Adoption

Ephesians 1:4-5

Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. (RSV)

Thought for the Day:  Finding Clear Answers

We were preparing to take our 6 year old to a friend’s home for swimming one evening when the phone rang. “Are you still interested in adopting a baby?” “Yes, we are definitely still interested”, we said. “A baby was born yesterday and we are looking for an adoptive family for him”, she stated. We listened to the situation having a few questions in our minds and wanted to pray and think about things before we gave a quick yes answer. We prayed when we got off the phone that God would give us a very clear answer to whether we should adopt this baby or not. We were both a little older and wanted to make sure that we were following God’s will for us and for the baby. We went swimming then headed home. As we drove down a very curvy road, I heard my husband gasp. I asked him what was wrong and he replied, “He was born on YOUR birthday!” We immediately took that as the clear sign from God that we were to seriously consider adopting the baby. We still decided to have a conversation with our pediatrician before proceeding. On the way to sign the adoption papers, we received the call from him. We asked the pediatrician, “If you wanted to adopt and you were in our situation, would you adopt this baby?” He quickly said, “I would proceed without hesitation.” We joyfully with minds clear drove the rest of the way to the adoption agency and signed the papers. Within two hours, we purchased all the baby things we needed to welcome this baby and drove the hour to pick him up from a cradle care family.   This little bundle of joy has enveloped our family with precious love and today he is a five year old with abundant energy and a wonderful love for life. God gave us a precious child on that day, and God made it very clear in that precise moment that he was the baby for us. Thank you God for giving us clarity when we need answers to prayer.

Prayer:   Father, thank you for listening to our prayers and answering them in a way that is clear. Sometimes it is difficult to make decisions in life, but if we give them over to You, we know the clear answers will come.  Amen.

 Prayer Focus: THOSE EXPERIENCING ADOPTION

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Showing God’s Love

Micah 6:8

He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (RSV)

Thought for the Day:  How can we show just a little bit of God’s love to the world?

“I Love you, Jonathan,” I say a lot to my little boy. “I love you, Mama”, he says back. “I Love you more,” “I love you more,” “No, I love you more,” “Noooo, I love you more,” “No, I love you ‘mostest’ of all,” “No, I love you ‘mostest’ of all” is how our conversation goes. As I reflected on those words we said during
his cuddle time recently, I thought about how much love we have for each other. And then I thought about how many times we would have to multiply that love to understand how much God loves us. When I look at my life and the flaws I see as I ponder over some of the thoughts I have and in the ways I have sinned, it is overwhelming to me that my Father can love me many times more than my human mind can imagine.

Today, as I go through my day, I strive to love in the way God has shown me. The Bible describes to us that God doesn’t want material things from us. He is a Father who has everything. What he wants from us is to give a gift to Him, a gift that is the “highest honor” to Him, to demonstrate God to the world.

Prayer:   God, thank you for loving us many times more than we can even recognize and imagine. Help us demonstrate as much love as we can where we can show You to the world. Amen.

Prayer Focus: SHOWING LOVE TO THE WORLD


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The Plan

1 Corinthians 13:12-13

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (RSV)

Thought for the Day:  Fulfilling God’s Plan

My husband, Mark, and I had a remarkable beginning together that began with a mother’s love. After my first husband passed away I believe it became my mother’s secret mission to find someone special for me to spend my life with. During a campmeeting in West Tennessee, my mother invited me to eat with her and then attend the worship service. She mentioned that if I took sheet music, maybe the music leader would ask me to sing. Not knowing that she had already set it up, I took some music with me. During supper, the director came to me saying, “I understand you are going to sing for us tonight.” I gave my mother a look and saw her face. She looked proud and sly. I did sing that evening and after the service, the director and I spoke for a few minutes before I dismissed myself to go home. The next day, my mother called to say that she thought it was time for me to take my wedding band off, that the director had noticed my ring and had asked her about it.

As God does in our lives everyday, my mother had a plan for me and set that plan in motion. I did not follow that plan immediately but, with time and hours of prayer by my mother, his mother, and his sister-in-law,  our relationship immerged into a strong Christian love that only God could have created. It was God’s plan that led my mother, and I believe it was His pure love that helped her in formulating “her” plan.

Prayer:   Thank you God, for loving us as a mother loves her daughter. You are our heavenly father who loves us and has a plan for our lives. Help us learn to listen for your voice and to follow where you lead. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE FINDING NEW LOVE

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Seeking God’s Presence

Psalms 139:7-8

Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? (RSV)

Thought for the Day: Seeking God’s Presence

I have two places I love to go to feel close to God. One is a Lake Junaluska in the mountains on North Carolina and the other is an annual campmeeting we attend each year where I sit outside in the early morning. In both of these places I can feel God’s presence and sense He is near through the sounds of the breeze and the birds singing. I awoke this morning unable to have my quiet time due to sleeping late and being surrounded by my family. As I looked around for a quiet place inside the house for my time with God, there was someone there. I picked up my Bible and devotional materials and headed outside to sit on our back patio. As I read, my little boy came out and I shared some time with him. After he went back in the house, I reflected on the scripture and listened. As I listened I heard the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and heard the sound of birds as they noisily sang. As I listened, I looked up to see our very large trees shading me and protecting me from the heat of the sun. As I continued to reflect, I realized that what I was experiencing in that moment had every component of what I longed for in my two special places.

In my life, I have had many “mountain top” experiences where I traveled somewhere and felt very near to God, then felt depressed emotions when I traveled home. Today, I felt very near to God in the place where I live my daily routine. God is near right now and is near to us everywhere and everyday, we just have to listen.

Prayer:   God, thank you for always being near to us as we go through our daily lives. Help us to always feel your presence in all we do and help us find the quiet places to hear your voice.  Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE SEEKING GOD

Tiny Buds

Ephesians 3:17-19

And that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (RSV)

Thought for the Day:  Work to make the bud God placed inside your heart become full bloom

The Rose Walk connects two parts of Lake Junaluska Assembly in North Carolina. A favorite activity for most visitors is to walk down the rose walk, seeing the beautiful roses and taking in the wonderful aroma. As I looked at the roses earlier in the week of our visit, I was a little disappointed that there were not as many blooms as normal. As I walked part of the path and looked more closely at the plants, I realized that they were covered with small buds. The path of rose bushes probably had thousands of buds ready to open into radiant blooms. I was hoping to see these thousands of blooms before our departure, but they will be there for visitors coming later in the summer. As I shared this with my husband, he quickly stated that this is a metaphor that can be used for our family as we still go through a transitional period. God has led both of us into a time of spiritual growth where we spend more time in prayer and scripture every day which has brought us into a deeper relationship with God. We share our faith with each other daily as well as with our friends bringing us into a new community of faith.

God wants us to grow in our relationship with Him so he takes us as we are in the budding time of our lives and helps us develop the faith to become the blooms that show the beauty and love of God. Throughout this period, God has taken both my husband and me who had faith before, and put small buds inside our hearts that need to learn and grow. Today, we continue growing in our faith where these buds will someday open into full bloom and then we can “Bloom Where We’re Planted”.

Prayer:   Our Father, thank you for pruning our lives to be able to grow new buds. Thank you for nurturing us in our spiritual faith to turn those buds into beautiful blooms where we can go out and show your love. You are an awesome God and we thank you for all the people who show your blooms to us everyday to help us grow in faith. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE GROWING IN THEIR FAITH JOURNEY

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For the Beauty of the Earth

Colossians 1:16-17

For in Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities-all things were created through him and for him.

 Thought for the Day: We find beauty in God’s Creation

“For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies; Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise. For the beauty of each hour of the day and of the night, hill and vale, and tree and flower, sun and moon, and stars of light; Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.”

These beautiful words written by Folliot Pierpoint came to my thoughts this morning as I was looking over the beautiful lake at Lake Junaluska, NC. I look up at the sky that stretches far wider than the eye can see and I imagine that under that sky are all of God’s creatures that were created by Him. Then, I look at the beautiful, delicate plants in nature that surround the lake bringing my attention to every blossom and bloom showing God’s glorious miracles. The rose walk does not have many full blooms but thousands of tiny buds have appeared and are waiting for their perfect time to open up to show more of God’s glory. I look up into the bright, blue sky and feel the warmth of the sun as it shines down bringing His creatures what they need to thrive.

I have been blessed throughout my life to have people and experiences that have taught me that God is everywhere and we can see Him in everything, if we just look. I have never lived a single day when I did not believe in God and in God’s creation. I learned about the love of God when I was a small child and that began my faith journey.

As we look around at God’s splendor in nature, we see that God is indeed everywhere. There is not a place where God does not abound. We might ask, but what about the pain and sorrow found in the world, and that is something we all ask at some point. Where is God? Evil and tragedy enter even into God’s creation and God’s house as it has recently, but where is God? God is in the people who are His hands and feet who go into those affected communities showing love and care in every way they can. He is there in his created children who share Christ’s love to the world.

Prayer:   Father, thank you for creating a beautiful world for us to live in and for calling us your children. You have given us an abundance of gifts in nature and all we have to do to see you is to witness the change in seasons as one beautiful element of nature fades to make way for another element even more beautiful. Be with those who are hurting and help us know what to do to show Your love to them. We love you, God. Amen.

Prayer Focus: FINDING GOD’S BEAUTY

Dance and Sing Before the Lord

2 Samuel 6:14-15

And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the horn.  (RSV)

Thought for the Day:  Sing and Dance before the Lord

We were attending the Children’s Program at the end of Lake Junaluska’s Music and Arts Week several years ago, where our child participated. The children sang their choir songs and we were blessed. This particular week the children had enjoyed other creative ways to celebrate God through song. Nathaniel’s group danced, sang, and obviously enjoyed the things they did. Then, in the middle of his group’s last piece, the lights went down and the children opened their glow sticks and started singing, “This Little Light of Mine”, and started waving the glow sticks as they were singing. And then in the middle of singing, they hugged each other to which the audience reacted with, “Awwws” and on the video we can hear our voices saying, “Oh, no they wouldn’t” and “That is so sweet.” These children, in front of a couple of hundred people, celebrated their love for God in an outward way.

Isn’t this what God asks us to do? Shouldn’t we celebrate God in an outward and visual way? We tend to keep God in a little box inside us and only occasionally find a way to let Him out. These children showed passion for God in the way that touched all who watched. They celebrated God outwardly by singing and dancing, and then they celebrated God visually where those around them could celebrate with them.

Prayer:   Thank you, Lord, for those moments in time when we observe those around us celebrating You in ways that are touching and special. Help us today to celebrate You in a way that pleases you. Amen.

Prayer Focus: PEOPLE WHO CELEBRATE GOD

Light Through the Darkness

Matthew 5:13-16

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Thought for the Day:  How can we show the Light of Christ to others?

Travel to our beloved Lake Junaluska proved a little more challenging than normal as we passed several areas of construction and stopped traffic. By the time we arrived it was time for evening Worship and we were unable to unload our car and prepare for our evening. After our special time of Worship and renewal, which quickly prepared our minds and hearts for a great week of spiritual growth, we drove to our hotel, The Lambuth Inn. We realized it was about to rain so we quickly began unpacking our car. Then, in what seemed to come out of nowhere, the lights in the hotel and across the entire lake flickered and then went out. With the exception of a few areas where there was emergency power, everything was black. As we sat in rocking chairs in front of the building waiting for the power to come back on, we looked out to see that the cross was still lit and shining brightly in the darkness of the mountains. As I reflected over that awesome image, I pondered the thought that this was the same cross that was taken down for repairs on an earlier visit when I desperately wanted to pray at the cross for my mother when she was very sick. This time I witnessed the light as it shone to those around the lake giving a great flood of light in the darkness.

Think for a moment about how we show God’s light to the world. Are we the light that shines brightly through the darkness for persons who do not have Christ in their hearts? Are we willing to put ourselves in situations where we go out and find those who need to see the light? As that lighted cross on the hill cut through the darkness, can we continue seeking to have the source of Christ’s light flood our hearts where without even thinking about it we will display His love to the world.

Prayer:   Father God, thank you for the reminder through the lighted cross on the hill that You are the Light of the World. Help us keep Your Light shining so brightly in our hearts that we share the Light to those we come in contact with. We praise you, God of Light. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE SEEKING THE LIGHT OF CHRIST DSC_4813DSC_4799 DSC_4817DSC_4818

Let Your Light Shine

Matthew 5:14 and 16

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot hide…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Thought for the Day:  Let God’s light shine through us and never be hidden

When my mother was in the hospital battling cancer, my father urged my husband and me to move forward with our annual trip to Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. It was a bittersweet trip full of the normal expectations of what the worship services full of special music would bring and the thought that we had left when my sweet mother was so sick. My thought was that I would be able to go to the lighted cross and sit under it to pray as I had done so many times before. I wanted to sit and pray for my mother. As we arrived however, we didn’t see the lighted cross on the hill. Our hearts sank and we felt an emotional and spiritual pain. We asked about it when we arrived at our hotel and were told the cross had been taken down for repairs. The time we shared in that place was different and I personally couldn’t find solace in the place I had always found it before. A couple of days later, my father called and said that my mother was not doing well and that we probably needed to come home soon. After that talk in the late afternoon, we decided to drive home early the next morning. I remember feeling distraught and having the need to see the cross but knowing the cross was not on the hill. After some time of packing for our travel home, we decided to go for a walk. When we left our hotel room and walked to the lobby area to wait for the elevator we looked out the window. It was there, the lighted cross was lit on the hill.   I remember it so clearly, and I also remember my heart filling with peace and hope as I gazed toward that special place. That evening, we prayed at the cross for my mother who was so sick.

I know God was with us throughout the time of my mother’s sickness and ultimately her death, and I know God was with us as we drove into Lake Junaluska that first evening. But that symbol, that beautiful lighted symbol of Christ on the hill, was not physically present. When the light appeared, the peace and hope in our hearts jumped inside us because we knew, once again, that God was there. Isn’t that like we are as children of God? Aren’t we placed on earth to share Christ’s light? Do we occasionally forget to show our light to others? Let us remember then, as Christians, to shine the light of Christ continually as we share His love to those around us.

Prayer:   God, thank you for shining Your light on us every moment. Help us shine Your light continually to the world and never let that light dim. You are the light on the hill and, unlike a manmade cross, your light never dims and fades. Help us remember that as we go on our daily life journey. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE NEEDING THE LIGHT OF GOD

Train Up a Child

Donna's Morning Coffee

Isaiah 39:19

The living, the living, he thanks thee, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children thy faithfulness.

Thought for the Day:  Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

I have two little boys who are absolutely crazy about their Daddy. The relationship I observe everyday is one of joy and laughter, and one of God lessons being taught. Throughout the boys’ early years my husband, Mark, has been the faith leader in our family and has worked diligently to make sure our boys know who they are and Whose they are. In their preschool days their five-minute drive included prayer time as well as a moment of learning scripture and other faith readings. When you hear three and four year old children repeating prayers and scriptures it touches the heart…

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