In Canada, school has begun once again. For me, this fall is different. My son has returned with his family from China. Although they spent every summer and most Christmas vacations with us for the last twelve years, this will be the first experience of our Canadian schools for my granddaughter Jenna.
When my children were young, we moved often. I remember the anxiety I felt accompanying them to yet another new school. Will they be accepted? Will they make new friends? I did my best to make our lifestyle an adventure, but I knew it wouldn’t be easy for them. High school was even more stressful. I consoled myself with the belief that somehow, the frequent moves might help them greet new experiences all their lives. Now, Jenna has a new beginning, and my prayers are with her.
This week and for the next months, I encourage you to pray for all young people starting into a different school – college, university, high school, elementary school, nursery school. Pray that they will find adults and children who care about them and their individual needs. Ask God to find some way of telling them that they “are truly fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), that they are loved and valued as God’s special creations. I believe when we know that we have value in ourselves, and have the security of being loved by at least one other person, we can step into a new world with confidence.
This is one of my favourite scripture passages because it talks of the uniqueness and love that each one of us enjoys as God’s child. Pray that each child this year will know that he or she is not alone. As Jesus said, “I will be with you always, even unto the ends of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.
My laptop computer is getting old and cranky. The battery power lasts for only an hour, and then it fails. I almost always try to find an outlet where I can plug in.
As the years pass, I too feel as if the battery that supplies my energy is failing. Although I know a good diet and exercise will help, what I really want is a power outlet. I’d like to plug in to a life source and get a dose of new life. I’m just like the rest of humanity that has searched for that “fountain of youth” for centuries.
This week, in my Bible, I read Isaiah 40:27-31. “They shall rise up on wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” The message for me was that when my battery gets low, I can plug in to God. I know that God does not promise a new young body, but God will ensure that I have the energy I need for the tasks that God has for me.
How do we plug in to God? The first step is prayer. When we take time to talk and to listen to God, we are opening ourselves to God’s power. Step two is to pick up our Bibles and begin to read. Start with the book of Mark, the shortest of the stories of Jesus’ life. Don’t just zoom through it. Read a short section. Think about it. Read it again. Focus on what God is saying to your life in that story. Talk with God about it. Step three: Talk with a friend about what you need and what you are learning. You’ll be amazed at the renewed strength and energy you will have.
“God gives power to the weak and to those who have no might. God increases strength.”
In our land of abundance, “No one will ever leave our home hungry,” is often a family tradition. In many places, hospitality can mean the difference between life and death, physically or emotionally. Visitors to the poorest nations are amazed by the generous sharing of food that often leaves the host family hungry. Regularly, foreign guests are offered lodging in dwellings already overcrowded.
The Bible speaks about the importance of hospitality. Like the word hospital, hospitality comes from the Latin word for healing. Much of the time, as hosts, we are unaware of the healing that our guests need. We welcome friends and family, sometimes feeling like Martha, overworked, hurried, glad to see our guests and already wondering exactly when they will leave.
Today, I offer you another way. From the moment you know they are coming, whether months before, or as you hear the knock on the door, wrap your guests in prayer.
• Ask God, not only for a safe journey to and from your home, but also for joy along the way. Pray that their eyes, ears and hearts will be open to glimpses of God’s Kingdom.
• Prepare their room with prayer for restful sleep. Fill the room with loving thoughts.
• Focus on your good memories with them, and good experiences you hope to have as you prepare the food you will share.
• Give God thanks for the gift of their visit each morning as you wake and each night as go to sleep.
• As they leave, ask for God’s blessing upon their lives not just for the return journey, but always.
Wrapping your guests in prayer will ensure that you offer them an experience of healing. That is true Biblical hospitality.
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1Peter 4:9-10)
I’m feeling great. I’ve managed to make my way through all the forms, click on all the right boxes, and send my book “A Child Speaks” to Smashwords. I’m still floating from the experience of seeing my book listed with millions of others. My next task is to organize a blog tour or book launch. I’ve still got to work my way through the U.S. tax forms in order to receive the money, when the book sells. But, I belief in jumping one hurdle at a time. I’m truly grateful to Kimberly Payne for her help in navigating, to Maureen Cutajar for formatting the book and Donna Casey for designing the cover. It’s easy to purchase just go to www.smashwords.com and type in the title. It’s only $5.99. If you already own the print version, I’d be thrilled if you checked into Smashwords and left a review.
I woke up one morning needing a time of peace from my busy life. As always, my day started with reflection on a Bible passage and then prayer. During my conversation with God, I pleaded for a quiet day. When my reflection time ended, I checked my emails. The first message stated, “Have to cancel today’s meeting.” Frustrated with the last minute change, I paused in my reading to stare out my living room window. Flowers, bathed in brilliant sunshine, already drooped with thirst. Poor things, I thought. They’re stressed too. Into my mind came the thought, here’s the break you needed. Give thanks and take a day trip with Tom. It’ll be good for both of you.
I called out to Tom, “Want to spend a day with me being a tourist?”
He stepped into the living room, grinning. “Sure, it’s too hot to work outside anyway.”
Flipping through the City of Kawartha Lakes Winter/Spring brochure, I spied an ad for the private “Horseless Carriage Museum” located between Bobcaygeon and FenelonFalls. Further down the page were listings for the Kinmount Arts Co-op and the famed Kinmount Highland Theatre. In less than five minutes, we planned our day.
The Horseless Carriage Museum is a hidden treasure. We spent a delightful hour and half soaking in history as the proud owner, Richard Bennett, entertained us with stories behind each display. Next stop, Kinmount. We checked out the local attractions, bought a book and a bracelet at the Arts Co-op, licked Kawartha Diary Ice Cream cones and rested in the shade of huge maple trees in the park. Actually, Tom stretched out on the grass and slept while I started this reflection. When supper time came, we feasted on salads and strawberries at the Galway community supper. Tummies filled, we drove to the Highland Theatre where once again we stepped back in time. Surrounded with old projectors and movie memorabilia, our day ended with the modern animated movie, “Brave”.
Refreshed and relaxed, we climbed into our car for the short journey home. God had answered my prayer and filled our day with blessings, tamped down and overflowing.
Jesus said, “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:10)
This week’s Old Testament reading and the daily news have led me to write the following:
When I pull into my driveway, I am welcomed by glorious flowers. Yellows, reds, purples, all the colours of the rainbow shimmer in the summer sun. I smile and relax. “Thank you, God, for the gift of your presence here in my home,” I whisper.
When I step through the doorway at our Dunsford church, I am greeted by God’s Holy Spirit, pouring out from the eyes, smiles and hugs individuals in the congregation. Even on weekdays, when the building is empty, the echoes of their love enfold me as soon as I enter. “Thank you, God,” I whisper. “Thank you God for the gift of your presence here in this, your house of prayer.”
Last month, I was blessed with the privilege of gathering for worship at two Christian Conferences, one for writers and one for the wider church. Both times, my heart lifted in the presence of God’s Spirit that emanated from hundreds of others.
No wonder we lament our shrinking congregations. We speak of needing members to fill the pews, do the work and give the money. Those are real needs, yes, but more than anything, we yearn for the feeding of the Spirit that comes with numbers. Each one of us brings God’s Spirit with us everywhere we go. When we gather together, in God’s name, God’s Spirit rises up and overflows among us. Why are we missed when we stay home on Sunday mornings? Our bit of God’s Spirit is missing.
It’s easy to forget that others need us to share our gift of God’s Spirit. We focus on criticism, judgment, sadness, and we horde God’s gift of Spirit. When we do, we diminish ourselves, others and God. Next time you join with a gathering of Christians, intentionally invite God’s Holy Spirit to well up within you and flow out to others. Give God thanks for sharing the Holy Spirit through you.
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)