I heard an old man speak once… He said that he’d finally figured out a few years ago that his profound sense of control, in the world and over his life, is an addiction and a total illusion. He said that when he sees little kids sitting in the back seat of cars, in those car seats that have steering wheels, with grim expressions of concentration on their faces, clearly convinced that their efforts are causing the car to do whatever it is doing, he thinks of himself and his relationship with God: God who drives along silently, gently amused, in the real driver’s seat.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m a firstborn. A child of divorce. A burden-bearer by nature that desperately wants everything to be alright. Or a combination of all three.
“Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came; and if the village had been beautiful at first, it was now in the full glow and luxuriance of its richness. The great trees, which had looked shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had now burst into strong life and health; and stretching forth their green arms over the thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots into choice nooks, where was a deep and pleasant shade from which to look upon the wide prospect, steeped in sunshine, which lay stretched out beyond. The earth had donned her mantle of brightest green; and shed her richest perfumes abroad. It was the prime and vigour of the year; all things were glad and flourishing.”
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
You made summer… and gave it to the earth.
It's that time of year again! Time for buying school supplies, filling backpacks and waving goodbye as the bus pulls away. But, for some, like our guest writer, Heidi Zwart, the school year also means leaving her firstborn son 1,000's of miles away at college.
May all you mama's and grand-mama's be blessed by her words and by God Himself as this another school year commences.
Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
I first crossed paths with them in the housewares department; a young dad pushing his two-year-old son in a cart with his four-year-old daughter skipping along close beside. He was obviously passing through this department on the way to his desired destination, judging by the hurried pace with which he was moving.
As they whirred past, I overheard the little boy ask his dad if he would buy something for him, to which his father replied, “If you’re patient, I’ll stop and get some ice cream treats on our way home.”
Therefore, make it your habit to confess your sins to one another and to pray for one another, so you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective!
As we walked through the large wooden doors into the Cathedral of the Divine Savior in Morelia, Mexico, a hushed awe fell over me. Light flooded the lofty hallways and sanctuary. A service was in progress as tardy parishioners trickled in, finding a seat in the back. I smiled thinking, “They are not unlike American parishioners, I see.”
Nothing is so infectious as example.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Do you have role models in your life? People you look up to? People whose lives, work, attitude or actions encourage and challenge you to believe more fully and to live and love God and others more freely?
Death, like ocean waves, surrounded me, and I was almost swallowed by its flooding waters.
2nd Samuel 22:6
I have heard it said that trouble comes in threes. I know it's just an old wives tale, but, oddly enough it happens from time-to-time. It's happened to me. How about you?
After praying and pining for a child of her own, Elizabeth had long settled it in her heart, now that her childbearing years were far behind her, that she would never experience being a mother.
But, that didn’t stop others from speculation and gossip as to the why’s and wherefores. In that day childlessness was often attributed to sin of some sort on the part of the woman.
The pain-filled stares and the whispers were not lost on Elizabeth all those years.
A little Easter heart preparation - by Macrina Wiederkehr from her book Seasons Of Your Heart.
Wherever we may be, we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may always be seen in our body.
2nd Corinthians 4:10
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
“Dare to love and to be a real friend. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as those whom God has given you to love.”
A few years back I picked up a sketchbook and began what I call ‘chicken-scratching.’ My little doodles are nothing to write home about, but, I do so enjoy it. I have one little book filled with drawings of flowers and leaves. But, while staying up in the woods at the prayer cabin last November, I decided to try my hand at something a bit more difficult.
After trekking through the woods looking for just the right subjects to try my hand at, I shot a few photos and then headed back to the cabin to give it a go.
Recently I showed my sketch to a friend of mine. She couldn’t make out what in the world it was. That made me laugh out loud! “I guess you’re not looking at the next van Gogh, then,” I said with a wink.
BEFORE NEW YEARS
Take some time to sit quietly. Allow your spirit to settle. Savor this opportunity to be still in God’s presence.
Have a journal and pen or pencil ready to jot down any thoughts that come to you during your time together.
Ask Him to hush any stray thoughts that may distract you from hearing His still small voice. And ask the Spirit to give you an open, responsive heart that you may hear all that He longs to say to you today.
1) Read the following passages slowly.
“The Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’
“All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut...
Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ But, he called back saying, "It's too late."
Therefore, stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Matthew 25:1-10, 13 NLT
For all creation is waiting patiently and hopefully for that future day when God will resurrect his children. For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay—the things that overcame the world against its will at God’s command—will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God’s children enjoy.
For we know that even the things of nature, like animals and plants, suffer in sickness and death as they await this great event. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us—bodies that will never be sick again and will never die.
We are saved by trusting. And trusting means looking forward to getting something we don’t yet have—for a man who already has something doesn’t need to hope and trust that he will get it. But if we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently.
Romans 8:19-25 ERV
2) Now read it through once more; this time pause periodically to allow the phrases or sentences to echo and resonate in your heart.
Do any of them tug at you? Pull out your journal and write down those phrases or sentences or any other thoughts that come to mind as you ponder them.
Allow yourself a moment of silence.
The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years... Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.
George Matthew Adams, The Christmas Heart
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
Keeping Vigil: A Christmas Quiet Time Devotional
Before you get started, take a few minutes to quiet your spirit.
Close your eyes and take some slow, deep breaths. Imagine laying every burden and all of those holiday pressures at Jesus’s feet.
Be sure that you are in a comfortable position that allows your heart to be most attentive to His voice. Try to make that space as interruption-free as possible. It should be a set-apart place where you enter, as it were, the Holy of Holies to meet with your Savior.
Ask Jesus to clear away any stray thoughts that may distract you from truly meeting with Him - in order hear all of the things that He has on His heart to say to you today.
Open your journal and have your pen/pencil ready.
When you sense a readiness in your soul...read the passages below slowly.
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the one who looks for him. It is good that one should be quiet and wait patiently for the Lord’s salvation.
When eight days had passed, Jesus’ parents circumcised him and gave him the name Jesus. This was the name given to him by the angel before he was conceived.
When the time came for Mary and Joseph to do the things the Law of Moses taught about being pure, they brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a righteous man devoted to God, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. He was waiting in prayerful expectancy for the time when God would come to help Israel. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Messiah.
Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple area; so, when Mary and Joseph arrived to present the baby Jesus to the Lord in obedience to the law, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, and said,
“Now, Lord, you can let me, your servant, die in peace as you promised. For I have seen with my own eyes how you will save your people. Now all people can see your plan. He is a light to show your way to the other nations and he will bring honor to your people Israel.”
Luke 2:21, 22, 25-32
Now Anna, a prophetess, was also there. She was very old, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow for 84 years. She never left the Temple, but continued to worship there night and day with times of fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for redemption in Jerusalem.
Whoever waits at my door and listens for me will be blessed.
Gratitude: A Thanksgiving Quiet Time Devotional
One of my favorite ways to spend time with the Savior is to sit quietly reading his love letter, the Bible, using the slow, meditative approach known as Lectio Divina. Lectio divina means divine or sacred reading in Latin. It is a quiet, prayerful practice where we invite the Holy Spirit to open the ears of our hearts in order to hear God's still small voice speaking to us through His Word. It is not a discipline meant to master the Word or to acquire new information or knowledge, it is what Henri Nouwen calls, reading the Bible on your knees...where we allow the Word to descend from our minds into our hearts and become a personal word to us.
Using the lectio divina method, then, we will be reading the following Bible passage several times, each time with a different intent.
Before you get started, however, take a few minutes to quiet your spirit.
Close your eyes and take some slow, deep breaths. Let your shoulders relax. As you do this, savor this sweet time to sit in the Savior’s Presence.
Be sure that you are in a comfortable position that allows your heart to be most attentive to His voice.
Ask Jesus to clear away any stray thoughts that may distract you from truly meeting with Him this morning in order hear all of the things that He has on His heart to say to you today.
Open your journal and have your pen/pencil ready.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made...
I wish that I was quick-thinking, or had a quick wit, or was just plain quick. I’m afraid I am a bit of a plodder. More turtle than hare. Slow, but, steady. Studious. Strategic. Prefer a good book to a big crowd. Always have...and at nearly 57 years of age...probably always will.
13 2Moses sent out men to explore the land of Canaan... 25after exploring the land for forty days, the men returned. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. 27This was their report: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. 28But...the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified!
30 Caleb tried to quiet the murmur amongst the people saying, “We must go...because we are more than able to do it!" 31But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go..." 32So they began spreading this bad report: The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. 33We even saw giants there.”
14 1Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. 2Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest...
In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, I will flee!’ (I’ve got places to go and people to see!)
Yet the Lord still waits for you to come to him so he can show you his love...
Blessed are all who wait for him!