2015 - "Three Little Words" by Terry Ferguson
The Fruit of the Spirit
2016 - "Through the Year with Francis of Assisi"
by Murray Bodo
2017 - Thanks-Living

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Save Me, Jesus

Romans 10:9-10

The Romans passage says, "With the heart a person believes....and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."  Down through the ages the heart ♡ has been used to symbolize the place where God resides in us.  The heart-shaped pretzel is thought to have been created by a monk in the 7th century to symbolize the crossed arms of a child in prayer and was given out as a reward to the children who had memorized their prayers.  The three holes some say represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Still others declare that the knot in the middle symbolizes marriage.  The next time I eat a pretzel I will think about how believing in my heart and confessing with my mouth that Jesus is Lord saves me.  My belief ties the knot in my re-union with God.    

Friday, February 27, 2015

Give Your Tithe

Proverbs 3:9-10

I feel very blessed to live in a lovely home in a beautiful setting.  I never dreamed I'd have such a place and would have been very content to stay in our small townhouse.  Because of feeling blessed I have always opened my home to church gatherings over the years and to guests, encouraging them to stay as long as they liked, making every effort to help them feel comfortable and well-fed.  I do not believe Christians are bound to the law of tithing.  Instead I believe that everything belongs to God, and my desire to be a good steward and share all that He has given me is the work of the Spirit in me.  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Walk By Faith

Colossians 2:6-7

Faith is the heart and soul of my relationship with God.  It is like the wind that catches in the canvases of a sailboat.  Without it I can't please God and He can't reward me.  There were eight of us who wanted to go out into the Chesapeake Bay that day, but one sailboat could not accommodate that many people so we had to split up.  At first I was disappointed that I'd not be on board with my family.  But when the younger generation climbed aboard one boat and the older on the other I soon realized I was able to get some wonderful photos and video of the younger generation enjoying their ride.  God showed me that even though I couldn't see the benefit of being split up, He did.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Steady Does It

Colossians 1:23

Sometimes our Christian walk can feel like a hike in the desert--we feel hot, tired and thirsty--and wonder if we'll make it home to God.  Not only that, there are difficult people, like prickly cacti, we're be called to love along the way.  But Paul encourages me to keep on keeping on by holding on to the faith I began with.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ready, Set. Go

Mark 16:15

Trying to walk in Daddy's boots is near impossible when we are little, but as we grow we eventually are able to.  As I grow in Christ with the Holy Spirit's help I am made ready to go out into the world and share all that He has set in my heart.  

Monday, February 23, 2015

Love Your Neighbor

Romans 13:9-10

Our house sits on 2½  acres of land now so we can just barely see our neighbors and then only in the winter when the bushes in our woods die back.  But years ago we lived in a townhouse community that shared a common parking lot.  I learned an important lesson about loving your neighbor from that experience.  I noticed that when the neighbors who were my friends left their garbage cans out on the curb longer than a day it did not bother me.  The people I did not know, however, their cans annoyed me!  Loving one's neighbor covers a multitude of sins and makes for a much more congenial living arrangement.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Keep Looking Up

Titus 2:12-13

Did you ever lie on the ground when you were a child looking for distinctive shapes formed by the clouds?  I can see Great Britain in the clouds above.  Is that because I'd love to go there?  Scripture tells me that Jesus will return the same way he departed, and we should keep watch because we do not know what day He'll come.   When I look up into the sky and look beyond the clouds I see Heaven because I know when the Lord comes again He'll take me to a place I'll love even more than here.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Haste Makes Waste

There are many ways in which hastes makes waste.  In our fast-paced society taking time to read to a child may seem like a waste.  After all, there's always the TV and other electronic devices we can put the child in front of to entertain them while we busy ourselves with "more important" things.  But are they more important?  Now that my children are grown I can see too easily now the time I wasted doing other things rather than spending direct time with my children.  I was always around, but was I really present?  Placing a child on your lap and reading to them will reap lasting rewards for both you and the child.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fast and Pray

Fasting is a way for us to gain mastery over the flesh.  I have never fasted for the purpose of prayer, but I have denied myself a snack that I was craving even though I wasn't actually hungry.  I felt empowered when the craving disappeared without having bodily satisfied it.  In this small way I gained mastery over my flesh.  I can see where this could be very useful when praying for something I need to overcome.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Crime Doesn't Pay

. . . .But it will not be well for an evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow. . . .

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Think You Can

The Philippians and 2 Corinthians passages say God gives us the strength to do anything.  One of the ways God strengthens us is through our fiery trials.  The Proverbs passage says how we think in our heart is how we will be.  Not our heads.  My mind has a way of lying to me, but my heart tells me the truth because God resides in my heart.  If I think from my heart, then I can do whatever God asks me to do.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Prayer Changes Things

I did a Morning Musings post on the Best Blueberry Muffins last year.  Here I'm adding baking powder to the batter.  Without it the muffins will not rise and be light and airy.  This is how I think of prayer when it's added to my day.  I can go through the day feeling heavy and dense, or I can start my day with prayer and feel joyful and carefree.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Finish the Race

We've made paths in our woods.  This photo was taken right after we'd spread new wood chips along the path.  Throughout the year we have to pick up branches that have fallen across the path and occasionally we have to put down new wood chips.  In Hebrews Paul talks about running the race marked out for us.  Like the paths we've made in our woods that we have to keep clear of debris, my life follows a path God has prepared for me that I must keep clear of distractions and hindrances.  As a follower of Christ, the race I run, as Paul puts it, holds a reward for all who finish.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Believe in Miracles

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

The dictionary defines a miracle with these words:  wonder, marvel, sensation, mystery, supernatural phenomenon.  A miracle, by Bible standards, is all those things, but the emphasis is on the fact that it's a supernatural phenomenon.  Ever since we entered the Age of Reason, starting in the 17th century, miracles, by the Bible definition, seem few and far between.  Have miracles more or less ceased?  Or have we just "reasoned" them away?  How can I look at the rising and setting of the sun over our life-sustaining earth and not believe we are living a daily miracle?  How can I hold a newly-born granddaughter and not believe in miracles?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Do Not Gossip

Proverbs 11:13

When we were digging up our lawn to lay pea gravel our neighbor's hens visited often to poke through the dirt looking for grubs, which were in abundance.  I'd hear them coming because of the sounds they make.  To me it sounds like a bunch of ladies gossiping.  To stand up for my own gender I will point out men can be just as guilty when it comes to gossiping!  But that doesn't make it OK, does it ladies.  We know when we've crossed the line of genuinely expressing concern for someone to saying things that the person we're talking to really doesn't need to know in order to pray for that person.  I've always liked the test for sharing information about another:  Is it true?  Is it kind?  Is it necessary?  I wish this test would be applied to newspaper and TV accounts of public figures' lives.  But since I can't do anything about that, I can be sure that I don't pass it on.

Friday, February 13, 2015

God Will Provide

Genesis 22:13-14

The Abraham story in Genesis 22 troubles some people--that God would ask Abraham to sacrifice his son and that Abraham was willing to do so.  Blind obedience does not come easily to our Western culture.  So I have to look at this story from God's perspective instead of Abraham's.  If I do my part to trust and obey, then God will use my willingness to provide not only what I need, but also what those involved need.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Dreams Come True

2 Samuel 7:28-29

I've dreamed of being a mother since I was a little girl playing with dolls.  I married young, but because I wanted to be able to stay home with my children, we delayed starting our family for seven years while I worked and saved.  Once we felt it was time and a year had passed with no success, I began to wonder if my dream would ever come true.  Since I had worked longer than I'd planned I decided to quit work and pursue activities that I really wanted to be doing--like signing up to visit an elderly woman in an assisted-care facility.  Margaret was in her 70's with only a couple nieces who rarely visited.  I visited her weekly, taking her out in my little 2-seater sports car.  One of our visits was to her little girl's grave.  The child had died suddenly in the late 1920's from meningitis.  Then her husband died and not too long afterwards her mother.  I remember the day I arrived to tell her I was pregnant after two long years of trying.  She was thrilled and told me she'd been praying for me to have a child.  Jonathan and I continued to visit her every week.  And even after we moved 30 miles away two years later, and had a second child, all three of us continued to visit her until her death the next year when Jonathan was four and Matthew was one.  I went on to have a third child five years later and finally felt my family was complete.  I often think of Margaret and feel blessed for having known her and for being able to share with her the children I had dreamed of for so long.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Give Your All

Colossians 3:23

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters."  I bought this scherenschnitte picture in Lancaster County, PA, where a large community of Amish live.  The Amish believe in hard work and order their lives so that they will be reminded that it is God who is their master.  They know that human beings are easily distracted and can grow lazy if not diligent.  They live in like-minded communities so that they can encourage one another to be faithful.  But I don't want to glorify their lifestyle, because they are not infallible.  They, too, struggle with sin.  Instead, I see them as reminders of people of faith who care more about how God views them than man.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In Jesus' Name

Colossians 3:17

Someone gave me this little sign years ago.  Can you read what it says?  If you can't, it's because you've focused your eyes on the white area rather than the black.  Now try it. . . . I know what it says and it's still hard to keep my eyes focused where they should be in order to read it.  I think this is a good example of today's scripture.  If I don't do and say what I do and say as a representative of Christ, others can't see Him.  I must keep my focus on Him and do all things as unto Him.  Then others will be able to see Him working in and through me.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Knowledge is Power

Proverbs 1:5-7

Today's three little words go hand-in-hand with yesterday's "Nothing is Impossible." The reason I say that is when I don't believe that with God everything is possible, I begin to take matters into my own hands.  That ignites my ego, and I stop being open to learning because I think I already have all the answers.  The Proverbs passage says it's the "fear" of God that opens us to knowledge....fearing God means to be in awe of Him.  When I take that humble attitude, God can instruct me, and through my experiences, with His knowledge firmly planted in my mind, I can become "as wise as an owl."  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Nothing is Impossible

Matthew 17:20

There's a saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  And many of us believe that applies to us as well....that we're incapable of changing, especially as we get older.  But with God anything is possible the Bible tells us, if we have even a little bit of faith.  So several months ago I took what little faith I had that I could draw and forced myself to keep trying.  I've been pleasantly surprised that at my age I'm seeing some progress. As my faith grows, God will have even more to work with as He gives me my heart's desire.  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Shine Your Light

This is the sunrise, taken from the window by my desk.  I like the New Living Translation version of Proverbs 4:18:  "The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn...."  Seeing the sky lit up before I can actually see the sun is like holding the promise of each new day in my heart that if I follow in the path God has prepared for me as one of His children that even more light shall be shed across it to lead the way.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

Use Kind Words

Proverbs 15:26

This is my maternal grandmother on her wedding day in 1920.  She was 17 and he was 34.  They'd have 6 children, lose one to Diphtheria, and struggle through the Depression.  She'd lose my grandfather to black lung disease when the youngest, twins, were just 10 years old.  What I remember most about my grandmother was that my mother said she never heard her mother say an unkind word.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Silence is Golden

Proverbs 17:27-28

Labyrinths have been around for centuries.  Christians have used them since medieval times as a means to center oneself in meditation.  It's a time of reflection.  A quiet time.  A time to wait upon God and listen.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Resist the Devil

Matthew 16:23-24

Near the top of Rodin's sculpture, Gates of Hell, is the original version of a stand-alone sculpture, The Thinker.  In Matthew 16 Jesus admonishes Peter to "Get behind Me, Satan!"  God gave man the ability to think and to reason.  This is what Peter was doing.  He was reasoning out that Jesus was capable of preventing His own suffering and death and therefore exclaimed, "This shall never happen to You!"  Rodin's Thinker is very appropriate at the entrance to Hell.  Man is very good at reasoning away the need for salvation--or even the reality of God.  God gave us that ability to reason, but if it's rooted in the earthly realm instead of the heavenly realm, it can get us into trouble.  I can be guilty of this in subtle ways that discourage me from following my heart.  If my reasoning is firmly rooted in love (God) and not fear (things of this world), I will be able to resist the devil. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Little Things Count

Mark 4:30-32

The little things do matter.  They can do much destruction or they can grow into great and wonderful things like the mustard seed used to illustrate how the Kingdom of God grows.  The tiniest of seeds, once planted, can grow to a large size, offering shade for birds to nest in.  The tiniest bit of faith can grow into the Kingdom of God within.  I wore a mustard seed encased in glass along with my half of a Mizpah coin while my fiancee was in Vietnam in 1968.  The Mizpah coin represented my promise to wait for his return, but the mustard seed represented the faith I had that he would return so that we could be married and grow a life together.  It was my tiny faith as a young Christian that helped me face all the uncertainty the year-long wait engendered in me.  Forty-six years ago today I only had four more days to wait for his return.  We were married seven days later.  From that small beginning we have produced a life together, three sons (the youngest who turns 27 today), a granddaughter, a home, and many wonderful memories.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Help the Needy

Acts 4:34-35

This bread line is depicted at Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey.  Helping the needy no longer seems to be the Church's emphasis in many communities.  The government has had to pick up the slack.  It should not be this way according to today's scriptures.  But it is also a symptom of something even deeper--the lack of community within the church where everyone cares for one another beyond just words.  And because we tend to congregate with people of the same socio-economic status, those who have and those who have not do not cross paths.  I must be mindful for this and find ways to help the needy.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Jesus is Lord

Philippians 2:9-11

This is the graveyard for the founding Sisters who ran the Visitation Academy in Frederick, established in 1846.  The sign on the fence reads, "Heaven's Gateway."  Catholic nuns do not marry, but instead consider themselves brides of Christ, dedicating their entire lives to Him.  Those who marry and have children are no less faithful to God.  I can still dedicate my life to God by making Jesus my Lord as I serve Him by loving those He has brought into my life.