The Birds

We have had such an interesting opportunity to observe nature over the last month or so. Have you?

I know not all of us are in this position, and this certainly isn’t a position I have picked, but I am trying to make the most of it.

Even though we have a small business and this pandemic is really impacting us…

Even though we live within 5 and 15 minutes of our grandchildren but cannot hang out with them…

Even though we have a lot of unknowns in our lives…

We have been entertained from our window and porch with the antics of the robins, building their nest in the red bud in the front yard. The beautiful red cardinal that likes to sit on the branches of that same red bud whose lovely pink buds are giving way to the fresh green leaves. We enjoy the antics of our resident woodchuck — we call him “Karcsi” which is a Hungarian nickname for Charles (Chuck —Charles, get it??) And, then we have Rocky, the racoon. He leaves his tree each night between 6 and 7pm to prowl around the neighbors. It’s fun to watch him negotiate the tree and waddle down to the fence and climb over in search of goodies.

In the midst of this all, the lives of our animal friends have not really changed.

Scripture Memory Songs ~ Philippians 4:6-7

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34

Blessed Easter

Of course, Easter looks a little different this year with all that is going on in the world.

Everything looks different!

It is easy to get into habits. And, maybe those habits can become trappings. When Easter doesn’t feel like Easter, maybe we should be thinking about what Easter really is about?

It isn’t about fantastic organ preludes and altars adorned with aromatic lilies and crowded pews where you have to arrive thirty minutes early just to sit with your family. It isn’t about showing off Easter clothes and new shoes at church. It isn’t about baskets and chocolate and egg hunts. It isn’t about family gatherings and amazing food.

It’s about Jesus!

Those other things are wonderful and fun and can be enjoyed, of course. There is nothing wrong with any of them, but they seem to have budged their way up to the front of the line. Many of us are in a new position to reflect with this crisis occurring in the world. Maybe Easter looks different this year.

Maybe that is a good thing.

A friend sent me this Easter greeting today.

In a world of uncertainty, you can count on these things:

Jesus loves you!
He died for your sins!
He rose again!

Alleluia! Amen!

Overcome ~ Jeremy Camp

Jesus

Music soothes my heart and soul and Fernando Ortega always hits the spot. Of course, he is singing about Jesus and that is the main reason this song is amazing. If you need some Jesus in your playlist, I encourage you to look into Fernando.

And, quite honestly, we all need Jesus in our playlist.

How are you doing during these days of social distancing? We are taking it pretty seriously at our house. We are doing our part to minimize the spread of this crazy virus. I hope you are too!

I do think restrictions and downtime allow for more creative expression. Otherwise, people are just busy running to and fro. It has been great to see so much creativity and generosity showing up in my Facebook feed. This is the time when Facebook can really shine. And what a crazy situation that is bringing the whole world together even though we have to be very separate. What a dichotomy!

Today, let’s lift up in prayer those who are in the medical field and facing this virus every day. Pray they are able to thoroughly clean themselves before they enter their home so they don’t spread the virus. Pray the supply of medical supplies matches the needs. Pray for the researchers — that the world of researchers finds the solution.

For the time being, I will move to PrayerPoints every day instead of just once a week. And I will share some amazing songs by amazing artists each day so we can start the day with some perspective!

God’s peace to you today!

Shades of Death

There are seasons in life where we find ourselves in the shades of death; where trouble or discouragement or illness have surrounded us and we have not felt joy. We are simply sitting in darkness or under the cover cold, dark, and moody clouds of circumstance that drain our ability to smile and laugh.

Honestly, that feels like a typical February for me. I hate not seeing or feeling the sun. Day after day it is gloomy but when there is a moment — even just a sunny hour or the thrill of a sunny day. My goodness. It is so exciting!

Sometimes my soul gets trapped under the weight of discouragement, doubt, and distortions of reality. It needs to be in the presence of the Son — to feel the warmth and encouragement and to feel the Life only Jesus can bring to us.

After sitting in darkness, it takes time to readjust. The light can be bright. Sometimes even overwhelming for eyes that have not been exposed to it recently. Go slowly. Practice absorbing the light.

Heavenly Father, Bring Your light to me. Let it shine in the dark places and bring life to where there seems to be only shades of death. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

“The People That in Darkness Sat”

The people that in darkness sat
A glorious light have seen;
The light has shined on them who long
In shades of death have been.

To hail Thee, Sun of Righteousness,
The gathering nations come;
They joy as when the reapers bear
Their harvest treasures home.

For Thou their burden dost remove
And break the tyrant’s rod
As in the day when Midian fell
Before the sword of God.

To us a Child of hope is born,
To us a Son is given,
And on His shoulder ever rests
All power in earth and heaven.

His name shall be the Prince of Peace,
The Everlasting Lord,
The Wonderful, the Counselor.
The God by all adored.

His righteous government and power
Shall over all extend;
On judgment and on justice based,
His reign shall have no end.

Lord Jesus, reign in us, we pray,
And make us Thine alone,
Who with the Father ever art
And Holy Spirit, one.

by John Morison, 1749-1798

The Stain of Sin

I have been sinning since the beginning of my time. I still sin. It is a part of my human condition but I have been working on my stuff. I can say “I am sorry”. I can ask for forgiveness. I can work on not sinning, and yet, I still sin. I know God forgives me for the large and small sins and wipes it clean away but, in this world, the stain of sin can remain, for a lifetime.

And that can be a lifetime of me being needled by satan. He loves to try to condemn, particularly those who have been forgiven. The devil wants to wrestle away my peace that passes all human understanding and convince me that I am stained and unusable, that His healing work can’t possibly work through this mess.

This mess of me.

But God can and He does. He can do it for you too! Lord, let me focus on Your work of healing. Let me trust You to work on the stains of my sin. I know you see me through the beauty and perfection of Jesus, but sometimes the world can see my stains and I feel condemned all over again!

Thank you for your gift of Jesus and His sacrifice on my behalf! Amen.

From God the Father, virgin-born

From God the Father, virgin-born
To us the only Son came down;
By death the font to consecrate,
The faithful to regenerate.

Beginning from His home on high,
In human flesh He came to die;
Creation by His death restored,
And shed new joys of life abroad.

Glide on, O glorious Sun, and bring
The gift of healing on Your wing;
To eve’ry dull and clouded sense
The clearness of Your light dispense.

Abide with us, O Lord, we pray;
The gloom of darkness chase away;
Your work of healing, Lord, begin,
And take away the stain of sin.

Lord, once You came to earth’s domain
And, we believe, shall come again;
Be with us on the battlefield,
From ev’ry harm Your people shield.

To You, O Lord, all glory be
For this Your blest epiphany;
To God, whom all His hosts adore,
And Holy Spirit evermore.

Translated by John Mason Neale, 1818-66

Redeeming grace

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth. *

In a world (and sometimes my heart) where resentment, discontent, anger, frustration, and ugly attitudes can abound, redeeming grace is an amazing gift that soothes my soul.

He redeems, renews, and refreshes …. God does it and then does it again.

and again and again.

God’s well does not run dry. He sent Jesus to restore, renew, redeem, remove, reveal, renovate, refresh, repair, reclaim, and replenish.

Some days I feel like I am a full time job for God! Of course, He is bigger than me and my flailings. He holds onto me while I argue and complain. He restores my soul. His redeeming grace is steadfast and true.

Redeeming grace.

Redeeming grace.

Redeeming grace.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

*by Joseph Mohr, 1792-1848

All is calm…

Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright,
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing, Alleluia.
Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!
*

For some of us, everything is ready and the house is relatively calm. But for others, there is a lot of last minute hustle on tap for today.

It all depends on what is happening in life at the moment. And yet, it is important to press the pause button and choose calm. I prefer less hustle, but that probably has to do with how busy things have been for the last six weeks helping everyone else get their Christmas gifts in order due to our business. It is a wonderful change in pace to go from long working days to just shipping out a package or two a day and spending more time with the kids and grandkids.

Nearly all is calm here in my neck of the woods. We don’t host a huge dinner because we don’t have the space. That’s okay with me because these limitations contribute to my calm. They also limit my distraction from the true celebration here. The gifts and family time are fun and precious. But…

Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!

When I ponder these words, the what is and what isn’t in my life takes a back seat. Christ, the Savior, is born! Christ, the gift for the whole world, is here. His salvation is a gift for me. And this so very personal gift from God is an incredible treasure to me.

Christ, my Savior, is born.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

*by Joseph Mohr, 1792-1848

The Prince was born to bring your peace…

All you, beneath your heavy load,
By care and guilt bent low,
Who toil along a dreary way
With painful steps and slow:
Look up, for golden is the hour,
Come swiftly on the wing,
The Prince was born to bring your peace;
Of him the angels sing. *

Wow. The imagery of this verse is so strong. I see this person trudging along, weighed down by the situations and circumstances of life. All burdens are not created equal. And a heavy burden on the backs of two different people can look very different because everyone’s ability to carry burdens is different and how people “wear their burdens” is just as various. And, we don’t always know the whole story. We only see a small portion of the whole story.

But … the Prince was born to bring your peace!

Alleluia!

The sizes of our burdens vary greatly but they are burdens nonetheless. Even a small burden can appear to loom large depending on what else is going on. Today, I thank Jesus for being the Prince of my peace. He is the one who can calm the raging sea and calm the storm in me.

This life is always full of challenges and burdens. But I look to the one who came to give me His peace.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

*By: Edmund H. Sears

Solemn Stillness

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to all,
From heaven’s all gracious king.”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
*

It is difficult for me to carve out a chunk of time for solemn stillness, especially during the Christmas season. Our retail business is so very busy in November and December. This year was especially busy which was why I decided to do PrayerPoints for Advent. It isn’t that I needed one more thing to do, I needed to do this very particular thing.

I needed set aside time to consider the coming “all gracious king”. I needed to find some peace and calm in my day.

It works!

What I gain from “giving up” this time (I could be working on any number of business things) is a peace that extends through me all day. And I do appreciate that I wake up each morning, anticipating where God will take this devotional time. What I say in PrayerPoints may not be profound to you because I don’t always find the best words to express what God is doing in my heart.

I am so very thankful for His peace in my life. I encourage you to make time to enjoy His gift of peace today.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

* By: Edmund H. Sears

Veiled in Flesh

Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as Man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel!
*

I love how God works! He often takes the ordinary and does something amazing with it.

Our Redeemer was veiled in flesh.

And He dwelt among us. Who would have thought to look in a stable, amongst the animals?

When I ponder this plan it is both simple and complex:

  • So very rich and yet, so very poor.
  • So very dirty and yet, so very pure.
  • So very quiet and yet, so very loud.
  • So very vulnerable and yet, so very protected.
  • So very loved and yet, so very pursued.

As I think about the events that led up to the birth of Jesus, it is hard not to consider my own culture and experiences and make my own applications. I relate as I can but it doesn’t mean I have an accurate picture. Of course these things happened so long ago that it is hard to imagine the circumstances.

And so I trust that the One who has created the earth and all stars was able to execute the delivery of the Christ Child.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

* Words written by Charles Wesley 1707-88