Monday, August 30, 2010

Elevator Conversations

Last week I was sharing an elevator with a very friendly man. He wanted to chat and joke around and I really didn’t. I was thinking about all I had to do that day and couldn’t be bothered by this man.

For some reason this situation stuck with me and I have been thinking about it since. What if I missed an opportunity to speak an encouraging word or maybe share an act of kindness? This may seem silly, but in Corinthians Paul says that we are a letter from Christ, written not from ink but with the Spirit of the living God (2 Corinthians 3:3). This scripture says to me that our lives should point to Christ in all areas, even in silly situations in an elevator.

As I think about how I could “be a better Christian,” I thought about all the things I could do to achieve this — I could not be so impatient, I could be more giving, I could go out of my way to help more people. But I was missing the whole point. The world does not need the love that I can give; it needs only the love that Christ can give. Light bulb!

This is all about fruit. I need all of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians, and the only way to get them is by being rooted in good ground. This comes by spending time with Christ and letting Him water the ground to grow the fruit. Why is the right answer always the toughest?! Doing daily devotions is something I need to work on; it is something that is necessary to be able to write my letter to the world. I want my letter to reflect not me, but to clearly reflect Christ in me. So next time friendly elevator person, I will be ready!

Michelle Heriford

Friday, August 27, 2010

It’s Never Too Late to Start Doing What’s Right

I heard these words, “It’s never too late to start doing what’s right” in an adult Sunday school class years ago, and it changed my life. I considered my life and all of the things that I had not done the right way … either in being the best daughter, the best wife, the best mother or the best friend. And those few words said to me, “Don’t stress over it. That was yesterday and today is a brand new day. Start doing things right today!” 

I am in my sixties and considered a senior now. My greatest hope is to encourage both young women and the ones who are not so young. Don’t be discouraged about the way you wish you had handled certain situations in your life. Give up that blame game and begin afresh. Today is a brand new day, it is the “first day of the rest of your life.” I think those were words in a commercial for eating the right cereal years ago? But they fit! 

Isaiah 43:18 says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?” Verse 25 says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” 

Begin today to do those things that you need to do differently. Be the “Woman of God” that He created you to be. Don’t dismay, “It’s never too late to start doing what’s right.”

Patricia Harvey

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In the Face of Disappointment

I was talking with a friend the other day about a situation in which she and her husband feel differently. It’s a biggee — one of those issues premarital counselors would recommend you discuss and work out before you get married. Alas, they didn’t do that and now they have discovered that they do not want the same thing. It’s not a matter of right or wrong; they simply don’t share the same desire.

As we were talking, she recognized that she can feel anger toward him because he doesn’t feel the same way she does, but she also acknowledged that he has every right to feel the way he does. Then she started reflecting on all of the sacrifices he has made for her and their marriage over the past couple of years. And I’m talking some big sacrifices! They live where they do because of her dreams and desires. They are switching churches because of her comfort level. He took a job that is stressful and challenging but that pays more so that she doesn’t have to work full time.

I was very proud of her for focusing on the positives and recognizing all the ways her husband loves her and has shown that love. Even though I’m not married, my conversation with her challenged me to examine my attitude in my relationships. When I’m hurt or disappointed or just plain disagree with someone I care about, do I focus on the things that rub me the wrong way about that person or do I recall the many positive points that I appreciate about them? Do I allow Christ’s grace to fill me and overflow into the relationship? Do I recognize the many ways that God overlooks my flaws and even the areas where my desires do not yet line up with His and yet He loves me anyway?

Patty Dextrom

Monday, August 23, 2010

Turkey and Quinoa Salad

One of my favorites for a healthy and yummy summer dinner or lunch.

½ cup raw quinoa (an alternative grain, can get at the health food store)
1 cup water
½ lb. cooked turkey, cubed
2 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
Curry powder to taste
Coarsely chopped fresh basil to taste
½ cup chopped pecans

Rinse quinoa; drain. Place quinoa and water in a 2-quart saucepan; bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed; cool. Place quinoa and all other ingredients, except the lettuce leaves, in a large bowl; mix. Refrigerate one to two hours to allow flavors to blend. Spoon mixture onto lettuce leaves.

Sally Hall

Friday, August 20, 2010

Music that Builds

This morning, while still in my comfy pajamas, I sat down to the piano to tickle a few keys. I have LOTS of music books to play from and some of them take me back to my younger years when I was developing as a new believer and music was a primary vein of building into me.

As I began to play I was overwhelmed and even brought to tears by the words that lifted off the page and into my heart. One song in particular took me back to camp days when I took a deeper step with God in my relationship with Him, actually making Him Lord of my life. The words and music were recalling my initial commitment to Christ but with a deeper realization to be pure. Read for yourself:

Verse 1:

According to Thy loving kindness, Father, have mercy on my sinful, wretched soul. Make me to know once more Thy joy and gladness, blot out my sin, oh cleanse and make me whole.


I humbly now acknowledge by transgression. Against thee only Father, is my sin. Restore to me the joy of my salvation. Oh purify my life, without, within.

Verse 2:

A contrite heart I offer Thee, dear Father, Oh hide Thy face from all my sin I pray.

According to Thy tender love and mercy, Oh pardon, Lord, this soul that went astray.

So I must ask the question — What songs have been powerful in your life? Even thinking about it causes me to look at all the music I love to listen to and ask, “How is this affecting me?” Am I a better person today because of the music that is building into my life? I’d love to hear from you.

Cathy Bytwerk
Song: Oh Purify My Life (Psalm 51), Cuban melody, Harmonized by R.C. Savage

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Unconditional Love

I just recently listened to a song by Kari Jobe called “You Are for Me.” Part of the chorus is You are for me … I know you will never forsake me in my weakness.

God never forsaking me in my weakness is the hardest thing for me to grasp as a Christian. Why is it that so many of us feel like we don’t measure up to God’s love? I struggle with many things and ideals of this fallen world. Cattiness, discontentment, laziness are all things I have repeatedly asked God for forgiveness. This constant struggle often makes me feel like I’m not worthy of God’s love. I think this may be true for a lot of women; so many of us feel unworthy but I think God’s love can shine the most brightly amidst that brokenness.

Romans 8:38-39 says:

“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.” 

I need to always be reminded of this verse. He will never give up on me because I don’t measure up. He loves me at my worst, and He loves me at my best. Nothing can or will change that.

Nichole Richardson

Monday, August 16, 2010

Be Nice!

It’s no secret that the nicer you are to others, the happier you’ll be. Even a cheerful “good morning!” can brighten someone’s day. It doesn’t matter who you come across, whether it’s a grumpy salesperson, a rude coworker, a friend that you don’t really care for, or someone who cut you off on the road … be nice!! You might not want to, and you might feel weird doing it, but that’s when you need to the most: you need to show them kindness.

Please, the next time you feel like saying something smart or sarcastic, STOP! Those words are like seeds, and when you speak them you plant weeds of discontent and unhappiness in your own heart. Instead, plant seeds of happiness through acts of kindness, and I promise that you will reap a life that is more loving and happy.

Lately, I’ve noticed that we use social networks as vehicles to perpetuate a lot of negativity. I read things people write on Facebook and the status updates are mostly angry and generally negative — “my job sucks,” “I hate________”, “______is stupid.” Many times these are close friends and family saying these things.

People are so empty of love and it hurts me to see so many people unhappy. I challenge you that if you have a Facebook account, post something encouraging today! Take initiative and grow happiness in your life by sharing love and kindness with others. If someone is pouring out negative, discouraging, hurtful words your way, choose to be nice. Wherever you go, whoever you interact with (friends, coworkers, strangers, etc.), take a minute to show kindness and plant seeds of happiness. Not only will you be known as a nice person, but more importantly you will be a happy and kind person!

Andrea Perry

Friday, August 13, 2010

Am I Willing to be Wounded?

One day, my friend Wendy was chatting about what God was teaching her when she said something that totally arrested me. “The question is,” she said, “Are you willing to be wounded so that someone else can be healed?”

The Holy Spirit nudged me; a hundred thoughts flooded my mind. I knew I would “take the hit” for my children; hasn’t every mom told her sick or injured child, “If I could take the pain for you, I would”? And I knew I wanted to say yes to Wendy’s question ... but I also knew I couldn’t.

In fact, I had been going through some painful feelings about then ... those “I’m-inept-and-a-failure” kind of feelings the enemy trips me up with from time to time. I realized that not only had I been flailing against the pain of rejection, I had not even considered what the Lord might be doing in the lives of the people I felt wounded by, much less whether my wounds were to be a part of their healing.

I’m glad the Lord caught my attention that day! He gave me a new perspective on my pain — a perspective that is more Christ-focused and less me-focused.

Isaiah 53 tells us that Jesus was wounded so that we could be healed. So if I long to be like Him —

Am I willing to absorb the hurt when my friend takes her heartache out on me? 

Am I willing to answer with tenderness when my husband comes home in a bad mood after a hard day? 

Can I remain silent and pray rather than defend myself when I’m being blasted by someone in pain? 

The question is, am I willing to be like Christ by allowing myself to be wounded for someone else’s sake? I want to say, “Yes!” Now, Lord, help me to stretch my arms out wide the next time the opportunity comes.

Anne Cody

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trust Signs

Have you seen the Lottery billboards along the highway? I regularly drive past two of them, and have gotten lost in thought as I've considered those big numbers. When I have seen mulit-multi-million dollar jackpots advertised, my mind has begun playing with the idea of what I could do if I had that kind of money. I’ve mused, “Wouldn’t it be nice to not worry about the kids needing new shoes again? How wonderful it would be if I didn’t need to be concerned about how we were going to pay for this and that.”

It isn’t as though I wanted to get really extravagant and buy lots of things we don’t need. I just thought, “If we had all that money, I wouldn’t need to worry.”

And, wouldn’t that be nice?

But as soon as that thought came into my head, God spoke to my heart. It was as if He was saying, “Karen, you already don’t need to worry. Haven’t I always provided exactly what you needed? Have any of your worries ever become realities? My timing has not always been as you like it. I know sometimes you’ve wondered how I was going to come through for you. But I always have, dear one. I have never failed. You don’t need to worry. I am always faithful. If you had all that money, you wouldn’t need to trust.”

Oh, I knew He was right! I struggle with trusting. But God showed me so tenderly in that moment that I don’t need to worry. I need only to trust. Because HE is faithful.

I realize we all have different worry triggers. Finances may not be your issue. Whatever it is for you, as you consider your trigger, may I encourage you to turn it into a statement of faith? This is how I’m doing it: Now, each time I see those billboards I proclaim, “I trust YOU, God!”

Karen Hossink

Monday, August 9, 2010

Taking the Plunge

On our trip to Italy, my husband and I went to a chain of towns called the Cinque Terre (meaning Five Lands). These five towns were connected by trails, one being along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

Let’s get some things clear — I am no athlete! I am not agile; I will fall. I don’t like to run. I am not fast and can’t jump very high. There are, however, two things I can do well — I am a good swimmer and I could walk all day. So when it comes to hiking and swimming, I am your girl.

During our hike through these towns there was a spot where Nick and I observed people jumping off of the pier, swimming out to a buoy, and back. My husband said “I will if you will; you first.” Of course, I had to take him up on this challenge and show him how it was done.

So we got to the pier, and I got on the edge to jump. I was so nervous, my heart was pounding, and my protective instincts were telling me to run back to the dock. I didn’t know the water temperature or even how deep it was, but I was determined to jump in anyway. I said a little prayer and dove in. The water was freezing but exhilarating! I swam out to the buoy, touched it, and then swam frantically to safety.

When I got out of the water Nick asked me how it was. I responded very calmly, “Oh, no big deal” (as I am trying not to hyperventilate). This prompted my husband to dive too, but he dove from a rock higher than I did (show off!).

Don’t let fear keep you on the dock! Take the plunge! Be daring! If I can, you certainly can too!

Michelle Heriford

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Peace That Only Comes from God

Last month I wrote an entry on “Fruit of the Spirit … Peace” and talked about my friend who had Frontal Lobe Dementia and ALS. Sandy died in July at age 62 with her husband and two adult children by her side. Even greater than family, Sandy has had the Lord with her this entire journey. God ushered her into Paradise with that peace that passes all understanding.

Mark, Sandy’s husband, called me 20 minutes after Sandy had passed away, and I cried with him and said how sorry I was for his loss. After Jim and I each talked to Mark, we decided to go to the house to hug him and the children. When we arrived, Sandy’s body was still there and Mark was by her side holding her hand. He insisted that we come in to see the look of peace on her face. He kept saying how beautiful she looked and that the pain had left her. He was right, she was lovely. Her color was perfect and there were absolutely no wrinkles on her face; it was like porcelain! I have never been around a person so close to their death and have feared what it would be like. It was awesome … a God moment!

I remembered the Bible Study that Sandy and I had worked on just a few weeks earlier in Isaiah 43:1-7 where God said that He created us, He loves us, He protects us, and that we are to Fear Not. I had reserved my Monday mornings to meet with Sandy and have coffee and Bible Study for more than a year. I will miss her terribly but I know where she is, and I gain peace from that promise. Please pray for Mark, Matt, Bethany and the grandchildren.

Patricia Harvey

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Life Legacy

We have a program at the hospice where I work that allows a patient to leave a recorded “story” of their life. They can talk about whatever they want — how they grew up, their family, their regrets, what they’ve lived through, whatever they want to communicate to their family. We call the program Life Legacy.

I recently heard a sermon series where the theme was life legacy; what legacy will you leave behind. The pastor focused on Adam and Eve and their families on down to Jacob. Deceit, lies and jealousy are rampant in their legacy. From Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Esau, Laban and his daughters … wow. Family behaviors and sins can be so invasive. Imagine Jacob lying in his hospice bed and reliving his life story — would have loved to have been there for that one!

These sermons have gotten me to thinking about what things in my life mirror that of my family. Some good and for sure some bad! I have some behaviors and sins that mirror my parents, aunts, uncles and, of course, some of my very own! It all seemed a little overwhelming at first. I was thinking, “Oh, Lord, I can’t change these things! They are too big!” But then I remembered I don’t have to. If I confess my sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive me and change me. I guess that’s what I want my Life Legacy to be — that I depended on God to do what I couldn’t do and any great changes that ever take place in my life are because of Him.

Sally Hall

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Pizzazz

What can be more fun then having some friends over to share a summer day? God has wired me for hospitality and I love using that blessed gift. When my guests come I like to have some food and beverages on hand that don’t require much preparation and are different than the usual fare. Here’s a great beverage that gives a lot of pizzazz!

Lemon-Lime Pizzazz:

1 pint (2 cups) lime sherbet, slightly softened
2 T. presweetened lemonade flavor drink mix
1 C. club soda
1 C. coarsely crushed ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses (put the glasses in the freezer for about 30 minutes). Serve immediately.

Makes four ½-cup servings
Calories: 170 (low-fat)

If I have some colorful straws on hand I stick those in the glasses.

How about you? What hospitality pizzazz do you extend to friends?

Cathy Bytwerk