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Archive for February, 2022

Years ago I came across an amusing, tongue-in-cheek article, “What Your Favorite Color Says about You.”  Wish I’d saved it, but alas.

I remember thinking, This will be fun to share with the girls in the faculty lounge during our break.  Those girls would be the other fourth grade teachers at my school.

Sure enough, as each colleague revealed her favorite color and I read its meaning, they began to laugh uproariously, because the humorous descriptions fit each person’s personality perfectly. A few times I could hardly get the words out before a giggle-fit would overpower me—even though the article was already familiar.

Had the laughter come while reading to myself?  No—not until I shared it.

Surely you’ve noticed this phenomenon, which brings us to the first joy-booster:

Share a joy and expand that joy.

St. Augustine explained it this way:

What a God-given gift—the privilege to contribute happiness to one another, and find our own joy increased as well.

Another joy booster?

Pay attention to detail.

I wonder how many of God’s delightful gifts have escaped my attention because I’ve been distracted?

I’m still striving to live aware and not allow my thoughts to be so focused on events (past, present, or future), what-ifs, or the to-do list, that I miss God’s glory right in front of me.

 I want to:

  • Take note of the graceful sway of the willow trees
  • Breathe in the aroma of a crisp winter’s morning
  • Listen attentively to the happy praises of a house sparrow
  • Pause to truly taste the nutty goodness of freshly brewed coffee
  • Focus on the cool softness of a rose petal

The incredible gift of the ordinary! Glory comes streaming from the table of life.

Macrina Wiederkehar

Joy Booster #3:

 Express gratitude and be filled with joy (Deuteronomy 26:11; Psalm 126:3).   

Expressing appreciation for what we already have—even the little things—can profoundly affect our spirits.

For example, I’m grateful for:

Color.  God could have created the world in shades of gray; it probably wouldn’t have mattered.  But the variety, the interest, and infinite number of color-combinations add such great pleasure to our lives.

Anticipation. The remarkable aroma of garlic and onions simmering in olive oil–a precursor to the savory soup we’ll enjoy in a few hours–all the more flavorful because my husband is making it. (He actually likes to cook!)

The contrast of light and shadow. The security lights on the backsides of the neighbors’ houses create enough glow so tree branches cast lovely criss-cross shadows across the snow.

Steve’s three squeezes when he holds my hand.  It means, “I love you;” and we’ve been passing that silent message back and forth for over forty years.

The dimples on a baby’s hand—the epitome of cuteness.

And while contemplating such blessings, I realize afresh why God has told us to rejoice at all times (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

Let’s boost our joy by sharing happiness to those around us, living attentively, and expressing our thanks to God continually!

 *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

What boosts your joy?  Tell us about it in the Comment section below!

Photo credits: pixabay.com; canva.com; geograph.org.uk; pixabay.com; wallpaperflare.com; wikimedia.com; pixhere.com.

(Revised and reblogged from March 29, 2014.)

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A glowing horizon and a bright crescent moon provided a delightful inspiration one morning. What if I stayed on the lookout for more of God’s blessings that day and kept a list?

The time was spring—sunbeams spangled the sky, a light jacket warded off cool breezes, daffodils and hyacinths dotted neighbors’ yards, and the birds sang their equivalent of the “Hallelujah Chorus.” By day’s end that list included twenty delights. (You can access that list here.)

Spring is an easy time to count blessings, when creation displays God’s glory in numerous ways.

But what about winter, when skies are often overcast, when much of the landscape offers only shades of gray and brown, and when most birds are silent or absent altogether? Is it possible to find twenty delights in quick succession?

As a matter of fact, yes.

Let’s begin with the first matter of morning: coffee.

Within minutes of hitting the start button, our coffee maker gurgles with gusto as the last of the water pumps through, thus providing the first item for my list:

#1: That happy burbling sound indicating the coffee is almost ready!

#2: The sublime flavor and fragrance of coffee.

#3: The fact that black coffee has no calories! (Yes, I realize the first three mercies on this list involve coffee. But I’m sure you agree: its supreme delight warrants attention to the details!)

#4: The view out the kitchen window, especially when it includes virtual mountains—a pale gray cloudbank spreading along the horizon, looking every bit like a ridge of the Smokies.

#5: For that coffee, my new Ember mug (a Christmas gift), keeping the last sip as hot as the first.

#6: The lamp on my desk perfectly backlighting the graceful steam curls from my mug. Mesmerizing!

#7: Sunshine pouring in the south-facing windows across the back of our house, especially welcome after several days of gray.

#8: Blowing cantaloupe-sized bubbles (sometimes bigger) with my fingers. (I discovered this bit of fun during the early days of pandemic hand-washing. With sudsy hands, make a ring of forefinger and thumb and blow!)

#9: Running an errand in my new, cozy and comfy boots—the outcome of a two-month search.

#10: A collection of herbal teas to choose from, once I’ve met my daily quota of caffeine.

#11:  Lazing in our recliners before the fireplace, with books, computers, and tea, reveling in the warmth, crackle, and wood-scent.  All five senses contentedly engaged.

(The view over our slipper-tops.)

#12: Discovering by chance the last item needed for my Colors of Winter list. Red was easy—cardinals and holly berries. Orange—robins and red foxes. Yellow—prairie grass. . .

. . . Green—the pines and evergreens. Blue—blue jays and blue-gray Northern bayberries. And finally, for purple, a snow-dusted beautyberry shrub. 

For eyes that seek, winter offers more than brown and gray after all.

#13: Restoration through creativity, as a scented candle flickers, restful music provides background, and occasional sips of tea offer refreshment. Again, all senses engaged.

(My latest effort–Thanks to inspiration from Pinterest!)

#14:  Playtime with the grandgirls.

(Calico Critters lined up for their baths.)

#15: The luxury of a cozy nap!

#16: A snow flurry, providing more stars for another list, included in my post two weeks ago, “Emblems of Love.”

(Photo taken on our deck)

#17: Fairy lights and candles to dispel the gloom of a wintry dusk.

#18:  A happenstance glimpse of a fox trotting by, as we view the snowfall one last time before dark.

#19:  Popcorn—a guilt-free snack (if prepared properly) and . . .

#20: . . . dark chocolate–just one square, offering a lesson in savoring. How wonderful researchers have determined dark chocolate is good for us!

The more we look, the more we see of God’s mercies and immense graces—a truth that applies even in bleak winter.

Have you been on the lookout? What mercies and graces have you seen? Please share an example or two in the comment section below!

Photo credits: http://www.maxpixels.net; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.pixaHive.com; Nancy Ruegg (2); http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.flickr.com; Nancy Ruegg (4).

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Prince Kaboo’s head hung over his chest. Every part of his body ached from being tied to a wooden cross and then beaten. His back stung like fire from whippings with poisonous vines that also caused chills and fever. 

All Kaboo could think about was death, and he welcomed it. Then the continual torture and starvation would stop, inflicted by the powerful Grebo tribe, who’d taken him captive in central Liberia. They used Kaboo to extort “peace payments” from his father, chieftain of the neighboring Kru tribe. He was only fourteen years old; the year, 1887.

(Liberia is located west of the Ivory Coast in southwestern West Africa.)

Suddenly, a bright light appeared over Kaboo. The ropes that held him to the cross fell off, and a voice called, “Kaboo! Run!” He felt miraculous strength return to his emaciated body.

Kaboo did as the voice commanded, dashing for the jungle and hiding inside a hollow tree until nightfall. Questions swarmed in his head. Where had the light come from? Who spoke to him? How did he become instantaneously strong? Kaboo had no answers.

The young prince did know he could not return home. The Grebos would just come for him again. So Kaboo determined to go in the opposite direction. At nightfall when he emerged from the tree, Kaboo was startled to see the light still shining above him. It guided him through the jungle.

Kaboo walked many days and finally came to a farm where he met one of the workers who happened to come from his tribe. That young man introduced Kaboo to the boss, who gave him a job.

The fellow tribesman took Kaboo to church on Sunday.

(Perhaps the church resembled this one.)

There he heard the story of a man named Saul who saw a great light and heard a voice.

“That’s what happened to me!” Kaboo exclaimed. He realized the same Jesus who spoke to Saul had spoken to him, and he invited Jesus into his life.  Soon after, an American missionary, Miss Knolls, gave Kaboo a new name: Samuel Morris, after her benefactor.

Months later Kaboo met a boy who’d been a slave in the Grebo tribe when Sammy (as he came be known) was held hostage. The boy told Sammy, “We didn’t know what happened to you. A bright light flashed over you, someone called your name, and then you were gone!”

Sammy explained the miracle of his escape and the boy became a Christian too.

A dream began to form in Sammy’s heart, to head for America where there’d be knowledgeable teachers and many books about God. He was hungry to learn. So Sammy set out on foot for the coast where he found a ship headed to America.

(Such a scene may have greeted Sammy as he arrived at the port in Monrovia.)

He offered to work in exchange for passage but the captain declined.

“Oh Lord,” Sammy prayed. “Change his heart!”

And God answered. One of the sailors became sick and Sammy was assigned his tasks. Others on board mistreated him, but Sammy’s kindheartedness won them over, and by voyage’s end many chose to believe in Jesus, including the captain.

Upon arrival in New York City, Sammy set out to find Stephen Merritt. According to his missionary friends back in Liberia, this superintendent of a homeless mission would gladly help him.

(New York City, 1880-1890)

Sammy stayed several months with Stephen, learning to know God better and assisting with the mission work. His passion for Jesus was contagious and many of the men who came through the mission also accepted Christ into their lives.

Stephen urged Sammy to go to Taylor University in Indiana to continue his education. The superintendent contacted the school’s president, Thaddeus Reade, on Sammy’s behalf.

This was the same university where the missionary, Miss Knolls, had attended. By December of 1891, Sammy had enrolled at Taylor and planned to become a missionary himself to the people of Liberia.

(Samuel Morris)

On May 12, 1893, the unthinkable occurred. Sammy died from a respiratory infection.

Some would say, “Why would God allow such a tragedy?”

But here’s what happened.

A few days after Sammy’s funeral, one Taylor student declared in a prayer meeting, “I feel impressed this moment that I must go to Africa in Sammy’s place, and I pray that as his work has fallen upon me, the mantle of his faith may also fall upon me.”[1] 

Two more of that group affirmed they felt God wanted them to go to Africa also. Instead of one missionary—Samuel Morris—there would be three. And many more have followed.

In addition, five books and a film chronicle his life. In Sinoe County, Liberia, stands the Samuel Morris Educational Resource and Conference Center—a joint project of Taylor University, the Sinoe County Association of the Americas (SCAA), and local agencies in Liberia. At Taylor, scholarships and a dorm bear his name, and the school still prepares missionaries to serve around the world.

“Samuel Morris was a divinely sent messenger of God to Taylor University. He thought he was coming over here to prepare himself for his mission to his people, but his coming was to prepare Taylor University for her mission to the whole world. All who met him were impressed with his sublime, yet simple faith in God.”[2]

Thaddeus Reade

 

[1] https://pillars.taylor.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=samuel-morris

[2] https://www.taylor.edu/about/samuel-morris

Sources:

https://www.taylor.edu/about/samuel-morris

https://www.taylor.edu/news/taylor-group-traveling-to-liberia-for-dedication-cornerstone-laying-of-samuel-morris-center

https://wellsofgrace.com/biography/english/morris.htm

Photo sources: http://www.picryl.com; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.picryl.com; http://www.wikimedia.org.

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(What follows is an imaginary conversation between God and me as I contemplated the verses above.)

ME:

O God, at face value this proclamation excludes me from your presence. How unthinkable! I can’t imagine life without you actively involved, providing strength, wisdom, encouragement, and more.

But I haven’t led a blameless life, I haven’t always done what is right, nor kept my mouth from lies or insincerity. Any effort on my part to warrant access to your presence would fall horribly short of your standard.

However.  You understand what I’m made of; you know I’m just dust! You’ve provided the Way for me to enter your presence—even enjoy relationship with you—through your perfect and blameless Son.[1]

Jesus’ sacrifice in my place provided a figurative, pure white robe for me to wear, constructed from his uprightness, which is more than sufficient to cover all the stains of my sins.

It’s not my failures and wrongdoing that you see, but that radiant, spotless robe. “Thank you” seem such paltry words for such a precious gift![2]

And yet, even though I’ve been forgiven of all wrongs and no longer stand condemned, I dearly desire to be pure before you, including my thoughts, motives, and desires. 

I want to please you in appreciation for all you’ve done for me. In addition, a pure life of wisdom and goodness will allow me to experience the fullness of your blessings like peace and joy, untainted by any sin, guilt, or shame.[3]

How do I become pure, Father?

GOD:

(Put your name in the blanks.)

It pleases me greatly, __________, that this is your heart’s desire. Remember, just as my Spirit led you to Jesus, he is at work within you creating good.[4]

This is a joint effort, however. You strive toward purity while I strengthen you for the task and augment the outcome. With each step you take, the next one becomes easier as you grow in self-discipline.[5]

Let’s begin with your thought life. I inspired Paul to include eight adjectives that describe the kinds of thoughts that will cleanse the mind of negativity, discouragement, and temptation:

And the purest, most noble truth you can dwell on is my Word.

Within the covers of your Bible you find the guidance you need and the wherewithal to heed it, the encouragement to press on and the strength to do it, the comfort for every wound and the faith to embrace it.

And then pray, dear __________.  Seek the quality of purity as King David did when he asked, “Create in me a clean heart within me, O God” (Psalm 51:10).

Thus empowered by noble thoughts, scripture-truth, and heartfelt prayers, you’ll learn to love the sound of your feet walking away from things not meant for you[6] and reveling in the pure things that are.

Then–such wonderful blessings I’ve reserved for you! Remember what Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount?

To see me is to enjoy intimate fellowship with me. You’ll sense my presence with you. Together we’ll enjoy my glory reflected in creation, in the events of your life, and in the lives of others.

I’ll open your eyes to see rare splendors of my glory.  From morning till night, __________, you’ll be praising my name and I will smile with delight.[7]

ME:

O Father, grow me in purity so I may present it as a love-gift back to you, and as a means of experiencing the blissful life with you that you so graciously offer.

In the powerful name of your Son Jesus I pray, AMEN.


[1] Psalm 103:14; 1 John 4:15, 2 Corinthians 5:21

[2] Isaiah 61:10;

[3] Romans 8:1; Romans 12:1-2; John 14:21; Proverbs 2:1-11; James 3:17

[4] Philippians 1:6, 2:13;

[5] 2 Timothy 2:22; 2 Corinthians 9:10; Galatians 5:22-23

[6] Based on quote, author unknown

[7] Isaiah 6:3; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Psalm 113:3; Psalm 147:11

Photo credits: http://www.canva.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.maxpixel.net; http://www.dailyverses.net.

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