Bitty Beans

Ephesians 5:20

Always and for everything give thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

 Thought for the Day:  Be thankful for the gifts God gives each day.

I have in my closet a toy I received for Christmas when I was young. I keep it in my closet as a memory of something I am not so proud of. One Christmas morning, we awoke to the many presents under the tree that “Santa” brought. We opened each package and as each package was unwrapped, I waited for a particular doll I wanted. When the last gift was opened, I had not received the one I wanted but a “Bitty Beans” doll. The little girl doll had a girl’s face and had a beanbag body. I remember becoming very upset that I had not received what I wanted and my parents did not know what to say to me. I put the “Bitty Beans” with my toys but didn’t play with it. Many years later, after many Christmases, I started going through boxes in my attic. As I rummaged through, I found “Bitty Beans” and immediately had that Christmas memory come back to me. It was not a good memory. I was very sorrowful that day and wanted so desperately to tell my parents I was sorry. I decided that I would put “Bitty Beans” in my closet to be an occasional reminder to be thankful for the things I am given. My parents did not have a lot of money and “Bitty Beans” was a special gift that my mother put much thought into. Today, my boys know about “Bitty Beans” as I try to teach them to be thankful.

Each day, God gives us little gifts. He lets us awake to a new day, He sets the sun in the sky, He gives us food and shelter, He gives us family, He gives us friends, and He gives us a plan for our day. As we go through our day, are we thankful to God for the gifts he so abundantly gives or do we think and act as if He should have done more. Today, I am going to move “Bitty Beans” to a more prominent place where I will see it more often. I want to be thankful “more often” to God for the blessings He gives.

Prayer:   God, Thank you for the gifts you give us every day. You are the reason we have anything we have and that we get to experience the beauty in the world. Help us all to remember our own “Bitty Beans” where we will be more thankful in the little things You do each day. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE RECEIVING GIFTS FROM GOD

 

A Story about a Cow?

Deuteronomy 2:7

For the Lord your God has blessed you to all the work of your hands.

Thought for the Day:  God leads us to different places then we might expect and makes them wonderful.

He was humble, talented, quiet, and wonderful. I remember him when I visited my cousin who was my age and thought he was the coolest and magical person I had ever seen. Dan Henderson, my first cousin, was much older than his youngest sister and I who were the same age. I visited her on the farm which was so distanced from what I was accustomed to, and I always had fun. I remember going in to see the cows being milked and I remember seeing a calf being born. I remember Dan, as we walked in the town near them “magically” counting down the time the traffic light would change. What great memories.Dan later worked for a newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, and became an assistant managing editor for the “Midsouth” magazine which appeared in the paper. In the late seventies, he was asked to write a children’s story to appear in the Christmas edition of that magazine. That is when he wrote “Clarabell, the Christmas Cow”. He had not written children’s stories before as he wrote more scientific articles and stories, but he agreed. Dan took memories from his childhood on the farm and his knowledge of cattle to write a story that still appears in The Commercial Appeal each year near Christmas. As I look at Dan’s writing and I remember him, I can see that he took his God given talent to share a special story that has been read by thousands and has become a tradition in many families to read the story and then view the movie, “Annabelle’s Wish” that was based on his story. Dan passed away before he knew the legacy he left to many through his precious story.

As we go through life and feel where God is leading us, we might not feel that He is leading us in the “right direction”, but in time we can see that His hand was there leading us all along. So, where is God leading us today? Can we take His hand and let Him lead us? Can we hear his still small voice saying, “Here I am – follow me?” Can we change our thoughts about our lives and let God lead our thoughts a different direction? If we say yes, we can experience wonderful things.

Prayer:   God, thank you for those who have given us enjoyment through the talents you gave them. Help us to listen to you, God, in all we do where we can see your hand leading us to new and exciting places. Amen.

Prayer Focus: WRITERS

 

 

Be Still

Psalm 46:10

“Be still, and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth!”

Thought for the Day:  Be Still and Know that I Am God

As I awoke in the early morning hours after we closed on a beautiful house, the feelings of anxiety awoke with me. As I sat and reflected on that special day and then thought about all the events that lay before me in the coming days, I became anxious and very nervous. Minutes later, after some time, I began to realize that I had not given my day over to God and that I had kept my thoughts in a very stressful place. On this day, I read my devotionals and read my scriptures but words for writing and the peace that normally comes through scripture did not come. Then, the words “Be Still and Know that I Am God” came to my thoughts. These words of scripture are also included in the lyrics of an Amy Grant song, “Be Still and Know”. Many months ago, as my husband and I were going through a stressful time, we had the pleasure of attending her concert. As we listened, she began singing a song that was unfamiliar to the two of us. As she sang, we heard the words, “You say be still and know that I am God. Be still, be still and know.” We looked at each other during the concert and without a word knew that those words were exactly what we needed to hear in that moment.

Today, those words continue to be exactly what I need to hear in this early morning moment. God does not want us to be anxious and nervous about the plan He has laid before us. He wants us to be still and know that He is God. He wants us to know that He is going to lead us through every situation as long as we are still and listen to his voice. As I awoke this morning, I was not hearing God’s voice because the anxious voice in my own mind was too loud. Now, this hour later, I am hearing His voice of peace because I became quiet and heard the words, “Be Still and know that I am God. Be still, be still and know.”

Prayer:   Father, You have come into our anxious thoughts today to bring the words “Be still and know that I am God”. Thank you for bringing a calmness in the midst of stress and for reminding us that through you, peace in near. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE MOVING TO A NEW PLACE

 

 

Humility

Psalm 131:1

O Lord my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high.

Thought for the Day: “When humility sees the benevolence of God, it sees clearly.”

Today the scriptures and devotionals I read all had to do with being humble. When my husband shared a devotional with me that he was reading, it was about being humble as well. In one devotional, I read that there are those throughout history and today who have tried to figure out God and have tried to determine why God does the things He does. Those people seemed to be the ones who moved farther and farther away from God. Then the devotional talked about the humble at heart and that through their humbleness, they cried to God in the silence and God answered. As I thought about this today, many came to my mind who have touched me through their humble spirit. Several of my dear friends have been the ones that God has led me to because of a quiet spirit I felt when I was near them. In many instances, we were drawn together by being in similar situations. As my family has gone through the transition of losing and finding positions, these people have stayed with me and have called me when they were in need. On a day to day basis, these dear friends come to my mind and thoughts of them go straight to my heart.

Psalm 131 is very short but speaks of being humble. “O Lord my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and for evermore.”

Prayer:   God, Thank you for answering our prayers when we feel no one else is listening and when we do not feel we deserve your answers. Thank you for those quiet and humble friends you have sent to us who seem to know the right words to say and know when we just need a quiet spirit near us. Thank you for the blessing of sharing time with the humble. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THE QUIET ONES

 

 

Break into Singing

Philippians 2:2-4

Complete my joy by being of the same mind having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness of conceit, but the humility count others better than yourselves.

Thought for the Day:  Have fun during the hectic times in life.

As my boys and I drove a long distance in our car, we decided to listen to some Pandora Music. My oldest son chose a station called “Kid’s Bop” and the music started playing. At first, we listened and enjoyed a couple of songs and then the fun began. My oldest began singing along and started drumming on the seat console. A few minutes later, we started hearing my youngest singing to the songs. I, of course, joined in singing and kept the beat in a little dance. Soon, we were all having fun and we kept it up for quite a while. What a blessing we experienced on that drive in the midst of one of our trips during our transition. The challenge during change in our lives is to keep some type of normalcy in our day to day routine and to make even the little events special. I saw in this experience with the children that it really didn’t take much to entertain them and to enjoy our day together, even in the midst of a long drive.

God has blessed us in so many ways as we have traveled through our transition and we feel His presence with us all the time. As we go through what has become our everyday routine of packing, working, packing, driving, and more packing, we know that it is in the little things that God has blessed us the most. I never dreamed that a child’s Pandora station could have helped us break into singing and dancing as we enjoyed each other during a 400 mile car trip.

Prayer:   Father God, thank you so much for loving us in such a way that you give us little moments of fun in the midst of times of trouble and transition. You give us through that fun the knowledge that you are with us and want what is best for us. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE HAVING A LITTLE BIT OF FUN

This Baby Made the Angel Sing

Luke 2:6-7

And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Thought for the Day: Remember that God sent His Son at Christmas to give us eternal life.

“This Baby made the angels sing. This baby made a new star shine in the sky. This baby had come to change the world. This baby was God’s own son, this baby was like no other one. This baby was God with us, this baby was Jesus.” One of my favorite Christmas songs is “This Baby” by Steven Curtis Chapman. I can tell when I listen to the song that Steven Curtis Chapman, who had been singing all of his life, must have been remembering his family as they welcomed a new baby into their family and thinking about the growth of that child to adulthood. As I listen to parts of the song, he creates the picture in my mind of Jesus as a baby, a young child, a youth, and as an adult. Mary and Joseph had a baby who was born in a manger, a regular lowly manger, and they raised him as we raise our children today. As I watch my own two boys, I sometimes remember the song and the way Steven Curtis Chapman put into words his thoughts about children as they go from being a baby in their mothers’ arms, to having the regular problems of a youth with the changes they all go through, and then to working in his family business of being a carpenter.

Throughout his life, however, everyone who met Jesus knew he was special. Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” The shepherds returned to their fields praising God. The Magi rejoiced “with exceedingly great joy” when they found Jesus. God sent this baby to earth to save the world and to change the world. God sent His Son to us so that we would have eternal life. This baby, this special baby, was God’s own son. This baby, Jesus Christ, is the reason we celebrate this Christmas Season.

Prayer:   You sent your Son, Jesus Christ, into the world on that Christmas night so long ago to life on earth with us. Thank you, Father, for that gift of eternal life we received through Your Son. We “rejoice” with exceedingly great joy. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE REMEMBERING THE REASON FOR CHRISTMAS

 

The Cantata

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Thought for the Day:  God is with us through the storm and brings His blessings to us.

For the first time in eighteen years I had to be away from my husband as he conducted his chancel choir and orchestra in the first cantata in his new position in a church. As I took my children to their Sunday School Classes at the church we attended, there was a void as I knew I was not with my husband on this very important day. As I talked to different people about our transition I mentioned the cantata to them and asked them to pray. I found a place to sit for a few moments and took a moment to look at my Facebook page. As I flipped through, I came across a picture that one of the staff of my husband’s church placed on of the rehearsal that took place prior to the cantata. The picture showed my husband conducting a full choir and orchestra, and I could see the wonderful smile on his face. At that moment, I felt myself relax and feel God’s presence with me and I knew that God was with my husband. I began showing the picture to those I came in contact with and was overwhelmed with thankfulness. Several hours after we returned home from church, my husband called and was filled with emotion as he described the cantata in such a way that I know God was present with him and with every person who took part in the presentation.

Today I am praising God that through a new ministry in a new church, my husband has felt the loving hand of God in a very special way. I have watched the faithfulness of my husband as he searched for different ministry positions. His way of praising God through the storm helped me grow in my faith and helped me learn how to praise God through the storm as well. Now, I am watching him praise God and thank God for taking us through a storm and bringing him to a new place in ministry. After hearing all of the remarks about the cantata from those who attended I know God is using my husband to bless those in the new ministry He ordained.

Prayer:   Thank you God for showing that through our faithfulness, that You have been faithful to us. You said you would bring us through the storm and today we thank you for bringing us through and for fulfilling Your promise to us. We love you, God, and are thankful beyond our human imagination. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE FEELING GOD’S FAITHFULNESS

Love the Lord Your God

Deuteronomy 6:5

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

Thought for the Day:  God wants us to love Him with all our heart, soul, and might.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” We all remember this scripture from when we were little and have seen it on pictures and plaques hanging on walls. But what does this mean for us a Christians? As a child this scripture helped me visualize God as a father figure and the feeling I had of love for my Daddy helped me understand how I was supposed to love God. I loved him as a little girl in a way that I just wanted to run to him for a hug when I saw him.   I loved him as a teenager in respect not wanting to do something that would disappoint him in some way. And as an adult, I couldn’t get enough of him – I wanted to be with him all the time. In thinking about God as I look at my relationship with my Daddy, I can clearly see what God wants from me.

God wants me to love him in such a way that makes me run to Him for a hug. He wants me to love him in such a way that makes me want to only show respect to Him where I will not disappoint Him. And, God wants me to want to be with Him all the time and He wants me to always yearn for Him. Today, as I look at my relationship with God, I can see that through my love and respect for Him, I have seen his hand lead me in so many ways and I feel His love for me as I open my eyes to see him more clearly. Each day brings more opportunity to love God, to respect God, and to run to God in all times. “You shall love your ‘Daddy’ with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”

Prayer:   Our Father, thank you for loving us in such a way from even before we were born. You are the one we run to when we are in need, we respect in all times, and we yearn to be with. Help us to always focus on you with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our might. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE WANTING TO BE NEARER TO GOD

 

 

Leap for Joy

Psalms 126:5-6

May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy! He that goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy.

Thought for the Day: Leap for Joy when you recognize that God is leading you through captivity.

In the last few day of preparing for our transitional move, I have found that I often whisper to myself, “I’m tired”. Even when I see people I know and they ask how I am doing I laughingly say, “I’m tired!” and we laugh and go on. I try to focus on how things are going to be when we are settled into a new community and are settled into our new home. I picture in my mind how a day is going to be as we attend worship services in our new church, as I teach the wonderful children I will begin teaching soon, and as my children participate in church and school activities. Once in a while, I will break into tears when I have a reality check, but will then pick myself up and continue packing and making preparations for our move.

Today I read a scripture from Psalms and then read a devotional that quoted from Psalms 126:3, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” The Psalm was a reflection of captives that had returned to Jerusalem and how they were giddy and full of celebration to return to their homeland. In some ways, the last year and a half for my family has been like we have been captives in a foreign land. Throughout this time, however, my husband and I found through scripture reading and prayer, that we felt closer to God than ever before. We are still on the journey home to the place God has called us. We have both found our places of work and we have found a house. Now, we look forward to having a “HOME” together in a new place. “We who have sown tears will reap and leap in praise as we sing the songs of praise in our new home and new ministry.” Thank you, God, for giving us so many times of joy and laughter through our “captivity” and for assuring us that you are leading us “home”.

Prayer:   Dear God, thank you for bringing Your people through captivity and for leading them home. Help us today to see that You are doing the same thing for us in today’s world. As we experience your hand leading us to a new place, let us rejoice and praise You and recognize that it is You God who had led us through. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Those in captivity

 

 

 

 

Unshaken through Shaken Times

Psalms 125

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.

Thought for the Day:  Don’t let the day to day times of stress take you off the solid rock of faith.

As my family and I continue the steps in moving from one place to another, anxiety comes as we realize something needs to be done and that we need to do something else “right now”. Today, after another day of feeling anxious about a specific item and realizing I had been anxious over nothing, I read a devotional about being unshaken in our faith. I talk about my faith to most people I meet. I get into a conversation about where we are in our lives and I immediately begin talking about where I have seen God in my life. I was raised to know God and through many years I have seen God’s hand pull me through times of grief and times of turmoil. Then I look at how anxious I become when a problem arises and I realize that I can be “shaken” in my day to day routine.

But what about being “shaken” in my faith? That is when I realize that being raised in the faith gives me the “solid rock” to stand on as I am going through my “shaking” time. Although I feel anxious and I feel pressure, I have the underlying faith to know that God is going to be there to help me through. So, although my day to day life brings times of being shaken, I feel my faith is unshaken because I know God is with me through the struggle. Today, I realize that I will be thrown into some times of anxiety but I am going to keep my feet firmly planted on the solid rock where my faith can remain unshaken.

Prayer:   Father God, thank you for giving us the solid rock to stand on as we go through our days. Help us on the days we feel “shaken” to know that the underlying foundation you have given us will keep us “unshaken” in our faith. Be with us today to help others realize that You give us the faith that is “Unshaken”. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE FEELING SHAKEN BY EVERYDAY LIFE