Tuesday, December 31, 2013

God's Will and God's Grace

During the course of 2013, my daughter and I have experienced many changes. In many ways, we do not yet know what lies ahead. God is providing what we need from day to day, but I believe He still has more ahead.

2014 is here with all its potential and possibilities. I look forward to seeing what God has in store. Whatever He has in mind for us, I anticipate this coming year will be full of opportunities to grow in faith and draw closer to God.

Every day at work, I pass a wall sign that is for sale. I love the message.

I think we all can hold onto that truth throughout the year ahead.

God bless you all.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Life That Brings Love - Revisited

In the beginning was the Creator.
     In the beginning was the Father.
In the beginning was Life.
     In the beginning was Love.

The Creator loved His creation.
          Love without limits.
          Love without conditions.

But His creation could not understand 
          that Love.
     They could not comprehend 
          the vastness of it.
     They could not understand 
          the depth of it.

So the Creator stepped out of His infinite world
     To enter... (read more)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Life That Brings Joy - Revisited

Dark night under starry skies.

Humble shepherds huddling ‘round 
     a fire’s warming blaze.

Quiet conversation

     Shared struggle …shared frustration

          Shared hope…shared hopelessness.

               Shared sorrow.


     Bright light illumines the night sky!

     Bright beams of joy blaze 
          'round about them!
     Heaven’s shining visitor brings the news.

          “Good news of great joy 
               for all people.”

The Life has come!

The long-awaited Life is born!

     Leave behind your sadness!

     Release your ...(read more)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Life That Brings Peace - Revisited

Into a world of chaos…
Into a world of questions…
Into a world of conflict and dissension…
Into a world like ours…
Came the Life.
Into OUR world…
          Came Peace.
Peace not dependent... (read more)

We Interrupt This Series...For a Flood

Back in 2007, my hometown was inundated with a record level flood. This flood was significant enough for a photo of downtown Findlay to make it into the Jakarta Post, a major Indonesian newspaper.

Main Street bridge over the Blanchard River
Yesterday, we had quite a lot of rain, following some major snow the week before. There has not been so much rain today, but still some.

Yesterday, when I went to work, there was a major leak in the ceiling of Hobby Lobby. The cashiers worked around half a dozen plastic bins set up to catch the water.

Flood waters encroach on a gazebo in a park on the river bank.

I have plans to fly to Missouri to spend Christmas with my brother and his family. My parents and Rachel already are there, after a travel misadventure of their own. But that is another story. Before I could head to the airport, I had to make it back to my grandmother's house to pack my clothes and Christmas presents for the family there.

The trouble is that as the water rose, most of my options for roads that could reach her house were closed off due to high water. There really isn't much danger of the flood waters reaching the house itself. Even in the 2007 flood, the water never reached that far. Even so, the one route in that did not yet have some part of it underwater seemed likely to be closed within an hour or two.

The view down Main Street looking north. People were busy
at Dominos Pizza (just out of sight) placing sandbags.
Rather than wait there to leave for the Detroit airport sometime in the early morning, and risk not being able to get out, I hurriedly packed my suitcase and got back out of the flood zone.  I am now at my parents' house, thankful to be well away from any possible flooding, and will head to Detroit in a few hours.

About 5:00 this afternoon, I went down to Main Street and got some pictures of the river. I thought I'd share a few photos with you.Not as spectacular as the flood photos from 2007, but still...at least my readers who know Findlay, Ohio, will be interested.

I pulled this quote from an article in The Blade (https://www.toledoblade.com/local/2011/04/26/Findlay-officials-brace-for-more-rain-that-could-mean-Top-10-flood.html)
This photo was taken from
It shows an areal view of the 2007 flood in Findlay.
Thankfully, the situation isn't so dire this time.
"While the Blanchard River’s worst flood occurred in 1913 when the river reached 18.5 feet, that record was followed closely by an August, 2007, flood in which the river crested at 18.46 feet. This past March 1, the river crested at 16.42 feet, which is listed as the city’s sixth worst flood."
This same article claims that the best estimates for the current flood is 15.5 feet sometime on Thursday. My prayers go out to those who are currently dealing with chilly, dirty floodwaters in their homes and businesses.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Life The Brings Hope - Revisited

Down through the ages, the eyes of creation have been focused on one Life. This Life was promised long ago when death first extended its ugly tentacles to squeeze life out of a perfect Creation. This Life would bring light and hope back to a broken, shattered world.

Throughout history, many did not acknowledge this Life. Many did not realize the significance of this Life. But the promise of this Life, still reached out with hope to all.
Many others awaited the coming of this Life. They looked for it. They longed for it. They didn’t completely understand it, but they waited anyway – longing, hoping for its coming.
Then, the glorious news was given. The Life was about to... (read more)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thankful for the Life

image found here
During this month, I have written several posts about things I am thankful for.  Here are a few of th things I am thankful for.
If you haven't had a chance to read those posts, you can click the links above to read them now.

image found here
In these final days before Christmas, with everything getting predictably busy, I hope you will bear with me if I share again with you several of the posts I wrote last year. I wrote them to coincide with the weeks of Advent as celebrated in my international church in Bali. I realize that there are a number of different ways of using the Advent candles to celebrate the birth of our Lord. Last year, the candles were used to represent the following:
  • Hope
  • Peace
  • Joy
  • Love
I hope you will re-visit these posts with me over the next few days, and reflect on how the coming of Jesus -- the coming of that Life -- brought all these precious things into our lives.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thankful for Someone Close Beside Me

In only ten days, Christmas will be here. In the midst of all the hustle-bustle busy-ness of preparation for this holy day, we might tend to lose sight, practically speaking, of the significance of the birth of Jesus. 

image found here
As I wrote in the previous post, by coming with the vulnerability of a baby, God invited us to come close to Him. It is also important to note that He actively came near to us. Jesus came to live among His creation. He came to walk alongside broken humanity. He came to touch those who hurt, to heal those who are sick, and to set at liberty those who were bound. He came to celebrate with the newlyweds and to cry with the bereaved. Jesus was "God with skin on" to the people of His day.

Even though Jesus is no longer with us in the flesh, He is still with us as His Holy Spirit works through His children. As I thought about this, I remembered a piece that I wrote in one of my newsletters back in May 2012, in a section I called "Things I Have Learned From My Little Girl". Please allow me to share it with you here. 


 I Want Someone Close Beside Me

Rachel, my social butterfly,
with several friends shortly before leaving Bali.
That is a familiar cry from my little social butterfly.  I guess some kids actually enjoy spending time alone…for a while…, but not Rachel.  She needs to learn to do it, so I insist on some quiet time on a regular basis where she can learn to play on her own and entertain herself, but this virtually always meets with resistance. “I want someone close beside me!”  I remind her that Jesus is always with her.  “But I want someone I can SEE!”  Rachel knows Jesus is always with her, but as a human being, sometimes she just wants someone she can see and touch. 

image found here
That is a common human condition. Yes, God is with us always.  His Holy Spirit can speak to us in our hearts in ways that no human being can speak.  But I believe he also understands that there are times when we need “God with skin on”.  That is why we...the church…the body of Christ is here.  God wants us to reach out to those who are hurting – to those who need to know that someone is close beside them.  God is always there, and He is perfectly capable of touching hurting hearts all on His own, without us.  But often, He chooses to offer comfort through the hands of His children reaching out, through the eyes of His children that can cry with those who hurt, and through the feet of His children who will go out of their way to offer practical help.

I wonder, who around you needs someone to be close beside them?  Will you be “God with skin on” to someone today?

**Originally shared in newsletter dated May 2012.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thankful for a God Who Came Near

As I watch my customers pass through my cashier line at Hobby Lobby, the sight of new mothers with their babies brings a smile to my face. Not always, but often, I see a gentle smile on the faces of these these first-time moms as they gaze at the tiny miracle snuggled safe and warm in the infant carrier perched up on the shopping cart. This tiny little person is so helpless, and so dependent on her for everything. Miniature hands reach out to grip her finger...and her heart.

I remember how I felt that moment I first held Rachel. She was so tiny. She felt almost frail there in my arms. Her very vulnerability invited me to open up my heart to her. She needed someone to take care of her, provide for her, protect her. God had brought her to me, and I gladly took her into my heart.

It is an awesome thing to ponder that the Creator of the universe, the One Who holds the world in the palm of His hand, chose to come to us in the way that He did.

  • Had He come as a general, people might have been afraid of Him.
  • Had He come as a wealthy businessman, people may have been jealous of Him.
  • Had He come as a celebrity, people may have admired Him, but they couldn't have gotten close to Him.
image found here
Instead, He came as a baby.
     No need to be afraid of Him.
          No need for jealousy.
               No need for guards to keep His "fans" at a distance.

I am so thankful that God made Himself vulnerable. I am grateful that He came near to us. The Creator became utterly dependent on His creation. In doing so, He invited His creation to take Him into their hearts.

He invites us still. God is near. Is your heart truly open to take Him in? Is mine?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thankful for Smiles

In case you didn't know, during this stage of my life, God has me running a cash register at our local Hobby Lobby. It is a far cry from the kind of ministry I had for the past twenty years, but I am thankful to have employment with a company that holds strong to the same beliefs I have.

image found here
One of the things I enjoy most about my work is seeing the people pass through my check-out line. Many of them seem happy and content. In the few moments we connect, we share a bit of joy.

Some are tired and seem to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. I do the best I can to serve them with kindness and efficiency. Sometimes, a person who came to me with a somber face leaves with at least a little smile. Others walk away still grumpy.

I'm not ignorant. Whatever problems weighed my customer down when he or she arrived will still be there when they leave. Whether my customer leaves with a smile or not, they will still have to grapple with those problems. Even so, during those few moments when our paths cross, I hope that in my smile, people can see a glimpse of my Lord Jesus. 

I may not be engaged in full-time ministry right now, but I still see my work as a type of ministry anyway. I am thankful for the ministry of smiles.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thankful for "Automotive Mercy"

When we think of the word "mercy" in a biblical context, we think of how God spares us in some way from the consequences we deserve. We usually think of those consequences having some kind of relationship to a particular sin. When the consequences are applied, justice is served. When we are spared the just consequences, mercy is extended to us. I am indeed thankful for that kind of mercy.

image found here
A couple weeks ago, I experienced another kind of "mercy". It didn't involve being spared the consequences of sin. Consequences of stupidity, yes. But sin, no. Let's just call it "automotive mercy", for lack of a better term.

My nephew agreed to help me out by changing the oil in my car. He checked to see how much oil was there. The dipstick was absolutely dry. I have no idea how long I had been running my car with no oil. By rights, my engine should have been totally wrecked. But it wasn't. After refilling the oil, the engine is still miraculously running smoothly.

Oh, there are other things wrong with the car. The air conditioner doesn't work, but I won't care about that until next summer. In the meantime, the heater works. The dashboard lights that allow me to see the speedometer at night don't work. That is, I admit, a bit more problematic, but the car still runs. The radio doesn't work, but I can live without that.

The fact is that God provided me with an affordable car that gets me where I need to go. On top of that, He extended "automotive mercy" to me when I actually deserved the just consequence of a major repair bill.

So right now, even while I am thankful for "automotive mercy", I will also be careful not to presume upon that mercy in the future. How so? I think I'd better be a bit more diligent about making use of the dipstick between oil changes or else one of these days, I could expect to experience a bit of "automotive justice" instead.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thankful for New Beginnings

Image found here
 I have been notoriously slow about posting new material on this blog, especially through the month of November. Life has been interesting and full...and time slipped away faster than I realized. It also didn't help that I was in the middle of a series of posts that required a significant amount of time and effort for each post.  I hope to do better this month by writing short posts more often.

Thanksgiving is just past and the Christmas season lies ahead. Throughout the month of December, I will focus each post on one thing that I am thankful for. I'll try to keep the posts short and sweet, and just maybe, I can end up with a nice list of things for which I am thankful

Image found here
For today, I just want to say that I am so very thankful for new beginnings. As we launch into the month of December, I am thankful for the chance to begin again and get a fresh start on something that had been lagging.

This new beginning brings with it a chance to:
  • reestablish better and healthier routines.
  • refocus my passion for writing.
  • consciously use a God-given talent for His glory.
"...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31b
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