ninety of his braves, plus a good deal of wild game meat to roast.
For three days, the Pilgrims gave thanks in prayer, feasted, and enjoyed contests and games with the Indians. No matter how small their beginning, the greatness of their losses, or the trauma of their trials and sufferings, they rejoiced in their freedom of worship, the greatest blessing of all for which to give thanks.
These details and more, concerning the Pilgrims’ day-to-day life, are recorded in The Ballad of Plimoth Plantation, a poem turned folk song written three years after the Pilgrims landed.
It humorously sketched a picture of life on Plimoth Plantation, meant to be heard back in old England. The Pilgrims honestly recorded the highs and lows of settling in the New World.
They encouraged new settlers to join them, trusting God in all things, as noted in the final verse:
Now you whom the Lord intends hither to bring Forsake not the honey for fear of the sting,
But bring forth a quiet and contented mind
And all needful blessings you surely will find.
And, I’ll still praise Jehovah for my God is good.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanks-giving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV
Want to learn more? Curious to know what the Ballad of Plimoth Plantation sounded like when sung? And all the verses?
Check out Miss Kathy’s podcast dramatization of the story with links to a five-part blog series on the Plimoth Plantation Thanksgiving—a critical moment in American history, the establishment of America’s purpose, and a powerful demonstration of the American mind.
I hate weeds! When I see “pull weeds” on my list of chores, I cringe—‘cause, boy, do we have a lot of ‘em! I think every species of weed God ever created lived on our place. There are a gazillion things I’d rather be doing than spending all day yanking those pesky fun-stealers out of their hard ground.
You know, FUN stuff. Riding my horse and swimming in the pool are at the top of my list. Of course, even watching the paint peel off the walls would be better than this!
I stood, staring at the first weed. A mustard weed… the worst! It looked like a small tree!
“Ah, man, I’m never going to get this thing out!”
I frowned. I stomped up to it, grabbed a hold of the top and pulled… and pulled… and PULLED. Sweat trickled down my face as I put my whole body weight into it (which isn’t much at eight-years-old).
Suddenly the little flowers, stems and all, slid through my fingers like a slick rope, sending me sprawling on my backside. Flopped on my fanny in the dirt, I opened my hand. Yellow petal remnants and green stems were all I had to show for my efforts.
“Hmmmm… that didn’t work. Let’s see… I’ll grab closer to the root!”
I pulled again as hard as I could (except with more grunting and growling). Seriously? The stems and flowers didn’t even come off that time!
My eyes narrowed with a sneaky thought, and I chose the next trick up my sleeve. I’ll just whack it off at the top with a hoe, close to the ground. Then I’ll kick dirt over it!
I stared down that mustard weed like a cowboy at the OK corral. It seemed to be staring back at me just as ornery. Armed with the hoe I stalked up to it. I wielded that hoe like a cavalry sword, standing on my tiptoes to land the death-blow. But the blade bounced right off the rock-hard root. Really??
What do I do? All my fun plans were disappearing like the sun that was slowly sinking behind the hills.
OK, now I was mad. I stormed to my dad.
“Those stupid weeds CANNOT be pulled out!” I whined.
“Why can’t we just leave them?”
The corners of his mouth twitched. No way! Was he trying not to smile?
He cleared his throat and quickly turned away.
“Follow me,” he said.
“We can’t leave the weeds there because the snakes like to use them for a hiding place.”
My eyes grew wide.
He hooked up the garden hose to the faucet beside the barn and dragged it over to the tree-weed. He let the water flow around the root, letting the moisture sink deeply into the hard soil.
I shook my head. “That’s only making a muddy mess, dad,” I said.
After a few minutes, he turned the water off and walked over to that horrid plant. He grabbed the root, jiggled it around, and yanked. That ole thing popped right out of the ground!
I gawked at the miracle.
“You see,” he replied, as he washed the dirt off his hands, “sometimes it takes a bit more effort and help to get the tough roots out.”
“And you can’t ignore them because they’ll never stop growing and spreading until they take over the place.”
“And then there’s the snake hide-out thing,” I said.
He rubbed his chin, deep in thought. “You know, getting rid of these weeds isn’t the only lesson here,” he said.
“Yep. Those weeds are like tough places in our heart—like bad behavior… lying, stealing, gossiping, bullying. The water is like Jesus. When we let him help us, he softens those hard places in our heart, so we give up those bad habits.”
I dug my toe in the dirt. “Or like snatching the TV remote from Sissy’s hand when I wanted to watch my show instead of hers?”
He nodded. “It’s like that mustard weed. The “flowers” are our actions, but they grow out of a strong root. In the case of the TV remote, the root is selfishness.”
My face turned red and I ducked my head. “So Jesus can help me to stop thinking only about me?”
Dad laughed. “Of course, He can. He’s just waiting for you to let Him turn the hose on you.”
Suddenly Dad flung some hose water at me.
“Hey!” I yelped.
We both laughed.
The sun disappeared over the horizon, leaving brilliant streaks of gold and orange as we strolled back to the house.
“When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was being baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased.’” Luke 3: 21-22 (NIV)
The story of Jesus’ baptism in Luke 3:21-22 establishes a foundation of how He would serve, sacrifice and surrender to God in His ministry to come.
If we look around us, sacrifice isn’t hidden away. It’s there even in what we might see as insignificant moments. In the Gospel of Matthew, John the Baptist claims Jesus should be the one to baptize him instead of the other way around. But the King steps back to place Himself behind those who’d lined up for baptism- those ready to embrace a new beginning with God are put before God in the flesh.
Jesus obeys, laying down His will and surrendering His all, to be sacrificed for all. The reminder of sacrifice and surrender begs a question from all of us: What if our schedule, our time, responsibilities, needs- even our desires and dreams- what if they all took a backseat to our relationship with God?
What kingdoms am I willing to give up in order to make Him King of my life?
If we look at Luke 3:21-22 what stands out?
The act of sacrifice is to give of something we adore in this life- for a will and a purpose greater than our own. God sacrificed for us, giving the world His Son, and Jesus sacrificed for the world, surrendering His will and offering His life.
The Gospels document Jesus’ baptism, but Luke offers us the only clear indicator that the first thing Jesus did to embark upon ministry was to make Himself last. Instead of taking a step forward to lead and model obedience through being baptized FIRST, Jesus instead took a step back…to SACRIFICE and SURRENDER.
When we surrender to Jesus, we give back our lives- including the desire to hold onto the adored things of this life.
The word “when” in these verses indicated a place in time- meaning “just after”- establishing the foundation of faith through authentic sacrifice and surrender. Other translations of Luke 3:21-22 give the same indication that Jesus held back, placing himself last by allowing others to be baptized before Him.
So what can we take away from these verses?
Jesus was willing to sacrifice displaying what it means to put oneself last in servant leadership, he models surrender in baptism and He seeks God first with prayer at a pivotal moment.
To truly be set free from the enslavement of sin, we willingly make ourselves last. That means taking an authentic look at what we’re slaves to and what we are willing to lay down to find freedom in Christ. We SACRIFICE and SURRENDER- just as Jesus did for us.
What would it look like if we really needed the Word of God in a way that isn’t a chore but a gift with every new day, and we’re willing to sacrifice to do what it says?
KRISTY CAMBRON is an award-winning author of Christian fiction, including her bestselling debut The Butterfly and the Violin, and an author of Bible studies, including the Verse Mapping series. She’s a Women’s Ministry Leader at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, and a passionate storyteller who travels to speak at ministry events across the country, encouraging women to experience a deeper life in the Word through verse mapping. Her work has been named to Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10, Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations. Kristy holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing, and has 15 years of experience in education and leadership development for a Fortune-100 Corporation, working in partnership with such companies as the Disney Institute, IBM/Kenexa, and Gallup. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, and can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read.
but We Can’t…
by Sharon L. Patterson
We can copy the sunset on canvas but we can’t create it.
We can name the constellations but we can’t pull one star from the heavens.
We can feel the wind against our face but we can’t trace its origin.
We can plan our day but we can’t hold back its passing into tomorrow.
We can make peace but we can’t stop war.
We can birth life but we can’t prevent death.
We can choose good but we can’t eliminate bad.
We can search for truth but we can’t add to it.
We can love others but we can’t make them love us.
We can survive injustice but we can’t stand before jealousy.
We can build the world’s finest structures but we can’t change another human being.
We can empathize with our friends suffering but we can’t experience theirs.
We can find God through faith but we can’t earn God’s love through works.
Sharon Patterson, retired educator, career military wife, and leader in women’s ministry, has written inspirational encouragement in various forms from greeting cards to short stories, poetry, and Bible studies for over thirty years. She has authored three books, and is a contributing author for several of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She and her husband Garry live in Round Rock, Texas. They have three sons and five grandchildren.
It starts out as this big community of people, events, and fun leading up to the wedding day. There’s just so much love in the air. It’s the season filled with congratulations.
Working towards making the big day perfect brings all kinds of stress but it’s all going to be worth it when it’s better than we imagined. We’re so focused on THE DAY that we forget about nurturing the relationship.
Then all of a sudden, in a matter of hours, it’s over. The day has come and gone. The people have gone back to their lives. There are no more events. Life feels ordinary, far from all the excitement of preparing for the wedding. We’re in our new place, and it’s quiet. This is where the marriage begins.
Did you get the memo that it was going to be work, real work, but real fun work too? I sure hope so.
Remember why you wanted to be married in the first place. To live a life with your best friend. To enjoy their company forever. To share in a commitment of love. Has that changed? Probably not, but something has changed in you.
The three best pieces of marriage advice I got were:
Make yourself happy. He can never make you happy. It’s not his job, and even if he tried, he couldn’t bear the weight of such a heavy task. If you think about it, a human being cannot do God’s work.
Bringing joy into the hearts of people has always been and will always be God’s work.
And . . .
Your marriage account is empty. You cannot withdraw what you didn’t deposit. If you want love, deposit plenty of it. If you want compassion, deposit plenty of it. If you want reliability, deposit plenty of it.
If you think about it, it’s a biblical principle that leads to a happier you. There is greater joy in giving than in receiving.
And . . .
Love is service. Make a decision daily to outdo each other in showing love. Sometimes we have to go back and be reminded of the true meaning of love in 1 Corinthians 13. To be patient, kind, not envy/boast/be proud, not dishonor, not self-seek, not be easily angered, and not keep a record of wrong. That’s our definition of love.
It’s easy to focus on the other person, what he should do, and what he should be. It’s human nature.
Try this next time you find yourself going down that mental path: picture yourself pointing the finger at your partner.
One finger is pointing at him, and four fingers are pointing back at you. The only thing you can control in life is yourself. Don’t lose yourself in trying to fix another person. It’s wasted effort that yields very bad results.
Focus on being the best you that you can be. Living with purpose and zeal for life and love. That’s the only way you can ensure that you will always be destiny bound.
The marriage in the Bible that we are shown intimately is that of Abraham and Sarah.
1 Peter 3: 6 states, “For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.”
The word “master” captures respect for her husband.
This scripture does not focus on what Abraham did, but what Sarah did. A wise woman builds her house. Let’s serve our husbands and children out of love.
The world says, “I won’t do anything for you unless you do something for me”; but God says I will cause the sun to shine on the good and the bad. Let’s strive to love like our Lord does.
It’s an extravagant kind of love. Never waiting to see how we will respond, but continuously showering us with his love. When we get tired, He will fill us up.
We cannot create marital bliss even with our best efforts, but in obedience to His word love will abound in our homes.
Priscilla Shumba is a wife, mother, and entrepreneur. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, she is currently residing in Australia. She is passionate about encouraging people to live up to their destiny.
The emotions that course through you when you get the call from your child saying, “We’re in labor!” but the baby isn’t due for another two months. Excitement, concern, joy, fear—it is quite a roller coaster. And it happened to me not once but twice in the same week!
Monday morning was the first call. I spent the day at the hospital as the staff worked to stop my daughter-in-law’s labor. We played cards and watched TV between the nurse’s check-ins. The check-ins grew farther apart, along with the contractions. By Monday night, the contractions stopped. There was relief sprinkled with a little disappointment that we wouldn’t see our fifth grandbaby just yet. My daughter-in-law was released Tuesday evening with no restrictions and an appointment for an ultrasound on Friday.
She spent Wednesday at home, resting. But in the middle of the night, the contractions returned. We got the second call at 3:30 a.m. Thursday morning. There was no stopping it this time. Their first baby wouldn’t wait for her due date. We needed to get to the hospital. The feelings returned. All of them.
This was really happening. What if the baby’s lungs weren’t strong enough? What other things could happen with a preemie? I was too focused on the scary stuff. My granddaughter was about to be born. It was an exciting time, regardless of the outcome. As we drove the dark, deserted route to the hospital, I prayed, asking God to prepare our hearts for whatever this birth would bring. Immediately a peace filled me, not that everything would be fine, but that God would be with us through whatever today brought.
We were there less than three hours when Everlee was born—a healthy, beautiful, baby girl. She was bigger than they thought she would be, almost four pounds. And she was perfect. We cried tears of joy, mixed with relief. God gave us a special gift. We were prepared for the worst, but he had another plan, and we were so grateful.
Seeing her for the first time filled my heart with such love. She was so tiny, so precious. She looked like a little doll. I wanted to scoop her up and kiss her, but the NICU has rules. So, I stood next to her bassinet and watched her chest rise and fall and took in the incredible detail of her fingers and toes. Such small knees. She had blonde hair. I praised God for this little miracle. Psalm 139:14 rang in my ears, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
The nurses explained everything that was happening with her and what we should expect. They checked the miniscule IV and feeding tube. They explained the amount of energy she expends just digesting a teaspoon of food. Pooping is even more exhausting. They don’t do more than two big things a day because more would be too much for the baby. We could cup her (place our hands on her head and feet) but not hold her or touch her or rub her limbs—it would be too much stimulation.
There was so much to learn about being fearfully and wonderfully made.
On day nine, I entered the NICU with my son. He said, “Do you want to hold her?” He opened the side of the isolette, and I cupped my hands on her head and feet. Then he said, “Why don’t you sit down?”
“Because I won’t be able to reach her. Remember, I’m short with T-rex arms.”
“No, sit down, and you can hold her in your arms.”
What! I get to finally cuddle this precious, little bundle? I sat myself right down. My son lifted his daughter (which he could have done with one hand but carefully used two) and put her in my arms. I would have cried, but my smile was so big, it made my eyes squint shut, not allowing any tears to escape. It felt like I was only holding the blanket. She was so light and so small and so fearfully and wonderfully made.
Day fourteen, the feeding tube was removed. Day twenty, my son and daughter-in-law stayed overnight in a regular hospital room with the baby, preparing to take her home in the morning. It was my son’s birthday—what a gift! All her tests had come back normal. She was perfect. On day twenty-one, they left the hospital as a family. Three weeks. The medical staff had said she might have to stay in the hospital for eight weeks but could go home in three to four weeks if all went perfectly.
Being fearfully and wonderfully made took on a new meaning, as I marveled over this beautiful, intricate creation. I will never read that Psalm again without thinking of my tiniest granddaughter. So small yet so perfect—fearfully and wonderfully made.
November is the month of Thanksgiving and a time to give thanks. This is a month when we concentrate on what we must be thankful for. So, what better time to look at a popular Thanksgiving song?
Come, Ye Thankful People, Come is a harvest hymn that was written in 1844. The song was written by Henry Alford.
In the days when most people survived off the land, they understood the importance of the harvest. There was an urgency to safely gather the harvest before the winter storms rolled in.
The first stanza is written to be an invitation to give thanks to God. The second and third stanzas are a commentary on the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, as recorded in the gospel of Matthew. The last stanza is a prayer for the Lord’s return.
Henry Alford was born on October 7, 1810, in London. At sixteen years of age, he felt the presence of God and gave his life to Christ. He followed in the footsteps of his ancestors and became a clergyman and was a prominent Greek scholar.
He was the author of forty-eight hymns, wrote many songs and published a hymnbook. At the age of 47, he was appointed Dean of Canterbury, a position he held until his death on January 12, 1871.
The lyrics were set to the tune, St. George’s, Windsor written by George J. Elvey. The tune first appeared with Alford’s text in the Anglican hymnal, Hymns Ancient, and Modern.
George Elvey was born on March 27, 1916, and served as organist at the Royal Chapel at Windsor Castle for 47 years. In 1871, he was knighted by Queen Victoria. He died on December 9, 1893.
I absolutely LOVE this time of year! The cooler weather, the colors of the changing leaves, and the joys of hot cocoa and cookies all come together to create a delightful time. I hope you are enjoying autumn wherever you live.
Here’s a creative idea that I came up with and wanted to share with you, just in case you are a little bit like me and really can’t afford to buy or make a brand-new wreath for every season of the year.
Maybe I can do that some other day if I ever have oodles of storage space and an unlimited budget. But since that isn’t going to happen today, not at my home(not to mention that I can not stand waste), I decided to come up with my own version of an “Autumn Love” wreath.
I am so abundantly blessed, no matter whether or not I have a new wreath on my front door, but it is still fun to see something pretty outside when I come home from church, to greet me and anyone who approaches my home, so here’s what I did:
I took out last year’s wreath and changed it up to make a “new to me” wreath this year! I admit I have a special place in my heart for last year’s wreath, but they really are all wonderful memories for the time that they decorated my home.
I removed the old sign and bow. that I had last year, and then started adding some of my favorite colors with items I gathered from the Dollar Store, Goodwill, and even on a beautiful bunch of silk flowers from Michael’s that I got for half price.
The total cost of my wreath update was approximately $6 – $8!! Who doesn’t LOVE that price tag for a “new” autumn wreath?
Just take a closer look at my beautiful “Autumn Love” wreath and maybe you will be inspired to try your hand at updating an old wreath for your front door.
I know that this will be beautiful all season long, and will remind me of my blessings every day. Wishing you all the joy of autumn from my home to yours!
As you read this article, Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Summer is only a pleasant memory; autumn is giving way to winter’s chill.
What do I have to be thankful for during this season of Thanksgiving with winter’s subzero temperatures and snowdrifts just around the corner? Will I be plagued with car breakdowns as I have for the past three winters? Will the roads become impassable? Will the heating bills soar to new records? Why should I be thankful when I face these uncertainties?
Knowing I am a child of the King causes my heart to rejoice, to release words of thanksgiving that bubble within. How can I not be thankful? Jesus Christ’ death and resurrection have given me a source of abundant living.
Each morning I am blessed to open my eyes and my ears to the sights and sounds of living. I breathe in the life-sustaining air and remember they are gifts from God.
When I was left alone after many years of marriage, God knew I needed a way to support myself. He miraculously opened doors for employment in an organization where I enjoy my work and find it fulfilling. My needs are continually met day by day. I am blessed.
A friend spoke of a Thanksgiving Day when she was in her teens. Her family’s home had been destroyed by fire and they were forced to live in a chicken house. Her father was working in another town and could not be home. The meal consisted of sauerkraut and wieners. At the time, it seemed to be a very dismal Thanksgiving.
The following Thanksgiving found the family once again living in a home, her father was with them and the table was laden with food. Now they were able to enjoy the material things they had missed the year before.
However, that year they were missing a family member. Her brother had been killed in a tragic accident. My friend speaks of the sauerkraut and wieners year and realizes how truly happy she and her family were.
Do we complain too often about the things we do not have and fail to thank God for the blessings we are given each day? Turkey and all of the trimmings may not be on our Thanksgiving table, but sauerkraut and wieners can taste like a feast when shared with loved ones and touched by God’s love.
(This article was written in the mid-eighties. God continues to bless and to meet my needs.)
In Honor of Veterans’ Day
My father, Gabriel DiLeonardo, came from a large family—13, most were girls. Since all but one of his sisters and only one brother lived close to us, I did not know them well.
There is one I never met—my father’s second oldest brother—Uncle Egidio. He came to the United States as a young man in 1913 when my father was only three years old. Uncle Dom, the oldest brother took care of him. Until World War One broke out. Uncle Dom was already married.
When the United States entered the war, Uncle Egidio decided to enlist. He wanted to hold up the honor of his new country. He was so proud to be in America! I’m not sure if he became a citizen by serving (laws were different then) or if was already a citizen when he joined.
What I do know is that this man fought for our country and was wounded—seriously. It has been my grandfather’s intention to bring the entire family over, one by one. The war prevented that.
It was not until 1921 that my grandfather was able to bring the rest of the family over to America. My Dad was eleven years old. For the first time, he met his brother Dominic (the two of them were look-alikes) and his brother Egidio.
He did not really get to know Egidio well, because Egidio had been so badly injured by an attack of poison gas in the trenches of France that he could hardly speak or breathe.
In addition, I suspect he suffered from “shell shock,” what we call PTSD today. Uncle Dom worked to get Egidio into a Veterans hospital—where he spent the rest of his life.
Uncle Egidio died in 1976, having lived almost all of his adult life in a hospital. The nurses told me he was a kind and gentle man. By the time he died he probably understood English, but the gas injuries likely prevented him from speaking.
When I hear about how the country behaved toward Italians in the 1920s, it saddens me. My Dad fought in his neighborhood for respect and my Uncle fought so that those who bullied my father, his brother, could do so in a free and safe country.
Those in charge of pursuing the peace when the war was winding down decided it would be nice to have everything end at eleven in the morning on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
So, people fought and died up to the last minute. It is said that thousands died on that last day—due to the hubris of leaders who wanted an “interesting” end time and did not consider the men who would die right up until the last gun was silenced.
It is said that the bitterness, the rancor of the following year’s Treaty of Versailles that carved up the world among the victors was a direct cause WWII and the terrible devastation that brought.
That all seems so long ago. In fact, it was exactly one hundred years ago, this year. My personal connection pushed me to visit some WWI battlefields a few years ago and to look up my Uncle’s records.
I could not find out much about him. So, I invented a life for him. Before and during the war in a series of short stories. The first of those stories has been published.
But even more than that, thinking and reading about WWI and the amazing literature that flowed from it, has given me new insights into our need to be kind to one another, to live as Christ would have us live—to understand and care for the poor and the strangers among us, to love those whose ideas are different from ours, even if they do not love us.
So, for all of this, I wear the poppies of the famous Flanders Field (poem honoring those who died in WWI) on November 11—for my Uncle, for all who died in and because of that war, for all who lived through it, and for our country, that we may never repeat the sins of the past.
“We Gather to Give Thanks” by Rejetta Morse
Jesus transformed a pair of fish
and five small loaves of bread.
He gave thanks before five thousand
and everyone was fed.
More miracles he grants each day
and gives us food to eat.
He heals the sick and blesses us;
our needs he always meets.
Before he died upon the cross,
He thought of you and me.
Is there a greater love to find?
He died to set us free.
And now we gather all around
the table on this day.
We give thanks for our blessings and
for new ones on the way.
Yet amid the sounds of laughter,
we shed a silent tear,
thinking of loved ones gone away;
how we’ll miss them this year.
The air was crisp and lightly tinged with the woodsy smell of a campfire. We children piled into the green VW mini-bus and settled by our favorite windows as Dad hopped into the driver’s seat. We were headed for Grandpa’s house on Thanksgiving morning.
Mother had been busy for hours—preparing a savory dressing; cleaning, seasoning, and stuffing the turkey; and carefully stitching together the flaps of the cavity with needle and thread.
She stayed behind to baste the turkey and prepare coleslaw—and maybe to enjoy a few minutes of quiet. Pies, mincemeat and pecan, and pumpkin-nut bread had been baked the day before, and her traditional cranberry salad, second only to the turkey itself, was already setting up in the refrigerator.
As the “bird” slowly roasted, a wonderful aroma began to fill the house. We knew the fragrance would be there when we returned.
The drive to Grandpa’s took us out of our neighborhood and into the countryside. We traversed narrow winding roads, hills, and valleys, passing wooded thickets and wide ribbons of fallow cornfields that stretched to the horizon.
Eventually Grandpa’s village appeared.
Just a few minutes …… and there he was, waiting for us at the old oak table in the kitchen, sipping coffee and reading. Hugs and smiles later, he quickly gathered up his warm jacket, a bag of freshly-hulled black walnuts from the yard, and the old tin he always filled with fudge from the farmers’ market. Soon we were out the door and on our way home, with him by our sides.
It was a joyful ride through the countryside. We were hungry and anticipated a delicious feast! Dad was humming the tune to “Over the River and through the Woods.”
Grandpa smiled and sat quietly. Maybe he was thinking of years gone by, when he had celebrated Thanksgiving with his parents, then later with his dear wife, our Grandmother who was no longer with us.
Surely his mind was full of happy images of the past. I wish we had asked him to describe these memories. Our questions were more current. What new projects were in process in his woodshop?
Birdhouses perhaps, or was he repairing a neighbor’s fence or building a new shed for someone? The conversation was light and the mood sweet.
The winding road though hill and dale led us home, where Mother greeted us in her fresh apron and crisp cotton dress. Lady, our little beagle, bounced around happily, especially eager to lick Grandpa’s hands.
The roasting turkey smelled wonderful as we entered the house. We girls helped to set the table with the good china and real silverware, while the men carried in kindling and logs for the hearth. Before long, Mother rang the dinner bell.
We took our places around the table, with a special spot for Grandpa, and bowed our heads to give thanks.
Then Dad began to carve the turkey, as Mother carried in steaming bowls of vegetables and casseroles of baked stuffing—always an alternative to the cooked-inside-the-turkey sort. Salads and sweet breads were already on the table.
This was a beautiful time, with six of us gathered together.
We savored the delicious meal, reported to Grandpa about what we were learning in school, told old and new stories, and laughed.
At one point our father asked us to share something that we were especially thankful for. I can’t recall the answers but am certain that this practice helped us develop a sense of gratitude. So many simple blessings!
Time has passed. Grandparents and parents are no longer with us. The family may gather on a day other than the actual date of Thanksgiving—and at a different home.
But, I still wear a favorite apron and prepare my mother’s delicious cranberry salad, bake a Thanksgiving pie or two, and set the table with pretty napkins and candles, just as she did.
And, whenever I find myself driving on a crisp November day down a lane in the country, I can hear my father singing; “Over the river and through the woods, to Grandfather’s house we go.”
Here find my mother’s Thanksgiving Cranberry Salad recipe:
What you need:
12 oz fresh cranberries (4 cups)
1 orange, peeled and sectioned
2 small packs raspberry Jello (or strawberry)
2 c. boiling water
1 c. crushed pineapple, drained
2 ribs celery, finally chopped, (1 c.)
1 c. finely chopped walnuts or pecans
½ tsp salt
2 c. sugar and 1 c. tap water
Let’s make it!
- Process cranberries with orange until finely chopped.
- In bowl combine boiling water, Jello, and cranberry-orange mixture.
- Cool 20 min.
- Stir in drained pineapple, celery, nuts, and salt.
- In small pan combine sugar with 1 c water. Bring to boil. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Cool 10 min. and stir into Jello mixture.
- Pour into serving bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!
Vintage postcard image courtesy of Old Design Shop
My mama always told me . . . . you will have many friends in your life, but only a very few will be your friend for life. Now, my mama was not the most sophisticated, educated, or accomplished woman in the world. She was an ordinary, hard-working, heartbroken woman who grew up during the Great Depression and lived life right on the edge of destitution. She was oftentimes unkind and angry, and she frequently used words that were hurtful to a little girl’s heart. But I have learned over the years that her unhappiness was a result of having so many obstacles and challenges in her life. But she was right about a lot of things. Friendship is one of them.
I remember girl friends from my youth, girls I played with in the woods behind the little lake cottage where I grew up. I remember friends from high school, several of whom I remain in contact with even after all these years. I remember a few friends from my early college days, and I remember many friends from all of the years of being a young wife and mother, through the years of kids growing up, going to school, off to college, getting married, and having their own babies. And I remember friends from church, community, and neighborhood that God brings into our lives over the years. They are all treasured memories and I am so grateful for their presence in my life.
But life has changed in so many ways over the past 20 years, with the opportunities to connect with new people all over the world and the open door to discover new friends from all around the world via the technological “miracle” of the internet. This open door, in my life, has proven to be a gift that has led to some very special friends, most of whom I have never “met” in “real life,” with the very real possibility that I never will. The amazing thing about all of this (in my opinion) is that friendships can be discovered, nurtured, and maintained even across the miles, and across the years. This is one of the “miracles” that God has brought into my life.
Katherine is one of my dearest friends, even though we have never met in person. But we have talked on the phone many times over the years and we have been supportive and helpful to one another in many different situations. Right now is one of those times, and now you have the opportunity to discover the miracle of friendship, too. Please visit Katherine’s Corner and read her blog post “How to Make a Miracle by Writing a Blog Post,” and see how God can use YOU to be a blessing to others. Even when we are facing challenging times in our own lives, it is such an amazing opportunity to do something so small that means so much to another person. Small miracles are truly miracles, and this is no exception!
Perhaps you, too, are in a place where a word of encouragement, an act of kindness, or even just a simple, small gift could make a big difference to you. Is that where you are today? I know I’ve been there many times in my life, and God always brings someone along at just the right time to remind me that I am not alone. Let me know how God has given you an opportunity to reach out and touch the life of another pilgrim on this journey of life . . . . and also let me know if you need a word of encouragement today. Remember, we are all in this together and our love, support, and kindness for one another makes a HUGE difference. Friendship, no matter how God brings it into your life, truly is a miracle!
The Lord has really been testing and strengthening me lately, but I am reminded of how great His faithfulness is time and again.
The author of this hymn experienced many difficulties and health issues but the Lord remained faithful to him.
God wants to show us His faithfulness, but sometimes we must surrender all before He can prove He is faithful to us.
Great is Thy Faithfulness was written by Thomas Obadiah Chisholm as a “testament to God’s faithfulness through his very ordinary life.”
Chisholm was born in 1866 in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky to James Washington and Lucy Jane Mequire Chisholm.
He received his education in a rural schoolhouse in the area, but they were dirt poor and he never got past an elementary school education. However, by the age of sixteen he was a teacher.
Five years later, at the age of twenty-one, he was the associate editor of his hometown weekly newspaper, The Franklin Advocate.
In 1893, Henry Clay Morrison, the founder of Asbury College and Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, held a revival meeting in Franklin. Chisholm attended and accepted Jesus Christ into his heart and life.
Later, at Morrison’s invitation, Chisholm moved to Louisville, Kentucky and became an editor for the Pentecostal Herald.
In 1903, he became an ordained Methodist Minister. Sometime around 1903, he married Katherine Hambright Vandevere.
Due to ill health, Chisholm was only able to serve one year in the ministry. After leaving his ministry in Scottsville, Kentucky he and his wife relocated to Winona Lake, Indiana for the open air.
After a time in Indiana, he then moved to Vineland, New Jersey where he sold insurance.
He suffered from health issues the rest of his life and had periods of time when he was confined to bed and unable to work.
Thomas and Katherine Chisholm had two daughters, Ruth Elizabeth Chisholm was born in 1905 and Dorothy Chisholm was born in 1907.
Thomas was good friends with William Runyan and often exchanged the poems he’d written with the Moody Bible Institute musician.
Runyan was so moved by the poem Chisholm sent one day that he decided to compose a melody to go with the lyrics.
This poem was Great is Thy Faithfulness. Chisholm said of the poem, “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now.
Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”
Runyan wrote of the hymn: “This particular poem held such an appeal that I prayed most earnestly that my tune might carry over its message in a worthy way, and the subsequent history of its use indicates that God answered prayer. It was written in Baldwin, Kansas, in 1923, and was first published in my private song pamphlets.”
The song went unnoticed for many years until “it was discovered by a Moody Bible Institute professor who loved it so much and requested it sung so often at chapel services, that the song became the unofficial theme song of the college.”
In 1945, George Beverly Shea began to sing the song at the Billy Graham Crusades, and it gained exposure and popularity.
In 1953, Chisholm retired to the Methodist Retirement Community in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Katherine, his wife, died the following year.
Even through retirement, he continued to write poems and hymns, as he had throughout his life. In total he wrote over 1200 poems and hymns, including Living for Jesus, He Was Wounded for Our Transgressions, Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart and O! To Be Like Thee.
His writings often appeared in religious periodicals such as the Sunday School Times, Moody Monthly, and Alliance Weekly.
Thomas Chisholm died in 1960 at the age of 93.
Chisholm, a lifelong Methodist, had the song appear in numerous hymnals and song books. However, it was not included in the Methodist hymnal until the 1989 hymnal was released.
In 2003, a Historical Roadside Marker was erected near his boyhood home in Simpson County, Kentucky.
We can only imagine how God used one of Chisholm’s favorite scriptures, Lamentations 3:22-23, to inspire this hymn. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”
How has the Lord been great in His faithfulness in your life?
To read more of Diana’s inspirational posts and hymn stories, visit her blog at http://www.dianaLeaghMatthews.com
Diana Leagh Matthews writes, speaks and sings to bring glory to God. She has been published in numerous anthologies, including many Moments books. In her day job, Leagh is a Nationally Certified Activities Director for a busy nursing facility. She takes great joy in family, friends and soaking in the beautiful wonders and promises of God. Leagh blogs about her faith and struggles on her website www.DianaLeaghMatthews.com and family history at www.ALookThruTime.com
“Let’s make it simple. Let’s throw out the oversized rule book and get where we’ve wanted to get all along. Let’s follow the rules Jesus gave us – only 2 – and find a new way, a new peace, and a new life. Let’s start now.
“What is the most important command?” they asked Him. “Love God, love others,” Jesus said.
No list needed, no way to fail, nothing to fear.
We can relax, rest, and renew because when we follow these 2 rules, we follow all the others. We’ve all had enough of the “gotta-do-this,” “can’t-do-that “and “what’s-the-matter-with-you?” struggle that gets us nowhere. Come along today with Karon in simplicity, peace, joy and abundance:
- love God and others in the moment, the mess and the majesty
- develop the habits of a 2-Rule Girl
- trust your “gratifence” and be who God made you to be
- answer Jesus’ question: “what do you want?”
Deepen your trust to a place you’ve never known, discover and grow the wisdom you never thought you had. Know new strength, courage, power and grace.” * Study Guide and Resources included.
I’m a 2 Rule Girl is available from RUBY’S Reading Corner
They grow their gulls huge here, Deanna noted absently. Otherwise, this gull looked like every other gull she’d ever seen. She sighed. Today’s boredom seemed different somehow than the flat fact that most seagull and crashing-wave snapshots look alike.
Am I just getting old? Have I been on one too many beach vacations?
She plopped down on a weather worn wooden bench. Not yet crowded, the wharf would be a good place to let her mind meander through her current malaise. The early morning sun was warm, the air calm.
Back on the sand, a beachcomber lazily lingered, bent over potential treasures. In the quiet, a few artists had set up easels and canvases for perspectives they wanted to paint. The normally rambunctious, roaring Pacific lollygagged beneath the wharf.
Was this vacation just seagull déjà vu? No, she decided. Buried deep inside this boredom was a warning buzzer. The big fat gull cocked its head quizzically in her direction. Seeing no food forthcoming from Deanna’s fingers, it flew off to a more promising perch.
Deanna didn’t want to fly home without finding answers, or at least identifying the warning buzzer. Giving up on this quest too easily would condemn her to the life of that gull, flitting from piling to piling in search of scraps.
A few hours of reflection before her flight home would serve her well. Julian was in town shutter bugging bright pastel stucco buildings, so she’d have some time alone to think. Bright pastel … until this trip, she would have considered that an oxymoron.
But she could see them from the wharf—rows of villas gaily painted in rich colors and whimsically decorated. One was raspberry stucco with aqua curlicues above royal blue awnings; the next was aqua stucco accented with cobalt tiles; a peach-colored house had fanciful fuchsia fishes sculpted above a delft blue doorway.
They had spontaneity, a childlike playfulness, an uninhibited joy. Their perfect freshness was enhanced by nearby clumps of elegant pure-white calla lilies glistening with morning dew.
That’s what I was hoping this marriage to Julian would be like, Deanna mused, realizing her mind had just stumbled into the very danger zone she needed to explore. It disturbed her that the sparkle of their honeymoon a mere five months ago had been greatly tarnished on this trip.
As this week had progressed, she’d become more and more frightened that the rest of their marriage would be this boring. There. She’d identified the warning buzzer.
It wasn’t what they had done during this vacation week that was troubling, but how she and Julian had related.
The problem wasn’t one too many seagulls. It was too few engaging conversations. Too few of the electrifying soul connections they used to make. Not enough sense of adventure. And too few evidences of the partnership she’d hoped for.
Ah, unfulfilled expectations … that old, disagreeable friend of hers. The disappointments of her first marriage reared their ugly heads, like the persistent, grumbling demons that they were. No wonder her current discomfort felt familiar. It had been fourteen long, lonely years since her divorce.
But the loneliness of singleness had not been as painful as the loneliness of marriage. The new marriage had promised the loving companionship. In courtship, Julian had been completely different from her first husband. Now here was that pesky marriage loneliness again.
Although she wished Julian would change, she’d been down that dead-end street before. Changing Julian was not the answer. Changing herself, or her thinking, or something, was. But what—and how?
She left the bench and strolled to the end of the pier. Elbow on a piling, chin in her hand, Deanna lost herself in the spectacle before her. A few enterprising gulls dropped clams on the rocks to break them open for food.
Families of seals basked lazily on shiny, black rocks. Occasionally, one raised its whiskered nose and slid into the ocean to dive for food. Where seals found fish, gulls circled overhead.
Deanna’s mind drifted to a water cooler conversation she’d had with her coworker Jeanne, whose very soul always seemed so well-fed that she didn’t seem to wish her marriage were different.
When she’d asked Jeanne about her level of marital contentment, she’d explained that remembering Jesus’ unconditional love for her gave her the freedom to accept her husband as he was—in areas where he met her needs, as well as in areas where he disappointed her. “If Jesus’ other name is Love, His middle name is Freedom,” Jeanne had said, beaming.
Deanna remembered wondering if Jeanne had beamed with pleasure of clever wordplay or with sheer relief of the concept. Well, thought Deanna, don’t I completely accept Julian? Once again, she sank into her mental list of his shortcomings.
Her reverie was interrupted by a family drama nearby. “Honey, you have to unload your pockets.”
Deanna looked toward the young sunburnt dad explaining gently to his reluctant curly-haired toddler that he didn’t want to see her struggle so hard to walk.
Deanna saw stubbornness in the little cherub’s jaw, then sadness in her eyes, as she obediently drew one treasure after another from her pink corduroy overalls.
Finally, her bulging pockets fell flat. Then she sheepishly dug into rolled-up pant cuffs and pulled out some stones and pine cones and a red and white fishing bobber that her little fingers could barely grasp. Deanna had to smile. No wonder the child had been waddling precariously.
As the little one reached for her father’s hand and skipped beside him back down the pier, Deanna was curious to know what this child had found pretty enough to pick up. She wandered over to the treasures remaining on the wharf after a few had plunked through the cracks into the water below.
Seven lavender and rose scallops, one chestnut cowry, a purple olive shell, a smooth pebble of polished cobalt glass, a gull feather, a small grayish sand dollar, a pearly angel wing, two iridescent midnight-blue mussels … the little girl definitely had an eye for pretty things.
She must have gone to the same beachcombing school Deanna had gone to. But wait. Something was different. These were just broken pieces.
Deanna knew the names of these shells only because she had seen them whole and read their names in books. In all her years of beachcombing, she wouldn’t even waste the energy to bend down to pick up a seashell if it wasn’t whole. In the little girl’s treasure pile, however, not a single shell was whole.
Likely those innocent blue eyes had never seen a complete clam or live scallop or even the Shell gasoline logo. For that matter, Deanna had never seen the perfect marriage she grumbled about not having.
If childlike wisdom sees beauty in imperfection … if she became more like a child in this way … Maybe to bring wonder back to her marriage, she could leave a few expectations on that pier herself.
“Hey there. I’m glad I found you. It’s almost time to fly home.” Julian kissed her gently, then smiled. He looked different. Beautiful.
“Just a second.” She bent down and picked up a small scallop shard and the gull feather to tape in her prayer journal.
With those reminders in one hand and Julian’s warm hand in her other, she smiled—and even skipped a little as they walked together toward shore.
© 2018 Jane Hoppe
Jane Hoppe is an epiphany enthusiast. When writing fiction or nonfiction, she portrays discovery, insight, and growth. Especially when God teaches her something, she wants to share it through writing. Her debut novel, first in the Maria Beaumont series, is called Beyond Betrayal. She writes two blogs, www.aquajane-musings.blogspot.com, eclectic musings on life, accepting middle age, and lots of book reviews, and www.reflectionsoneldercare.com, reflections on elder care, loving Mom and Dad in their old age, along with caregiver resources. Jane’s website is www.janehoppe.com.
Lately, I have been wondering what God is up to in my life. For months so many parts of my life have been in upheaval while others are beginning to fall into place. But the one thing I know is I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so. Because wherever He leads I’ll go.
The popular invitational hymn was written by B.B. McKinney.
Baylus Benjamin McKinney was at the top of his career when he traveled to the Alabama Sunday School Convention in January 1936. The year before the Heflin, Louisiana native was named editor for the Baptist Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
At the convention, the author of such hymns as “The Nail Scarred Hand,” “Speak to My Heart,” “Let Others See Jesus In Me,” and “Satisfied with Jesus, , met with his good friend of many years R. S. Jones. Mr. Jones had been a missionary in Brazil.
As the two men visited and caught up over dinner, Mr. Jones revealed that his doctors would not allow him to return to South America due to his recent ill health. After a lifetime of serving God in Brazil, imagine how foreign a concept this must have been to the missionary.
“What will you do?” McKinney asked his friend.
“I don’t know, but wherever He leads I’ll go,” the missionary answered in earnest.
Baylus McKinney was unable to get his friend’s words out of his mind. Before the convention session that evening, the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary alumni and faculty member had expanded his friend’s words to write both the lyrics and melody to the hymn, “Wherever He Leads I’ll Go.”
That evening, Mr. McKinney shared the previous conversation with the congregation. He then premiered his new hymn as he began to sing, “Take up that cross and follow me. I heard my Master say.”
Mr. McKinney also lived out a life that followed the words of his famous hymn. When the Great Depression sent the seminary into a financial crisis, Mr. McKinney became the assistant pastor at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.
On Sunday, September 7, 1952, Mr. McKinney had just left a conference in Ridgecrest, NC and was headed for another engagement in Gatlinburg, TN. While near Bryson City, NC, Mr. McKinney was killed in a car accident. In addition to his wife, two sons, and several brothers, he left behind a legacy that included numerous hymns.
Falls Creek Baptist Encampment in Davis, Oklahoma named their chapel in his honor.
His hometown of Heflin holds an annual McKinney song service each July to celebrate his 149 hymns and gospel songs.
According to the Baptist Press, Mr. Jones served on the Southern Baptist convention Foreign Mission Board for thirty-seven years. He and his wife served as missionaries to Brazil from 1920 until 1930.
He retired from a life of service in 1958, having served as treasurer to the Foreign Mission Board for the last decade of his service.
Will you go wherever He leads?
Mornings can be hectic, but there is one thing even more important than a healthy breakfast—prayers before school. In order to maximize prayer impact while respecting the likelihood that there will only be a few precious minutes in the morning, I have worked out a formula that was pretty effective at our house.
Of course homeschoolers, not having the need to commute, can use that time for prayer, without dividing the prayer time over several days.
The purpose of these morning prayers is to model for your children the worship of God through prayer, that we can rely on God for and in all things, big and small, and to instill these comforting verses in our hearts and those of our children so that throughout life these verses will emerge to help support them when they need it.
The system involves praying for the week ahead on Sundays for a longer time, using favorite verses of your choice and Ephesians 6:11 et al. Just as you would lay out clothes for the week, you should pray for the protection of God over each child’s week. During the year, you can add activities to this –draw the armor, begin to learn the passage, talk about what they mean.
Although you can do more preparation for the following day at family devotions, to best address the needs of each little heart in the family, wait for the moment when it is just the two of you at bedtime.
Then, add prayers and a verse for each child’s special needs for the following day—a test (maybe a verse on wisdom) meeting new people, how they can be salt and light in the classroom.
Pick a verse that meets that child’s needs. For instance, for my daughter, as for myself, Philippians 4:6-7 would be the verse.
Then a quick morning prayer to go with the quick kiss goodbye from you to remind them that no matter what happens, she need not be anxious about anything.
Of course, then we need to remind them that we will be in prayer for them all day. To keep that promise, I often write down the time of a special event.
When the day ends, be sure to follow up—in the after school talk and at the dinner table, unless it was a confidential request that your child wants to share only at bedtime.
Once they leave the house, it’s time for prayer from Mom to God on their behalf. Here are some of the things I prayed most often and that I still pray for our daughter even though she is long past school, and is out in the working world:
- Joy in learning (working), in the day and in the Lord—after all, each day is the day the Lord has made
- That she would be protected during the day from physical harm and spiritual aggression from evil—in any form, thought, word or deed. That she will put on the full armor of God.
- Prayer that the teacher (supervisor) will speak only the truth and if there is something contrary to God’s word taught, the children in the class will be protected from it.
- Prayer for her to be encouraged according to his or her abilities and needs.
- Prayer that she would be a blessing to others.
- Pray that the verses the child is learning will stay in your child’s heart all day, and …that he or she will be able to call up in moments of distress.
- Pray that you can encourage the teacher in some way.
After school time will be much richer if your child knows you have been participating via prayer in his or her day—it gives you more of an opening.
Morning prayer — a must, that can be easily inserted into a busy morning even without waking the child an extra twenty minutes early.
Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. She is a poet, essayist, journalist, playwright, and author of several books both fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She is also a performer and gives one-woman shows on historic figures and spoken word folklore shows as well as teaching writing and storytelling.
Joan lives in Calabash, NC where she walks the beach with husband, Joe. www.joanleotta.wordpress.com and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Leotta-Author-and-Story-Performer/188479350973
FROM THIS MONTH’S KIDS’ KORNER
“Be back before lunch!” Mom called out the front door. “I have a meeting early this afternoon.”
I frowned. “Seriously?” I sighed. “I thought we had the whole day to ride, Nocona,” I complained to my horse.
“OK, Mom,” I called back.
I pulled the saddle girth tight and gathered the reins.
“Well, at least we’ll be able to ride for a little while.”
My horse turned his head toward me and I patted his neck. Swinging into the saddle, I gently squeezed my calves against his sides and clucked to him. He moved forward and away we went!
I hummed a tune, enjoying the mountains that towered above and the whisper of the breeze through the saguaro cactus spines. We rode down several trails, stopping on various ridges to gaze across the valley floor and breathe in the unique, sweet fragrance of the desert flowers.
I checked my watch. I knew we should be heading back to the ranch, but the trails were too tempting. “We can explore just one more. We have plenty of time to make it,” I convinced myself.
We happily wandered down another exciting trail, and I lost track of time. After a good while, I finally glanced at my watch again… and caught my breath.
“Oh, no! It’s five minutes to 12:00!”
No matter how hard I tried to urge Nocona to move faster, he seemed content to walk along without a care in the world, oblivious to my problem.
In desperation, I dug my heels into his sides with a bit too much energy. Startled, he jumped to the edge of the trail… right into a cholla cactus!
Suddenly we entered our own little rodeo! He sailed into the air, kicking his hooves up as I hung on for dear life!
He spun and bucked again and again, trying to shake the cholla bulbs loose that were stuck in his back leg. With each leap, a cliff loomed in front of us.
“Jesus, help me!” I blurted at the top of my lungs.
Immediately, Nocona stopped in midair, landed, and calmly stood as I dismounted—like nothing was stuck in him at all! Looking around, I saw no trees to tie him to (only cacti—and that wasn’t happening).
So, pointing him straight ahead, I laid the reins over my arm and stepped toward his flank. My heart sank as I rummaged through my saddlebags. Where are my leather gloves? I gasped. I never leave home without those!
Have you ever been up close and personal with a cholla and its lovely, long, needle-sharp barbs? Yeah, I cringed too!
I took a deep breath, prayed, and yanked out the cactus. Surprisingly (and a miracle), the cholla bulbs pulled out easier than I expected. I didn’t get poked too badly, and Nocona wasn’t hurt.
I breathed a sigh of relief and wiped my hand across my damp face. Surveying the territory around us, I realized that we stood in the only clearing—there were no cacti or rocks, only soft sand and grass! Whew!
I swung into the saddle and headed for home. I didn’t want to look at my watch now. I knew I was way late!
I rode to the barn and pulled the saddle and bridle off Nocona. Quickly brushing him, I turned him loose in the pasture and slunk to the house.
The kitchen door creaked as I peeked through it. My mom stood at the sink, washing the lunch dishes and glaring out the window.
Oh, man. I am totally busted!
“What happened?” she asked.
“I kinda lost track of time,” I replied.
“Kind of?” she said, turning to face me.
I decided to ‘play the sympathy card’ so I told her about my adventure with the cactus, throwing in as much drama as possible. But, although she was relieved I was OK, she grounded me for a week.
As I lay on my bed in solitary confinement, staring at the ceiling, I recalled the events of that day.
Yep, I owned the fact that this whole thing was my fault—from being distracted and staying out too late, to my impatience in getting back and almost sailing over a cliff. And I shuddered when I thought of everything that could have happened.
But I had to smile too. Even though I’d blown it, Jesus still helped me when I was in trouble and hollered for his help. I wonder if He sent a big ole angel to calm my horse?
I guess maybe that’s what grace means—God helps us when we’re in trouble, even when it’s our fault. That’s pretty cool.
But I also learned my lesson today—being impatient never turns out good. But, more importantly? I decided to be more respectful toward my mom in doing what I’m told in the first place!
God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble— Psalm 46:1
Shara Bueler-Repka is enjoying life as a singer/songwriter/recording artist, freelance writer, and award-winning author. She and her husband, Bruce, live in their living quarters horse trailer and call “home” wherever their rig is parked. Their mail-base, however, is Hallettsville, Texas. She also loves riding/ministering with her husband and their horses (aka The Boys) in the backcountry and writing about God’s grace in the various adventures on the trail less-traveled. Join the fun and be encouraged on their website: www.ponyexpressministry.com and her blog: www.trail-tails.blogspot.com, or come for a visit on Facebook.
Did you know that the Declaration of Independence was not signed on July 4, 1776? Our Founding Fathers agreed to its precepts that day, but final draft and copies had to be prepared. One by one, they signed in secret over the next few weeks, throughout the month of August.
Meanwhile, Betsy Ross stepped center stage in American history. A recent widow at age 24 when an ammunitions explosion took the life of her new husband John, Betsy served her nation in a critical time, providently placed and prepared by God.
In the spring and summer of 1776, in her home located one block away from Independence Hall, a vital element necessary to secure American independence lay in her hands.
Read Part 1 of Betsy Ross: Patriots, Petticoats, and Providential History in the July issue of RUBY Magazine.
When we last left Betsy, her husband’s uncle George Ross, Robert Morris, and the esteemed General George Washington surprised her with a visit one morning in May. Congress appointed them the Flag Committee, responsible to design and produce a national standard to take into the expected war with England. The esteemed committee had barely arrived when . . .
Scuffling sounds in the street, just outside the front door, hushed the group with a palatable tension. Betsy’s hand rose to her lips, stifling a gasp.
General Washington motioned for silence. He crept along the wall towards the window, shielding himself, to investigate the source of the noise.
Might spies have followed General Washington to her doorstep? Had the war Betsy feared for so long come to her own home?
Sudden boisterous yells shifted the foursome into high alert that their mission might have been discovered.
Silent and watching from the corner of the window, Washington motioned for stillness, until the bellows turned to laughter, and faded, passing by.
“Drunken youth,” he said, relaxing with a knowing frown.
A collective sigh melted the tense moment. “Back to business, Mrs. Ross.” Robert Morris returned their attention to the matter at hand.
“Can you make this battle flag?”
A collective sigh melted the tense moment. “Back to business, Mrs. Ross.” Robert Morris returned their attention to the matter at hand. “Can you make this battle flag?”
Betsy picked up the paper previously set before her and studied the hasty sketch of a flag design. “How soon would you want it?”
“Within a fortnight, if possible.” Washington said.
She studied the drawing. “By the end of the month, I daresay. Early June at the latest. But . . .” her voice trailed.
“You will be paid for the job, of course, my dear.” Uncle George said.
“Oh. Forgive me. No.” Betsy said. “My hesitation is not economy of money, but—”
“Yes? Speak freely, mistress.” Washington’s voice gently invited her opinion.
Betsy, an obliging woman, did not want to appear critical of anything agreed upon by such an august committee as those standing before her.
But, her expertise had been sought by them. She spoke her mind.
“I only hesitate because, I wonder why you have chosen a six-pointed star for the design rather than a five-pointed star.”
The men looked at each other, cut to the quick by her unexpected response. “Is that all?” Uncle George said. “Five or six points. Does it matter?”
Washington grinned. “Is not a six-pointed star easier to fashion with equal sides than one with five?”
Betsy smiled. “Well, if you’ll allow me to demonstrate, sir.” She crossed the room to a table strewn with fabric swatches and sewing notions—the tools of her trade at the ready. Taking a squared white muslin in hand, she folded it oddly.
Once, then twice, then again, and again. Holding fast the bundled fabric, she clipped one end of it with her shears, allowing the material to drop to the table, unfurling from their folds. She picked up one of the pieces and presented it for inspection. A perfectly cut five-pointed star.
“Astonishing!” Washington shook his head in disbelief.
“My lady, I applaud you. Five-pointed white stars it shall be, on a field of blue—thirteen all; against thirteen alternating red and white stripes.”
The committee agreed.
Discussion followed to determine the exact proportions and measurements of the flag, materials to be used, date of delivery, and payment.
They instructed Betsy to cut and sew it by hand in the privacy of her own bedchamber to protect herself and the decisive step the creation of a battle flag meant to the cause of independence.
The gentlemen stayed only as long as necessary, then made a polite exit.
Closing the door behind them, Betsy realized the implications of what she agreed to do. She felt an active partner with John’s patriotic decision to join the militia, taking a practical stand for what he believed to be true and just.
Though schooled in the use of a firearm, her weapon as a patriot would be needle and thread. John would be proud. Thinking on this brought him nearer to her.
Barely settling in her chair with a steaming cup of tea in hand, mulling over her new commission, she heard another rap at the door.
Mr. Samuel Wetherill, an old family friend, tipped his tricorn hat in greeting as she welcomed him. He brought mending and kind regards in her recent loss.
“But, my dear, are you unwell,” he said with a furrowed brow, observing her vexed expression. “You appear flushed and not quite yourself.” He noticed her trembling so soon after the flag committee’s visit.
“I am well.” She said and sipped her tea. An awkward silence followed.
Mr. Wetherill attempted to put her at ease with conversation. “I daresay, I saw General Washington in the street a bit ago. With your uncle and the good Mr. Morris. Your uncle looks well.”
The Wetherill family had known Betsy since her youth, the eighth child of seventeen, baptized Elizabeth Griscom.
When her pacifist Quaker family cut her off after she eloped with John, an Episcopalian, the Wetherills demonstrated Christ’s love and concern for her through that tumultuous season, welcoming the new Mr. and Mrs. Ross into the Episcopal Christ Church house of worship.
Mr. Wetherill had always proved himself a trusted friend. He discerned amiss. “My dear,” he repeated, “are you well?”
Betsy sighed. Clearly, Mr. Wetherill suspected something amiss. She paused before leaning forward with widened eyes to reveal her news.
“The truth is, Uncle George was just here within the hour accompanied by General Washington and Mr. Morris whom you saw in the street.”
Mr. Wetherill nodded. “Excellent! I hope they brought you good custom. Washington and his ruffles and Morris the same. New shirts ordered up, I suppose?”
“No,” said Betsy. She determined to bring Mr. Wetherill into her confidence. “I have been commissioned by the General to create a battle flag for the colonies. In secret, of course.”
Saying it aloud for the first time caused her to tremble at the gravity of it. “Oh, Mr. Wetherill. What is to become of us in these troubled days? I am commissioned to create a flag that, should the colonies prevail—would become the standard of a new nation.”
All light-heartedness in Wetherill’s manner disappeared. He touched her hand, gazing severely into her face. “My dear. You are an Esther, commissioned by One higher than Washington for such a time as this.
The God of the impossible calls nations into being and unseats them at His will and for His purposes.
History has been wrought in your front room this day. It is His Story! Play your part with confidence and allow God to use it as He will.”
Sudden purpose flooded Betsy’s heart. She crossed the room to the table where the pieces to the star she had cut lay.
“I even convinced the General that a five-pointed star was superior to a six-pointed star for its ease in making. I do it with a few folds and a snip of my shears. See here?” She handed the two pieces of cut fabric to Wetherill.
“I didn’t want to second guess General Washington, but truly—if I were to commit to making a flag with stars, I would rather the simplicity of five-pointed stars rather than six.” Betsy laughed.
“Well, I’m astonished,” said Wetherill, fingering the five-pointed star. “May I ask you—what did you plan to do with this star?”
The question perplexed her. “That star? Well, nothing. It was just a demonstration. I may be able to make use of the pieces in a quilt or patching.
Wetherill stood. “May I be permitted to keep it?”
“Keep it? Well . . . certainly. If you must. But, why?”
“For posterity, my girl.” Wetherill’s response—swift, almost mysterious—chilled her. He lowered his voice in foreboding. “The day may come when we shall need tangible reminders of turning point moments in our national independence story.”
Betsy Ross, indeed, delivered the General’s flag as agreed one month before the Congress voted for independence on July 4, 1776.
Printed dispatches of the formal Declaration of Independence circulated throughout the colonies calling patriots to arms.
As a nation at war, one year later, on June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress formally adopted the national flag to promote unity and national pride:
“Resolved: That the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
Betsy remained busy throughout the war, sewing more flags for the revolution in the secrecy of her bedchamber. Within a year, British soldiers took up rooms within her home when they occupied Philadelphia.
Perhaps, as she sewed in secret, she prayed and wondered about the husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons whose blood would spill under that banner for the cause of liberty and justice.
She married twice during the war—losing both husbands in battle. Growing strong through a season of storm-clouds and loss, she also made musket bullets in a secret cellar room to aid the constant need for ammunition. Right under Redcoat noses.
After the war she married, for the fourth time, a man named John Claypole. They raised five daughters and maintained a thriving upholstery and flag making business until her retirement in 1827 at the age of 75. She lived a quiet, devout Christian life until her death in 1836 at the age of 84.
Through the years she often spoke of the day General Washington came to call with the commission to create the first American flag of the United States.
Her firsthand account of the event passed down through her family as part of their oral history. In 1870, Betsy’s grandson, William J. Canby, encouraged efforts to purchase Betsy Ross’ house and designate it a historical landmark as the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial.
A campaign launched to open it to the public through monies raised by an Association. Anyone could contribute and receive an elite document suitable for framing at a cost of only ten cents.
The document included a full color picture of the celebrated moment in history painted by association founder, Charles H. Weisberger. It is the same painting used in 1952 to mark Betsy’s 200th birthday with an official US Postage stamp. The house has been a living history museum open to the public since 1937.
But, the most amazing part of Betsy’s story happened in 1925 when the descendants of Samuel Wetherill opened the family safe to discover the star he had taken from Betsy’s house within hours of her visit with Washington on that May day in 1776.
He marked it with her name and did, indeed, seal it away for posterity. It remains a tangible slice of American history on display at Quaker Meeting House Museum located a block from the Betsy Ross House Museum in historic Philadelphia.
To learn more about Betsy Ross and the Betsy Ross House Museum, visit http://historicphiladelphia.org/betsy-ross-house/history/
Listen to a dramatization of the story on The Writer’s Reverie Podcast, by Kathryn Ross at www.thewritersreverie.com . Click Podcasts on the menu bar and scroll down to access Patriots, Petticoats, and Providential History.
Writer-speaker, Kathryn Ross is Pageant Wagon Publishing—igniting God’s Word and biblical principles as a vibrant light of literacy and learning in the life of your Christian family. Inspired by the stillness of birdsong, silent reflection, antiques, and teatime, she filters her love of history, classic literature, and the arts through God’s Word, to inform her words. Her passion to equip women and families in developing a Family Literacy Lifestyle produces readers and thinkers who can engage the world from a biblical worldview. In addition, she mentors authors as a book shepherd, assisting them in the development, editing, design, and production of the book God has called them to write. Miss Kathy blogs and podcasts at www.thewritersreverie.com and www.pageantwagonpublishing.com.
by Francis Chan
Book review by Carol Peterson
Every once in a while, you read a book that changes you. Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit is one of those books for me. I read it years ago and again recently, having been asked lately by people on separate occasions, “Have you read Forgotten God?”
Chan’s basic premise is that, as Christians, we pay little attention to the Holy Spirit. We pray to God the Father and have a personal relationship with Jesus. We claim to believe that the Holy Spirit lives in us. But, Chan concludes, we pay little attention to that fact. We focus on the other two persons in the Trinity and avoid the issue that the Holy Spirit is there, right now, and always in us and ready to guide, direct, comfort and encourage us.
What I personally gained most from Chan’s book was that this reminder of the Spirit’s presence caused a desire to allow the Spirit to work in and through me. I wanted a relationship not just with Father God and my Savior Jesus.
Chan’s reminder that Jesus left the Holy Spirit’s presence as a gift for me (and you), instilled a deeper desire to have communion with my closest spiritual partner in life—the Holy Spirit.
What changed for me in a practical way? I began to be more open to the Spirit’s leading. I began to allow the Spirit to pray through me for people and circumstances I would not have thought to pray for on my own. I began to pray not only to Father God and my Jesus, but also to pray to the Spirit, thus opening my heart to the whole presence of God.
My journey of faith began to move forward. My sense of the power of the Spirit has grown—not because I somehow have “more” of the Spirit, but because I could more clearly sense His presence and leading. And then follow Him
I recommend Forgotten God to anyone who professes belief in the Trinity and seeks to allow the Holy Spirit to have more power in their lives. I pray the book will change and empower you.
Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan is available from RUBY’S Reading Corner
Carol Peterson, Author My mission as a writer is to educate, entertain and inspire–children, their teachers and parents, other writers, and readers of all genres. As a children’s writer I try to “Make Learning Fun” by helping busy teachers address curriculum accountability standards, and encouraging other writers to do the same. You can connect with Carol at her blog, Carol Peterson, Author Carol is a member of the Ruby Book Review Team.
Check out Carol’s Book Club in each issue of RUBY magazine for her latest book reviews!