Tag Archive: Christianity


Dandelions

dandelions Okay.  I admit it.  I think a field of dandelions looks pretty.

I know.  I know.  Dandelions are weeds.  We wage war against them in our yards.  And that’s a good thing.  I’m very thankful for my husband who is amazing at keeping our yard beautiful.  Lush green grass.  Bright flowers.  Full bushes and trees.  No dandelions.  It’s wonderful.

But somehow my children have found dandelions at times and given me their fresh-picked, bright yellow bouquets.  At that moment, the dandelions are no longer enemies to be yanked out of the ground and thrown away with other weeds.  No.  They are delightful, cheerful table centerpieces in my kitchen.

So what changes?  The dandelions are still weeds, but in that moment, I have changed.  And maybe there’s a lesson somewhere in that.

Dandelion fields are a reality.  And occasionally dandelions appear in our own lawns and we are right to fight against them.  To do everything we can to eliminate those weeds.  But perhaps there is a time to take that dandelion bouquet that is handed to us and let it change us.  Sometimes dandelions can be beautiful.

In fact, God is very good at making very bad things beautiful.  Even a dandelion.

dandelion-bouquet

 

 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose,” Romans 8:28.

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imagesDo you have a dream?   A goal you’ve been working toward? A bucket list? I wonder if David in the Bible had a dream, a goal or even a bucket list? Did he dream of being a king? Did he practice his harp with the hope of playing in the palace? What would his bucket list have looked like? “Write a song. Kill bear with bare hands. Kill lion with bare hands. Heroically fight giant. Play harp for king. Be king. Build amazing temple for the one true God.”

 

Did his dreams seem out of reach and his goals impossible? Maybe he wrote his bucket list in his mind as he took care of his sheep that night when no one thought to even invite him to a very important dinner.

 

There he was. Again. Sheep all around him. The air was still as the sun slowly began to go down. Oh, the colors in the sky were brilliant and he praised his God for making such a beautiful sunset. He enjoyed his job, although he knew nothing else. He was very good at being a shepherd. He recalled the day that a bear came to take a sheep, but he took care of that bear with his own two hands. Nothing would mess with his sheep. He enjoyed the moments that were perfectly quiet and still. He just sat and thought about his God. His wonderful, good God, whom he loved so much. Some evenings he would make up songs to sing to his God. And poems about God’s goodness. He was glad for his job with the sheep and the time that it gave him to think about his God and just worship Him. But something deep inside of him wanted to do more than just take care of sheep. This evening especially.

 

His brothers had come by on their way to an important dinner. At least that’s what they had said. The man of God, Samuel, was coming by to choose one of them to be the next king of Israel. Who would it be? His brothers were so excited. Each one was sure that he would be the one to be chosen. But they didn’t even invite him. Away they ran to the dinner – leaving their youngest brother behind.

 

He heard the music up the hill. He thought about the food that would be served at this dinner. It would be a wonderful feast for the man of God. And he wondered which one of his brothers would be chosen. He wished he could have been there to see it. But he was here, taking care of the sheep.

 

Suddenly something broke the stillness of the evening. One of his father’s servants was running toward him. Was the dinner over? Which one of his brothers was chosen? He wondered as the young man came closer. Out of breath the servant spoke as quickly as he could. “You have to come to the dinner. The man of God, Samuel, said that the dinner will not go on without you. You have to come now.” He asked what was going on and the servant told him, “Samuel said that God has not chosen any of your brothers. Samuel was so confused. But then we told Samuel about you out here with the sheep. And Samuel wants you to come. Maybe God is choosing you to be the next king of Israel! It could be you! We have to go right now. It could be you, David!”

 

I don’t know if that’s exactly how it happened, but you know the rest of the story. Daniel was chosen to be the next king of Israel. But even though he was anointed as the next king, it was a very long time before he became the next king. Later he would play the harp in the palace – check that one off the bucket list. But then he would spend a lot of time running from King Saul – that one wasn’t on the bucket list – but God always protected him. And when he was king he had a goal that he wanted so much to accomplish. He wanted to build a temple for God. He drew plans and told his son all about them, even though he was not the one to build the temple.

 

As I think about David today, I think about so many people who have dreams and goals. And maybe even a bucket list. They have been working so hard to accomplish their goals even though it is taking a very long time. Years, in fact. But they keep on going. Maybe one of them is you.

 

I wonder, what if Samuel hadn’t listened to God, especially when he didn’t understand what was going on? He could have taken the easy way out and simply chosen the one who looked most like a king, although we know how that turned out with Saul.

 

What if David hadn’t made the most of his time with the sheep? He worshipped God and allowed God to prepare for him for more. Are you in a time of waiting?  Maybe God is using this time to prepare you for more.

 

What if David hadn’t gone to the dinner? His brothers didn’t seem to think he was worth much. And apparently his parents didn’t think he would be a king. Are you listening to the right voices about who you are and what you are able to do? God knows you and He believes in you, even when others don’t.

 

So reach for your dream, work toward your goal, and make that bucket list. Who knows what will happen when you spend time with God as David did, work hard and keep on going!

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord,” Jeremiah 29:11-14a NIV.

What’s That Sound?

imagesFootball games are so much fun!  The people, the snacks, the sounds and the game.

After attending several home football games this fall I’ve become familiar with the same sounds that the band plays at each game.  At the last game, though, I heard different sounds.  And I wondered, “What’s that sound?”  I looked around the stadium.  And then I knew.  A different band was playing.  The visiting team had brought their band with them and they were playing very loudly on the other side of the field.  So loudly, in fact, that it was difficult to hear those familiar tunes from our own home team band.  A fan near me shouted out to that visiting band, “Are you trying to play louder than our band?!”  I quietly agreed with him.  I had thought the same thing, but I’m not one for shouting.  I struggled to listen to our home band play as I tried not to hear that other band.  After all, the other band was playing music that I didn’t know and this was our field.  Our own band should be heard loud and clear.

Then I thought about how we so often hear things that contradict what we know so well.  Those sounds can be so loud.  And I’m sure people mean well, just like that visiting band.  But meaning well and being loud doesn’t make something right or true.  Things that contradict the Bible or just what is true, like people’s own idea of how the world came to be or people’s own definition of marriage and so many other ideas today, are just sounds.  We hear a lot of sounds out there so it’s important to know what is true and to spend time reading the Bible so that it will be familiar to us, like the band’s music at a home football game.

So, next time I’m hoping that the visiting team doesn’t bring their band with them.  Sorry visiting team.  I just want to hear those familiar sounds of my hometown team’s band.

 

 

IMG_4917It’s that time again.  Time to thank my Good News Club Team for all of their hard work and dedication to our club this year.  So, what do you give a group of teenagers?  As I wandered through the store I came up with a fun idea using something that everyone likes.  Candy!

I decided to give my teen volunteers a bag of candy with a fun message to let them know that they made a difference in the lives of our kids at club and that I appreciate them.  Here is my message for them:

Thanks for making a difference in the lives of so many kids this year! You made our club more fun than REESE’S as you shared many TREASURES from God’s Word.  You taught and interacted with the children like a STARBURST and not like BUTTERFINGERS.  So it was ALMOND JOY to have you on my Good News Club Team.  You are worth more than 100 GRAND and you deserve a big PAYDAY, but all I can give you is this bag of candy.  I appreciate you!

But why let the fun stop there?  One of our kids at club memorized every single Bible verse.  Since we meet every week during the school year and we have a new verse each week, that’s a lot of Bible verses!  So that child gets a candy surprise, too!  Here’s the message for that child:

Congratulations, (child’s name)!  You know that learning God’s Word is worth more than 100 GRAND and more fun than REESE’S because you memorized every Bible verse at Good News Club this year!  Now you have stored up TREASURES from God in your heart, which will give you (ALMOND) JOY as you remember God’s Word when you need it.  You are a Bible verse-learning STARBURST and you deserve a big PAYDAY for your hard work!  Good job, Mrs. Lori

So, do you need some inspiration today?  Maybe all you need is to take a walk through the candy aisle!

And to all of my fellow volunteers in ministry:  You’re making a difference, too, even if I can’t give you candy!

 

 

 

One Tall Tulip

IMG_4964Spring is here!  What a joy it is to finally see colorful flowers quietly appearing after a long, cold winter with the ground covered in only white snow or brown grass.

One of my favorite things about spring is my tulips.  It was so fun the other day to drive up my driveway and notice green tulip leaves poking up through the mulch-covered ground around my tree.  Each day after that I watched them, anticipating bright-colored tulips growing out of those leaves.  And then there was one!  I waited for more, but there would be no more tulips.  Only one. One tall tulip.  The leaves are there for several others, but it seems that the rabbits ate those other tulips.  Only one tulip stands safe and strong.

If I had thought of it earlier I would have sprinkled blood meal on the leaves to keep the rabbits away.  I have done that to protect them in the past, but this year I completely forgot about those rabbits.  Oh, I saw them running and playing in my backyard, but I forgot that they like to eat tulips.  I forgot that I was in a battle with the rabbits.  So while I had just what I needed to protect my tulips against the rabbits, I didn’t use it.  I left it right there in my garage.  And now I have one tulip.  It’s a beautiful tulip, though.  Bright yellow.  Tall.  Petals joyously and victoriously wide open to the sky.  As if somehow it knows that it’s the only tulip that survived those hungry rabbits.

My rabbit and tulip situation is a good reminder that we are in a battle, whether we know it or not.  And we can get so busy doing all of our wonderful things, but forget about spending time in God’s Word.  And then we forget about the enemy that wants us to get so busy and forget about spending time in God’s Word.  Our enemy is like those rabbits hanging out in our backyards just waiting to eat our tulips when we’re not looking.  And we have what we need to keep our enemy away.  Maybe not blood meal, but we have God’s Word to protect us, but we have to use it.  We can’t just leave it in the garage – or on the table or in a drawer – and forget about it.

Ephesians 6:10-11 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil,” (NASB).  Verse 17 says, “And take up the Helmet of Salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

We need the full armor of God every day to stand firm in this world, which includes the sword of the Spirit – not just in our homes, but in our hearts and minds.  There’s a new song by Casting Crowns that talks about the enemy waiting for the night to fall.  It says, “And while you slumber, he’s gonna take it all…he knows you have the answers, but Truth lies dusty on your shelf and the sword that you could slay him with has become an ornament and nothing else,” (Waiting on the Night To Fall).  Has your Bible been forgotten?  Has it become a dusty ornament on your shelf?  Is that blood meal sitting in the garage while the rabbits are happily devouring your tulips?

Let’s take up our sword – the Word of God – and stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  We can win the battle with the rabbits in our yards.

You could be like that one joyful, victorious tall tulip with it’s bright yellow petals reaching toward the sky!

No matter what’s going on around you, you can stand – like my one tall tulip.

Here’s “Waiting on the Night to Fall” by Casting Crowns:

 

 

EmptyTombPic“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:1-6 NIV).

Happy Easter, Everyone!

 

 

IMG_4920It’s here!  The “Children’s Ministry Magazine” May/June 2014 issue.  The one with my article in it!  They said that they were going to publish it.  And they did!  I have enjoyed reading this magazine for several years, but this one is extra fun!

shoesI’m excited about the opportunity to speak at a dinner for writers soon.  In preparation of that I was asked a question about a post on my blog.  You know the post, or posts.  The subject that keeps coming up again and again – my brown shoes.

Since I have posted different times about my brown shoes I was asked where I was going with those shoes.  It made me laugh at first because I have been going to many places with those shoes – to the grocery store, to the airport, to different places to teach, to restaurants for lunch with friends and even to the ladies’ Bible study that I’ve been leading in my home.  I know that going to literal places is not what they meant by that question of where am I going, but in a way it is.  And it’s a good question.

You remember the shoes.  Those brown, leather and oh-so-comfortable shoes that I can just slide my feet right into as I walk out the door.  My favorite shoes.  And you remember that when my first pair of those favorite brown shoes looked worn I went to the store and was able to replace them with a new pair of the same shoes.  Oh, that was a happy day!  But over time that second pair of brown shoes began to look just like my first pair and, oh, that was a sad day when I realized that they were worn out, too.  But then I discovered brown shoe polish.  I polished my shoes and they looked like new again.  I can’t even begin to explain to you the excitement in my heart over my newly polished shoes.  I could wear them everywhere without being ashamed of how worn my favorite comfy shoes looked.  As I wore my shoes, I could polish them over and over again to keep them looking nice.  But that much work only lasts for so long.

So what did I do?  I kept one pair nicely polished and stored away in its box for times when I needed to wear shoes that looked fresh, clean and perfectly polished.  And the rest of the time I just walked right out of the house wearing my favorite brown leather comfy, well-worn shoes.  As I think about that now I realize that while maybe we don’t all have favorite shoes or even two pairs of the same favorite shoes so we can keep one pair in a box for special times, we do wear different faces depending on where we are going.  Sometimes we can just be ourselves in our comfy well-worn shoes like when we shop at our local grocery store or meet friends for lunch, but at other times we don’t let others know we have those well-worn shoes and we put on our nice shoes, as if we have everything all together.

Over the last few months I have been leading a ladies’ Bible study in my home about marriage, which has been a lot of fun.  I so enjoy spending time with other ladies who love God and also their husbands!  As I shared some of my own mistakes from my early years of marriage we laughed and learned together.  It was like I put on my well-worn shoes and let everyone see them.  Well, actually, most of the days I’m pretty sure that I was wearing my actual well-worn shoes.  But what happened was that the other ladies saw that I don’t always have it all together.  And that it’s okay to learn and grow each day.  And while I wore those worn-out shoes something happened.  The ladies quickly felt comfortable to share about their own struggles and victories as the room became a safe place to put on our well-worn shoes together and just be real.  Because of that we were able to surround each other with prayer and support each other.  Don’t you love wearing your well-worn shoes with good friends?  The whole series was such a special Bible study time together.  Because I wore my favorite brown leather worn-out shoes.

There are times to put on my nicely polished shoes, though.  Like when I go out with my husband or speak somewhere.  I wore them recently to a fundraising banquet for a ministry that I volunteer with.  It is important to look our best!  However, sometimes we choose to look our best, like maybe on Sunday mornings, when really we just need to put on our worn-out shoes, be real and allow someone to see that we don’t have it all together.

First Peter 5:5 says, “…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble,'” (NIV).

I guess I clothed myself with humility as I put on my worn-out shoes and shared with my Bible study friends.  It has been so neat to watch God work in our lives as we have shared with each other.  So I guess for now that is where I’m going with those shoes, which is wherever God leads me, whether it’s in a time to wear my nicely polished shoes or in a time to wear my worn-out shoes.

So here’s my question for you today:  What shoes will you wear?

While We Wait

childwaitingAre you waiting for anything?  I’m waiting for something.  Something that’s going to make me wait again.  And I don’t even really like waiting.

I ordered a new slow cooker.  Now I have to wait for it to come.  Why does that take so long?  Well, it should only be a few days, but it sure seems like a long time.  It will be great when it is here, though.  And while I wait I can find new slow cooker recipes.

Because when it comes, I’ll get to cook with it.  And then wait some more because slow cookers cook food for hours until the food is ready.  But the slow-cooked food will be so good.  And while I wait, the kitchen will be filled with the wonderful aroma of hope – hope of a delicious dinner.

So today I’m thinking about waiting.  Some things just take so long.  And we have to wait.  Like waiting in line at the store.  Waiting for pizza to be delivered.  Waiting for God to answer prayers.  Waiting for injuries to heal.  Waiting for a doctor report.  Waiting for someone’s heart to change.  Waiting for a job.  Waiting for a paycheck.  Waiting for Christmas.  Waiting to meet someone special.  Waiting for marriage.  Waiting for a baby to be born.  Waiting for a busy time of life to be over.  Waiting to go on vacation.  Waiting for nail polish to dry.  Waiting for a child to tie their shoes.  Waiting for an airplane.  Waiting for the weekend.  Waiting.

Some things just take time.  And we have to wait.  But often the things that we wait for are worth the wait.  Which is why I ordered a slow cooker instead of just cooking everything in the microwave or oven or on the stove.  Yes, dinner from a slow cooker will be good.  And worth the wait.  So what do we do while we’re waiting?

There are several verses in the Bible about waiting.  Here are a couple from the Psalms:

When David was confident that God would deliver him from his enemies he wrote, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord,”  (Psalm 27:14 NIV).

I don’t know who wrote this, but whoever it was knew that God’s Word would never fail.  Here’s Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his words I put my hope.”

Isaiah knew that God was always good, even when we are in difficult times of waiting, and he encouraged God’s people to trust in Him and gain their strength from Him.  He wrote Isaiah 40:31, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

So, even when it’s difficult to wait, we can be confident and strong because we know that God’s Word will never fail.  Whatever happens during and after the wait, God will be with us.  Actually, God is right here with us even while we wait.

Love Is…

heartinhands“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Everyone!