Weird Things I’m Thankful for

In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy. Acts 14:16-17 (NIV)

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a tiny poem in a children’s book that I’ve never forgotten. As a little child, I read: “The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.” Now as an adult, I realize a flaw or two in that poem. For starters, I suspect kings are not nearly as happy as we think they ought to be. Always battling that pesky feeling that someone is after their crowns and then that whole business of running a country probably doesn’t very often lend itself to noticing a world “full of a number of things.” However, I remember thinking how right Stevenson was. Just look at the world and all that is in it! How much there is to be thankful for—including these weird but happy things that spring to mind:

My mattress: I was reading a book the other night that described someone sleeping on a hard floor wrapped in a sweater totally insufficient to give warmth. Suddenly, I was grateful for my mattress. Granted, it’s nearly ten years old and will eventually need replacing, but it’s not the floor. It’s soft and holds me up, and there are sheets and blankets on top of it. I’m as cozy as can be.

Taking my dog out late at night: I have to admit that when I first received my surprise puppy late one November in cold New Hampshire, taking her out and training her was perhaps not a thankful thing, especially since she needed to go out All. The. Time. But guess what happens outside at 10:30 pm? The moon and the stars happen. I noticed them again. I’m ashamed to say how long it had been since I’d looked up, up, and up some more at the vast sky with thousands of tiny lights and the soft glow of the moon. Wow. Not to mention that I was wrapped in a warm coat—another thing I’m very grateful for in New Hampshire winters. Late night walks with my dog yield views of God’s handiwork I would have missed. These days, I often look at the night sky, and it’s breathtaking.

Imagination: I know. Weird. But when four little kids and their mama live in the house with you while their daddy is serving overseas, and they love playing “make pretend,” it really helps to have an imagination. So far, I’ve been shipwrecked, adopted two baby dragons, been attacked by jackals, and hatched eggs that turned out to be baby Tyrannosaurus rex. Now, I ask you, could I have handled this grandchild gig without an imagination? Despite the stretch it is to this Nina’s brain, laughing and pretending with these little ones has made me (much) younger all over again.

Breathing: Pretty basic, huh? But, have you ever heard a loved one struggling to breathe? Heart rending. I’m so very thankful that my body is able to breathe without even thinking about it. I’m grateful for legs and arms that work and hands that grasp and one ear that hears. Yes, I only have one good ear, but I’m thankful that the working ear has more than compensated so I hardly notice the hearing loss.

Leisure. If you’re reading this, you have at least some. Leisure: free time; spare time; time off. I realize with great sadness that too many folks on this planet have little or no free time. Every moment is spent seeking or earning food, shelter, water. Life is reduced to survival. What an incredible gift to have leisure time. Time to admire God’s beautiful world, “so full of a number of things.”

As Thanksgiving approaches, may God help you notice, too, the weird and random things that are really great and good gifts from Him. Every bite we take, every sip we drink, every air molecule we breathe ... is because of our giving and gracious God who “has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons.”

Dear Lord, open our eyes to see Your bounty. You have given abundantly to all of us. The air we breathe, the stars we see, are gifts to every person on earth. And You provide so much more besides. Help us to be a grateful people, noticing Your generosity at every turn. Thank You for a day here in the USA to focus on just that: Your good and generous gifts. In the Name of Jesus, Greatest of Gifts, Amen. 

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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At the Table - Why Eating Together Matters

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts. Acts 2:46 (ESV)

His gnarled, arthritic hands struggle to hold the fork. It irritates him that the simple act of lifting fork to mouth, a task he has done well, without thought, for over nine decades is now a difficult one. In the time it takes us to eat an entire plateful, he has only managed four small bites. If we leave the table at this point, he gives up and eats no more. So, we stay. We slow down our own eating. We talk between bites about this and that, about life in all its beauty and idiosyncrasies. And, over the course of an hour, he finishes. Cleans his plate. We find we’ve not only fed our bodies but our hearts as well at this slowed-down family meal.

He has now passed on to Heaven and is enjoying a new body without arthritic hindrances. In his place are new folk living with us for a season and sharing our table. Children still learning to grasp their forks, bibbed and sometimes clumsy. They, too, eat slowly. They chatter as we eat, full of information about dragons and ninjas, butterflies and snakes. With wonder in their eyes, they speak as their food grows cold. They, too, need our help to finish the job and clean their plates. As we slow down, talk and laugh with them, together we feed our bodies and our hearts at the table.

Our God, I believe, smiles on the family dinner table, where conversation flows and patience and grace are exercised. The sanctifying of His people doesn’t always come from sermons and well-worded books. It can be found in the patient listening to another. In the stopping to cut someone’s meat. In the waiting and the sharing and the slowing.

Another wonderful value of family time around the table is that in some small way our meals together look forward to one of our great joys to come—the great Wedding Supper of the Lamb. The feasting and company at that table will be rich beyond compare. Even as Jesus was breaking bread to symbolize His soon-to-be broken body, He, too, was looking ahead to that great day: “And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes’” (Luke 22:14-18 ESV).

I lift my glass of water, today, to the beauty and grace of the dinner table: a place to love one another, experience the joy of togetherness, and look forward to the great supper to come with the Lamb of God!

Father God, today I thank You for the blessing of food enough to satisfy. I thank You for the lessons learned from eating together. I thank You for the eager yearning Your Words have stirred in my heart for the day when I sit at the table with the Lamb Himself! In His Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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Benched

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 (NIV)

With sweat streaming down her face, she squatted once again to dig the volleyball and pass it high enough for the setter to position it for spiking over the net. It was the second game in the tournament series, and her heart was hammering as she focused on the ball and on her teammates, working in rhythm with them. The goal of the championship spurred her on, pushing her body beyond its capabilities, stretching and straining as she prepared for every shot.

The whistle blew and her coach called time-out. As they huddled, he told her to take the bench and rest. Her body obeyed, but her heart protested. Every fiber of her being wanted to keep going, keep scoring, keep pushing. Her coach could see what she could not. If she didn’t stop, she was headed toward injury and a much longer season of bench sitting. It was time. She needed to stop awhile.

Have you been there? So busy you didn’t even have a chance to eat? Moving from one activity to the next, juggling multiple demands without pause, pushing, pushing, pushing? I’ve been there a time or three myself. And just like our volleyball player, when I’m in the middle of a big push to get things done, I don’t take kindly to benching. I want to stretch and strain and get it all done. It feels wrong to stop.

I’ve learned the hard way that I can either listen to my Coach and take a rest at least one day in seven—or I can be benched by sickness or weariness or depression. Just like an athlete needs time-out, so do we. Our bodies were not meant to run on adrenaline all the time. Our minds were not created to be constantly sorting through a myriad of details and needs and plans and deadlines and tasks.

God created us to work hard. Yes. He also created us with a need for rest. We need sleep every day, and if we don’t get enough, we cause serious damage to our bodies over time. Our minds need quiet spaces, times we aren’t thinking of a zillion projects on our to-do lists. Sometimes we need to run from multitasking and single task for a bit. Just sitting and reading. Or, just sitting.

When do you stop? Do you run until exhaustion forces you? How much better to build in times each day and each week and each year that are set apart for stillness, rest, and recovery. I challenge you to take a look at your calendar and start scheduling “rest times.” Say “no” when an activity collides into a day set apart to be still. If necessity demands you to work through a scheduled rest time, make sure you immediately reschedule. You need to rest. God tells you to rest. Rest is a gift. Take a seat on that bench. Be still and remember the One who is in charge of the universe—and relax in knowing it isn’t you. Like our athlete, if you take time out, you’ll return to the game with renewed energy and vigor. Want some ideas about what to do on a resting day? Click the Sweet Selah Days tab on our website. Want to win? Be willing to be benched.

Lord, please forgive me when I refuse Your call to give me rest! Help me to trust You enough to stop. To be still and know You better, my God and Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
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Nina Lost Her “No” Button

Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. (Proverbs 17:6 NIV)

I used to know how to say “no” quite well. When our children were young, I felt the full weight of responsibility on my shoulders to help shape and mold them into productive, sweet, kind, loving, gracious Christian women. Parenting instructions at the time informed me that enabling them to attain all these marvelous attributes meant saying “no.” A lot. Being firm. Making sure they obeyed. Came when called. No getting away with bad behavior. Providing consequences. I could “no” with the best of them. Second slice of dessert? No. Jump on the bed and hurt yourself or the bed? No. Get out of bed for an extra hug? No. A third glass of water after lights out, please? No, again.

Now I’m a Nina. Four of my grandchildren are currently living with us. Of course, they are adorable, just like the two who don’t live with me. And somehow, I seem to have lost the ability to say “no.” Jump on the bed? Um. Well, be careful dears. Extra water? Of course, honey. Read another book … oh look you brought me seven books. Well, yes! I’ll read all seven. I’m a complete pushover for these darlings. What in the world has happened?

A number of things have transpired in the decades between then and now. First of all, I regret that I was harsher than I needed to be with my own dear girls. Sure, firmness was needed at times, but sometimes my firmness was to be in control and not because it was best for them. I’d like to not repeat that, thank you. Second, I realize that my time with my grandchildren is short. I have the privilege of living with four of them for a year, but normally they all live far away and visits are not frequent. I want to be remembered by them as one who showed kindness and grace—not temper and fussiness. Third, I’m (thankfully) no longer the one in charge. The primary duty of discipline and training is their parents’ responsibility, not mine. My job is to learn the standards the parents have set and enforce them as best I can. Both my girls are kinder than I was, and I love the way they love their children. I want to be like them in extending grace and patience.

Oh, how I agree with our verse above. My children’s children are a “crown” and a joy to this Nina! How I want the second part of that verse to be true as well, that my children would be proud of me and the way I grandparent. I want to honor their parenting decisions and be a blessing to them as best I can. And that means … I do need to find that “no” button. Really. [Sigh.] At times it’s still needed, and what a struggle it can be to say that little, two-letter word.

Lord, help us, no matter what stage of life we are in, to treat the children in our lives with love and tenderness, wisdom and understanding. May the children we love grow into adults who love You. In Jesus’ Name—the One who loved children so well! Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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Jump. You Can Trust Him.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11 NIV 1984, emphasis mine)

What was it in my husband’s personality that made him want to toss his children up over his head and catch them again? It scared me to death, but our daughters weren’t frightened. Nope. They loved it. I can remember their laughter and giggles … and my worry … even now. Despite my fears, he never once dropped either of those precious girls.

As our daughters grew older, they would stand on the bed and shout, “Catch me, Daddy!” Again, every time they leaped with total confidence toward their daddy’s big, strong arms, Ray would catch them. Oh, to have the faith of a little child, confident that my Father God, my Abba, will not drop me!

Why did our daughters willing leap into their daddy’s arms? Because they knew him. They knew he was much stronger and bigger than they were. They knew he loved them and had no intention of hurting them. They knew his eyes were trained on them, ready to catch and hold them tight. The thrill of the jump was not terrifying, because they trusted the one they were jumping to.

Paul, in Philippians 3, speaks of his longing to know Christ. Paul wanted to understand His power. A power so big Jesus did not stay dead when he died. Resurrection power. Paul wanted to share in Christ’s sufferings. He recognized that this was a huge part of Christ’s life, and he didn’t want to miss understanding that part of who Jesus was either. Paul wanted to be like Him to the death and share in eternal life with His Savior.

Can you imagine knowing Christ so well that death and suffering hold no fear? That was Paul’s desire. That’s mine also. I want, someday, to cross from this life to the next in joy, because I trust the One who will catch me as I leap from a mortal to an immortal body! And if there is suffering along the way … I want to see it as a sharing—a fellowship—with the One who suffered most for me. He, of all people, knows what it feels like to hurt. And He suffers with us, in fellowship, never leaving us even in the hardest of times.

So, dear friends, let’s make it our goal to know Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). The more we know Him, the more we will trust Him, no matter what our futures hold. When the One we are trusting is God, we can jump with joy!

Father, I truly do want to know You better and love You more. Help me to study, to learn, to be with You in quiet, so that I come to know You, the One who made me and knows me intimately. Thank You that there is no fear in Love. You are trustworthy. I praise You in Jesus Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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Labor On

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV)

I had such idealistic ideas about childbirth before our first child was born. Kathryn would be delivered naturally, as I stared calmly at my focal point picture, breathing as I had been taught with my wonderful husband and coach whispering just the right words of encouragement into my happy ears. Our baby would emerge pretty and pink and glowing with health. We had attended the classes. We had practiced. We were ready. Well ... the reality was somewhat messier than expected.

I was in labor 28 hours. Not only could I not focus on a focal point, I did not want to focus on anything except the doctor who could give me something to Make The Pain Stop. Sigh. Yep. I caved. Had the help of drugs. Delivered a healthy baby, but … she was not all pretty and pink when she first appeared. Ha! But Oh. When I held that little girl in my arms, when I counted her little fingers and toes and kissed her cute little button nose, I was smitten. All that hard, messy labor was worth it. Our Kathryn had arrived and we rejoiced.

Paul urges believers in the verse above to “ … stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” What work has the Lord called you to do? Are you a Sunday School teacher? On a missions committee? Working with the homeless? Whatever job God has assigned you at this point in your life, be encouraged. Labor—hard and messy though it might be—if done for the Lord, will never be in vain. Every little thing we do in our churches or simply in our daily lives that points to Christ matters.

Dear friend, don’t give up. Even when it hurts, even when you need help, like I did, to push through, keep going! On that great day when we arrive in Heaven, one of our greatest joys will be to see the results of our labors. That little kid in Sunday School class, who had a million questions, saved and present with you before the throne. Those from every tribe and nation worshiping, some of them there because of your monetary gifts, prayers, and support of missionaries. That homeless person you witnessed to … you didn't think he heard you and there he is beside you in Heaven worshiping the King! There is no greater work than the work God assigns. So stand firm. Let nothing move you from the work God has given you. It is not in vain.

Heavenly Father, show me today the work You have for me. Give me eyes to see those who need to hear of You. Help me to keep going, sharing the gospel, serving in small ways so that others can hear the good news that Jesus has paid the price for their sins and they are freed to enter Heaven if they put their trust in Him. Lord, use me. Give me strength to labor for Your kingdom work. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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Choosing the Unlikely

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things … the weak things … the lowly things of this world … so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus .... (1 Corinthians 1:26-30 NIV)

He was a most unlikely candidate to lead a nation. He had an anger problem. He ran away instead of facing his troubles. And he had a speech issue. Oh, and did I mention he was 80 years old? But God chose Moses to lead His people out of Egypt and into freedom.

Her mother and her father had both died. She was raised by an uncle, a captive in a foreign land not her own. Just one of thousands. Yet, God chose Esther to marry a powerful king and save her nation from annihilation by her interceding pleas. Somehow, I don’t think when she was a little girl growing up an orphan, she ever dreamed that would be her role.

He was too scared to even thresh wheat in the open. He was the youngest kid in his family in the least important clan and tribe. But God decided Gideon was the perfect warrior to fight a battle with a mere 300 men against thousands.

He started out watching his dad’s sheep. He slept with too many women and killed one husband to acquire yet another wife. Yet, God made him king—and the king from whose lineage would come the King of Kings, God’s own Son. His psalms and stories fill God’s Word, because—despite all his mess-ups and trials—King David truly deeply loved God.

She lived in a small village. Just a teenage girl, excited or scared (who knows?) about her soon-to-be new life as the wife of a poor carpenter. Yet God met her and told her she would give birth to the Savior of the world. And Mary did.

When God Himself showed up in human skin, He chose an animal’s feeding trough for His bassinette and swaddling clothes for His layette. He was born in an obscure town to poor folk who were forced to flee to Egypt as refugees for a time. He never owned His own home or accrued a savings account. He traveled light and often slept outdoors. He had no microphones, cameras, newscasts, or social media to capture the attention of a nation and a world … and yet Jesus did.

How about you? Are you feeling insignificant? Inadequate to serve Him? Perhaps your sins are great and you think that disqualifies you from the kingdom-building program. Good news. God delights in taking those of us who are weak, insignificant, and terribly flawed and molding us into beautiful vessels for His kingdom work.

Let’s join God’s ragtag brigade of misfits shall we? Let’s rejoice that He loves to use the least of us for His good work, so that His glory shines through our efforts. We don’t have to be strong, good-looking, wealthy, or super smart to be used by God. In fact, those very things can be hindrances to our usefulness if we rely on them instead of Him. Instead, let’s come to Him with willing hearts, ready to be redeemed and transformed for His good purposes.

Who knows what He will do through us if we are willing?

Lord, here we are. Use us as You will for Your good purposes. We bow our heads and hearts before You in trust and happy expectation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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Who Are You Imitating?

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB)

My little granddaughter is learning to chat and interact with us more fully these days. Watching her string words together and create increasingly complex sentences is so much fun! Also sobering. You see, she imitates what she hears. The other day, I asked her to do something she did not want to do. When I insisted, she declared, “Okay, fine,” but with a martyred expression and a slight roll of her two-year-old eyes. Oh, did I laugh (and cringe). You see, she didn’t just “make that up.” She had heard that expression and that tone from me. I’ve become freshly aware that her inquisitive young mind is listening to me, watching what I do, and imitating. Oh, Lord, guide and help me to say what is good and true as this little one observes me, please!

This granddaughter and her family are temporarily living with us, so she has ample opportunities to watch and imitate her Nina. We do tend to imitate those closest to us, don’t we? If we are surrounded by cursing at our workplace, we find ourselves having to guard our tongues. If we hang around gossips, before you know it, we’re joining in. Oh, how careful we must be when it comes to imitation.

This is one of many reasons we need to spend time with God. If we are to be imitators of Him, as His beloved children, we need to hang around Him enough to see what He says. We need to be reading the Word and studying Christ’s life, so that we do as He did. And just in case we are confused about that, Paul lays it out for us quite plainly, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (emphasis mine). What does that look like in my life and yours?

Love: When I walk in love, I walk as Jesus did. He saw the woman caught in adultery and did not condemn her, although He did tell her to “sin no more.” (Read John 8:1-11.) When He was on the way to heal Jairus’ daughter and a desperate woman touched His clothing, He stopped in His tracks and ministered to this dear one. (Read Mark 5:21-34.) When children and their parents tried to see Him, He allowed the interruption and said, “Let them come.” (Read Matthew 19:13-14.) He told stories of seeking lost sheep and lost sons, even running toward prodigals who have turned for home, even loving the self-righteous firstborn son enough to leave the party and plead with him to attend. (Read Luke 15.) Oh, Lord, help me to be kind to those caught in sin, while still maintaining the truth that it is sin. Help me to notice those who interrupt my days and love them whether it’s convenient or not. Give me grace enough to seek those who are lost and gently lead them home to You, and help me also to love the self-righteous folk, like You did.

Give: When I live sacrificially, I live like Christ did, always focused on His Father’s will. (Read John 6:38.) I start my days with a surrendered heart, wanting to go where He sends me and do the work He sets before me. I yield my own comfort and selfish desires and look to please God in the day’s activities. As Christ did, I give up the rights to my time and my agenda and seek God’s agenda more. Father, help me to stop and listen to You each day, receiving my marching orders from You first. When I tend toward laziness or selfishness, enable me to do the servant-hearted thing if that is what You have placed on my heart to do. Lord, I need Your guidance in sorting out where to spend my time. Help me walk so near to You that I hear Your voice directing me in my “yes” and in my “no” each day. Enable me to please one Voice: Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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The Comfort of Consistency

“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
You who have been borne by Me from birth
And have been carried from the womb;
Even to your old age I will be the same,
And even to your graying years I will bear you!”

(Isaiah 46:3-4a NASB)

Dad Gamble had been in the hospital a few days and was feeling better. “I like living with you and Ray,” he said during my visit. “In the morning, honey, you come in with a cup of coffee and put it on my bed tray. You open the blinds so I can see the sun rise.” Then he continued, repeating our daily routine. In that strange hospital room in a new town and a new state, reflecting on our everyday habits gave him comfort. Remembering the consistent routine we had established at home helped him cope with the surprise and change at the hospital. Simply listing what was normal was reassuring.

“Nina,” says my four-year-old grandson. “When I go back to living in Virginia and you come to visit, will there still be a present every day when I wake up?” This little guy and his family are living with us temporarily, so in this household, much to his sadness, there are not presents every day. However, he thinks back on the familiar and loves remembering the consistent promise that when Nina and Papa visit, there’s always a fun bag with a treasure when you wake up and come downstairs in the morning. He is comforted to think that this routine will re-emerge once he’s back home again. It eases the unfamiliarity of living in a new place for a season.

No matter our age, consistency matters. Even though rituals and routines can feel boring at times, the lack of any rhythm to a life creates confusion and chaos and fear. We are most contented when we know what to expect and when those expectations are met. Just about everyone chooses certain patterns of living that guarantee each day has some certainties.

This beautiful passage in Isaiah is God’s way of telling us that there is great certainty in being His. Those of us born into His family are carried by Him. And “even to our old age” God will not change. He will be the same, and even to our “graying years” God will bear us.

Every week, I see a little more gray in my brown hair—the graying years have arrived. I’m Nina to five grandchildren with one on the way, and my hair will gray more with each passing year. Oh, how I am comforted by this passage! Since I was a little one of four, kneeling, and asking Jesus to come into my heart, my good, great God has carried me. He has been with me in good times and hard times. The reassurance that He will never abandon me lifts me up and makes me smile. The consistent love of my God is a wonderful comfort.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your deep, consistent love. I could barely understand what I was doing when I was four, and yet You loved me and carried me. When I’m very old, I suspect I may not be able to do too much then either—except love You and pray. And You will continue to love me even then. And, when I pass from this life to eternity, there You will be! Loving me still. Oh, how glad I am to be Yours. Thank you, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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Be Like Hezekiah - How To Handle Bad News Like a Champ

After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the LORD’s Temple and spread it out before the LORD. (2 Kings 19:14 NLT)

How do you react when you receive bad, hard news? If you’re like most of the human race, your first response is an increased heart rate. Fear kicks into high gear, sent straight from the enemy of your soul. Then, different personalities deal with bad news in different ways. Some of us call our seventeen closest friends. Or our mother. Some of us bury ourselves in work and try to forget. Others sit. Paralyzed and frightened.

I was recently blindsided with bad news, but this time … I made a decision: I don’t want to walk down my well-worn fearful path. I’m pretty much tired of the increased heart rate panic mode and that fear thing. Nope. This time I tried the Hezekiah approach—so glad I remembered his name so I could look him up in my Bible. Reading his story filled me with hope.

As king of Israel, Hezekiah was responsible for an entire nation. One day he received a letter from the king of Assyria demanding surrender and threatening annihilation. Seriously bad news! Especially considering that the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, had already decimated just about every nation he fought. The threat was very real. Terrifying. And this enemy was definitely too strong to be resisted by Hezekiah’s armies.

Hezekiah’s response? Now that was something. He took that threatening letter and marched himself up to the temple of the Lord, God of Israel, and basically laid it out before God and declared, “Here. Please take care of this.” And guess what? God did. Yup. Against all odds, Israel came out triumphant—and in the entire army, not a man had to even lift a finger. One hundred and eighty-five thousand fighting men surrounded Jerusalem, but in one night … they all died, struck down by the angel of the Lord. And that was that. No one fought Israel because no one was left alive to fight. Hezekiah and his army did nothing … except …

This wise king actually did the most important thing of all. He remembered who was in charge. He went straight to the top and “spread out” his praise, his problem, and his petition before the Lord.

And what an answer he received! No historical documents record that Sennacherib ever conquered Jerusalem, although records state his army was there. Something happened that night that sent the super star king scuttling back to Assyria, where he was assassinated by his own sons. So much for that enemy.

This time when my hard news hit, I looked up Hezekiah’s story in 2 Kings 19. Figuratively, I spread it out before the Lord. I had no idea what to do or how to solve this problem. But that act of giving it over to God filled me with joy! The late Eugenia Price used to remind us that “God is responsible for me,” because He is my Father. So, His little Sharon gave Him her big problem and there it sits. No, it’s not yet solved. In fact, I still have no clue how to “fix it.” But I’ve given it to the One who knows and is able.

Today, I read Hezekiah’s prayer in 2 Kings 19 and make it my own:

“O LORD, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim!
You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth.
Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! …”
(v. 15a-16b NLT)

I read and am comforted. I am reminded that I can safely entrust all difficulties to my great and good God. Today, I told fear to take a hike. My God’s got this. I may not know how it will be solved, but I know I’ve brought it to the right place. I can rest in that. Thank You, Lord!

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

Donate
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.

 

 

 

 

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