I'm Just A Girl Who Can't Say No

Bunny PoutThe word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. Jonah 1:1-3

Nope. No thanks. No can do. I’ve heard other people use these words, but I, myself, find it very hard to utter them. Even telemarketers and those hucksters at the mall and superstores fill me with trepidation at the thought of having to politely say ‘no’ half a dozen times before they leave me be. I avoid them at all costs.

Several times lately someone has said to me, “You’re too busy! Just tell them ‘no!’” I nodded, but I’ve thought a lot about that since then and have come to a conclusion.

I made a commitment long ago to alter my life and free up my schedule to make room for working for the Lord. This was something I definitely felt called to do. In the beginning that involved a lot of child rearing activities, but now, not so much. So, when an occasion arises and someone calls on me, I generally look at it through the filter of a ‘God’ opportunity. Is God arranging this so I can learn something, be challenged by something, advance His Kingdom work somehow, witness to someone, or just get to know someone better? Or, am I the best person for this? Is God preparing me for something by this? It’s usually only later that I actually check my schedule. I’ve rarely regretted saying yes.

I would like to put in a good word about making yourself available. When I think to myself about why some people have awesome opportunities to serve the Lord and experience success after success, while others of us seem stuck around the starting gate, I ask if we’ve ‘been faithful in the little things.’ The Lord rewards those who do a small job well with greater responsibility. We all need to be honest with ourselves about whether or not we truly WANT greater responsibility.  I know I have not. But God loves us too much to leave us stuck in our fear, or apathy, or whatever it is that keeps us from wanting God’s best for us no matter what it takes. I think of Him like a parent who knows that making us take out the trash will ultimately build character, obedience and perseverance.

Often, like with Jonah, we say ‘no, thanks’ to God, and He says, ‘but this will be a growth experience for you, to prepare you for what comes next in life.’ We reply, ‘growth means discomfort, and I haven’t got time for the pain.’ And then God sends a storm and a giant fish to reorder our priorities. As it says in Isaiah 55:10-11, the Lord will accomplish His purposes.

As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

And speaking of ‘bread for the eater,’ on this subject of being available to help out, I often think of the Little Red Hen. There are always plenty of reasons to say ‘no:’ "I'm sorry, but I'm too busy wallowing in the mud to help you," "I would love to help, but I'm busy swimming in the pond," "I'm sorry, but I have to take care of myself and groom my fur,” "I have other things to attend to, like guarding the house and keeping watch," etc. But I’m more afraid of missing out on something that the Lord has for me, some lesson, or gift or insight. When we fail to make ourselves available to the Lord, we don’t just miss out on fresh, hot, homemade bread, we miss out on the Bread of Heaven.



**To all those I have ever successfully said ‘no’ to, please know that I really did think it over first and just couldn’t.

Pass It On

Instruct the Wise bestTeach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many

(Deuteronomy 11:19-21)

Like so many things, faith is better ‘caught than taught’ they say. Meaning that rather than just preaching goodness, kindness, prayer and Bible study, it’s more important to model these behaviors. The other saying is, ‘your actions are speaking so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying,’ suggesting that the old, ‘do as I say, not as I do’ just doesn’t cut it, especially with kids.

Over the years I’ve heard so many people tell me they can’t teach. But everyone is a teacher in their own way. Actually, with no disrespect to schoolteachers, I submit that family is the first and best teacher, and it’s the place God established for passing on His Word to successive generations. School is a wonderful thing and a terrific opportunity, but it’s at home at the table where lessons are reinforced, love of learning is instilled, values are passed on and stories are shared. Not to mention all the teaching that happens at the craft table, in the garden, in the workshop, at the chicken coop, in the kitchen or on walks in the woods. There’s always something to be taught and so much to be learned!

Every moment we’re sitting at home, walking together, or driving around town is time that we can be sharing, teaching, passing on knowledge and learning. And not just with kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews. We all have so much wisdom and experience to share. The Bible encourages older women to teach younger women (Titus 2:3-5). Men are encouraged to mentor younger men. At all the ages and stages of life, it is so valuable to learn about the Christian walk from others who have trod that same path.

And of course, we teach others around us with our words and actions in everyday life. We have a responsibility to carry Christ with us into all of that. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8)

Never think that your faith and your knowledge are not worth passing on. Never think that you are too inexperienced, or too shy, or whatever your objection might be. Jesus chose ordinary men as His students. He lived with them, spoke with them and then sent them out two by two to spread His Good News. It changed the whole world. It isn’t us, and it wasn’t those disciples that impacted people forever, it was and is God’s Holy Spirit working through us. We’re all cracked jars, imperfect and fragile, but containing the most glorious knowledge of all: Jesus lives! His salvation is for all! That is really something to pass on.


(from Kurt Kaiser, “Pass it On”)

It only takes a spark to get a fire going,

And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing;

That's how it is with God's Love,

Once you've experienced it,

You spread the love to everyone You want to pass it on.

Lord, create opportunities for me today and each day to pass on your love: at home, at work, everywhere to everyone.




Bountiful Backpacks of Blessings

Bus Angel gamma15 BEST“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Isaiah 43:1-3

I have very fond memories of my school days. I remember looking forward to learning, feeling safe and valued and enjoying the challenges of the work. Sure, there were a few teachers or students who I didn’t get along with so well, perhaps a bully or two who said some mean things that have stuck with me, and a few project assignments that didn’t go as planned. But it really wasn’t until I had kids of my own in school facing challenges that the memories of the negative stuff resurfaced, and I got a more comprehensive view of the school experience.

My kids had a few terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. These issues and episodes reminded me of times in my own life I had forgotten, and they also highlighted to me how little control I had as a parent to protect my kids from these kinds of things. Which is one of the reasons we must surrender our kids to God and trust that He will protect them or use any suffering and sadness for their growth and ultimate benefit.

Many kids have a much harsher school experience. Severe learning or behavioral disabilities, gun violence, an unstable home life, language challenges and communication issues make school beyond difficult. And thanks to social media, teasing and torment doesn’t stop at the schoolyard gate, it follows kids home on their phones and computers. Add to that the stressful, fear-based daily news and the pressure to succeed and we shouldn’t wonder why so many young people today are suffering from anxiety and depression.

The world is not going to change, at least not right away. Therefore, it is up to us, as prayerful people, to intentionally pray for our schools, our children, our teachers, staff, bus drivers, crossing guards, and daycare workers, etc. We can daily pray for a hedge of protection to be placed around them, and for God’s will to be done in their lives and their schools. We can look for ways to support our local schools and teachers. We can be the first ones called when they need supplies, books, or a fundraiser for equipment. We can volunteer our time to assist teachers, do admin work, or help out on the playground or in the cafeteria. We can’t go to the schools and preach Jesus, but we can preach His message silently by being salt and light as His hands and feet and by showing His compassion and care.

It's a different time now, and school is not as safe and nurturing as it once was. Complaining, worrying and crying won’t accomplish much. Instead drop down to your knees (in spirit if necessary) and start and keep praying. Prayer changes things. Prayer accomplishes God’s will. Prayer puts God’s power into action. Pray without ceasing.


Dear Lord, I pray for the students as they head off into a new school year. I pray as well for the teachers, professors, administrators, staff, custodians, bus drivers, safety personnel, aftercare workers and volunteers in our schools. May they all be sustained by your blessing. May You keep each one surrounded by Your hedge of protection and lead them in Your will. And remind me to support their call to teaching and learning and surround them with constant prayer, love and care as well. Amen.



Apple of Your Eye

Apple of Your EyeFor the Lord’s portion is his people,
    Jacob his allotted inheritance.

In a desert land he found him,
    in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
    he guarded him as the apple of his eye,

-- Deuteronomy 32:9-10

Apple of your eye. The phrase comes from a Hebrew expression that literally means 'little man of the eye.’ It refers to the tiny reflection of yourself that you can see in other people's pupils. To be the apple of someone's eye clearly means that you are being focused on and watched closely by that person. Your very image is central in the eyes of that person!

It is astounding and comforting to know that in a world of 8 billion people, you and I are the Apple of God’s eye, shielded, cared for and guarded by the Most High. In a world of ‘bad apples,’ the ever-present Lord of the Universe has adopted us as His precious children and given us an inheritance in His Heavenly Kingdom. At a time when the world’s ways seem ‘rotten to the core,’ we are apples dipped in honey, representing the sweetness of this life. And although it often feels like ‘mixing apples and oranges,’ we are called to love both the believers and unbelievers, friends and enemies, even those who mean us harm. Love them and pray for them.

And just as ‘the apple never falls far from the tree,’ we should never be found far from our source, our roots, our True Vine, Jesus. Because ‘an apple a day might keep the doctor away,’ but Jesus is the only One who can keep that worm, Satan away. The devil is always on the prowl trying to ‘upset the applecart.’ He’s ‘one bad apple trying to spoil the whole bunch.’ That’s why it’s so important to always be ready to share the Good News with everyone we encounter because we may not get ‘a second bite of that apple.’

I don’t think it would be ‘polishing the apple’ to say that we owe absolutely everything – all that we have, all that we are and all that we ever will be – to Jesus, the one who daily hears our prayers, shows us the wonders of His great love, and gives us refuge in the shadow of His wings. Because ‘as sure as God made little green apples,’ we will reap the reward for our steadfast trust, obedience and worship. There is a place in the Heavenly orchard prepared just for us! ‘How do you like them apples?’

PRAYER: I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me. (Psalm 17:6-9)

Bushels of Blessings,


Grow Old Along with Me

Our DreamMy beloved is mine and I am his;
    he browses among the lilies.
 Until the day breaks
    and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved,
    and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag
    on the rugged hills.

(Song of Songs 2:16-17)

If you’ve ever been to a wedding, or seen one in movies, you’ve probably been struck by a couple of things. See that ceremony in your mind’s eye.  The bride looks radiant. Far beyond her physical beauty on the day, the radiance exudes from her overflow of love, joy, pride and all the other overwhelming emotions that make her positively glow. Now look at the groom. In his eyes you can see the love. You can see how much he cherishes her. You can see his devotion to her. It’s as if there were no one else in the room, or even the world, at that moment he first beholds her.

Now here is a truth that is often hard for me to grasp: God loves YOU in exactly that way.

God’s people are often described as brides:

for the Lord delights in you
    and will claim you as his bride.
Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem,
    just as a young man commits himself to his bride.
en God will rejoice over you

as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

(Isaiah 62:4-5)

And later in the New Testament, God’s people are the brides of Christ, the Lamb:

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.  (Revelation 21:9-10)

Reading any of the Books of the Prophets you will immediately find that an angry Almighty God compares the idolatry of His people to adultery. His Covenant with us is like the covenant of marriage. He expects loyalty and faithfulness in return for the unconditional love and sacrifice He gives us.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Regarding our relationship with the Lord as a marriage, we need to approach it with the same level of fidelity and lifelong commitment as we would our earthly marriage – more, in fact.

“…to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.”

I remember something about “to honor and obey” as well, and of course, death will not part us from our Heavenly groom. But through all of the joys and sorrows of life, the Lord loves us with an everlasting love. He draws us to himself and holds us unfailingly. So much so, that He promises that nothing will ever be able separate us: I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:28)

The “Song of Solomon (or Songs),” found right after Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, is a dialogue between a Groom and His bride. I find it very easy to read as an expression of human love. Well, maybe not ‘easy’ because parts make me blush. But that is the challenge! My challenge to you and to myself is to read it as a dialogue between you and Jesus, describing the very intimate, ecstatic, joyful relationship and union He wants us to experience with us. This is not the awe and splendor of a King on a throne, or the respect and praise due to a Father with authority and judgment. Those give us a little distance. But Christ is that Bridegroom at the altar, looking down the aisle at you, meeting your eyes, loving every bit of you, seeing only the best, most beautiful and authentic aspects of you. He’s the new spouse who sees every single part of you, every single habit, manner and idiosycrazy and is still filled with love for you and total devotion to you. He’s the spouse who’s been with you for 40, 60, 80 years, who can finish your sentence or sit in perfect silence beside you, knowing your thoughts, your needs, and what will bring a smile to your face.

It's a dizzying thought, that the Almighty God who holds galaxies in orbit not only cares for human beings, but for you - personally and specifically - listening to every prayer, collecting every tear, numbering every hair on your head and cherishing every moment together.

Your In-Law in Christ,


The Narrow Path

Right PathBut small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

In my quest for a healthier lifestyle, I’ve been doing a lot of walking lately. In the Hereford Zone we are blessed to have some really great trails nearby with water views, wildflowers, wildlife and history. I walk on the NCR Trail daily, but on the weekends, I like to venture further for longer hikes. I think I’ve established in previous posts what a fan I am of mountains and mountain views. Those are my preferred destinations.

Watching a documentary recently, I was once again reminded that for most of human history mountains have been obstacles rather than destinations. Here in Cumberland, Maryland, The National Road, built between 1811 and 1834, crossed the Appalachian mountains to unify our young country and was the first federally funded road in U.S. history. That was truly a gateway to the west. I often imagine farmers and city folk packing up their belongings in Conestoga wagons and weaving their way over dangerous mountain passes. If they found the eastern mountains challenging, they could not begin to imagine the Rockies or the Sierra-Nevadas.

This was even more true in Biblical times when travelers faced steep, rocky paths always on the lookout for water and wild animals. For them, I imagine the promise in Isaiah 40:4 really sounded like a wonderful miracle: Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

I can move along the relatively level NCR trail quickly and easily. It’s paved with gravel in most places and it’s wide enough to walk side by side and still let bicycles pass. But those trails up to the high places are another story. Usually narrow, often filled with rocks, boulders and roots, you have to slow down and watch your step. I think slowing down and watching your step is exactly what Jesus was alluding to when He spoke of the Narrow Gate and the Narrow Road. We want our Christian Walk to be like a garden path, but more often it’s like a hike up a mountain – challenging, sometimes exhausting, sometimes dangerous, always full of obstacles, and easy to lose your way or trip you up if you don’t stay alert. And like a mountain hike, there are usually some great moments of exhilaration along the way when you catch a glimpse of the view and see how far you’ve come.

I recently learned that some brave souls go ‘trail running.’ Throwing caution to the wind, they leap, hop and race up and down mountain trails. Watching them reminded me of nature shows about Big Horn Sheep or Ibexes who have feet especially made for leaping around on the tiniest crags in the steepest mountains. If our feet were like that, even the Alps and the Himalayas would be no obstacle for us at all. We could leap and skip over obstacles that used to seem daunting as easily as we now drive and fly over mountain ranges that used to separate peoples and nations for centuries.

So, consider the truths in Psalm 18:30-33:

As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.

 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?

 It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.

 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights.

Yes, with Christ we walk a Narrow Path filled with challenges and obstacles, but we do not walk alone. God is our Rock and He arms us with strength and the security of knowing our final destination. But more than that, he trains and disciplines us until our feet are like the feet of deer and we begin to leap and hop higher and higher upward, easily surmounting obstacles and dangers that used to cause us to stumble or stop.

Remember, too, that the Narrow Path, like a mountain trail, is often winding with some switchbacks and descents. You may feel you’ve lost your way or that you are merely wandering. As J.R.R. Tolkien wisely said, ‘Not all those who wander are lost.” Interestingly, Wander is the German word for hiking. So, as long as you stay on the Path, regularly consulting the map of God’s will and the trail blazes in God’s Word, with your deer's feet, you will reach the summit.

Happy Hiking,



SonglassesFor this people’s heart has become calloused;

    they hardly hear with their ears,

    and they have closed their eyes.

Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

    hear with their ears,

    understand with their hearts

and turn, and I would heal them.’

Matthew 13:15

Our senses are a funny thing. It is very possible to hear sound, but not understand what it is or what it means. It’s also possible to be looking at something and still not see it (just ask my kids!) It’s also easy to fool our senses. Think of the coconut shells they use to mimic the sound of horses galloping in movies, mirages in the heat or the optical illusion illustration that asks if you’re looking at a beautiful young woman or an old lady. So, perhaps it’s natural that God would use these everyday experiences to communicate to us about Spiritual things. It’s really a two-step process of seeing AND perceiving, hearing AND understanding.

When I was a senior in High School, I attended a youth group at a local church. I was not a believer, but I was trying hard to comprehend what being a believer truly meant. I knew it was a serious decision and I didn’t want to commit to something that I couldn’t follow through on. During that time, I remember picking up my grandmother’s Bible and trying to read the Book of John. I was smart and literary, but it completely confounded me. I remember thinking that it sounded like the kind of thing Gurus would say and everyone around them would respond: ah, yes, yes.

Many years later, at a low point when I was completely stressed and had reached a place where I knew I had failed as boss of my life, all the messages I had heard about Jesus over the years came back to me. In desperation I cried out to Him and signed on as a disciple figuring that whatever it required HAD to be better than the mess I had made for myself. In that moment, something happened. The world seemed to shift somehow, and I felt that, like Paul, something like scales fell from my eyes. The world had not changed, and I had not changed, but the way I saw the world completely changed. Suddenly, I was perceiving, not just seeing. Commercials I had seen many times before suddenly bothered me with their overly sexualized messages – I couldn’t bear to watch them. And this time when I picked up the Bible, it enlightened my understanding immediately. It so thoroughly captivated me that I couldn’t put it down.

It was THE most transformative moment of my life, but it has been very difficult to explain to other Atheists and unbelievers. I can see in their eyes that I might as well be talking about crystals or ghosts or alien abduction. Like the blind man healed by Jesus, or John Newton the former slave trader, I’m left with “all I can tell you is I once was blind but now I see.” Or as Mary Magdalen on The Chosen said, “I was one way, and now I am completely different, and the thing that happened in between was Jesus.”

When we put on SONglasses, we see the world differently. We start seeing what God sees, to the extent that’s possible. We see the sin that is rotting this world. We see that the heart of the problem is a problem of the heart. We begin to notice the people we used to walk past without a thought. But we also see the light of the world, the small good deeds, the quiet servants, the beauty of creation, the everyday, ordinary miracles, the movement of God in schools, churches, countries, regions. We see how powerful prayer is. We recognize the limits of evil. And when we look in the mirror, we begin to see Jesus.

With our SONglasses on we can stop worrying and relax. We can rest in the secure knowledge that Jesus has conquered sin and death. That we, too, are overcomers, victors, conquerors! That nothing is impossible with God. That “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4) If God is for us, who can ever be against us? … nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31, 38-39)

So put on your Songlasses and relax!

Blessings of Summer,


Nailing Jesus to the Cross

Once and For AllBut he was pierced for our transgressions,

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

    and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

    each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all.

-- Isaiah 53:5-6

This is going to sound like an Easter message, but sometimes it’s good to hear things when you don’t expect to. At VBS this year, this was our Gospel presentation. It’s always hard to talk to kids about trials, capital punishment and death, but this particular lesson really brought it down to kid-level. And I’ll admit, it made me look at this story and my part in it a little differently. I hope it will have an impact on you too.

We started by reminding the kids that Jesus lights the way with love and caring. Even in His final hours he cared for us enough to endure a lot of hurts.


Jesus knew He would be betrayed by a friend, but He let it happen. Have you ever betrayed someone? Turned your back on them or told their secret? I have. It hurts when a friend betrays us. Jesus was willing to be betrayed because He loves us.


The soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden and Jesus reminded everyone there that He could call to His Father and have legions of Angels protect Him. But He allowed himself to be arrested and then deserted by His friends. Have you ever deserted someone? Turned away when they needed help? I know I have. It hurts to be deserted. Jesus was willing to be deserted because He loves us.


After Jesus was arrested, the soldiers spit in His face and beat Him with their fists. Have you ever physically hurt someone? I know I have. It’s ugly and mean, but Jesus was willing to be hurt and beaten because of His great love for us.


The soldiers made a crown of thorns and jammed it on His head and then pretended to bow down and worship Him, mocking and making fun of Him. Have you ever made fun of someone? I have. It hurts to be mocked and made fun of, but Jesus was willing to go through it because He loves and cares for us.


Jesus had never sinned, but He was willing to take the punishment of death for my sins. And for your sins. It was our sins that nailed Jesus to that cross.

When we betray or desert a friend, we nail Jesus to the cross.

When we hit or hurt someone, we nail Jesus to the cross.

When we mock or make fun of someone, we nail Jesus to the cross.


But Jesus’ love for us is more powerful than sin and death. Jesus was willing to die on the cross to take the punishment for our sins. And when He came back to life three days later, He defeated death! When we believe in Jesus, all of the wrong things we do are forgiven and we can be with Him forever in Heaven! I’m so thankful for Jesus and the way that He loves and cares for us!

That was a powerful day at VBS. And having to say that I did all those things, which of course I have, really made it very personal, especially when it came to admitting that those same sins nailed Jesus to the cross. It‘s easy to think of Jesus dying for ‘my sins’ or ‘all our sins,’ which generalizes it out into an abstraction. But bringing it smaller and more personally to ‘Jesus died for my lie on my Income Tax,’ or ‘Jesus died for my mean gossip,’ or ‘Jesus died for the swear word I used driving down the highway,’ well, then there’s the pinch of guilt and regret that leads to true repentance.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross so our sins can be forgiven. Thank you for defeating death by coming back to life. Thank you for making a way for us to live with you in Heaven. Thank you for loving and caring for us so much. In Your name we pray. Amen.



God Cares "Fur" You

Puppy Paradise rescanGive all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. -- 1 Peter 5:7

Last week was Vacation Bible School at Hereford F&L Church. Our theme was Pets Unleashed, discovering how Jesus cares ‘fur’ us. We hadn’t had one since 2019 and I had no idea how it would go. We switched the format to evening as well. Thanks to prayers we had more kids sign up right before it started. And thanks to the hard work of two Teacher Moms and a bunch of volunteers, it was brilliant.

One of the best things about teaching kids is that the message is presented very simply with plenty of object lessons and analogies. I find that I actually learn more from these simplest of lessons than from Bible Study. So, I thought I’d share a little of what we learned with you.

Our first lesson was from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). We picked a few key passages and looked at them in turn. So much good stuff in there!

  1. Salt & Light

Jesus says that we are salt and light. The kids tasted unsalted wafers and salted popcorn to see how salt enhances taste. And a Christians, we should ‘taste good’ to the people we meet, enhancing their lives with love and service. Then we looked at a literal light hid under a basket. We learned that we can’t be ‘undercover Christians,’ we need to shine our light everywhere, telling people the Good News of Jesus Christ and showing love and caring.

  1. The Golden Rule

This is one of Jesus’ teachings that seems simple, but it’s easy to say and much harder to do. The kids practiced their grumpy faces and then their happy faces and we all decided that happy people are much more fun to be around. So, treat others the way you would like to be treated and make sure you have resting smiley face and not a perpetual frown.

  1. Don’t Worry

Again, easy to say, harder to do. We looked at a variety of flowers and feathers to see how God dresses the flowers and feeds the birds, realizing that He loves us even more, and will abundantly supply our needs too. This is a great time of year to look around at the beauty of the Hereford Zone and its wild inhabitants to spark some gratitude for God’s creative abundance.

  1. Finally, we learned about the Lord’s Prayer and how it is a blueprint for all our prayers. Using our fingers to count, we identified 5 principles in the prayer: Praise, Purpose, Provision, Pardon and Protection. This one was an insight I had not had before, but you better believe I will be saying my prayers counting on my fingers now.

And of course, we discussed how all of the above are commands that Jesus gave us for our own benefit so that we can have the happiest, godliest, most abundant life possible. God’s rules are to keep us safe and happy and to help us grow, just like crates, fences and leashes keep our pets safe and happy even though they don’t seem pleasant to the pets sometimes. Additionally, pets require our sacrifice to clean up after them, fix what they mess up, and build a relationship with them. And Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to clean up our sin, fix the punishment we deserved and restore our relationship with God.

And that was all just on day one! Whew!



Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Jumpshot textI will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Marvelous are Your works,

And that my soul knows very well.

Psalm 139:14

A couple of months ago, while Spring was in full swing, I decided I better weed the front gardens before they were completely engulfed by weeds. I donned my gardening gloves, and being very careful, I methodically yanked out thistles, maple tree sprouts, weeds and vines.

A couple of days passed, and I examined myself for blisters or itchy spots, knowing that I had had reactions to some of those vines before. Nothing! But on the third day, there were tiny blisters. Day four and the blisters came together to form huge blisters. Day five and both arms from wrist to elbow and beyond were covered in extremely itchy blisters. It was on my shin, both cheeks, one eyelid, my back and my stomach. The culprit: Virginia Creeper, an invasive vine containing tiny crystals that get and stay on everything. It’s only poisonous to those who are sensitive to it, and I won that sad lottery.

At the peak of it’s intensity, I looked like a leper. The inflamed skin was dark red, the blisters oozed, and the itchiness was unbearable. Luckily, with the help of steroids, I began to heal. And the healing was very quick. Even in the course of a day I could see a difference. First my cheeks and eyelid cleared up, then my back and stomach. And when it receded in those areas, it was just like it never happened, no scabs, no scars, just gone. My arms and shin took longer, with scabbing and discoloration.

Today, I still have a bit of redness on one arm. But mostly it’s completely healed. And it’s left me really wondering about the biological mechanisms that could bring about such a radical transformation. How amazing it is that raised blisters dry up to form an ugly scab, under which perfect new skin forms?! Skin that still has my freckles and moles right where they were.

During this same time, I watched several documentaries on ‘food as medicine,’ and I became even more amazed at the body’s natural healing processes. Eat the wrong kind of foods and you could end up with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and more. However, just by changing your diet, every one of those conditions can be made better or reversed! They showed an image of a fatty liver, with noticeable fat cells floating around. But within months, on an improved diet the liver was back to normal, with no fat cells!

On my journey of weight loss, I wondered where does the weight I lose actually go? It turns out that the fat is metabolized and broken down into water, most of which is eliminated through breathing! Muscles are created by stressing them by lifting heavy things or doing hard work which creates tiny tears in the tissue. When the body repairs that tissue, muscle mass increases! And the work of breathing out fat and repairing muscle tissue mostly happens at night while we’re asleep which is why a good night’s sleep is so important!

There are so many more amazing things about our bodies! But the most important thing is that they were created by Almighty God, in His image. They are the Temple of the Holy Spirit – God IN us! And for that reason alone, they are worthy of love and care. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Made in the image of God, and yet no two are alike – even identical twins. We have learned a lot about anatomy and biology, and yet we still can’t agree on what life or consciousness is. We are quite literally made of stardust, and each of us carries a spark of the Divine: creativity, a conscience, a soul and spirit. We have an endless capacity to love and to dream.

And because God’s mercies are new every morning, and because Jesus has forgiven us all our sins, we have the same ability to be healed and renewed and regenerated as our bodies do. Any guilt, shame or fear can dry up and fall away like an ugly scab, revealing perfect wholeness. And because our greatest desire is to love God and love others, we must first love and care for ourselves. Not in a vain or selfish way, but in a nurturing, encouraging way because we understand that we cannot love others well if we are stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, or neglecting our physical, mental and spiritual health. So, eat some veggies, go for a walk, and give yourself a hug, you’re worth it!

PRAYER: Lord, thank you so much for all the ways I am fearfully and wonderfully made! Teach me to love and accept myself -- even with flaws, even as I age -- the way You love and cherish me. Help me to honor and nurture my body, Your temple, so that my life might be a living sacrifice of service to You and others.