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This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!   ~  Psalm 118:24

I changed my morning routine today.  Usually I get up early to shower and dress before starting my day, but today I decided to walk after both boys were off to school. This allowed me to postpone my shower until later.  Instead, I got up early to do my Bible study.  It was great!  Reading when my mind had just been refreshed by a good night’s sleep and before it got cluttered and distracted by events of my day, I read with such clarity!   And reading in the stillness of the early morning…it was as if it was just God and me there reading together. 

Later I checked my email.  An early morning message was there from a new sister-friend.  Her message began with a cheerful good morning and the words, “This is the day the Lord has made.”   “This is His day, indeed!”, my heart joyfully replied.

This is the WORLD the Lord has made.

After dropping my son off at school, I went to a nearby greenway to walk.  (The greenway is a paved and boardwalk path through preserved natural areas, provided by the city, that goes along a creek  for the designated purpose of being a place to walk, jog, run, stroll, ride a bike, etc.  It’s really nice!)  In the past I’ve walked with a friend, but today I walked alone and enjoyed the sounds of my self-imposed silence.  In the silence – being absence of noise – I began to hear a symphony of beautiful sounds, the sounds of nature.  Birds sang, chirped and called.  Dried leaves rustled gentlyand there were quick little rhythmic sounds of ‘crunching’ as critters and birds scampered about.  I could see fresh green colored spots dotted against the gray, cloudy sky where buds are forming on the trees, an affirmation that it’s spring I smell in the air. 

I was so blessed during this time!  As I watched the myriad of various birds, I reflected on how God created each of them.  Each was beatiful and special in its own way.  I remembered the Bible telling us that if God tends to the sparrow, He tends to us even more!  Furthermore, as wonderful as all the nature was around me, God created man to be above it all (Genessis – creation story), so we – you and I -are just as beautifully and wonderfully made as all the beautiful and wonderful things in nature!  (Psalm 139 tell us we’re fearfully and wonderfully made.) 

Just as I was giving thanks in my heart for the world around me, an older gentleman who’d been biking ahead of me pulled to the side of the boardwalk and stopped to gaze skyward.  What did he see, I wondered?  I looked up, too, and saw a beautiful woodpecker, but that wasn’t what the man was gazing at.  He’d spotted nests of herons way up high in distant trees.  He’d seen them fly overhead and then lower themselves down upon their nests to roost.  We were able to spot eight of them!  The wise older man surmised that they were nesting upon eggs.  He said we need to keep watch on them in the coming days.  Yes, it’s definitely spring in the air. 

Soon sprouting leaves will hide these marvelous sites from human view, so we must enjoy them while we can.

Then  I got to thinking about the leaves…God is amazing in that creation, too!  In regions where there are changes of seasons, trees sprout leaves for the warm seasons to provide much needed shade and habitat for woodland animals.  Then the trees lose their leaves for cooler seasons allowing the sun to radiate across the land for light and warmth.  Yet, in tropical regions, where the temps are warm all year, the leaves remain on trees all year, too.   I know that’s not a profound statement or observation, but it’s worthy of noting for praise to God, our Creator. 

From Bible study to a wonderful walk through nature.  I’ve sure enjoyed my time with God, and my day is just beginning!

If you’re ever in South Charlotte, be sure to allow yourself time to enjoy the greenway that starts at Rea Road and Bevington. I’ll leave prayers along the trail for you. 

Pray and make it a great day!  God bless you!

Dear Friends,

As a reminder, Ash Wednesday is today, February 25.  It is the traditional beginning of the Season of Lent. 

The Season of Lent is a 40-day preparation time for the celebration of Easter.  It is to be a personal, sacred, prayerful, reflective time and traditionally involves fasting –  abstinence from food or particular behaviors. 

My personal understanding of the purpose of Lent is to:

·         become more spiritual and to draw closer to God

·         acknowledge the sacrifice Christ made for you

·         reflect on God’s love for us – enough to send His beloved Son to live and die a tortuous death for us so that we could be saved from our sins and have a personal relationship with Him.

The 40-day period represents the time Jesus was fasting in the wilderness while being tempted by Satan. 

I encourage you to observe the Season of Lent.  Even if you choose not to fast or abstain from particular food(s), you can give an offering of your time each day to pray and reflect.

I choose to observe Lent because I want to offer myself in some way to God to honor the sacrifice Jesus made for me and to give something of myself in return.  I begin in prayer, offering my sacrifice to God.  When I find myself wanting the food from which I’m fasting, I am reminded of the purpose of my fast, say a silent prayer, and remind myself that my sacrifice is nothing compared to the sacrifice Jesus made.  At times I have found myself accidentally eating something that I’ve vowed to give up.  When that happens, I immediately ask for forgiveness and am reminded of how easily we can slip up in sin, which gives me a greater appreciation of the forgiveness we have in Christ. 

The Pharisees made a great show of their praying and fasting to impress others with their so-called ‘spirituality’.  Their efforts were not genuine acts from their hearts.  Jesus commands that we are not to make a ‘show’ of our praying and fasting.  They are to be personal acts of worship with God.

The above is just my simplified personal expression of Lent.  For more information or a more theological explanation of the Season of Lent, go to www.kencollins.com , select About Holy Days, then select Lent.  (It is very reader friendly.)  You can also do a Google search.  There are many good sites that explain the Season of Lent.

My prayer is that you will choose to observe the Season of Lent by prayerfully offering yourself in some way to God and that, in so doing, your relationship with the Lord will be blessed, leading you to the joy of the Spirit at Easter and always. 

Seasons blessings to you all,

Renee

Hello, to all!  Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve updated my site.  I just returned from a trip with my husband to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  < < < BEAUTIFUL!!!

Our trip was wonderful!  We stayed in a beautiful resort hotel, along with 40 others from the company my husband works for.  This was their Sales Club trip.  My husband qualified for the trip in ’08 by meeting his sales quota.  What a wonderful reward this trip was!  We had 5-star service, two fun-filled day trips, a glorious day resting poolside in the sun, scrumptious meals, great friends, and the best part of all…time together just the two of us! 

We saw beautiful sunsets, took an open-air 4-wheel drive jeep trip into rural mountains, saw ‘Armadillo crossing’ signs, passed bulls grazing roadside, enjoyed wonderful Mexican, French, and American cuisine, took a boat ride to the former homesite of director, John Houston, and spent wonderful time with friends new and old.  I got to hold a large parrot and a small monkey.  That was fun!

The downside was that I came home with bites – bed bug bites, we think!  I also seem to have disturbed my digestive system and have a suspicious rash on my hip bone area.  Oh, well.  I was healthy and feeling fine on the trip.  That’s what matters! 

To the new friends I made on this trip:  It was so great meeing you!  I hope we’ll meet again! 

To my former friends:  It was wonderful seeing you! 

To all:  Let’s stay in touch!

God is so good.  I’m blessed to have the opportunity to explore such beautiful places in His creation and meet brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.  Mostly we were blessed to know that God was with us.

Christina, may God be with you and your church, blessing you and leading you in His ways. 

May God be present in your life, too, making Himself known in awesome ways!  God bless you!

A friend and I were talking today about the Love and Respect seminar being held this weekend at a nearby church.  Based on the book of the same name, it gives Christian-based teaching that in marriages/relationships, women want to feel loved and men want to feel respected.  My friend then shared something that a friend had shared with her. 

In love and respect, LUV = Listen, Understand, and Validate. 

We then reflected on examples in our marriages when this application would have been, or could be helpful.  Maybe this application will be helpful in your relationship, too!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.     ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

 

It begins as soon as parents know they’re expecting a child and probably continues forever after… having to make choices on behalf of your child and helping with decisions that will significantly impact your child.  We know.  We’ve been parents for 13 years.  Last week was one of those times when we had to step up as parents and make important choices and decisions. 

At age 13, our older son is facing choices, decisions, and options that will have a lasting impact on his future.  Of course, as parents, we think we know what’s best!  However, that’s not true.  Father knows best.  ‘Father’ as in our Heavenly Father.  God.  Our Creator.  Our sons’ Creator!

By recognizing that truth and using that truth as the basis for our efforts and actions, we are able to do what truly seems best.  Here is our thinking:

As parents our jobs are to help our children reach their full potential.  What is their full potential?  Only God truly knows.  The Bible tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made; that God knits us together in the womb (Psalm 139); and God made plans for my child before actually making the child himself.  The Bible also tells us in Jeremiah that God’s plans are to give us hope and a future, to prosper us and not to harm us. 

 “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.”     ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Aren’t those promised things the very things we want for our children?

It makes sense to my husband and I that if we want to help our children along as well as possible, we have to turn to God to see how to do that! It’s not about a map we lay out for our child’s future, but about helping our children along the paths God has set before them. 

How do we do that?  How do we know what those paths are?  We pray. 

We take situations, choices and decisions to the Lord and ask Him how we should go.  We ask Him to show us what is best for our child, acknowledging in prayer that only God truly knows what is best.  Only God knows who He created our sons to be!

In a recent situation we prayerfully asked God to show us what to do, to make it clear.  My husband and I prayed separately and God answered  us separately – leading each of us in the same direction! This served as a wonderful affirmation.  Surely we were looking down the right path!  Then each step along the way I’d pray again and say, “God, you know what we’re thinkging/doing.  If it’s not right, You have to show us!  Please close doors if we’re doing the wrong things.”  We also sought God’s will asking that these things would be to His honor and glory, dedicating our efforts to Him. 

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”    ~ Jeremiah 29:12-13

When we pray and try to follow God’s will, we can tell our children we prayed and give them the assurance that we’re not just doing what we want to do. We’re trying to do what GOD wants us to do. 

Are we experts with all the parenting answers?  HA!  Hardly!  But we have learned how to find answers that are beyond our human ability to know when the future is not ours to see.  We go straight to the One who knows all, sees all, and loves each of us more than we love each other. We look to the God who wants what’s best for us because we do believe that Father knows best. 

Last week we had an awesome answer to prayer in our Bible study group!  We’d been praying for a group member’s mother who’d had surgery the week before.  After surgery we sent a card to let her know we were praying for her.  Each person signed the card and offered her individual encouragements.  It meant so much to her!  My friend’s mother doesn’t have a group of ‘prayer pals’ and seemed appreciative that we’d taken her in.  She later asked her daughter if we’d pray for her at our next Bible study meeting because she’d be having a follow-up doctor’s appointment.  We began class with prayer and asked for her mother to feel our prayers in a way that would make her feel better.

Shortly after our prayer, while we were still in Bible study, our friend got a call on her cell phone from her mother.  Our friend couldn’t wait to tell us what her mother had said!  Her mom had called to say that her appointment had gone well AND while she was at her appointment she felt warm, like we were praying for her. 

Was that not an answer to prayer?!  Was that not God bringing us together by the power of the Holy Spirit?! 

“Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”   ~ Mark 11:24

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