Sunset Obsession

I thoroughly enjoyed taking sunset and cloud pictures this summer.  God has blessed me with some amazing shots.  My favorite evening was this one – the sun rays were fabulous.  

Clouds and sunsets show the beauty and creativeness of God.  He is a phenomenal artist and He wants to share it with us!  God is so good.

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Little Things that Grow

Readers of my blog will have noticed that I enjoy sharing stories about “little blessings”.  These stories are very important and special to me.  The next two stories are little things that became bigger.

One day a friend from church gave me a small package wrapped in brown paper.  On the paper she wrote, “I thought of you when I saw these dear friend. You will make them pretty.”  I know her exact words, because I kept the paper.  I was so touched by “dear friend” and built up by her compliment that I would make the gift pretty.  This was during a time when I felt worthless.  I knew that I was capable of many things, but I had been through a tough situation that shattered my confidence.  God used her compliment to build me back up. Reminding me of who God made me to be.  

What was the gift you ask?  Two packages of cards that need to be colored.  One of my favorite things.  I remember the story every time I color one; I remember how this friend invested in me.

This next story happened while I was working two jobs. I had posted a request on Facebook about the gutter on one side of my house (it was falling off).  When I got home that night (after my second job), I found someone had taken the gutter off the house. I was blessed that someone had taken the time to help.  I did not realize the full blessing until the next day.  Someone had mowed my lawn and removed some bush trimmings that I had left.  That summer mowing the lawn was hard due to the food issues I had not figured out yet.  One week of no mowing was a nice treat. 

I enjoy storytelling so I take great pleasure in sharing these stories.  However, I also hope to encourage my readers to consider this with others.  Both when you have the opportunity to give and when you receive.

The little things matter.  God uses them in big ways for His honor and glory.

My Birthday Reminder

Last week my birthday reminded me that little things can be just as important as big things.  (Sherlock Homes said, “To the great mind nothing is little.”)  Let me share some stories.

While on vacation the week before, my friend sent me a picture that she and her family thought I should put a verse on.  She knows how much I enjoy that and she wanted to encourage it.  Then her daughter-in-law sent me a message about putting verses on pictures from their recent trip to Israel.  Pictures from the Holy Land?! Oh yeah! I am honored to be asked.

While on vacation, my friends daughter found something that she thought I would enjoy.  She was right.  When I opened the gift I went right for this set of cards that I could color.  I enjoy anything creative.  I was so blessed that these friends (who know me well) would be thinking of me on their trip.  I have already enjoyed creative time with my gift. 

I have learned from experience how much those little positive things can bless me.  Some of the stories I have shared happened years ago.  Some are more recent.  No matter when they happened, they bring a smile to my face again and again.

Father God, thank you for the reminders of how much You love me through the thoughts and actions of my friends.  You have blessed so much.  I praise Your Name.

A Facebook Stalker

I have a Facebook stalker – maybe two or three.  Usually a stalker is someone bad, but in my case I have friends looking out for me.  Any time I post a need, one of them responds quickly.  Volunteering herself or a member of her family to help meet my need.

I love my Facebook stalkers.  And they love me.

Worried?

Have you ever worried?  I certainly have.

I love this picture.  Pretty flowers with a beautiful, blue sky background.  However, life is not always this pretty.  Sometimes it is downright ugly.  There is much trouble.  But worrying about the trouble (especially tomorrow’s trouble) doesn’t help me.  In fact, it can be a great hindrance to what I need to accomplish today.  Worry also doubts God’s ability to provide.

I am thankful God has given us passages like Matthew 6:25-34.  My loving Heavenly Father takes care of the lilies and the birds.  He will take care of me.  He has promised.  God always (yes, always) keeps His promises.

I am thankful for God’s promises. They are encouraging, but sometimes I still worry.  The best remedy I know for worry is pleading in prayer.  I know God will listen and provide.

Matthew 6 34

Remembering How Much God Loves Us

I was recently reminded of a story from my time of teaching K4.  One of my students needed to have heart surgery which was scheduled for mid-December.  As a class we prayed for him at the beginning of every school day.  I know how easy it is to look at difficult circumstances and think that God doesn’t love me.  I also know that a 4 year old doesn’t have deep theological understanding.  I wanted to pray something that my students could understand.  Each time we prayed I asked for God’s help for the surgery and that God would remind this boy and his family how much God loved them.

When times get tough it is, unfortunately, easy to question if God loves us.  I know.  I have been there.  However, for those of us who have trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, He has lovingly handpicked each challenge to help us become more like Him.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, know this. His burden is lighter than your pleasure.  Knowing Him is the only way to find true and lasting happiness.

My prayer for you today, no matter what you are facing, is that God helps you to remember how much He loves you.  I know He will.

Good Gifts

In light of my enjoyment of telling stories and my favorite Sherlock Holmes saying (“To the great mind, nothing is little.”), I want to tell a couple of stories of gifts that I was given.  According to James 1:17, God gives all good gifts.  Sometimes God uses His people to deliver those gifts.

One cold January Sunday evening I spent time at a friend’s house.  Her husband had to stay late after church at church for a deacons meeting, so we sat and talked about the life issues that we were facing.  It was late when her husband came home.  It was time for me to head home myself so I got up to get my keys.  My friend volunteered her husband to go start my car for me (it was a typical cold Minnesota evening).  I was all for it!  This is where the gift comes in – and when I tell this story in person I get excited and my face lights up.  My friend’s husband went outside and not only started my car, but also scraped the windshield and pulled the car in the driveway.  Did I mention that it was a cold Minnesota January night? It was very cold. I don’t like the cold.  So it meant a lot to me that he went the extra steps.  I don’t know if he remembers this at all – he doesn’t need to.  I remember this gift and smile.

Story #2.  We get a lot of snow in Minnesnowta.  Uh, I mean Minnesota.  One Wednesday evening after work I couldn’t pull in my driveway since the plows had gone by.  The snow pack was too high.  So I left my car in the street and went inside.  I called a friend to let her know that I might be late for children’s ministry that evening.  I had no idea how long it would take to clear the chunks at the end of the driveway, but I went outside to work as quickly as I could.  About half way into the job I started getting tired, but I knew I had to keep working.  Then out of the corner of my eye I see a red pickup truck pulling up.  I thought, “Please let this be the church member who lives nearby.”  Sure enough.  On his way home from basketball practice this coach saw me struggling.  He got home and told his wife that he had to go help me, so he loaded his snowblower in the truck and came over.  I was so relieved.  He finished the job and even “widened” the driveway by clearing more snow than I would have.

The first story took place over 10 years ago, but I still remember it well.  The other story was probably only a couple of years later.  Oh friends, if you have the chance to do something – anything for a friend, do it.  It doesn’t always take something big, in fact, some of my favorite stories are “little things”.  But as Sherlock Holmes said, those little things aren’t really little.  They mean so much.  You could make someone’s day – or even decade.

Sometimes Waiting Comes to an End

I posted last week about how God was asking me to wait regarding my job.  My heart was a bit heavy – I had hopes that I would be given a job offer, but those hopes seemed dashed.  Today God gave a boost to my weak faith.  15 minutes before the end of my work day, my boss called me into his office.  I thought, “Oh great, I’m done.”  I prayed, reminding myself that God is in control.  We sat down and my boss handed me a job offer.  A very good job offer.  It was what I had hoped for in several areas and exceeded my expectations in one.

I am enjoying this answer to prayer, but one more huge blessing comes out of this.  I had shared with many my hope to get hired by this company.  I had shared my waiting lesson.  Now my friends and family get to rejoice with me in this news.  I have made several phone calls, sent text messages and posted on Facebook.  This praise is giving great pleasure to many.

God gives good gifts!  I technically unwrapped this present, but all of us get to partake in the excitement.

The Power of Listening

I was given great power tonight.  I had two special friends listen.  They just listened as I talked about the life struggles I’m currently facing (mostly relating to my job).  They listened, sympathized, and didn’t really give much advice.  My friends gave me the chance to simply unburden my heart to them.

Mind you, neither one of my listening friends has a peachy keen life.  They have plenty of burdens of their own, and shared some of them with me.  However, they care so much about me that they took the time to listen.  To me.  The strength listening brings is phenomenal.

I pray you have a listening friend.  If a person is not readily available, God is an awesome listener (I have many times talked to Him when friends have not been available).  One of the things you can ask God is to give a friend to listen.  God wants to give good gifts (James 1:17).