Friday, December 31, 2010

Icy Jewels

Job 38:30
The waters are hid as with a stone,
and the face of the deep is frozen.

Every winter I'm amazed to see the great mounds of ice that build up on Lake Erie.  Just a few short months ago I watched the kids swim and skip rocks across the lake.  Today, frigid winds scurry snow devils across the surface, and jagged pieces of ice protrude from the pressure of the water freezing underneath.  All of the warmth and pleasure of the lake is hidden.

Just like the lake, so many things in life get hidden beneath a crust created by time, circumstances, or misunderstanding.  If we had the power to see beneath the obvious, we might evoke warm, pleasurable, and unexpected results.  Would it take the chill out of the relationship between a mother and daughter, if mama realized she will be a better parent because of that wayward daughter.  Would the teacher feel less frazzled to realize it's not the "A" student who makes her a great teacher?  Would a pastor wish for a congregation of compliant saints if he knew he'd never fully develop his ministry?

You see, we get caught up in looking at the hard, unforgiving, and uncomfortable face of things as they are today.  When circumstances and people in our lives make it "hard," we tend to judge them undesirable.  But beneath those frigid mounds standing in the way of pleasure and ease, vital changes are being made.  And just like Lake Erie, we'll be changed... changed for the better.  We'll be more understanding parents, teacher's who've created inovative methods for reaching the struggling student, and ministers with greater compassion, patience and understanding.  Could it be those undesirable things and people in life are icy jewels in reality?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Horse Sense

James 3:3

Behold we put bits in the horses' mouths,
that they may obey us;
and we turn about their whole body.

Horses are the most beautiful and majestic creatures God ever created - just ask my daughter, Anita.  But then again, she's never been thrown from the back of a runaway brute and spent six weeks with one arm in a cast and the other manipulating a crutch.  I'm a witness that no matter how loudly you scream, "Whoa, Jesus help me!" a horse is unmoved.  I guess they just aren't spiritual creatures who are moved by the name of Jesus.  Add to the chaos a cinch that breaks during the wild ride, and you can probably see me catapaulting through the air and rolling through the stubble of a freshly hayed field.  Ouch!

The bit is the key to controlling a horse with a mind of its own.  This particular horse (new to my family) had a bad habit of getting the bit in his teeth and running.  An inexperienced horseman, like me, didn't know what was going on and that horse just did whatever he pleased even if it involved throwing a sweet, innocent and helpless woman off his back.  You see the rider's power over the horse was in his ability to control it's mouth.

Ah..... the mouth is such a powerful thing.  Ever have trouble controlling yours?  I do! Sometimes I take the bit between my teeth and say just what I want to say, and do just what I want to do.  The problem is that somebody always gets hurt or broken when I do. 

My prayer....
Let the words of my mouth bring healing, peace and joy to those who hear me.
Let me bring words of hope to the hopeless, encouragement to the downcast strength to the weak, and laughter to those who mourn.
May they be pleasing to the One who created all who hear my voice.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gotchyer Back Buddy!

John 13.:35

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,
if ye have love one to another.

My dad grew up on a farm with hundreds of chickens.  As we were growing up, he told us quite a few chicken stories.  Most of them weren't pretty stories, but the one that sticks out to me is pretty grotesque.

It seems chickens aren't very forgiving when one of their fellows become flawed.  When they spot a sore on another chicken, they peck at it.  First one chicken will peck, then another, then another.... until the once tiny flaw becomes a huge hole.  Dad says he's seen chickens with their entrails being pecked out.  How awful!

Unfortunately, I've seen people act just as "fowl."  When a member of their flock becomes flawed, they begin to peck.  Before you know it, another "chicken" is pecking away at the flawed individual's character and reputation.  The pecking spreads until a small mistake has become a huge, life-threatening blemish.  How sad! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Buggy Traditions

On most mornings I cross paths with two Amish boys on their way... somewhere.  The horse is trotting along on the berm of the highway, and most often there's a black piece of plastic tacked across the front of the open buggy.  Two pairs of eyes from under the brims of two straw hats peer above the black tarp in an attempt to stay out of the weather and still see where they are going.  I always slow down to watch and I wonder...

Why?  I've known many Amish in my life.  For seventeen years, most of my neighbors were Amish, and I discovered that the dark clothes and adherence to the old ways are not about religion.  It's solely tradition that keeps them from adapting to modern society.  I guess I could understand if they believed that abstaining from progress was their ticket to heaven... if somehow being set apart from the common man was going to make God smile.  But that's simply not what it's about.  In fact, their church services have little to do with building a relationship with God and are more of a social event. The services are performed in High German, a language that few but the elders know, then a huge feast and fellowship time fills most of the day.  The majority of Amish rules are simply intent on keeping Amish tradition.

I'm reminded of a conversation between Jesus and religious men in Matthew 5:2-3....

 2.  Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when   they eat bread.
3.  But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandments of God by your tradition?

Later in verse six, Jesus reprimands them again by saying, "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition."  That's a pretty strong statement!  What would it feel like for my Savior to look at me and say, "Your traditions are more important to you than pleasing me!"  Ouch! 

The two great commandments are: 
1.  Love the Lord with all thy soul, heart and strength
2.  Love your neighbor as thyself

Do I get caught up in my own religious traditions?  God help me to never get so immersed in them that they become more important than my relationship with God or my fellow man!


Monday, November 8, 2010

Friendship Pack

Proverbs 27:17
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man
sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Photo: courtesy of my daughter, Anita
Please visit her photo blog at

Rudyard Kipling said,
"For the strength of the pack is the wolf,
and the strength of the wolf is the pack."

Do you ever get lonely?  I'm not often still long enough to even notice if I am, but occassionally it really hits home to me how vital my friends are.  Not many of us are truly loners. Just like a pack of wolves, we all need someone to look out for us, to share a meal, to join us in howling, and sometimes even to challenge us to a good old-fashioned tooth-baring tussel. 

My problem is that when I actually do get lonely, I tend to skulk off quietly away from my friends and sit silently in the shadows.  Then I feel sorry for myself because no one is noticing.  Isn't human nature perverse at times? lol  But over the years I've come to recognize that if I need a hug, sometimes I need to give a hug.  If I need an ear to listen, well then.... maybe I need to talk.  Sitting on my haunches out of sight usually leaves me alone in the cold.

So if you're feeling lonely today, try moving out of the shadows and into the pack where you belong.  Nip an ear or howl at the moon if you need to.  Someone will notice and join you :0) Go leave your mark!

Need an idea for Christmas?  This book is an adorable gift for a friend. 
 My friend Stefanie bought it for me as a gift and I absolutely love it :0)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I Peter 2:9

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,
an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should
shew forth the praises of him who hath called
you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

© Angela Beatty 10/10

I've walked by this tree many times over the last few years.  I've often puzzled over the big red mark left by some timberman.  I've kind of thought that the red orb meant it was marked to be cut down, but since it's still standing I have to assume that I was wrong.  Regardless, the tree has been chosen for some purpose unknown to me.

I can identify with the tree.  I've been chosen... chosen by my Creator for a special purpose.  But am I marked?  Can the people around me see that I've been chosen by God?  Does my life bring praise to the One who chose me?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Does Your Heart Have Roots?

Hebrews 12:15

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God;
lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you,
thereby many be defiled.

Mom and Dad came for breakfast a few weeks ago.  As usual, Dad had a story to tell - only this story turned into a sermon.  Dad's legally disabled, but loves a beautiful lawn.  So when a weed poked its ugly head up in his flower garden after he carefully laid down black plastic and mulch, he wasn't too thrilled to think about getting down and digging it out.  The next time he got his little weed whacker out he simply whacked it off.  End of story!

Well, until a week later.  This time he saw the weed and it was as big as the plants he had planted.  Again, he whacked the offender off at ground level.  Then again he was trimming and spotted the weed - only this time it was even bigger than the flowers nearby.  He realized he was going to have to get down on his knees and dig the offender up.

Then came the sermon...
That weed is just like bitterness in a heart.  We spot it.  We whack it off.  It looks like it's been taken care of.  It seems like it's gone.  We go about life, then suddenly...  there it is again.  Only this time it's bigger than before. 

A little word of advice from Dad

......if you still get angry when you remember a wrong done to you

.....if you find yourself angry all over again when someone reoffends 

.....if you get a feeling of pleasure out of hearing bad news about someone who has done you wrong

There's bitterness rooted in your heart.  It's time to get down on your knees and dig out the roots.