Friday, October 29, 2010

Finding Comfort in Silence

I Chronicles 4:40

They found rich, good pasture, and the land was spacious, peaceful and quiet.

Do you long for time alone in silence with your Abba in a tranquil natural setting? Last month I had the pleasure of joining a small group of ladies at The Hermitage in Three Rivers Michigan. This was to be a silent retreat where talking and interaction with others was limited. The three-day trip consisted of time to pray, hike trails, journal and read. Initially I was resistant to the thought of being silent for two days, but gradually the quietness began to feel like a soft warm covering around me.

From what I see in scripture, God tells us to lead a quiet life filled with His Spirit to direct and guide us. When I choose to fill my days with so much noise and busyness, how can I expect His Spirit to work through this? The retreat at The Hermitage was just what I needed for extended quiet with Him, free from distractions. I felt like I was on a date with Jesus!

If you have never taken a personal retreat, prayerfully consider it!

Sheryl Patry

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

HELP! I’m turning into my Grandma!

Have you ever said those words before? If it wasn’t your Grandma, perhaps it was your mother. In any event at some time or another we will find ourselves behaving or saying something that reminds us of people we have known and loved.

The other day I made terrific tomato soup. (I’ll give you the recipe if you ask). Since it made such a large amount I was looking for the best way to store it in the fridge so that large space was not taken up. A vision came to me … canning jars in Grandma’s fridge filled with who knows what! Clearly the solution was before me so I gathered a few jars, filled them and placed them in the fridge.

Deja-vu! I had turned into my Grandma! Pleasant thoughts filled my mind of her and the many ways she had poured into my life. That then caused me to think of the many relatives who are now in heaven who had also guided me either through their spoken words, lives lived, or choices made. It caused me to think of the verse in Hebrews that says, “And now we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” Put all these thoughts together and I am filled with joy for my heritage!

So … if I am turning into my Grandma, I say, thank you, Lord. She not only showed me how to package soup but she lived a life grounded in God. She shared her soup with others and she practiced daily bible reading, faithful church attendance and much more. I’m glad she’s one the many witnesses surrounding me. I pray I can be as faithful.

How about you? Who are you turning into?

Cathy Bytwerk

Monday, October 25, 2010

Don’t Ask If…

The greeting of the day seems to be, “How are you doing?” But very few people want to hear your story and how you are really doing. They want the correct answer to be, “I’m doing great.” But that is not always the case, is it? There have been times in my life when I was asked that very question and my heart might have been breaking, but because I knew that they really didn’t want to know, they were just being polite, I would give the standard answer, “I’m doing fine.”

Don’t ask if you don’t really want to know! As Believers, we should be ready to listen with a patient heart … and sometimes their answer comes in silent ways; in their eyes or in their voice or in body language. Take time to look beyond the words and really hear what they are saying.

We live in such a “Drive Thru, Do it Quick” world and we can’t or we won’t take the time to listen, hear and genuinely care about our sisters and brothers. There are folks out there that are dying to be heard and cared about … be that someone.

Romans 12:9-13 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patent in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

The next time you say the words, “How are you doing?” Remember; don’t ask if you don’t really want to know!

Patricia Harvey

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Don’t Want to Want What I Want

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Has this verse ever confused you? I used to think it meant that if I did enough to please God, He would give me all the things I thought would make me happy. Yes, I had the notion that God might be given to manipulation. If I did the right things, I thought I could get what I wanted.

I am so thankful God doesn’t think the way I do. And I am grateful for the godly people He has brought into my life who have helped me understand that verse more accurately. God is not given to manipulation. He doesn’t change. The truth is, I’ve learned I am the one who needs changing. And as I lean into Him more — as I seek to know God and become more like Him — He changes my heart so my desires are His. I pursue the things of God and He shapes that which my heart desires. That is — He gives me the desires of my heart.

This concept became clear to me recently when I was praying about some things I’ve desired. It occurred to me that my longings might not be in line with God’s. And in the middle of my prayer I found myself saying, “God, I don’t want to want what I want. I want to want what You want!”

Oh, to be so close to God’s heart that the things I desire are the same things He desires. Yes. That is what I want. What do you want today?

Karen Hossink

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sting’s Red Letter Day

Every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you. Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, every night you stay, I’ll be watching you. Oh can’t you see, you belong to me. How my poor heart aches, with every step you take. Every move you make, every vow you break, every smile you fake, every claim you stake, I’ll be watching you.

Do these lyrics seem familiar? Do you think Sting knew that those could be the very words of our Heavenly Father? I heard this on the radio recently and I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, that’s like God. He sees, watches and experiences everything with me. And I know I’ve made His poor heart ache a time or two!”

Since you’ve gone I’ve been lost without a trace. I dream at night, I can only see your face. I look around but it’s you I can’t replace. I feel so cold and I long for your embrace. I keep calling ...

This part might be a stretch, but imagine The Lord longing for us to spend time with Him every day. And we don’t. He’s the lover of our soul ... why wouldn’t He be in agony when He’s not with us?

Music moves me. Really, it reaches in and does something to me. I know these lyrics aren’t biblical and I highly doubt Sting meant them the way I do. But I’d like to imagine them in Red Letters straight from the mouth of my Savior.

Sally Hall

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ebenezer — A Stone of Help

I Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us."

Recently God challenged me with this verse by considering how many times I keep track of disappointments rather than victories in life. In I Samuel, we see how, as a result of repentance, God was faithful to provide victory for the Israelites over the Philistines. In response to this, Samuel sets up a stone that he calls an Ebenezer or “stone of help.” This stone served as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to His children for many generations.

When it comes to short-term memory, mine is the worst! God knows I need reminders of things to keep me on track with the “gazillion” things going on. I need regular visual reminders of Gods past provisions, whether those are rocks, songs, journal entries, or regular “pop-ups” on my Outlook Calendar. We cannot trust God with new challenges if we fail to forget His mighty works from the past!

What do you use as your Ebenezer?

Sheryl Patry

Friday, October 15, 2010

Listen Up, Wiggle Worms!

I was reading a story to my five-year-old nephew the other day while he was sitting on my lap. The child would not stop fidgeting and moving and wiggling. I remember my dad calling me a wiggle worm on more occasions than I can count and I think I understand what he meant!

Logan was paying attention – mostly – and he wasn’t being bad. He just couldn’t seem to keep his little behind in one place. It drove me crazy and certainly distracted me from the story.

As I was thinking about that, it hit me – that’s me with God. My body might not physically move all around when I’m talking to Him or reading His Story but my mind sure does. Since I’m often sitting near a window when I spend time in the Word, I can find my mind wandering from “I wonder what that crow is doing” to “the neighbors let their cute little dogs out.”

My lack of focus drives me crazy; I can only imagine how frustrated God is by it. Not surprised but saddened nonetheless. And while I know He doesn’t get distracted by my inability to sit my mind still, I wonder how much of His message I miss out on. Experience has taught me that I hear God much more effectively when I shut out the daily distractions of life. What I am I missing when my thoughts of Him are interrupted with, “I really need to trim those hedges”?

What are useful ways you’ve found that help you focus during your time with God?

Patty Dextrom

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Recently I was watching the show Hoarders … and having nightmares! Has anyone ever seen that show? These people hold on to stuff, stuff and more stuff. They often have no living area and little paths to get from room to room (to put it mildly).

While watching the show it was clear that the “stuff” was filling some kind of hole in the person. It made me feel really sad for them -- thinking about how those people were so troubled and that I was so disturbed about the situation that they were in.

Then the Holy Spirit must have hit me upside the head and said something like “Hello Michelle! Wake up! You do the same thing!”

Now don’t be afraid to come over my house; I am not a hoarder. My “stuff” is just packaged differently. It made me think about how we all try to fill our God-shaped hole. Do we fill it with food, TV, work, service or even relationships? Non-Christians also have this God-shaped hole that they are desperately trying to fill.

It reminds me to the chorus of a song by the group Plum:

There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us
And the restless soul is searching
There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us
And it’s a void only HE can fill

I know I am constantly looking at my life and trying to identify the “stuff” that I try to fill this hole with. But the way to fill the God-shaped hole really is easy -- fill it with God! This is my prayer for all of us ladies: to be able to first identify the “stuff” and then to replace it with the only hole satisfier -- God!

Michelle Heriford

Monday, October 11, 2010

Looking Back … Moving Forward

This morning I sat down at the computer to write to all of you out of what God has been doing in my life. I decided to look back through my readings in the Bible over the past months and share some biblical truths I had underlined. So here are a few of them:

“Stop doubting and believe.” John 20, Jesus speaking to Thomas after the resurrection.

“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” Acts 2, Peter quoting King David.

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3, Jesus speaking to His disciples before His death.

“Stand Firm!”

“If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!” Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, Jesus speaking to His disciples.

When I meditate on all of these thoughts together they point me in a direction of how to live. Whether I am discouraged -- I do get that way from time to time -- aimless, drowning in lack of assurance or just plane being lazy, all I need to do is look in His word for help and then start moving in the direction He is pointing me to and life will be promising again.

What direction are you heading in today?

Cathy Bytwerk

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Good Old Days

By saying, “The Good Old Days,” it makes me sound like I am really old! Well, I’m not young, but I don’t really think of myself as old either. But using this silly computer makes me want to go back to the days when people actually called each other on the phone and wrote letters now and then. I was trying to send a document to my Historical Society (I am the secretary) and I got so frustrated that I could have screamed. The only thing that kept me from crying was to have my husband try to do it and he failed as well.

My husband and I are headed for Hawaii in the morning (I know that you feel sorry for me) and I have so much to do. I think of myself as a pretty organized person, with a list of tasks to take care of. All I needed to do was to send out one tiny document and it blew away my schedule. Can you identify with me at all?

I never wanted a computer. I said that I would never own one and now I have three. I asked for a notebook computer for Mother’s Day and my husband, Jim, bought me one to use at the Coffee Shop for my “Coffee Ministry” and on vacations. What was I thinking? They cause me undo stress except for e-mailing -- I love to e-mail my friends and family. I know that I am rambling on but isn’t that what blogs are for sometimes? Pray for me please. Hebrews 10:25b says, “but let us encourage one another.”

I am feeling much better now…God bless you Sisters.

Patricia Harvey

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Communication Lessons from a GPS

Have you ever used a Global Positioning System while you’re driving? They’re pretty nice. Just type in the address of your destination and leave the navigating to “Daisy.” (Or whatever name you may have given to your new driving buddy.)

Except for the time my GPS didn’t realize the highway she wanted me to take was closed for construction, my trusty gadget has never failed me. She has taught me much about listening and obeying. She has patiently told me where to turn and when to stop, and I have been thankful for her assistance.

On a recent outing, however, I discovered my GPS also had something to teach me about communication. Those of you who have experience with these devices will know what I mean. We missed a turn and — with a voice as calm and pleasant as she always uses — the GPS simply said, “Recalculating.” But the driver was busy talking (of course, it wasn’t me!) and missed the next turn. Still in that patient voice, the GPS said, “Recalculating.”

She didn’t raise her voice, add a sharp edge to her tone, or start throwing out insults. She simply drew our attention to the fact that we’d missed the target and let us know she was going to be re-directing us in the way we needed to go. Any other moms, wives, friends, teachers, people-who-have-to-talk-to-people out there recognize the lesson I learned from the GPS???

Karen Hossink

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Book and Its Cover

I recently attended my 25th high school class reunion. I was anxious about it but also excited. I wasn’t really a “popular” kid in high school. I wasn’t un-popular. I just had my friends and we did our thing, more of a bad girl than anything!

My husband encouraged me to talk to those that I wouldn’t normally talk to in high school or that I wasn’t friends with back then. So, I did! It was a really fun time -- took me back several years!

Fast forward two weeks and a few of us girls decided to meet for coffee. I suggested we invite a girl whom I wasn’t friends with in school. She did pom-poms and dated jocks; I smoked cigarettes and listened to Led Zeppelin!

We all began to share about our lives, and then we started talking about high school and the years after. She shared how un-perfect her life was back then, her struggles, her family issues, her own issues. How I had assumed wrong! I had looked at her and thought she had this perfect little life from a perfect little family. She shared that it had been anything but that. As I shared what my life was like during those years and the question was asked, “Sally, what happened, how did you change all of that?” I was able to tell them I had become a born-again Christian, which led her to tell me that she had recently become a Christian as well. I was encouraged and touched by her story.

That old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” rang so true to me. Not only does time have a way of changing things, but so does Jesus. My reunion ended up being a reminder to not look at the outside of people’s lives, but to look through the junk and into the heart, just like Jesus does.

Sally Hall

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Little of Jan

A few years ago, the Women’s Ministry at Trinity brought in author and speaker Jan Johnson to speak at our women’s retreat. She was one of the most interesting and depthy women’s speaker I had heard in many years. Since then I have read her books Savoring God’s Word and Enjoying the Presence of God. They have given me a deeper understanding of God and His desire for me to spend time with Him. I would love for you to read her thoughts along with me so when you get the time, please check out her website.

Jan puts out a monthly e-mail called Wisbit that is filled with meaty bits from God’s word. I have no doubt that she will challenge and encourage you as you go through your daily walk with God. A little of Jan will brighten your life!

Cathy Bytwerk