Out of the Mouths of Children

2 Timothy 3:14

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 

Thought for the Day:  God’s words often come through the mouths of children

My husband’s father lived in a retirement home in his later years. His area of the building had a gathering area beside the elevator on his floor. The elderly men and women spent time in that sitting area sharing stories with each other and watching to see who was going to get off the elevator. We went often to visit but one special day we got off the elevator to see many precious people with Mark’s dad, Reeves, sitting right in the middle. Our son, Nathaniel, who was five at the time went directly to PawPaw and sat beside him. The little ladies immediately began commenting on his beautiful red hair and how cute he was. After a few minutes, Mark asked Nathaniel if he would be willing to say the 23rd Psalm for these sweet friends. Reluctantly, he agreed and stood proudly and said the 23rd Psalm, which brought tears to the eyes of several of the ladies and oohs and aahs from others. PawPaw, in such a proud way, smiled and hugged Nathaniel for what he had done. The next few minutes were precious and all of the elderly ladies wanted to hug Nathaniel and touch his hair. He took it in never letting on how uncomfortable he was. His sweet spirit led the way and gave these friends a wonderful gift to remember. As we left that evening, Mark stated, “Now you know they are going to be talking about you (Nathaniel) for the next two weeks. Son, you gave them something very special.” We could almost hear the conversation, “Do you remember that cute little red-headed boy who said the 23rd Psalm – Reeves, you have a precious grandson.”

On that day, Nathaniel was God’s messenger to these precious people that they were loved. Nathaniel, at age 5, gave them an unexpected gift and one that they would remember for the rest of their lives. The words possibly gave some of these elderly ladies and gentlemen a reminder of God’s words to them: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

Prayer:  God, from the mouths of children, we hear Your words. Thank you for our children who through their innocence give us Your words. Be with those special older friends that they feel your presence today. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE AGING

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God Knows Me

Repeated  Devotional

John 17:23

Jesus said, “I in them and thou I me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and has loved them even as thou has loved me.”

Thought for the Day:  God knows us and loves us

Where do I think of when I want to go somewhere for prayer and time with God?  Recently, I have observed friends saying, “It is nice to be alone with God as I hear the bugs making noises”, “Hearing music brings me closer to God”, and “Sitting and listening to the creek is where I feel nearest to God.” Thinking about that today and hearing of the deaths of friends’ parents made me go back in my memory to my place as a young person.  When I was young, I found my way to the piano when I needed to “get away” from the stress of school or from the worry about my brothers.  In one of our homes, the placement of the piano was not perfect and I did not hear about it until several years later.  The piano was placed on the wall to the left as we went in the front door, but was on the other side of the wall from the head of my parents’ bed.  Yes, the only thing separating the piano from the bed was a thin wall.  My time with God and to be alone with music included playing old recital pieces which were full of runs that could get loud.  My time also included singing songs as I played.  Years after we left that parsonage, my Daddy shared with me that in the late hours when I chose to play my mother laid in bed trying to go to sleep.  She would say, “Gordon, you are going to have to go ask her to stop.”  He said that every time that request came from my mother he would say, “I am not going to stop her because she needs this time.”  My Daddy knew me and he knew my need for time alone in that moment.

Today, my Daddy knows me.  Today, my Father God knows me.  With all the billions of people in the world and the many places and faces here, God can see me and He loves me.  No matter where I choose to spend time with Him, He is listening.  As I thought about this, I remembered a Sandi Patty song from awhile back called, “He Loves Me” where she sings about how, in the midst of everything going on in the world today, that God is still there listening, knowing, and loving each one of us.  Today, your Daddy knows you.  Today, your Father God knows you.  Today, God can see you and He loves you.  Find your place and pray.

Prayer:  Almighty and loving God, thank you for loving us as our earthy Father’s love us.  You see us and know every part of us.  Yet, you still love us in a way that is far beyond any love we have ever felt.  Be with us as we find our special place to be with you today.  We love you.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  God is with us

Missing the Retreat

Psalms 19:1-4

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.  Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.  There is no speech, or are there words; their voice is not heard;  yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.    

Thought for the Day:  Take in God, and you will feel His peace.

Planning on going on a Women’s Retreat this weekend was exciting and my heart was ready for some time away.  So, when I began feeling under the weather the day before I was to go, I was disappointed.  I knew in my heart the trip for me would not happen.  Lying on our couch with a bad headache the night I should have been driving and then waking up in my bed on that Saturday morning was tough.  As I awoke, I realized all the chores I needed to do in the house which made my decision even harder to take.  After a couple of hours, I told my husband I needed to take a walk, as that helps me when I need to get away.  So I picked up my camera and headed back to the park (feeling stuffy and sneezy).  There were people around, but I walked in some areas that are a little more isolated.  In that time at the park, I talked to a dear, dear lady I who I met one morning several months ago as I walked at the park.  Mrs. Jane is a precious lady who always helps me find my smile that may be tired or unseen for the moment.  As I continued my walk, I saw waterfalls in places I had never seen water run before – I thought they were dry creek beds, but they were flowing with beautiful water – O the sound, that beautiful sound!  Continuing my walk brought me to look up into the trees to see the beauty God was wanting me to see in each moment and by the time I returned home, I felt I had been on a “retreat in the Mountains”.

Retreat….where is my retreat? Sharing time with a nurse practitioner the day before I was to leave for the retreat, I mentioned that I was supposed to go on a Women’s Retreat and I needed to feel better.  She replied, “A ‘retreat’, how do you get to go on one of those?”  I was taken back a little by her question, as I have attended church retreats all my life.  Where she came from, they did not go off on retreats to find spiritual peace.  She did state that she received peace other ways.  As I realized I would not be going on the women’s retreat I remembered her statement, “A ‘retreat’, how do you get to go on one of those?”.  I felt sad when I thought about missing the “retreat”, but as I walked, sharing time with Mrs. Jane and with nature, I realized that I was making my own retreat – my time with God.  Now, am I still sad I missed the retreat with other Christian women, “Yes!”,  but was God also with me on my walk, “A Definite Yes!”  I had my little retreat with Him.

Prayer:  God, today is the day You made!  Help us see You in nature and to see You in the people around us.  We are tired God, and need to see and feel You to remind us of your love for us.  For that love calms our spirits and brings us peace.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those needing a retreat

See Him There

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Matthew 14:32-36

And they went to a place which was called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I pray.”  And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled.  And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch.”  And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.  And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.” 

Thought for the Day:  Remember Gethsemane – See Him There

As we rehearsed for our Easter Cantata, the women began practicing a piece that brought back many memories.  “See Him There” is a beautiful piece from the Cantata, “The Day He Wore My Crown”, that tells of Jesus’ time praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.  As we sang the words of Jesus agony as he prayed, the image of Jesus kneeling and praying came to my heart and I could feel the tears coming as the emotions filled my heart.  My memories took me to a time almost 16 years ago where the song was sung in another choir presentation I was a part of.  The song was a part of a large presentation where many were involved in acting out the story of Holy Week.  My memory brings me to the area behind a scrim when the lights came up to see Jesus kneeling in the Garden in totally agony.  Jesus knew He was going to die.  Jesus felt the pain of human emotions as he thought of the pain he would endure the next day.  Jesus was human, but his love for God and for us gave him the strength to do what he knew he had to do.

Sometimes we sing and hear songs that, because of the repetition in hearing them causes us to take the words for granted.  We don’t hear the words as strongly as we probably should.  As we rehearsed the notes last evening, I think I took the words for granted at first.  But after the notes were learned and we began singing with the passion of the song, I saw Him….I saw Jesus….I saw Jesus loving me so much that he prayed and then he walked the next day up the hill to Golgotha to die on the cross for me.  The lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes let me know that “I got it!”  I “got” the passion I received so many years ago as I saw “Jesus” behind the scrim kneeling in The Garden.  Do you “get it”?  Jesus loves you!

Prayer:  O Heavenly Father!  You sent your son, Jesus, to live on earth.  He taught us how to live and he taught us how to love.  We praise You for who You are and thank you for loving us so much that you sent Your Son to earth to save us.  Help us remember Jesus as we live each day and as we love those around us.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Jesus showed us how to live and how to love.

A Pretty Good Job!

Psalm 104:24-25

Lord, how manifold are thy works!  In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy creatures.  Yonder is the sea, great and wide, which teems with things innumerable, living things both small and great!

Thought for the Day:  God brings us beauty in nature – take it in and know it is from God.

Finally, a beautiful day and a beautiful park made for a beautiful time of walking the trails, photographing nature, and reflecting on God’s beauty.  As I drove into the park to walk, the parking lot was full as many people took advantage of the beautiful day.  Some people walked around the lake, some rode their bikes and helped their children learn to ride theirs, some ran for exercise and some strolled leisurely through the park.  Since I was holding my camera as I walked, I was asked by a couple of people to take their pictures.  Those were special moments.  Personally, my favorite thing to do when I visit the park is to take nature pictures.  Today, I put aside the thoughts of the MANY people in the park to find those natural picture opportunities as I walked.  Today’s excursion brought images of turtles sunning on longs, geese swimming along the edge of the lake, budding trees showing their colorful beauty, and even a tadpole or two swimming along the lake’s edge.

God’s beauty comes to us through animals and plants that He gave for us to enjoy.  As our pastor shared an experience this morning of his family enjoying a sunset on the beach, he said he was overtaken in the beauty and colors.  He said he felt that God came and sat down beside him saying, “I think I did a pretty good job tonight.  Can you see the gold I added?”  That is similar to how I feel when I take my walks in the park and photograph God’s beauty.  Could it be that he is saying to me, “I think I did a pretty good job….did you see those turtles I placed on the logs in the marsh?  Did you see those tree buds glistening on the limbs asking for your attention?  And, did you see the geese and the tadpoles?  I hope you like them…I put them there for you.”

Prayer:  God Almighty!  What a wonderful God You are!  You have placed Your beauty around us to remind us that You are there with us as we take each step.  Thank You.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  God’s Beauty Around Us.

 

Joy and Warmth

Romans 15:13

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

Thought for the Day:  The Joy of the Lord can be felt through those people and experiences near us.

What brings the joy of the Lord?  What brings a warmth to the heart?  Recently, I realized that a joy was felt in my heart as I talked to a friend in the school where I have a long-term substitute position.  I said, “You know, it is funny…all of this time I have not been working, I have gone to the church early each Wednesday to prepare my children’s choir room rehearsal.   But since I have been working, I have gone in just a few minutes early to get ready for the children to come in the choir room.  I truly believe these rehearsals of last minute entrance have been the best rehearsals.”  She replied, “That’s because you are where you are supposed to be.”  As she said that, I knew she was right.  Although I am in a substitute position and still have no idea what my future holds, I am teaching in a school each day and I feel I am doing the thing that brings me pure joy.  Because of that joy, other areas in my life seem to be more in line.  Now, at church, I hear children say, “Mrs. Locke, I saw you at school the other day”, and at school I hear, “Mrs. Donna!!!”, and feel arms coming around my waist for a hug.  That is where the warmth comes to my heart.

Today, the song, “The Joy of the Lord” comes to my mind as I think about this joy that has come in a simple recognition from a child that they “Know” me and through the warmth that comes from those arms coming around me for a hug.  I wrote recently about what “Faith” is and said, “Faith is believing without seeing”.  Today, I realize that I have been in the midst of God and through these children.  I have seen His face as He has shown His faithfulness to me.

“The Joy of the Lord”, by Twila Paris

Prayer:  Father God!  Today we praise You and worship Your Holy Name.  You are a gracious and loving Father.  Today, thank you for bringing us joy and warmth through the people you place in the walk around us.  Thank you for letting us “see” through faith, the unconditional love You have for us.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those needing to feel joy and warmth

What is Faith?

Psalms 104:24-25

O Lord, how manifold are thy works!  In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy creatures.  Yonder is the sea, great and wide, which teems with things innumerable, living thing both small and treat.” 

Thought for the Day:  Faith is believing without seeing, but it is also seeing God’s love in the nature and human love around us.

Observing God’s creation is always something that brings excitement to my heart.  Pictures of daffodils scatter the internet, budding trees scatter our area, and birds seem to sing more sweetly as spring approaches.  Recently I had a long conversation with my youngest son about how we know God is near.  He asked me, “Mommy, how do we know God is near?”  I replied, “Faith.”  He then asked, “What is Faith?”  I said, “Believing without seeing!”  He looked surprised at my answer but seemed satisfied.  Faith, believing without seeing….or seeing God’s creation around us and believing.  I have often said that it is impossible to think that God does not exist when we look at the face of a newborn baby, observe animals as they live around us, visualize the beauty in nature, and ultimately see Him in our hearts.  My prayer for my child is that he will learn all about faith as he learns to take in God’s creation and as he learns to listen with his sweet little heart.

It seems that many people today are not seeing through the eyes of faith that the beauty around them is created by God.  Faith is believing without seeing…but faith is seeing that beauty in nature, witnessing love shown to someone in need, hearing a child’s giggle as it breaks through turmoil, and mostly feeling God’s presence in our hearts.

Prayer:  God, thank you for loving us and showing us the beauty around us.  Help us feel your presence as we see the flowers bloom, the trees bud, and as we witness love shown from one person to another.  Help us be a sign of your presence as we meet those in need of a little bit of faith each day.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Faith

Taking the Light of Christ Out Into the World

Matthew 5:14-16

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hid.  Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  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:  Where can we shine the Light of Christ today?

During our children’s choir rehearsal tonight, we had one of those blessed opportunities to share about taking Christ’s light out into the world.  Working on a musical about going on a mission trip opened a great discussion about the things the children do or can do to share the love of Christ with others.  We talked about helping at a soup kitchen or sharing time at our church pantry.  We shared about going to visit in a nursing home, sharing hymns of faith with those older friends.  We talked about going overseas to other countries to share the gospel.  Then we brought it even closer to home by talking about how we can share Christ with children or teachers at school. Sharing a smile with someone who looks sad or tired can go a long way in bringing a little happiness to their heart.  It can bring the light of Christ to those who might feel they are in a dark place.

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hid.  Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  We teach our children to bring the light of Christ to those around them.  How can we bring the light of Christ to others today?

Prayer:  Father God, we praise You today!  Be with us today and every day as we go out into the world to shine Your light to others who might be living in the dark.  Be with us today.  Amen.

 Prayer Focus:  Sharing the Light of Christ.

Studying for the Test

Psalms 73:21-26

Nonetheless I am continually with thee; thou dost hold my right hand.  Thou dost guide me with thy counsel, and afterward thou wilt receive me to glory.  Whom have I in heaven but thee?  And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 

Thought for the Day:  God is leading, take His hand.

Studying over the past few weeks for a test on English to Speakers of Other Languages has given me knowledge about how to teach children who attend our schools but do not speak English.  Now, I find myself with deeper thoughts about these children as well as all the children who sit in our classrooms each day.  We are different from one another, yes, but we are all in this life together.  Some of us are children who speak a different language than those around us.  Some of us have different ways of learning new skills because of the differences in the way we learn.  Some learn visually while others learn through reading books and listening to lectures.  As we teach, the key word for many, many years had been “differentiation” where we look at how children learn and where they are in their learning levels.  Then, we work to find the best groupings of children where they will learn best.  In my studies, I have read information from different professionals in the field giving their thoughts about how children learn, how much more difficult it is for one child to learn a new language over another, and what we need to do to touch each child where they are in our teaching.  It has been amazing to study this information as it has given me a reminder of the best techniques in teaching and has reminded me, once again, of my desire to touch each child where they are.  All children can learn and I am apart of making that happen.  What a wonderful thought.

Over the past week as I have begun work as a long-term substitute in a school nearby, I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet teachers and faculty, but mostly to work with some of the sweetest children ever.  I feel blessed beyond comprehension to be a part of this faculty and pray God’s leading each day as I go into the school building.  God has led me to this place and although there have been hardships in the process, I have prayed for His hand to guide me and I believe He has led me to this place, and He has led me to study and take the ESOL exam.  Not only will passing the exam (which unofficially I did) give me the endorsement I so desperately needed, but the study of the material has given me special tools and reminders for my teaching.  God led me to teaching many years ago and God will lead me to the place He wants me to continue through passion and love.

Prayer:  Precious Lord, take my hand lead me on, let me stand.  I am tired, I am weak, I am lone. Through the storm, through the night, Lead me on to the light.  Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  God leads us through the storm. 

I Will Listen

Jeremiah 29:11-14

“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.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Thought for the Day:  I will listen to His voice

Each morning I write.  I journal my thoughts and place them “out there” for everyone to see.  All who read my words know my heart and in knowing my heart they know many of my thoughts about my faith and about my times of fear and doubt.  On Monday evening, I was driving to make copies of my updated resume and cover letter.  As I drove I listened to my Pandora Radio with songs of Twila Paris.  Through the last couple of months, I have kept my phone set on Twila Paris hoping to hear a particular song but it never played.  It was the first song I ever sang in the presence of my husband, Mark, and led to a wonderful relationship and marriage.   As I drove, I again sang along with Twila Paris.  Then it happened.  Familiar music began and I looked down at the system menu.  I looked and saw the song title, “I Will Listen”.  I immediately began singing and as I sang I listened to the words, “This is the faith, patience to wait when there is nothing clear. Nothing to see, still we believe Jesus is very near.”  I began weeping and couldn’t even sing the words.  I called my husband and he reacted in a special way and I cherished his remembrance of the song.  On Tuesday, I had a wonderful interview at a school for a position they had available.  It went great and I felt wonderful about the time we shared together.  As I left and drove toward my house, something remarkable happened…”I Will Listen” came on Pandora again and this time I was able to sing feeling that something wonderful was about to happen.  But, God doesn’t do what we imagine, does He?  Hours after this happened, the phone rang and I missed the call, but returned the call after I heard the message.  I was being asked to take a long-time substitute position in a school even closer than the one I interviewed with.  I don’t know what this means in the long-run, but I know for now I am able to share my passion of teaching in a special way.

Timing, yes timing. Yes, God’s timing!  In the last two weeks, I have been called by several schools for interviews during a time in the school year when hiring teachers should not be needed.  But it has happened, and the one that came to fruition is one I would love to be a part of.  “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.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLKQ41QjdMA

Prayer:  Father, you are faithful!  Even when our faith falters and we begin doubting your greatness, you remain faithful to your children.  Help us in our unbelief to know you are with us every moment of our lives.  Amen

Prayer Focus:  Those seeking jobs.