Friday, December 15, 2017

Touched by an Angel

Oh, my precious Angel!

This week's story is simple, really.
And so dear to my heart.

Like last week, I brought my Bible along for my visit with Angel, and - like last week - she enjoyed listening to the Word of God. And as before, Angel joined in with her "Mmhmm," "Yes, Lord," and "Amen" commentary.
The difference was, this week I suggested we sing after the reading of the Word. Amazing Grace is our go-to song, and we went to it. But then I thought of another one she might know, so I asked, "Do you know, Soon and Very Soon?"
She did.
So we started singing together.
And the thing which was so dear to me is this: After we had sung through a few times I figured Angel would be ready for a rest, so I stopped singing.
But she kept going.
So I joined back in.
We started singing some of the verses, No more crying there. We are going to see the King. And, No more dying there. We are going to see the King. And, because she was experiencing a head ache that day, No more head aches there. We are going to see the King.
And, again, I suspected Angel might be getting tired, so I brought the song to an end.
But, again, she kept on singing. So I rejoined her and we just continued singing.
I wasn't looking at the clock, so I don't know how long it lasted, but I'm pretty sure Angel's heart was rejoicing at the thought that soon and very soon she is going to see the King.

Ahhh, what a Day that will be!

For the record, I am going to be taking a blog break until 2018. Planning to enjoy family and friends for the next couple of weeks, as I pray you will, also.
In the mean time, if you're looking for reading material, know this: Since I started blogging 11+ years ago, I have published 2,236 posts. Feel free to use the search box above on the left to find something from the archives which may encourage you today! *smile*


Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Bird Man

I wrote on Tuesday about Josh taking care of the birds outside of Grandma Peggy's window when she lived with us. Well, Grandma isn't here anymore, but the birds are.
And Josh is still taking care of them.
We have gotten our first significant snow of the season, so life at the bird feeders has picked up significantly. And it is my joy to sit in the living room and watch as the birds (and the squirrels!) come to feast. It also delights my heart to watch Josh creep quietly in to the living room - so as not to scare anyone off - just so he can check on everybody and make sure they're happy. Well except the starlings, blue jays, and sparrows. He wishes they would go away.

For all the times I have been frustrated by that boy, the simple act of observing his tender care for God's little creatures restores my hope. I forget about the slammed doors, and the teen-age attitude. And instead I see a young man who is thinking outside of himself, putting a smile on his Father's face.
Ahhhh. bless my soul.

This is only one of the three feeders and two suet cages Josh maintains for our critters. But I hope you'll enjoy this brief view from my living room window.
I tried and tried, but there are too many technical difficulties which are keeping me from posting this cute little video.
So, we're going forward without it.
You are welcome to come over and visit me to see the birdies in person!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Even So

My Precepts class is on a break right now, so I have been spending time on another Bible study for the past couple of weeks.
The most recent lesson was looking at Abraham and Sarah - and the impossible situation they faced in believing they would become parents at their very old age. But we were reminded, Nothing is too difficult for the LORD. (Gen. 18:14)
Indeed. HE can do anything.
HE can even allow a 90-year-old woman and a 100-year-old man to become first-time parents.

As the day's study came to a close we were challenged to examine our own lives in search of impossible situations to which we need to apply Sarah-like faith. And it didn't take me long to recognize the situation before me which seems humanly impossible.
I journaled:
Yep. I'm still waiting, Lord. And You give me glimpses of hope, yet the situation still seems impossible.
Even so, LORD, You have promised, and I believe!
And here I sit, realizing that if God gave a child to Sarah and Abraham as He promised He would, HE is certainly able to fulfill His promise to me.
Even so, LORD, I believe!

Do you have an "Even So"?


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

How Sweet

So, when my grandma lived with us in 2015 she and Josh developed a very sweet relationship. For one, he put up and maintained bird feeders outside her window - and each evening he would go into her room so she could tell him about the birds who'd come to visit that day.
They both loved bluebirds, but bluebirds don't hang around our neighborhood very much. So Grandma never saw them at her feeders. Still, for some reason those little critters often found a place in Grandma and Josh's conversations.
I remember one night just a few days before Grandma died. Josh went into her room after work and she struggled to focus on him, but he leaned in and told her, "I saw a few bluebirds at work today, and I thought of you." Oh, if you could have seen how her face lit up.
It took work, but she managed to say, "That's nice, Josh!"
And his face lit up, too.

Last week Josh and I were talking about one of his recent fishing outings and he started to tell me a story. He had seen a few bluebirds while he was wading through the river and then he paused, looking like he felt a little embarrassed.
"Well, this is sort of silly."
"Ahhh, tell me," I begged.
So he kept going.
The bluebirds flew overhead and off to the side. Josh followed their path and cast his pole where the birds had flown over the river. And he caught a good fish.
This is the silly part: Josh said he sort of felt like Grandma Peggy had shown him through the bluebirds where to fish.
I just smiled, and held back a tear.

Not that I believe a dead person has any control over bluebirds, knows where fish are swimming, or even cares what's happening here on earth. But my son - my 19-year-old son - who keeps to himself more often than not, had just shared a vulnerable moment with me. A tender moment and memory of my grandmother. And my heart got filled right up to overflowing.

Hang in there, fellow-mom. Not all the moments are hard ones!


Monday, December 11, 2017

Friday, December 08, 2017

Touched by an Angel

I don't know how long Angel has been walking with Jesus.
I just know she loves Him.

And this week when I visited, I got a glimpse at how much she loves His Word, too.
Since conversation is sometimes hard to keep going with Angel I decided to bring my Bible along this time and offer to read to her. (But I didn't realize how much she would enjoy my idea.)
Actually, when I first arrived I wasn't even sure I would end up reading to her. Angel was more alert, and more verbal than I had ever seen, and I wondered if we might just sit and talk. But after a few moments I told her, "I brought my Bible along today in case you might like me to read to you. Would you like me to read the Bible?"
The smile on her face told me all I needed to know.
So I opened up to Luke 1 and started reading.
The experience was reminiscent of the times I have prayed with her. Because as I read about angels speaking, about Mary trusting, and about nothing being impossible with God, I heard Angel saying, "Mmhmm. Yes, Lord. Amen." It was beautiful to share those moments with her, basking in the goodness of our God.
And when I had stopped reading for a few minutes, and we were talking about Christmas and family and stuff, Angel suddenly said, "Read to me some more."
Just like that.
"Read to me some more."
So I picked my Bible back up and I read about a trip to Bethlehem, the birth of a baby, and a bunch of shepherds who heard good news of great joy. And, again, my reading was accompanied by, "Mmhmm. Yes, Lord. Amen."
This time, I think I was the one with the bigger smile as I pondered the fact that this dear woman has likely been hearing the narrative of Jesus' birth for a hundred years - a hundred years! - and she hasn't grown tired of it.
"Read to me some more," she said. "Read to me some more."
And with that eagerness for God's Word, Angel touched my heart again.

I pray that if I live another 54 years I will still be as smitten with God and His Word as Angel is today!


Thursday, December 07, 2017


Faith is definitely being shaken right now.
That's the message a dear friend of mine sent earlier this week, in response to some very hard things which are happening in her life.
And I get it. Oh, I do.
Because I have also had very hard things in my life.
Sometimes those things feel like they have knocked the wind right out of you, and all you want to do is quit. Throw in the towel. Give up on it all and hide away in some safe place where you don't think you'll experience any more struggle or disappointment.

Have you been there?

So I was praying for my friend who felt like her faith was being shaken, asking God to strengthen her faith. And it's like He said to my heart, That's exactly what I'm doing, dear one.
I paused, and I thought about it. And I smiled because I recognized - that's what HE does.
I've read about it in the Bible.
I've seen it in the lives of people I know.
And I have experienced it in my own.
God allows hard times to come into our lives for various reasons - all in His perfect wisdom. And one of the ways HE uses them is to grow our faith. We go through a trial, a struggle, a storm of great proportions in which we feel lost and hopelessly out of control. We wonder, God, where are You? Why are you allowing this pain? I was sure You are good, but now I'm feeling like my faith is being shaken. God? Are You there???

Have you been there, too???

Then God shows His faithfulness.
He delivers us from the struggle.
He demonstrates His power and we find ourselves face-to-the-ground in awe of the One who can do all things. The One who is in control, who sees everything, and who knows what He's doing. We worship Him for who He is, and for what He has done. And when we catch our breath we discover that the faith we thought was being shaken has actually grown more than we could have imagined.
Thus, as I tried to encourage my friend this week, so I now exhort you: When you feel like the world is caving in, and you don't know what to do - Look to the One who can do all things, and trust Him to make your faith strong in the midst of the storm.


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

When I Get Propositioned

So I'm sitting at the table yesterday doing Bible study when my phone rings. I pick up my phone, look at the number, don't recognize it, so I answer and say, "Hello. This is Karen." Annnnd, the caller hangs up.
But just a moment later I receive a text message from the same number:

Hey what's up im james
So I sit there for a minute contemplating my next move.
I don't recognize the phone number.
I can only think of one "James" that I know.
If this was him, he would surely include his last name in his greeting. And I think he would probably use proper capitalization and punctuation.

So I respond with:

Hi, James.
Thinking my use of punctuation and capitalization will clue him in to the fact that I am an old lady.
Sometimes I just shouldn't waste my time thinking.
Because the next thing I receive is a string of texts, which make me think he has no clue.
Hi was that your picture on Craigslist because you are gorgeous
I think you and I are in the same situation in need of pleasure
Just let me know if you wanna get to know each other
Now, I'm pretty sure he isn't talking about the pleasure of studying the Word of God, and getting to know each other in the company of our spouses. So I respond by saying:
No. My picture is not on Craigslist.
I am a married woman, 100% faithful to my husband.
May I encourage you to seek soul fulfillment in God, first, and then trust Him to lead you to a godly woman who will love you because she loves Him?
A relationship with God through Jesus is sooooo much better than great sex.
After I send that text, I wonder more at who "james" might be, and what might be going on in his heart and life. So I sit for a few minutes and pray for him.
And about 20 minutes later I receive this text:
I think, OK. He responded again. That opens the door wide open.
And I text back:
Sorry? For what?
You just gave me a wonderful opportunity to pray for you, and I enjoyed it very much.
God is in the business of redeeming lost people and pouring His love out on them. My gut is telling me that He had you text me because He wanted someone to tell you of His great love for you.
God loves you, James! So much so that He gave His Son, Jesus, to pay for your (all of our!) sins - so that if you believe in Him and choose to follow Him, you will be saved. It's good news!
And, yes, I would love to get to know you. My husband and I would be happy to have you sit with us at church Sunday. We go to the 11:00 service at Trinity, 3355 Dunckle Road in Lansing.

Haven't received a response yet. But Imma save a seat Sunday morning!


Monday, December 04, 2017

Friday, December 01, 2017

Touched by an Angel

Ahhhh, what a beautiful greeting Angel gave me this week!

As I walked into the house, I could see Angel sitting in her recliner waving her arms with a great big smile on her face. I walked into her room and said, "Well, hello, Sunshine!!!" (Although I call her "Angel" here, in person I usually address her as "Sunshine".) And her smile grew.
Oh, and what a beautiful smile it is. I marvel each time I see her, that she's been doing whatever she's doing - smiling, singing, praying, and otherwise - for over 100 years. (One hundred years, seven months, and four days, to be exact.)
Even though Angel most likely doesn't know who I am, even though she's probably smiling only because her son told her "somebody" is coming to see her, even though she doesn't remember our previous visits, Angel's warm smile and the love she exudes are genuine - and they bless my heart. What a joy it is to sit with a woman who has been on this earth for more than a century and to talk with her about our God who is timeless.
I told Angel a testimony of God's faithfulness which had just occurred in my friend's life. And we rejoiced together over His goodness.
I enlisted her help in choosing Christmas carols to sing during a church service I'm leading this coming weekend at an assisted living facility where I used to work. And we sang a little bit.
I shared my favorite Bible verse with her. And we thanked God for His love.
And I did things which seemed less meaningful - like wiping her mouth when "stuff" was on her lips, and holding her Boost up for her when she wanted a drink, because her arms were too weak. Yet I realized somehow those actions were just as important and communicated just as much love as anything else I could do for Angel.
Thus my time with Angel reinforced my understanding of the value of anonymity and serventhood.
That is, I am not really "known" to her, and I often do "little" things.
But it is done in love, for the glory of God - so it matters.
And in the midst of it all, HE always sees fit to touch me through her.

What simple acts of service can you do (behind the scenes?) this weekend to bless somebody?