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In 2005, in the last 6 weeks of his life my Daddy spent 3 weeks in the hospital, then nearly 3 weeks at home before he passed. The first week or so wasn’t too bad, and then it began to wear on me – physically and emotionally.  We went through such a “roller coaster” of emotions from “he’s not going to live through the night” to “we’re going home in a day or two…” And then, to couple this with only getting 2-3 hours of sleep a night, well it was taking a toll!

One day, when I was particularly stressed, one of Daddy’s sisters-in-law called me. Now, this lady is just special! And she… just encouraged me so much that day. So, after I hung up from talking with her, I wrote this piece that I titled “Running on Empty”.

Running on Empty

“God is ever gracious, ever loving, ever caring, ever teaching in every trial of our lives.

When my physical and emotional “tank” is on empty, He sends someone with a smile, a hug, a laugh, or a prayer that adds a little fuel to the tank and gives me a few more “miles” of strength.

Oh God, thank You that in this time of need someone came to me. Thank You, that in this time of need I saw so clearly how need-ful something like that is, and how helpful it can be.

Grant me, I pray, the “eyes” to see the opportunities to pour a little in another’s “tank” when they, too, are “running on empty.”

Thank You for this one You sent to me today.
Amen”

 

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A poem written in the early 80’s when I was pregnant with our first child.

 

A Mother’s Eighth Psalm

The Psalmist said,

“What is man that Thou art mindful of him

for Thou hast made him

only a little lower than the angels.”

 

And I say,

What am I, that You are mindful of me?

For You have made me a woman

and capable of

creation myself.

 

And I have carried a child in my womb

and borne him into the world.

But today that child alone must choose

“Whom ye will serve…”

and only he can

“Confess with your mouth

and believe in your heart…”

for himself

I can’t do it for him…

 

Being a creator isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 

God,

what did you feel

when You turned man loose

with Your creation?

 

 

 

 

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A friend and I were talking about fear and trusting God. I have had times of great fear when learning to trust God. I wrote this about 15 years ago – it has been a long and at times, hard journey getting here. And I still don’t trust like I should… but I’m getting there.

The Fear of the Lord

Solomon declared,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

And I do have fear.

Sometimes

to the point of despair.

For I know that nothing happens

without first passing through the Hand of God.

God calls forth the act, directs the act

or He allows the act.

And so I fear – What will be His Will?

 

My mind and my heart struggle for control

of the emotion.

My heart says “Love”

and my mind says “Sovereignty”

with “sovereignty” being a fearful word.

 

I’ve seen God act to spare His people

and I’ve also seen Jeremiah thrown

into a well,

And Hosea sent to marry a harlot.

How can such infinite Love

allow such personal tragedy?

And so I fear…

 

But fear of the Lord

is the beginning of knowledge.

And with knowledge comes wisdom,

and with wisdom comes faith.

And with faith comes assurance

that sovereignty is not a fearful word

but is indeed Love.

 

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I have probably shared these before – but I think they bear repeating.

Three Prayers for the New Year

(Personal prayer)

Father, as I pause to think about praying for a new year, I have to wonder, what is it about changing the date on a calendar that makes us think of “starting over.”? Don’t we realize that every day, yes even every moment is new with You? That at any moment we can surrender ourselves to You and start afresh? Why do we think a date must change for us to change?

Or, is it the season we’ve just gone through that prompts us to make changes? We have experienced the Advent and the celebration of the Day of the birth of our Lord. Is somehow, that “advent” so ingrained within us that we long for “something new”? That we subconsciously want to “prepare” ourselves to be, what, better? More ready for His coming?

I don’t know the “why” Lord. I just know that we do. My prayer is, as Paul said, “forgetting what lies behind, but reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on to the goal…” And what is my goal, Lord? To know Thee more clearly, to serve Thee more nearly, and to love Thee more dearly… this is my prayer.

In Jesus’ name – Amen.

 

(Universal prayer)

Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent God; our Creator, our Adonay, our El-Shaddai, our God Almighty, You are everything we need. You have created us for Your purposes and to glorify You, hear our cries; hear our praises this day…

We lift up to You this day, a new year; a turning of our earthly calendar. Do You laugh at that, God? For to You “a thousand years is as a single day” and yet we turn the calendar with such pomp and circumstance – with such celebrations and resolutions, that one would think that we had some control… but, it is all Yours.

We humbly bow at that admission and revelation. It is all Yours! Make of us, Lord, servants of the Most High God, make of us, Father, servants of Your children.

We pray, Father, for those for whom the turning of the calendar brings hope; for those who just want to forget last year and start afresh. We pray that they would come to know that every day is new with You.

We pray for those for whom the turning of the calendar brings despair, anxiety and fear; for those who just can’t see how things can get any better. We pray that they would come to know You in all Your fullness, and to recognize that “this world is not their home.”

We pray for those for whom the turning of the calendar brings excitement; for those who know You and just can’t wait to see what You’ll do next. God! That is so exhilarating – just to know the joy of the Lord! But even at that Lord, may we too, realize that “this world is not our home” either. Don’t let us get so caught up with “living” that we forget “life.”

We humbly lay this year at Your feet and ask what would You have us do? Where would You have us go? Who would You have us touch? And who would You have touch us?

And may all that we do, glorify You.

In Jesus’ name – Amen.

 

(My prayer)

My Father and my God, so order my steps in this coming year as to only bring honor to that Name I carry – “Christian.”

Lord, I know that means so many different things to different people – and some of it is not good. May I begin to change that!

Our younger son once said, “I keep tying my shoe, and it keeps coming untied – it must be something in my step…” Father, no matter how much I try to keep life together, no matter how often I tie my shoes, they keep coming untied. Life keeps coming unraveled, because that’s how life is. And as long as we live as humans, in fallen “containers” it will always be like that.

And so I pray, God, order my steps, control my walk, direct my path, that I may serve You and You alone this new year. That is my plea.

In Jesus’ name – Amen.

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first-umc-akron-ohio

A beautiful shot of First UMC Akron, Ohio

 

Wiseman or Shepherd?

God revealed Himself to the Wiseman’s intellect

and to the Shepherd’s heart…

 

Sometimes I think I’m a Wiseman,

with all my charts and diagrams,

but they continue to point to where I am

and never to where I want to go.

 

But these are my diagrams and charts,

constructed of logic and not the heart

and following my maps will never impart

where God wants me to go.

 

Then,

Sometimes I’m a Shepherd, or so I claim,

when I don’t want to play life’s little game

of who I am by what’s my name.

And I only want to be different.

 

But God called the Shepherds through their open ear,

who we’re willing to follow despite their fear.

Then shouted Hosannas to all who would hear

regardless of the difference.

 

God calls to us wherever we are

to step out on faith and follow the star

to travel however near or far

we have to go to change

or rearrange

our thinking.

 

In each of us the Wisemen lie

the Shepherds too, we can’t deny,

And God’s Holy Name we glorify

each time we’re willing to change

and rearrange

our thinking.

 

Yes, God still reveals Himself to the Wiseman’s intellect

and the Shepherd’s heart

And neither one is more important than the other.

 

 

 

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manger-scene

You can find this in front of Thorngrove Christian Church on Carter School Road in East Knox County.

 

This poem was written in the late 70’s – long before our sons were born – but I just imagined how it might be…

 

A New Understanding of Christmas

 

It’s probably all been said before,

and I really don’t want to be a bore,

But, Christmas to me

and what I feel,

is so very, oh, more real

than anything that could be said.

 

Being a woman, I think of Mary,

bearing the Babe

and having to carry

the responsibility and all the while,

she was little more

than a child herself.

 

Was she afraid, so far from home,

and knowing no more

than she must have known?

Was she afraid that silent night

bearing her child with only the light

from the star for assurance

that God was there

in person and prayer

Father and Son as one?

 

I guess I’m a dreamer, but I tend to see,

how things would be

if it happened to me.

 

I wonder if

I could endure

the pain, and then still be as sure

that this was God’s plan for my life

to be a mother before a wife,

I wonder if I could.

 

I try to grasp how it must have been

in the cold damp barn

when a bunch of men

shepherds they were

reverently knelt

and quietly beheld their Savior.

 

And later then the wise men three,

coming, oh, so far to see,

the Mother and the Child

The King

the Promised One

The Messiah.

 

I’m sure then Mary softly smiled

and looked down gently at her child

The Savior of the world to be

but right now so tenderly,

He was her baby.

 

Somehow, looking out through Mary’s eyes

brings a new understanding of Christmas.

 

 

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This devotional was written several years ago when our boys were still at home and I still owned my caning business… some of these things have changed – some have not…

At the Beginning

Father, I lift up my heart to You at the “beginning” of this Christmas season. I say “beginning” as in “Church calendar” and not in terms of the marketplace – for in the marketplace, it has already been “Christmas” for a loooong time now…

Being a child of the 60’s, one of the first things that comes to mind is John Lennon’s song of “So this is Christmas, and what have we here…” and I think, “Yeah, what do we have here…?”

We have lists – shopping lists, grocery lists, “to-do” lists and an already “jam-packed to the gills” calendar filled with even more responsibilities.

As a business owner, I have customers depending on me for things on their shopping lists.

As a wife, and mother, I have family depending on me for – well, for being “Honey” and “Mom” and all that entails at any given point in their lives.

And, as a church-member and Sunday School teacher, I have “every time the doors are open” activities, that I’m expected to attend, lessons to prepare, and devotions to give.

But, as a woman, as Your child, I have… peace… yeah, I really do. As I think about it, and all the things I “have” to do in all the other areas of my life, I’m surprised that the word “peace” is what comes to my mind when I think of what I have as Your child…

This hasn’t always been so. And may not always be so, but at this time, in this place, right now I have peace. And I thank You for that, Father.

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