Monday, July 13, 2020

Beyond



Genesis 31:55
Early the next morning, Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them.  Then he left, and returned home.

When daughter, Sarah, and her husband, John, depart for South Carolina with the three beloved granddaughters on March 1st, Danny and I have every hope of seeing them again during their April spring break.  "It's not that far away," I reassure Virginia.  "We can make it!"

But weeks turn into months, and the months seem like years in the wake of this persistent virus.  Because of preexisting conditions regarding his heart, Danny cannot safely travel.  We are stuck at home, not even getting out to the store, but having our groceries delivered.  Yes, we can take walks in the neighborhood, and the occasional drive to rev up the cars and for a change of scenery, but this is, for now, our story.

I want to lose hope, but then I remember Laban.  When he kissed his daughters and grandchildren good-bye, he certainly understood that he would never see them again.  I can't even begin to imagine the pain and sorrow he endured at their parting.  Until the end of his days, Laban most likely conjured up images in his mind as to how his daughters and grandchildren were growing, playing, loving, and laughing.  Living lives in which he would never again take part.

Thankfully, Danny and I aren't confined to such a fate, and thus, this poem is born.


Beyond

When I see your face
Hear your voice
I long to reach beyond
Tech connection
Beyond Face Time
Touch, hug
Scent of perfect love
Remembered
Recalled, desired
Beyond measure
Beyond, you are
But not forever

Amen

Thursday, July 9, 2020

A Well-Placed Stamp



2 Thessalonians 3:17
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters.  This is how I write.

In this day and age of the email and instant messaging, the art of writing a letter, penned thoughtfully by hand, seems to slip into the bygone era with each passing day.  But is it an age that has drawn its last breath?  By the looks or our old mailbox pictured above, one would be tempted to think so.  Defaced by mossy growth and thoughtless offerings of birds, it is worn and tired now, yet it has witnessed countless seasons of greeting cards, pleas for charitable contributions, and welcomed notes from loved ones.

My husband, Danny, eager for projects to accomplish safely while we're in the throws of this virus, decides that a new mailbox is a positive move.  I have no argument with that!  The forced distance this illness has demanded from those we love has opened new opportunities for communication; our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose, is cultivating the art of the handwritten note, much to our delight and gratification.



We so look forward to her missives!  And now, they will have a brand-new mailbox in which they can arrive.

And don't you know, once I receive a note from Virginia, I promptly write back.  This enforces the importance of the written word, the impact it imparts, and the lasting meaning even the simplest of thoughts can convey.  We have a new generation to teach, an opportunity to encourage caring and thoughtfulness in them as they take the time to write to us.  We can't afford to blow this one!

I think St. Paul felt the same way.  His epistles make up a ponderous portion of the New Testament.  Whenever I read them, I wonder how much weaker our faith would be without his inspiration and conviction that Jesus is Lord.

And surely, God put His well-placed stamp of approval on Paul's writings.  How else would they have been so carefully preserved and passed down,  generation after generation, for our edification and strengthening in the Christian faith?

Let us continue, then, to preserve our past in order to bless the future.

The only cost just might be a well-placed stamp.

Amen!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Imperfect Men, Perfect God



Joshua 4:5b-7
Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you.  In the future, when your children ask you, "What do these stones mean?" tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.  When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.  These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.

Our forefathers were imperfect men who recognized a perfect God. ~Jenna Ellis, Constitutional law attorney, Fox News contributor.

We celebrate our Independence Day this past weekend in a vastly different way than in years gone by.  With the shadow of Covid-19 stalking our land, many communal events commemorating our nation's birth are sadly cancelled.

Add to that, the minuscule, yet vocal and violent, anarchists terrorizing cities, and tearing down or defacing historical statues and monuments, and have a poisonous pill prescribed for Americans who still see our history as a country worth preserving.

Our forefathers, and the many presidents and statesmen, pioneers and abolitionists, who followed in their footsteps, left their indelible marks on society.  Some are so honored as to have statues erected in cities and towns so their accomplishments are remembered for generations.  It is grossly unfair to judge them as nonessential in the present times, when the only responsible, reasonable way to view them is from the perspective of the times in which they lived.

And what about all the memorials to our brave soldiers, who fought and died to protect the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution?  Should any acknowledgement of their valor and sacrifice be buried away with their bodies?  Whether we agree with the wars in which they fought, be it the Civil War or Vietnam, for instance, these men and women believed they were fighting for our nation in the context of their experience at than point in history.

Let's think of it this way:  What if we, as Christians, decided that the Old Testament is irrelevant to the eventual message of Christ Jesus?  I mean, all that nonsense about clean and unclean, God's Big Ten, and His seemingly vengeful tendencies.  Who needs that?

WE DO!  Because if we don't understand the history of the Jewish people, we can't begin to comprehend our overwhelming need as human beings for a Messiah.

The Bible is full of flawed, imperfect people, just like us, who recognized their need for a perfect God.

We glean empowering wisdom from their stories, and we can claim the same by honoring the history of our own nation.  May the stones we carve and erect serve to remind of this unique American journey upon which we are all embarked.

Together.

Amen!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Old Glory




Psalm 119:45
I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.


Old Glory bravely waves
A valiant testament
To freedom and values
Held in the hearts
Of these who understand
The sacrifice of those
Who paid the ultimate price
To preserve her presence
Beacon of hope to hopeless
Opportunity proffered
World without end
Until the world does
May this flag endure
All to God's glory


Amen!

Wishing each and everyone of you a memorable Fourth of July!

Monday, June 29, 2020

"Doe, a Deer, a Female Deer"



Psalm 42:1
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.

A few weeks ago, as I'm finishing my morning coffee, I happen to glance out our kitchen window.  I'm surprised to see a doe laying down on our moss, and all by herself.  That's strange for two reasons - we always see female deer in pairs, and never, ever do they linger on our moss.  They much prefer the camouflaging leaves and bracken of the forest floor.

And the expression in her eyes?  I read it as one of either fear or anxiety.  What can possibly be her problem?  I wonder.  Talk about your proverbial deer in headlights!

I decide to take my shower, get dressed and then check back on the doe when I'm done.  Quietly, I step out on our deck to see if she's still there.  Yes, she is, and this time, she's not alone!  In the brief time I'm gone, the doe has given birth!  The fawn is still moist from its messy arrival, tottering clumsily on new-found legs.  I draw in a sharp breath of amazement.  That's enough to get the doe's attention; once again, the look of trepidation fills her eyes.  Not wishing to cause further consternation for her after what she's just endured, I silently and slowly retreat back into the house, regretting that I didn't have my phone with me to snap a quick, clandestine shot of mother and child.

That chance comes later in the day, fortunately, but it's Danny who takes the precious photos of the not-even-one-day-old baby with its mother.









Oh, what a thrill to witness this miracle of life!  And as I watch the doe treating her baby with such tenderness and care, I'm reminded of how God loves us so incessantly.  He wants us to draw close to Him so He can nurture us, protect us, help us to grow in His mercy and grace.

As the helpless fawn depends on its mother for physical sustenance, God wants us to depend upon Him for spiritual nourishment.  Our souls should ever and always pant for Him as a deer does for water.

Amen!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Best Friend




John 15:14-15
You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you.

Our eldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose, cannot recall a day in her life when the cat, Henry, wasn't a part of it.  Even through several moves, the latest one being to South Carolina, Henry has been a constant and devoted companion to everyone in the family.

But especially, Virginia.

I remember the countless times I would travel to pick up Virginia to spend the weekend; she was always adamant about saying good-bye to Henry, assuring him that she would be back soon.  I would always smile to myself as she talked to the cat, believing with all her heart that he understood every word she said.  Didn't we all, as children, think our beloved pets could translate our sentiments in their hearts?

Recently, Virginia asks her mother to send me these photos, some of Henry lounging by himself, and some with her doting over him.







Virginia truly perceives Henry as a dear friend, someone who will listen to her, love her and console her when she is feeling uncertain or afraid.  And I'm so grateful for this relationship, especially in these times of isolation due to the virus.

When the family moved to South Carolina, Virginia and her sister, Savannah, attended their new school for a mere week before all the schools were shut down.  Hardly time to make any new friends!

So, for now, Henry is friend #1 in Virginia's life.

My prayer for her, and for her two sisters, is that the day will come when they will realize who the One Friend is that they can always count on in good times and bad.

The best friend anyone could ever have.

Jesus!

Amen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

When Less is More


Matthew 6:19-29
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

In recent year, society has embraced such buzz-words as "decluttering" and "downsizing."  Think of the rise in popularity of tiny house, and the international success of Marie Kondo's tips on how to tidy up your home, and get rid of things you really and truly don't need.  Streamlining and simplifying our daily lives are the goals that so many people have embraced.  And certainly, these practices are admirable in and of themselves, but can a deeper meaning and reason for minimizing have Biblical roots?

Author, Cheryl Smith, in her new book Biblical Minimalism - Following Jesus from a Life of Abundance to a More Abundant Life, would answer you with a resounding "YES!"  She recounts the journey her own family embarked upon with the goal being to rid themselves of worldly baggage, anything and everything that stood as a barrier between them and a closer, more intimate walk with Jesus.  Cheryl's engaging writing style and honest reflections immediately draw the reader into her world.  I found myself reexamining my own priorities as a Christian, and vowing to shed myself of any idols, physical, mental, and emotional, that could be stumbling blocks blocks to Jesus' desire that I humbly submit to the abundant life He offers.

Along with sharing her personal journey, Cheryl has peppered Biblical Minimalism with generous examples from Old and New Testaments, which attest to why our treasures should be stored in heaven, not on earth.  And she also gives clear guidelines as to how we, too, can approach the practice to disarm and dismiss our idols, and come to understand why less is more.  Here is how Cheryl describes the essence of Biblical minimalism:  Adopting the mind of Christ and being willing to live the kind of life He lived is what true Biblical minimalism is all about.  It is a Biblical path to peace, both in the heart and in the home, and it really is quite simple.

After you read Cheryl's book, I think you will agree with her and with me - yes, it is quite simple, and something each and every one of us can accomplish with God's help.  I guarantee you will read devour Biblical Minimalism and come away a changed person, eager to embrace a more abundant and satisfying life with the Lord!

About the author:


Cheryl Smith, with her husband, Kevin, and their son, Zach, are enjoying a Biblical minimal way of life.  She blogs regularly at her inspirational site, Homespun Devotions, where she not only writes devotionals, but conducts "Inner Views" with other Christians interested in sharing their personal testimonies.  When she isn't writing, Cheryl loves spending time with her family, visiting the mountains, and singing and playing bluegrass music.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Our God Has Promised

Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of bondage.



Life and liberty
Pursuit of happiness
Guaranteed, or is
It compromised?
What will you do?
What will you say?
To undo done
By those unhinged?
Common sense slain
Can rise from grave
Resurrect the hope
Our God has promised

Amen!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

I Can See Clearly Now

1 John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you:  God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

My husband, Danny, and I have many things in common, but the time when we arise in the morning isn't one of them.  If I'm not up and moving around with coffee in hand before 7:30, I've overslept.  Danny?  He can sleep until 9:30 and not regret one minute of shut eye.

Now, this time gap leads to a disparity of need.  After about an hour of coffee, email checks and reflective prayer, I'm more than ready for my shower.  I never feel fully awake until I have one in the morning.  This maneuver calls for some stealthy steps on my part so I don't disturb Danny's peaceful slumber.

The bedroom is dark.  Really dark.  The shades are drawn, and the faint light that seeps in above the bathroom sink is minimal at best.  I cautiously enter the bathroom, not daring to flip the light switch until the door is quietly closed.  When I start my shower, I raise the lever up so that the cascading water makes as little splash as possible, lest I rouse the sleeping beauty.

Once the shower ends and I'm prepared to exit the bathroom, I'm mindful to turn off the light before opening the door.  Furtively, I deposit my pajamas in our hamper and silently pad, bare-footed, to my bureau to ferret out undergarments, often making wrong calls as to how these should be appropriately fitted.  A tedious effort, indeed, when one can't see clearly!

Slowly, I complete the dressing process, then head back to the wan light of the sink area to comb out my hair.  Even the sliding out of a drawer to retrieve my comb has me hoping I haven't disturbed Danny.  My eventual exit of the room displays the ancient art of the tip-toe.

Whew!  I've successfully navigated another morning in the dark, but it isn't without effort or, dare I say, inconvenience.

Because the dark is not a welcoming place.  When in it, we are immediately careful, cautious, stealthy, and hesitant.  We cannot fully see where we are going, and that in itself, is disconcerting.  We need the confidence that light brings to successfully navigate the pitfalls and dangers that could lie in wait for us if conditions are too shadowy to see them coming.

But thanks be to God that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, is the light of the world!  Through His life and His words, we can see clearly what is expected of us as believers and children of God.  In Him, there is no darkness.  No more stumbling around in a world where the evil one's obstacles threaten to thwart our every move.

In Jesus' light, we find clarity.  By it, we are encouraged in hope and faith and trust.

In Jesus, there is no darkness.

Only the promising dawn of a new day.

Amen!

Friday, June 12, 2020

Without Excuse

Romans 1:20 
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.


Breeze whispers
Breath of prayer
Leaves shudder
Trembling joy
In the presence
Of the One
Who is known
In creation
No excuse
Do we have
Not to know

Amen

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Desires of My Heart


Psalm 37:4
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Thank goodness that our states are finally opening up, with precautions in place, so the vast majority of Americans can leave the coronavirus lock-down behind them, and get back to living their lives as close to normally as possible.  For my husband, Danny, and me, however, it's a different story.  Danny's pre-existing heart situation convinces us to wait at least a few weeks longer before emerging from our self-induced cocoon of quarantine.

There are so many things I'm longing to do out there in the real world!  First and foremost, I would love to see my mother again, and then take a trip to South Carolina to see daughter, Sarah, son-in-law, John, and of course the precious grands.  These are my top priorities!

But there are other desires of my heart activities that I miss.  Here are just a few.

Haircut!!!  Since my stylist and dear friend, Donna, highlights and trims my hair at approximately three-month intervals, and my last visit to her was this past January, you can just imagine the state my hair is currently in.  I hoped to make an appointment for the first week in April, but then, Covid-19; you know the rest of the story.  And no, I'm not posting a photo of my shaggy ends and two-inch roots!

Church!  If you could have seen granddaughter, Virginia's, mournful countenance when I tell her during a Face Time chat that our church has cancelled VBS and all summer camps, you would have cried, too.  She was so hoping to come stay with us for several weeks this summer, and to indulge in these activities she so loves.  And I miss simply being with my church friends, worshiping as one, with joy and abandon.  Online services have been a stop gap, but they are a far cry from fitting the bill.  We all need community!

Eating out - No, this is definitely not because the fare at the Orlando Cafe, provided by Danny, is anything less than excellent.  It always is.  But he could use a break here and there.  My birthday, our wedding anniversary and Mother's Day all pass without a restaurant meal.  Now, the way things are going, it looks like Father's Day is off the table, too.  >Sigh<

Travel - Memorial Day would have marked my first time flying with Danny to visit his son, Giovanni, and wife, Hope, out in New Mexico, where he is stationed at an air force base in Albuquerque.  We haven't seen them in ages!  Honestly, I don't know when Danny will ever feel comfortable boarding a plane again.  I've never been at ease with flying, but that has nothing to do with the virus.

Those, in a nutshell, are the activities I'm missing the most.  Yet, I'm reminded each and every day to be thankful to God for all the blessings I have right here in front of me.  The time will come, down the road, when the Lord will make a way to fulfill all of my heart's desires.  Until then, I will delight in Him, and wait patiently in hope and trust.

Amen!

Is your life back to "normal?"  Are there still activities you would like to do, but don't safe as yet to indulge in them?  Please share in the comments!

Friday, June 5, 2020

The "Right" Way


Proverbs 14:12
Before every man there lies a wide and pleasant road that seems right but ends in death.

I have to admit it.  I have my quirks.  Some of them are corrective impulses such as having to close bureau or kitchen drawers, and cabinet doors if they are left ajar.  Another pet peeve involves dishtowels.  It better be exactly where I left it when I go to dry another pot or pan.

Other oddities are even more deliberate and pronounced.  Especially, when it comes to how I hang up towels and sheets to dry in the fresh, breezy air.  No electric dryer for these babies!  My husband, Danny, and I aren't into the modern day affinity for silky sheets and fluffy-cloud towels.  Give us the sensations our grandparents loved!

Add to this the order in which I arrange each of these items on the line, and the photo above could appear beside the definition of "quirky" in the dictionary.

I always hang the towels first as they, obviously, take the longest to dry, and pin them on the line so their tags won't show.  Really?  Afraid so!  Next, are the pillow cases, unopened ends over the line.  Then comes the fitted sheet followed by the flat sheet.  Why?  Because when I remove the dry bedding from the clothesline, the fitted sheet, which has to go on top of the mattress, is on top.

Oh, and let's not leave out my weird clothespin ritual!  I have two sizes of wooden pins.  God forbid I should use the little ones until I've pressed all the large pins into service.  Sacrosanct!

So, there you have it.  My "right" way to hang up the laundry.

But I must confess here that my way isn't the highway, the wide and pleasant road on which everyone else has to travel.  For what is suitable to one person's needs or preferences surely isn't one-size-fits-all.  If I had Danny hang up the sheets and towels, I'm sure he'd have an entirely different system of deployment.

We all have our little, or large, idiosyncrasies, don't we?  As long as we acknowledge that they belong to us alone, and not attempt to foist our habits onto someone else, we can confidently go upon our merry way, minding our own business.

Yet, this also reminds us that as Christians, who would love nothing better than for those who don't know Jesus as Lord and Savior, to choose to turn to Him, there is nothing we can do forcibly to convince them that His Way is the road to life.  Yes, we can love them, pray for them, invite them to attend church with us, but like leading the proverbial horse to water, we can't make them drink.

We know the wide and pleasant road they are on leads to death.  May God open their eyes to His Truth before it's too late.

And we keep praying that the lost will be found.

Amen!

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Puzzle It Out!


Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

I am, most definitely, a book lover!  This long period of isolation has afforded me more time than ever for reading; in fact, my list of completed books for 2020 is almost as long as my entire list was in 2019.  And this is only June!

But as much as I enjoy reading, I can't do it 24/7.  I need a distraction of a different sort.  So, early in the quarantine, I order the Jumble Anniversary pictured above.  Tackling the word puzzles has been both fun and frustrating.

Some words, I'll unscramble right off the bat.  Others, not so quickly.  Sometimes, I'll get the answer to the puzzle even when I can't successfully decode the words in which the answer letters are couched.

I try not to peek at the key in the back of the book when a word eludes me.  Instead, I go back to it the next day, and possibly, even the next, until something clicks in my brain, and voila!  Problem solved!  And it makes me wonder why figuring out that particular word was a struggle in the first place.

The same type of circumstances can arise when we are reading our Bibles.  Perhaps, we don't see in the verses the message God is trying to give us.  We scratch our heads in bewilderment, or we simply can't relate meaningfully to what is being said.

Miraculously, though, the next time we encounter that same passage, it speaks volumes to us.  How did we miss the now obvious lesson before, we wonder?

God's word is alive and active, ever ready to speak to our hearts and minds.  But whether or not we allow it to do so depends on us.  We may be in a place of uncertainty and doubt.  We might have recently experienced a life-changing crisis.  Or maybe, we are momentarily distracted and unfocused, something we should never be in the presence of God's message.

My advice to you?  Check the state of your heart and thoughts before you sit down to read your Bible.  Pray that the Lord would open your eyes to His truth and wisdom.  Wait expectantly for God's Word to penetrate your soul and spirit.

Because assuredly, He will help you puzzle it out!

Amen!

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Room


Luke 5:16
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

We have a spare bedroom in our home that for months now, since granddaughter, Virginia, and her family moved away, has been empty and unloved.  It makes me feel both sad and nostalgic every time I walk by it.

But just a few days ago, God whispers a revelation:  Why don't you use this room as a place to commune with Me?  I am floored!  Why hadn't that dawned on me before?  Maybe, the Lord knew I needed time to grieve the room's loss before I could properly re-purpose it.

When I tell Virginia in our latest Face Time how I plan to use her room, she is truly delighted, glad to know it's getting the much-needed attention she always gave it.  And she lets me know, on no uncertain terms, that she can't wait to visit with us later in the summer.

Shortly after this inspirational nudge from God, I write the following poem.  I hope you enjoy it, and I pray you have a special place where you can retreat and be immersed in the Father's love.



It was a room for son
Who grew and flew the nest
Became a place for mother
Until her final rest
Refuge for the Grand
A room she called her own
Empty now, so lonely
And yet, it's not alone
Seeking solitude
Entering this space
Time well spent with God
Blessed by Love and Grace


Amen!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

More Prayer, Not Less


Matthew 18:20
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

"Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential," [President] Trump said.  "But have left out churches and other houses of worship.  It's not right.  So, I'm correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential . . . in America, we need more prayer, not less."  Source: Fox News 

I am listening to talk radio on my phone while tending to chores around the house.  The station's news reporter breaks in to alert listeners that President Trump is going to issue a statement shortly, and that they will broadcast that in lieu of scheduled programming.  Curious, I stay tuned in.

And wow!  Am I glad I do!

I don't at all expect what I'm hearing from the president, and I'm so overwhelmed with surprise and joy that before I can stop them, tears well up in my eyes and spill forth unabashedly.  Place of worship can open!!!  President Trump has once again stood up for the American people and their rights, stressing that our freedom to worship is guaranteed in our Constitution.

Now, realistically, I know not every church is adequately prepared to open its doors to corporate worship at this juncture, especially those located in heavily populated urban areas.  But certainly, there are hundreds of thousands of churches scattered throughout the country where either no or very few cases of Covid-19 exist.  Why not get together?

As for our church, Kennesaw United Methodist, the opening date of June 22 has been set by our bishop.  I don't think our pastors will buck the system.  But there have been ongoing discussions and plans put in place so that we can reopen safely at that time.  That's fantastic news!

So, for now, we will continue the online worship routine, but I will engage even more wholeheartedly in it, knowing that our rights are being defended by a caring and competent Commander-in-Chief.

President Trump is spot on, too, when he declares that our country needs more prayer, not less.  In light of the recent Memorial Day weekend, and in the weeks to come, let us vow to pray daily for our nation, and give thanks for the freedoms we have because of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect them.

Amen!

Friday, May 22, 2020

The Perfect Bread


Leviticus 2:4-5
If you bring a grain offering baked in an oven, it is to consist of the finest flour; either thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in or thin loaves without yeast brushed with olive oil.

Luke 12:1
Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying:  "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

For years now, my husband, Danny has been on the quest for the perfect homemade bread.  A basic white bread with just the right amounts of softness and fluffiness on the inside, and the firmness of golden crust on the outside.

We both experiment with different recipes, but the manifestation of a flawless bread eludes us.

Until . . . 

Danny makes pizza dough the other day.  It's not that he hasn't made it before, but he recently discovers through his internet research that rising yeast should never come directly in contact with salt.  Does this make the difference in how the dough rises?  I believe this photo speaks for itself!


We can't believe our eyes!  Right then and there, Danny decides to use half of the dough for the pizza crust, and the other half as a bread baking experiment.  I'm all for it!


Can you see the delightful air bubbles in this pizza crust?


This truly bolsters our expectations for the bread.  And we are not disappointed.


Here's another photo of the finished loaf, all round, puffy, fluffy and proud.


So, it's no surprise to read in the Old Testament, that the grain offerings presented to God in the temple contain no yeast; flat, simple, not showy, so as not to distract the worshiper from the One to whom the sacrifice is offered.

When Jesus admonishes His followers to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, it isn't difficult to see why.  As yeast infiltrates dough and inflates it, so the Pharisees and teachers of the Law are filled with pride, self-importance, and superiority.  In their world, there isn't room for humility.

There isn't room for God . . .

As we enjoy and nourished by our beautifully risen and delectable bread, Danny and I can't help but be thankful to the Lord, the Bread of Life, Christ Jesus.  His love and grace never fail to nourish our souls.

He is our Perfect Bread!

Amen!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Come Near


James 4:8
Come near to God and He will come near to you.

I post about our neighborhood turkeys this past October.  Mother, with a not-so-little and growing one, visits our squirrel "table," relishing the bounteous supply of seed found there.  As my husband, Danny, and I observe, the two are inseparable.  The youth is often seen struggling to realize he can use his wings to mount the same fence rail his mother has just accomplished so he can follow her back into deeper woods.

He is, even as he matures, her shadow.





During their intermittent visits, both turkeys seem wary and skittish when they hear unexpected noises or see a human encroaching upon their space.  Their instincts warn them of the inherent dangers in a suburban neighborhood, no matter how many sheltering trees it has.

The arrival of spring heralds a noticeable absence of both birds.  Danny and I assume the female is nesting.  Then one day, here comes Major Tom, as we've nicknamed him, strutting through our yard all on his lonesome.



We even spot him roaming in different neighborhood yards during our walks.







He is no longer disturbed by human proximity; in fact, he seems unfazed.  Just look at him relaxing in our yard!



When Danny goes out to feed the birds the other day, Major Tom is feasting underneath the feeders.  As Danny gets closer, the turkey only takes a few steps away, and watches intently as the seeds are generously spread before him.  As soon as Danny turns his back, Major Tom is on it!  I really think that if we offered him food in a gloved hand, he would take it.

But would he really come that close up?  Trusting without a doubt that we wouldn't harm him?

In the verse above, James states that God is right there, waiting for us to come to Him, for us to make the first move.  By doing so, we can rest assured that our Lord will come close to us.  He simply wishes to be invited.

I'm reminded of these lyrics from a song our children's choir performed ages ago:


Jesus is a gentleman
Who never forces His way in.
He'll stand knocking at your door
Until you let Him in.
Jesus is a gentleman
Who waits so patiently and then
He prays you will ask Him in
To make your heart His home.*

Have you come near to Jesus?  If you haven't, will you draw near to Him today?

Amen!

*Lyrics from the musical, We Like Sheep, composed by Kathie Hill

Beyond

Genesis 31:55 Early the next morning, Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them.  Then he left, and returned home. W...