Category Archives: Life’s Lessons

Someday…Never!

beach foam landscape nature
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This year I prayed—I prayed that God would not send a hurricane the week we had planned for the beach (like last year), and He answered that prayer! Praise His name! He sent it last week but this week has been absolutely perfect weather here at Virginia Beach! Once again, I’m sitting on our balcony and watching as “fish-man” heads for another round of fun in the ocean. Now, I do love the ocean, but I don’t have to be in it to enjoy it!

I’m always a bit trepidatious as well as self-conscious when we head into the waves with our boogie boards. What in the world are these 60-year-olds doing out there riding the waves? (I’m sure some of you would say, “Mrs. MacAvoy? I can’t imagine it!” while others would say, “Yep!  That’s Wanda!”) Oh, what fun! I’m not the bravest swimmer but with my little board, I’m pretty happy! It is SO MUCH FUN to just bob around and then kick to catch a good one that carries you all the way to the shore!

As we walked back to our chairs I said, “Honey, there will be a day when we won’t be able to do this anymore.” Very sad. L At age 60, life seems to be so short! How many “good years” do we have left—years free of illness, aches, and pains which will limit our fun? Only God knows.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12

It’s a bit sobering to realize that 18 years ago today I made a poster of the Twin Towers and this verse for our Christian school. The message is still the same, the mandate just as necessary as it was the day Moses penned it—we need to use the life God has given us for His glory by applying His Words of wisdom to our thoughts, words, and deeds.

SOMEDAY, if the Lord tarries, I’ll not be riding a boogie board in the ocean BUT there will NEVER be a day that God is not with me! Wow! What a glorious thought! What joy! What comfort! What blessings!

My all-time favorite movie is Ever After.  It’s the Cinderella story and my favorite line is the last line (I’m quoting loosely from memory but you’ll get the message.):

And it’s not that they lived happily ever after, but that they lived!

So, go out there and do it—LIVE for Jesus!! You will NEVER regret a moment of it!

 

Upside-down Lunch

68039351-480pxWhat a life! The Nuthatch comes to my feeder, selects his lunch (or in this case, breakfast) and swoops to the trunk of a nearby tree. He then faces downward and starts cracking the nut, pinning against the tree. Over and over again, he comes and repeats the exact same habit, except perhaps to eat at another tree.

Why does he do that? Why does he face downward? How would you like to stand upside-down and eat? No thank you! Perhaps he does it to keep the crumbs out of his nose! That may be a byproduct of his habit but mostly he does it because that is how God made him.

Birds are amazing creatures. They certainly are creatures of habit! I remember one poor mother birth that had made her nest in a break in the soffit near our kitchen window. When we fixed it, she came the following spring and was all “kerfoodled.” She sat on the edge of the porch looking with confusion at the place she had always built. Poor birdie!

What circumstance has God put you in that is not comfortable? Are you facing life with a handicap? Is it difficult for you to go home at night and face the challenges awaiting you there? Or perhaps life is just not what you expected it to be?

As born-again believers we have a great “secret ingredient” for life—we have the power of God! Wow! When we apply it to life, peace comes into our hearts! The circumstances may not change, the challenges are still waiting, but we face them with our dearest Friend who holds all the answers we will ever need.  The question is, are we listening? Are we examining our hearts to see if there’s something that God wants to teach us? When our slate is clean, our sins are forgiven, and our will is yielded to our heavenly Father, we can face life—even if we need to do it upside-down.

1Corinthians 2:16 … But we have the mind of Christ.

Colossians1:27 … Christ in you, the hope of glory

When Your Rock Crumbles

waves crashing
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Tom is my rock. He’s always there for me. I don’t realize how much I depend on him until he is compromised. The first time that happened was in 2014 when he fell 16 feet and broke his hip and crushed his heel. Today, it’s laser surgery for a detached retina. Actually, the surgery took place a couple weeks ago. This was only to be a checkup but they need to “weld” around one spot. (Somehow the term weld should not be in the same sentence as eye) Ugh! And then the doctor said that it would probably happen in the other eye as well! Double ugh!
He’s my rock! But what do you do when your rock starts to crumble? As we sit here in the waiting room and I watch a young female patient fill out her forms I realize that, generally speaking, we do not realize what a blessing youth and good health is until they are gone. We live. We assume that we’ll just jump out of bed and do it all again today, and the next, and the next. But then, suddenly, we’re old! Just so you know, 60s are not like the 50s, 40s, or 30s. 60s makes you stop and realize that most of life is in the past. That may sound morbid. It’s not—it’s reality.
So, again I ask, what do you do when your rock starts to crumble? YOU MAKE CERTAIN THAT YOUR FEET AND FAITH ARE FIRMLY PLANTED ON THE ROCK THAT WILL NEVER CRUMBLE! Jesus is the Son of God. He IS God eternal. He is ALWAYS there and will always be there. He never changes. He has all the power that He always had and is willing to supply the strength that we—His genuine children— need for anything. What a wonderful promise!
Tom and I said on that special day of days, “In sickness and in health.” Well, here we are! It’s my turn. Tom had his turn during three Cesarean deliveries. We will be there for each other as long as God allows, but when the rock crumbles, my feet are secure, and so are his when this little pebble crumbles too! Praise God.
Lu 6:48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.

New and Tidy

IMG_7323Summer is definitely over and we are well into the fall season. With temperatures at 29 this morning, frost is definitely on the pumpkin! I’m always glad to announce that the canning season is officially over! On Monday, my husband tilled the garden, pulled out the frost-wilted flowers and mowed were it was needed.  Now, as I look out my kitchen window, everything is neat and tidy—ready for the snow!

Neat and tidy…hmm. It made me wonder if my spiritual house matches my physical one. What does a “neat and tidy” spirit look like? Do you see any parallels, like…

  • Gathering the fruit of your labors and preserving them—How much time do I spend gleaning truths from God’s Word and storing them for later use by preserving them in my heart through memorization?
  • Tilling the ground—Tilly the rototiller chews up the dirt, loosening the clods and chopping up any left over, unwanted growth, turning them into fertilizer (sort of). Have I allowed the Lord access to my heart—going deeper than the surface which is what everyone else sees? Isn’t it wonderful that God can take all the unwanted weeds in our lives and turn them into something worthwhile? When we surrender our bad habits, wrong actions, words and attitudes, and other sins to God, He can use them to make us more aware the next time we struggle, fortifying us to bring forth more fruit!
  • Put out the dead flowers—Do you have any “dead” spots in your spirit—Jude called them “spots in your feast” and “clouds…without water” (Jude 1:12). Even though the passage is actually talking about lost folks, we can certainly apply it to areas in our lives where we are fruitless. Satan sends a chilly wind of opposition and our hearts grow cold. He sends temptations and our resolve withers and we yield. He whispers words of doubt and distrust and the chilling effects of fear freeze out God’s fiery Spirit, making us barren or stagnant.

It takes a lot of work to keep a place neat and tidy. It’s much easier to just ignore the weeds or faded paint.  It takes time and effort. So often, we just run out of time and can’t seem to get everything done! But when that starts to happen to our spiritual house, the consequences can be eternally disastrous!

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Hebrew 12:15

This verse may be talking about roots of bitterness, but we can plug in any “weed” that we are struggling with and apply the results:

  1. We are troubled by whatever the sin. We may not want to call some of our bad habits sin. In fact, we are often accused of legalism if we even hint that unfaithfulness to church services is a sin. What is it that “troubles” your spirit in your life? What can YOU do about it?
  2. Many are defiled. This is such a frightening statement. Who will be affected by my lack of dedication, bad testimony, or hobby horse? Am I speaking the truth in my heart concerning my sin?

Do you see the remedy? “Looking diligently…” When we are diligent in our walk, the result is a neat and tidy testimony for our gracious Lord and Savior! I enjoy the compliments we get about our home and the way it looks and feels, but more than those compliments, I long to hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” when Jesus comes to call!

LOVE My Garden!

0721181019a.jpgThis has been the perfect growing year—good amount of rain and hot days. As you can see, I pack A LOT in my little garden. It’s enough to give us fresh cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, lettuce and snap peas for our dinner. I’ll purchase tomatoes to make into sauce, tomato soup (new “original” recipe last year and delicious! If you want it, just ask), and salsa—another tried and true recipe.

I find myself looking out my kitchen window, admiring the straight weed-free rows and healthy plants. It brings me such joy! I guess the saying is true: you can take the girl off the farm but not the farm out of the girl! I must admit a bit of pride in my heart as well, which is really dumb because…

  • God makes the seeds grow
  • God allowed me to grow up in a farming/gardening family to gain gardening knowledge
  • God gives me the strength to weed the garden
  • God even allowed someone to invent the Liquid Fence that keeps the critters out!

So, my pride needs to be all about Him—my gracious, glorious heavenly Father! As I am writing, I’m watching the yellow finch at the feeder which makes me think of the children’s song:

God sees the little sparrow fall it meets His tender view

If God so loved the little sparrow, I know He loves me too!

What a thought! He sees me, but even more than that, His heart is tender towards me. He protects me, leads me, strengthens me, and feeds me with His Holy Manna—the Word of God. He cares for ME! WOW!

When I look at my garden and experience the joy and satisfaction of a job well done, I think as well of God’s view of me.  Is He pleased? Am I growing straight and tall? Does He see that the little seeds of conviction are sprouting and bringing forth fruit in my heart? Am I “weed-free?” Am I tilled up and pliable in His hands? Am I bringing forth fruit for His kingdom and glory?

My husband loves to see a tree in the middle of a field where it can grow freely, not all trimmed and chopped because of power lines.  He will say, “That tree is doing exactly what God intended it to do.” That is what I want God to see as well when He looks at my outward life and my inward heart-garden! Oh, the joy to think that I can bring such joy to my Master Gardener!

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. {ungodly: or, wicked} But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3

My Poor Little Zinnias!

zinniasI decided to start zinnias from seed this year. Yesterday, I transplanted them.  I was amazed at the length of their little roots! They had sent them down as far as their shallow soil would allow them to go and then made a sharp right and started crawling along the bottom of the tray! So, I scooped them out and transplanted them into their own little pots; and this is how they look this morning…

Poor little fellas! I wonder if this is how the disciples felt this morning! It’s Saturday—the wonderful once-a-year Passover celebration culminates today! They should be excited, but you see, Jesus had uprooted them out of their comfortable, several millennia of traditions, and they didn’t even know it until this past week. Even though He told them what was going to happen, their eyes and ears and hearts were blinded to understanding His purpose.

Had my little zinnias known what was coming, they might have hunkered down and said, “No! We’re fine here! We’re not moving.” But if they could have done that, they would have eventually died. They would never have produced any flowers. They would have looked pathetic.

Do you ever feel like that?  God has pulled you up by the roots out of your comfy, cozy spot and put you into unfamiliar surroundings.  They seem harsh and unforgiving. You just want to lie down and die!  But wait! There’s something nice about this new place. Mmmm! My toesies have so much room!  I can stretch way down! And this new soil is really nice. I think I’ll just reach my little leaves towards the sun and GROW!  I’m so glad this happened!

Can we say, “I’m so glad this happened,” when life falls apart?  Better yet, can we say, “I’m so glad God did this?”

I would say most of us do not remember what happened on November 5th, 2017. If I mention Sutherland Springs, Texas, some of us might recall the infamous event. That day, 26 people who went to church to worship God, praising His name with their families and friends. But God had other plans.

How do we cope with something like that?  How do we grow through what would seem to be a dry and barren land? Here are some thoughts:

  1. We fall back on what we know: God is ALWAYS good. This step is so foundational to any further steps we take. Anything less will lead us down the wrong path. “ And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day” ( Deuteronomy 6:24).
  2. We draw closer to God and learn of Him. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Titus, James, Peter… these men experienced firsthand the almighty power of God! They have so much to tell us, and since it is really God’s Word and not theirs, it is a well so deep, it will never run dry! ” Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
  3. We gather strength from others: This is why a network of believers is so important. (Recommended: flesh and blood. Social media is great but it can’t give hugs!) We go to the huddle known as church and we learn and weep and pray, drawing strength from each other. “…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).
  4. We take one step at a time. One of my favorite pictures is of the Guardian Angel,41 portraying an angel watching over two small children while they cross a torrential stream via a very rickety bridge. Just like those children, we walk “circumspectly,” testing each toehold to be sure it will hold, avoiding the pitfalls of pity, anger, bitterness, doubts, fears… the list is endless! (BTW, those are all “fiery darts” and you know who is hurling them!)

The apostles would never be the same. In fact, this dark, distressing week was only the beginning. It would pale in comparison to the testings and trials that were coming their way. BUT, Sunday made all the difference!  Jesus’ resurrection changed them, forged them into great heroes of the faith! Oh, to think that our trials as well are designed to kill us… so that we too can truly live!

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

 

For the Birds (and me too!)

As I sit here watching two male Rose Breasted Grosbeaks having breakfast at my feeder, I see a wonderful lesson for believers, actually several! 🙂

It’s a droopy rainy day, and they’re both hunkered down under the little overhang on the feeder.

  • We come to God’s Word to be nourished and find shelter there from the annoying drip, drip of daily life, as well as from the storm!

As they eat, I see a pattern: pick up a sunflower seed and then look around as they chew, their heads jerking to the left and right, scanning the area for an enemy.

  • Am I on the lookout for my enemy?
  • Do I even know who my enemy is?
  • Do I understand his strategy, agenda, and incredible perseverance to destroy me?

I have never seen a hawk at my feeder, and yet the Grosbeaks are on the alert. Am I that alert about my enemies?

  1. The world – it comes in all shapes and sizes custom-made to attract each of us! Enjoying the pleasures of this world are not wrong until they push out our devotion to God.
  2. My flesh – it is SO strongly bent the wrong way. If I were a Grosbeak, I’d be happily delving into my delightful breakfast, chatting, laughing, singing and never once thinking about any danger! We live in our flesh.  We know our flesh better than anyone else (well, except maybe enemy #3!) Does your flesh cause you to stumble away from the peace and joy of serving Jesus?
  3. The Devil – Old Scratch! What a wonderful name for him! He makes the itch in our lives—makes us uncomfortable in so many ways! He sows thoughts of unbelief. Remember… “Yea, hath God said?” You’d think he’d get a new slogan, but he doesn’t BECAUSE THE OLD ONE WORKS EVERY TIME! He sows doubts about God and His Word. He stirs up strife in the family of God. I could go on and on, but instead just remember this:

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Do I need to be aware of my enemies? Yes, but unlike the Rose Breasted Grosbeaks, I understand that I am safely sheltered in the arms of my Eternal, Omnipotent, Ever-loving Father! My enemies are powerless against my Father!

 

Cuckoo Heaven

cuckooDoes it get any better than this: sitting here in my living room, looking out the triple pane window and watching the finches and various other birds come swooping into the feeder as I have my devotions? The sun is shining, the trees are budding, and my cuckoo clock is happily ticking.

Now, if you are a long-time reader, you may remember some posts about my cuckoo clock craze. My first clock came from my husband’s great uncle’s home where it hung silent for years.  It was a carved hunter’s clock, which means that it had a large racked buck at the top, a dead rabbit and bird hanging on either side of the front, and a hunting horn circling the clock face. It wasn’t my pick but I loved it, prayed over it, fixed it, and for, twenty years, God graciously blessed my feeble efforts and kept it ticking! Praise Jehovah-jireh!

But, alas, it died. It was beyond repair.  We even took it to Ye Old Clock Shoppe in Dallas, PA. (If you need to have a clock fixed, this man knows his clocks! The store could be a field trip; it’s that interesting… well, to clock-lovers!)

Long story short, I bought a new clock. Now, for a short marital finance lesson—don’t have “my money—your money” attitudes. If both husband and wife work, then the money pays the bills together. We broke that rule in one area: my books. I’ve kept any monies that I’ve received from my books sales into a separate account.  I’m not sure why; I believe mostly just to be able to be encouraged.  Lest you think I’m “rolling in the dough,” self-publishing is a tough road. It’s “me, myself, and I” when it comes to the process of writing, designing, and particularly selling books. However, that said, I used some of that fund to purchase a new cuckoo clock.

Maybe it’s my German heritage, but I’ve loved cuckoo clocks since I was a child. I remember standing in front of my aunt’s clock as she turned the minute hand to make the bird sing! Thrilled! Some may think I’m crazy to spend, what is to me, a sizeable amount to get my clock, but from the moment I opened the box, straight from Germany, my heart thrilled!

Such a materialistic person! Well, to quote my dear friend Tweety-bird, “You don’t know me verwe well!” Remember, I’m a pastor’s wife, and while we live very comfortably, we’ve always been frugal. Also, I’m married to a lovable, sweet, and charming “bean counter!”

So, is there a point to this babbling? Well, it is the Saturday before Resurrection Sunday. Yes, Satan has already whispered in my ear that I love my clock too much, but may I say…

“All that thrills my soul is Jesus!”

This clock has brought me great joy.  It is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and ear, but not the soul! It is not a sin to enjoy nice things until our souls begin to crave those things more than our Savior. He alone brings peace and lasting joy—joy which lasts throughout the ages!

So, I’m content.  My cuckoo is once again ticking merrily in my home, reminding me that every second is precious, not to be wasted. J Each tick helps me to …. “number [my] days, that [I] may apply [my] heart unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Ready, Set, Wait

Ready, Set, WIMG_7323ait!

Well, the last job is done for the winter—tilling the garden.  Dear old Tilly is out there now, purring away until the gas is gone.  A good wash and she gets to rest for the season.

The garden is ready, but for what?  It’s ready to rest; however, any seeds that are still in the ground are also ready to sprout as soon as the weather gets warmer.  Even while the snow is on the ground, that seed is ready—ready for the sun!

Luke eight begins by telling us that Jesus and His disciples went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. Verses 2-4 tell of Mary Magdalene’s deliverance from demons, the care given to Jesus and his disciples by new converts, and that a crowd had gathered to hear Him speak. It’s not by accident that the next few verses  in Luke eight are about soil. As though to encourage the sowers, Jesus tells the parable of the four soils: wayside, rocky, thorny and good. Our responsibility is to give the Word–spread the Seed.  There’s nothing wrong with the seed—the Word of God, and there may be nothing wrong with the sower—YOU!  Doing a heart-check is always good to be sure that the Spirit has free reign and our motives are correct, but the fruit of the hearer is not our responsibility.  I can no more make someone respond to the Word of God than I can make my tomato plants grow!  How comforting!

HOWEVER, when we ARE the soil, we are the receiver of the seed—how we respond IS our responsibility.  1 Corinthians 15:58 gives us some pointers:

Therefore, my beloved brethren,

be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,

forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Did Jesus see fruit for His labor? Absolutely; however, He also wept over Jerusalem because He knew the condition of many hearts and that His own people would soon demand His crucifixion. Jesus knows everything. He remained faithful to His calling to the very end of His earthly life.

Always abounding in the work of the Lord is the fruit of always bounding in the Word of the Lord! Be ready.  Even though you may be in a “winter” time of fruitfulness, know that God is always working in your heart, your children, your ministry. There’s something beautiful about a garden lying fallow. The summer work is done. The harvest has been gathered. Snow is on the way! Even so, as the ground rests, it waits for spring. As we ‘wait’ for the moving of the Spirit, may we realize that ‘spring’ may be just around the corner!

Be ready!  Be set! Be willing to wait!

My superhero

55407d754bd0ca45bd8fc499d37f2aefHe may not leap from the tallest buildings or wear spandex and a cape, but he is MY superhero! He spends his days battling enemies on every front, from without and within, and never complains. At times, I believe if I could see them, I’d see a whole host of demonic beasties flapping and snarling at his heels.

But never mind, he faithfully studies the Word and serves a banquet of fresh, sweet manna every Sunday to the few who choose to take the time to come to God’s house. The crowd may wax and wane, but it never affects his dedication, because he is answering to the high calling of Jesus Christ.

His broad shoulders carry the burdens of others with compassion and prayer. Oh, the sweet, sweet sound of hearing him talk with his heavenly Father, weeping over his little flock—it brings tears to my eyes every time I tiptoe by his office door and hear that lovely sound!

But for me, the most wonderful attribute about my superhero, which makes him greater than the hulkiest of the bunch, is his humble, teachable heart. It’s what first drew me to him, and what continues to affect my life. His patience with me, as I try to become more like our Savior, challenges me to get the lead out and get busy hacking off those nasty, ungodly traits which shatter the precious, heavenly atmosphere of our home. He’s changing, and it makes me want to change too.  After all, who doesn’t want to be like her superhero? 🙂

Last weekend, we watched two of our grandsons. I love them dearly, but I wouldn’t have survived if it hadn’t been for my superhero. He played, and bathed, and walked, and talked with them (and flew a kite, which was captured for Facebook).  He made them laugh and was just plain silly, which is a wonderful, albeit unusual, trait for a superhero. He read to them, and while I was caring for them (I mostly just sat around eating bonbons) or was busy making a meal, he was quietly picking up or throwing in a load of laundry because that’s what he does!

My superhero.  Right now, (it’s four A.M.) he’s sleeping. His weary body, especially those broken parts which remind him that a storm is coming, is resting for another couple hours. Then he’ll rise once more, chipper and ready to face another day’s host of villains: the world, the flesh, and the devil! We’ll face them together, and then they won’t seem quite so impossible. Discouragement flees, but that one usually takes both of us to battle. Criticism is reflected off the shield of faith. Worries fly with a flick of the Sword. It’s really a wonderful life, living with a superhero! I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians  3:14