God’s Plan After the Closed Doors

Isaiah 55:8-9

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Thought for the Day:  God Knows

Riding in my car the seven minutes to work recently, I found myself struggling with leaving my family that early in the morning.  This left my husband to get our youngest son on the bus and to wake our oldest son for the morning.  As I drove, I noticed it was cloudy and that the clouds brought beauty to the hills in front of me.  In that moment I began praying, thanking God for putting my family in this beautiful place and for reminding me with the clouds that He was taking care of our needs.  As I turned on the road to the school, I began tearing up as I remembered the many times I drove to that school and sat in front of it praying that God would bless me with a position there.  “How many doors did You close, God?  How many interviews went well only for me not to be called back?  How many times was I heartbroken after feeling excited after my visits to schools?”  So this time, as I drove into the parking lot of the school and looked at the building, I was able to say, “This is why You closed those doors…this is why.”  I am in a very special position at a very special school and now I feel…I know that God has put me in this place.

So many years, so many times I prayed and so many times I shared with others my belief that God had something planned for me in teaching.  In my human thoughts, I had to admit that my faith in myself that God had something special planned for me began to become weakened.  There were doubts and there was fear.  But I kept saying, “God has something planned for me” and “I just have to wait for God to give me His plan.”  I kept telling people about my faith, although my faith was not so strong inside me.  Now, I can share my faith with others and tell them that I have seen God’s hand lead me to the right place for me…the perfect place.

Prayer:  God, thank you for bringing your plan to us in Your time and in Your place.  We doubt sometimes, God, that You really have our life planned in Your special way.  We lose faith and we feel fear.  But God, You come through to help us led by Your mighty hand.  You are amazing, God, and I am thankful.  Amen

Prayer Focus:  Closed Doors

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He Never Forgets

Isaiah 43:2

I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!”

Thought for the Day:  God knows each of us, and loves us deeply. 

“God never forgets any of us. Though each of us is only one among billions, God always knows who we are. No matter how far we stray or how much time passes before we return to the Lord, God always remembers us, loves us, and calls us by name.” (The Upper Room Devotion, 04/01/2017) Those words should mean something special to every person who is created by God, our Father.  As I read those words today, I found myself rejoicing.  Those words, those special words, were written for every one of us.  There are those days, yes, there are those days when we feel alone, scared, down, and we don’t feel good about where we are at that moment in life.  It is hard to find ourselves “worthy” of God’s love.  But, the good thing is that we don’t have to be “worthy” of God’s love because He never forgets us, He always knows us, and He always loves us.  On this day, I found myself down in the dumps as I did a chore that I really did not want to do, and I do not feel I do it well.  After many hours, I sat to relax for a while.  As I sat, I opened the website for The Upper Room and saw those beautiful words written by the author.  As I read the words, “God never forgets any of us”, I felt myself rest more at ease as I felt His love for me.

God does show us His love every day, doesn’t He?  My hard day followed a day when I took a walk in our park.  During my walk, I witnessed the many ways God takes care of needs, yet as I did the chore I felt inadequate.  So, I looked back at the pictures from the walk and remembered once again of God’s love for all of us, even the animals.  And now, just now, I heard the geese honking as they flew over our house – heading to that park – I feel sure.  Remember how much God loves you today – “God never forgets any of us. Though each of us is only one among billions, God always knows who we are. No matter how far we stray or how much time passes before we return to the Lord, God always remembers us, loves us, and calls us by name.”

Prayer:  Father God, Thank You!  Thank you for loving us even when we feel we can’t love ourselves.  You take us as we are, You know us more deeply than we know ourselves, yet You love us anyway.  You are our Father and You have a Father’s love for us.  We love You, God!  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those Needing to know God’s Love for them.

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

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.

Help Me Feel the Shadow of Thy Wings

Psalms 17:7-8

Wondrously show thy steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at thy right hand.  Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of thy wings. 

Thought for the Day: Pray for God’s mighty wings to protect us

Over the past few days, there has been a special “live” video that has appeared on Facebook and other media of the hatching of two baby eaglets.  When I see the link, I click on it to see the video of what is happening in the eagle nest at that moment.  Most of the time, all I see is the eagle mama or daddy sitting in the nest with no sign of the egg or baby.  Only once have I viewed the video to see the movement of an eaglet as it received nourishment from its parent.  Admittedly, I have not viewed the live feed video for long and I am sure I just missed the images of the babies.  However, as I have watched I have realized how protected they are as the parent eagles have covered them with their very strong wings.  To me, I feel it exciting to see a glimpse of the babies, but I feel more excited to see how protective the parent eagles are of the babies.

One of the scriptures mentioned in a devotion I read was from Psalm 17, “Wondrously show thy steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at thy right hand.  Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of thy wings.” As I read those words in the early morning hour, my mind immediately went to that eagle’s nest and the vision of the parent eagles taking care of their babies.  Covering them with their wings, they protected their babies from view of enemies and from the view of the cameras.  As God’s children, we are much like those eaglets.   Our protection comes from God and when we heed His voice, His protection “of His wings” drapes over us to protect us from harm.  Today I pray, “Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of thy wings.”  I want to be protected by His strong wings.

Prayer:  God, You are our Father and our protector.  Today we pray for Your protection as we go through our day.  Be with us as we take each step and help us remember that You are near.  Please protect us from our enemies or from things that can harm us.  Cover us with Your wings today.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those who need to feel God’s Protection

Look Back, Yes, But Then Look Forward

Ecclesiastes 3:1-9

For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather  stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time  to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Thought for the Day: God is with us in our past, present, and future.

Today is the day to look back at the past but more importantly to look ahead at our future.   My family has had its challenges in the last three years bringing financial and emotional hardships.  As we still think about our past, however, we feel blessed that God has placed us in a very special place where we can experience a beautiful future.  Yes, there are memories of painful times, especially of people who hurt us and who have never said they were sorry.  Yes, there are moments we would like to forget.  But through those times, there were the moments in between that we never want to forget.  Because of heartbreak, my husband and I prayed more, read the Bible more, and became more spiritually strong.  We feel closer to God than ever before and we are thankful.  Because of heartbreak, I began writing.  At first I wrote about pain and I wrote about things that could never be shared with anyone else. But then, I felt God begin to lead my thoughts and He led me to write devotionals.  Those devotionals helped me become closer to God and to realize God’s presence in the hard times and in the good.  Those devotionals have actually helped others as well, of which I am thankful.  My husband found a position in a church that is known for Hospitality, and he has been able to share his ministry in new and miraculous ways.  We feel blessed to be in this place.  I have found myself still without a teaching position but my heart has been filled and fulfilled in writing, directing children’s choirs, singing in the chancel choir, taking pictures, being present for my children, and the list goes on and on.  God has blessed us in the hardships and in the gloriously wonderful new place.

Tomorrow, we begin a new year.  What will that new year bring?  The only thing we know for sure is that God will be in the new year for our family.  There is nothing else that we know for sure.  Through God being in our lives, though, we know we will feel His presence through each day.   There will be hardships, there will be blessings!  There will be days that are frustrating, and there will be days full of celebration!  There will be days of wondering, and there will be days of wonder!  But every day will be a day filled with God and God’s love will be present in our hearts.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for these days when we look back and can see where Your hand has led our lives.  Thank you for the days we begin anew knowing Your hand will lead us.  Be with us in the looking back but more so in the looking ahead.  We love You and know You are with us as we go through life.  We are thankful.  Amen

Prayer Focus:  Those looking back

The Conversation

Isaiah 43:18-21

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old, Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.

Thought for the Day:  As we face new days and thoughts, remember the times God has made a way.

Sharing a conversation with a friend who I haven’t spoken to in many months was refreshing to me.  There are still days when I feel sorry for myself as I still do not have a teaching position and although I am fulfilling a lot of dreams and visions of my heart, I sometimes feel I am not complete.  As I spoke to her about my husband’s ministry in our church and how our children are doing in their school, scout, and church activities my heart seemed to warm.  She stated that it seems that God has definitely led us to this place.  I agreed as it seems that everyone in our home has their place and is happy.  Looking back at that discussion as well as talks I have had with others through the last months has reminded me, once again, of God’s great plan for our lives and that He places us where He wills.  I am still yearning for a  position teaching in a local school, but in the meanwhile, I will continue being in His presence and writing about being in the presence of God.

“God will make a way where there seems to be no way, He works in ways we cannot see He will make a way for me.  He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side.  With love and strength for each new day, He will make a way.  He will make a way.”  In our lives today, “God has made a way where there seemed to be no way, He has worked in ways we could not see.  He has made a way for me.  He has been my guide, has held me closely to His side.  With love and strength for each new day, He has made a way.  He has made a way.”  I am still watching for God to guide me to my next big chapter, but in the meanwhile, I am thanking God for walking beside me.

Prayer:  Father God, thank you for conversations where we can talk about our faith and where You have led us.  Thank you for the friends we talk to who listen, give words of wisdom, and then pray for us.  We praise You today.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Seeing where God has made a way

Have Fun, but Remember the Reason is Jesus

Isaiah 9:6

 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 

 

Thought for the DayRemember and rejoice that God sent His son into the world for you.

Watching my youngest son pull out one Christmas decoration after another out of boxes warmed my heart and gave me a new excitement for the Season.  We arrived back home after a week of packing up and moving “the rest” of our things from our old house so by the time we arrived home, we were worn out.  My “goal in life” was to go to bed early.  But then I watched our child, and I began helping him place things around the house.   We had already decorated the Christmas tree early and put out most of our Clothique Santas before leaving to go out of town, but we still had a lot in boxes.  This trip brought us the most special Christmas items to our family and our sweet boy got excited when our giant “Annabelle” and “Slim-the pig” were opened.  My heart felt emotion when I watched him lay down and hug “Slim” and when he brought out one Annabelle after another placing them in wagons and sleighs.  Our “Henderson” family has a family memory and now a tradition that surrounds these story characters as the original story, “Clarabell, the Christmas Cow” was written by our cousin, Dan Henderson, in 1976.  He died in 1990 but his story was made into the movie, “Annabelle’s Wish”, in 1997.  Since that time, we have collected movie stuffed animals, movie dvds and vhs tapes, annual newspaper clippings of the original story since it appears in the paper each year, and my annual classroom edition of child illustrated books of Clarabell.  These years of children and adults reading the story and then seeing the movie has brought many hours of love and hope, and creates a new spirit of Santa’s magic.

Today, as we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, our church will celebrate the coming of Jesus and will begin planning for His arrival.  We light the first advent candle and will sing songs of His coming.  We go through the excitement each year because, not like a family tradition, but because He is our Lord and we are telling about His coming and how God sent His son into the world so that we would be saved.  Now, in our house, we will unpack nativities and our family Advent wreath and we will cherish the true story of Christmas, the story that began over 2000 years ago and one that continues in each of our hearts.  What fun we will have with the stories of Santa and “Clarabell”, but how deep will our love of Christ grow even more as we celebrate His birth.  Let’s take in Christ and celebrate deeply in our hearts the birth of our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for the fun of the Christmas Season as we enjoy traditions that have come.  Let us have fun, but please remind us every day that the reason we celebrate is because of that Gift you sent so many years ago in the form of a baby.  You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to live on earth and then to die on a cross for our sins.  You are our ever-loving Father.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Remembering the true meaning of Christmas

http://archive.commercialappeal.com/entertainment/lifestyle/clarabell-the-christmas-cow-ep-384179577-329128861.html

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKIG5BbV_5E&feature=share

 

She Saw Her Children as Saints

1 Thessalonians 1:10-12

 When he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.  To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.   

Thought for the DayWhat will we do to help raise our children as Saints of Christ?

Singing “Rejoice in God’s Saints” and “For All the Saints” at the beginning of the All Saint’s Day Worship Service was special.  As the service progressed the choir sang “Coming Home” which is a powerful anthem bringing thoughts to coming home to God.  The sermon by Pastor Jonathan brought thoughts about how Jesus worked with sinners who were not accepted by society as people he should be with and helped them learn to follow Him.  His sermon was about Zacchaeus and how Jesus worked to bring him, a chief tax collector of the Romans, to follow Him.  He took Zacchaeus from sinner to saint.    As Pastor Jonathan spoke about his life and that he was blessed to still have his family members living and being a part of his life, my tears began to flow as I realized how many of my family members I no longer have with me.  As I knelt at the altar rail after taking communion, I found myself asking, “God, what have you left me here for?” and “What do you want me to do?”  Then, I thought back over something else Pastor Jonathan said in his sermon when he spoke of his great-great-grandmother and that she looked at her children and saw saints.  In other words, I visualized in that moment that I need to look at my children to see saints, saints in the making, saints in training, saints who need their daddy and I to lead them through the process of becoming the saints God intends them to be.

As communion took place and after we lit candles to remember those saints who have gone before us, I began writing the names of my loved ones who have gone before.  The list I wrote was long and included my grandparents, parents, brothers, husband, aunts and uncles who helped lead me to Christ.   I never knew a single moment in my life when I did not know that Jesus loved me, and that knowledge came from those who saw me as a saint.  They saw that I was, and am, a saint in the making, a saint in training, and a saint who needed and still needs people to train me where I will fulfill His plan.  So, today I look at my boys and see saints.  Mark and I occasionally sing a duet of “Find us Faithful” by Steve Green.  Some of the lyrics to the song are: “Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run the race not only for the prize.  But as those who’ve gone before us, let us leave to those behind us, the heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives.”  How well my family did this as they passed on their faithfulness to me, and how well will I pass on my “Faithfulness” to my children?  As I look at them, let me see “saints” and let me know how to train them in the way that will help them become the faithful saints God intends them to be.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, you are so awesome.  You have taken us as we are and have loved us and led us to follow You.  Thank you for all the saints who have gone before us to train us in the way that leads to You.  We pray You will “Find us Faithful” in the way we lead others to You.  Be with us today!  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Parents and Children

Typing Class

Philippians 4:8-9

 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you. 

Thought for the DayWhat learned skills is God using in you today?

Recently I had the thrill of reading a sweet message by a teacher I had in high school.  As I read her message giving me encouragement because of how God had worked in her life I remembered how special she was to me.  When I finished reading her words, I thought about her for a few minutes.  I remembered sitting in her class day after day in front of a typewriter as I learned how to type.   I shared with my husband that it was one of my favorite classes and that I still had a textbook that I bought years later where I could practice more.  I began thinking about the skills I learned as I was young in writing, reading, language arts, math, home economics, history, geography, typing and shorthand.  I realized that those hours of sitting in front of that typewriter trained me in a skill that would later become one of the most important skills I ever learned.  I never dreamed that I would love writing my daily devotionals, but I do know that without her class I would not be able to write in the way I do.  As I think, it seems that without hesitation my fingers move over the keys and my thoughts appear on the screen.  As I type the words of scripture each day from the Bible that sits next to me, I can hear my fingers hitting the keys clearer and seemingly louder.

Forty-one years ago, God led me to learn a skill that helped Him fulfill a plan for me.  As I write on a daily basis, the most natural thing I do is put my fingers on my laptop keys.  Before the thoughts come, my fingers sit waiting on the “home keys”.  Then, God brings the thoughts and my fingers begin moving to type the words He has given me.  Today I am ever thankful for this teacher and many more who taught me the skills that helped me learn about God, and to learn about my faith.  At 55, I am still learning new skills and I am still learning about my relationship with God.  Each morning when I awake, I am learning to “wait” on my “home keys”.  I am learning to wait for Him to lead me through my day.  When He leads me, I can then move with ease as I write His words on my heart, the words He ordains for me.

Prayer:  Father God, thank you for all the teachers who have taught us the skills to lead us successfully through life.  Thank you for leading us each day to where You want us to be.  You are wonderful and You are our Father.  Help us feel You as you lead us through our day.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Teachers and Students