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Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Morning Devo - Song Stories: What a Friend We Have in Jesus

"What a Friend We have in Jesus" was written by Joseph M. Scriven,  in the mid-1800s.

Life hit Joseph one blow after another from the time he was twenty-five. His fiancee' died in a tragic drowning accident the day before they were to be wed. Heartbroken, he left his homeland (Ireland) and sailed to Canada, where he worked as a teacher.

A few years later, he fell in love again and became engaged to a young woman named Eliza, a relative of one of his students. That one too was not to be--Eliza became sick and passed away before they could be married.

Then shortly after Eliza died, he received word that his mother, still in Ireland, was ill. Unable to go to her, he sent her a letter of comfort and one of the poems he'd written--the one that later became this song at the hands of Charles C. Converse, a great admirer of Joseph.

You would think that all this tragedy would make him bitter, but instead he turned the more strongly to Jesus, becoming a preacher at a Baptist church and giving generously to the poor.

This is truly an old-fashioned song, with truly and old message: that any trouble or hurt we have can be told honestly and trustingly to Jesus. Click HERE to listen.

Lord, You are the inspirer of all good works. Thank You--otherwise we wouldn't have these inspiring stories and songs.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Saturday Sermonette - Writing from the Pain

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:

Sometimes writers use their readers as their pets, someone to vent on, to cry on their shoulders. I admit it, I've not been very sympathetic to that. Sometimes too, we put our own struggles into our works of fiction. It's a way of digging into our feelings and working them out. Of admitting God really is in control, despite the fact that the circumstances seem to indicate otherwise.

Are you feeling a little like a guinea pig yet?

Today I'm feeling like, well, like a possum pancake. If you have possums where you live, you've seen a few of those. Flat, lifeless, and a little smelly. Except for the smelly part (I hope) that's me today.

I'm not sure what the near or distant future holds, except that now, a hurting heart seems to reign. Know that feeling?

Well, I told a friend this week that you can't always trust your feelings. They will lie to you. You "just know" you're going to get a certain job, a promotion, or a really cool bonus--but it doesn't happen. You feel like no one loves you, like doom and gloom sit on the throne, or nothing will ever be all right again--but that too passes. See what I mean?

So--pain isn't necessarily a sign that all is rotten in the world. Feelings are just feelings. Pain itself is rotten, but this too shall pass. It will. I promise.

God is still there. God still loves you. He still wants to be a part of your life. He walks with you through every last step of the nail-strewn path. Barefoot. Feeling all the pain you do. Crying with you. Bleeding whenever you feel chopped up.

He's like that.

You can trust Him.

See this incident in your life as another chance to lean on him. He's got broad shoulders.

Lord--You are so good. Thanks for being a friend when we need one. I love You. Amen.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Monday Morning Devo: Song Stories: "I'll Fly Away"

I got a little bit of a kick out of how this song came about. Albert E. Brumley spent a lot of time, especially as a youngster, picking cotton--as did most of the kids in Oklahoma in those times (early 1900's). He was out in a cotton field one day, the song "If I Had the Wings of an Angel" when this newer song began formulating in his head. Mr. Brumley said he was actually thinking maybe more about "flying away" from the cotton field! But then his deep-seated belief in God won out.

As well as “I’ll Fly Away,” Mr. Brumley also wrote hundreds of other songs, including “Turn Your Radio On,” “If We Ever Meet Again (This Side of Heaven),” “I’ll Meet You in the Morning” and “He Set Me Free.” His fun and easily harmonized songs earned him a place in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

This is another song that ranks in my "really interesting background" category rather than "super inspirational," but no matter the original idea that got the song going and growing, the best part is the final product--an inspirational song that lifts us to the realization that one day, we can have a wonderful new adventure in the heavenly realms!

Dear Lord, I look forward too to the day I can fly away with You. Even so, come get me, Lord Jesus! Amen

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday Sermonette - The Blessings in The Worst Events

Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me. Micah 7:8 NKJV

Have you ever felt like the guy in this picture? Yeah, me too.

He's best friend died. His wife left him. He just messed up for the umpty-umpth time, and there's no way God could ever forgive him. He lost his job. His son moved to Timbuktu and joined a commune. His mom wrote him out of her will. A semi truck ran over his Audi. He's just been diagnosed with cancer. Or--whatever your imagination supplies for this guy's expression.

Horrible things happen, even to devout, praying, God-fearing Christians. What happens then?

Some people abandon their God. Some people grow closer to Him. It's a matter of choice.

Me? I don't know how I would live through the bad times without God. He holds me together when I'm falling apart. And then....I can help someone else who's having the same problems.

Think about it. Would you sympathize with anyone if you'd never experienced pain before?

Thank You, Lord, for bringing good even out of the horrible, painful episodes. Amen.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Review - TANGERINE MORNING by Rita Garcia

And again. Another great book in the Serenity Cove Series by Rita Garcia. Don't ask me why I reviewed Book 3 (Lavender Rain) before this Book 2--dyslexia? Discombobulation? Grandma Brain? Who knows? Anyhow, you really should read this book before Lavender Rain, but if you twisted them up (like I did), it's a forgivable sin....

This is the story of Jezzica Leigh, a young widow reeling from death of her husband, murdered two years before and taken from her by what must be a capricious God's whim. She sells the house she and her husband built with such dreams and comes to Serenity Cove to wallow in self pity. She's disgusted with detectives who can't find the first clue, but at least here maybe she can escape the memories and the stress.

Except that she can't. Her sister shows up with husband troubles, bringing Jezzica's nieces with her. Peace and solitude become distant and unreachable stars. She buys an old bookstore and begins renovating it, again with hopes of forgetfulness.

She finds herself being attracted to, of all things, a local detective named Zack Johnston. Every twinge of attraction plunges her into feelings of betrayal.

Zack on the other hand is determined not only to win her affections but also to find her husband's killers.

When it becomes apparent there are also thugs afoot in peaceful Serenity Cove, Zack is even more determined.

Despair, mystery, and--maybe--resolution await your purchase of this delightful books. Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you hurry, you could slip this book ahead of Lavender Rain on your TBR pile. Go ahead. You know you want it.

The author gave me this book from the goodness of her heart, not even asking for an honest review--so I'm giving it anyway. Thanks, Rita!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday Morning Devo - Song Stories: Praise You in the Storm

"Praise You in the Storm" is a song that has been running through my head for about two weeks now. It's not a really old song, like most I've talked about so far. It was written by Mark Hall, lead of the singing group Casting Crowns. He wrote it in 2004 because a ten-year-9\old little girl, Erin Browning, was dying of cancer. This little girl's faith in God never seemed to waiver, despite the extreme pain.

The group had gotten acquainted with Erin and her family a few months before. She had choreographed and would dance to one of the Crowns' other songs, "Here I Go Again." Mark went to watch the family perform the dance at their church on Valentine's Day, 2004, and began getting acquainted with the family. Erin would dance to the song one last time at The Carolina Theatre before sliding down into the final depths of the disease.

As he began to write it, he told her mother in an email, and when Mrs. Browning read it to Erin, she screamed in joy, screamed so loud it hurt her mother's ears. Erin wanted to hear the song, but she passed into the arms of Jesus before it could be recorded.

Mark was devastated that she didn't get to hear it--he had written it for her, after all. And then Hurricane Katrina happened the day before it released. Thousands of people needed that message in the song and were blessed by it.

Are you going through your own storm alone? You don't have to. Give a listen HERE and understand God is with you there.

Lord, I would love you to remove the storm and let me walk with rainbows surrounding me, but when that's not in Your plans, thank You that You are there with me. Amen.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Saturday Sermonette - Praise Him in the Storm

But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. 24 And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”
Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?”
And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”
Luke 8:23-25 NKJV

It's pretty easy to praise God for the obvious blessings: sunsets and rainbows, for instance. But what about when things aren't so great? What about when floods, blizzards, and deaths (or fear of death) threaten to overwhelm us?

This past month has been one of those times for me. My husband was pretty close to stepping across the river a few times. Pretty big prayers went up from myself and my family. Thanking God didn't happen as often as petitioning God. (And yes, he's doing much better now.)

If he had finished the crossing, would I still be thinking this way--to praise God through the storm? I'll say yes, knowing I'm human enough to still be angry/sorrow-filled/grieving. Not all of grief is pretty, is it? Not all of praying is lovely and sweet. God understands our deepest prayers. Our Father in Heaven grieved over His Son, so He knows those feelings.

All I know for sure is this: God is good. His mercy is forever. He understands me top to toe. And He walks with me wherever I am.

Thanks, God.