When Order Becomes Chaos

A new Year brings a clean slate with new beginnings in many areas of my life.

Every few years I get a new address book. This had to be the year. My old address book is coming apart, and several people have moved several times.

My creativity for adding new addresses to pages that already have addresses going in multiple directions, and on top of cracking white out, and with Post-it notes that have lost their stickiness, tells me that it is time to retire this address book for a new one. My plan was to actually have an address book that started out in alphabetical order.

I had scanned my address book at Christmas and added extra pages as work sheets for addresses that were in my phone and that my husband contributed, so I decided to make an Excel spread sheet. Great Idea. Since I have a new computer, I had to find Excel (but that is another story). I worked to make sure that all of my lists were included. This was sort of a yours, mine, and ours endeavor, but I felt like I was successful. I finally had all of the names in my list and I printed the spreadsheet.

diary-2080420_1280Now it was time to start the task of entering the names in my brand-new address book. As I completed the first page I realized that the names were not in alphabetical order. I looked back at my spreadsheet and realized that after all the work of getting all of the names in my computer list, I had forgotten to do that one last thing, to press the one button that would have placed all of the names in ABC order.

I had already messed up my address book but I thought I could fix the rest of the pages, just not the first page. Back to Excel I went and highlighted all of the names and pressed that one magic button that made all the names go in alphabetical order. I printed off the names so that they would be ready to be a guide for the order of my task.

After I completed all of the A names, I tried to flip over to the B tab. Little did I realize that my address book had been moved when I was about to begin my task, and all of my A names had been written on the P page. First of all, I am thankful that a friend introduced me to FriXion pens last year in bible study. They help to erase the mistakes I make when trying to write quickly when taking notes. I just decided to erase everything I had done in my address book and start over.

I know when I get to the P page, I will find remnants of the addresses of the people on the letter A pages but that is just the way it will have to be. My names will only be in order until I need to add someone else anyway. I am not going to try to be perfect. I am going to understand that just because it is a new address book, I do not have to have all of my “ducks in a row.” If I had done something wrong, God would forgive me if I asked Him to so why not forgive myself for something as petty as this? I am much too hard on myself. God sent Jesus to forgive me of my sins before I ever did anything wrong. He knew I would never measure up to the standard of perfection.

My address book is really pretty with its flowers on the outside and its beautiful tabs all lined up in a row, but once I spill a glass of tea or Diet Coke on it, the pages will not be so beautiful. It will not matter that the people on page P were once the people who are now on page A. They are just as important to me and will be loved just as much as if they were written there at the beginning.

I plan to spend this year trying to remember that it is important to do my best even if my best is not perfect. God made me and He loves me for who I am. I intend to enjoy this year even when order becomes chaos.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 ESV 

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV 

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So, I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. Jeremiah 16:1-6 ESV 

A Clear Image

Photography is a favorite hobby of mine. The first camera that I ever used was a box camera. I went to summer camp when I was very young and my mother sent her camera with me so that I could record the fun of camp. The Brownie camera had just made its kodak-2627941_1280debut, so my mother sent her old camera with me to camp. I thought my photographs that were captured on black and white film were beautiful. That was the beginning of my quest to capture moments in time. I remember when Kodak had a commercial with a song about taking pictures. The song asked, “Do you remember? Do you remember the times of your life?”

My photography has graduated from that box camera through the years to many other types of cameras. One of the first items that my then soon to be husband and I purchased together was a 110 camera with a flash. We were so proud of our camera. Because it was a cartridge, 110 film was easy to load. No more pulling a little bit of film from the canister to feed it and wind it just a little and then snap the back shut and wind a little more. Later in our marriage we used several types of 35 mm cameras. We have boxes of pictures and a file cabinet of packages of negatives that are a result of our love of taking pictures.

What is film? you may ask. Google it.

When digital cameras were available, we made the move from film to a camera card. Much of that technology has changed since then. We enjoy setting up backdrops in our home and taking special pictures. A lot of planning goes into those pictures.

beach-camera-cellphone-861099.jpgSo why do I like a camera when I have a phone that takes amazing pictures? Most people never think of cleaning the lens of the camera on their phone. Most people have little specks of dirt or grime that they may not see as they take their picture but it is there. Phones go everywhere with us. If the lens is not clean if affects the picture. Even the best camera only takes great pictures if the lens is clean. When we take pictures with our backgrounds and lights, I remember to check the camera lens because of the extra effort it takes to use a camera. I have to be sure the battery is charged and the camera card has enough space for the pictures I plan to take to record special moments. All that effort is for nothing if the lens is not clean.

Our life is like a camera that records the moments we experience. No matter what kind of camera or phone you have or what filters you use, the actual picture is only as good as the quality of your lens.

Is the lens of your life cloudy? When is the last time you have cleaned it?

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Romans 3:23 tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This tells us that the lens of our life could never be clean enough.

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Scripture tells us that David prayed “Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit in me”. Psalm 51:10 ESV

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Romans 5:8 assures us “that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.

1 John 1:9 NIV tells us “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

These scriptures tell me that Jesus will always be there to cleanse the lens of my life. He died for me so that I could live with Him for all eternity.

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The next time you take a picture, remember to clean the lens of your camera and then, remember who cleanses the lens of your life. Take time to thank The Lord for his cleansing and the love he showed us when he died for us.

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Christmas Cards

Everyone with me sends you greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. ~ Titus 3:15

I love to send Christmas Cards!

As I finished my Christmas Cards tonight, I was reminded of helping to get Christmas cards ready as a child. I can remember my Daddy addressing Christmas Cards when I was a little girl. He was the main letter writer of our family. This was long, long before email. Snail mail was the only way to connect with family and friends. My daddy had a brown leather address book that had the names and addresses of all of the family along with birth dates and phone numbers. The address book contained his beautiful handwriting. He was very careful to keep this precious book up to date. He would address cards to family members and then to friends. Some received a hand written note. He had this wonderful ink pen that no one was allowed to use. He had worked the point to exactly the way he wanted it. When he completed each  card he would call me into the dining room where he was writing the cards. He would tell me to stick out my tongue to lick the flap of the envelopes. I always thought that was fun. Then I would lick the stamp and place it on the front of the envelope. Postage was 4 cents that year.

card-celebration-christmas-749362Life has certainly changed just as Christmas cards have changed through the years. The envelopes come with those little strips that you pull off of the flap to keep from having to lick them. Stamps are 50 cents and have a self adhesive backing so they don’t have to be licked anymore. Even with all of the changes the sentiment on the card it still the same. Merry Christmas! Peace on Earth! Joy to the World! Jesus is Born! So why do I send Christmas cards when I can just post Merry Christmas on Facebook. I just can’t get away from my address book. All those precious people who have crossed my path. Yes, I have an address book in my phone but there is something about that precious book that holds the names and addresses of my family and the friends who touch my life. As I addressed my cards I had the opportunity to share a memory about each person or family and to reflect why they were special enough to have a place in my address book. I also had the opportunity to remember those whose names had been gently crossed through because they have gone to be with the Lord. Each card I addressed has been handled with care and a prayer spoken for each one who would receive a special card. For each name in my address book, I love and appreciate you all year-long, but especially at Christmas when your name is lovingly transferred to the front of a Christmas card with tender care.

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The Giving Christmas

As I look back over the years, I have many wonderful memories of Christmas seasons that I have experienced. There have been Christmases as a child and then a teenager. When I was married, Christmas changed from just my family to include my husband’s family. Then came children and grandchildren. Each new Christmas experience has brought its on special times.

Christmas as a child was full of wonder and joy. There were gifts from Santa and gifts under the tree from my parents. I remember receiving skates and a scooter. There was always a doll from Santa. Even when I was too old for a doll, there was still a baby doll for me at Christmas.

I can remember trying to save my allowance so that I would have a little bit of money to buy gifts for my parents and my brothers. The gifts were never large but they were all I hobby-leisure-model-cars-33074.jpgcould get on a small allowance. The gifts would be a handkerchief for my mother and stationary for my Daddy. I would get little metal cars for my brothers. I was proud of my gifts and so happy to give them to each of my family members.

When I was in college, I had a part-time job at a bank. I remember saving back money from my paychecks so that I could buy “real” presents for Christmas. There was a clock that I thought was so beautiful at a store where my parents shopped for special gifts. The clock was encased in a glass dome. I thought it was the most beautiful clock I had ever loricron-anniversary-clock-95592-281x433.jpgseen. I purchased this clock for my parents for this very special Christmas. It was the first time that I really had the opportunity to buy them special gift. My parents loved the clock and kept it in a special place on the mantel even after it stopped working. They thought it was a beautiful decorative piece and kept it because it was a special gift from me.

When we were cleaning my parents’ home and getting it ready to sell after they had both gone to be with the Lord, I picked up the clock and began looking at it. I know it doesn’t work but it is a reminder of when I learned how wonderful it is to give to others. I will always remember that first Christmas that I had the opportunity to give and not just receive. I will keep this clock as a reminder of the love I felt for my parents that Christmas Day that became my first Giving Christmas.  I will always remember the joy that it gave me to give them a gift that for me was of great value. I know that it is not the cost of a gift that makes it special but the joy that it brings. This is a lesson that I experienced that Christmas season more than 45 years ago, but I remember it each year as I plan my gifts.

Acts 20:35b NIV tells us “It is more blessed to give than to receive. ”

As we think of Christmas, we cannot help but remember the most precious gift of our Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life.”

My gift to my parents pales in comparison to the gift that God gave to us of eternal life with him forever. What an amazing God we have. My prayer this Christmas is to enjoy the spirit of giving throughout this season and to never forget the most wonderful gift I have ever received.

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Invisible Bugs

I had the opportunity to accompany my husband on a recent business trip. He had saved up air miles for me, so I was excited about a week at the beach. Since his usual hotel choice was not located in this area, he spent extra time selecting the place for our stay. He knows I like to stay right on the beach whenever possible because I do not have access to a car when he is on a business trip. He chose an Inn for our stay.

I had never stayed at an Inn, well, except for the Holiday Inn. My mind flashed to Hallmark movies on Nantucket or some island paradise. I thought it was going to be a fun adventure. When we checked in at the Inn, we were told about the amenities available to us. I was so ready for some beach time. Then, I was given a bottle of insect animal-beetle-biology-1114318repellant. I was told about the tiny little bugs that I would not be able to see but were on the beach early in the morning and late in the evening. I thought “oh great!” Not only would I have to be coated in sunscreen but I would need to have bug repellant also. I am not a fan of bugs. I don’t like fat bugs, skinny bugs, walking bugs, flying bugs, big bugs, or little bugs, and especially bugs I cannot see.

As I sat on the beach I would see tiny bugs, but I would know there were bugs that were even smaller than they were. I saw some ants but knew that the bugs were smaller. I didn’t let it spoil my trip bug-hand-insect-1119264but I was very aware of bugs. As I waited for the onslaught of the non-imaginary bugs that were going to attack me at any moment, I was reminded of how what seems like the tiniest of sin can attack.

We think of sin in categories such as being a big sin or a small sin or a sin with a capital “S”. When God sees sin, it is sin. There is no big sin or small sin. Romans 3:23 tells us “For all have sinned.” The Bible doesn’t tell us that there are degrees of sin. God would have told us if that were true and would have defined sin very carefully. God’s Word does not do that. As I thought about the tiny bugs and sin, I compared the tiny bugs to sneaky sins that kind of creep into your life or slip in a back door. The kind that make you think “I didn’t just do that” or “I didn’t just think that.”  God has convicted me lately to be careful what thoughts jump into my head. I want my thoughts to be pure and uplifting instead of critical or mean.

1 Peter 5:8 ESV says

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

So, watch out for those tiny bugs that you cannot see that bite before you know what is happening. Stay aware of the thoughts and activities that start out seemingly harmless but move quickly into a dangerous place. To protect yourself from sin, be sure to wear your spiritual insect repellant every day. The only place I have found spiritual insect repellant is in God’s Word. 

Ephesians 6:10-11  ESV tells us 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”

 

The Moral to the story:

As we were packing up to come back home, my husband asked about the insect repellent. I told him that since I had not been on the beach early or late in the day I had not used it. He asked if I had read the ingredients and I told him that I had not. He said that it contained Hemp which is another name for Cannabis Oil. 

The next time someone offers me insect repellant to protect from invisible bugs, I am going to tell them that I don’t need any weed. I will take my chances with the bugs.

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“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10

Rest

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Locked Out!

Have you ever been locked out?

glass-984457_640I remember as a child that we would get locked out of the house. My Mother would break the window out of the back door to get us back in the house. Then we would go to the hardware store to get glass cut the right size for the replacement window. My Mother got us locked out so many times that she had her own putty knife to help with replacing the window.

car-keys-2653311_640I laugh at this funny memory but I did not think it was so funny when I realized my car had locked itself. I left my keys inside the car one night. I did not know the car had the feature to lock if keys were left in the car. We had not had the car very long at that time. I did not remember the door code. My husband was on a business trip and I could not get in touch with him. It took me several hours to get in my car.

Not long ago I was cooking a special dinner. I had made the dessert the day before. My bacon wrapped beans marinated in Catalina dressing were ready to cook. My ham was also ready to go in the preheated oven. I reached for the handle to the oven and it would not open. I tried again. It did not budge. What was going on? Why would my oven not Household Appliances in modern kitchenopen? After several tries, I called for my husband. Usually when he touches something I am having a problem with, the problem immediately goes away. Not this time. He pulled and tugged but sure enough, the door was locked. Then he did what any self-respecting husband would do – he Googled “Oven door will not open.” He found diagrams of the self-cleaning lock and how it could be bent to lock the door. After he finished with my oven door, it will never lock again!

As I reflected on the locked door, I was reminded of Revelation 3:20: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and sup with him.”

John 3:16 says; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

Salvation is the key to the door of our heart. Jesus will never break a window or tug on the door to get inside of your life. He will wait for you to open the door and invite Him in. Jesus says to us in Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” All He is asking is for us to believe and open our heart to Him.

And then there is this: Romans 10:13 (NKJV) – “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Have you received salvation and opened the door of your heart to Jesus?

If not, say a prayer and unlock the door of your heart. Ask Jesus to come into your life.

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Wisdom from Children’s Books

I was on Facebook this morning and ran across an interesting article called “20 Quotes From Children’s Books Every Adult Should Know” from encurious.com. I enjoyed reading as a child, and I read to my children, so I was interested in the concept and I looked to see which quotes were chosen.

“Promise Me you’ll remember you are Braver than you believe; Stronger than you seem, Smarter than you think.” ~ A.A. Milne

The next was, “A person’s a person No matter how small” ~ Dr. Seuss. I have found a lot of wisdom through the years from Dr. Seuss.

The next quote was, “No act of kindness, No matter how small is ever wasted” ~ Aesop

My mind wandered from the article to think of the scripture from Matthew 25:40 NIV that went along with this quote. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” As I looked back to the first two quotes, I thought about what scripture would go with each of these quotes. The quote from Winnie to Pooh brought me to Luke 2:52 KJV “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and Man.” Then the Dr. Seuss quote took me to Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come unto me and do not hinder them; the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

pexels-photo-206673As I read through the list, my eyes stopped on a quote from The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Braum – “There’s no place like home.”

Home can mean a lot of different things but I consider that Heaven is my home. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:3 NIV.

The quote chosen from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery was: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

My scripture thought for this quote comes from Romans 10:10 NIV which says, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with the mouth that you profess faith and are saved.”

The next quote was by Shel Silverstein which said,

“Listen to the Mustn’ts, child –

Listen to the Don’ts.

Listen to the Shouldn’ts,

the impossibles, the won’ts.

Listen to the never Haves,

Then listen close to me….

Anything can happen, Child,

Anything Can Be.”

My thoughts went to one of my favorite verses. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart And lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him And He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NAS.

Then came my favorite Mary Poppins quote: “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun, You find the fun and Snap! The job’s a game.” ~ P.L. Travers

This took me straight to Ecclesiastes 9:10a “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”

As I continued to read through the list of quotes from children’s books, I came to another of L. Frank Baum’s quotes but this time is was from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. The quote is: “The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.”

My thoughts turned to Jeremiah 1:8 where the scripture says, “ ‘Do not be afraid of them for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.”

When children ask how much they are loved, sometimes the answer is the next quote, “I love you to the Moon and Back.” By Tim Warnes and Amelia Hepworth.

Jeremiah 31:3 tells us “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

poor-2754335_1280Another quote in this list came from Dr. Seuss in “The Lorax.” “Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s Not.”

The Bible tells us in Luke 10:33-37 ESV, “But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”  He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

I continued to read the article where Piglet asked, “How do you spell love?” Pooh replied, “You don’t spell it, you feel it.” ~ A.A. Milner ~ Winnie the Pooh.

John 15:13 tells us, “Greater love has not man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

The last quote was from Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. “Why did you do all this for me?” He asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.” “You have been my friend” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

My thoughts went directly to my all time favorite scripture, John 3:16 ESV, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

As you go through your day, look for God’s word to jump out at you. If God can speak to us through quotes from children’s books, He can speak to us anywhere and through anything. Look for God as you go throughout your day. How is God speaking to you today?

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Salvation – A Personal Story

by Tera Ferguson

The LORD and the Church have always been a part of my life. I was born into a Christian home. My parents were very active in church. My daddy was always either Chairman of the Deacons, Sunday School director or on another committee, and my mother was active in working with children. Both of them sang in the choir. Needless to say we were at the church every time the door was open. I even remember walking to church in the snow one Sunday when the car was iced in. Of course, we couldn’t find my gloves so I remember that my daddy kept one of his hands in his pocket and let me wear one of his big, leather gloves. I also remember joining the church and being baptized when I was very young.mormon-baptism1

Later, when I was a teenager, our youth group was preparing for a mission trip. We were using The Four Spiritual Laws booklet as our evangelistic tool. We were assigned to practice at home so we would not need to read the words but be familiar enough to say what was on each page. As I was practicing in my room, I realized that I did not remember ever praying to ask the Lord to forgive me of my sins and be Lord of my life.

This really began to nag at me. Was I a Christian? The scripture talks about “childlike faith” and “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for of such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14 ESV). So was I saved? I am sure my parents thought I was and that I understood, but I could not remember.

What did I remember? I remembered going to Sunday School and Training Union (the Sunday night classes) and Girls Auxiliary which was the mission organization for girls in my church. My mother always read me Bible stories. I remember walking down the aisle and sitting on the front row. My mother had filled out my membership card. I remember waiting with another little girl to be baptized and wondering if the water was cold. We decided that I should stick my toe in the water, but I don’t remember if the water was cold or warm.

The question remained, Was I saved? I did not like that I was asking this question. I had been in church all of my life. I was going on mission tour for crying out loud. Was I saved!!!

bklt-fourspiritualWell, there was one thing I knew without a shadow of a doubt and that was how to present The Four Spiritual Laws. That afternoon in my own room I went through The Four Spiritual Laws booklet and prayed to receive Christ. I have always felt that I was the first person that I ever led to the Lord. I was baptized to publicly profess my salvation. Was I saved? Yes! There was then, and is today, no question as to whether I am saved. I know that I know.

Do I believe that a person can lose their salvation? No. I do believe that every person should be able to pinpoint the occasion when they received Christ. Maybe you do not know the time or date but you should remember the circumstances of your salvation. Do you know that you know that Jesus is your Lord and Savior? Do you remember when you prayed to receive Christ? If not, now is the time to take care of business. Every Christian has a salvation story? Do you have a story?

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The Four Spiritual Laws is a booklet by Campus Crusade for Christ – Bill Bright Media Foundation.