Joy in January: God vs Fear

Joy in January: God vs Fear

The last in my “Joy in January” series, originally posted in January 2015, is a post written by my youngest “Guest Branch” and my oldest grandchild Kaden. When he wrote it, he was just 8-1/2 y.o. and now he is almost 13 … how can that be? So it’s my delight once again to share this awesome blog. We can all learn from the young ones in the faith, can’t we? By the way, be sure to see Kaden’s “today photo” at the end…yikes!

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children [and grandchildren] are walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4 ESV

It is pure JOY for me to introduce my youngest "Guest Branch" to A Branch in the Vine.  My 8-1/2 year old grandson Kaden is today's blogger.

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LIFE Overflowing!

LIFE Overflowing!

Today my dear grandson Carter turned 10. 10! Double digits, a full decade! Oh how time passes too quickly and here we are.

As I've thought of this precious life, I had been been asking the Lord to give me a verse to pass on to Carter from HIM. First I went one way in my thoughts, and then I went another. But nothing felt totally right, totally it. I was trying too hard instead of letting my heart receive it from the Spirit.

Then it came ... and it was totally perfect!

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Choose your FACE...Change your DAY

Choose your FACE...Change your DAY

Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart. Proverbs 27:19

I love 4 year olds...they understand so much!  A few years ago, I told my then 4 year old grandson Evan that we choose our attitude.  And he got it!

I didn’t always think that was true, but the older I get the more I believe our choosing has a lot to do with it. And if we are children of God, the living, indwelling Christ empowers us to have an appropriate attitude for the situation.

I experienced this simple truth with another 4 year old when I was teaching preschool many years ago.

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Wakin' Up Singin' ... Really?

Wakin' Up Singin' ... Really?

All grandmas love to tell stories of their grandkids, and I'm no exception. And so I do have a number of my blogs tagged as grandson stories. (But now I do need to broaden the category to "grandchildren" because of our darling Claire Elizabeth.) But I have always had a rule for myself: I only share on A Branch in the Vine what God teaches me through their little lives. And so this post is no exception.

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"Daily Bread" in the Words of Babes

"Daily Bread" in the Words of Babes

For the past almost three weeks, my husband and I have been with our daughter Beth, her husband Nate, and their three lively sons, Kaden, Eli, and William. The plan was to celebrate Christmas together, make a quick dash north for a family wedding, then back to Beth & Nate's to help with a move. 

But one by one, we "were dropping like flies" into a viral infection that just wouldn't let go. We all pushed through as much as possible and somehow it all got done.

But in the midst of it all, I was able to enjoy my usual treasured practice ...

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Embracing my Today...TODAY!

Sharing this post from my first year of blogging 2011. I need it again. How about you?

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it! Psalm 118:24

Esther at her wedding , 80 years old
Esther at her wedding , 80 years old

Several years ago, I received an email from a dear friend and former college roommate DeeDee.  She sent this email to family and friends to memorialize her mom who had just passed away at the age of 105.  I remember DeeDee's mom Esther as a "spunky lady" who "embraced  life."  The email reflected just that and was entitled "Esther's motto."

Today Outside my window, a new day I see, And only I can determine what kind of day it will be, It can be busy and sunny, Laughing and gay, Or boring and cold, unhappy And grey, My own state of mind is the determining key, For I am only the person I let myself be,

I can be thoughtful and do all I can to help, Or be selfish and think just of myself, I can enjoy what I do and make it seem fun, Or gripe and complain and make It hard on someone, I can be patient with those

Diana & Esther
Diana & Esther

Who may not understand, Or belittle and hurt them as Much as I can, But I have faith in myself, And believe what I say And I personally intend to Make the best of each day.

----------------------------------------------------

Now I don't think DeeDee or Esther would say that having a positive attitude is the answer to our every problem.  But knowing them, I do think they would say, "Embrace your today!  Hug it to your breast, and live it with courage, tenacity, and unselfishness."

I was thinking about this very thing as my husband John was going through cardiac rehab.   John's heart attack in July 2012 was in the artery that doctor's call "the widow maker."  So I am well aware that I could have become a widow that very day, as many of our college friends and other peers had already become.  And John could have said good-bye to this earth and joined those loved ones now with the Lord.

So here are some of my reflections on TODAY:

1.  TODAY is a gift.  It's all I have...and it has been given to me by my Creator.

This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

2.  TODAY will never be again. It is totally unique with unique challenges and opportunities.  Yesterday is gone...tomorrow is in the mind of God.

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." James 4:13-14 [See also Psalm 90:3-6; Luke 12:22-32]

3.  TODAY is filled with opportunities:

*The opportunity to "love on" those around me -- my husband, my children, my grandsons, my neighbors, my friends, my co-workers, my students, and others who may cross my path today.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13 NIV

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ...Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Gal 6:2,10 NIV

On facebook, my daughter Beth had just posted a cute little story about my then 5 year old grandson Kaden.

Kaden in school
Kaden in school

Kaden said to Beth, "Did you know we each have an invisible bucket of happiness, and when we are mean, it is like dumping somebody's bucket?"

Kaden had just said hi to the neighbor and told his mom that he was filling up her bucket.  Apparently this was from a kindergarten lesson based on the book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today by Carol McCloud.  Wow, maybe I need to go back to kindergarten...or at least read the book!

*The opportunity to do my work with all the skill that God has put in me.  There is great satisfaction in doing my work well, whether it's at home or at my job.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Eccl 9:10a NIV

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1Peter 4:10-11 NIV

*The opportunity to walk with GOD, the Eternal I AM in a deeper way, hearing His voice and following Him.  And this, of course, is most important of all!

For he says, "In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2Cor 6:2

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness..." Hebrews 3:7-8

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

Over the years, one of my favorite studies to teach from the Scriptures has been the Old Testament Names of God.  In that study, one of the most exciting insights is that God's memorial name Jehovah, meaning I AM, expresses a God Who is eternally Present, totally above and beyond our chronological time, yet totally present in it with us and for us.  In the course of teaching that study, the Holy Spirit moved upon my heart to write a meditation in the first person.  I pray that this brief meditation will fill you with courage and excitement to embrace your today also:

All that I AM, I AM for you!  I am everything and anything that you will ever need:

I AM ELOHIM, your Creator.  I made you exactly the way you are.  You can be the unique person I created you to be.  You don’t have to fit into someone else’s mold or picture of what you should be.

I AM EL ELYON, your God most High, the Sovereign Ruler of the universe.  I am in control over all your circumstances.  I am weaving all your hurts and failures into my sovereign plan for My glory, bringing good out of them for yourself and others, as you trust Me.

I AM EL ROI, your God Who Sees and cares about every trial and heartache and injustice.  Others may judge you and use you and write you off, but I don’t.  I care and open My arms wide to receive you and bless you.

I AM ADONAI, your loving Lord and Master.  Present your body to me.  I will lead you in my good, pleasing, and perfect will (Romans 12: 12-2).  You can trust Me to be all that you need and to use you in My kingdom.

I AM EL SHADDAI, your All-Sufficient God.  “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it” (Psalm 81: 10.)  I am the Source of all you will ever need.  I am your strength and the fulfiller of all My promises to you, my child.

I AM JEHOVAH-JIREH, your LORD Who Provides.  I provided a Substitute, My Son the Lamb, for you, so that you could be saved and enter into relationship with Me your God and Father.  I have wiped away all your guilt and shame.

I AM JEHOVAH, your “I AM”, your Self-Existent LORD.  I am your life always and forever.

I AM JEHOVAH-RAPHA, the LORD your Healer.  I am the source of all your healing;  physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual.

I AM JEHOVAH-NISSI, the LORD your Banner.  I give you victory over all your enemies:  the world, the flesh, and the devil.  They are conquered foes as you rest in Me.

I AM JEHOVAH-MEKODDISHKEM, the LORD Who Sanctifies You.  You can rest from your self-effort.  Why do you try to do for yourself by your own religious good works what only I can do—make you holy?  Throw off that “yoke of bondage” (Galatians).  I came to set you free!  “And if the Son shall make your free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8).  Rest in Me and I will sanctify you.  I will do it!

I AM JEHOVAH-SHALOM, the LORD Who Himself is your Peace.  Because of My presence within you, I can provide the peace that passes understanding no matter what the circumstances.  Trust and rest in Me.

I AM JEHOVAH-SABBAOTH, your LORD of Hosts.  Greater am I Who is in you than my enemy who is in the world.  Victory is secure—I have all the forces of heaven and earth at My command.  Come to Me when you are at the end of your rope.  You are more than a conqueror in Me and My Love.

I AM JEHOVAH-RAAH, the LORD your Shepherd, Who seeks after, nurtures, protects, leads, and speaks to you your whole life.  You are perfectly cared for and secure in My loving arms (john 10: 27-29).

I AM JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU, the LORD your Righteousness. You are fully righteous and acceptable to Me because you are in My Son.  He actually became sin when He died on the Cross, so that you could become His righteousness.  Glory in that, dear child!

I AM JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH, your LORD Who is There.  I have said (and I won’t change My mind), I will never leave you, nor will I ever, ever forsake you. So you can confidently say in every situation, The Lord is my Helper.  I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13: 5b-6)  You are My home (John 15), My sanctuary (1Cor 6: 19-20; Col 1: 27).

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

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the boys goofing around 2010
the boys goofing around 2010

Respecting the Holy Spirit in Your Child's Life

"Respect the Holy Spirit in other believers...including your children." Such was God's message to me years ago when I was raising my precious son and darling daughter.

When each of them came to saving faith, I was surprised by the immediate evidence of the Spirit in each of their young lives. With Jeremy, it was his hunger for God's word through his Bible story book; with Beth, her desire to knock on the doors of our neighbors to tell them about Jesus.

I'm not sure why this should be surprising.  After all, the Spirit of God lives within every believer, no matter how young or how old. Each of them is a sanctuary of God, a holy of holies, a dwelling place of the divine. Even in the midst of the human developmental stages of life, while still being children, God is there.

Many times in the Scriptures, we read of the Spirit of God working dramatically, mightily, profoundly in and through young people. Moses realized at a young age that he would be Israel's deliverer. Young Samuel heard the Lord and received his call as a child. John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother's womb. And there are others.

You might wonder why this has come to my mind now in the midst of the summer.  Well, these weeks in Delaware, as God's delay unfolded and played out (see my previous post), I've spent lots of time with my grandsons, especially my oldest Kaden.

Kaden was just three years old when his Air Force dad was deployed overseas for six months. So our daughter Beth packed up Kaden, dog, and stuff and moved to Ohio to stay with us for the duration. Of course, this "Babci"* was thrilled! Lots of real life guts, glory, and grace were up ahead. And so we settled in.

It was during that time that I was teaching a ladies' Bible class in the letter to the Hebrews. As I packed up my Bible and notebook the first week, Kaden asked me where I was going.  When I told him that I was going to teach a Bible study, he replied, "When I grow up, I'm going to do that!"

And week by week, little three year old Kaden would remind me of his ambition to be a Bible teacher too when he grew up.

Little did he know that he didn't have to wait to be "grown up" to be a Bible teacher. He has been MY teacher for some time already!  In fact, several months ago I shared Kaden's first blog post (don't miss it!). So Kaden became my youngest "guest branch" at just 8 years old.

Since I gave Kaden a "Bible Reading Challenge" almost a year ago now, we have had awesome discussions ranging from Creation to the meaning of the Trinity to Resurrection of Christ to Paul's missionary journeys to the book of Revelation and everything in between.  The amazing thing is that this "spiritual adult in a 9 year old body" remembers everything he reads and explores in a simple way some of the most profound truths of Scripture.

For instance, before baseball camp started a few weeks ago, we were talking about how much easier it was to start a new thing in a new place when you know someone. Then I said that even if you had to go alone, God is with you.

Kaden thought for a moment and replied, face all aglow, "So then you always really do know Someone, don't you."

So for a week, as we drove together to and from baseball camp, conversations would take a turn from Minecraft and Pokemon to beautifully simple, child-like, faith-filled questions and realizations.

Finally, one day after such truly amazing discussions, as I dropped Kaden off and said good-bye, I was overcome by the manifestation of the Spirit in that precious young life. I had to just sit there awhile as I sobbed. I felt as though I had encountered a burning bush, a holy of holies, all in the person of my nine year old grandson.

What about you, dear mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, teacher, aunt, friend? Do you have the honor of caring for a child? Do you respect the Holy Spirit in your believing child's life?

You have a sanctuary, a holy of holies in your midst.

Yes, there is human development going on...with all the guts and glory that entails. But don't discount the Lord's working in their young lives.  In fact, why not learn from that profound simplicity of truth through the lips of a child who loves his Redeemer?

Jewels

When He cometh, when He comethTo make up His jewels,All His jewels, precious jewels,His loved and His own.

Like the stars of the morningHis bright crown adorning,They shall shine in their beauty,Bright gems for His crown.

He will gather, He will gatherThe gems for His kingdom,All the pure ones, all the bright ones,His loved and His own.

Like the stars of the morningHis bright crown adorning,They shall shine in their beauty,Bright gems for His crown.

Little children, little children,Who love their Redeemer,Are the jewels, precious jewels,His loved and His own.

Like the stars of the morningHis bright crown adorning,They shall shine in their beauty,Bright gems for His crown.

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Living from Who You are

A couple years ago, I took my grandsons, Evan (5 y.o.) & Carter (4 y.o.), to visit my mother-in-law ("G-G" to them) who lives in a local senior center. I told the boys how happy old people are to see little guys.  I described to them how these old, sad, depressed faces would change to happy and smiling faces when they saw them.

"Those old folks will 'come alive' because you boys are so special!  You just watch!" I said.

Sure enough! Resident after resident began talking, smiling, stopping the boys to interact with them.  In fact one man was so overcome that he had to try to hold himself back from trying to hug them and squeeze them.

So after we made it through the "gauntlet" of popularity, we visited with G-G, taking her to the ice cream parlor as usual.

As we were driving back to my house, here's the conversation we had in the car:

Me:  "Didn't I tell you?  You boys are very special!"

Carter:  "That boy (pointing to Evan) isn't special! "

Me, somewhat taken aback but figuring it was the usual sibling stuff:  "Oh, but he is special!"

Carter:  "But he's mean to me!"

Me:  "That doesn't mean he isn't special...that just means he's not acting like the special boy that he really is!"

As I drove on that day, I reflected how this is a perfect illustration of our lives as believers.

We are such special people because God has made us so. We are...

children of our Abba Father God,

brothers & sisters of our Brother, King Jesus,

one with the Triune God through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

But rather than letting the living, indwelling Lord Jesus Christ live though us as us, we, more often than we like to admit, chose to live from the deadness of our flesh.

How sad...actually tragic!

Brothers and sisters, let's live from the fullness of Him who made us special.  Amen!

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!  1 John 3:1a NLT

...this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.  Colossians 1:27 NLT

I have been crucified with the Anointed One—I am no longer alive—but the Anointed is living in me; and whatever life I have left in this failing body I live by the faithfulness of God’s Son, the One who loves me and gave His body on the cross for me.  Galatians 2:20 VOICE

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.  Colossians 2:9-10 NIV

The True Vine: Tell Us about Your Name...

vine with many branches
vine with many branches

I AM the True Vine... John 15:1 “Tell us about your name…”  That was the opening “ice-breaker” at a teacher in-service I attended a few years ago.  I was glad for that topic, because I have an interesting name.  In fact, each of my names (even including my married name) has something unique about it.

My full name is Janet Gale Renner Loyd.  “Janet” is after my mother whose name is “Jeanette” (apparently my Polish grandfather had a French girlfriend during WWI by that name).  My middle name is the first 3 letters of my mother’s maiden name (Galuszka) G-A-L plus an E…”Gale”.  My husband (as well as my aunt/godmother) would say that this is an appropriate spelling rather than the usual “G-a-i-l” because of my similarity to a “whirlwind” (ha, ha).  “Renner” is a German name, and have you noticed that it can be spelled forward and backward the same way?

That leaves my married name, “Loyd”.  That’s right, it IS spelled correctly. (I always spell it, but people still insist on putting 2 L's).  My explanation for the one “L” spelling is that my husband had some lazy ancestors somewhere in his past.  I don’t know if that’s true, but it makes for an interesting explanation.

The True Vine, A Murray 138_5831
The True Vine, A Murray 138_5831

Today, young parents seem to be choosing names for their children, not based on important people in their lives, but on the “music” or pleasantness of the sound of the name.  And that’s okay.  There are some fine ones out there…like “Kaden” and “Evan” and “Carter” and “Eli” (these just happen to be my grandsons’ names). And then there are some beautiful ones like “Lilly” and “Olivia” and “Emily” and “Victoria”.

But in Bible times, things were different.  A person’s name represented his character or a call in his life.

That being true, I wonder how Jesus would have answered the “ice breaker” question:  “Tell us about your name…”

He may have said, “My name ‘Jesus’ was given to my mother by an angel.  It means ‘Savior’.  My title ‘Christ’ means “Anointed One’ -- I am the Messiah, the Promised One foretold throughout generations.”

He then might go on and on with significant name after significant name -- names such as  Lord, King, the Lamb of God, the Alpha & Omega...

But I suspect the reply He would most want to give would be simply, “My name is ‘I AM’…I AM everything and anything you will ever need, because I AM Jehovah God the Son.”   Jesus wasn’t hesitant to use this name to refer to Himself in His conversation with the legalistic religious leaders...and was almost stoned for blasphemy!

Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM."  So they picked up stones to throw at Him. John 8:58-59

This sacred name of God was not even allowed to be spoken by the devout Jew at that time, because it spoke of the very essence of God Himself...the Eternal Present...His Essence is His Existence..LIFE itself!

Jesus further elaborated on this divine name in the rich metaphors of the Gospel of John:

I AM the Bread of life,...I AM the Light of the world,...I AM the Door of the sheep,...I AM the Good Shepherd,...I AM the Resurrection & the Life,...I AM the Way, the Truth, & the Life,..I AM the True Vine. John 6,8,10,11,14,15

God says I AM  138_5816
God says I AM 138_5816

Several years ago I was at an ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) teachers’ convention.  One of the fun parts of those conventions was to visit the booksellers’ booths.  I love Christian books, and I love a bargain, so for me it was always a “win/win”.

This particular time I found a treasure of a children’s book called God Says I AM: What God tells us about Himself in the Bible – from A to Z. This wonderful book goes through the whole alphabet describing who God is.  I have since given this sweet book to each of my two grandsons who have trusted in the Lord Jesus for salvation…to commemorate that glorious day that they were born into God’s family.

I’ve challenged my then five-year old grandson Kaden to try to learn all the descriptions of God in the I AM book.  We are still both working on it together, and every time I visit, we practice.

But one of our times together was especially precious.  After Kaden & I sat together seeing how much we could remember, I went back through quickly repeating all of the descriptions while looking at the stunning artwork:

God says I AM – the Artist, the Builder, the Creator, the Designer, Everywhere, your Father, Good, the Healer; I do the Impossible; the Joy-giver, King of kings, Love, a Mystery, Never-ending, the Only One, Power; I Quiet the storms; Real, your Savior, Trustworthy, Unfailing, Voice, Wisdom; fiX your eyes on heaven; I want to know You; the A to Z!

138_5678
138_5678

Then I almost breathlessly ended with,

“And all of that is what God says He Is!”

Kaden looked up at me and said with warmth and amazement,

WOW!”

That’s right, Kaden…WOW!  This is your God!

And this Amazing God is the Father's True Vine...because everything that's true of the Father is true of the Son. 

He is the image of the invisible God...For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells in bodily [human] form. Col 1:15; 2:9

I AM the Vine. You are the branches.  If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.  Apart from Me, you can do nothing. John 15:5

May we, Your branches, be WOWed by YOU, the Father's True Vine, all our days!

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

There are dads...and then there's a DAD!

jeremy reading
jeremy reading

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

None of us on this earth has had the perfect dad.  Some of us, though, would say we had pretty darn good ones…

Someone like my friend Shirley.  She describes her dad in two words…”Charles Ingalls”.  You remember him…from Little House on the Prairie fame, the TV Dad played by Michael Landon -- incredibly wise, loving, patient, and fun-loving.

There is another dad I would say is in the “Charles Ingalls” category.  He’s my son Jeremy.  Jeremy’s two little boys, Evan and Carter, are simply crazy about him!  Now, I would say that "Babci" (pronounced Bob-chee; Polish for grandma…and my title used by all my grandsons) borders on “rock star” status with those little boys… BUT not when Daddy is around (and rightfully so)!

my men
my men

One day, I was at their house when Jeremy arrived home.  Suddenly, any attention I was receiving immediately shifted toward the front door as Daddy made his humble, but “bedlam-producing” entrance.  Both Evan and Carter ran over to him screaming, jumping up and down -- each of them vying for his full attention.  Talk about energy and excitement!  This loving, game-playing dad was being smothered by his two adoring sons!  Somehow I can’t imagine that these little guys will have many, if any, “father-issues” growing up.

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ecard-abba-father
ecard-abba-father

This makes me think about another Dad…one much more “Charles Ingalls-like” than Charles Ingalls…or my son Jeremy.  A Father who is perfect in every way:

One who is there for me with love and wisdom and strength as I walk through this sin-cursed, broken world(James 1:5; 2Peter 1:2-3; Eph 3:20-21)

One who bestows every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)

One who gives joy and delight in His presence (Psalm 16:11)

Because of His Son Jesus, I can run to Him fully assured of being received with love and acceptance like Evan and Carter with their daddy (Heb 4:14-16).

Unlike them, however, I don’t have to vie with others for His full attention, because He is uniquely my Abba (Daddy in Bible language).  Yet at the same time, He is Abba for multitudes of other sons and daughters…because He’s our Father GOD, and we are in His Son Jesus Christ(John 14:6; 1Cor 1:30).

So I ask myself, how readily do I run to my Heavenly Father as my source of joy, delight, love, and provision?  Or do I rather turn to the"Babci's" of my life…the lesser “stars”, like appearance, activities, relationships, success, comfort, attention…good gifts, but not the Giver and Lover of my soul.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God…and SUCH WE ARE! 1John 3:1

[First posted on June 15th, 2011]

Psalm 91
Psalm 91

You might also like the Abba Fatherseries and the Living as God's Child Bible study. Click for list of posts.

Choose your FACE...Change your DAY

Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart. Proverbs 27:19

I love 4 year olds...they understand so much!  A few years ago, I told my then 4 year old grandson Evan that we choose our attitude.  And he got it!

I didn’t always think that was true, but the older I get the more I believe our choosing has a lot to do with it. And if we are children of God, the living, indwelling Christ empowers us to have an appropriate attitude for the situation.

I experienced this simple truth with another 4 year old when I was teaching preschool many years ago.

It was getting toward the end of the school year...maybe April or early May.  I was reflecting on the precious group of "free spirits" entrusted to my care that year.  The Lord had done some amazing spiritual work in the lives of those five four-year-old's and in my own life as their teacher.

But I was somewhat distressed, feeling that I hadn't quite "reached" one little boy.  I felt that way because he usually looked stressed.  And he often had a negative expression on his face...what might be called a "NO" face.  Somewhat resigned to the fact that "you can't win them all," I just kept on doing what we were doing.

One day, the children were washing their hands two by two.  Little Johnny (not his real name) was not acting properly toward the child at the sink with him.  So of course, I reprimanded him.  He glared at me with his "NO " face, obviously not happy!

I said, "Johnny, don't give me that face!  Give me a gentle face!"  Immediately, Johnny changed his face...and peace came over him!  I was amazed!

Then just about an hour later, we were lining up by the door to go home.  At the end of each class day, I would stand at the door and face the children, waiting until they formed a line in front of me.  Then we would proceed down the hall and out to the waiting moms.  I looked at Johnny who, at that point, had the usual, somewhat negative, expression on his face.  When he made eye contact with me, he must have remembered our little interchange at the sink.  He immediately relaxed his expression and smiled.

Later I asked the Lord about it.  "Lord, what just happened?"  He led me to an incredible Scripture I had never noticed before:

A man's wisdom illumines his face and causes his stern face to change. Ecclesiastes 8:1b  NASB

Days later, Johnny's mom came up to me and said, "Jan, you changed Johnny's life!"  She had seen a new peace in her child.  And I praised God, knowing it wasn't me who made the change, but the Holy Spirit working in one little boy's life by enabling him to "change his face."

Not long ago, this very thread ran through discussion with a group of friends.  One woman said she wanted to be more gentle, so the Lord led her to start closing doors and cabinets quietly.  Another person wanted to not respond to mistakes in anger and frustration, so he began to speak out a gentle answer and found that it turned away his own wrath. (Proverbs 15:1)

After my husband's heart attack, John and I went to his cardiac rehab class called, "The Emotional Side of Heart Disease."

This was an excellent class about managing stress...especially the stresses associated with having just suffered a heart attack.  We both looked at each other when Patty, the rehab nurse, read an excerpt from an article called, "Laughter Really is the Best Medicine."

Move joyfully.  If you wake up in a bad mood, act like you're in a good mood, and your body can actually 'fake out' your own brain.  It's called 'fake it till you make it.'  When the copier breaks down in the office, instead of hitting it, try twirling while you tell people the copier isn't working.  Trust me, when you do this, it's impossible to feel stressed.  By substituting playful gestures for angry ones, your brain often short-circuits your own stress.

I'm not so sure I can see my engineer husband twirling at the copier, but this principle seems to be at the heart of the way the body and mind work together.

But the even better news for us believers is that we have the mind of Christ, and so we can choose to submit our body to Him and His indwelling life. We can "chose our face" and expect that His empowering, indwelling, resurrection Life will live through us...as us, all to the glory of His Name!

So dear brothers and sisters, "chose your face"...and change the way you live your human life in this world...to the glory of God...one day at a time!

...we have the mind of Christ. 1Cor 2:16b

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil 2:5-8

The Sunrise Club

sunrise 8/2013 NJ
sunrise 8/2013 NJ
Conrad and me
Conrad and me

I have a Sunrise Club.  My brother Conrad and I are charter members.  Whenever I go to the coast in NJ, I must get up to see at least one sunrise.  Often Conrad would call me to make sure I was up, and he would join me. Through the years, various members of extended, as well as immediate, family would sometimes come along.  But no one seriously devoted to it like Conrad and me, until...

Kaden waiting for the sun
Kaden waiting for the sun

My grandson Kaden decided to join my club.  He knew full well that the basic requirement is to see at least one sunrise.  So that we did early one morning last year when I visited Kaden in California.  We saw the sun gloriously arise over the mountains to the east of their home in Menifee.

Kaden watching sunrise
Kaden watching sunrise

However, as we East Coast sunrise watchers all know, the Cadillac of all sunrises takes place over the ocean.  And so this summer Kaden joined me for one of those glorious events...enjoyed every day by fishermen and early morning beach-combers alike.

We even were able to get Kaden's cousins (2 of my other grandsons), Evan & Carter, to get up to watch a sunrise in Virginia Beach on their vacation.  So our number is increasing!

jeremy with evan and carter
jeremy with evan and carter
with the boyscortney
with the boyscortney

You may ask why I love sunrises so much?  Because to me a sunrise is a magnificent picture of the manifested glory of our God.  Listen to what the psalmist says,

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.[a] Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.The sun rises at one end of the heavens    and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat. Psalm 19:1-6 NLT

VA sunrise
VA sunrise

It gets so exciting when after the gorgeous array of color of the early dawn, the tiny sliver of sun begins to peek forth.  And then the reflection on the water...Oh my!

cloudy sunrise
cloudy sunrise

But as we all know, especially sunrise watchers, many days we are disappointed by no visible glory.  The clouds, the rain, the fog, the haze may all obscure the rising of the sun.  But we all know that the sun has still risen, often with a silvery beauty all its own.

How do we know that the sun has arisen?  By faith!  Because we know that we know that we know that the sun rises every day!

And that's why I now love all sunrises -- because each and every one is a picture of the glory of God, some times more manifested than at other times.

Isn't that also true about life?  Sometimes God manifests Himself in tangible ways, like in the love of a mother for her child, in an encouraging note from a friend, in a deep experience in prayer and worship.  But then at other times, His glory is obscured, as in the death of a loved one, the suffering of rejection, the struggles of financial need.  It's then that by faith we can say, "I know that I know that...

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth!" Job 19:25 NIV

So maybe you'd like to get up early one morning and view a sunrise.  Enjoy the glory of God in its amazing magnificence or the glory of God in its magnificent obscurity, remembering that

...faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 ESV

And no matter what kind of sunrise it is, let me know if you'd like to join my Sunrise Club...or better yet, my SONrise Club!

silvery sunrise
silvery sunrise

My Redeemer

Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning Who told the ocean you an only come this far? Who showed the moon where to hide 'til evening Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

Well I know my Redeemer lives I know my Redeemer lives All of creation testify This life within me cries I know my Redeemer lives

The very same God that spins things in orbit He runs to the weary, the worn and the weak And the same gentle hands that hold me when I'm broken They conquered death to bring me victory

Now I know my Redeemer lives I know my Redemer lives Let all creation testify Let this life wihtin me cry I know my Redeemer, He lives

To take away my shame And He lives forever I'll proclaim That the payment for my sin Was the precious life He gave But now He's alive And there's an empty grave.

And I know my Redeemer, He lives I know my Redeemer lives Let all creation testify This life within me cries I know my Redeemer lives

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Vacation-Blog04-150x150
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Thinking of Spiritual Fathers

I am writing to you, fathers,    because you know him who is from the beginning. 1 John 2:13,14 ESV

This Fathers Day I'm thinking about spiritual fathers.   I've been blessed to have some.   My life has been forever enriched by being "spiritually fathered" by these people of God.

This year one of them, Dr. Howard Hendricks, went home to be with the Lord.  You may have been fathered by him also through his books and messages.

Back in the early 1980's, when my husband was at Dallas Theological Seminary, I had the privilege to take two classes with Dr. Hendricks ("Prof"):  Hermeneutics and Bible Study Methods and the Christian Home.   His classes were immensely practical, encouraging, exciting, and motivating.  One of his quotes I have never forgotten is "You cannot impart what you do not possess."**

His life and teaching had an impact on many, many others besides myself.  In fact, people like Chuck Swindoll, David Wilkinson, and others trace their growth of their vision and ministry back to the mentoring of this man of God.  [To read the article about his life in the DTS magazine, click here.]

But these days, I'm also thinking about another spiritual father, the apostle John.  In His first epistle, the elder apostle penned a tenderhearted passage on the growth stages in a believer's life (1 John 2:12-14 ESV).  Did you notice that he repeats two times the exact same description of the "father stage" of spiritual growth?

"...you know Him who has been from the beginning."

"You know GOD in His pure Person...the great I AM, the Burning Bush God, Jehovah!"  Nothing else is needed...nothing else distracts.  There's a total focus on the Ever-Present God and what HE is doing...especially in the lives of people.

Henri Nouwen, in his wonderful book The Return of the Prodigal talks about how we are each ultimately called to be the "father (or mother)" in others' lives.

...my final vocation is indeed to become like the Father and to live out His divine compassion in my daily life...every son and daughter has to choose to step beyond their childhood and become father and mother for others.  It is a hard and lonely step to take... Return of the Prodigal, p121.

Nouwen talks about three ways to truly compassionate fatherhood:  grief, forgiveness, and generosity.  All three of these characteristics require a heart completely empty of self-seeking, a heart that steps over our own stuff  and pours itself out for others.  This is where the Father seeks to take His children as they "grow up" in Him.

I love the image of "stepping over our own stuff."  It has helped me many a time in conversation or in situations to remember that as I mature in God I must be willing to step over this conflict, that slight, the other hurt, etc.  That's the way of the Father...and the way of fathers and mothers who walk in His way on behalf of His children:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph 5:1-2 ESV

Do you have any spiritual fathers in your life?  If so, thank God and imitate their faith!  If not, ask God for some...they are treasures!  And then grow to become one!

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 ESV

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**"PROF-isms" sayings of Professor Howard Hendricks

A belief is what you argue about; a conviction is what you die for.

You cannot impart what you do not possess.

You can impress from a distance, but you can only impact up close.

You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are.

When God measures a man he puts the tape around the heart, not the head.

Jesus never discipled one-on-one.

There are many things in life you “can do” for God. And the more success you have, the more opportunities will come. (You will know more people, you will have more resources, etc.) But most opportunities are distractions in disguise. Therefore find the one thing you “must do” for God. You focus on the depth of your relationship [with God]; let Him determine the scope of your ministry A good leader has a compass in their head and a magnet in their heart. Spend the rest of your life doing what God prepared you to do. The secret to concentration is elimination.

Nothing is more common that unfulfilled potential.

Biblically speaking, to hear and not to do is not to hear at all.

The size of your God determines the size of everything.

People tell me they want to make the bible relevant.  Nonsense. The Bible is already relevant.  You're the one that's irrelevant.

Never traffic in unpracticed truth.

All people are born originals, but most die a copy.

Heaven is a Person:  Jesus Christ.

There's no such thing as faith apart from risk-taking.  Creativity takes risks. The people who are most secure in Jesus Christ shouldn't be scared to try new things.

Our problem is that we are in the Word but not under the Word.

Most people don’t think, they just rearrange their prejudices.

Your career is what you're paid to do; your calling is what you're made to do.

My fear is not that you would fail, but that you will succeed in doing the wrong thing.

You are able to do many things. Be sure you find the one thing you must do.

Your strengths develop your confidence; your weaknesses develop your faith.

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Resurrection Joy...O Happy Day!

Christ is risen!He is risen indeed!

What a reason to celebrate!  And celebrate is just what my 5 year old grandson does when he sings this, his favorite song.

Let's join Evan (and his brother Carter)...and all the saints and angels in praise to God for His glorious gift of His Risen and Reigning Son!

From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise...  Psalm 8:2

Evan & Carter...O Happy Day #1
Evan & Carter...O Happy Day #1

Happy Day by Tim Hughes

The greatest day in history, Death is beaten You have rescued me Sing it out Jesus is alive The empty cross, The empty grave Life eternal You have won the day Shout it out Jesus is aliveHe's alive

Chorus: Oh happy day, happy day You washed my sin away Oh happy day, happy day I'll never be the same Forever I am changed

When I stand, in that place Free at last, meeting face to face I am Yours Jesus You are mine Endless joy, perfect peace Earthly pain finally will cease Celebrate Jesus is aliveHe's alive

Chorus

Oh what a glorious day What a glorious way That You have saved me Oh what a glorious day What a glorious name

Chorus

What a glorious glorious day, I'll never be the same

Evan & Carter...O Happy Day #2
Evan & Carter...O Happy Day #2

Be sure to view it in the full screen...awesome!

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Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

*first posted Easter 2012

There are dads...and then there's a DAD

jeremy reading
jeremy reading

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

None of us on this earth has had the perfect dad.  Some of us, though, would say we had pretty darn good ones…

Someone like my friend Shirley.  She describes her dad in two words…”Charles Ingalls”.  You remember him…from Little House on the Prairie fame, the TV Dad played by Michael Landon -- incredibly wise, loving, patient, and fun-loving.

There is another dad I would say is in the “Charles Ingalls” category.  He’s my son Jeremy.  Jeremy’s two little boys, Evan and Carter, are simply crazy about him!  Now, I would say that "Babci" (pronounced Bob-chee; Polish for grandma…and my title used by all my grandsons) borders on “rock star” status with those little boys… BUT not when Daddy is around (and rightfully so)!

my men
my men

One day, I was at their house when Jeremy arrived home.  Suddenly, any attention I was receiving immediately shifted toward the front door as Daddy made his humble, but “bedlam-producing” entrance.  Both Evan and Carter ran over to him screaming, jumping up and down -- each of them vying for his full attention.  Talk about energy and excitement!  This loving, game-playing dad was being smothered by his two adoring sons!  Somehow I can’t imagine that these little guys will have many, if any, “father-issues” growing up.

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ecard-abba-father
ecard-abba-father

This makes me think about another Dad…one much more “Charles Ingalls-like” than Charles Ingalls…or my son Jeremy.  A Father who is perfect in every way:

One who is there for me with love and wisdom and strength as I walk through this sin-cursed, broken world(James 1:5; 2Peter 1:2-3; Eph 3:20-21)

One who bestows every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)

One who gives joy and delight in His presence (Psalm 16:11)

Because of His Son Jesus, I can run to Him fully assured of being received with love and acceptance like Evan and Carter with their daddy (Heb 4:14-16).

Unlike them, however, I don’t have to vie with others for His full attention, because He is uniquely my Abba (Daddy in Bible language).  Yet at the same time, He is Abba for multitudes of other sons and daughters…because He’s our Father GOD, and we are in His Son Jesus Christ(John 14:6; 1Cor 1:30).

So I ask myself, how readily do I run to my Heavenly Father as my source of joy, delight, love, and provision?  Or do I rather turn to the"Babci's" of my life…the lesser “stars”, like appearance, activities, relationships, success, comfort, attention…good gifts, but not the Giver and Lover of my soul.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God…and SUCH WE ARE! 1John 3:1

[First posted on June 15th, 2011]

Resurrection Joy!

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed! What a reason to celebrate!  And celebrate is just what my 5 year old grandson does when he sings this, his favorite song.

Let's join Evan (and his brother Carter)...and all the saints and angels in praise to God for His glorious gift of His Risen and Reigning Son!

From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise...  Psalm 8:2

Happy Day by Tim Hughes

o happy day...evan & carter
o happy day...evan & carter

The greatest day in history, Death is beaten You have rescued me Sing it out Jesus is alive The empty cross, The empty grave Life eternal You have won the day Shout it out Jesus is aliveHe's alive

Chorus: Oh happy day, happy day You washed my sin away Oh happy day, happy day I'll never be the same Forever I am changed

o happy day evan & carter
o happy day evan & carter

When I stand, in that place Free at last, meeting face to face I am Yours Jesus You are mine Endless joy, perfect peace Earthly pain finally will cease Celebrate Jesus is aliveHe's alive

Chorus

Oh what a glorious day What a glorious way That You have saved me Oh what a glorious day What a glorious name

Chorus

What a glorious glorious day, I'll never be the same

Be sure to view it in the full screen...awesome!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

Walkin' n talkin' n...Talkin' n walkin'...

Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us? Luke 24:32

Carter and I have this thing goin' -- walkin' n talkin'...n talkin' n walkin'...n walkin' n talkin' n....on and on and on.

It's pure delight for both of us, because Carter is 3-1/2...and I'm Carter's Babci (Polish for Grandma).  I know it won't last forever -- he'll grow up and become interested in many other things.  But for right now, we have each other and walkin' n talkin' n talkin' n walkin'!

Well, what is walkin' n talkin' n talkin' n walkin'?  It's simply this:  we just walk (or trot if you're Carter) and chat up a storm at a local, enclosed shopping area.

What do we talk about?  Anything and everything...from the mundane to the sublime -- like blue ugly dolls to how many frosties (snowmen) do we see...to which one we like best (mine's the one with the plaid scarf, his is the one with the sparkly colors)...or whether the train will be running in the children's department of the shoe store.

Carter & I talk about how we love each other, and how we are "best buds."  We also talk about how God wants him to obey mommy and daddy, and how Jesus living in him obeys through him (explained in 3 year old talk, of course!).

And of course, we eat burgers and play games in our booth at Buffalo Wild Wings.   What a glorious day!

My time with Carter reminds me of another pair of "Walkers & Talkers" -- Jesus and His disciples.  They "walked and talked" everywhere together --  through grain fields, through vineyards, from one town to another to another, and even out on the water...chatting up a storm.

Of course, Jesus being the Rabbi did the most significant talking.  But the disciples chatted too, sometimes putting their "foot in their mouths"...like asking who would be the greatest in the kingdom, etc.  But that was okay because Jesus loved them anyway...they were "best buds!"

Perhaps my favorite "walk" of theirs is the one on the road to Emmaus right after Jesus' resurrection (Luke 24).  Unlike my walks with Carter, the two disciples didn't even realize that it was their Lord Jesus Christ that was walking with them.

And He was sharing the Scriptures with them that spoke of Himself and His death, burial, and resurrection.  It wasn't until the intimate activity of eating together, that their eyes were opened to know HIM as their walking companion.

I think it's the same with us present-day disciples of Jesus.  We often "go our merry (or not so merry) way" feeling like the Lord is "up there somewhere" sending down a little help if we ask.  When in reality He is "God with Us" in close association with us at all times.  In fact, He is united to us in oneness.

A while ago, I was going through what felt like rejection in some areas of my life.

It all left me confused and disheartened...and LONELY!  I decided to go for a walk through a beautiful senior center near our home.

As I walked, I moaned and groaned to myself:  NOBODY really knows me...NOBODY really cares...NOBODY really gets who I am!

I sat down on the grass in a grove of trees, feeling all ALONE.

Then came the still small voice of my unseen Walking Partner:  Nobody really knew ME...nobody really cared for ME...nobody really got Who I AM! (Nobody except His heavenly Father, that is).

It was then that I realized that I hadn't been walking and moaning alone...

So the rest of the way, I walked hand-in-hand with the LONELY ONE.

What about you, my dear brother and sister in Christ?

Do you realize that you have a Life Walking Partner Who is your Almighty Loving Lord Christ? You are never alone, and you are always understood and cherished.  No matter what you're going through, walk through it hand-in-hand with HIM.

There's a song Wayne Watson put out a while ago, Walk in the Dark. (I've printed out the lyrics below.)  At first, I didn't understand it, because I naively thought Christians always walked in the "light."  After all, Jesus is the Light of the World, isn't He?   But after I went through some dark crises, then I got it!

If you are walking through darkness right now, may this be your heart cry...it's better to walk in the dark with JESUS, than to walk in the light on your own...Amen!

WALK IN THE DARK

where are you taking me-why are we turning here this road is strange to me-this path is not so clear must be the place where my doubt turns to faith where I close my eyes and take your hand

CHORUS: I'd rather walk in the dark with Jesus Than walk in the light on my own I'd rather go through the valley of the shadow with him Than to dance on the mountains alone I'd rather follow wherever he leads me Than to go where none before me have gone I'd rather walk in the dark with Jesus Than to walk in the light of my own

I've made some plans you know-mapped out a strategy Somebody tell me where did the seasons go-have you forgotten me I've heard the darkest hour is just before dawn And wherever you are the sun will shine

CHORUS

There will be shadows-but I won't be shaken 'Cause you've never forsaken a vow You've never failed me before this I know And, Jesus, you won't fail me now

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Bible Students: Perhaps you would like to  explore some of Jesus' other walks with His disciples.  Here are a few to get you started:Kaden studying

Through a grain field on the Sabbath -- Luke 6 Through Samaria, encountering the Samaritan woman -- John 4 On the water with Peter -- Matthew 14:22-33 Through Jericho on the way to Jerusalem before the Triumphal entry -- Luke 18:31-19:40 Through a vineyard on the way to Gethsemane -- John 15 On the road to Emmaus after the Resurrection -- Luke 24:13-35

Don't know Him? Or maybe you're just not sure?  Click here and read of one woman's spiritual journey.  Prayerfully reflect on the Scriptures.  May you come to put your faith in the One who loves you and died for you

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

the grandboys dec 2010

the grandboys dec 2010

Let brotherly love continue... Hebrews 13:1

I have four grandsons.  They are the darling-est little guys!  I learn so much from them -- about fun, love, life, human nature, and language development (I'm an English teacher).  Above all, through them I learn about our Heavenly Father and how He relates to us His children in the family of God.

Kaden & Eli Oct 2011

Kaden & Eli Oct 2011

Now these little guys come in two's, two sets of brothers.

Evan Carter Oct 2011

Evan Carter Oct 2011

I've told stories about them in various blogs.  This time I'd like to tell two stories about one set of the brothers (Evan and Carter) -- stories that encourage me in my relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

"The Interpreter" -- Understanding Each Other

One day, I was driving Evan and Carter home after spending time with them at my house.

Carter says from his car seat in the back, "Babci (my Polish grandma name), where we goin?"

Me:  "I'm taking you home, hon'."

Carter:  "I don't wanna go home!"

Me:  "Daddy will be home soon!"

Carter:  "Daddy?  I wuv him!"

angry birds in disguise

angry birds in disguise

Carter (again):  "I wanna go animal wode!"

Me:  "Animal Road?"

Carter:  "No! animal wode!"

I repeat:  "Animal Road?"  Then back and forth a couple of times.

Finally Carter is in tears...so I turn to the family interpreter, Evan.

Me:  "Evan, what is Carter saying?"

Evan: "He means 'Shade Wode'."

Me:  "Shade Road?"

Evan: "NO! Shade Wode!"

I repeat:  "Shade Road?"  Now Evan is in tears, which is very unlike him.  So I figured I just threw him over the edge!

Me:  "Evan, hon', use different words, like you usually do, to explain what Carter is saying."  This is the amazing thing Evan has done for a long time.  He rarely gets frustrated if I don't understand what he is saying.  He patiently uses synonyms. Amazing!

Evan:  "You know, it's by the Nike store far away."

Me: "I still don't know...Animal wode?  Shade wode?  What is 'wode'?"

Evan:  "You know, Babci, 'He's got the whole wode in His Hands'!"

I laughed and then cried!  Here the first thing sweet little 4 year old Evan thought of to explain the word "world"  was a song he had learned about his Creator God.

Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies, you have prepared praise.
Matthew 21:16

By the way, the place Carter wanted to go to was "Traders World,” a huge, crazy flea market with the statues of animals on the roof...thus "Animal Wode"

"The Evangelist" -- Caring for Each Other

About a week ago, the boys were at my house.  I had saved them a cool ad from a party store, showing every costume imaginable and desirable to a 3 & 4 year old.  But I couldn't find it.  So Evan, Carter, and Babci proceeded to search every room to see where I had put it -- to no avail!  Finally as a last resort...I prayed!  "Jesus, please find the ad!"

Carter:  "Babci, Jesus isn't here!"

Me:  " Oh, hon', He is!  That's the beautiful thing...Jesus is everywhere."

Evan steps in:  "Carter,  you know where ELSE he is?"  Evan very dramatically points to inside his little chest! "You need to get him in YOU.  You need to pray!"

Then to me, Evan says:  "Carter doesn't have Him!"

So I pick up Carter and put him on my lap, thinking this is the time to start explaining the gospel to little Carter.  Maybe little C is ready to "pray the sinner's prayer."

I begin telling him that inside his body is his real person, his heart.   He can ask Jesus to forgive his sins and come into His heart.

Carter, "Inside my belly [pointing]?  Inside my bottom [pointing again with a giggle]?

I figure by this time, things are deteriorating. 

So I turn to Evan, "I don't think Carter is ready yet...we need to pray for him !"

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:1-4

By the way, we did find the ad.  Carter said to me, "In your purse, Babci?"  Sure enough!

The parents of both of these sets of brothers desire that these little guys grow up to be "best buds." And they seem to be well on their way!  But that doesn't always seem to be happening when kids are growing up!

Trust me, I know!  I'm the oldest of 7 and always wished I were an only child...like the time, my youngest sister Nancy threatened to run away from home, and I was helping her pack!  But today each of us would DIE for the other...truly!  Why?  Because we belong to each other...we are in the same blood line, the same family!

And isn't that our Abba Father's desire for us His children...that we would be devoted to one another ("best buds," so to speak), no matter how much we disagree and even dislike each other?  We are in the same blood line, the same family!

The way we know we've been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn't love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don't go together. This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves! 1John 3:14-16 MESSAGE

We have a connection with each other that can't be broken, whether we like it or not!  It's a connection as deep as union with each other in the Triune God!  Just as in a human family, the primary connection a child has is with the parents (and thus with each other), so too in the family of God.  Listen to how Jesus prayed the night before He died:

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that THEY also may be IN US, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:20-23

As I've been meditating on my union with Christ and my brothers and sisters, I've revisited what are called the One another verses.  Maybe you would like to join me in revisiting them, or perhaps visiting them for the first time.  Then if you care to, pray with me:

Father, empower me through the indwelling Christ, Your Perfect Son, to love my brothers and sisters.  Love them through me.  Understand them through me.  Care about their spiritual, emotional, physical welfare through me, O God.  In Christ's Loving Name.  Amen!

John 13:14

"If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.

John 13:34

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 13:35 " By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

John 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

John 15:17 "This I command you, that you love one another.

Acts 7:26 " On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, 'Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?'

Acts 15:39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.

Romans 12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Romans 14:5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.

Romans 14:19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

Romans 15:5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,

Romans 15:7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

Romans 15:14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

1 Corinthians 6:7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?

1 Corinthians 7:5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 11:33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

1 Corinthians 12:25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

1 Corinthians 16:20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

Galatians 5:26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.

Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Ephesians 5:21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing oneanother with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;

1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

1 Thessalonians 4:18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;

Titus 3:3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.

Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 10:24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

James 4:11 Do not speak against one another, brethren He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.

James 5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

1 Peter 1:22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1 Peter 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

1 John 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 3:11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;

1 John 3:23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

2 John 1:5 Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.

Embracing My TODAY

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it! Psalm 118:24

Esther at her wedding, 80 years old

A few days after posting my last entry, I received an email from a dear friend and former college roommate DeeDee.  She sent this email to family and friends to memorialize her mom who had just passed away at the age of 105.  I remember DeeDee's mom Esther as a "spunky lady" who "embraced  life."  The email reflected just that and was entitled "Esther's motto."

Today Outside my window, a new day I see, And only I can determine what kind of day it will be, It can be busy and sunny, Laughing and gay, Or boring and cold, unhappy And grey, My own state of mind is the determining key, For I am only the person I let myself be,

I can be thoughtful and do all I can to help, Or be selfish and think just of myself, I can enjoy what I do and make it seem fun, Or gripe and complain and make It hard on someone, I can be patient with those

Who may not understand, Or belittle and hurt them as Much as I can, But I have faith in myself, And believe what I say And I personally intend to Make the best of each day.

----------------------------------------------------

Now I don't think DeeDee or Esther would say that having a positive attitude is the answer to our every problem.  But knowing them, I do think they would say, "Embrace your today!  Hug it to your breast, and live it with courage, tenacity, and unselfishness."

I've been thinking about this very thing as my husband John has been going through cardiac rehab.   John's heart attack in July was in the artery that doctor's call "the widow maker."  So I am well aware that I could have become a widow that very day, as many of our college friends and other peers had already become.  And John could have said good-bye to this earth and joined those loved ones now with the Lord.

So here are some of my reflections on TODAY:

1.  TODAY is a gift.  It's all I have...and it has been given to me by my Creator.

This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

2.  TODAY will never be again. It is totally unique with unique challenges and opportunities.  Yesterday is gone...tomorrow is in the mind of God.

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." James 4:13-14 [See also Psalm 90:3-6; Luke 12:22-32]

3.  TODAY is filled with opportunities.

*The opportunity to "love on" those around me -- my husband, my children, my grandsons, my neighbors, my friends, my co-workers, my students, and others who may cross my path today.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13 NIV

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ...Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Gal 6:2,10 NIV

On facebook, my daughter Beth just posted a cute little story about my 5 year old grandson Kaden.

Kaden said to Beth the other day, "Did you know we each have an invisible bucket of happiness, and when we are mean, it is like dumping somebody's bucket?" Beth then wrote that Kaden also said hi to the neighbor and told his mom that he was filling up her bucket.

Apparently this was from a kindergarten lesson based on the book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today by Carol McCloud.  Wow, maybe I need to go back to kindergarten...or at least read the book!

*The opportunity to do my work with all the skill that God has put in me.  There is great satisfaction in doing my work well, whether it's at home or at my job.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Eccl 9:10a NIV

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1Peter 4:10-11 NIV

*The opportunity to walk with GOD, the Eternal I AM in a deeper way, hearing His voice and following Him.  And this, of course, is most important of all!

For he says, "In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2Cor 6:2

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness..." Hebrews 3:7-8

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

Over the years, one of my favorite studies to teach from the Scriptures has been the Old Testament Names of God.  In that study, one of the most exciting insights is that God's memorial name Jehovah, meaning I AM, expresses a God Who is eternally Present, totally above and beyond our chronological time, yet totally present in it with us and for us.  In the course of teaching that study, the Holy Spirit moved upon my heart to write a meditation in the first person.  I pray that this brief meditation will fill you with courage and excitement to embrace your today also:

All that I AM, I AM for you!  I am everything and anything that you will ever need:

I AM ELOHIM, your Creator.  I made you exactly the way you are.  You can be the unique person I created you to be.  You don’t have to fit into someone else’s mold or picture of what you should be.

I AM EL ELYON, your God most High, the Sovereign Ruler of the universe.  I am in control over all your circumstances.  I am weaving all your hurts and failures into my sovereign plan for My glory, bringing good out of them for yourself and others, as you trust Me.

I AM EL ROI, your God Who Sees and cares about every trial and heartache and injustice.  Others may judge you and use you and write you off, but I don’t.  I care and open My arms wide to receive you and bless you.

I AM ADONAI, your loving Lord and Master.  Present your body to me.  I will lead you in my good, pleasing, and perfect will (Romans 12: 12-2).  You can trust Me to be all that you need and to use you in My kingdom.

I AM EL SHADDAI, your All-Sufficient God.  “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it” (Psalm 81: 10.)  I am the Source of all you will ever need.  I am your strength and the fulfiller of all My promises to you, my child.

I AM JEHOVAH-JIREH, your LORD Who Provides.  I provided a Substitute, My Son the Lamb, for you, so that you could be saved and enter into relationship with Me your God and Father.  I have wiped away all your guilt and shame.

I AM JEHOVAH, your “I AM”, your Self-Existent LORD.  I am your life always and forever.

I AM JEHOVAH-RAPHA, the LORD your Healer.  I am the source of all your healing;  physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual.

I AM JEHOVAH-NISSI, the LORD your Banner.  I give you victory over all your enemies:  the world, the flesh, and the devil.  They are conquered foes as you rest in Me.

I AM JEHOVAH-MEKODDISHKEM, the LORD Who Sanctifies You.  You can rest from your self-effort.  Why do you try to do for yourself by your own religious good works what only I can do—make you holy?  Throw off that “yoke of bondage” (Galatians).  I came to set you free!  “And if the Son shall make your free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8).  Rest in Me and I will sanctify you.  I will do it!

I AM JEHOVAH-SHALOM, the LORD Who Himself is your Peace.  Because of My presence within you, I can provide the peace that passes understanding no matter what the circumstances.  Trust and rest in Me.

I AM JEHOVAH-SABBAOTH, your LORD of Hosts.  Greater am I Who is in you than my enemy who is in the world.  Victory is secure—I have all the forces of heaven and earth at My command.  Come to Me when you are at the end of your rope.  You are more than a conqueror in Me and My Love.

I AM JEHOVAH-RAAH, the LORD your Shepherd, Who seeks after, nurtures, protects, leads, and speaks to you your whole life.  You are perfectly cared for and secure in My loving arms (john 10: 27-29).

I AM JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU, the LORD your Righteousness. You are fully righteous and acceptable to Me because you are in My Son.  He actually became sin when He died on the Cross, so that you could become His righteousness.  Glory in that, dear child!

I AM JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH, your LORD Who is There.  I have said (and I won’t change My mind), I will never leave you, nor will I ever, ever forsake you. So you can confidently say in every situation, The Lord is my Helper.  I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13: 5b-6)  You are My home (John 15), My sanctuary (1Cor 6: 19-20; Col 1: 27).

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12