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Godprints

Because our fingerprints identify us, and God has placed His identifying marks all over our world and lives to point us to Him!

A Penny for Your Thoughts

pennies copy

My husband loves to find old coins; he has even taught our kids over the years to sort through his loose change looking for coins with old dates! They have learned it’s not necessarily the bright shiny ones that have extra value; it’s usually the dingy, dark ones.

Experience. We tend to neglect its value. Sometimes it’s the scratches and age that prove we have lived, prove we have learned from experience.

“A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.” – Proverbs 16:31

I am continuing to learn as I move further and further into my fifties  – there is a lot to be said for being “over-the-hill”!  Granted I still like to cover up those gray hairs, but the experience, the wisdom, the growth in Christ, they are worth every little scratch, tarnish, and gray hair.  There is value in age.

Last week I was invited to hear a dear elderly man from our church sing at the assisted living center where he lives. ( I almost used the word resides, but he does more than reside there, he still LIVES! )  Surrounded by those with a few more gray hairs than myself, I sensed such wisdom as well as fulfillment.  Their lives have been full.  Yes, they have aches and pains and take various medications; they have experienced loss and need a little more assistance, but they are also so full of wisdom and life experience.

“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” Job 12:12

Having reached the point of “over the hill” and experiencing these gray hairs, I need to be reminded of this truth.  In reality gray hair is proof that we have lived; we have experienced life.  We have stories to tell and memories to ponder.

Think of all the things you know – things teachers and books have taught you, stories from reading or watching movies, experiences of life and living!

Look around.  Do you see any “gray-haired” folks?  Now that the Baby-boomer generation has reached this age, there are quite a few!  Each one has so much to offer, to invest in the next generations!

Over 50 has actually become the beginning point, not a stopping point, for many:

  • Grandma Moses didn’t begin painting until she was in her late 70s.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65 before “Little House in the Big Woods was published.
  • Colonel Sanders didn’t begin his Kentucky Fried Chicken adventure until he was in his 60s.
  • Peter Roget’s Thesaurus wasn’t published until he was age 73.
  • John Glenn went back into outer space at age 77.
  • Ronald Reagan didn’t enter politics until age 55.
  • Julia Child was 51 when she made her first television debut.

These are just a few you may know.  Their thoughts, skills and talents continued to make a difference and yours can too!  God is not finished with you yet.

  • Abraham was 100 before becoming a father, and God made him the father of many nations.
  • Moses was 80 before leading the Israelites out of Egypt.
  • Noah was about 600 years old when he built the ark!

The point is – God wants to use all this experience and wisdom He has given you.  In reality, as we begin to slow down some physically, it gives us more time to think and ponder.  One of my older sisters has given me great hope by telling me some forgotten memories begin to surface again with age!

So…a penny for your thoughts.  Your experience and wisdom right now, right here, could make a difference in someone else’s life.  Let’s take time to share, and also time to let those older share their stories and thoughts with us too!  Each time you see a penny…remember your value and the value of age and experience.

“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3

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Present in the Present

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God which is why we call it the present.”

– Author unknown

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A hummingbird just zoomed past as I sit on our porch for my morning quiet time with the Lord. Sometimes I need that reminder of life being fleeting. It’s important to be aware of the moments, which seem to zoom by us.

Being present in the present is truly a gift. It’s a gift we receive from our Father above as well as a gift we can give to those around us.

I am terrible about allowing my thoughts to wander even as I am listening to someone conversing with me…so much so that I catch myself glancing beyond them with both my eyes and thoughts. It’s really such a shame.

Focus. Be aware. Moments pass too quickly. People pass too quickly.

My friend is beginning a journey of walking with their parent through the storm of cancer. Twenty-five years have now passed since my siblings and I walked that same path with our mom. She passed. In that journey though God gave gifts – gifts of memories, gifts of time, gifts of being present, focused on her.

One of the gifts He gave was the gift of hummingbirds. We saw their shadows through the shades on the window behind her hospital bed. They drank from the flowers on her patio. God even sent one to drink from the roses placed on her casket at the graveside. Today, twenty-five years later, He still sends them to remind me. They remind me of her with sweet memories. They remind me to be present in the present.

Today. This moment. Each is a gift from God. Who has He placed in front of us to share this moment with? Is it our toddler calling for attention? Is it a teenager needing a listening ear? Is it an elderly parent or friend wanting to share a bit of wisdom or a story? Is it our neighbor, coworker or even a stranger who needs to know they matter and are worthy of a moment of our time? Is it our spouse waiting to be reminded they are loved? Today is passing. This moment is passing. People are passing. Let’s make the most of this gift of the present.

God gave me this reminder in a hummingbird this morning. I share it here with you. What will we do with it? Will we share it with others? Who will we give the gift of being present in the present to today?

“ Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”   – Jesus (Matthew 6:27)

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” – Paul (Ephesians 5:15-16)

 

 

Beyond the Color & Candy Shell

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Yep, it’s been a busy past year, but I am finally settling back into a little writing. 🙂 I just finished an object lesson using colorful candy such as M&Ms or Skittles to help students understand just how special and unique they are to Jesus.  It’s a lesson each of us probably need to be reminded of from time to time.

Many of us remember this song from childhood –

“Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red, brown, yellow

Black and white

They are precious in His sight.

Jesus loves the little children

Of the world.”

In reality though, no one’s skin matches anyone else’s perfectly.  We are a creative and beautiful variety of colors, shades and tints.  Like the M&Ms or Skittles, our skin, the way we look is just the candy shell; what’s really important is that God has created each of us in His image and to be filled with the the sweetness of His love. Our value comes from Him, and He says we are worth His only Son’s life!

A beautiful Bible verse written by David is Psalm 139:14 –

“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

David points out that we have been made – “wonderfully” – the Hebrew word there ‘Pala’ (paw-law) translated means “to distinguish, put a difference, show marvelous, separate, set apart, sever, make wonderfully”.

David realized God had made him unique…different…a “one-of-a-kind”, and that was a wonderful thing! There is and never has been nor ever will be another me…another you! God never makes a duplicate! Even twins have differences!

Just as M&Ms and Skittles are all different looking on the outside with their various colors, so God has created us each unique and special.

We all look different, yet we are the same in that God created each of us to be filled with His love.

M&Ms are filled with chocolate – yum! Skittles are filled with sugary sweetness! And we are made to be filled with God’s love – even better! Without the chocolate, an M&M is just a fragile shell with really no taste. Even so, we, without God’s love, are fragile and empty too.

1 John 4:9-16 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

Also, because of how M&Ms & Skittles are made, they are easily shared with others. God’s love is made to be shared too! We can share His love by sharing Jesus!

1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”

 

Here’s the lesson on my website .

Thanks for reading!

– Susan    🙂

“New”…does not mean perfect

Recently we moved into a brand-new house. I have never lived in a new house and so have discovered I had a few misconceptions. You may be like me and have thought that “new” means “perfect.” I have since learned otherwise!

The first hint of non-perfection came the day we actually moved our things in…the washer and dryer didn’t fit! This was a surprise to us, to our movers, to our realtor, and even our builder! Somewhere in the building process someone had made a mistake. It happens. The builder came and made adjustments thinning out some trim work and making corrections, and now our washer and dryer are snug as a bug!

Other minor imperfections have become apparent too – such as a plate cover not quite fitting, a door not closing correctly, sink-stoppers installed incorrectly, paint spattering where it shouldn’t be. These have been small things, but have reinforced the truth that “new” does not mean “perfect.”

This brought an even more eye-opening realization that I believe can bring great comfort into our lives as believers in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” NASB

Nowhere in that verse does it say we are made instantly perfect; it says we are made new. I think many of us have the same misconception I had – that because we are made new, we should be perfect. We begin thinking we are “less of a Christian” when we compare ourselves to others.  We let Satan convince us we have failed yet again and God is going to give up on us.  That simply isn’t true though.

In Philippians 2:12, Paul challenges believers to “continue working out their salvation.”

“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;”

Paul is NOT speaking of working to earn our salvation; Jesus paid that price in full by His death on the cross. He is referencing the continual process of the work God continues doing in us as we yield to Him, continue seeking & knowing Him, trying to walk as Jesus walked. (1 John 2:5)   If we back up to Philippians 1:6, we see this.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Although salvation begins at the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, it does not end there. It is a process God continues in us as we yield to His working in our life to make us more and more like Jesus;  when Christ comes again, then we will be made perfect like Him.

This is of great relief to me, and I hope it is to you also! I am so NOT perfect. I make so many mistakes and still fail to make right choices. I disobey God. I still sin.

Satan wants me to feel hopeless when I fail and see all my flaws thinking I am supposed to be perfect just because I have been made new.  Yes, God has made me new, but not perfect yet! He is still working on me; it is a process. There is hope!

Now as I find flaws in our “new” house, I just have to smile and remember – “New does not mean perfect!” And for that I am eternally grateful!

 

1 Peter 1:3-9

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,  who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,  obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

1 John 3:1-3

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.   And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

 

 

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A Crisis in Identity… “The Name Tag Nanny”

This is one of my favorite pics from our Vacation Bible School this year!  We had water games and all our 5th & 6th graders stuck their name tags on Carrie and dubbed her “The Name Tag Nanny!”

She appeared to be having an identity crisis!  That got me to thinking…

How often do we have identity crises?  When life changes, as it often does, it may cause us to feel like our identity changes with it.  When our job changes, we may go from identifying ourselves as “employed” or a job title such as a “librarian” or “nurse”  to “unemployed” or  “retired.”  No longer does that skill or title define us.  When our family changes, we may go from “mom or dad of (insert child’s name)” to “empty-Nester” or “unknown.” Other family changes may be due to a change in marital status or a broken relationship.  Our health may change causing us to go from “able” to “dependent.”  Life brings so many changes – both natural and those caused by circumstances.  Many of these changes can bring feelings of fear and uncertainty.

But the Good News is that when we become a believer in Christ, our identity is made certain because God doesn’t change. (Hebrews 13:8)  No longer is our identity based on what we do or who we are, but on Whose we are.  We are now forgiven, accepted, redeemed, declared righteous, and so much more based on Who Jesus is.

We may know this in our heads, but how do we live this new identity out and not revert to our old ways of thinking?  God’s Word speaks to this!

Ephesians 4:23-24 says we are – “to be made new in the attitude of your minds.  And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Living out our new identity in Christ has to take root in our thinking – “our attitude of our minds.”  It must be based on Who God is – “His likeness,” not on ourselves.

Recently this has become an active part of my quiet time with God which has helped me.  As I read Scripture, I look for Who He is – a name, characteristic, or comparison.  Then I write who I am in contrast or who I am because of Who He is.  Here are just a few examples:

  • In John 4 Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman at the well and speaks of living water.  He is the Living Water…in contrast, I am the one who is thirsty, the recipient of His refreshing.
  • In John 8:12 Jesus calls Himself the Light of the World, and in Matthew 5:14-16 He says we are the light of the world.  He is the Light…because of that, I am to be His reflection and shine His light.
  • In 1 John 4 John tells us in verse 8 that “God is love.” Then he continues in verse 18 – “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”  He is love – the Fear Conqueror.  I am the one who takes refuge in Him.
  • Isaiah used this same identity clarification thinking when he calls God the Potter and we are the clay.
  • One of my favorites is found in Roman 15:13 where Paul refers to the God of hope filling us with joy, peace & hope.  He is the Filler…I am the filled.

When I focus on Who Christ is, it helps me accurately clarify who I am.

In Christ, I am God’s child!  John 1:12 – But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,”

In Christ, I have been made new!  2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

In Christ,  I live for Him! Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

His love changes everything…even my identity!  We don’t have to be a “Name Tag Nanny” wearing everyone else’s name tags when we can wear one that says we belong to Jesus!

 

 

 

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Watching Them Walk Away…

Foster Care…it’s about touching lives, and that goes both ways!

You may have heard the saying about people who come into our lives leaving footprints, causing us to be forever changed.  Our family was blessed by just such a person – a child in foster care.
Here we are at the end of May – Foster Care Awareness Month; so I wanted to share a little of our story.  I’ve never been a foster parent, but have recently had the blessing of being a foster grandparent and have discovered there are small ways we can all become a part of loving these children with the love of Jesus!
Photos complimentary of http://www.pexels.com; not our “A”

About two years ago a little red-headed bundle of joy and challenges came into our lives as our daughter felt God’s call to become a foster parent.  For almost two years she became “Mom”; we became grandparents, and our other kids became an aunt & uncles! She became ours, and we became hers. Her caseworker had thought she would be moved toward adoption with our daughter.

But God had different plans. We had to say goodbye; we had to watch her walk away.  She has gone back to live with a biological family member, and we are so happy for them and her.  Our little “A” will always be a part of us though; there are no regrets.  While we had her, we loved her well, and she fell in love with Jesus!  We are forever grateful for the time we had her and the “footprints” she left on each of our lives.

We saw the challenges of fostering our daughter dealt with, and we saw the disappointments, but we also saw the difference it made in a child’s life.  She was safe; she was loved in a time that she needed someone to be there for her. Many invested into her life, and she impacted many around her as well.

The statistics of how many children are in “the system” is overwhelming, heart-rending – over 400,000 each day in the United States.

I don’t tell our story so much out of grief  & sorrow, although that has been a part of the process. I share it out of sincere gratefulness.  This child was truly a gift of God to us, and we believe the work He began in her will continue no matter where He may lead her. (Phil. 1:6)

Not all of us may be called to foster care like our daughter has been for a time.  But just because we may not be called to take these children into our homes, does not mean we cannot reach out and help in other ways.

“Children are a gift from God” the Psalmist says in Psalm 127:3

James in verse 1:27 goes on to say,  “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” NAS

The Greek word translated “visit” here is episkeptomai.  In this context it means more than “to look or examine”, it means “to look after”, “to care for.”  Like I said before, we may not be in a position to foster or adopt ourselves, but there are other ways we can actively “look after” or “care for” these children who for a time are…the fatherless – “family-less”.

I may not be able to care for our “A” anymore, but what can I do for others in similar situations, even if it is just for a season?  I believe there is a call to the Church, a call to us as God’s family to love these in some way.

No ministry of love is too small…even the small ways can go a long way in sharing God’s love.

Ten Ways to Help Children in Foster Care:

1.    PRAY!  God can do what we can’t; prayer for these children, families & caseworkers is important.

2.    Help make others aware of the great need for Foster & Forever homes for children – through conversations, Social Media, blog, an Orphan/Foster Ministry at your church, etc.

3.    Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer.  CASA will train you to be the “eyes & ears for the court” as you get to know the child and others involved in the case.  You can make a difference by speaking up for a child and being a consistent presence during this time in their lives; case workers and others change during the time a child is in foster care, but as a CASA volunteer you can be a constant reminder that they matter and are loved.  CASA work is flexible and can be done even with a full time job or other responsibilities.  CASA is also a great resource for other ways to help such as sponsoring a foster child for holidays to provide Christmas gifts, Easter baskets, etc.

4.    Become Foster certified and offer respite care.  Sometimes foster parents just need a break or may have a family emergency and need overnight care for their foster children; this is such a wonderful service to provide for them.

5.    Become certified to babysit.  In most states a foster child cannot be left with just anyone; a sitter must at least have had a background check and be CPR certified.

6.    Cook a meal for a Foster family.  Find out the children’s favorites; make them feel special!  Most foster parents are overloaded with responsibilities that are involved with caring for the children; this would be a welcomed relief.

7.    Check with your local Child Protective Services Agency to see if you can help with “First-night” bags for children coming into Foster Care or other needs.

8.    Send encouraging notes to caseworkers or drop by some treats at their office.  These folks are majorly overworked and a bit of encouragement could go a long way!  See if there are ways you can assist in helping them minister to the families they serve.

9.    Be “on call” for a foster family or caseworker.  Let them call you to run errands to pick up beginner items for a family or assist by being a shopping partner to offer extra hands.  Volunteer to help with homework or housework.  In this way you can also become a mentor sharing your life with the foster family as well as the foster child.  Invest yourself.

10.  “Adopt” a foster family and become like a foster grandparent, aunt/uncle, friend, etc. to the child.  Not all foster parents have an extended family support group of their own; we can partner with them by spending regular time visiting and helping out.  Read to or with the child, play games, listen, etc. Small deeds of love shout they matter!  Find out the child’s birthday and help celebrate with them. Have fun with them like you would other children in your own extended family.

 


These are just a few of the many ways anyone can invest in the life of a foster child, or for that matter, any child!  Satan wants us to think the small things don’t matter and we have nothing to offer if we can’t do what we think of as the “BIG” things.

And again…let’s be diligent to PRAY!

 

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  Ephesians 6:18

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Steering Clear of “Muddles”

I had an interesting combination for breakfast this morning…coffee & cereal…mixed together!

I am one of those that begins my day functioning on coffee-milk.  When I finally get hungry and my coffee is gone, I pour cereal into my cup to eat.  This morning, however, I didn’t take the time to make sure my cup was empty before pouring in the cereal – thereby combining my cereal with the last of my coffee!

Fortunately the combination was not too bad, but sometimes a mixed up life can bring a lot of strife!  It caused me to think.  How many times in my life do I not slow down between my activities of life to adjust, finish one thing so that I can move on to focus on another, and I end up with a mixed-up MUDDLE?!  You may be thinking that is my combination of two words – mud & puddle, but it actually is a word in its own right & means – “an untidy or disorganized state.”  I personally think whomever created the word still had a mud puddle pictured in their mind!

As females we are terrible about juggling umpteen “to-dos” on our list at the same time, and then we are left with a muddle.  So how can we prevent this or at least keep the puddles somewhat clearer?

I think it takes slowing down & refocusing multiple times during the day.  Jesus tells us to come to Him.

Matthew 11:28 “‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.'”

This rest is a state of peace in the midst of busyness.  It brings refreshing, a clearer state of mind.

So when we feel like our mind or life has become “muddled” – stop, be still, refocus on the eternal by coming into the presence of Jesus.  He will clear our thinking & give us peace!

“Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” – Colossians 3:2 NLT

 

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Obey in the Little Things

Are we willing to obey God in the little things?  What about when He doesn’t give us all the facts?  The disciples obeyed.  The man with the water obeyed.  Never think what God asks us to do is too small or too menial – let’s just trust & obey.  What we may see as small, God says is important.

This week let’s be looking around our home or church for what would be considered “small” jobs or things others may think are “beneath them” that need to be done and let’s do them!  As we do, let’s remember as The Church we are the Body of Christ and all are important as we work together.

Countdown to Easter – Worship

As Easter approaches, it’s a perfect time to become & stay more Christ-focused. Writing Scripture has become such a pleasure in my time with God in addition to reading it. So for the next several days as we turn towards meditating on Jesus’ last days on this earth in flesh, let’s read through and see what God has to say to us.

Mary poured out her love on Jesus. Not everyone understood, but she poured out her heart nonetheless. She gave what she could, when she could. She demonstrated an act of pure worship.

How will we demonstrate our worship & love for Jesus this Easter season? What can we selflessly give to Him…time, possessions, talents? What’s our greatest treasure we can pour out for His glory?

Today as we see the color PURPLE let it remind us of Jesus, the King of Kings, and cause us to pause and WORSHIP!

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