Whiter Than Snow!!!

our deck this morning, 7:30 am

our deck this morning, 7:30 am

“I’ll believe it when I see it!”

I said this yesterday when it was 50 degrees outside and the weather forecast said we would get 1-3 inches. Well, I see it and I believe it. I measured 6 inches with a yard stick an hour ago and it is still coming down.

I love snow. I love the quiet whiteness. I love the definition that the snow gives to the trees as it clings to branches. I love to sled.

Snow is SO white.

Websters Dictionary defines “white” as “free from color, color of new snow.” There you have it – white as snow. In looking at the snow falling just now, it made me think of the verses in Psalms 51.

6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

The world around us is covered in a blanket of purest white, all the mud and mess is covered and everything looks pure and new.

God wants to create that fresh newness in each of us!

He wants to cover our mess (sin) with the washing power of His Word. Ephesians 5:26  to make her (the Church) holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.

God also says in verse 12 – He wants to restore to us the JOY of our salvation.

What a wonderful promise! My hope is that the snow around us reminds us of God’s faithfulness and His desire to:

  • cleanse us white as snow
  • restore the joy of our salvation

Now let’s go sled!

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How Are You Doing?

Caleb
“How’s it going?” “How ya doin’?”

A common phrase we often greet one another with – but do we mean it?

If you are like my husband, you ask yourself – does this stranger really want to know how I am?

What would this person in the waiting room do if I told them that “my car is making a strange noise and I am planning a trip to see my mother and father – my father is 90 and they live in Wheaton, Illinois and it looks like they might have snow up there so I a bit concerned about driving all that way and especially if the car is making a strange noise…”

Get the picture?

It would be “random”, as my students say, if I told each person my life story. We have a phrase for that in our family – “like Aunt Cil”.

Phil’s Aunt Priscilla lived to be 90 and lived alone many of those years either in High Point, North Carolina or Moravian Falls, North Carolina. If people talked to her – she had a LOT to say in return. In any store, restaurant, or ANYPLACE we went where there were people – if anyone asked Aunt Cil “How are you?” she would tell them. Not only would she tell them how she was, she would also tell them about her family members that were with her. “This is my nephew, Phillip and his wife Gayle. They live in Cullowhee and have four children, two are in college, …”

Get the picture?

We certainly do NOT need to tell total strangers our life story. When most people say “How’s it going?” they are being congenial, they are not expecting more than “fine, or doing well.”

But what if things are not well? Should I lie?

In II Kings 4:25-26 a woman deals with just this issue. She has a LOT going on. Her precious son – her only child – has just died.

She had been promised this son, without asking – by the prophet Elisha. (see II Kings 4: 8-17)-NKJV

Now that son had died after a severe headache – possibly an aneurism – we don’t know – but we are told that the pain came on suddenly and the child died in her arms.

18 And the child grew. Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers. 19 And he said to his father, “My head, my head!”

So he said to a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. 21 And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out. 22 Then she called to her husband, and said, “Please send me one of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and come back.”

23 So he said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.”

And she said, “It is well.” 24 Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, “Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 And so she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

So it was, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, the Shunammite woman! 26 Please run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’”

And she answered, “It is well.” 27 Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me.”

IT IS WELL? What?

Her son has just DIED!!!

“Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with your child?” Gehazi, Elisha’s servant asks in verse 26.

And she answered, “It is well.”

How could she say this? This woman of faith only wanted to talk to Elisha, the man of God who by his request to God had enabled her to have a son in the first place.

This Shunammite woman (we don’t know her name) could say “It is well” because her faith was in the God of Elisha.

II Kings 4:32-37 relates the healing of her son. She answered “It is well” BEFORE her son was healed. That is the attitude I should have – God is in control – it is well. No matter what happens – it is well.

She could TRUTHFULLY say “It is well” because she trusted God. If our faith and trust are in the God of the universe, no matter what we are facing OR the outcome, we say – because God is God –

“It is well”

 

 

Lost

“Adahlyn, pray that Nana will find our way home.”

“Are you lost, Nana?”

“Yes, will you pray with me?”

As I looked in the rear view mirror at the little toddler in her car seat, I realized how having my granddaughter in the car made being lost so much more serious than if it was just me.

I prayed out loud for God to give me direction. After praying I asked Adahlyn if she was afraid.

“No, Nana. You will find the way.”

Thinking about her faith makes me smile. Oh, the bliss of ignorance! If she only knew how terrible my sense of direction is. ( read “No Sense of Direction”) Yet I am thankful she didn’t. I had taken Adahlyn to the store because her parents were in the hospital for the birth of a new little sister. I thought I would pick up a few things at the store and I didn’t want to bother my daughter and son-in-law with asking directions –  they were VERY busy.

I drove a bit further and saw on the horizon the cross on the steeple of the church our younger daughter and her family attend. Adahlyn lives just four blocks away. I could see my way to her home!

“Adahlyn, I see the cross on the steeple – I know which way to go now. God answered our prayer.”

The cross was my marker of the right direction in which to go.

One of our coaches shared with the students at FCA Friday. He talked about what to do when we feel lost. He said we should look for a way to get back on the right path. We often think, ‘Well, I’ll just go a bit further and see where this leads….’

So dangerous!

As soon as we recognize we are lost in life we need to pray and ask for direction. Those feelings of being lost in our lives come from several causes including:

  • we don’t have our destination in sight, our ultimate goal
  • we have lost our direction – gotten confused about which way to go to get to our goal
  • we have gotten on the wrong path leading the wrong way
  • a “shortcut” looks like a good alternative
  • we are distracted by what we see along the way (very scary!)

When I was lost driving my granddaughter, I felt so responsible  – she was lost, too, all because of me!

As a parent and grandparent the path I choose will take others along with me. If I am lost – they will be lost as well.

Psalm 119 says much about staying on the right path. A few of these verses are;

9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
133 Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.

Lord, may we recognize when we are lost.

We certainly don’t want those little ones who are following us to be led down the wrong path.

Thank you, Lord, that your cross leads the way.

Potential – Unlimited!

Hawkins - 1st day of school - 2024

Several of my friends and I have grandchildren who have started kindergarten this year. As a former kindergarten teacher myself, I have been very interested in how their initiation into formal education has begun.

It is revealing to see how different children view this common experience. Some responses to my “casual” questioning have been –

  • I like PE the best.
  • I like recess the best.
  • My teacher is nice because she gives me books.
  • I’m the tallest.
  • I’m the teacher’s best helper.
  • ____ can’t speak English so I am helping him.
  • We are learning letters, but I already know them.
  • I like math the best.
  • My teacher is nice.
  • I like library time best.

The overwhelming response has been positive and I am so thankful. After all, at least 12 more years of schooling looms ahead for these kindergarteners!

The most important issue is that each child has potential – potential in the Kingdom of God.

Luke 9:47-49 (NIV)

47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

 We easily declare that all children have potential. The potential will not necessarily result in “success” by the standards of our current culture. Too often today success is measured by popularity, wealth and material possessions, or notoriety in athletics or entertainment.

Jesus valued children because they demonstrated unconditional love, faith, and trust. Each child has potential to experience God’s unconditional love – most often through their parents.

To help our children reach their God-given potential, God has placed them in our families to nurture and care for. We must demonstrate to them and for them our faith and trust in God and His word.  We have no idea what lies ahead for our children. We do know that without a doubt there will be trials and difficult times ahead. Our children will suffer hurts and rejection.

Yet, God is faithful.

Our great potential is that we can become the children of God.

John 1:11-13 (NLT)

11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

God’s plan from the beginning was to bring us into relationship with himself. As parents we have the responsibility and privilege to share this highest of potentials with our children.

May God empower us to fulfill this challenge.