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Archive for February, 2012

Late Winter Surprise

This has been a particularly warm winter and that invariably means also a gray one.  In fact, it’s been so warm this winter with so much rain that I actually mowed the lawn last week!  (Coming from the Midwest as I do, that seems incredible.)  With all the grayness of the season, I have been reminded over and over of a little chorus I learned as a child about having ‘Sunshine in My Heart’.  Without the joy of the Lord there, why would you even want to get out of bed?

But, in spite of the general gray dreariness of the season, now that it is waning and the daffodils are blooming and the hyacinths are nearly bursting with huge buds, we received a fun surprise in a ‘farewell to winter’ sort of way on Sunday.  It snowed!

It had been predicted, but when they were calling for snow, our outdoor thermometer was perched merrily at 60 degrees and it was just hard to believe it would materialize.  But on our way to church the first snowflakes began and by the time we were sitting in worship it looked like we were sitting in a well-shaken snow-globe.  Since our church meets in a school cafeteria, Pastor Ed has no less than 6 windows behind him on two sides and I couldn’t help appreciating the heavenly backdrop this past Sunday!  It was gorgeous!

It continued throughout the day, snowing harder and harder.  By evening, the heavy, wet snow was causing a few problems and we had to get out the kerosene lamps and light all the candles when the electricity flickered and died for the evening.  There we sat in front of a warm fire, in the hush of no background music, no TV, no telephone and no lights.  It was positively glorious!

On Monday morning there was still no electricity and everywhere we looked made us feel like we were in a magic fairy land.  I couldn’t resist taking some pictures, as I knew it wouldn’t last long.  And today, as I drove back from the grocery store, the green, green grass and the beautiful masses of yellow daffodils waved and nodded once more down the meridian of the road.  And now, I think back over the gray days that seemed to be endless in the winter and realized more than ever:  No matter how it seems now, there’s always tomorrow, and tomorrow is a whole new start.  And it just may be filled with surprises!  Maybe even snow!

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The Ways of Love

Today is Valentine’s Day, which has become a day filled with expectations and even obligations for many in our country.   But I wonder today why we need a day set aside to prompt us to show our love to the special people in our lives.  It seems to me, loving words spoken from the sincere heart on an ordinary day is of much more value than words prompted from guilt or obligation due to a designated day.

I think we all know someone who shows off their bouquet of roses proudly while telling that if the giver had not done so they would have ‘been in big trouble’.  In my estimation, those roses are not a gift of love at all.  They are little more than an obligation and the fulfilling of an expectation.

I’ve been thinking that we should start something new!  We should somehow make a rule that we never speak words of love as an obligation and we never ever give love-gifts to fulfill expectations.  I do realize that in fulfilling an obligation we ARE showing that we care enough for the person to want them not to have hurt feelings, but it’s not the same as a sincere expression of the heart of love.  I’d much rather have a kiss in the middle of a conversation that inspires the fondness in my husband’s heart than an obligatory kiss when he walks out the door because he thinks I expect it.  And the same goes for a gift.

I have a sweet friend who told me once that their family has a rule that you cannot say ‘I love you back’!  If someone says ‘I love you’ in their family, the receiving person must say simply ‘thank you’ or some such because they felt the love words coming from the prompting of words from one person to the other was a response and not an offering of sincerity.  At first I was saddened by the limitation this provides, but the more I think of it, the more I realize it prompts spontaneity as well as promoting love actions and thought at unexpected times.

In many ways, I feel Valentine’s Day is nothing more valuable than saying “I love you back” to someone in fulfillment of their expectations.  How much sweeter it is to receive a bouquet at a time when the heart is downcast or a card with kind, encouraging words when the soul is weary or lonely.  Do we really need a day set aside to prompt us to show love to those that are dear to us?

Let me encourage you, dear friend and reader, to find ways to show your love each day.  I would encourage you to give more flowers for less obligatory reasons and more sincere emotion.  I love the fact that my husband and I mostly say ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ with a grin on February 14th, but we say ‘I love you’ regularly throughout the year—not because it’s prompted by a holiday, but because it is prompted by a heart filled with love and thankfulness.  That, to me, is the best love-gift of all!

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Drinking Deeply

Soon after the start of the new year in my time with the Lord each morning I began working my way through the book of Proverbs.  Now when I say ‘working my way through’ I mean studying and praying my way through.  Some days I will find several verses in a row that give me ‘meat’ to chew on for the day.  Other days it happens in the very first verse I read.  Thus, it is not unusual for me to be studying a specific book of the Bible for several months.

At any rate, as I began reading today I read from Proverbs 10 and started at verse 11.  Immediately I read:  “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…”  Now at some point in time I had made a little notation in the margin beside this phrase that refers me back to Psalm 36, verses 8 and 9.  Looking it up I read:  “They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.  For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”

As I pondered why that same phrase would be used in both settings since they seem to be speaking of totally different subjects, I noticed that there was a reference after the verse in Psalms for Jeremiah 2:13 so I looked to see what it had to offer on the subject and read:  “My people have committed two sins:  They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

This final reference seemed to shed light on what God is saying to me today.  Looking at all these verses and trying to determine exactly the connectivity of them in light of the 21st century, I realize how very much this still has to say to us.  It doesn’t matter how faithful we are in our church attendance, or how many ‘Bible Studies’ we participate in, or how many Christian friends we have, if we are not under the influence constantly of our own time in God’s Word—not just reading briefly here and there, but digging in and studying it and applying it to our lives—then we are neglecting the fountain of life or the spring of living water entirely.  All our church attendance and good deeds are only broken cisterns.

There is nothing I enjoy more than spending time alone with my Loving Father, than drinking deeply of the richness of God’s Word.  If you do not do this regularly yourself, I encourage you to start today.  Set aside even a small allotment of time that you dedicate to reading and meditating on God’s Word and talking with Him.  Do it daily.  Do it faithfully.  Establish a system of reading so that you are enjoying both the Old and New Testaments on a rotating basis and always pray first and ask God to speak to you.  He loves nothing more than chatting with His children; than teaching us and showing us how to apply His truths to our own lives.  And before you know it, it will shape you into the very person HE wants you to be.

So, my friend, bottoms up!  Drink deeply and enjoy!  You will be SO blessed!

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