Thursday, December 20, 2012

Awaiting the Storm

Rain pounded hard against the roof of the house. The children wished it was snow. The adults were grateful it was rain. But uneasiness stirred in the household because everyone knew that later that day, the wind would shift, the temperature would drop and the rain would turn to ice, and then to snow.

Winter wonderlands are stunning to look at once the snow has settled into place and everyone is safe. But the dangerous conditions that precede this beauty can cause worry, fear, tension and anxiety. Nobody wants to be caught in the storm. No one wants to be cut off from help. Nobody wants to be injured.

So what do we do when we know the storm is approaching? Shelter and safety usually top the list. Food and clean water to drink comes next. But if we think beyond our immediate physical needs and remember the promises of the Lord, we will find peace in knowing that Christ is our Shelter, our Refuge, our Provider, and our Strength. He not only weathers the storms with us, but also protects us and provides for us. And as we turn our focus to Him, we become open to signs, wonders, miracles and other things that are beyond our imagination. For the Lord of the Universe has the power and the authority to lift us higher than the storm, to quiet our anxious thoughts, and to shelter us in His peace that surpasses all understanding. 


May the wonder working miracles of God's awesome love remove fear and doubts and surround you with courage and peace.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Heavenly Breeze

Soft light filters through the porthole-sized window. My husband reads a novel while I listen to the drone of the jet engine. It hums like a mechanical lullaby. I close my eyes and feel a sweet peacefulness encircling my weary body. God is with me and all is well. I breathe a sigh of relief as we fly through the sky high above a sea of ever-moving clouds.

Thank you, Lord God, for a time of rest. Thank you, Jesus Christ, for your Eternal Arms that never cease to hold me. You hold the entire world in your mighty Hands. And even when the passengers around me cough and sneeze, I know that I can inhale the holy air from your Heavenly breeze.


May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing grace lift you high above the worries that vie for your attention.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Children’s Book that Keeps Christ in Christmas

Finding fun and playful ways to keep Christ in Christmas was always an adventure and a challenge when my children were young. There were many children’s books about Christmas, but few of them kept Christ in Christmas. So I decided to write one.

Creating a book was no easy thing. It took years to learn how to write and illustrate for children. But finally, “Christmas in North Woods” has become a reality. My grandson loves the stories and the bird characters. He calls it a “big” book because it contains 12 stories that show kindness, respect, the power of prayer, and celebrating Christ’s birthday.

I wrote the book for children ages 4 to 8, but people of any age can enjoy the merriment of the stories and the light-hearted illustrations. If this is something that interests you, you can find my book on Amazon.com by clicking here.


May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing love strengthen and bless you this holiday season.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Staying Positive

A negative from a photograph is the opposite of the real picture. What should be dark appears light and vice versa. The same goes with our thoughts when they become negative. Where there should to be light in our thinking there is darkness, and what should be viewed as darkness appears as light. Dwelling on negative thoughts unbalances our perception of the people and the situations around us. Focusing on the pain takes us places we would normally not go. We start to see the world with eyes that deceive us and gravitate towards things that pulls us away from the light of Christ. What we once believed to be true starts to become false.

So how do we know if our thinking is real or deceptive? When we choose to dwell on things that are good, honorable, trustworthy and worthwhile, and SEE with the mind of Christ, we are on safe ground. For when we accept God’s gift of Jesus Christ, Scripture tells us that we are a new creation, that we have the mind of Christ, and that we have the authority to take our thoughts captive and submit them to the Lord, so our thoughts won’t spiral us downward. 


May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing love strengthen and bless you and bring you to a place of healing.
 
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Raging Storms

We all need help to weather the violent storms of life. The fury of the raging wind, the deluging of the pounding rain and the flooding of the rising waters are too destructive for any one person to withstand. In the presence of these fierce forces, darkness will try to overpower us. The onslaught of helplessness and hopelessness will come against us. Thoughts telling us to give up will enter our minds as we find ourselves with no shield, no defense and no strong tower to run into.

But in the midst of the frightening darkness and the howling wind there is someone who can help -- someone who stands with us and watches over us -- someone who is stronger than the hurricanes of life. He is the Lord, Himself, Jesus Christ, who strengthens us when we cry out to Him. Only He can give us peace and calmness in the midst of the chaos. Only He can give us the ability to resist the temptation to give into the destructive forces running rampant around us. Jesus is our Lord, our Shelter, our Protector, and our Strong Tower. And it is because of Him, that I am still here today. He stood with me in the wind and the hail, through tempest and turmoil, and in the darkness and in the pit of despair. Jesus strengthened me with His power and His grace. He held me firmly in His Everlasting Arms when storms tried to uproot my weak faith and tear apart the very ground I stood on. And I pray He will do the same for you.

May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing love strengthen you in the storms and enable you to feast at his table of peace.

 
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Beauty in the Darkness

Lighted leaves illuminate the way. The days are getting shorter. The path is getting longer. The darkness seems to be coming closer. But the light of God's love finds a way to bring beauty into the darkness.

May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing love envelop you in the knowledge that you are beautiful to God. No matter who you are or what you look like, or what you did, Jesus Christ still loves you. And He can bring healing into your life.


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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Choosing to Wither or Grow

One last flower bud greets the cold, sunny, autumn day. It's brilliant, flaming red color contrasts with the other buds, which succumbed to the dryness and frost. Life and death, all on the same twig. One side looking forward, the other side looking into the past. One stepping into glory, the other withering away.

The plant reflects our attitude towards life. We can choose to bloom and produce beauty despite the difficult circumstances around us, or we can give into the elements that drain us of life. It all depends on which way we are facing. When we fix our eyes on the Jesus Christ, the Creator of Life, He causes us to flourish. When we fix our eyes on the world, we are influenced by what is happening around us.


May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing love bring a breakthrough in your life. If you found this post encouraging, please share it by clicking the Facebook, Twitter or other buttons below. 

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Yesterday, fresh, crisp, cool air rose above the morning dew. Clusters of songbirds resting in the colorful trees, joyfully graced the neighborhood with their music. Leaves sailed delightfully to the ground in their last dance of glory. All around, the earth was transitioning into a season of harvest, gathering and celebration of God's love.

The gorgeous colors of fall and the excitement of the birds led to a few questions. Has my harvest been fruitful? Am I gathering with others and celebrating God's love? Am I happy in my heart? Out of the overflow of my heart comes joy and enthusiasm, if it's in my heart. If joy is not there, then I need to ask for it. If excitement is barely visible, then I need to pray for more. If I smile only once in a while, then I need an increase in smiles. The Lord is eager to grant these requests. For when I ask Jesus Christ for more of Him, He pours out joy, peace, and an excitement for life, in abundance!


May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing love bring a breakthrough in your life. If you found this post encouraging, please share it by clicking the Facebook, Twitter or other buttons below. 

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Do You Need Peace?

In this busy, hectic world that we live in, peace is often hard to find. We have long "to-do" lists, places to go, people to contact, meetings to attend, bills to pay, family/friends to get together with, issues to deal with, and of course, ways to make a living. Yet peace is what our heart longs for. What we may not be aware of is peace is offered to us daily, hourly, and even minute by minute. Peace is something we can learn to bask in the midst of problems when chaos and turmoil surround us. How? By asking Jesus Christ to fill us with His peace that surpasses all understanding and teaching us His ways.

Learn more about the miracle of walking in peace and how to experience peace at the Healing for Today Conference on September 28 -30, at Faith Lutheran Church, Geneva, Illinois.  http://www.flcgeneva.net
 

May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing love bring a breakthrough in your life. If you found this post encouraging, please share it by clicking the Facebook, Twitter or other buttons below. 

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Healing Brokenness

Things break too easily in this world -- our feelings, health, finances, relationships, our spirit and more. It's part of living in this world. Fortunately, there is an expert in the area of health, wholeness, healing and restoration who can help us. Jesus Christ loves to heal, rebuild, repair and make whole again.
 

Learn more about healing and restoration at the Healing for Today Conference on September 28 -30, at Faith Lutheran Church, Geneva, Illinois.  http://www.flcgeneva.net
 

May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing love bring a breakthrough in your life. If you found this post encouraging, please share it by clicking the Facebook, Twitter or other buttons below. 

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Becoming Worry-free

Worry and stress can bind us to our situations. They are like poison darts that drain our energy and spiral our thinking downward. So how do we get rid of anxiousness and troubling thoughts? How do we say "no" to the worry bugs that bite us and keep us awake at night? We can give them to someone who gives us beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, and the garment of praise instead of heaviness. We can give our worries to Jesus Christ, who eagerly waits to carry our worries and burdens for us and shield us from venomous arrows.

If you want to drop your worries and feel what its like to be free again, please come to learn more and receive prayer at the Healing Conference on September 28 -30, at Faith Lutheran Church, Geneva, Illinois. For more information go to http://www.flcgeneva.net
 

May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing love bring a breakthrough in your life. If you found this post encouraging, please share it by clicking the Facebook, Twitter or other buttons below. 

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Being Remembered Instead of Forgotten

It hurts when people reject us. It hurts even more when people tell us they wish we didn't exist. Our mind tends to replay the incident again and again. The wound in our heart festers and grows, causing more pain and more distress. But hurts can be healed. There is someone who is eager to take away our pain and make us whole again. He is Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, and He wants to save us from continuing grief. For we do not have to carry the pain of today into tomorrow. We can go to the great Healer, who sets people free.

If you want healing for your hurts and wounds, please come and learn more at the Healing Conference on September 28 -30, at Faith Lutheran Church, Geneva, Illinois. For more information go to http://www.flcgeneva.net
 

May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing love bring a breakthrough in your life. If you found this post encouraging, please share it by clicking the Facebook, Twitter or other buttons below.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Finding Relief from Stress

Life becomes puzzling or overwhelming when the pieces don't fit together properly. Or when the demands of others become unreasonable. Or when we take on too much. Too often, we allow stress to rear its ugly head and overtake us before we realize what's happening. But it's never too late for peace to flow through our mind and bodies like a gentle stream flowing through a quiet meadow.

When stress builds up in my life, I've found one place to go where I'm always welcomed, always accepted, and always listened to a place where someone cares so much, he asks to carry my burdens for me. A place where I exchange the tension and anxiousness for peace. This place is in Jesus Christ who says, "Come to ME, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest."

Being relieved from stress brings healing, and the miracle that follows is freedom and peace of mind. I love the Stress Reliever and the joy that follows. I love seeing Jesus free others from stress, too. That's why I can hardly wait for the upcoming Healing Conference on September 28 -30. I want to see people healed. For more information go to http://www.flcgeneva.net
 

May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing love bring a breakthrough in your life.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dance of the Leaves

Today, the air smells wonderfully clean. There's a feeling of freshness and delight in the atmosphere. The tops of the tallest trees ripple like the ocean waves in the early morning breeze, while the lower branches and smaller trees remain silent. The smaller trees listen to the rustling foliage. If they want to participate in today's dance of the leaves, they will need to reach higher.

Sometimes, we are like the smaller trees. We find ourselves missing out on the joy of dancing in the breeze. We walk around grumpy and sad, instead of happy and glad. We forget that the Holy Spirit eagerly waits to lift us higher, so we, too, can put on a thankful heart and be filled with the joy of Jesus Christ.

May the miracle of God's wonder-working power lift you higher as you hand your burdens to Jesus and fix your eyes on Him. If you found this post encouraging, please share it by clicking the Facebook, Twitter or other buttons below.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Song of Healing

The sound of ocean waves resonates outside my window. Loud, soft. Loud, soft. Yet I do not live near any body of water. The sound is produced by the wind blowing through the trees, rustling their leaves. How amazing that a bunch of leaves, which can never sing on their own, can imitate the song of the ocean when moved by the invisible wind. How relaxing is this song that soothes my soul and lifts my spirit when I take time to listen.

The same goes for us. On our own, we are limited in what we can produce. But when we gather with other followers of Jesus Christ and allow the wind of His Holy Spirit to move through us, wonderful sounds are released. Heavenly songs of beauty, health, wholeness and healing come forth. Our spirits are lifted, peace fills the air, and joy abounds.

That's why I love gathering with people who come together to listen for and sing the songs of Heaven. That's why I can hardly wait for the Healing Conference that will happen September 28 -30 at Faith Lutheran Church in Geneva, IL. (www.flcgeneva.net) I love to see the Hand of the Lord move through people that He gathers, and watch healing, joy and restoration come forth. 


May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing power bring a breakthrough for you where you need God's song of Heaven to fill your life.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Thunder and Promises

Cannons of thunder rumbles in the distance. I look at the blackening sky. The day becomes as dark as night. A storm is coming and it's coming fast! Yet, I will NOT be afraid, for the Lord God is with me and He is greater than any storm. Scripture promises that God's mighty love encases me, that His protective Arms encompass me, and that He holds me close to His Heart as I trust in Him. Scripture also promises that Jesus Christ stations His angels around me.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that You are blowing away the darkness of the day and bringing forth your goodness. Thank you that as the clouds sail by at amazing speeds You usher in the much needed rain. Thank you for remembering our neediness and showering us with your refreshing water. Please quench our thirsty souls as You water the parched earth.


May the wonder working miracles of God's amazing power bring a breakthrough for you in the areas of fear, chaos and overwhelming busyness.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Emerging Abundant Life

Beneath the chaos, confusion and lies, life is waiting patiently to arise. Darkness cannot keep it. Chains can't hold it down. Distance cannot prevent its passage, for God has called it to abound. Not in remote places, nor unreachable, rugged hills, not across the mighty waters, but in the hearts of those who sit still. For out of quietness and trust comes strength, and in repentance and rest comes salvation through Jesus Christ, the Giver of life in abundance.

May the wonder working miracles of God's power bring a breakthrough in your life.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Coming to Life

The scorching sun glares down on the brown grass, the wilting flowers and the dry, cracked earth. With temperatures of 101 degrees in the shade, even the wind feels hot. But my mind is not on the weather. My thoughts dwell on something far more amazing.

Two weeks ago, the Lord was trying to teach me about allowing Him to be my shade from the hot, summer sun. And then, driving to a meeting, with no air conditioning in my car, God positioned a cloud over the road so my car was in its shadow for most of the drive. This past week, when hurricane strength winds ripped through this area, the Lord safely guided my car through the pounding rain, the fierce wind and the falling tree branches. Later, I found out that the wind speed was 88 - 90 miles per hour. These two incidents make me stop and ponder on how God is way higher, far greater and more powerful than the weather. He is indeed, our Shelter, our Strong Tower, our Refuge and our Strength.


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Monday, June 18, 2012

Canyon of Dreams

In the canyon of our dreams,
Nothing is the way it seems,
And worries turn into steep mountains,
Tall cliffs rise up too high,
And makes us wonder why,
We choose to rely on our wisdom.

We find ourselves in the pit,
Where in gloomy darkness we sit,
And wonder how long we will be there.
Then hope enters our thoughts,
About Christ, who saves the lost,
And His promise to come and rescue us.

We see the error of our ways,
And repent of wasted days,
Of refusing to allow the Lord to help us.
We cry out from our heart,
And the journey home does start,
As Jesus lights the way through the darkness.

May the miracle of Christ's wonder-working power bring a breakthrough in your life.


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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Opossum in Backyard

The opossum lumbered across the tracks. It was only passing through, and squeezed beneath the wooden fence to explore my backyard, too.

It wandered by the tall ash tree, and sniffed along the ground. It found a soft spot on the lawn, to rest and to lie down.

Slowly it rose and walked around, taking its good ole time, strolling past the lemon mint and leaving me with a rhyme.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for opossums and other creatures that wander into my yard.


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Friday, June 1, 2012

The Rabbit

What a pleasant surprise to open the front door and see a rabbit in my yard. As I watched, the bunny nibbled on a blade of grass and some weeds before hopping onto the sidewalk. Then it stopped and looked at me. Who was more curious? The rabbit or me? For a precious moment, we connected. Our eyes locked. It posed for a picture, then ran off.

This reminded me of the precious moments when I become aware of God. Am I more curious about Him or He about me? Scripture says that the Lord delights in His creation. He rejoices over His people with singing. When I look at Christ, I can picture our eyes locking, too. But I don't see the look of fear that the rabbit exhibited. I see goodness, joy and glory. I see acceptance, mercy and love.
 

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Monday, May 21, 2012

A Song of Praise

Excellent Artist, who paints the morning sky,
Master Songwriter, who sings from on high,
Greatest Instructor, who dances through the storm,
You navigate the waters to save and keep us warm.

Greatest Composer, Distributor of peace,
You override the darkness, You cause fear to cease.
Amazing Inventor who brings forth each day,
You mastermind creation and show us the Way.

Precious Jehovah, Great God Most High,
We sing you praises, we lift hands to the sky,
You are most holy, good, true, and just,
Faithful, compassionate, the One whom we trust.

Thank you for giving us eyes that start to see,
The beauty of Jesus Christ and your creativity,
In all of nature, in all that You do,
You are magnificent, and we do honor You.

 
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Feasting on Samaras


A chipmunk feasted on the abundance of maple seeds scattered across the patio. The small, furry animal stuffed its already bulging cheeks as it pulled a seed out of each samara, and then broke open the next one. When its cheeks could hold no more, the chipmunk scurried off to hide its treasure.

Only recently, did I discovered that the winged, seeded fruit of the maple is called a samara. It happened one day when I accidently dropped the dictionary and it opened to the page that showed a black and white illustration of samaras. How delightful it was to discover that the unique-looking maple seed had a special name.

We have a special names, too, because each one of us is special to God. And like the maple trees, we also have good seeds to scatter. And we can share our seeds with joy, playfulness and fascination, too, like the samaras with "wings" that merrily spin like helicopter blades, swirling round and round, until the seeds land safely on the ground.

May you dance with delight as you scatter the good seeds that the Lord Jesus Christ gives you to share with others.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Budding Beauty

The image in this photograph may be hard to identify. It has some sharp points and some soft points and seems to be growing in some direction, but what is it? Would you be able to guess that it's a budding maple tree? The mature maple leaves look nothing like this.

The same goes for us. We are still growing spiritually and mentally as we seek to know Jesus Christ better. And what may seem hard to discern or understand now, will become clear and exciting as we allow God to grow us into the beautiful creation He calls us to be. So rejoice and be glad. The way we look today is not the end result. The Lord has confidence in Himself, that the good work He started in us He will bring to completion, as we trust in Him.


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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Step Out of the Shadows

Sometimes what we reach for is just beyond our grasp. We may envision it but can't quite make it happen. Or we may see it but not know how to take hold of it. Or we stand in the shadows and watch, while others enjoy the brilliance of what should have been ours.

When discouragement weights heavy upon us, or success evades us, or disappointment leaves us in the dust, there is always someone who stands by our side. In our moments of doubt, anxiousness, or failure, Christ promises to never leave us. He invites us to step out of the shadows of despair and step into His light. He asks us to hand our burdens to Him and find rest in His Everlasting Arms. He encourages us to not look at what we lost, but to look at Him. And when we do, we find ourselves in a shelter of acceptance, where tenderness and grace abound. And in the light of His love, God strengthens and nourishes us. Jesus gives us hope. And when we are ready, He leads us onward.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Path to Breakthrough

Sometimes life can be confusing. Roads, paths or ideas that we follow can come to a dead end, circle us back to where we started, or take us to a place where we are totally lost. Our efforts may lead us to nowhere or to too many places, where we become overwhelmed with too ideas or too many things to do. Chaos or stress sets in and we find ourselves weary and burdened.

But when we step back and yield to the Lord, we find His Loving Arms stretching out to us, welcoming us to come and rest in Christ, and be refreshed. And in those Everlasting Arms, Jesus begins to remove the confusion. He silences the storm and brings strength to our bodies. He quiets our thoughts and brings peace to our minds. And we begin to understand that its not what we do that makes a huge impact, but it's what He does when we yield to Him. He is able to straighten out our path. He is able to bring clarity to our minds. He is able to take the little that we have — our loaves and fishes — and multiply them to feed thousands, or strengthen the weary, or heal the sick. He is able to straighten out our path because He is the Path.


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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Refracting Shadows

The shadows laying flat on the ground are barely noticeable to those who walk by. Only the people who look down at the pavement become aware of their existence. But as the shadows reach the white garage door, they change direction. They stand up and reflects the glory of things yet to come.

What we are called to do may lay flat and hidden, like the shadows on the pavement that no one pays attention to. We may feel like our dreams are only shadows of things we cannot grasp, and that our talents are disregarded by others. But when we bring our hope and our calling into the light of Jesus Christ, He showers His grace upon us. He sets our dreams upright, so others can see them. He shows us that everything we do needs to rise up in the light of His love. God bends us toward success by reminding us that the good work He started in us, He will bring to completion as we trust, rejoice and yield to Him.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Be Filled With Joy!

Be filled with joy today. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the leaves sway in the breeze. The birds are singing, the grass is greening, the sky is clear and blue.

Be filled with joy today. Christ is for you, His love surrounds you, His Kingdom resides within. His grace is upon you, His blessings are on you. Reach out and gather them in.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blooming in the Cold Spell

A cold spell blows in, and the joy of an early spring fades into the background. Frost lines the roof tops. Petals fall to the ground. New sprouts remain frozen in position, waiting for warmer days to come.

The change in weather causes us to place our summer clothes back in the closet, turn on the heat, and zip up our jackets. Our bodies feel cold again. But our spirits don't have to feel this way. There is an inner warmth, a deeper delight, and an awaiting zeal for life that is always ready to emerge and comfort us, no matter what our external circumstances.

When Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, the sun can shine in our hearts everyday. When we stand on God's promises, our spirit can blossom everyday. When we remember the Lord's faithfulness and trust in Him, growth can happen in every situation. For our joy comes not from what happens around us, but from the Kingdom of God that lives within us. Rejoice and be glad, for this is the day the Lord has made!

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday Tribute to Jesus Christ

They crucified Christ the third hour. Darkness covered the land from the sixth to the ninth hour. The ninth hour, He called out to the Father and gave up his spirit. At that moment, the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom. The earth shook and rocks split apart. Tombs were opened and holy people who had died came to life and appeared to many in the holy city.

Great is your love, Jesus Christ.

You thought of me, and took my place.
To free me from sin, by your kindness and grace.
Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Forsythia Gladness

The yellow flowers of the forsythia stretch out their elongated petals in glorious praise. The brightness of these tiny flowers reflect the brightness of God's love. Everywhere I look, the blossoms of the Lord's love burst forth from trees, bushes, and bulbs sprouting from the ground. The sweetness of all this new life remind me of the new life we have in Jesus Christ.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sprouting Roots in God's Love Through Art

Spring is such a wonderful time to see nature burst into bloom. Creating art can also help us burst into bloom by allowing the creative talents in is to come out. You don't need to be good at art to enjoy the benefits from it. Spring is a great time to sit in the sun with a sketch pad or watercolor paper and add some lines or paint to the paper. It doesn't have to be realistic. Dabbling colors on wet paper and watching them blend together can be fun in itself.

Or if you prefer to create art in a relaxing atmosphere with other people, try attending a workshop or an art class. If you are interested in discovering how your talents can take root in God's love through a piece of art that you create, consider coming to a workshop that I'll be doing on Saturday, March 24 from 3:00 - 5:30 pm at Faith Lutheran Church in Geneva, IL. All supplies will be included in the $20 cost. We have fun doing art together, especially when our ears are turned towards receiving the love of Jesus Christ.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Spectacular Spring Buds

Tiny, strange-looking buds break through the rough bark. Odd shapes and brilliant colors dazzle our eyes as we wonder what type of flower or leaf this tree will produce? Sometimes it's hard to imagine how something so peculiar-looking can turn into a beautiful tree that will shade our yard from the hot, summer sun.

As we step out in faith, we may feel peculiar, awkward or even unsure. Others might even think we act odd. But that should never stop us. For outward appearances are not an indication of inward beauty. And beginnings never look like the end. They are only a starting place. So when the Lord calls us to step out of our comfort zone, we need to see it as a pathway that leads to bearing fruit. And when we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, we begin to understand that He is pulling out of us what Jesus Christ has planted in us.

May the new creation that you are in Jesus Christ come forth in splendid and spectacular ways that reflects the majesty of the King and delights God the Father, who rejoices over you with singing. For it's not how others see you, but how God sees you that makes the ultimate difference.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

The Shadow

In the early morning light, a shadow rests beneath the paper that my pen is writing on. As the paper curls from the pen's pressure, the shadow lengthens. What mystery lurks behind the shadow? Will it bring hope or fear?

Shadows can create fear in our hearts when a dark silhouette races towards us, and we don't recognize the person or thing casting the shadow. Shadows can be good things when used to make paintings look more realistic or as a tool for direction. If the shadow is on the left side of our leg as we walk in the morning, we know we are headed north. Shadows can also help us tell time, like the sundials used in ancient times.

But did you know that shadows can bring comfort, relief and joy? Scripture tells us that we can "take refuge in the shadow of God's wings" (Psalm 36:7), and find rest, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1). Shadows can be a happy place, "Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings" (Psalm 63:7), and also be used to help describe our future as we trust in the Lord, "Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land." (Isaiah 32:2)

Whatever shadows are or have been for you, let them become reminders of God's grace and His promise to cover you, shelter you, refresh you, and draw you closer to Jesus Christ.


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Monday, March 5, 2012

Unruffled

As gentle, while flakes descend from the sky, a little bird rests on a snow-covered branch. It waits patiently, quietly and contently. The snow is covering the food it needs to gather, yet the bird seems unconcerned.

If someone took a picture of us while the storms of life are upon us, or when our dependable resources disappear under layers of unemployment or unpredictability, would we appear as unruffled as this little bird? Probably not. Yet we are called to be patient and calm during hardships, difficulties, or when chaos rises up around us. For we have a shelter in the storm, a hiding place from the wind and hail, and a refuge when we feel lost and weary. We have Jesus Christ who enables us to receive His amazing peace, His soothing calmness, and His delightful joy in the middle of our troubles, as we practice giving our burdens to Him.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rest and Preparation

The sun peeks around the corner of the hill, bringing light to the land that lays dormant in its winter sleep. As the ground rests, the soil is being enriched by good, microscopic bacteria that is breaking down the fallen leaves and dried grass, and turning them into fertilizer for future plants. The earth is being renewed, prepared and primed for a fresh season of growth. And we are, too.

Jesus Christ is preparing us for new growth. He is calling us to rest in His everlasting arms, so we can better receive His strength and His blessings. He is stirring a desire in our hearts to know Him better, so He can unlock the secrets of living the abundant life that Scripture promises. He is opening doors to new opportunities and unlimited possibilities, as we submit ourselves and what we do, to Him.

May you know that God the Father, blesses you in the Heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus, when you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. May you know that you have unlimited potential, and eternal grace to step into the calling the Lord set before you. May you know that no matter what age you are, new growth awaits you, and you can bloom with the gifts of Heaven, and become a sweet fragrance reflecting God's love.

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Are you looking for a great book to read during Lent, listen to a 2-minute reading from Awaken Me! 40 Day Challenge. Click here.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

A Covering of Gentle Whiteness

Over a trillion tiny snowflakes dance through the air, on a dark winter night. The falling snow clings to the trees and blankets the earth, in a covering of gentle whiteness, that awaits the rising sun. What a joy to look out the window in the early morning light, and see the world encased in white!

What a joy to know that I am encased in the brightness of God's love — that my sins are covered by the purity and holiness of Jesus Christ and the complete work He did on the cross. What a joy to know that Jesus is making me whiter than snow as I trust in Him, and celebrate the risen "Son" who sits at the right hand of God the Father. What a joy to know that Christ extends this blessing to everyone who is willing to accept it.

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Are you looking for a great book to read during Lent, listen to a 2-minute reading from Awaken Me! 40 Day Challenge. Click here.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

River Journey

From the top of the high mountain, Anne could see where she needed to be. Many mountain ranges stood between her and her destination, and they were too steep to climb. Anne would have to travel by river, and the only available water craft was a canoe.

The canoe was large enough for two people, plus supplies. Anne would need to travel with someone who knew how to navigate the mighty rivers — someone that she could trust. She found the right person standing by the canoe. She told him that she was inexperienced and barely knew how to swim. He handed her a life jacket and told her to step in. He also gave her one instruction. She was to sit facing him. Anne protested. She wanted to see where she was going. How could the journey be any fun if she couldn't see what was up ahead? Her navigator told her that if she saw the dangers in front of her, she would panic. He said the only safe way for her to travel and enjoy the journey was to look at him. Anne reluctantly agreed.

The journey led Anne into deep waters, through roaring rapids, and onto a peaceful lake. She weathered gale-force winds, pouring rain, scorching sun, and freezing cold nights. Anne learned how to dodge overhanging trees, wade through mud, and help carry the canoe around waterfalls. The journey has been long, and she still hasn't completed it, but Anne has learned how to better trust her navigator, Jesus Christ.

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Are you looking for a great book to read during Lent, listen to a 2-minute reading from Awaken Me! 40 Day Challenge. Click here.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Duck and the Shadow

The shadow crept closer growing bigger, deeper, longer and taller as the sun went down. Twisting its head backwards, the white duck stared at the frightening shadow that seemed to follow its every move. It did not want to be eaten for dinner, stuck in a cage, or have its feathers stuffed in a pillow.

When the duck saw how huge the shadow was, it jumped. The shadow loomed higher than the bird's head and wider than the its body, causing the duck to visualize a distorted image of itself. The bird inched away from the shadow until it's webbed foot touched some loose stones, near the edge of the cliff. The duck knew that if it moved any farther, it would plunge to certain death.

Out of great fear, the young bird called out to the Lord. Jesus Christ reminded the duck that shadows are not real — especially the shadows of our imagination. Gumming up courage, the bird ran past the shadow; it ran into the awaiting arms of Jesus Christ, who took away the fear.

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Are you looking for a great book to read during Lent, listen to a 2-minute reading from Awaken Me! 40 Day Challenge. Click here.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

From Dreams to Reality

The beauty of a butterfly is not in its strength, but in its gentle delicateness and vibrant colors. It catches our attention not with trumpet blasts or sudden thunder, but with quiet-like whispers. It doesn't move fast, like a speeding car, but travels further than most people vacation.

Normally we do not think of butterflies in winter, as they are not cold weather creatures. But it's in the winter moments where dreams, like butterflies, begins to alight, and the sweetness of God-given ideas stir our hearts to ascend to new levels of discovery.

Just as the butterfly needs to go through a time of transformation in its cocoon, we need to encase ourselves in the warmth and goodness of Christ's love. And when we do this, change happens. As we renew our minds to line up with God's Word, we discover that it's out of the passion of Jesus Christ's Heart and the fire of His love that our dreams rise up out of the dust and become reality.

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Are you looking for a great book to read during Lent, listen to a 2-minute reading from Awaken Me! 40 Day Challenge. Click here.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hidden Flowers

Somewhere beneath the surface of the gloomy winter, growth is taking place. Seeds of new ideas are beginning to take root. Rays of sunshine are seeping through the cracks, bringing light to the dark areas of our hearts. Faith is increasing. Hope is growing stronger. God is strengthening His people.

The Lord is calling us to rise up and step into the richness of His grace. That which is not yet seen will become visible. And the beauty that is hidden will spring forth. Resist looking at the gloominess around you. Grab hold of your faith in Jesus Christ and gaze into the brightness of His mighty love. For in the light of His love, all things are possible.

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If you haven't yet found an uplifting devotional book to read during Lent, check out Awaken Me! 40 Day Challenge. To see and hear a 2-minute reading from this book, click here.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

The Snow is Falling

The snow is falling. It started out as large, fluffy flakes, then turned to smaller ones. Now the brown earth is covered in white again. Silence fills the air, and a softness enters my heart. Peace is singing its song of stillness. It's calling me to come and rest in the arms of Jesus Christ. For just as the snow blankets the earth, the Lord wants to blanket me in the softness of His love.

May you also find rest in the arms of Jesus. If you haven't yet found a good, uplifting devotional book to read during Lent, check out Awaken Me! 40 Day Challenge. To see and hear a 2-minute reading from this book, click here.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Preparing for Lent

The wooden fence stands in pensive silence on a windless, winter day. The snow has melted, the temperature has risen above freezing, and even the sun has decided to show its face. Yet, signs of life seems far away in this photograph that reflects light and shadows in shades of brown and gray.

Sometimes the bleakness of winter makes us feel like this wooden fence — gray, knotty, and unproductive. Yet inside, there is life, color and vibrancy waiting to burst into our lives and break through the passive bubble of dark seclusion that blocks out the light of God. We were meant to live a life of joy, excitement and wholeness in Jesus Christ. And through the cracks in our lives, His light is breaking through.

But there is more — much, much more. The brightness that keeps us going in our winter moments is increasing. And the joy of Jesus is making us stronger. The Lord is calling us to draw closer to His Heart and see what He is doing. The old is gone; the new has already started. Look not at the grayness of winter or the grayness of the economy. Look at Jesus Christ, and you will find hope and a future and be able to shine.

May you be blessed by this blog. If you haven't yet found a good, uplifting devotional book to read during Lent, check out Awaken Me! 40 Day Challenge. To see and hear a 2-minute reading from this book, click here.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Frozen in Action

Like a movie stopped in the middle of an action scene, this droplet of melting snow froze as the temperature dropped. The action it tried to complete must wait for a warmer day. Meanwhile, we are privileged to see the beauty of the intricate parts within the droplet. Air bubbles, perfectly formed spheres, and cylinder shaped objects float in a miniature world. Reflected shadows and streaming light create an environment of soft curves. Even the stick adds a bit of mystery to this tiny world.

Yet, there is something about this frozen droplet that we can relate to. Sometimes our actions or our plans come to a halt. Sometimes we are placed on hold and must wait. And in our waiting, we can ask ourselves if we exhibit the beauty of Christ within us, so those around us can delight in what they see.

Lord Jesus, too often we become impatient when we have to wait. We get upset when our plans are put on hold. We get irritated when we can't finish what we started. Forgive us. Help us to become aware of the opportunities that "waiting" presents. Help us to use these moments to turn our thoughts to You and offer simple prayers, words of thanksgiving, or songs of praise.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Amazing Ice Encrusted Leaf

Curled up like a cocoon, the ice-covered leaf hangs from its branch like a piece of art. Various shades of brown fill the cells that are held together by a web of tiny, straight-lined veins. The dryness of the old leaf and its sharp lines contrast the smoothness and moisture of the ice that encompasses it. The icicle suspended at the bottom of the leaf reaches out like hungry tongue. This frozen droplet also contains many miniature water droplets, giving it a crystal-like appearance.

Why is this leaf so hungry-looking? Is there something that lies within? Is there unseen beauty waiting to emerge from its protective covering? Or is the leaf looking for more to life?

There is always more to life than what we see. There is also great beauty that lies within each of us that is hungering to come out. But too often, we only see the dryness of our own lives. We may think the best years have past us, or we wrap our hopes around the things that are close at hand. But the best is yet to come. For these are the days the Lord is speaking life to the dry bones. He is calling His people to rise up and come forth. Jesus Christ is bringing out the beauty from deep within. And all who want to be part of this adventure are welcome.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter Contrast

Snow layers itself on the fence and tree branches. The softness of the white snow contrasts itself to the hardness of the dark wood. All the wondrous colors of spring, summer and fall have vanished. What remains is basically dark brown, black and white.

In the starkness of winter's darkness and light, the colors of love seem to be hidden, until a cardinal lands on one of the branches. This red bird reminds us that God's love is still with us. And when a blue jay lights upon the fence, we remember the color of Heaven, that is often reflected in a blue sky.

May the contrast of the winter landscape stir our hearts to more vividly see the brightness of God's love in our winter moments. When the colors of what we used to enjoy have past away, let us remember the choices for abundant become more clear. We can no longer remain on the fence of indecisiveness. We must choose which way to go in all the decisions we make. May we always choose Jesus Christ.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fish Story

With a gentle calmness and quiet curiosity, the big fish swims to the end of the tank to greet the little boy. It does not swim off and hide like the other fish. It is not nervous, jittery or fearful, like its companions. It appears confident and unruffled, exhibiting a tranquility that seems uncommon to fish.

The boy stares eye-to-eye at the fish, then runs to the other side of the tank. The fish follows. The boy runs back again. The fish chases after the boy like a puppy chasing after its owner. The boy stops and looks intently at the fish. The fish stares back. The boy shows the water creature its new toy. The fish eyes the toy with interest. The boy talks to the fish. The fish listens intently.

The connection between the fish and the boy seems uncanny. While the other fish are consumed with self-preservation and staying close to protective crevices, the white fish appears to be more interested in things beyond itself. It shows no fear. It seems eager to connect with the outside world.

Just like this white fish, we need to learn to walk through life with a gentle curiosity about people, about creatures unlike ourselves, and about God. When artist Natalie Totire saw this photograph, she said, "There is just something admirable and attractive about animals that take an active interest in humans and what they're doing. It's almost an example of how we should act toward God."

May the Holy Spirit strengthen your relationship with Jesus Christ and give you grace to take an active interest in what God the Father is doing today.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter Beauty

A soft layer of snow fell gently upon the old shed, that was tucked away, in the corner of the backyard. The structure was often forgotten or ignored. Some paint was starting to peel off and part of the wood was beginning to rot. Year after year, attention was given to the rest of the yard where flowers grew, children played, and adults picked herbs.

But when the snow came, attention was drawn to the shed. Donned in its winter beauty of freshly fallen snow, the shed graced the landscape in a picturesque way. It was the first thing people's eyes turned to, when they stepped into the backyard. It became noticeable and gave people a reason to smile.

Sometimes we feel discarded, ignored or forgotten, like the old shed. But when we allow God's grace to cover us with His love, beauty starts to rise up from within. We begin to reflect His glory and His beauty. And people who are looking for God's light, take notice. They are drawn to us. They want what we have. They want Jesus Christ in their lives, too, so they can also shine in the winter moments of their lives.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

A Billion Blessings

There are more than a billion stars in the universe. Some are clearly visible, some are hard to see, and others can only be viewed with a powerful telescope. Yet, God knows each one of them by name.

There are more than a billion people scattered across the planet. They have a variety of features, characteristics and skin colors. They speak different languages, wear different types of clothing, and have different customs. God knows each one of them by name, too.

There are more than a billion blessings that Jesus Christ pours out. The Lord God brings out the sun and waters the earth. He sets the moon and stars in place. He provides plants and animals for food, fiber and clothing. He strengthens, restores, and watches over those who seek Him. He shields, protects, and delivers those who cry out to Him. He teaches, guides, and equips those who ask for wisdom and walk in His ways. He walks with, talks to, and takes delight in those who love Him. He offers the gift of salvation to all who are willing to accept.

How awesome is our God who blesses in a billion different ways! How great is the Lord God Almighty!

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Glorious Sunrise

Brilliant shades of pink, violet and yellow appear on the winter horizon. As they increase in size and density, the leafless trees seem to perk up and watch. They stand tall and still, in an awesome silence, at the sky show unfolding before them. In the silhouette of dawn, the trees almost look like they have leaves.

I watch the fiery sky and take delight in its luminosity that invites my imagination to enter into a mystical, magical world of unknown possibilities. But as the sun rises higher, the colors fade and turn the heavens into pastel shades of gentle loveliness. Slowly, these muted colors disappear into a cloud covered sky. The outline of the bare trees becomes clearly visible, revealing gray bark and lifeless-looking branches.

Winter is still here. But for a few moments, I had a glimpse of the beauty of heaven and a renewal in the promises of Jesus Christ. For it is the Lord God, who paints a picture of glorious hope and radiant beauty for my life. It is HE who calls me to joyfully reflect the vibrant colors of His love and brilliance of His faithfulness, even in the winter moments of my life.

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