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Open Your Mouth and I Will Fill It!

My eight-month old daughter sat in her high chair banging her little palms on the tray.  All the while, she was also singing and moaning along.  She was hungry, but she was tired of the finger food I had tried to occupy her with.  I handed her a piece of bread and she was at least entertained.  She studiously picked apart the bread until it was a pile of crumbs.  Then she started into her chant and cadence on the tray again.

I was trying to get supper ready before my husband got home from work and before my 3 ½ year old daughter whined until I was crazy, because she was hungry too!  She lay on the kitchen floor and cried that she was too hungry to help me set the table.  I tried to reason that if she would help, we could all eat sooner.  Hopeless!

I finally got the food into pots and the stove turned on so that I could at least concentrate on the hungry kids instead of supper.  I offered a glass of milk to my oldest and she declined very adamantly.  She was hungry and wanted to eat FOOD and not a glass of milk!  I tried to explain that drinking the milk would help her not to be so hungry, but to no avail.  She’d just have to wait a few more minutes.

Meanwhile the cacophony was still occurring in the high chair, only it was getting louder by the second.  I had to do something quickly!

I grabbed a jar of baby food and heated it up in the microwave.  Then I sat down amidst the toddler’s whines and started to feed the baby.  I got a few spoonfuls into her open mouth and then the mouth closed.  She put her hands in her mouth and began her sad song again.  I knew she was hungry, so I persistently tired to get a few more bites of food into her mouth, but nothing would coax the mouth to open again.

My patience was about gone with two cranky kids!  By this time the beets had boiled dry on the stove and the kitchen was full of smoke.  Yet another mess to clean up.

Finally I grabbed a piece of the casserole off the table and jammed it through the baby food grinder and tried that with the baby.  She loved it!  She opened her little mouth like a little baby bird waiting expectantly for the next bite.  Finally, peace from the high chair!

After the kids were in bed that night, I thought over the day and tried not to feel discouraged.  Was this really the job I had chosen and wanted?  Staying home with two little kids?  Some days I sure wished I had a job anywhere else, just so that I could walk out the door without a diaper bag or a child attached to my body.

Then I though about how those two little children depend on me for almost everything.  The oldest is getting more and more independent, but she still needs me in a big way.  And the baby has no idea what she’d do without me!

But I also started thinking about the verse in the Bible that says “I am the Lord your God who brought you up out of Egypt.  Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”  Ps. 81:10.

Just as my children trust me to fill them each meal time, so we are to trust God to fill us with His blessings and meet our needs.

God had rescued the Children of Israel from slavery and taken them through the desert to freedom.  He provided all their needs.  Their sandals didn’t wear out, and their clothes lasted for forty years!  They had food every day and He always provided water.  He had even given them quail when they whined about missing the meat of Egypt.  But still the Children of Israel doubted God at every chance, it seemed.

God had tried for forty years to reach them and help them to realize that they could trust Him.  He would conquer their enemies, make their manna last over the Sabbath, help their flocks and herds to produce and multiply.  He provided shelter from the sun during the day and warmth from the pillar of fire by night. And yet they complained.  The giants were too big to conquer.  The food was the same day after day.  The water was bitter.  Etc. etc.  Very similar to the sound of my baby’s sad song.

We think that if we had been there, we would have been grateful, but how many times are we ungrateful for the blessings that God gives us each and every day of our lives?  How many times have our clothes lasted because we didn’t have the money to buy new ones?  Or our husband’s shoes and suits.  How many times have I come home with more blessings than I ever thought I had to give out and share with others?

So many times we are so busy picking apart the bread or the things that we have, that we don’t realize that they are God’s blessings.  We may be worried about paying the bills or wondering how we’ll have the money for diapers or clothes or food.  But God is ready to fill us with what we need if we will just trust Him to do His job for us.  He has promised this so many places in the Bible, and yet we forget so quickly!

We tend to look for blessings in the obvious places and to ignore, or worse, reject the blessings that might come from an unusual or unexpected place.  Just like the ravens that fed the prophet by the brook while the drought and famine were raging in the land.

We are often like my baby girl when we complain and worry because we are saying that we don’t trust God to take care of our needs.  Granted, my daughter doesn’t have many other ways of expressing herself yet, besides fussing and banging on the high chair, but God has given us the language of prayer.  He understands our needs and requests even more than we do ourselves.  But we have to open our mouths and our hearts to accept what He is anxious to give us.  Otherwise it just sits on our tray and we never even notice how He’s provided for us.

While we’re busy waiting for God’s blessings, we need to write them down on a regular basis, so that we can look back and see that God has been and is always faithful!  He never fails at provided for our needs and so often times our wants as well.  We serve such an amazingly abundant God who wants to give us so much more than bread and milk!  He wants us to live life to the fullest by depending on Him.  Only then can we experience the life He has dreamed of for us.

Broken Crayons

The other day I was organizing some supplies in my classroom.  I had purchased some new boxes of crayons and had decided that it was time to replace the old broken crayons with new ones.  I keep the crayons in plastic soap boxes so that the kids can easily keep the crayons contained.  As I began sorting out the boxes, I started taking all the broken crayons out and saving the unbroken ones in a pile.  As I replaced a brand new box of crayons into each soap dish container I admired all the pretty new crayons.  I’m a teacher and I LOVE new school supplies any time of year!

Once I had all the new crayons transferred to their little soap dish boxes, I scooped up the broken pieces and dropped them in the trash can.  A little bit later, my students came into the classroom and I passed out the crayons and their worksheets.  As they opened their soap dish crayon boxes there were squeals of delight as they found brand new crayons.  They talked about how they could now color much better because the crayons were new and now used and broken.

After class I couldn’t help but reflect on the crayons and the excitement they provided for the kids.  I started thinking about how I have broken crayons in my life.  I have things that hold me back from doing my best work because I’m trying to color my life with broken crayons – crayons that don’t have points anymore and have ragged paper edges that I need to peel back to get to the crayon.

What if I threw the broken crayons out of my life?  What if my box of dreams was all fresh and new without any broken promises or half-finished hopes.  What if I had a new set of dreams with 24 shiny new colors to use?  What would my today look like if my broken crayons were replaced with new ones?

The more I think about this analogy, the more I want that new box of possibilities in my life each day.  I don’t want the broken hopes and dreams to hold me back.  I’m reminded that God’s mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is overflowing!

Today, I hope that you will be able to open a new box of colors and be able to toss the broken, used up hopes and dreams.   Go color your world!

Hawaii or Bust

A few years ago I sat on a plane waiting to taxi out from the gate.   My youngest daughter and I were to fly to Hawaii and meet my husband and our other daughter for a long awaited vacation.  We had some free plane tickets and had to fly on separate airlines to get the free flights.

We had been waiting a longer time than usual and finally the attendant told us they were having some computer problems with the plane.  They were in the process of getting the parts replaced.  My seatmate started talking at this point about how he had been at the airport on September 11, 2001 and had a “feeling” that something was going to happen.  He claimed he had also been at another place before a tidal wave and yet another time before an earthquake, and had a “feeling” that something would happen.  He proceeded to tell me that he had that same “feeling” now.

I was not at all interested in hearing any more.  I was already feeling anxious and trying to keep my 5 year old daughter occupied while calculating how much time this would add to our already long flight.  Would we miss our connection?  Would my husband know we had been delayed?  All these thoughts swirled through my head as my seatmate kept up his monologue.

By now, my daughter was becoming concerned because this man beside us kept up his worrisome conversation and talked about all the things that were probably wrong with the plane and our probable demise.

Finally, I had heard enough.  I looked at my seatmate and said. “You know, I prayed this morning that God would take care of us and I believe He has this situation in His hands.  I’m not worried!”

The man quickly looked out the window and kept quiet.  I thought about what I had just said.  Yes, I did believe God would take care of me no matter what!  And yes, I really was worried, but the more I thought about it, the more I trusted God!

Shortly after that, the attendant came back out and told us that we were to be changing planes.  My flight was now a direct flight and we would arrive before my husband.  And the gentleman beside me would be on another flight!

As adults, wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters, we have so many things that happen in our lives that could take up our time and energy worrying about.  Things that we need to do, or that we need others to do.  Things that others think we need to do.  The list goes on.  Things we can and can’t change.

But then if we will become as a child and remember that our Daddy is bigger than _______ (fill in the blank), it puts all of this into a different perspective.

God is bigger than a small electrical computer part on an airplane, He’s bigger than our jobs, homes, where we live, and who our friends are.  He’s always there for us if we will just trust Him and learn to depend completely on Him.

“Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal:  the years of the right hand of the Most High.’  I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.”  Ps.  77:10-12 NIV

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  Phil. 4:19 NIV

This entry was posted on December 12, 2017, in Inspiration.

My Daddy’s Bigger

We were sitting at the kitchen table quietly eating our lunch.  My husband, our 6 year old daughter, and 3 year old Tiegan, whom we baby sat.  We had cared for her several days a week for a year and a half after her mom died of leukemia.

As we ate our spaghetti, Tiegan piped up.  “My Daddy’s bigger than your Daddy.”  She wasn’t speaking to anyone directly, just stating a fact.

My husband and I exchanged amused looks.   The two dads in question are quite comparable in size.

I wondered where this concept had come from since Tiegan spent her time at her Grandma’s house and mine.  She didn’t hang out at the ball field or go to pre-school where she heard others bragging or boasting about their dads or brothers.

As I thought more about this, I realized that in her little life, her Daddy was the whole world.  She was living with her grandparents until her dad finished remodeling a new house.  But her daddy was the brightest thing in her life.

A three year old doesn’t comprehend size or strength from an adult standpoint and just because he is Daddy, he is strong and big and safe.  He could be the shortest man in the crowd, but he’s Daddy!  That one difference makes all the difference in the world to a little child.

The more I pondered this I came to the realization that God is our Big Daddy!  If we had the faith of a small child we would trust that God will always be stronger and bigger than any adversity.

When it comes time to accept changes in our lives, we often feel anxious and worried that things won’t work out just right or work out the way we think is right.  We try to make sure things go as planned (our plan) and stay on track (our track).  Sometimes we have to take detours and roadblocks and washed out times because that is where God is leading us.  But do we remember that God is our Big Daddy and He’s bigger than all of these things?

Just as Tiegan trusted that her daddy would come home every night and take care of her and love her, we need to constantly think about the ultimate care and love God has for us.  He has never ever let us down – if we are completely honest with ourselves.

Yes, there are times when it seems like He’s forgotten us or let us down, but when we look back at those times, we can see His hand leading us in those times as well.  We serve a very big God and He’s anxious for us to know that all the time.  He wants us to remember and then be able to share that with those we come into contact with.

This entry was posted on December 12, 2017, in Inspiration.

My Journey in Bible Journaling

Last year, I received a beautiful journaling Bible for Christmas from my mom.  I have done many different things over the years, to add to or mix up my devotional time in the morning.  This year, I really wanted to try my hand at journaling in my Bible.  My mom picked out a lovely Bible with very wide margins on the sides of each page and I got some colorful pens that were specifically designed for Bible marking.  The pens don’t bleed through the pages and have fine tips for easy underlining and writing as well as coloring.

I LOVE new school supplies and to me, this new package of colorful pens held unlimited possibilities along with my new Bible.

I decided to begin in Psalms.  With 8 colored pens, it was so much fun to underline in multiple colors and I found that the more I used the pens to highlight and annotate the passages I read, the more I remembered what I had read.

 

My artistic ability is very large in my head, but on paper it isn’t anything special, but as I started re-writing the special promises and adding some vines or flowers or hearts to them in the margins of my Bible, I started to realize that the more I interacted with different passages, the more they stayed with me all day long.

Along the way, I have started to realize that it’s more important for me to personalize my Bible and use it as a way to record when God speaks to me through different verses than to be afraid of drawing something because I’m not an artist.

I often choose to underline a specific passage and then re-write it on the side and illustrate it because I want it to stand out in my Bible and in my memory.  I want to daily hide God’s word in my heart!

“Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I may not sin against you.”  Ps. 119:11

How do you personalize your Bible study to make it meaningful to your daily life?

Acres of Diamonds

I glanced out my window to see acres of diamonds gleaming in the sunlight.  I grabbed my coat and my camera and ran out into the frigid air.

Two days previous, we had had a terrible ice storm.  We had been without power and electricity for 8 hours.  I had a Strep infection and had been in bed sick for four days.  My kids had the day off school and my husband was out of town on a business trip.  As we hunkered down and put on our extra socks, sweatshirts and long underwear, I planned ahead to what we would do if the power didn’t come back on soon.  I knew it was likely the power would be off for quite a few hours since everything was coated with 1 inch of ice.  Power lines, tree branches, the roads, everything!

As the day progressed, we ate our lunch.  Fortunately we have a gas stove so I was able to cook some warm food.  Our water wasn’t affected so we had plenty of water too.  After lunch, we wrapped up in blankets and studied for my daughters Science test.  “What is the nervous system?”  I asked.

“I can’t remember!”  Oh my!  Good thing we had all day to work on this!

I had called my husband on my cell phone in the morning to let him know that our power was out.  My cell phone battery was nearly dead and I thought I should conserve what little bit was left, so I turned it off.  Our house phone was out so all was quiet.

Every so often I glanced at the thermostat to see how cold it was getting.  We closed all the curtains and drapes and cooked some beans (for a long time) to add a little heat.  We love to camp and we’ve been camping when it was pretty cold.  We had piles of blankets so I knew we’d be okay for the night but I wasn’t sure what would happen the next morning if the lights and heat didn’t come back on.  Besides, I was still very sick!

Late afternoon, I heard a car drive in and was so relieved to see my husband home early.  He was supposed to be home the next day, but he had been very worried about us since my phones were all off, I was sick and the roads were coated with ice!

Needless to say, we all slept better knowing that he was there with us.  We piled so many blankets on the beds that we could hardly roll over under the weight of them.  But we slept warm and cozy.

The next morning I went to the doctor and got some antibiotics, the electricity turned on before lunch and we came back home to a warm house.

But, back to the acres of diamonds.  With my camera in hand, I trudged through the snow in our backyard amazed at the beauty of ice.  The field is full of tiny weeds and grasses sticking up through the snow that have all been finely coated with ice.  So when the sun hit the snow, it was like a million diamonds across the field.

                          

I tramped to my garden which still has a good share of leftover, overgrown weeds.  The ice sculptures on these tiny little seed heads was absolutely breathtaking.  Weeds that were ugly, dry, brown stalks had now become works of delicate artistry.  Tiny little seeded flower stalks had become perfect round pearls of ice.

As I walked from one end of my garden to the flower bed and all around the yard, I thought of how God takes difficult situations and painful trials and brings good and beautiful things out of them.  Yesterday the ice storm had been our enemy – the one that had destroyed our power and heat.  Today, it was God’s magic fairyland.

I know that we’re not guaranteed that our heat will stay on since everything still has a coating of ice and today the wind is starting to blow, but through it all, we can still see God’s handiwork.  Even the weeds in my garden proclaimed God’s handiwork today.  Who else could make an ice sculpture out of my entire yard in a matter of seconds when the sun came out?

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  So why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”  Matthew 6:25-29 NKJV