Number Game

Me: “Where’s the 3?”

My granddaughter: (points to the 3)

“That’s right! Where’s the 5?”

(points to the 5)

“Right again! And where’s the 2?”

(points to a 4)

“No, that’s a 4. Here’s the 2.”

(smiles)

“What’s this number?” I point to a 4.

“4”

“Right! What about this one?” I point to a 1.

(no answer)

“It’s a 1. Can you say 1?”

(smiles and looks down)

“Okay, what’s this number?” I point to a 5.

“5”

“Right! And what’s this number?” I point to a 2.

“3”

“No, it’s a 2. What is it?”

(smiles and looks down)

“Okay, what’s this number?” I point to a 3.

“3”

“Right. And what’s this number?” I point to a 5.

“5”

“Right. And what’s this number?” I point to a 4.

“4”

“Right. You’re so smart! What’s this number?” I point to a 1.

(no answer)

“It’s a 1. What about this one?” I point to a 2.

“8”

“No, it’s a two.”

(smiles and looks away)

“What’s this number?” I point to the 2 again.

(knocks it off the fridge)

“Time to play another game?”

“Yes.”

And off we go.

Later I got to thinking about this number game. Why was my two year old granddaughter able to identify the numerals 3-5 so well, but just couldn’t seem to get 1 or 2?

Then I figured it out!

From birth she has always striven to be older than she was. Now that she’s passed her first and second birthdays, those two numbers don’t matter anymore. She’s older than them (or so she thinks) so they aren’t worth her time. Her interest in the higher numbers, the ones she will be one day, reveals that she’s focused on where she’s going, not where she’s been. In other words… forget the past; the future is what’s important.

It reminds me of what Paul said to the Philippians: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:13-14)

If that number game is any indication, my granddaughter has this mastered.

Messy Threads

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As I looked at the wing I just finished stitching, I saw the messy threads and knew I wouldn’t be able to use it like that. It would mar the beauty of the angel bear I was working on.  It also made me think of times when my life felt just as messy.

 

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This kind of mess required something that could cut threads without damaging the wing. And I knew just the right tool – my embroidery scissors with the curved tip. But that tool had to be used correctly.

 

 

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After a while, I was tired and wanted to stop. So many threads had been cut, but there were still many left. The wing was looking better than before, and I was tempted to let it go, but I knew the job wasn’t finished. So I continued.

 

 

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Finished, and beautiful! Now I could use it for the purpose I made it for. I am always amazed at the how much better the wings look once the threads are removed.

 

That’ when we need to get out God’s scissors and start clipping. If we allow Him to help, and not stop once we start feeling better, we will be amazed at how much better we will be able to do what He created us to do. And we will see beauty where once there was just a mess.

 

Is your life a mess? Don’t get discouraged. Get clipping!

 

Heb 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Heb 4:12  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

 

Amusement Park: Swinging Box

Amusement Park: Swinging Box

“How about that ride?” Jesus pointed to a box hanging by four poles from a horizontal bar.  “I love riding this one!”

Amalia agreed, and they climbed in. “This swing is supposed to be able to go all the way around, right?”

“Yes, if you keep working at it.”

“I’m ready.”

Amalia waited. But nothing happened. No motor came on to move them. The box remained stationary.

“Is this ride broken? Why isn’t it swinging?”

“It’s waiting for you.”

“For me? What do I have to do? I’m already inside, standing up, holding on to the wall handles. I’m ready. So why doesn’t someone push the button to get this ride moving?” She leaned out the window. “Hey, anybody out there?”

“Amalia, You have to get it moving.”

“How do I do that?” She studied the walls, ceiling, and floor. “There are no buttons in here either.”

“The power comes from your body. You have to move, and then the box will move.”

“Oh, okay, if I have to.” She began hopping, jumping from foot to foot. The box jiggled, 0605202043 (2)but didn’t start swinging. She jumped harder, willing the box to swing, but it only jiggled more violently. “Come on, box! Why are you just jiggling? Start swinging!”  Frustrated at the lack of desired response, she looked at Jesus. He was laughing.

 

“Why are You laughing?”

“I’m laughing at the confusion this box must have, being jumped on like that. It’s reacting exactly as it should to what you are doing.”

“What do you mean? I’m trying as hard as I can to get it to swing, but it just bounces!”

“I know. But have you noticed that when you jump up and down, the box does the same?”

“How else am I supposed to get it to move?” Amalia frowned. “Besides, I like jumping.”

“Think about how a swing works. Specific movements are required. Any other movements won’t result in the swing moving in the direction it was made to move. You know, it’s kind of like when you do acts of service for people. You have to fit your actions to what they need. If you do only what you like or want, you won’t get worthwhile results.”

“What do you mean?”

“When you help people, you want to make their lives a little better, right? You want to bring them some happiness, share some love, or meet a need they have. But what if you only did what you wanted? What if someone needed their yard mowed, but you only liked to give food. If you went to them with food, they wouldn’t be very appreciative. They might be confused, or maybe even hurt that you weren’t really thinking about them.”

“Okay, I think I get it. “ She imagined sitting on a swing, and focused on which movements the swing needed her body to make into order to move. “Oh, I have to shift my weight frontwards and backwards.”

Amalia rocked back and forth. The box began to swing slightly. “It’s working!”

“Great! Keep going!”

After a while, sweaty from the effort, Amalia stopped moving. “Jesus, this is too hard. I’ve done my best, but I can only get halfway up. Can You help me?”

“I thought you’d never ask!”

He threw His weight with hers, and the box quickly climbed higher with each swing. Soon the momentum of the box’s movements added to their effort, and Amalia found that she didn’t have to work as hard at it as she had at the beginning.

“This is fantastic!” Amalia laughed aloud.

With Jesus grinning by her side, they continued shifting their weight, and the box climbed even higher. Higher and higher and higher, until they were directly above the horizontal bar. They lingered there just a moment, before swinging back down, and up the other side until they were above the horizontal bar again.

Amalia marveled. To be suspended up in the air like that had to be one of the most fascinating experiences she’s ever had.

And then it got better. On the next swing up, instead of lingering at the top, it kept moving. It continued down the back, then up and over again, making complete circles around the horizontal bar.

Amalia couldn’t contain her enthusiasm. “More! More!”

“That’s enough for now. Your body isn’t ready to maintain this for long. You need to take time to rest.”

Disappointed as the box slowly settled to a gentle swing, and then to a stop, Amalia realized her body was indeed spent. Jesus was right. She did need a rest.

And then, she reassured herself, she would get Him to take her up on this ride again.

 

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

How do you know what people need?

All comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated!

 

Scriptures:

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Romans 12:10-11 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Mark 6:30-31a The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest for a while.

Dear Little Book Worm (from Someone Who Loves You series)

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Dear Little Book Worm,

Your interest in books brings such joy to me. They open up worlds to you that would not otherwise be possible. So many things to see, places to visit, and concepts to learn. One day soon you will discover the greatest book of all – the Bible. It, too, will open up a whole new world to learn about. But even better than that, it will help you get to know the One who loved you enough to make sure you came to be. Read on, Little One, and discover the wonders all around you!

As Always,

Someone Who Loves You

 

2 Timothy 3:15-16 … from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Do you hear God speaking to you in these letters? If so, it’s no coincidence.  As I write to my new granddaughter, I can hear God speaking to me. And my prayer is that you can also hear Him speaking to you for He loves us even more than I love my granddaughter.

 

Digging For Real Treasure

With all the broken shells lining the beach, she just knew this was the spot. She set her beach towel and bag on the sand way above the high tide mark, then took her net and img_20180604_222246027.jpgwalked into the water. Staring down at the shifting shells along the breaking waves, she watched for anything that was a darker shinier black than anything else.  She was determined to find a shark tooth before having to go home but she found the waves very distracting and frustrating as they kept blocking her view and making the shells move before she could catch any.

So she began scooping up random piles of shells and dumping them on the beach above the water’s reach. Then stooping, she spread out the pile with her hands searching through all the broken pieces for the telltale shiny black. After many such searches, she gave up. This was not getting her anywhere.

She went back to standing in the water and concentrated on what she could see, hoping to find that one big tooth she knew was there. Her entire attention was focused on the search. She tuned out the sun beating down on her. She turned out the birds calling to each other. She tuned out the people strolling by. She even tuned out the waves as she peered intently through the water. Eventually, worn out, she gave up and went back up on the beach.

Sitting down near the shells that lined the high tide mark,  she began digging. Maybe she would dig up a tooth that had washed up then gotten buried by the sand. Jack pot! Within a few minutes she found a small but beautiful tooth! Feeling satisfied that she wouldn’t be going home empty handed, she headed for her towel.

As she sat, resting before her long walk back to her car, she had a thought. Why can I ignore the waves and sun and other distractions while searching for something as trivial as a shark tooth, and yet not be able to ignore all the distractions that call me away from searching the Bible for a word from God?

I’m going to have to make some changes, she told herself. It’s time to dig for the real treasure.

The Museum (a symbolic short story)

Apryl walked through the groups of people that wandered through the many rooms of the museum. As she walked, she was drawn to a room that seemed much brighter than all the others, as if the light within it came from something other than the florescent lights used by the rest of the museum. Curious, she made her way to it and went inside.

Whereas most of the rooms in the museum had been rectangular, this room had way more than four walls. She looked around and counted at least six before the room IMG_20180523_202035005disappeared around a corner. One huge painting, framed and centered, was on each wall. There were different size groups of people standing in front of each painting,  seemingly to be content with that one painting and not interested in any of the others. Other people moved from painting to painting, spending various amounts of time studying the painting before moving on. Occasionally someone would end their tour and settle in front of one of the paintings.

Apryl walked up to the nearest painting. It was a painting of a loaf of bread and a goblet of wine. She had seen paintings like this before, but somehow this one seemed more real. The people standing in front of it were quiet and reverent, rarely taking their eyes off of it.

After a few minutes, Apryl moved on to the next painting. A large Bible was featured in this one. A large group of people were standing around, exchanging self-controlled greetings and pointing to the painting from time to time.

The next painting was of a party. Everyone at the party appeared happy and excited, blowing streamers and raising their arms in victory gestures. The multi-ethnic group gathered here were just as excited as the people in the painting, slapping each other on their backs and speaking in a variety of languages.

Amazed at the differences in both the paintings and the groups of people who had settled at each one, Apryl couldn’t wait to see what she’d find next.

Moving as quickly as she could through the party people, she got to the next painting.  It featured the ten commandments carved on stone, just like what most people imagine Moses’ stone tablets had looked like. The people here were friendly, orderly, and inviting. As much as she enjoyed their interest in her, she moved on to the next one.

She was surprised at what she found in this painting. It was a beautiful swirl of colors with no distinct form that she could see. The people here were also a beautiful mixture of colors and sizes. She liked this one a lot but knew there were others to explore.

As she continued around the room, looking at painting after painting, and noticing how the groups of people in front of each resembled the contents of the paintings, it suddenly dawned in her what this room was all about and what these painting were and why the people were grouped as they were.

She looked up and said, “You know, God, You’re pretty cool. You made each of us unique and then provided for that uniqueness. And I, for one, am grateful!”

 

Apryl figured out the symbolism. Have you?

Tell me your best guess in the comments. I’ll reveal my meaning tomorrow in a special post, but I’m pretty sure some of you will think of even deeper meanings than mine! Have fun!

Is God Too Busy For the Little Things?

She listened as the people around her talked.

“We need to do what we can before we ask God to help,” one person said.

“Yeah, you know what they say, ‘God helps those who help themselves.'” said another.

“God’s too busy with requests from so many people for us to bother Him with little things or things we could do ourselves.” said a third, shaking his head adamantly.

And they all nodded their heads in agreement with each other.

She’d had heard similar comments most of her life. They didn’t surprise her. What did surprise her was where they were coming from. These were all Christians, all professing a personal relationship with God… yet saying He was generally too busy for them.

Were they right? She didn’t think so. She knew in her own prayer life, nothing was too small for God. And He was never too busy for her. Yet there were times He was quiet. She had thought it was to grow her faith. Or because it was something He had already told her. But now she started thinking maybe it was because He was pretty busy and hadn’t had time to answer her.

She went to the only source of truth she knew – the Bible. “OK, God, are You too busy for the small things?” she asked as she opened it.

Eph 6:18 “… pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Phil 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Hmmm, she thought. All occasions. All kinds of prayers. Every situation. That doesn’t sound like just the big things. God wants us praying for everything – small as well as big.

She had a new question for God. “Can You really hear us each time we pray, or are You too busy sometimes and You miss some of our prayers?”

1 Peter 3:12  “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer.”

Ps 145:18 “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”

Ps 33:18 “The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His unfailing love.”

So, she thought, His eyes and ears are always open to my prayers. That doesn’t sound like He misses any of them.

She had one more question. “How can You listen to so many people and still have time for our little things?”

Is 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways… as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Eph 3:18-20 “…how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ… and to know this love that surpasses knowledge… able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…”

I get it, she thought. He’s not limited like we humans are. We may try to understand God as if He were human like us because that’s all we know, but He’s not human. He’s God and He is BIG! Big enough to handle every one of our prayers – no matter how small they might be!

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Could Satan Really Do That?

“I need you. Come right over. Now!”

She hung up the phone, trembling as she looked over at the little boy standing in front of her. He seemed calmer than she felt even though he was the one who was hurt. She held his arm over his head as she waited for her friend to arrive. How could this have happened? One minute the eight year old had been running around the yard and climbing everything he could. The next, he had been dangling by one arm from an abandoned swing set frame. When she got him down, she saw that, as he had gripped the top of the frame with his upper arm to keep from falling, a large screw she didn’t know was up there had ripped a deep slash into his armpit. She could see layers of skin and tissue and other things she couldn’t identify and was surprised that there was very little blood.

The next few hours were spent trying to reach his foster mother, and praying in the clinic’s waiting room as doctors and nurses worked on his underarm.

Struggling with guilt, she tried to figure out why he had gotten hurt in the first place. In the two years she had been babysitting kids in her home, no one had ever gotten hurt. She took good care of them. She never left them unsupervised. She removed anything she thought could cause injury. And she maintained order and discipline, not allowing any wild or crazy behavior.

And yet, in the past month or so three boys had gotten hurt in seemingly random bizarre ways.

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Not finding any physical explanations for the sudden injuries, she looked to the spiritual. Did her recent spiritual growth have anything to do with the physical things happening around her? She knew the Bible said that Satan went around like a lion looking for who he could devour. She knew he would try to attack her to keep her faith from getting any stronger, but her kids? Would Satan really do that? Could he do that? Kids getting hurt was not acceptable.

 

“God,” she prayed. “Is it Satan? Does he have the authority and power to hurt people around me because of my spiritual activity?”

“What happened to Job?” she seemed to hear Him say.

“Satan was allowed to harm him in order to test his faith.”

“Did Satan harm anyone else?”

“Well, yes. His family was killed. Wow. I guess Satan CAN attack others because of me. But I don’t like it.”

“Job didn’t either. What did Job do about it?”

“Complain. Feel sorry for himself.”

“Did he lose faith?”

“No, I don’t think he did. He questioned a lot though.”

“Just like you’re doing?”

“Good point.”

What happened at the end?”

“You restored him. He was better off.”

“Why?”

“Hmmm… I guess because You were with him? And You have ultimate control?”

“Yes. Just as I do in all this. The boys are not permanently harmed. You did nothing wrong and the families don’t blame you. The question remains, what are you going to do? Back off spiritually to keep Satan from attacking again?”

“Nnnoooo… I don’t think that would be right. I shouldn’t let Satan control me like that. I guess I will keep working on growing my faith – but I AM going to get more serious about praying for the kids. And learn more about spiritual warfare.”

She did, and for the next two years that she babysat, no one else got hurt.

So what’s amazing about story?

Maybe how much the spiritual realm can manifest in the physical?

Maybe how answers for even something like this can be found in the Bible?

Maybe that Satan is real and constantly seeks to cause harm to God’s people in whatever ways he can, including physically?

Maybe that life – even spiritual life – is not always fair?

I don’t know. What do you think?

Baby Steps

She read Ps 37:23-24 in The Living Bible (TLB):

“The steps of good men are directed by the LORD. He delights in each step they take. If they fall, it isn’t fatal, for the LORD holds them with his hand.”

Hmmm… she thought. Who are these good men?

Paul says when we are saved, we are washed of our sins and we become good in the eyes of God. So these good men must be the saved. That means I’m one of the good guys.

“He delights in each step they take.”

The thought of a baby came to mind – one that was just learning to walk. And the delight on the dad’s face as he watched his son take each hesitant step.

God, as my Father, delights in my steps? That’s hard to believe because I sure don’t delight in them. I’m a baby in my faith and am just learning to walk. The steps are slow, often painful and awkward. But God delights in them, and He will always delight in them no matter how old I get.

“If they fall, it isn’t fatal…”

Wow, good to know. Because I fall a lot! My salvation does not depend on how well I walk, but on how well Jesus walked.

“for the LORD holds them with his hand.”

Jesus is right here, all the time, holding my hand as I continue taking steps.  I’ll never be separated from Him because it’s Him holding my hand, not me holding His.

Whew. This takes a lot of pressure off me!

She thought for a few minutes. So what I think God is saying is…

Relax! Don’t beat yourself up for your failures, but enjoy the whole spiritual learning process, because I do! I’m with you every step of the way!

Amazing!

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