Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Shelter in the Time of Storm

image found here
Here in many parts of the United States, we are in the middle of the coldest winter in decades. Bone-chilling temperatures leave people dreading to go outside. Most stay in unless it is necessary to go out, but staying indoors was not always an option. Strong winds buffet those who venture out. After being out in the bitter cold, it is such a relief to step back into the warmth and comfort of home.

A couple nights ago, I went to bed with the sound of the wind howling and whistling around the house. I was so grateful for warm shelter - a safe haven in the midst of the storm. 

image found here
I am also grateful for God's protection in the midst of the storms of life. Things may...and often do...get difficult. We may feel that we are facing raging storms. Like those of us who have to go to work and go about the duties of life, avoiding the storm entirely is not an option.

Our Heavenly Father promises His protection in the midst of the storm. He is the "cleft of the rock" in which we can take refuge. He provides an anchor, so the wind and waves of the storm do not overwhelm us. He is our "shelter in the time of storm".

I am so thankful for that shelter.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19a)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Taking Care of the Pipes

Christmas vacation was almost over. Kids were supposed to go back to school on Monday, January 6. None of that happened, though because a record-breaking cold front was moving in through our part of the country. 

Rachel and I stayed with my parents during that time which meant that my grandmother's house, where we live, was empty. I usually keep the thermostat turned down believing that it is more economical to put on extra clothes or cuddle up in a blanket than to turn up the heat. There is some truth in that, I think. 

Image found here
Unfortunately, there are limits to this way of thinking. I didn't turn the heat up in anticipation of the extra frigid weather as I should have. The cold front hit on Monday. My nephew went in the house to check things out on Wednesday and reported that the pipes were frozen. At least, no water was running through the taps in the house. Fortunately, no water was pouring out into the house from a burst water pipe, either. Things appeared to be OK, and we didn't get back out right away to deal with the situation. (I know, that was dumb.)

Eventually, ice built up in one place in the garage where a plastic pipe went into a metal fitting. As the ice expanded, it forced the plastic pipe upward. Eventually, although the pipe didn't burst, water did begin spraying out from that location. I was the one who found that chilly scenario. I got pretty well soaked with freezing cold water before I found the turn-off valve and stopped the flow. 

This problem might not have happened in the first place had I been staying in the house at the time. Had I been there, I would have noticed that the cold was getting well beyond the "put on another sweater and grab another blanket stage". I would have turned up the heat and made sure the taps were running. But since no one was paying attention to what was happening there, the problem got bigger until it demanded attention. 

Image found here
It occurs to me that we are much like this in our lives. When our relationships—with God, with family, with friends, with co-workers—are not attended to, major problems can develop. Communication is blocked. Pressure builds up. Stresses and strains either "burst through the pipes" or push things out of alignment. There is potential for major damage.

I was fortunate that the damaged pipe was in the garage, and in an area where the water did not cause any major damage. I learned a good lesson through experience this about the importance of attending to the house during periods of extreme cold. Am I also attentive in my relationships, or do I, through neglect, allow blockages, pressures, and strains to cause damage that could have been prevented?

We find instruction all through God's Word about how to attend to those relationships. Is it possible that sometimes, we are just too preoccupied, or even lazy to practice the "one anothers" of Scripture? I don't know about you, but I don't want to find my relationships with those I love damaged because I allowed "frozen pipes" to burst.

What about you? You may be great about taking care of the house in which you live. How are you at taking care of your own relational "pipes"?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Sweet and the Sour

Time has really flown this first two weeks of 2014.  As I look toward the year ahead, I have no idea what all the year holds. Will it be a year full of good things? Pleasant things? Exciting things? Will there be sadness? Struggle? Disappointment? I don't know. As I thought about the mixture of possibilities that 2014 might hold, I recalled a short piece that I wrote for my newsletter back in August 2006 when Rachel was ten months old. Please allow me to share it with you today.


Rachel’s first taste of yogurt produced an interesting expression on her little face.  I put a spoonful of the plain, unflavored yogurt into her mouth.  She puckered her lips, and looked at me with an accusing expression as if to say, “What in the world do you think you are giving me?!?”  She didn’t spit it out, though.  She got a good taste of it, swallowed it...then eagerly opened her mouth for more.  I almost couldn’t spoon it in fast enough.  Now, when she is less than enthusiastic about her breakfast, I mix a bit of sour yogurt with her sweet bananas making the whole meal much more inviting.

I think that sometimes, perhaps often, God allows things, or puts things into our lives that cause us to “pucker our lips”, spiritually speaking, and ask, “Why are you giving me that?”  Things that are difficult, disappointing, frustrating, or just plain directed at us out of spite can be very “sour things to swallow”.  I am coming to realize, though, that just because something I experience seems a bit “sour”, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.  The proper balance of sweet and sour in a recipe makes for a delicious dish.  In the same way, God often mixes “sweet” and “sour” things in our lives to produce something far more “delicious” than either thing would be alone. 

Joseph learned this lesson in Egypt.  He had more than just a spoonful of “sour” fed to him, but in the end, by the time God had finished mixing all the ingredients, Joseph was able to say,

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…” Genesis 50:20a

Can I say the same?  Can you?

Gadgets By Spice Up Your Blog