Thursday, November 22, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude

It is my belief that each day should be a day of thanksgiving.
We have so much to be thankful for on a daily, moment-by-moment basis.

Having said that, I must confess that I do not always practice what I preach.

The world has a way of pressing in.
Especially when I am tired.

There is as acronym for what should throw up a red flag for us.


H is for hungry.
A stands for angry.
L represents lonely.
T, not surprisingly, means tired.

I would add S for sad.

It is difficult to maintain a positive attitude when any of the above is in evidence to any great degree.
When two or more are involved, I think they amplify one another.

In any and all of it Papa waits with open arms with the offer of rest.

I find it amazing how the verse that spoke to my heart so many years ago continues to speak so sweetly and consistently to me.
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
That is Jesus speaking in the Twenty-Eighth chapter of Matthew.

I did.

I have discovered that it was not a one time thing, but something He was calling me to do on a continual basis.
It also amazes me that I let anything hold me back from going to Him.

All the struggles of life are opportunities to come to Him.
That we can go to Him is something to stir thanksgiving.

The All-Mighty, Creator God wants to carry our burdens and give us rest!

When I remember to look to Him I find much to be thankful for.

His constant Presence in my life.
Salvation, which means eternity with Him.
How He uses everything to bring blessing to me and through me.
The privilege of representing Him to broken people in a broken world.
The beauty of His creation.
A family that loves one another.
Precious friends that fill my life.

I could go on, but suffice to say that my attitude of gratitude is back in place!

Psalm Ninety-Five, verses one through three says it very well,
"O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His Presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.  For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Life Lost

Less than twenty-four hours after arriving home I was standing on a line that snaked around and then into a funeral home.
It took over an hour to get in the door and then another thirty minutes to reach the casket and the grieving family.
Hundreds of people had come to pay their respects.
Not unusual when a young person dies.

Jimmy would have turned thirty years old later this month.
He is one of my rehab guys.
He stayed clean and sober about two weeks after he finished the program.

My heart cannot stand it.

Once in the building the line wove its way past many photo displays.
Jimmy as a newborn in his mother's arms all the way to Jimmy as a man.

As I looked at all the pictures that chronicled his brief life my sadness deepened.
These pictures represented a person, created by the Living God; a person who had thoughts and ideas, as well as struggles and so much potential.

One picture in particular grabbed me.
Jimmy at maybe five or six years old, all dressed up with a microphone in his hands.
His face held such a sweet expression, so open to the world, so trusting.
A look that held a promise of such a wonderful future.

The young man, whose body was laying in that casket, was cheated out of life.
And life was cheated out of all he had to offer.

Not long before this man finished the rehab program he had shared with me how he was realizing that the missing ingredient for him to sustain recovery was God.  He said he had begun to be open to connecting with Him.
That was wonderful news and I, as well as many others, prayed that he would be able to enjoy a relationship with Papa.

I do not know whether he made that connection or not, but I do know that Jesus is always eager to make it happen.

I have a plague hanging on my wall that I received over thirty years ago.  It reads,
"Life is fragile, handle with prayer."
Every individual life is fragile.
Prayer makes the difference.
I believe that prayer is what brought Jimmy to his realization.
And I believe the One who we prayed to kept His hand on this man all the way to eternity.
He knew what was coming.
He knew how weak my friend was.
He know the lies that had ensnared him.

As I grieve the loss of this precious life I find comfort in my God, who is the God of all comfort.

It is my prayer that all who grieve can experience such comfort too.

"But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more."*

*Psalm 71:14

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Out of Sorts

How long does it take for a lesson to sink in?

We have all been there.

Plans are made.
Some without much forethought
Others are deliberately laid out.
Either way we expect to see them come to pass.

Then life intersects with our cherished expectations.

At which time we face a choice; resistance or acceptance.

Faith and flexibility are the keys to responding with the latter.

Faith says there is One who is directing our life and who also knows what He is doing.

Flexibility is evidence of that faith.

Papa has been teaching me to hold my plans loosely with a willingness to let them go without a fight..

I thought I was doing pretty well with this particular course.  The problem is that there are many levels involved to truly learn a subject.
It seems that I had been on a possible 201 course level and it was now time to move me up to the next level.  What would that be?  301?

We arrived in Florida for our yearly visit with Ray’s mom.  Each visit has revealed changes, but none as dramatic as this one’s.

In preparing for this trip I packed the essentials: my Bible, my lap top and my gym clothes.

The gym clothes have laid in the drawer in which they were placed when I unpacked.  It has been eleven days since I last exercised.  Sigh.

My trusty laptop has seen occasional, brief activity.

Far from the hours of word processing that I anticipated.

I have a talk to prepare.  It needs to get out of my head and heart and onto paper soon!  I thought I would have a good amount of leisure time in which to do so.  Sigh.

Only my Bible has consistently seen the light of day, but, oh, how I have longed to bathe leisurely in its Light, but that has not been possible.  Sigh.

For the first few days I was anything but flexible. 

Nothing was going as anticipated.
After two days with Mom, we piled into her car and drove across the state to visit her cousin.  Both of these precious women take much more energy and attention these days.
My head was spinning and I was definitely out of sorts.

By the way, do you know what the term “out of sorts” means?

Sorts were the pieces of type printers needed to make up a font in the age when it was all done by hand, one letter at a time.  Without the sorts they could not work steadily, which meant less pay, as they were paid by the amount of type they set, not the amount of time they worked.
Being out of sorts left them a bit ill of ease.

I was ill at ease.

Until Jesus helped me realize what had been happening.

The thought came to me that I was "kicking against the goads."

What does that mean?

In the Twenty-Sixth chapter of ACTS the Apostle Paul was relating his encounter with Jesus.  Basically the LORD told Paul that he had been "kicking against the goads."

Goads were used to prod cattle and livestock forward, and they would frequently kick back at them, only causing themselves more injury. The thought is that Paul had been kicking against God's "goading," and God had been trying to urge him to go in a certain direction.

That is what I had been doing.  Fighting God's leading.
Besides wanting to stick to my own agenda I do believe I was struggling with being a "caregiver" to three at once.  Not a welcome, nor easy role.
Once I recognized what was going on all necessary sorts were found to be in supply in abundance!

At least, not when you think you have to do it all by yourself.

I stopped spending my energy trying to find time for what I thought I needed to get done and began to relax into what Papa was unfolding.

My mother-in-law, in particular, needed help.

She needed my wholehearted, focused help without distraction.
A change was needed in her living situation and she wasn't able to realize it on her own.

Last night I curled up in bed with such a deep sense of peace.

I felt cocooned in Papa's loving embrace.

Tomorrow Ray and I head home.

We will leave Mom settled in an assisted living setting with all the details that had been upsetting her taken care of.

My gym clothes will be repacked with confidence that they will shortly begin to be used once again.

And once I settle in at home my laptop and Bible will be opened up and, under the Holy Spirit's leading, will unite to bring that talk together!

I will need a full supply of sorts to do so and I am trusting the One who offers an endless supply of all I need!

It would have been so much easier if I had remembered one of my life verses.  It is First Thessalonians, chapter Five, verse thirteen.

"Faithful is He, who calls you, who also will do it!"

Another that comes to mind is found in Philippians Chapter Four, 

"And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
The whole Reynolds family can attest to that truth!

(I just viewed this posting and discovered the change in color of font half way down.  I have tried to correct it, but have had no success!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sobering Thoughts

As I was trying to fall asleep last night a few thoughts were keeping me awake.
One being the election.
Another was the update that I had posted to this blog may have given a wrong impression...

I was not concerned for any meals for myself at the exclusion of Ray or his mom.  No, you see, my husband sustains himself with a good supply of chocolate throughout the day, so missing the evening meal is no great loss for him.  Then yesterday he and his mom had eaten hearty brunches, which consisted of much more than cool oatmeal and toast!  thus they were not experiencing low blood sugar!

Now to address the first topic that had me awake...
The election.

I have debated whether to write anything here, as I do not want to get political, but will seek to share a few words while steering clear of politics in general.

Recently, when I have prayed for my country a word has come to mind.
The word is "sifting."
I believe the LORD has been telling me that He is sifting the nation.
Kind of like weighing us in the balance.

Unfortunately, I think we have been found wanting.
That thought is very sobering for me.

Too often our comfort has become our top priority.
Whatever is expedient.

Thus we turn a blind eye to what is of real value.
Thus the reality of what abortion means, as an example, has become distorted.
As a learned man, who happens to be a scientist, told me,
"If the DNA strand that is found at conception was discovered on Mars, life would be declared to have been discovered on that planet."
Yet, when we want to eliminate that DNA strand from one's body, it is never referred to as life!

That is one issue.
A critical issue.

It did not begin there.
No, we started much smaller, of course.

Instead of rolling up our sleeves and getting to work, bit by bit we allowed the government to take over.
We like being cared for, however, we did not stop to count the cost.
And it is high.

How did this happen?
I believe the Church played a large role by dropping the ball.

The Church was the institution that cared for the poor and downtrodden.
It set up soup kitchens and shelters.
It came alongside those in need and gave them a hand up, not a hand out.
The government is much more adept at giving hand outs.

The body of Christ proclaimed life and hope to all.
Gradually the focus turned inward.
Many became social clubs and social clubs tend to become exclusive.

Of course, there were and are exceptions to this, but I am speaking generally.
The Church began to abdicate its responsibility and people began to look to the government.

In the city that is close to our home there are many churches.
How many are reaching out beyond their doors?
Very few.

The slippage went unnoticed for a while, as we had hit a prosperous time in our history.

In time prosperity was realized by many and they began to feel self-sufficient and enamored with stuff.
Slowly comfort became the goal.

Now many years down the line the combination of growing dependency upon government and the desire to be comfortable has come to a head.

So we have become willing to sacrifice life itself to maintain our comfort.

I have heard comments from many young people and am sad to say that many of them have no clue what direction this country is headed.
Their heads were filled with rhetoric for most of their lives and they are unaware that is just that, rhetoric.

My heart breaks for this land.
We were the greatest country in the world.
I see that image slipping and do not believe it will be recovered any time soon.

I will be pleading before the Throne on a daily basis, not just for the nation as a whole, but for each individual in it.
Actually, for the whole world, for our crumbling will take many with us.

Whether you see things as I do or not, we can agree that this land is at a pivotal point.
May God have mercy on us.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


For the greater part of this past week we were without Internet, as well as phone and cable.  The lack of Internet was a source of pain for me.  Well, maybe pain is too strong a word, but I did not like it!
This just illustrates how very spoiled I have become.
I don't think I am alone in this!

Many suffered much more loss and in much more serious ways.
Some lost all that they owned and some even lost their life or a loved one.
This puts my lack in perspective, big time.

This temporary loss was put to good use.
It seemed to me that Papa cleared my plate and with it went the many things that tend to distract me.  He wanted me to be able to focus.
I did and now I have a short, fourteen day devotional to show for it!

The devotional is entitled The Twelve Days of Christmas.  Yes, it is based on the Christmas song.
I will be posting it, one day at a time beginning on Christmas Eve.
If you read it, please give feedback!
It is something that Jesus put on my heart and has been a blessing to me, as I prepared it.  I hope it blesses you too!

Those four paragraphs were written early on Monday morning and I expected to return to them to complete my thoughts the same morning.  However, life has a way of getting in the way of our plans...

It is now Tuesday evening and I sit, once again, in the retirement facility that Ray's mom resides in.  Since I walked away from my trusty laptop yesterday morning it has been a whirlwind!

A short while ago I asked Papa if I had erred in thinking that Ray and I were to make this visit.  I think not, but I wonder over the opposition that has come along with it.

I had a list of what needed to get done before we headed to the airport yesterday.  It came with a schedule that ensured all would be tended.  Truthfully not much needed doing, or so I thought, and that is why I thought I would be able to finish my thoughts for this posting before heading to the airport at noon.

One thing on the list was to leave our sweet Sushi and Stir-Fry with a pan of clean litter.  My honey is in charge of the daily cleaning, but any total change has to be done by me.  It was going along well until I went to refill the pan only to discover that there was not much to refill the pan with!
Nothing had been written on the white board to indicate the need!
This meant I had to make a trip to the store.  It also meant that I had to pay more than normal.  I hate spending more than necessary, but I think it was necessary in this case.

Before I headed off to the store one of my sisters called and mentioned that a Nor'easter was coming on Wednesday.
This got me to thinking...
We never closed the porch up for the winter and if the storm decided to arrive in the form of snow, there would be a fine mess on the porch.  Besides if the temperature was dropping a closed up porch cuts down on heat loss.

Closing said porch is not very time consuming, so we decided to do it.
However, Ray called me while I was at the store and told me to pick up something at the hardware store for the securing of the storm windows.

This meant another stop, but I figured I could do it quickly.
Unfortunately, the store did not have the items, so off I went further afield...

Arriving home I learned that I was suppose to get screws and I got nails, so back to the store I went.  (Too many details to keep straight for this lady).

By the time we were actually putting the storms up I had lost an hour.
In the midst of a little hammering (don't ask) and the electric drill I heard a plaintive cry coming from the sofits.

Ray had brought Stir-Fry out with him and now the little guy (Stir-Fry, not Ray) had gotten spooked by all the noise.  He likes to walk up in the rafters and explore the sofits, but usually comes down when called.
Not this time.
With his ears flat and a lot of crying, he would pull away when I tried to reach for him.

Our friend arrived to take us to the airport, which meant that there was now no way our furry guy was going to come out.  He makes himself scarce the minute he hears a car pull into our driveway and does not come out again until it departs.

We had to leave, but I didn't want to leave our kitty out on the cold porch with no way in, so the sliding door was left open enough for him to come in.
I was glad that the heat loss to the porch would be limited since it was now winterized.

Whenever Stir-Fry gets into the sofits it causes concern on my part.  I worry that one day he will fall through to the ground.  Would it finally happen, now that we wouldn't be there to help him?

I entrusted the fur ball to his Creator and climbed into the car.

All went smoothly until about half way through the flight.  That is when my stomach decided it wasn't happy.
I will not go into detail, but suffice it to say that the long line to the lavatory was my fault.....

All else was fine until we arrived.

I am happy to report that our luggage arrived when we did.  The snafu came at the car rental place.
Though I had requested to pick up a car at the airport, there was a mix up and it was waiting for us about twenty minutes outside the airport.

It pays to stay calm and pleasant.
The young man behind the counter made the changes quickly.
The next snag was that they wanted to charge about five times the amount I had been quoted.  Since it was through one of those travel sites and not the rental company, the price was not applicable.
I found it interesting that when I balked at the price, he was able to bring it down to within twenty dollars of my original quote.

Are you still reading?
I don't know if I would be...

We got the car and after realizing we forgot our GPS were very grateful for our phones which could access directions.  It is not as convenient, but it

I was getting a little tired and hungry, but just wanted to get to our destination.  My tummy was making threatening noises again...

By the grace of God (Thank You, Papa!), we worked our way safely to this place.  Though it was now dark the roads were well lit, for which I was very grateful.  En route we were stopped at a red light when a police officer signaled me to open my window.  I did not have my headlights on!
He was very nice.  I hope it wasn't because I looked like some confused, senior citizen!!
I did have the daytime running lights on!

Upon arriving I went in search of something to eat.  No food equals bad headache.  I found a vending machine which offered peanut butter filled cheese crackers.
That was dinner.
My stomach did not receive them very happily.

After a brief visit with Mom I laid down for a minute and awoke the next morning.

Today's adventures included a bowl of cool oatmeal and equally cool toast.
This was followed with a drive to the nearby airport to drop off our rental.  (We have use of mom's car.)
Mom followed to pick me up and we had a little adventure in the airport parking lot.  (Mom gets confused very easily).
I did the driving from then on.

Next on the schedule was a brief stop at a store. 
As I pulled into the parking spot something happened to the car's transmission.
Call AAA and give them the information.  I did the talking as mom can't hear very well, especially on the phone.  She kept getting confused regarding the information.  I am grateful the AAA person was so patient.
Then we had to wait.

I need to mention that it was lunch time.

The arrival of the tow truck was a welcome sight.  Even more welcoming were the young driver's words that he could get the car working for us, though just long enough to get to the repair shop.

Okay, no more with the long, drawn out story!
We got to the garage, discovered it would not be quick fix, rented a car and headed on our way.
I was hungry, but now it was closer to dinner than lunch, so I found a quick nibble and then headed back for a nap!

Since then we had a nice dinner and then I had the joy of playing bingo.  Mom loves her bingo and would have been disappointed if I had abstained.
It was a challenge to stay awake!

I am tired and will be heading to bed shortly, but first let me just share why I am certain that the Good LORD meant for us to take this trip to visit mom.

If we were not here, the car would have broken down and Mom would have gotten very confused and upset.
We have been able to point out that because the car is beginning to need many repairs it is time to get rid of it, which she seems relieved to do.  She also was agreeable to the idea of not replacing it.  That is very good!

So we might have had a challenging couple of days, but could it be that our visit averts some serious future problems for Mom?

That, Papa, makes it all worth while!