Tears in a Bottle


We all shed them from time to time. Seems like lately I’ve been shedding more than my fair share of them. Morning. Noon. Night. And every time in between. The tears just flow.

I stand at the graveside of my dear mom, whom I lost just a few months ago, and there the tears overtake my soul. I miss my mom! I stand at the grocery store getting ready to buy watermelon popsicles and I burst into tears as I remember that they were the last thing that my mom was able to eat. I stand in worship of my God and begin to sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and I cannot finish, for this was my mom’s favorite song. I stand in the shower allowing my tears to mix with the water upon my skin as my body convulses with heart wrenching sobs. I don’t like grief! The tears just flow.

About a month after her passing, I was sorting out some cards and letters in my desk and found a birthday card that my mom sent to me. Seeing her handwriting made me cry. Realizing that I would never get another birthday card from her again made me cry. Reading a letter from her, written at the time I was a missionary teacher in Scotland, brought yet even more tears to my eyes. Baking cookies reminds me of mom. Working in my garden reminds me of mom. Seeing a needlepoint picture she made for me hanging on the wall brings back memories mixed with tears. Fixing a cup of tea and wishing I could share another “cuppa” with my mom brings on the tears as I remember many a conversation together over a cup of tea. I miss those chats. Little things. Memories. Pictures. More memories. Favorite sayings, bible verses, songs, movies, and more. More memories. The tears just flow.

I have not been able to write my blog for several months now. Oh, I have plenty that I would like to say. But the words are hard to find. The thoughts flee from my brain too quickly. The grief overtakes my heart. The tears just flow.

Yet, through the grief, heartache and tears, I know I am being comforted by the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). I know that He sees my tears! I also know that He understands my tears! I know that my tears matter to Him!

He sees my tears! Each and every one. I love the fact that I do not have to hide my tears from Him. God knows my heart, my grief, my great loss and He longs to comfort me. He is comforting me! In ways I never thought possible, God is my God of comfort. When the tears begin to flow, I feel His presence. I know He is there. No words are needed. The tears just flow. And that is enough. For God sees my tears!

He understands my tears! My God of all comfort knows that this heart is broken. He knows I’m grieving. He sees the same memories that I do, and He understands what my heart is feeling in that moment. He knows what triggers the tears to flow. He knows what crazy yet simple things will set me off in a shower of tears. He totally understands those crazy yet simple things. And the best part is this: He understands, better than anyone else, what will bring me comfort. He meets me at my point of need and gives me exactly what I need in that moment. He will even eat chocolate ice cream with me (the best ever comfort food!). He understands my tears!

My tears matter to Him! Not one tear will fall without His notice. Not one tear will be shed without His concern. Tears matter to my God of all comfort. My tears matter. No matter how often they are shed, or how intensely they fall, my tears matter.

The Psalmist David wrote about tears: “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8 NKJV). I don’t know about you, but I need to picture that.

The God of all comfort, loves and cares about me enough in my time of grief that He sees every tear that I shed and He collects them in a bottle. Every teardrop is a reminder of His love and care. My tears are precious to my God of all comfort! Why?

Oh, I have been asking that question a lot lately. Perhaps I just have a hard time believing that God would care that much about little old me. At times, when I am crying, I feel unworthy of His comfort. Perhaps I can not wrap my head around that truth because I was always taught “be strong, don’t cry!” That’s just bad advice. That kind of advice should never be given to someone who has a need to cry. Never! There are times when we need to cry. There are times when we want to cry. There are times that other people in our lives just need to let us cry. God does! He knows our need to cry. He knows our desire to cry, and He especially loves it when we cry out to Him. He allows us time to cry. Each and every tear we shed is important to Him, that’s why He lets us cry. Each and every tear is a tremendous reminder that there is a God who loves us and is waiting to comfort us in our time of crying. We need to cry!

Maybe God collects our tears in a bottle because what matter to us matters to Him! It matters to God that my mom died. She was His child too and He loved her just as much as He loves me. He loves my family even more than my mom did and He loves to comfort us all in our sorrow and tears.

My broken, grieving heart matters to Him. He does not love that some experience had to break my heart. But He loves what happens in my heart when it is broken. My heart is open, moldable, empty and desperate for Him. When I give God my broken heart, my poured out tears, and my soul’s grief, He fills that heart with more of Himself. He collects my tears. He mends my broken heart. He pours on His comfort. He transforms my grief. He turns my heartache into hope. He restores my soul.

My tears matter to my God of all comfort!

I am so blessed by that truth. Blessed to have a God who loves and cares for me that much. Blessed to be able to shed my tears unashamedly in His presence. Blessed by His comfort.

The tears just flow!

Each one collected in a bottle by the God of all comfort!

What Motivates You to Pray?

What motivates you to pray? What is your motive for starting a prayer life? What motivates you to have a conversation from time to time with your God?

Now, there’s some questions to ponder upon throughout your day today! Here’s how a couple of my friends replied to those questions:

“A prayer life for me was a process of going through the motions. I was a Christian, went to church every week. I did what was expected of me. But then I stopped praying.”

“As the years have drifted by, for me it was all about the mechanics of prayer and Bible study and going to church. My motivations were all wrong, of course. But if I’m completely honest, I have to admit that very little seemed to sink in. I was in full blown “spoon-fed” mode. I was much too caught up in playing the part of a Christian to be concerned with the depth of my spiritual life. Occasionally a crisis would pop up on the horizon, and I would pray as hard as I could. God wasn’t fooled by my emergency mode prayers. I could almost imagine Him saying, “How come you never talk to Me unless you’re in some kind of trouble?” A valid point, considering I’d basically ignored Him Monday through Saturday. Okay, most of Sunday too.”

“I became motivated to pray when I lost my job and my family nearly lost our home. I felt I was forced to pray to God for help. I at least understood that God could help me.”

“Motivation in prayer came to me when I was at camp. The speaker was pretty forceful about “developing a prayer life with God.” So, I guess more out of fear, I started praying that week of camp. By the end of the week, I started enjoying my chats with God and wanted to keep having them every day. I did okay for awhile but then started slacking off again.”

“My motivation comes from my relationship with Him. He loves me and I know that so well. But I want to love Him too. And I just figure that we have to talk, to share, to spend time together if that love relationship between me and God will ever grow.”

What is your motivation to pray?

I think, as Christians, each of our answers, could be as alike or as different from the next person. I think, while we each might have a relationship with God, each relationship is different and in a different place from the next person. In other words, I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to those questions. Yet, I do believe that they are good questions to think about.

I have to tell you that a teenage student of mine asked me that question – what is your motivation to pray? – a few months ago. And yes, I needed some time to reflect and consider my honest answer to that question. I actually made a list of various answers I could give my student. All of which were true, at various points of my life, and within different circumstances that I was going through at the time. Here’s some of what was on my list:

a need for God’s help

a friend that asked me to pray for them

an emergency situation

a big decision that I need to make and didn’t know what to do

a challenge from the pastor at church to pray more

a specific prayer request

a heavy financial need

and so many more self motivation points!

But do you know, at the end of my thinking about it, I simply had to change the question. Yes, you read that correctly. I wanted to change my student’s question. I needed to change it for my own thinking. But I also wanted to challenge my student to think deeper into their own question. Perhaps we all should change that question.

So, consider this – – God, what do YOU want my motivation to be in prayer?

I began to ask God that question. And I waited for His answer. It came just a few days later, in my bible reading of the day. From Psalms 63 and the very first verse. One verse, that was all I read that day. That one verse gripped my heart like none other had for quite a while. One verse, stuck in my memory for over a week, as God ministered the meaning of that one verse to my needy heart and soul. One verse answered my question and changed my viewpoint as to what motivates me to pray. Here is that one verse:

“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You. . . So I have looked for You. . . “

God should be my motivation to pray!

A desire to grow my relationship with my God should be the only motivation I need to pray! For “You are my God!”

My thirsty soul should be my motivation to pray!

The longing of my heart, body and flesh should be my motivation to pray!

God should be all the motivation I need to pray – to talk to – to converse with – to communion with – to bond with – to unite with – to dwell with – – God should be all the motivation I need!

So, I will look for Him! I will seek after Him! I will begin a conversation with Him!

Through the avenue of prayer, I will be motivated to grow my personal relationship with Him!

O God, You are my God! I love praying to You!

The Cry Must Come Before the Calm!

“Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107:28-31 (NJKV).

I am pretty certain that everyone who stops by and reads my blog page is quite familiar with “the storms of life.” Cloudy skies, gusting winds, stormy waters, and pouring rain are all signs of STORM within the atmosphere. Yet these same signs can be present in our daily lives as we experience storms in our homes, our relationships, our work places, our communities, and in our own bodies. Storms can build up and roll in gradually, or come about quickly, almost unexpected. Storms howl and hinder and create the worst kind of havoc. Storms can be utterly devastating, leaving a path of destruction in its wake that is hard to recover from. No one likes to go through a period of storms in their life. Yet, each one of us, at one point of time or another, will experience the storms of life.

The question is, what do we do in the midst of those storms? How do you cope with them? Is it possible to survive the worst of the storms, and come out of it in one piece? What can we do to help weather the storms of life when they hit us? I’d like to share ten things that we need to know about the storms of life. Ten things that just might help us survive and come out of the storm only to find rest in a safe, calm haven.

  1. Storms come to us all. Every one of us will face times in life when the seas rumble and roar around us, when our ships (our very beings) are tossed to and fro, when we fear for our very lives, when we simply don’t know what to do. We can expect storms as a part of our living.
  2. Storms can (and often do) come at us unexpectedly. They have a way of catching us off guard. They can even throw us overboard if we are not careful.
  3. When we are caught in that tempestuous storm of life, and we are being tempest-tossed by the wind and waves, know that there is a Master of that storm. Someone is in control of it. Our storm of life may be a storm that we brought on ourselves by something that we did. Our storm of life may be a tool that Satan is using to cause havoc and shipwreck and even ruin. Our storm of life may be guided by God to bring us to a point of faith and trust in Him alone. And we have to know that if God is the Master of our storm, then this storm will not cease until the Master says, “Peace, be still!”
  4. During our storm of life, we can choose to aimlessly drift as the storm rages around us. But this choice comes with a serious warning: More damage to our vessel is caused by aimlessly drifting, and shipwreck is almost certain. Prepare a plan in advance, consider what you will do when the storms come. Have a plan of action. Plan not to drift about aimlessly.
  5. During the storm of life we can choose not to despair. Yes, we may have to ride the storm out, and endure whatever comes our way. But as we ride the wave, we need not despair. Seek God in the storm. Set our eyes upon Him, watch for His deliverance and we will not despair. Hang on to the hope that He gives us for such a time. Hope in His presence, for He is with you in the storm. Hope in His purpose; every storm has a purpose, and in time, God will reveal that to you. Hope in His promises; oh so many of God’s precious promises can be claimed during the storm. There is no need to despair when we have a solid hope that is found in our Savior.
  6. During the storm, drop your anchor! For the Christian, our anchor is the very Word of God! Wrap your heart around that anchor, drop it into the storm – it will help you remain steady, strong, and stable. As the winds and waves whip around you, God’s Word is the anchor that enables you to focus not upon the storm as much as the Master of the storm. Get into God’s Word; read it, meditate upon it, obey it, wrap your heart and soul around it. Let God’s Word be the anchor that it is to you!
  7. During the storm, don’t forget about nourishment. We need the spiritual nourishment of God’s Word in our heart and life during any storm. But we also need to be reminded at times, to seek physical nourishment. Eat well. Eat often. Eat even when you don’t feel like it. Eat and nourish your body, heart and soul.
  8. Wait out the storm. No matter how long, wait it out. No matter how battered you feel, wait it out. No matter if you feel all hope is gone (if God is present, hope is still there!), wait it out. No matter if you crash, wait it out. God has a purpose for the storm of life you endure, wait it out. He wants you to learn valuable lessons, wait it out. He wants to be your savior in that storm, wait it out. He wants to hear your cries for help, and as you pray to Him, wait it out. He wants to show you what He can do, wait it out.
  9. At the end of the storm, praise the God of the storm. Praise Him all the more when He speaks peace into your storm and brings calm back into your life. Praise God for His grace in the midst of that storm. It is by grace and grace alone that we have come through the storms of life. We will survive to tell the story of the storm.
  10. Don’t be afraid to share your personal story of storms you have endured. For in the sharing, you may be the instrument God uses to help save another in their storm. Your story will inspire those who hear it. Your story can be used to save a life. Your story will bring praise, honor and glory to your God.

Storms of life happen! To all of us. When the storms of life come, know that you are never alone in the midst of them. God will be ever present with you in the storm. He keeps His promise to “never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Never be afraid to call out to God during your next storm. He will be listening for your cry. And He will answer you. In Him and His Word, through His grace, you will find an anchor for your soul, that will carry you safely through the storm. But remember, the cry must come before the calm! Trust your next storm of life to the One who hears your cry and to the One who brings the calm after the storm. He will carry you through the storm to a place of calm and safe haven!

“O My People, IF…”

“Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you! O Israel, if you will listen to Me! There shall be no foreign god among you; nor shall you worship any foreign god. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels. Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!” Psalms 81:9-13 (NKJV)

Six words!

They captured my attention!

“If you will listen to Me!”

Okay, God! Six words from the sacred pages of God’s Word, the Bible, captured my attention, calling me to listen. What should I do? What would YOU do?

Let’s face it, listening, really listening, is quickly becoming a lost art for many of us. What? Not for you? Well, consider this.

  • How well do you listen when your boss is giving you instructions for your new assignment?
  • How well do you listen when your child is explaining something that happened at school?
  • How well do you listen to your friend when they tell you of their difficult situation?
  • How well do you listen when Mom and Dad express how concerned they are for you?
  • How well do you listen when God calls your name?

We are all very busy people. I get that truth. Sadly though, sometimes we are too busy to really listen the way that we should. After all, there are places to go, people to see, things to do, projects to complete, decisions to make, and etc. I’m just too busy to list all the different things that we are busy doing. BUT, the reality is, there are always some things that we need to listen to.

Just the other day, I was sitting out in the garden, chatting on my cellphone with a friend. We were both sharing about our busyness. Both of us, equally busy in our own way, with lots of various circumstances happening in our lives. I love, though, what my friend did in the middle of that conversation. All of the sudden, she bursts out with a loud voice and says, “Stop! We have to stop this! Do you realize what we sound like?” At first, feeling a little taken aback, I wasn’t sure what to do. But I smiled, though, for I realized what she was saying. “Stop for a minute, Kathy, and just listen to what is happening around you.” The pause, the silence between us, was rather refreshing! Just to take a precious moment and stop everything else, just to listen. What a novel idea! She broke the silence first and described the sounds she heard, in the coffee shop, where she was sitting. Then it was my turn. Sounds of the back yard garden. Wind whistling through the big pine tree. Birds chirping over on the gate. Water dripping from off the rooftop. Our dog digging in a corner grunting and growling to himself as he worked. For a moment, I thought I could hear the daffodil grow a little taller. Ah, the art of listening! It had been a while since I literally just sat and listened. It was comforting. It was refreshing. It did my heart good.

And that, that precious moment of refreshing quiet and restful sounds is just what the Lord God wants to give to His people. If only we would slow down, and take the time to listen. “If you will listen to Me!” He gently whispers. Will we listen to His voice?

It reminds me of the Bible story of Mary and Martha, and their visit from Jesus (Luke 10:38-42). We have in this story such a great contrast between the two sisters. Martha, was the busy one, getting everything ready for Jesus’ visit. And when He arrived, she was still busy making sure everything was just right. And she was fussing in that busyness. “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me,” Martha says to Jesus. Can anyone relate to that kind of busyness? I love Jesus’ reply to her. He said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.” Yet, I think Jesus was more concerned about her listening skills than He was about her busyness.

And then, there was Mary. Jesus said of her, “Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.” So, what was Mary doing that was better than Martha’s busyness?

“Mary… sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” Mary chose to put the busyness aside. To her, it didn’t matter. What was more important to Mary, was listening. She sat, at Jesus’ feet, and she listened to His every word.

In that very moment of Jesus’ presence in their home, nothing else mattered to Mary. She stopped everything else. She gave Him her undivided attention. She sat, in reverent awe, at His feet. She cherished each and every word He spoke. She listened. She loved what she was hearing. For Mary loved Jesus. She wanted to be in His presence. She wanted to listen!

“But one thing is needed…” Mary chose it. I want to choose it too.

Lord God, I want to be like Mary. I want to learn to stop the busyness more often. I want to learn to sit more at Your feet, in awe and in worship. I want to learn to listen better. To listen more and talk less when I am in Your presence. I want more of You. I want to give You my listening ear. I want to hear Your every word. I want to hear Your whispers in my ear. I want to cherish Your words more. I want more of You, Jesus! I’m listening now!

Praising God In The Tough Times – Psalms 138

Life is just tough at times!

It can be filled with tough circumstances to cross, tough battles to beat, tough problems to pan out, tough choices to choose, tough people to persuade, tough struggles to solve, tough finances to find, and tough work to work through. Let’s face it, life is tough! It’s not for the light-hearted that’s for sure. So, what kind of toughness is life asking you to deal with at this moment of time?

Lately, I have been asked to walk through at least a dozen different tough things, all at one time. I could probably think of a few more than a dozen, if I really put my mind to thinking. One thing I have learned through my life, though, when going through the tough stuff of life, I don’t have to do it alone. Others are usually around to help me. Be it family, friends, co-workers, neighbors or even a stranger – usually someone is there to help me. But the One who helps me the most of all, is my God! God is always with me, through the good times and the bad times. He is especially present during the tough stuff. He promises to “never leave nor forsake” me, and thus far, in my life, He has totally kept that promise. So I know God will always be there to help me in and through the tough times of my life.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Just the other day, as I was curled up on the sofa, with a cup of tea in my hands, I was thinking about some of those tough times of late. I had a really big decision to make. I had a financial deadline to meet. I had some people that I wanted to help but didn’t know how I could possibly help them. I had a burden laying heavy on my heart that I turned into a prayer request from my lips to God’s listening ears. I had a lot of things to take care of that day, plenty of errands to run, places to go and people to see, so I knew I needed lots of energy for the day if I had any hope at all of accomplishing everything on my “to do” list. But first, I just needed some alone time with my God. I picked up my Bible and nestled into the cushions on the sofa for a good read. My reading that morning took me to Psalms 138. Here’s a portion of what I read.

I will praise You with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing praises to You. I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name. For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. In the day I cried out, You answered me and made me bold with strength in my soul. . . Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever. . . ” Psalms 138:1-8 (NKJV)

I got so excited as I read God’s word. It seemed like the words on the page were just jumping right out at me, hoping that I would take notice of them. Notice them, I did. Those words were just what I needed to read on this particular morning. For a few moments, I was able to put some tough stuff aside, and think about what I had just read. In fact, I read it again. And again. I came away with seven tidbits of encouragement from my God that morning. You see, God was showing me exactly what He wanted to do for me that day, as together we would deal with my tough stuff of life.

God showing me those seven tidbits, started with me crying out to God. Like the Psalmist, “when I cried out, You answered me.” God heard my cries for help in dealing with all the tough things in my life at the time. And in hearing me, He was ready to help me. So, here’s the seven tidbits of help from my God – taken from my Bible reading as I sat curled up on the sofa on this particular morning.

  1. He is ready to answer me! I know that sounds really simple; it is! God answers me when I talk with Him. When I include Him on the talks through my tough stuff, He listens, He hears and He answers. That’s because He is concerned about me, concerned about what I am going through and He’s concerned about how I am going to handle each and every situation.
  2. He is ready to embolden (encourage) me with strength. Yes, I definitely needed strength on this particular day. My God knew that. He knows everything about me. I know, boy did I ever know, that there would be no way I was getting through this day in my own strength. I simply would not make it on my own. And so, my God offers to give me a portion of His strength. Whew, just the thought of His strength makes me feel stronger!
  3. He is ready to revive my fainting, tired soul. I think that I am going to need that too. Throughout this crazy day, I can count on my God to revive my very soul, to speak His peace into it so that I don’t grow tired and faint-hearted. He will revive me as I take refuge in Him.
  4. He is ready to stretch forth His powerful right hand and deal with my enemies. Wow! I am really glad that my God never leaves me alone with my enemies, or else….! Well, who knows what would happen to me. That’s also encouraging to me, because while I might not know how best to handle my enemies that I could encounter today, my God knows just what to do. I think I’ll leave that battle to Him!
  5. He is ready to save me with His right hand. That same powerful right hand that He uses to fight my enemies and my battles for me, is the same powerful right hand that He uses to save me, to rescue me, to deliver me from harm. My God is the most powerful weapon and the most powerful deliverer all in one. I think I will tap into His power a little more.
  6. He is ready to protect all that concerns me. So, all those things that I tend to worry about, be fearful over, and seek to control and fix on my own, He is concerned about those things and seeks to protect them. So all my family and friends who I am concerned about, God seeks to protect them too. What concerns me, concerns my God! And what needs protection, He will protect. What a comforting thought that is.
  7. He is ready to show me that His mercy, His loving-kindness endures forever. He has shown me that so many other times in my life, but I forget. I am so glad that He wants to remind me time and time again.

I look over those 7 tidbits of help and I am encouraged! Greatly encouraged! Because I realize, that my God has got me covered. He will be with me; He stands ready to help me in and through whatever tough time I face in any given day.

When the Psalmist David realized that same truth, do you know what He did?

The Psalmist David began to praise His God. David praised with his whole heart, before others, and towards God’s holy temple; David praised His God. He praised His name, His lovingkindness, His truth and His Word. David praised His God.

And in that moment of truth, as God’s lesson that morning worked its way from my head down to my heart, I too wanted to praise my God. I praised His name, His lovingkindness, His truth and His Word. But I also praised Him for answering my prayer and reminding me once again, that He, my powerful, almighty God would carry me through another tough day. Together, we would do the tough stuff. And at the end of the day, I would be able to praise Him all over again. I “shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord.”

Walking into a new year

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Happy New Year to all my blog readers!

Can you believe it’s 2021!

Some people were excited to see the old year leave us. Some are already not too excited about the new year. Let’s face it, there is a lot going on in life of today. There seems to be a lot of chaos. Chaos in our world, in our country, in our land, in our government, in our health care system, in our churches, in our workplaces, in our schools, in our communities, and in our homes. Chaos abounds! Does anyone else feel it? Or, am I the only one in a lonely, little chaos bubble?

Let’s face it, none of us know for sure what this new year of 2021 holds in store!

One thing is for sure – there is a lot of emotion, unrest, uncertainty, fear, trepidation, and discontent within the hearts of mankind all across our world. Not one thing, nor one person is to blame. It is what it is! Sadly, it is where we find ourselves. Together, we are facing a very uncertain year ahead!

B U T –

There is one being who knows. One Being who knows what is ahead for all of us in this year 2021. He knows! He knows what will happen in every inch of the world. He knows what will take place in each country, each land, each government hall, each healthcare system, each church, each workplace, each school, each community, each home, each family, each individual and in each and every heart! He knows!

Who is He?

He is GOD! The One and Only True God. The One who created us all. The One who sees it all. He is the One who knows exactly what will happen in this new year of 2021!

I, for one, am delighted that He knows! I know, for certain, that I could not do this thing called life on earth, without the God of heaven knowing all things about me and the world I am currently living in. I’m glad He knows!

Not only does He know! But the Lord my God has promised to walk with me through this year 2021! He is walking with me now! Right now! Right here! He is in my presence! And I am in His presence! Walking together! And step by step, He is showing me the way!

“And, how do you know that?” you might just say to me.

I know, because of two very special promises that God has written in His Word, the Bible. I have read them. I believe them; I believe that every word God has spoken is true. When God speaks forth His Word, it is truth being spoken. When God makes a promise, His promise will be kept. That’s how I know. So let me share those promises with you:

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” Psalms 37:23-24 (NKJV)

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures evermore.” Psalms 16:11 (NKJV)

Photo taken by Kathy @ Ramsey Canyon (Arizona)

Every one of us has a choice in this new year. We can choose to walk with God, in His chosen pathway for us, or we can choose our own pathway and walk without God. I know what my choice is!!

Pathways, designed by man, that lead us into 2021 are unknown, uncertain and unprecedented at best. Some pathways will be clear and smooth and easy going (I would like more of those). Yet some pathways will be dark, lonely, covered by shadows and perhaps a little scary to walk upon. Yet other pathways will be very steep, very rocky, and very scary to maneuver. We know our pathways in the year ahead, will be very uncertain. Do we really want to walk them alone? Without God as our guide?

Personally, I want God as my guide. I need Him to be my guide! I want and need His companionship on the journey through life. I desire His precise tools that will help guide and direct my every step. I cherish His wisdom in what pathway to take. I long to hear His voice speaking to me as we journey the pathway together. I trust Him to help me when I fall, fully knowing that He will pick me up and set me on the right path again. I covet His presence to shine a light on the pathway so I can see where my next step is to be. Truth of the matter is, I just NEED HIM to be my guide!

Step by step, hand in hand, and heart to heart – together, God and I are going to walk through 2021 and beyond. And ultimately, I know He will guide me HOME!

So, what’s your choice for 2021??

Just the Name of Jesus!

“O Lord my God, I cried out to You and You healed me. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down into the pit. . . I cried out to You, O Lord; and to the Lord I made supplication. . . Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper!” Psalms 30:2-3, 8 and 10 (NKJV)

We have all been in the midst of difficult situations, or involved in circumstances that are out of our control. Be it, health issues, family issues, relationship issues, marital issues, job issues, financial issues, church issues – whatever it is that has blindsided us, we are not alone. We often feel frustrated, overwhelmed, out of control, lonely, scared and uncertain of how it will all work out. We cry, we shout, we scream, we talk, and we pray. But when we pray, so often, in the midst of the tough time, we may not always know what to say. Can anyone relate to all that?

Well, in that moment, of not knowing what to say might I suggest saying just one word. That’s all. One word. “Jesus!” When you say “Jesus!” – you have His listening ear. You really don’t need to say another word. “Jesus!” is enough! He already knows every detail of what is going on in your life at that very moment you cried out to Him. He knows what your heart is feeling and He understands every emotion you are experiencing.

“Jesus!” – just one word. It opens the door to His coming to you, ready to help and comfort you. It opens the door for His power, wisdom, love, comfort and everything else that you need in that moment to be yours. It opens the door for God’s Son, Jesus to do a mighty work. both in your personal life and in your circumstances. Jesus can heal your heart’s wound. Jesus can intervene and help bring resolution. Jesus can provide everything that you have need of. Jesus can bring peace, calm, comfort, grace and love into whatever circumstances you are in. Try it. Just call out His name – that wonderful name – “Jesus!”

The Psalmist, he cried out to the Lord, His God. He needed God’s help so that He would not go deeper into the pit. He needed deliverance from his enemies. We don’t need to know all the details of his situation. No one needs to know yours. But, there is one who is waiting for you to cry out. Just say, one word. “Jesus!”

Jesus/God met the Psalmist right at his point of need. His cries were heard. Help was given. And in the end, the Psalmist could praise the Lord his God. Just read what the Psalmist had to say:

I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me. . . You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” Psalms 30: 1, 11-12.

It starts with one word. “Jesus!”

They Snarl Like A Dog!

“Deliver me from my enemies, O God; protect me from those who rise up against me. . . They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. See what they spew from their mouths – they spew out swords from their lips. . . For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride, for curses and lies they utter. . . They return at evening, snarling like dogs. . . ” Psalm 59:1, 6-7, 12, 14. (NIV)

Hmm, “snarling like dogs” – Who snarls more? Man or Beast?

I learned a really great lesson about snarling once from our dog, Max.

While Max can be the most good-tempered, lovable, playful and delightful dog ever – there just happens to be the snarly side of Max that we see every once in a while. Believe me when I say, it’s not pretty and he knows it.

“Hey, Max, wanna go for a walk?” – is usually something he loves to hear coming from the lips of his momma. He gets SO excited over the mention of a W_ _ _! In fact, I have to be careful not to say the whole word, (ever!) or else, I am taking him for a walk whether I really wanted to or not. His eyes light up like glistening diamonds. The tail goes into spasms of sheer delight. And he bounces everywhere, longing for his momma to get his harness and leash and get this walk started.

Except for this one day in particular. I asked the magical question. And yes, I truly wanted to go with him for a walk. BUT….

His reaction was not the one I had expected. He snarled at me! He growled! He raised his voice in anger! And then, I noticed his tail wasn’t wagging. Nope, it is sticking straight out stiff. There was no delightful glistening to his eyes. Nope, what I saw instead was rage. “Whoa, Max! What’s going on here? I simply asked if you wanted to go for a walk.”

For the first time ever, when I said, W A L K !, I was met with snarl! Are you kidding me, dog? The growl got louder, coming from somewhere deep within this 12 lb. fur ball. Max was angry and I had no idea why. I stepped away from the dog! Who knew what might come next. Not even a “down, boy!” would stop him. “Okay, Max, snarl all you want to boy, this momma is going walking without you.” S N A R L !!

As I walked out the door, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “If only dogs could talk! I would love to know what Max was thinking just then. For sure!!” What did that snarl mean? Where did that kind of response come from?

I set out for my afternoon walk, thinking about snarling attitudes. I was also hoping that while on this walk, I would not encounter any other snarling dogs. One was enough for me, thank you very much!

Be it beast. Be it human. We all can snarl. Growl with a vicious attitude over something we don’t like. Speak in a snarling manner because someone said something that we disagree with. While walking, I realized that I – yes, me, the human being! – can actually be a snarling dog! My guess is that you can too. Don’t we all snarl at times?

Here in this Psalm, the Psalmist is talking to God about his enemies. He is asking for protection and deliverance from those who are like “snarling dogs” – and he asks God to “deliver me from evildoers and save me from blood-thirsty men.” The Psalmist compares his enemies to “snarling dogs” – for out of them comes a snarly attitude, spewing out unwanted spit, vicious sounds, and growling grossness. It made no sense to the Psalmist. That’s what I got from Max on this day I simply wanted him to go for a W A L K. He gave me the perfect snarly attitude! And this momma didn’t like it!

As I kept walking, I got to thinking about times that I gave someone a snarly attitude. I have to say, it’s not all that often, but on a rare occasion, its been there. I’ve done that! I’ve given someone a snarly attitude over something said or done. Snarly words can spit out of my mouth so fast in an unwanted, undeserved manner. My voice can raise in vicious sounds to where I hardly recognize my own voice. And before I realize it, I am growling in the grossness of unkind, cruel words. I pity the person who has to be on the receiving end of all that. Talk about unfair! Talk about RUDE! Now, I know I am not the only human who has ever been there and done that. But, when I do that, I am not happy. I know it is wrong, but “I just couldn’t help it!” (That’s a whole different story for another blog!) God calls that kind of attitude, SIN! God is never happy when we give someone a snarly attitude or reply. God especially doesn’t like it if we dare to give HIM that kind of response. Nope, God is not happy with snarl – not ever! Clearly Max was not happy either that day. If only he could talk, I might know and understand what his problem was. But given the snarling attitude coming from my dog, I did NOT WANT him to talk. Not ever! I didn’t need to know.

I kept walking, having my own conversation with God about my own snarling attitude. I am so glad that I have such a loving and forgiving God. He is always ready to hear me talk with Him, especially when it’s to confess my wrong-doing. I felt better once I confessed to Him all the different “snarling dog” attitudes that came to my mind. I confessed every one. My step lightened. I could now enjoy the rest of the walk. Joy returned to my mind, my heart and my soul. God and I had a great walk. Too bad Max wasn’t there too.

Oh, speaking of Max – let’s go see if my pupper-dog has changed his mood any. I walked back home, unsure of what I would find. But hopeful nonetheless. Gingerly, V E R Y gingerly, I opened the door, just in case the “snarling dog” was still prowling about. I quietly stepped inside, hoping not to disturb any remnant of a snarly attitude. I turned to shut the door behind me.

Who should bound around the corner??

MAX! The tail was wagging, the eyes were a glistening and he was bouncing everywhere.

Come on, Max, let’s go for W A L K!

P.S. “No Snarling Allowed!”

See The Blessings – Give The Thanks!

“And the Lord sits as King forever. The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” Psalms 29:11 (NKJV)

Every month, I choose a theme for the month. And whatever theme I choose, is what I concentrate my personal Bible study and daily reading upon. October’s theme was “Fix My Eyes on Jesus” and the theme I have chosen for November (knowing that the American holiday of “Thanksgiving” is coming up on the 26th) is “See the Blessing – Give the Thanks.” It’s a theme to help me consider all the abundant blessings that I have received from the hand of my God and to offer up to Him thanks and praise for His goodness to me. The Bible happens to be full of verses that talk about blessings and thanks. I would encourage you to take a Bible Concordance and look up the word “bless/blessing” and the word “thanks/thanksgiving” and spend a little time looking up the multitude of Bible references listed there for you to consider. It is quite the heart-warming study. Already this month, I have enjoyed the study of some of those verses. They leave me with a grateful heart and an attitude of gratitude to the God who showers me with such great blessings every single day.

The verse that I am considering in this posting, is one in which the Psalmist David reminds us of three (3) great blessings from our God.

First, there is the blessing of having, of knowing that the Lord is the King who sits on heaven’s throne forever. This is one blessing that we, as Christians, tend to take for granted, perhaps something that we don’t think about as often as we should. But, for just a moment let the truth of those words sink down into your heart. “The Lord sits as King forever.” It is a blessing for sure, especially in our very chaotic world of today, to know we have a Lord of all, a King of Kings and He reigns forever. That thought should bring comfort to our hearts and inspire us to offer up our thanks and praise.

Secondly, the Psalmist reminds us of the blessing of strength. Strength that comes from the Lord to His people. Who among us doesn’t need strength? Strength comes in various measures, and for different reasons. God strengthens us physically so that we are able to accomplish all that we need to do in a given day. He strengthens us when we are facing illness or have difficult tasks to complete. God also strengthens us mentally and emotionally to help us cope with the various stresses we face in life. To help us withstand the battles we face that we have no control over. And God strengthens us spiritually. He strengthens our beliefs, our faith, our trust in Him. He gives us spiritual strength to prepare us when we have to face our daily battle over sin and evil. He gives us strength to grow a deeper relationship with Him. I don’t know about you, but I will honestly admit that I often take this blessing for granted. I just assume that it will always be there when I need it to be. Yet, what a blessing strength is when it comes from the Lord!

Thirdly, the Psalmist reminds us of the blessing of peace. Not the kind of peace that the world offers us, but the kind of peace that only comes from the heavenly Father. It is a peace that passes all understanding. It is the peace of God and the peace with God. Do you know that peaceful blessing in your own life?

I am so glad, so thankful that the Psalmist David reminded me of these great blessings. I needed that reminder. And yet, as I sit here and think about it – my God has blessed me with so many blessings. He has showered me with His abundant blessings! As I think about them, I can count them all; I think that list would be rather long. What if you counted your blessings, how long do you think your list would be? Now, what do you suppose that God wants us to do with all those blessings?

I think God would want us to enjoy our blessings. After all, that is why He gave them to us. But I think He would want a little more than just that. God would want us to use those blessings that He has given us. Share them with others. Take the blessing we have received and pass it on. We have received blessings from the Father so that, in turn, we may be a blessing to others. It is not about what we can say about our blessings, nor is it about the number of blessings that we have received from God. It is about what we do with those blessings. I think that is the true measure of our thankfulness toward our God.

The Psalmist David helps us “See the Blessings…” and the Psalmist also (in the very next chapter) helps us to “…Give the Thanks!” Psalms 30:4, tells us, “Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.” My heart so often seems to be bursting at the seams with gratitude for all the blessings that my God has given to me. I just want to burst forth and start to sing. I would sing songs of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord of Lords and the Kings of Kings.

I pray for you, my reader, that our God may bless you, bless you indeed and bless you richly from the storehouses of heaven. God bless you as you go out into your world today. “See the Blessings – Give the Thanks!” as you go. Then, watch for the blessings to rain down upon you. They are coming from the Lord our King! They are meant for you to enjoy!

SPECIAL NOTE: One of my many blessings, is the blessing of YOU, my blog readers. Those who take the time to visit my blog site, and read the entries there, and leave me a “like” or a “comment” – you are a blessing to my heart. I’ve enjoyed friendships that have blossomed from my blog readers. I am blessed by every comment left on my pages. So, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you! My heart is blessed by YOU!!

You Are My Hope, God!

And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You!” Psalms 39:7 (NKJV)

“For You are my hope, O Lord God…!” Psalms 71:5 (NKJV)

Let’s talk about HOPE for a moment. I am just a little curious. How would you describe hope?

Hope is something that we all seek for. Hope is a very powerful motivator! It’s what drives us to try again. It’s what keeps us from sinking under the weight of adversity. Hope is what keeps us positive. It fuels our joy. Hope helps us reach for our dreams with gusto and courage. Hope matters. It matters to me. To you. To every human being. Some people think that hope is nothing more than wishful thinking. And to some, that is all it is. But for the person who is a follower of Jesus Christ, hope is so much more. You see, the biblical definition of hope is different from the worlds view of hope. Christian hope means a confident expectation.

In our world of today, we are often told to “hang onto hope” – and while that is good, it is also hard to do. It takes a lot of “grit” to hang on to hope. Especially at times when we are going through circumstances that do not seem hopeful at all. And if we are really truthful with ourselves, there are times when “throwing in the towel” seems easier than “hanging onto hope”. Holding on to hope is just plain hard – no matter what the world around you might be saying.

But, my friend, for those of us who are Christians – who name the name of Christ – who follow after Him and His teaching, there is HOPE! Yes, there IS hope! If you are a Christian, then listen well to this next part. I know that I need this reminder so very often. I’m praying it just might help encourage you today.

For every Christian, we need the gentle reminder that HOPE is a very big part of our DNA. That’s right! Because we were created in the image of God , hope is already part of our blueprint. God built hope into our very being. Just think about that for a moment.

So, while it may be challenging to “hang onto hope” – especially whenever life is in chaos and overwhelming every part of you – we can actually do it. We can hang onto hope! In fact, we MUST hang onto hope in order to survive life in this crazy world of ours.

For every Christian, hope is the very foundation of our faith. Just like faith is the foundation of our hope. Hope is believing. Belief in a holy God. As the Psalmist reminds us in the verses above, “Our hope is in God” – the very One who created us. The One who built hope into our DNA. He is the source, the giver, and the sustainer of our hope. God the Father, gives us an abundant supply of hope. It is there, every time we start to feel hopeless. It is there when circumstances of life overwhelm us. It is there when everyone else has left us behind. It is there when the world says, “this is hopeless.” God says, “Hope is here! Hope is from Me given freely to you! Hope is a part of who you are!”

We need to be reminded at times to exercise our faith in God. Hang onto God’s style of hope, not the world’s offer of hope. Faith and hope work together. That’s the way God designed it. Can we muster up enough faith and hope on our own to make it through the day? Is that even possible to do? No way!

Our faith and God’s hope need to go together. My faith in God ignites God’s hope within me! Just think about that one for a moment. My faith in God ignites God’s hope with me! We cannot create hope on our own. We weren’t wired to do that. Only God in us can do that. According to the Apostle Paul, in the book of Romans (chapter 15 – verse 13) we are told that the Holy Spirit is the One (who lives within the heart of the Christian) who stirs hope alive within our hearts.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

This verse reminds us that God is the source of hope, that hope partners with faith (“in believing”), that we can have hope in abundance, and that the Holy Spirit is the power behind hope. I don’t know about you — but that biblical truth blesses my heart.

Do you want to know what else God’s hope within you will do for you? I made my list:

  • The very plan that God has for your life includes hope (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • God created hope within you to fulfill the deepest need of your heart – to be loved (Romans 5:5)
  • Hope is the very thing that will renew your strength (Isaiah 40:31)
  • Hope is your constant reminder that with God all things are possible (Mark 9:23)
  • Hope promises to bring blessing from God (Jeremiah 17:7)
  • Hope is the gift from God that gives you courage and confidence (2 Corinthians 3:12)
  • Your hope in God brings great delight to your God (Psalms 147:11)

I hope you are beginning to see that with God there is no such thing as “hopeless.” We don’t have to live in a state of hopelessness – not ever! That’s not God’s design for us. God is our hope! He is the source we need to turn to when we feel hopeless. God created hope. God created us. He put His hope within our heart. Truth of the matter is this – sometimes that hope just needs a little stirring.

Remember – – My faith and God’s hope need to go together. My faith in God ignites God’s hope within me!

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”