PROVISION

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I admit to loving the warmth of summer with its planting, gathering, family cook-outs, and time outdoors (yes, even mowing the yard). As the days begin to turn cooler and a hint of fall is in the air, many people are busy bringing in final offerings from gardens, vines, and trees. Others gather groceries and supplies and check to see that all is ready for the colder months ahead. Each season’s change marks new tasks, expectations, and hopes.

It’s easy to become preoccupied with the daily tasks: bills to be paid, cars repaired or replaced, income secured, homes maintained, food and clothing provided… For me this past year, as soon as one need was addressed something else came up… and often two or three challenges pounced at once! Yet each time, even as worries threatened to invade my thoughts, my thanks and prayers turned to God’s provision. As I get older, I am more and more aware of my parents’ model of quiet assurance that God will meet our needs. “One-thing-at-a-time,” my mother would reassure me. They instilled in me an appreciation for the simple, and the calm, and the good in small things. I have learned to enjoy and appreciate what I have rather than always wanting more and I’m growing to trust that things will work out, not always as expected or desired but trusting that good will grow from challenges and needs.

One well-known passage in the Bible, Psalm 23, speaks of God’s provision for us. It doesn’t promise that there will be no dark valleys, but it does promise that God is with us always. What wonderful assurance that we will lack nothing and that we will be refreshed, guided, comforted, and provided for even in the presence of adversity and difficulties! The book of Psalms is full of these reminders.

In the New Testament, Matthew had some great things for us to consider about worry and God’s care for us. “Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Then he reminded us that God knows that we need them. My mom would say, “It’s okay to be concerned but we shouldn’t worry” and Matthew echoed this thought when he said, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

In this season of gathering and preparation, I pray that we will be strengthened and assured of the provision of God, who cares for us all.

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Reflections on Shoes

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• We all come in different sizes, styles, and colors.
• We are made for different purposes.
• Our character is revealed in the way we live.
• The way we live can add positive fun and enjoyment to life.
• Take steps to protect yourself from unforeseen injury on your journey.
• Sometimes we travel through messy places.
• When traveling through messy places, we may become stinky and dirty.
• When we become stinky and dirty, a thorough cleaning is advised.
• After a long day, removing stress and worries brings relief.
• Stress and worries should be given to the Master Shoemaker.
• The Master Shoemaker creates, repairs, and refurbishes us.

Draw Near

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I love the scents and colors of herbs. In recent years, I have begun learning a bit about how to grow and gather a few of them and about some of their uses. I enjoy my little spots in the flower garden and pots on my sun porch and I help with some at my in-law’s home. “It’s a happy,” as my daughter would say as a child to describe something she liked. Not all my growing attempts are successful, but repeat attempts are sometimes more fruitful after I learn more about them. Some creature (perhaps a rabbit?) thoroughly enjoyed my in-law’s basil this year, which had to be replanted two times! Then too, I find that some plants are just not suited for the areas available, so other plants are found that will flourish there. Herbs, used from ancient times to improve health, to treat illness and injury and to cook with, have much to offer. Like insects, we are drawn to them because they can provide comfort, healing, and enjoyment of growing things.

As I was considering this, I thought of how God wants us to draw near to Him. He loves for us to come to Him and to thank Him when we are enjoying the scents and colors of life. When we draw close to Him we are recognizing who He is. God can show us where we will flourish when we are receptive to His offered gifts and guidance. He is the source of comfort and healing. Have you ever been to the point where you just didn’t know what to say or do, or even if you wanted to try?! While all our “growing” attempts are not successful, God helps us to thrive. I am so thankful for those around me, people who reach out or give a hug or word to help through difficult times and to join in times of celebration. Sometimes we need to be “replanted” and sometimes we need to be faithful and to learn so that we can thrive where we are. I’m so thankful that He is with me, especially on my “I’m just done” days! Draw near. Like insects drawn to herbs, we are drawn to the One who provides, who is the source of life.

But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works. Psalm 73:28

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… James 4:6a

Breath!

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Have you ever considered how the world would be without the movement of air?! I remember that on hot summer days when I was growing up, we kids would giggle as we spoke into a blowing fan and listened to our strange voices. When I am working with children to improve their speech, they learn about the parts that are used to form words. After we go through the basic tongue, lips, and “motor” (voice box), we try saying a sound without using air. Of course, we can’t!

Some of my favorite camping memories as a girl are of lying in our tent camper at night, listening to the wind sighing in the treetops and feeling its cool touch on my face. I still love to have a window fan blowing in my room on a summer night. My spirit settles as I breath in that fresh stream of air.

The book of Genesis says that when God formed man, He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Isaiah referred to “God the Lord… the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it.” Life is a precious gift, and how often do we misuse it or take it for granted?! Just as no words can be produced without the element of air, so life cannot be fully expressed without God’s breath within us. When I catch myself feeling rushed when going about my busy plans and responsibilities, I remind myself to pause and breath in God’s presence. He is like a cool touch to my hurried soul and fresh strength and peace to my heart.

*Genesis 2:7, Isaiah 42:5

DIGGING IN MY TOES!

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Ah! The joy of releasing tired, hot feet from the confines of shoes and socks! My mom and I used to kid about our “hillbilly blood” because our shoes inevitably fell off when we came home. Warm summer rain showers were the perfect opportunity for my brothers and me to splash barefoot up and down our gravel drive in town. On summer trips with the family, I remember digging my toes into the soft warm dirt of my grandparents’ country drive. Have you ever walked through a wet vegetable garden and ended up doubling the thickness of the soles of your shoes with mud?! Just walking becomes an effort.

Sometimes our lives get like that, mired down with stuff that drags us down and overwhelms. We splash barefoot before God in our pain and doubt and it is difficult to see joy. When His wonderful grace and love showers down upon us, we in our weariness do not always see it. We may be unable to receive until it has had time to soak in. I love the words of the psalmist who wrote, (God) lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. * Like on those warm summer days, we can dig our toes into the strength of His being. God lifts us up and sets us on solid ground. What joy and release when we stand with Him in faith, free of the confines of life which weigh us down!

* Psalm 40:2

Reflections on Twist-Ties

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• Twist-Ties can be straight or bent.
• Standing straight declares a purpose.
• Sometimes we just need to bend.
• When we bend, our shape is changed.
• Different shapes fill different needs.
• Bending down allows full service.
• Twist-Ties help secure the contents.
• The colors declare the day of offering.
• Daily offerings of nourishment are beneficial.
• The one who provides, helps to shape us all.
• The Shaper welcomes who we are.

Apple of His Eye

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Apples! I love apples! …I remember the taste of crunchy, sweet apples fresh off the tree in the backyard of our small-town home when I was growing up. The smell of apples cooking as Mom busied herself about the kitchen making apple butter and jelly, pies, and applesauce still lingers in my mind! Those wonderful summer days of gathering apples, listening to the neighbor’s honeybees about their work, and resting in the cool shade of their boughs are forever etched in my memory. I can still hear the sounds of laughter as my three brothers and I played, worked, and ate our fill of those apples!

Have you ever wondered where the phrase “the apple of my eye” came from? The writer of Deuteronomy says that God found his people in a desert land, “a barren and howling waste,” but cared for them and guarded them “as the apple of his eye.” The psalmist prayed to God, “Keep me as the apple of your eye”! This phrase is literally translated “the little man of the eye.” …If you look closely into the eyes of someone, you can see your own image reflected in that round central circle of their pupil. Think about it. Our very image is reflected in the eye of God! How awesome is that?!

God watches over us. Cherishes us. He keeps our very image before Him! Like those childhood memories, He brings comfort and joy to His children.