What is Beauty?

How do you define Beauty? A beautiful person, a beautiful day, a beautiful song…

I recently went to a beauty pageant. I grew up watching the Miss America Pageant. It was fun to dream about being the most beautiful contestant and to be the winner. The problem was, I did not usually agree. I understood that there were judges who had the responsibility to make their choice but they rarely chose who I would choose. 

The pageant I went to was with little girls. They were all beautiful. Yes, some had been in many pageants and had everything from a suitcase that folded out to be a makeup table with mirrors to the power strips to plug in all of their curling irons. Some knew how to walk and how to turn. Some had very expensive dresses. There were some that were there just to get all dressed up and have fun. There were many in this category. They were precious. The pageant started out with babies. How does anyone decide which baby girl in tutus, ruffles, and bows is the most beautiful? Then there were several different age categories during the pageant. It was cute to watch the girls sitting in the audience with their friends waiting for their turn. The giggles, the twirls, the looking at each other’s dresses…….

 I would never make a good judge. 

I know that judges have certain things they look for and have a judging process. I get that. Yes, I know it was a beauty pageant. The judges were looking on the outside – The overall package, the dress, the hair, the makeup, the walk, the poise. All of the things that come from their definition of beauty. It was a pageant, after all.

It is just that is not how I define “Beauty.” Do you know the expression “Beauty is as beauty does?” One of the most beautiful ladies I have ever known would have never won a beauty contest. She would have never have even considered it. She was burned as a child. She never thought of herself as being beautiful and yet she was the first to help in time of need. She was the best cook and she took the best food to those who needed to feed their family in a time of crisis. She could sew and would make beautiful clothes for those who could not clothe their children. She loved the Lord. Her beauty came from inside. I don’t remember her name after all these years but I remember that she was always there and she could always be counted on. Her beauty came from the heart and from all that she was.

It is just that is not how I define “Beauty.” Do you know the expression “Beauty is as beauty does?” One of the most beautiful ladies I have ever known would have never won a beauty contest. She would have never have even considered it. She was burned as a child. She never thought of herself as being beautiful and yet she was the first to help in time of need. She was the best cook and she took the best food to those who needed to feed their family in a time of crisis. She could sew and would make beautiful clothes for those who could not clothe their children. She loved the Lord. Her beauty came from inside. I don’t remember her name after all these years but I remember that she was always there and she could always be counted on. Her beauty came from the heart and from all that she was.

Are you beautiful? What kind of beauty do you have? Does the Beauty of our Lord splash out from you when you walk past people? 

Isaiah 52:7 NIV “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news…” 

Psalm 139:14  “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

1 Samuel 16:7  But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

I am not big on participation trophies either, but I was so happy to see that all of the girls received a Princess trophy. They were all beautiful!

When the Power Isn’t There

My car was packed and I was ready to go. As I pressed the Start button, all I heard was Click, Click, Click. My  first thought was that maybe my foot was not securely on the brake so I tried again.

Click, Click, Click, was the only sound I heard. Questions started running through my mind like Do I have the remote, Are the indicator lights on, Is there a message on the dashboard? I thought Ok now, let me try this again. Just because it didn’t start the first two times doesn’t mean it won’t start the third time. The car went Click and then everything was silent.

As I got out of my car, I reached for my phone and then reached back in the car for the remote. As I closed the door, my car locked and refused any more instructions. The remote was charged but the car was not.

As I went back in the house and figured how my fingers were going to get my remote off the keyring, I was thankful for that tiny key that I knew was inside of the remote that would ultimately unlock my car. That tiny key would be the only way that I could open the car and pull the hood release. Without that key, nothing could be done for my car. That one, tiny key that I had always known was in there but I had never even seen would provide a way for getting the necessary help I needed. That key was part of the car maker’s plan to get the driver out of trouble if the battery went dead.

God has provided us with a key to help us get out of trouble. His Word has all of the answers.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105 NIV

God’s Word is the lamp that provides the energy to make the light to guide us on our way. With God’s Word, we have the power to move forward. God’s Word provides the charge we need for our daily life.

Sometimes God works to get through to us in the silence, that moment when everything seems dim. God is always with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)

God has little nuggets throughout his Word to make it possible for us to move forward with our day. Do you need a Word from God today? It is right there for you in His Word. Even if you do not have a physical copy of God’s Word, you have your phone. Go to the search and type in what you are feeling and then the word, scripture. Let God speak to you. Let him give you that charge you need to send you on your way.

The Theology of a Two-year-old

One of the sweetest sounds in the world is the voice of a child.

My 2 year old granddaughter is increasing her vocabulary, but still has long dissertations that have no word that even remotely sounds familiar. Today she has been singing “It’s a Small, Small World” at the top of her lungs. She doesn’t sing all of the words, but enough that she stays on track and I know what she is singing. We always sing when I am rocking her at bedtime.

Tonight, we sang our songs and then she started singing “Happy Birthday” to every member of both families. Then she was counting, and then she started talking in words that I couldn’t understand. My mind began to wander to the events of the day in Washington D. C. and our nation. I was thinking about the distress of the two sides that have formed in our country. I began to hear familiar words from my granddaughter singing “red, yellow, black, white….. precious in His sight, Jesus loves the children of … world…for the Bible tells me so.” How precious are the words of a child. She is listening. I pray that these words will always be in her heart and on her lips.

There is a part of me that worries about the children of today. What kind of world are we leaving to them? How will they survive. I recently saw a Facebook post about how God could have pulled Joseph out of the pit his brothers had put him in, but then he wouldn’t have ended up in Egypt to save his family from the famine. God could have kept Esther out of the king’s palace, but then she wouldn’t have been able to go to the king to save her people. God could change what is going on in our nation, but He is teaching us as He calls forth His faithful. I hope I am here to see the fulfillment of what He will do with His faithful in the years to come. We, like those in the Bible, do not always see the fulfillment of the covenant, but God is always faithful.  He always keeps his promises. Praise the Lord. 

Dear Heavenly Father, 

I give you my children and grandchildren to protect and to use for your glory. Help us to train them up in the way that they should go so that when they are old, they will not depart from it. May they grow in wisdom, stature, and in favor with you, Lord and with those around them.

In Jesus’ Holy Name I pray. 

Amen

God’s Special Spot for You

Each week as I travel to my daughter’s house, I pass through a very large intersection. It is a Crossroad of two 4-lane roads with turn lanes. The intersection is bustling with cars no matter what time of day I drive through. As I approach the intersection, I can hear horns blowing from many directions. They are not blowing at other cars but at the man on the corner. The man with the cowboy hat. The man who doesn’t care if the weather is hot or cold or if it is sunshine or rain. He bundles up in the cold weather and dresses lightly in the summer.

No matter what the temperature is, he always has on his cowboy jacket and his cowboy hat. He is there with his signs that say Jesus loves you and Jesus Saves both in English and Spanish. He waves at all the people from both directions. He acknowledges the horns that are blown to encourage him accompanied by a wave back in his direction. This is his spot of service. He has been there for years.  I look for him every time I drive through. He walks back and forth in his spot sharing a smile and a wave with his sign declaring Jesus’ love and salvation. 

God does not call all of us to stand on a corner day after day, but He does call us all to ministry. What is that special spot that God has called you to serve? 

Lue 2:36-37 (ESV) tells about Anna – “And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.”

Matthew 5:16 (ESV) – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

What spot on this earth has God placed you on to do service to him? Are you covering that spot with ministry? Are you sharing the love of Jesus with those who cross your path? Do people who see you as they pass your way see Jesus?

Matthew 25:40 (NIV) – “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us”.

Serve wherever God has planted you! “Serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

The Blessing

What does it take to be a blessing?

How beautiful it is to be blessed. We can receive a blessing from the most unexpected places.

A very dear friend of mine has recently gone to be with the Lord. His wife, Sandra, is one of my dearest friends. Vernon had a stroke several years ago and his speech was affected. Sometimes he could be understood and sometimes I could not understand anything he said. Vernon loved to tell stories. He was a big talker and always had a story to tell. I loved to just listen to him talk so when the stroke took away most of his speech, it was difficult. Many times he would talk and no words could be understood.

One of the last times I saw him before he died will always be a special memory for me. I took his favorite soup, Panera’s broccoli and cheddar soup, for Vernon and Sandra to have for lunch. Sandra put the meal out on the table and helped Vernon get to his chair. As she sat down, he looked at her and said, “Blessing.” That word was so clear. Sandra began to pray and ask God to bless their food. Then Vernon prayed. The prayer went straight from his heart to the ears of the Lord. He prayed passionately and joyfully. Even though I did not understand any of the words he prayed, I know that God did. The God who created Vernon heard and understood each and every syllable. The God who loved Vernon before he was even born, understood the prayer of his heart and his thankfulness for the food.

The God who knew the number of Vernon’s days accepted Vernon into heaven a few short weeks later. How beautiful that greeting must have been. Vernon was completely healed. He was able to worship his Lord and Savior not only with his heart but with his words. He heard Matthew 25:23, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

I will never forget hearing this blessing. I will always be blessed by a blessing heard only by God. Thank you Lord for Vernon. 

20/20 Vision: I Am Becoming My Mother

Making cookies has always been fun for me. My Mother and I baked many different kinds of cookies. She never needed a reason to bake cookies. I now enjoy making cookies with my granddaughters. They do not want the kind of cookies that have premade dough. They want to actually “make” the cookies. It is amazing how big of a mess two little girls can make while making cookies but that is part of the fun.

Recently, we were making cookies, and I was trying to read the recipe off of the chocolate chip bag. The print has been getting smaller and smaller on those bags. I was trying to read how much sugar was supposed to go in the recipe. The fraction was printed so small that I couldn’t read it. I knew my choices would be ¼, ½, or ¾ but I just could not see enough of a number to figure out what it was. I took my glasses off and still couldn’t read it. Then, I put my glasses back on and tried to adjust my glasses through all the progressions that my glasses have. I finally found a tiny area of my lens that could read the fraction. The recipe called for ¾ of a cup of sugar. Note to self: buy a magnifying glass for the kitchen. I was reminded of the first time my mother had to ask me to read a recipe for her. I thought it was funny and started laughing. She told me to stop laughing and tell her what the recipe was. I know my Mother would have gotten a big laugh from me struggling to figure out how much of the sugar I needed.

What is an area of your life that you cannot see clearly? Do you need spiritual glasses to help you to see?

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If you need clarity in your life, look to Jesus. He is the way. Even if you cannot see clearly, look to Jesus and your vision will clear for him to help you to see the way he has prepared for you. 

Searching for the Light

Have you ever looked in the sky to see a search light? When my brothers and I were young, businesses would set up huge search lights to send out strong lights into the night sky. You could see them for miles around. Sometimes there would be just one light but others times there would be many lights all starting from the same place circling through the sky. We would climb into our car and go out in search of these lights. The light was on a rotating base and would move in a circle around the sky. We would watch for it as we moved in the direction of the beginning point of the light. My Daddy would zigzag through the roads to look for where the light was shining. There was so much excitement when we would finally find the business that was using the search lights. We would get out of the car and be so overjoyed because we had found the reason for the light. There would usually be refreshments or something fun going on. It was a celebration! We had Found the Light!!

As I think about lights in the sky, I cannot not help but think of the Star that the Wise Men saw. They knew the stars in the sky. They knew that there were stars that stayed in position and other stars that were moving stars that we understand to be planets. The Wise Men were probably mathematicians that had mapped out the heavens. They would have known the stars and would have identified them, so they would have been excited and filled with wonderment about a new star that appeared. The Wise Men were diligently looking to the heavens so they recognized the new star.

If the star was so visible in the sky, why did King Herod’s advisors not see the star?

They were not looking for it. They were not diligently studying the heavens.

Jeremiah 29:13 says, “Your will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

In John 8:12 (ESV), Jesus tells us “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” 

Are you looking for the Light? 

Are you seeking Jesus?

The iPhone Dilemma

My husband and I have 2 granddaughters, 5 years and almost 2 years. They have loved our iPhones for quite a while. Even the little one loves to have possession of a phone. While the baby had my phone, she seemed very frustrated and could not find the apps she usually uses. I looked at my phone to see what was wrong and realized all of my apps were wiggling. For anyone that has an iPhone you know that this means apps can be deleted.

Sure enough, I was missing quite a few apps and my apps were in the wrong place. Not only had she deleted my apps, she had rearranged them. Even though my apps were saved to the cloud, I ended up having to restore my phone to a previous setting. Thanks to my husband, I was able to recover apps from the cloud as I realized which apps were missing. My phone was a mess but it was back to the way it had been previously. Everything that was missing could be restored from the cloud. Even though the apps were deleted, they were actually still there. I could go to “the cloud” to find them. (When I say I could do this, what I mean is my husband/tech support could do it.) The apps were not really gone.

Thankfully, that is not the way forgiveness works. When God forgives our sins, he deletes them. God does NOT store our sins anywhere. When we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, His blood deletes our sins. He restores us to the original created person with all of the plans he has for our lives.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” John 1:9 NIV

Psalm 51:10-12 ESV Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

He knows the plans he has for us. He orders our steps. 

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God not only forgives our sins, He throws our sins away. 

Psalm 103:12 tells us “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” 

How far is that? The further you go West, the further away East is. The further you go East, the further away West is. Our God is so forgiving. He would never go to “the Cloud” and download our sins for us to remember. Are there consequences for sin, Yes.  Just like my phone being “messed up”, we can mess up our lives but God is faithful. When we call on him, he is always there.

Romans 10:13 says, “for whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Isaiah 40:31 NKJV “But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”

1 Peter 5:10 ESV “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

Don’t go fishing in the sea of forgetfulness to remember sin that God has forgiven. 

 

Metamorphosis

Butterflies are one of the most beautiful creations that God made. I especially love Monarch butterflies. As my husband and I were returning home from a quick trip to the grocery store, I glimpsed my first Monarch butterflies of the season. What a beautiful sight. This reminded me of our trip to Pensacola in the fall.

We were eating in an outdoor restaurant and there were Monarch butterflies everywhere we looked. As we returned to our car, there were Monarchs nestled together on shrubbery and trees. They were huddled in groups. I had never seen so many Monarchs. On the news that evening, they spoke of the Monarch migration. It made sense as to why we were seeing so many Monarchs.

animal-beautiful-biology-bloom-675313Those tiny butterflies were traveling to Mexico. Many had already come long distances. Some had flown all the way from Canada. How do they know where to go? There are only a few mountains in central Mexico where Monarchs migrate for the winter. The oyamel fir trees provide the perfect place for them to survive. These butterflies will never return to the beaches of Pensacola because when it is time to migrate back to the summer places, they lay eggs and those little caterpillars grow and then form their chrysalis where they blossom into a beautiful Monarch butterfly. It can take 4 or 5 generations of Monarchs to get back to their summer breading ground. How do they know where to go?

While the Monarch Butterfly only lives 15 to 50 days, something amazing happens when the butterfly starts to migrate to Mexico. The Monarch becomes a super butterfly that will live around eight months. This butterfly has the strength to travel between 2000 to 3000 miles to get to its migration destination. It lives through the winter and then starts the process all over again by laying eggs on the milkweed for the next generation of butterflies.

God our Creator made them with the ability to know where to go in the summer and where to go for the winter. Even though many generations have passed and the butterfly has never been to where it is going, it knows where to go. It is inborn. When it needs the strength to fly over vast amounts of space, God has given the strength and ability to accomplish its task.

We are made by our creator with certain intuitions and abilities. God creates us to be who he wants us to be. Then it is up to us to become who he designed us to be. God also gives us strength and determination to accomplish the tasks that seem more than we can fathom. He gives us the strength to go through more than we think we can handle. We become more than we think we are because of the strength God gives us in times of need. Like the tiny butterfly that can travel 2000 to 3000 miles, we can accomplish amazing things for the Kingdom of God. What is inside of you that you need to let out? What is God trying to do through you? What is your super power for God’s use? If God took such care to design a butterfly with such detail, how much more does God our Father, design us to be His and do His work?

The scripture tells us:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

https://www.monarch-butterfly.com/monarch-butterflies-facts.html

monarch-butterfly-on-flower-1564634

The Praying Place

Not too long ago, my family began to get my Daddy’s house ready to sell. My Daddy had lived a life with rich blessings from the Lord and had made his way to heaven to join my Mother. The house had been their home for almost 30 years. With the help of my brother, my husband, and our family we began the task to get the house ready for sell. My family had already tagged some of the items to go to their own homes, but we were trying to go through closets and boxes to see what needed to be kept and what needed to be thrown away.

Then the time came for the house to go on the market. What a blessing it was when the house sold. The realtor told us that when the young couple walked in the door of the house, they looked at each other and said that this was the one. They had not even seen it yet. They said they felt the Lord there. What a legacy.

If that house could talk, it would tell you of the conversations people had there and how much the Lord was loved and worshipped. I remember leaving the house for the last time with mixed feelings of never returning but thankful for the young couple who bought the house to start their life together. When the last of the papers were signed and the house was officially theirs, I told them about my Daddy and how he was a man of prayer. I told them of the tremendous number of hours that he had spent in prayer for his family, his pastor, his church, his Sunday School class, and the list went on. He had two particular places that he prayed. He loved to pray at the dining room table because he could spread out his Bible that had his prayer list inside. He sometimes journaled his prayers and that gave him room to write. He would also pray in his chair in the corner of the den. He always met the Lord there and they had long conversations in these two locations. I told them that these were places that the Lord met with him daily. If they needed to make an important decision or had a need, these were the two places in the house that had been prayed over the most. 

Where do you pray? Where do you meet God each day? Do you have a particular place that has everything you need to pray and worship the Lord? Where would your family say your praying place is?

The scripture says,

“But when you pray go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”. Matthew 6:6 NIV

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35 NIV

“On the next day, as thy were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray”. Acts 16:13