Verse For the Day

Isaiah 58:6-7 (NIV) "Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice...Is it not to share your food with the hungry...?"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Day of Feasting

"Yet he has not left himself without testimony...he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." Acts 14: 17 (NIV)

Yesterday, I went with my daughter, granddaughter and in and out-of-town relatives to Navy Pier in Chicago. When we first arrived we were hungry, so we went to a place outside the pier called Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company. The theme, of course, was based on the movie Forrest Gump, and the menu, of course, was shrimp - cooked in every way imaginable with a few chicken dishes sprinkled here and there.

I could have ordered a salad, and in fact, planned to do so since I'm abstaining from meat and sugar six  days a week through Lent. But I looked around the table at the family I love, looked around at our surroundings, and decided to treat the day as another feast day. So I enjoyed hush puppies with bits of shrimp and fish in the batter, and for an entree, shrimp stuffed with crab meat, all of which was shared with my daughter. Very delish! And at the end of the meal I had a few bites of Key Lime Pie, my most very favorite pie in the world.

And I did not feel guilty. Rather, I felt God's amazing love and blessings in being a part of this wonderful celebration of family.

Later, we walked through the pier to the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows which displays 150 of the finest examples of stained glass in the world, including many magnificent religious works. It is not sufficient to say that the art was breathtaking - it seemed each portrayal was more colorful and vivid than the last, especially when we came to the Tiffany collection. To use an old cliche, we feasted our eyes on pure beauty.

Entrance to the museum is free, and if you haven't already been there, I would highly recommend a visit, sooner rather than later. It took about a  half hour to walk through and briefly study each example.

I just love the fact that God made each of us unique and special,  and included so many creative people in the mix.

Thank you, God for the blessings of family and fine art. And thank you for feast days. Amen.

May the Lord bless each of you today and every day, and may you enjoy life abundantly.

And happy first day of Spring!!! I'm headed out to my garden to do some clean up work.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Everyone Can Do Something - Do You Have a Minute?

James 2:15-16 (NIV) Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

Have I mentioned This is a website where you can give 1.1 cups of food to the poor each day. You can only click once a day, but you can set  it up so that they send a daily reminder in your email. And even better - when you go to the site, there will be several tabs showing at the top such as breast cancer, literacy, veterans and several others. Click on each one and it will take you less than a minute. All the donations are paid for by the sponsors of the different sites. You can send e-cards to your friends, and the donation is even greater. Just check it out. I think you'll like it.

Nineteen days into my forty day fast, and I'm struggling. At first, it was easy to eliminate meat and sugar from my diet, but now I think I have to have a protein boost. Some days I feel very weak physically, and some days, mentally. Tonight I am making breaded pork tenderloin for my husband, and my mouth waters each time I think of it. On Monday, it was roast beef. And did I mention the leftover coconut cake from Sunday that sat in the fridge for two days, tempting me every time I opened the door? I finally froze it, but I don't know how good it will be when its defrosted.

One reason it was easy in the beginning was that I had not given up Diet Coke. But a few days into the fast I knew that I was being called to do just that. Give up the one thing that I turn to most often when I need a beverage. So I decided to try. At first I weaned myself down to two cokes a day, but that was not good enough, so I then gave it up completely. Not that I've been 100% successful - when I face a little crisis, I need that drink. But most of the time, I just think about it, ask God to handle it, and make myself a cup of hot tea. And I know I am covered by God's grace when I fail. God is so good!

And it's only five more days until Sunday when I can feast again. I think I can make it with God's help.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Whatever You Do

Matthew 25:42 (NIV)  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink.

There have been times when I've neglected the poor. Maybe I thought I didn't have enough money, or maybe I had the money and chose to spend it in selfish ways. Because I've donated to a certain hunger cause, I've been put on mailings lists for other charities. I receive requests from one or another almost daily. And I've been known to look at envelopes and throw them in the trash without even opening them. It breaks my heart sometimes, but I can't possibly help every cause.

Matthew 25:44 (NIV) ..."Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick in prison, and did not help you?

I've passed beggars on the street and given them nothing, not even a dime. Could one of them have been Jesus?

I've thought to myself, "They'll just use it for drugs." But could one of them have been Jesus?

Matthew 25:45 (NIV) "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." 

In the Bible, we're told not to judge, but we as humans make judgements all the time. It's very hard not to do so. But I learned from a good friend one way of helping the street people. She gives McDonald's gift certificates. And recently, my son's fiance gave me another way. She posted a picture on facebook of a large zip-topped baggie filled with an individual sized cup of applesauce, some cookies, and cheese filled crackers. Also, toothpaste and a tooth brush. Basically, these bags can be filled with any small sized item you think would be helpful. The photo came with a suggestion of keeping a few bags like this in your car, so when you see a homeless person on the street, you can respond with kindness.

If we try we can be one of those whom Jesus referred to when he said, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." - Matthew 25: 40 (NIV)

I want to be part of the solution for the end of world hunger. Don't you? Find some small ways to help the poor, and your reward will be great. I promise.

Have a wonderful and blessed day, and may the Lord hold you in his tender embrace.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Prayer and Confession

"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." Ps. 5:3 (NIV)

"Listen God! Please pay attention! Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and cries? King-God, I need your help." Ps. 5:1-2 (The Message Bible)

First, let me confess. My prayer life for the most part, is a dismal failure. That's why I chose to give you the Message Bible's interpretation of Psalm 1-2. Sometimes when I try to pray, it feels like all I do is ramble. Or make a list of things I want God to take care of. I often forget to give him thanks and praise. At times, I've even fallen asleep during prayer. But there is another verse that comforts me.

In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (Romans 8:26 (NIV)

So let me tell you about today. I attended a Weight Watchers meeting where we talked about exercise, those who do and those who don't. Another confession - I most often fit in the latter category. But after the meeting, I came home motivated, so I grabbed a bottle of water and headed downstairs to my treadmill, intending to do half an hour's worth of moderate walking. I did my half-hours worth, just as I intended, watching a taped version of one of my favorite TV programs. (If you want to know, it's House Hunters International from HGTV.) At the end I felt good, not exhausted, so I decided to walk a bit longer. But for this segment, I decided to turn off the TV and just be reflective. Soon, my reflection turned to prayer, almost without my knowing it, and for once, I felt as if I had prayed well. I did this with my eyes closed and head bent (not that this is the only accepted version), so when I was finished, I looked up and realized I had prayed past the time I allotted for walking. This made me feel very happy.

My point, if I can ever get to it, is twofold. First, God accepts all kinds of prayers - yes, even the kind we fall asleep in the middle of. And when we can't pray, the Holy spirit takes matters into his own hands, so to speak. (Awesome thought!) Second, we can pray at anytime, at any place, and God hears us. (Another awesome thought!) Actually, there's a third point. God answers all our prayers, sometimes not as fast as we would like, and sometimes not in the way we would like. But usually, his way works out for the best. No - it always works out for the best! We just can't see it. So on this point, I want to quote another Bible verse, perhaps my favorite verse in the whole Bible. 

"For I know the plans I have for you,: declares the Lord, "plans to proper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

I first received this verse from a friend at one of the lowest points of my life. It was on a refrigerator magnet, and though I only had a bare amount of food in the fridge, I hung it on the door, and when I did go for food, I would see it and read it.

Five years later, I chose this verse for my wedding invitations. And my marriage has proved to be one of God's greatest blessings in my life.

May God bless you and hold you in his loving embrace, today and everyday. Amen


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fakeness and Grace

Isaiah 63: 8-9a (NIV) "He said, 'Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me,' and so he became their Savior. In all their distress, he too was distressed, and the angel of the presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them..."

Sometimes  I feel like a fake! I don't know why. I love my Lord with all my heart, yet sometimes I think I must not love him enough. Last night was one of those times.

I was listening to a Christian Radio program, and a woman named Sheila Walsh was being interviewed. I felt her words were both eloquent and honest. I found myself hanging on every word as she talked about her journey through abuse and mental illness. As she spoke about her journey, I thought "If only I had a faith like that."  I won't go into the interview, but I think I want to buy her new book, The Shelter of God's Promises. And having checked out her blog this morning, I can highly recommend it. She can be found at

Okay - enough about Sheila. I need to get back to telling you why I feel like a fake. One reason is that I also have been in a mental hospital, not once, but three times. You see, I have an illness called bipolar disorder. I almost said, "I am a bipolar," but I've thought about this a lot and I realize that's like saying "That's who I am. That's all of who I am."

 I'm thankful this is not the case. Bipolar illness is just a small part of who I am. I am a wife, mother, and grandmother.  I am a writer and a thinker. I am a friend and try to be a humanitarian. And most of all, I am a child of God. 

The reason why I've never gone public with my illness is that I was afraid to show all of me. In fact, fear has kept me from doing many things in my life. My first novel, mostly biographical remains on a shelf because I'm afraid of  

              God's Love is Magnificent!  

publishers' rejections. The reason I didn't go para-sailing on my fiftieth birthday (something I really wanted to do) was because I was afraid of falling. Duh- of course you're going to fall back into the sea at some point. That's part of the experience.
Yet sometimes I fear I'm not good enough for God. And except for grace, it's true. Not one of us is good enough for God, but by Christ' suffering, we are redeemed. I'm fearful I'm serving my Savior in a way not pleasing to him. But by grace, I am redeemed.

I've been known to seek God's favor by living a performance based faith, and that is not what God wants - God wants us to say that we love him, and mean it. God wants us to accept his wonderful, unconditional love. And we need to recognize when we're given grace. Undeserved grace.

All of what I do for others must be because I love my Lord and love the people I am serving. When it comes to fighting hunger, I believe I am doing it out of that love. My only motive is to love them, not to seek a greater place in God's Kingdom. I do what I do believing that Jesus would do the same.So maybe I'm not a fake after all. And maybe I'll still go parasailing some day.

May God bless you and hold you in his loving arms today and each day of your life. Amen