Tuesday, January 31, 2023

For the Least of These


"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" ~Matthew 25:40

We make a living by what we get . . . We make a life by what we give. ~Winston Churchill.

I don't think there is any person who calls him or herself Christian that doesn't adhere to Jesus' admonition to care for the least of those in our society.  We are not bettered in life by stepping on others to climb the ladder of success, using others as a means to an end.  If anything, we are diminished by our self-interest and self-service, ignoring Jesus' command to love and serve our neighbors.

It is in genuine and loving service to others that we discover the abundant life that Jesus declares He came to give us.

I was hoping that, once retired, I could devote more time to charitable organizations in my community.  Alas!  My aging mother's needs and providing care for my mother-in-law supersedes any any volunteer efforts I'd envisioned, as well they should.  Then Covid strikes with a vengeance, and in order to protect my loved ones, I find myself socially isolated more than I care to admit.  Hands-on dreams become a hands-off reality.

Still, not to be dissuaded, I choose two reputable charities to support on a monthly basis:  Tunnel 2 Towers and St. Jude's Children's Hospital.  Every time a commercial airs which promotes one of the other, I give thanks that I've made this commitment to "the least of these."  It warms my heart to hear the success stories of healing for the very young, and the nurturing of families whose loved ones gave all of themselves for all of us.

The innocent and the selfless.

  I know these are economically trying times for so many.  Even the suggestion of giving away much needed funds can feel threatening and impossible - something relegated to the bottom of our to-do list.  If this is you, take heart!  There are so many simple things you can do that don't cost a penny, that can demonstrate Jesus' love for others.

  • Smile at strangers.
  • Be mindful (my word for 2023) of the presence of others wherever you are, and be quick to notice if they could use some help.
  • Let the person with one item in the check-out line go before you.
  • Take time to chat with clerks and store personnel if the opportunity presents itself.
  • Wave at or, better yet, stop when you're driving through your neighborhood and say hello to someone walking their dog or heading for the bus stop to meet their child.
  • If you, like me, aren't acquainted with many of your neighbors, make an effort to reach out to them with genuine interest.  Even though the holidays have passed, maybe be creative, and think of another great reason to leave a small gift or card at their door.
We can all benefit from having a more in-depth involvement with our brothers and sisters.  And if they don't already recognize the Lord as their Savior, how much more imperative it is to speak the truth of Jesus?

As the saying goes, you and I could be the only Bible these people ever read.


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Upheld in Righteousness


So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10

My Lord, you have promised to protect

Those who submit to your will, who

Follow your precepts, keep your commandments

Praying, praying, praying, not ceasing

Even though we sense human frailties

Will deter us from reaching goals

You have already set for us, perfection

For which we can only hope to achieve

Knowing we can't.  Not without your help.

Calm our fears through your persistent presence

Relieve our dread and dismay in this world

By your Word, your strength, witnessed by faith

Uphold us in your righteous right hand.


Friday, January 20, 2023

For All Time


Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. ~Luke 12:6

Those of you who have followed my blog for any length of time have certainly been introduced to Henry, the faithful cat, who is an integral part of my daughter and son-in-law's family.  As he was taken in as a stray, they calculate that he is somewhere between twelve and thirteen years in age.  And despite their many moves from one location to another, even out of state, Henry has remained a much-loved fixture in their household, enduring all the changes for the sake of his forever family.

Recently, daughter, Sarah, sends me these photos of Henry with youngest granddaughter, Alexandra.  I know for a fact that Henry's preferred child is Virginia, the eldest, but I'm so pleased to see that he has branched out in positive ways to her siblings.  When love and trust are prevalent, what cat (or dog) wouldn't do the same?  Pets carry no negative baggage when it comes to acknowledging love.

I wonder how many of us are willing to love and give of ourselves with the same loyalty and unconditional commitments that our pets do?  Have any of you ever wondered about that most remarkable attribute our furry friends have, being willing to give without expecting anything in return?

There are so many valuable life lessons our pets can teach us if we're willing to let them.  Henry loves his family no matter what.

We should, too.

May we all be open to and mindful (my word) of those lessons are pets are ready and willing to share with us; grounding us more surely in the only love that matters for all time.



Saturday, January 14, 2023

He Calms the Storms


He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. ~Psalm 107:29

This past Thursday, a significant weather event tears through the southeast, particularly in Alabama and Georgia.  Of course, my weather bug husband, Danny, keeps a laser focus on the approaching storms, concerned about the possibility of a tornado developing too close to us for comfort.  I mean, how can you NOT be a bit on edge when images like these appear on the television screen?

Such horrific images, aren't they?  When I look at these, I wonder how anyone inside the structures could survive.  Tragically, nine lives are lost to these storms.

At this point, I must confess.  I've had an obsessive fear of tornadoes since I was a child.  Just knowing that we are under a tornado watch starts my stomach churning and my palms sweating.  I cannot begin to tell you how many nightmares I had where the star was a fierce and vengeful tornado.  My mother blamed this phobia on her letting me watch "The Wizard of Oz" when I was only three.  Think that might have something to do with it?  Yep, so do I!

But these days, as soon as I encounter those irrational emotions of fear and trepidation, I stop, drop and pray.  Not just for me and our family's safety, but for the protection of all persons in the path of the unforgiving storm.  It isn't long before my feelings of angst are replaced with a calm and peace that only comes from trusting in God.  Looking back, I've realized that from the time I asked Jesus into my life as a young adult, my tornado nightmares disappeared from my dream cycle.  Does that mean I'm not at all concerned?  No, but it's so much easier to face the unknown knowing I don't face it all alone.

Happily, though we experience some thunder and lightning, we are spared the wrath of tornadoes and high winds.  With our new deck recently finished, that's such a relief to escape serious damage to either it or our roof.

I can't, and won't, stop praying for the families who lost loved ones.  And I can't stop praising and thanking God for His great mercies.

Because in this life, we will experience many storms.  But let us always remember that our Lord can calm them all.


Friday, January 6, 2023

Of Hope

 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. ~Romans 5:5

A blink, a wink of time

Caught by camera lens

No expectation attached

To momentary remembrance

Little do we know

The image calm contains

Memories persistent

Photos too precious

To be discarded, neglected

As past foretells future

Of hope, faith without end.


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

My One Word for 2023


When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?  You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. ~Psalm 8:3-5

I don't think there is a one of us who has not echoed in his or her own words David's sentiment here.  We live in a vast, mysterious, unknowable universe and yet, because He created us, David declares that God is mindful of us in every moment of every day.

To our limited human minds, that seems both impossible and improbable.  We are so small in the light of infinite galaxies, nebula, grandeur, and grace the Lord's hands have wrought, that to venture into the complexities and wonders seems to be beyond our ken.  At the least, we feel inadequate and unworthy; at the most, we dare to believe that our loving Creator has set aside an honored place for us to worship Him and to serve His purpose here on earth.

This year, I want to explore what it means to be mindful of God's incomparable love in the day-to-day life I lead.  How does that knowledge play out in my prayer practice?  In my relationships with others?  Because I'm becoming mindful of God's presence more and more, is that enabling me to better do His will and walk in His ways to the honor and glory of His name?

At this point on the New Year timeline, I heartily believe that staying true to mindfulness will both humble and elevate the who I am in God's eyes.  I am certain this word will suit me well as I begin to navigate yet another year of life, and serve to bring me closer to Jesus as I walk with Him in hope, faith and trust.

With every mindful step, may God in me increase, and I decrease.


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