Posts tagged ‘devotional’

Judging

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This could be Epic, one of the family dogs of my childhood.

My favorite story about Epic (short for Epictetus) is that my sister won a prize with him at a community pet show. She asked him to do a trick for the judges, and he did so perfectly. He was taller than she was at the time, because she was only around four, if that old! He loved her that much. All of us, really.

I told a story about how Epic taught me about being who you are, deep down, soul level, truth level on Jennifer Slattery’s blog, Jennifer Slattery . (click here) What a pleasure that was. Enjoy!

 

 

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When the dog obeyed

02ed71835b650bc03097776c75c5599dThis is not the Sheltie (Shetland Sheepdog) I had growing up, because we didn’t have cell phones, much less cell phone cameras back in those dark ages. Ha! But she looked similar to this dog. Her name was Honey, and before us, she lived in the kennel where she was born, her only consistent human interaction being with the teenage girl who fed and watered her daily. She was sweet as honey, but struggled to bond with anyone but me, since I was a teenage girl.

We did 4-H obedience dog shows together, spending many happy hours training. She would refuse to “talk” to me when I gave her a bath. She would throw up in the car unless we were on the way to a dog show. But, it was as though she read the dog training manual before each training session. Smart pup!

She slept on my bed at night.

One day, my Mom happened to open the garage door just as the newspaper boy came by. Oh, no! Not the dastardly newspaper boy!!! Honey dashed out of the garage to get away from this terrible, fearsome creature.

Couldn’t find her. Just couldn’t find her. About a week later, Dad was driving down a major, busy road two miles away (the one shopping mall in town), and saw her running back and forth in a panic, trying to cross the road. She almost got hit a couple times.

Dad pulled over.

Just as she almost dashed into traffic again, he yelled, “Honey, SIT!”

She recognized his voice and froze. Just long enough Dad was able to grab her and bring her home.

She didn’t sit, but her obedience training had kicked in to save her live.

Makes me wonder…how much obedience do I have in my relationship with God?

Do I hear and recognize God’s voice as Honey recognized my father’s voice?

And when I do…

Do I obey?

In John 14, Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”
(That’s in response to a question about how the world will learn about Jesus, by the way, but that’s a different blog post.)

Did Honey obey to make my Dad happy? No. She obeyed because she recognized his voice.

Do we obey to get on God’s good side?

No, God’s love is unconditional. Our obedience comes because we recognize His voice.

A voice we trust. And love.

“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”

Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10)

Oy! Now I’ve got “Trust and Obey” that won’t get out of my brain!

Blessings,

Voni

The Wedding Rings–True story

We were like most people first starting out. When we got married, we were at the beginning of our careers. In other words, we couldn’t afford an expensive wedding ring, just an awesome one. It was a small marquis-cut diamond with rubies on either side. Beautiful. Both traditional and unique. I loved it.

Wish I had a picture of this ring, but this happened long before cell phones and phone cameras.

 

Six years later, we adopted our daughter. Beautiful. On my first Mother’s Day, she was ten months old. My husband, who loves me, handed me a ring-sized box. “Leah got you this with her allowance,” he explained.

My heart melted.

It melted again when I opened the box: A ring with a ruby in the center and diamonds on either side. The perfect companion to my wedding ring. Wife and Mother.

The two rings reminded me every day of my love for Rich and Leah, and their love for me.

Perfect.

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Then we attended the Navy Bean Festival in Rising Sun, Indiana. Yep. It’s a thing. A cool thing. It was a great time, enjoying the Indiana Fall and all the creative crafts and events. It was time to sit down for some bean soup and cornbread for lunch, and we found our place at a long, crowded table with open windows to let the gently brisk fall air stir our senses. Who knew bean soup tastes and smells like home? The inviting smell of the soup wafted out the windows.

Attracting wasps.

One of which made his way into the building, where my left-hand ring finger apparently bothered him.

So he stung it.

The paramedic hated telling me he was going to have to cut it off my poor swollen ring finger.

I did, too.

Rich did, too.

But that’s life.

 

We couldn’t afford to replace the ring, but I wanted a ring so we went to Walmart and got a cheapie, planning on buying a good one later. It was pretty. However, it didn’t take long for a prong to get messed up and get caught on everything; a diamond chip disappeared. I had to quit wearing it.

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Fast forward several years later. My husband, who loves me, decided enough was enough. He was on a trip to Juneau and decided to surprise me with a new ring.

Yet another melt-my-heart moment.

Only I am just 4’6”. The ring needed to be sized. Our local jeweler couldn’t do it, as he knew it would end up almost a square shape, as far down as it needed to be cut. The jeweler in Juneau said he could do it, but he was preparing to close up for the winter, so I had to make haste. We mailed the ring along with my old high school class ring which did fit, insured and all, to Rich’s co-worker in Juneau, who took the ring to the jeweler and returned it to us when he finished sizing it. Yeah, it’s the slightest bit square-ish. But not really. It fits. And I love it, and it reminds me of Rich’s love for me every time I put it on.

Perfect.

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Fast forward a couple of years. We were at the movie theater, and my hands were dry. As we waited for the movie to start, I took off my rings, put my lotion on, settled in to enjoy the movie…

And I noticed later…at home…No ring.

My heart dropped. I took it off for the lotion. But it was also cold that day, and I took gloves on and off as we went to and fro. It could have fallen anywhere. Especially with be-lotioned hands.

My husband, who loves me, did not get upset.

My heart stayed in my stomach for the next couple of days until the movie theater was open and I could call. But I didn’t need to call.

Someone responded to my Facebook message asking people to watch for it. That someone was the manager of the theater.

A teenage boy had found my ring when he went to watch the late movie that night.

And turned it in.

Hope for the world.

And my heart returned to its rightful place, beating away in my chest.

 

As our pastor reminded us yesterday, a wedding ring isn’t a marriage. It is just a symbol, just a thing.

So why have my ring(s) meant so much to me?

The same reason why stomping on a flag is more than stomping on a piece of cloth.

The same reason why a cross is more than just a decoration or something pretty to wear.

It’s the meaning behind the symbol.

A cross is not my faith, but it is a symbol of my faith in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. That sacrifice is why the cross means something.

The American flag is not my country, but it is a symbol of my country and its history and its rich legacy of democracy. That history and legacy is why the stars and stripes mean something.

A wedding ring is not love. But love is why my wedding ring means something.

I love you, too, Rich.

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What symbols mean a lot to you? What is behind the symbol? I’d love to hear!

Blessings,

Voni

SOFT PLAQUE VS. TARTAR

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Found on Wikimedia under Creative Commons license. Photographer, D. Sharon Pruitt Owner of Pink Sherbet Photography Official Website, www.pinksherbet.com Contact Email, pink@pinksherbet.com

File this in the category “They didn’t know they were teaching me something spiritual.”

My dental hygienist today explained to me that if you do not brush and floss, within 24 hours soft plaque will harden…

Into TARTAR.

Ew. No one wants tartar. It’s just gross. And it only takes 24 hours to happen.

24 HOURS!!!!!

In fact, it’s worse than she said. According to this website, it only takes 12 hours for soft plaque to develop…Guess that’s why they say to brush and floss twice a day.

It made me think about sin as I sat under the hot lights with torture devices, I mean, dental tools assailing my mouth.

Does God give us the law, then sit “upstairs” gleefully waiting to zap us with lightning bolts at the slightest infraction? Of course not. Any more than the hygienist wants to deliver a soft—or hard—lecture on flossing. Not that I would know. Ahem.

The law is there, like toothbrushes and dental floss and those dental torture devices, to keep our sin from hardening. Hygienists know what ultimately happens when plaque hardens; they don’t want that for us. God knows what happens when sin hardens our heart; He doesn’t want that for us.

Because hardening is what sin does. I think of when Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and it took plagues (spelled surprisingly close to plaque, just saying) for the Israelites to be released (Starting in Exodus 9). On the other hand, I think of Cyrus of Persia, who listened when God stirred his heart, and God’s people were released from exile and returned to rebuild the temple…with funds from Cyrus (Ezra 6).

I think of David, who committed adultery and murder in a kind of sin two-for-one. Yet, when confronted, he repented so deeply we have Psalm 51 to show us the softness of his heart for God. On the other hand, I think of Jonah, who refused to listen when sent to Ninevah and ended up in the belly of a whale, followed by a trip to Ninevah where he preached to the Ninevites with a pretty hard heart. (They repented, anyway–the story is told in the eponymous Old Testament book.)

Yes, with Jesus, our sins are forgiven. (But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgiveus our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9)

Yes, guilt comes from Satan, who is called The Accuser, while conviction, or conscience if you prefer, comes from the Holy Spirit.(And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. John 16:8–Jesus speaking about the Holy Spirit.)  It’s important to note from the Greek-Hebrew Study Bible that in the Hebrew “convict”–clenchos–means to expose, to rebuke, to show fault, rather than “find guilty” as in the sense of a modern-day court or a judgemental lightning bolt.

Yes, God, through the Holy Spirit, still uses the law to show us where we are going wrong so we can come to him in repentance before the soft plaque of sin turns to hardened tartar in our hearts.

Blessings,

Voni

The Gathered Waters

The Gathered Waters He Called Sea

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The pounding of the ocean waves, pummeling the shore…

The deafening whoosh of the waterfall…

The rush of the mighty river…

The babbling of the brook…

The stillness of the gentle lake on a summer day…

The laughing splash of the swimming pool…

The “Ahhhh” of a cool draught of water…

The quiet of the trembling drop clinging to the limb…

The plop as it lands on my nose.

Kenhardt

 

Picture credits: 
Waves: “Waves in pacifica 1” by Brocken Inaglory – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Waves_in_pacifica_1.jpg#/media/File:Waves_in_pacifica_1.jpg
Water Drop: By Lourie Pieterse (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When God Surprises

The other day, I was out watching the Coast Guard Youth Group playing soccer in the chilly Alaska fall. I looked around as the sunset covered everything with an aura of beauty.

House…House…Mountain!…House…House…

Surprise! It took my breath away. “I will lift my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Psalm 121.


I remember one day about seven years ago when Rich answered the phone…

Surprise! We’re moving to Alaska! To an island in Alaska!


The other day, we drove past Barometer Mountain…termination dust! Yep, a beautiful, light white dusting of snow on the tip top of the mountain. Surprise!

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1


At a writer’s retreat recently, I came barreling out of my cabin and…

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Surprise!

Look how close she let me get.  She just looked at me and returned to eating. Winter cometh! “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” Psalm 42


Then, on a different day, I walked out on the deck of my cabin, and…

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Surprise!

“For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings? Psalm 89


The other day, I was driving home from dropping Rich at work, the same old way (not too many roads in our small island town). Then the road curved…

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Surprise!

(Thanks so much Patricia for actually taking time to stop and snap this picture of it.) I keep thinking, If I’m God, I’m like *Boom! I created blue!* But not our Creator! So many shades of blue! –Psalm 89, again–


I know…

Sometimes the surprises aren’t good.

That’s when you remember what God said about his creation: “It is good.” God did not create evil; we did that. We chose that, as human beings, as sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. We choose that, as individuals.

God did not create dark.

He created light.

Time after time after time after time in my life, I’ve seen God use those dark moments. I’ve seen His light during those times.

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Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”  Amen!

How has God surprised you lately?

Blessings,

Voni

Simple Woman’s Daybook: Building Permits and Soft Clay

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Simple Woman’s Daybook For Today: February 9, 2015

Kodiak, Alaska weather right now: 29 degrees, but it’s supposed to go to 40 today. 8:58 AM will be our sunrise, 6:04 PM will be sunset, giving us 10 hours, 27 minutes of visible light.

Outside my window…

…Snow! I would tell you how much exactly, but Weather Underground is apparently a bit off. We haven’t had had 38 inches of snow since July! This is our first this year that’s more than a dusting. I’d guess 4-5 inches or so. We apparently had hail last night, but we were in bed. Early risers also go to bed early.

 

I am thinking…

…What am I going to put on the quiz for my tutoring student?

I am thankful…

…Rich is back from his short trip to Anchorage. Things just feel–right–when he’s home.

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I am wearing…

…my usual early-morning writing attire: pajamas!

I am creating…

…a new scene in the novel I’m writing, in which my main character discovers what’s on the flash drive. (Insert suspenseful music here.) But first, I have to decide where this scene will go.

I am going…

…to postpone my weekly trip to the church until this afternoon before tutoring, since Rich is home today, and we don’t have to go anywhere.

I am wondering…

…what’s for breakfast? Tummy’s grumbling. I love it, because it means I didn’t overeat last night. Rich brought Arby’s home from Anchorage. We don’t have one on the island, and we love a beef n’ cheddar. They sent them without the cheese sauce, since we were going to be warming it up. We just added a slice of cheddar. Yum!

I am reading…

Firewall by the great Southern writer, DiAnn Mills. It’s an FBI suspense, and I’m enjoying it tremendously. I’m guessing Taryn won’t end up charged with the bombing, but they’ve got to find the do-er to clear her, and find the missing child!

A quote from this book:

…“I’ve never thought about myself as a mother, but I like the sound of it.” (Taryn)

This is a really tender moment in the story. Warmed my heart.

I am hoping…

…to finish editing/re-reading and write some new scenes on my novel today. But it’s a busy tutoring day, so we’ll see. Plus, my clean laundry pile is crying to be folded.

 

I am learning…

…to make good use of our leftovers. I’m not very good at remembering them, much less using them.

I am pondering…

…how to get all that I need to do in my schedule. Adding in workouts this week is the priority. Of course, yesterday, I spent two hours shoveling our driveway, since Rich wasn’t here, and I had to get out to get to the airport to get him home. Therefore, today’s off. J

In my kitchen…

…is Rich. He’s the better cook, and he actually loves to cook. I love the cleanup.

A favorite quote for today…

… “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
― C.S. LewisMere Christianity

This quote makes me think of my favorite Bible passage from Jeremiah:

[Jer 18:1-6 NIV] 1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.

May He ever have a building permit in my heart. May I ever be soft clay in my Potter’s hands!

A peek into one of my days…

Total quiet. The dogs are back asleep, and so is Rich. Happy day off, my love!

I highly recommend you do your own daybook! Please, join the Simple Woman fun at http://thesimplewoman.blogspot.com/ and link up your blog!