Showing posts with label hope. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hope. Show all posts

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Choices in Baseball and Life

John 7:16-18
Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

The rhythm of the game of baseball relaxes me. The runners round the bases in order—first, second, third, and home—and the rules make sense, most of the time.

This summer a grandson is playing the great American game, Tim is ushering at the Reds, and a granddaughter is playing softball. My family has a long friendship with the game. Grandpa Griffith hosted baseball games at his farm in the 1920s and 30s. Mom shared stories of watching the men lift their bats and run the bases.

As I’ve watch baseball and softball, I see the players making a lot of decisions. How far to run to field the ball, when to run and when to stay on base, when to hit and when to wait.

Much like baseball, life is full of choices. Every day I’m faced with decisions. What to do, how to react, what to say, but I have an advantage when it comes to the choices I make. I talk to God and seek his wisdom for what I should do. Like the baseball player looks to the coach, I seek God’s wisdom. You see, I love God, and I want to glorify him and follow his will.

In my decisions, I seek God’s wisdom and when I forget, I struggle. God gives free will, and he wants me to choose. So I choose him. I Praise God for his wisdom and the freedom of being a believer.

Bend God’s ear when you have choices to make.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Inside Out

Proverbs 14:30
A heart at peace gives life to the body,
     but envy rots the bones.

As I walked along the vegetable aisle at the local grocery store, I searched for a red pepper. The one I found shone with a healthy red color and felt firm to the touch. I held it up, and the skin appeared perfect, not one blemish, and the stem still held its green color. 

I’d found the perfect red pepper. After I arrived home, I set out the vegetables I wanted in my salad. I chopped the broccoli into small sections, cut up some carrots and celery, and sliced a few olives in half. Then I prepared to cut into that beautiful pepper.

The knife slid through the skin and pulp and the pepper fell open. I couldn’t believe what I saw. Rot. The entire inside of the perfect red pepper was covered in mold. I’m sure you’ve guessed—I threw it in the garbage. I couldn’t eat a rotten red pepper. Disappointment filled me. I had looked forward to the flavor it would add to my salad.

The pepper reminded me of social media. We tend to put our best foot forward, share pictures of what appears to be a somewhat perfect life, yet in reality, no one has a perfect life. There’s not a thing wrong with sharing the positive and uplifting days. It’s encouraging, but I have to remember that everyone else goes through trials and difficulties. I guard against the envy I might feel for what others have or do by inviting God’s peace and contentment into my heart.

Instead of projecting a perfect appearance, I try to be myself. Whether on social media or in person, if you meet me, you’ll likely see warts and all. I don’t want to be the person who looks perfect on the outside but is rotting inside. I’d rather be my imperfect self and have the love of Jesus in my heart and the Holy Spirit in my soul so I might have a peace filled life.

Have a heart at peace by loving Jesus.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Such Beauty

I am amazed by the vast range of colors God has created.
These beautiful impatiens spread across a flower bed in Cincinnati,
and I had to snap a photo. 

Do you notice the vibrancy of summer flowers?
They lift my spirits and add joy to my day.
Thank you, Lord, for creating such beauty.


 

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Don't Let Him Steal Your Joy

1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

I experienced joy in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Have you ever experienced something or attended a gathering where you tasted a hint of heaven? That’s what I experienced at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

I spent a week at the Ridgecrest Conference Center immersed in fellowship, worship, and education. More than knowledge, wisdom swirled in those mountains. Every day we spent two sessions listening to encouraging and hope-filled messages from the keynote speakers. We were led in worship by a young couple who blessed us with their love of Jesus. We attended classes led by amazing authors and folks in the publishing industry, and I met fellow writers who, like me, needed encouragement to stay obedient to the call to write.

The experience as a whole filled me with hope and anticipation, but I knew when I went home to my family (who I longed to see) and every day life, I’d need to ease back into life. I say this because I know the Devil and his wily ways. He can’t wait to suck the joy out of me, but Kia Stephens, the final keynote speaker, reminded me to guard my heart from the one who wants to inflict doubt.

God told Samuel He looks at the heart, and Proverbs reminds me to guard my heart because everything flows from it.

One way to keep my heart safe from attack is to praise God, lift my face to Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to fill me with peace.

When the devil attacks—fight backlift your voice and sing. It doesn’t matter if it’s off key or not, just praise the Father and ask Him to fill your heart with His hope and peace.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

A Wink of Color

The blueish-purple bud winked at me. 

Mostly green, from the trees, bushes, and stems, 
wrapped the edges of the walking path, this time of year. 
The spring flowers have completed their life cycle
of gorgeous blooms, while just a few blossoms remain.

As we trekked through the wooded area, the wink of color, 
the humble spiderwort plant shared, caught my eye.
The tall green stem and spikey leaves held the three petals high.

Had I not been paying attention, I would have missed the beauty 
God created in the small petals. 
Even the yellow of the anthem that sits atop the filament
added a brightness to the pretty plant.

God is in the details. 
He knows our hearts as well as he knows this lovely flower.
He's with me in every little and big thing. Always.


 

Saturday, June 1, 2024

The Fragrance

John 12:3
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

The essence of lavender hung in the air. 

I’ve grown lavender in my flower garden for years. One of the plants I have has moved with me three times. Usually lavender doesn’t transplant well, but this particular plant has endured. Many types of lavender don’t like rich loamy soil but want an alkaline base, instead. When I discovered how well the plant thrived in the dirt at our condo, I added two more plants, a French lavender and another English lavender. Both produce lovely purple blooms and a fragrance I love.

As long as I water the plant (they don’t need an abundance) put it in a sunny spot, and prune it when it’s time, I enjoy the fragrant smell of it all summer. I can keep the smell around longer if I gather the stems and blooms and tie them in bundles to dry for winter. Some people press the blooms and draw out the oil to use in soaps and other products.

The oil Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet may have come from the Nardostachys jatamansi, a flowering plant in the honeysuckle family. It produces an expensive thick golden oil used sparingly. Mary understood how precious her friendship with Jesus was, and that His purpose on earth would change the world. She chose to honor His life as many would honor His death.

I’ve read that the sense of smell is the sense that brings back the most memories. The smell of lavender will always remind me of the peace and calm I feel when I’m working in my plants. For Mary, I’m sure every time she smelled the fragrance of nard, she remembered Jesus and His sacrifice.

I’ve been to the church camp a few times in the last few weeks and the smell of the woods and the dorms never changes. I’m reminded of some of my best days as a kid, when I learned how much Jesus loved me.

I hope something reminds you of Jesus every single day. Whether the smell of a flower, a picture, a kindness shown to you or that you show to others.

Jesus loves you, every day.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

But I Missed It

Hebrews 11:1-3
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Hebrews 11:39-40
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

I’d wanted to see the northern lights/aroura borealis, but I missed it. Sara had posted her photos from her yard and said, “Go outside.” So, we did. We drove out to an area with fewer lights to see if we could see it, but they never materialized. If we’d driven farther east, we may have had a chance, but we were both tired and decided to go home. We tried again the next night, but nothing materialized. But that’s okay. I enjoyed all the photos of our grandkids seeing them and all the Facebook posts.

A week later, Tim and I stopped at the local Dollar General and when we went outside, the sunset was stunning. Orange, lavender, and purple painted the sky. God put on a beautiful show of color. The amazing sky reminded me of a truth our pastor spoke of recently.

God has a better plan. I might be disappointed or devastated because my plans didn’t work out. But God had something better for me. I may not have gotten the writing opportunity I wanted, but God had a greater plan for my work.

I didn’t see the northern lights, but I did witness a glorious sunset that reminded me God is with me.

No matter the circumstances, God is faithful, and Jesus loves you. He’s always with us if we invite Him on our journey.

Ask Jesus to join you on your everyday walk.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Every Single Day

I was standing by the lake at our local church camp 
watching my grandkids paddle in kayaks and paddle boats, 
during our granddaughter's graduation party.
A warm breeze drifted across the water 
and my eye was drawn to the wild daisies
along the shore. 

Their beauty nodded at me and reminded me I'd have peace 
if I wrapped my grandchildren in prayer and trusted God.

God's peace is beyond my understanding, 
but I know I need it every single day.





 

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Congratulations, graduates!

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

It seems like yesterday that we held these babies in our arms.

Eighteen years ago, between October and March, four babies were born into our family. My siblings and I each added a new grandbaby to our bundles. It’s been a joy to watch the four of them grow into themselves. Dylan (the only girl) Casey, Cody, and Colton played together at family gatherings and now they all have the honor of being high school graduates.

Cody, Casey, Colton, & Dylan Cousins-photo by Maggie

My heart overflows with joy for them, and I'm curious to see where the future takes them. Their paths will vary, and their vocations differ, but their hearts will all show the kindness and caring they’ve learned from their parents.

When young people graduate, they hear lots of advice. I’ve shared some with my granddaughter, Dylan, and I’m sure the boys have all heard guidance from their people. When it comes to scripture, the words I want them to place in their hearts are to trust in God, seek His wisdom, and listen to His guidance.

I have a t-shirt that says, “God has a plan, so I have a purpose.” God does have a purpose for each person’s life, sometimes it takes a while to figure out where He leads, but we can’t go wrong when we trust Jesus with our life.

I pray over all the graduates as they venture into the world of adulting. It’s not easy, but it can be blessed with joy and hope when you follow God’s word and seek His guidance.

I pray for these four as they step into the next phase of life. 

Invite God to walk beside you.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Sprout!

The seeds in Dilly's Garden have soaked up the rain and sunshine.
The zinnia and cosmo have pushed through the dirt.

I love to see the new growth in the spring, before the flowers bloom.
They remind me of watching a child grow into themselves---
like God watches us grow in Him.

Hold your hands out and take in the sun and rain God offers from His word.


 

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Walking Shoes

1 John 1: 5-7
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

My husband, Tim, said to me, “A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice.”

I have a hard time buying comfortable shoes. My feet have not aged well, and I can no longer wear heels (not that I wore them much anyway) and I need a wide footbed. My go-to brands have become Topo for tennis shoes and Earth shoes for “dress” shoes. Fortunately, once I figure out what size I need, they usually fit me when I order them online.

One day, Tim, Rosie May, and I walked around the path at the park. I had on my newest pair of Topos and Tim asked me how they felt. I told him I didn’t notice any pain, as a matter of fact, I didn’t notice them at all. That’s when he said they must be a good shoe. Without any tingles, aches, stones poking through, or pain the shoes marched along content to do their job.

As we continued to chat, the conversation turned to life and how if we are on the best path, doing the right things—following God’s lead—it’s kind of like a pair of well-fitting shoes. Guilt isn't poking my conscience because I'm making choices according to God's guidance. I’m not stumbling over something I shouldn’t have said. My soul is not aching from misguided intentions, because I’m following the Master’s guidance and walking with Him.

When I take my eyes off of Jesus, I stumble and feel the pain of my ill-chosen choices, just like I feel the pain from ill-fitted shoes.

Take the time to listen to God’s lead, seek His wisdom, and walk by His side. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Miles to Go

The woods are lovely dark and deep,
but I have promises to keep.
and miles to go before I sleep...
-Robert Frost

One of my favorite poets penned these words many years ago, 
and I took them to heart, to mean I had much to do in this world as I serve God.

One thing I do these days is take a walk with Tim and Rosie
through the wooded area in our park.
That's where much of the inspiration comes from for my blog.

I often think about and pray about what God wants me to do, 
to make, to write, who He wants me to interact with and love on.

God knows my path, and I'm glad my journey often meanders through the woods.



 

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Prime the Pump

1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

The grass is growing.

Not mowing the yard is one of the advantages of living in a condo. Of course, we pay a fee for others to rev the engines and ride around our part of the common space, but we don’t miss mowing.

I remember learning from my dad to prime the pump—before I started the mower. If I didn’t prime the pump, mechanical failure caused the mower to stop working.

Over the years, when we owned homes with yards, we took turns mowing, but Tim did most of it. I enjoyed it until my allergies caused me too much discomfort. No matter how many times we mowed, the pump got primed when it needed to.

Now, when I think of priming the pump, my mind goes to spiritual matters. I’ve seen this quote many times: “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Some attribute it to CS Lewis, but others say it’s anonymous. Regardless, I find myself understanding I need to prime my spiritual pump to take care of my soul.

Every day, I prime my physical pump with coffee to start the day. Maybe you get your pump going with tea, juice, or a smoothie, but how do I prepare my soul to face the day?

I try to spend a bit of time in the morning reading scripture while I sip my coffee. Some verses I read to prime my pump include: Galatians 5:22-23 (The Fruit of the Spirit) Proverbs 3:5-6 (Trust in the Lord) Romans 15:13 (Hope) and 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 (How to live my life) and so many more.

The Bible primes my pump and so does Sunday morning worship. I love the music we sing at church and what I listen to on the Christian radio channel. It fills my heart with joy. I love learning from the sermons and from sharing with friends and family about scripture throughout the week.

How do you prime your spiritual pump? Music, scripture, community? Whatever it is, keep at it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

I Spy a Jack-In-the-Pulpit

Sometimes the beauty of a plant isn't in it's colorful bloom,
but in the memories I recall.
When I spy a Jack-in-the-pulpit in the woods, 
I'm reminded of growing up in church 
and listening to the preacher behind the pulpit.

My foundation in Jesus was built by the many truths 
I learned on Sunday mornings, 
and the ones I continue to hear at our church today.

Thanks to those who share God's truth.



 

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Tucked Under the Leaves

Psalm 59:16-17

But I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
    my refuge in times of trouble.

You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
    my God on whom I can rely.

Our neighbor knocked on the door the other evening. He stopped by to share the news we had a nest of baby bunnies in my flower bed. Since we both have dogs, he wanted us to be aware, so Rosie wouldn’t bother it.

Tim and I took a peek and saw the little babies nestled inside under a tumble of gray fur and grass. The next morning, we went to check on them, and one of them hopped out. Of course I squealed like a child filled with joy. The little guy was adorable and big enough to take on the wild world of nature.

I’m not sure why the momma chose to place her babies in my flower bed, tucked under the yarrow leaves, but I’m glad she did. Maybe the soft leaves gave her a feeling of security. Whatever the reason, I’m thankful we got to witness the beauty of the baby bunny and the joy of new life.

As a momma myself, I wanted to tuck my babies into a secure place and protect them from the world. Yet, I knew instead I needed to trust the One who shelters me. As the kids grew up and discovered themselves and secured a relationship with God, I prayed as I sent them into the world that God would protect and shield them. Now, our grandchildren have or are leaving the nest, and I pray over them daily.

God is the refuge in this crazy life.

Seek Him as your shelter.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

I'm Glad I Paid Attention

Toadshade trillium sprinkle the forest floor. 
It's more common in Ohio's woods and visible in the spring. 
On our hikes we'd seen several of them. 
One day I read a post about the trillium flexipes and it's presense in Ohio parks, 
but I'd never seen one, until this week.

Tim and I walked along the trail, 
and as usual I was on the lookout for new spring plants.
If I hadn't been paying attention, I would have missed this beauty. 
A foot from the gravel path, in the grass, the trillium flexipes nodded at me. 

What a pleasant surprise. 

When I pay attention, God often surprises me with joy. 

Trillium flexipes


Toadshade Trillium


Saturday, April 20, 2024

Dilly's Garden

Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others.

Grandchildren remind me of flowers. Over time, they bloom and grow into themselves. We are blessed to have wonderful grandchildren who respect us and help us. I don’t take that for granted. We give credit to their parents who have raised them to love God and love people.

A few months ago, I mentioned I would need help in my little flower garden. I like to play in the dirt, but I can’t do what I used to. My granddaughter Dylan volunteered. April zipped in after the flurry of March, and I stopped in Lowe’s for some garden soil. Of course, I got distracted by the colorful perennials and purchased a pink and a purple columbine and a pretty pincushion flower.

I sent Dylan a text that Sunday and she came on Monday. This young lady knelt in the dirt, planted flowers, dug out others, moved a few, sprinkled seeds and smiled. When she stood, she was covered in dirt and mulch and she looked lovely, because she wore humbleness and helpfulness in all its glory.

Dylan graduates high school this year, and I know she’ll bloom into whoever God intends her to be. She already has a great start, a wonderful work ethic, and kindness for others.

I’m calling this section of my flower bed, Dilly’s garden, and I’ll be blessed each time I admire my granddaughter’s work.

If you have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or any children you love in your life, show them how to love others without wanting something in return. Teach them to help others by helping them. Show kindness and kindness will blossom and show appreciation.

We all have someone in our lives to nurture. The best way is to share the love of Jesus.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

In the Details

On a walk this week, I noticed how pretty the maple tree seeds 
(we always called them helicopters) appeared. 
When the leaves bud and begin to grow, the tree releases the
helicopters, and they twirl to the ground.

Does anyone else remember trying to catch them?

God's handiwork never ceases to amaze me.
When those seeds fall to the forest floor, more trees grow.
When they fall into the hands of a child, they entertain their imagination.

What small detail of God's creation have you noticed this week?



 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Breathtaking

Revelation 22:1-5
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

Behold the beauty.

Have you ever seen something so breathtaking you can’t look away?

On our walk, through Sycamore Park, the Virginia bluebells are in full bloom. A day after the solar eclipse, we trekked along the paved trail where there are signs to stay on the path and not walk in the wooded area. The park personnel are working to restore the flora and fauna. This particular day, the sky clouded and light rain fell. In that lighting, the blue of the bluebells shone in gorgeous contrast to the spring green.

All along the path, I couldn’t stop looking at the beautiful shade of blue that blanketed many areas in the woods. You just don’t see blue flowers that often and when they’re in clusters, they are simply stunning.

As in awe as I am of floral beauty, I can’t begin to imagine the splendor of heaven. We catch glimpses of what John saw in his vision in Revelation. A river, a tree filled with fruit, eternal light from God himself, oh the glory. The picture painted in Revelation 22 pours hope into my soul. Nature’s beauty in perfect harmony will surround us in heaven.

I hope as you imagine heaven, you see yourself standing at the throne and praising God. I want to sit by the river and bask in God’s light and taste the sweet fruit of His presence.

Take a moment from the chaos of this life, imagine heaven, and fill up on hope.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

What's in the Woods?

I love to hike in the woods with Tim and Rosie in the spring. 
The wild flowers are poking their heads out of the ground.
Their blooms are not as glamorous as the tulips or the daffodils, 
but they're just as beautiful. 

When I see the toadshade trillium and the yellow trout lily, 
I know spring has arrived.
I also spotted the delicate, lavender blossoms of Jacob's ladder and flox.

God created so many lovely blooms for us to enjoy and appreciate.
Take a hike and discover what's in the woods.