75 – The Lily of the Valley

This city girl loved the bumpy ride in the bed of an old truck down a winding dirt road. If I was in Tennessee on a Sunday morning, I would be singing in the country church choir with Uncle Boyd and my cousins. When the choir needed more voices, he would call our names Donna, Linda, Billy and Sheila to join the choir.

To relieve my anxiety, I watched Aunt Louise’s face as I sang. She had the smile of an angel staring back at me.

I can still see the congregation, windows open, funeral fans waving in their hands as they sang. Uncle Boyd’s voice was the trumpet that led us in singing, “He’s the Lily of the Valley, the bright and morning star. He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.” Church, family, singing praises makes a soul happy.

Scripture: Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. Psalm 147:1 ESV

Prayer: Loving Father of us all, thank you for giving us songs about Jesus. We keep them in our hearts and minds to feed our spirit and encourage us. May we share these hymns and sing them with others all the days of our lives. The testimony comes through sharing, and singing is a wonderful method that helps us and others. Keep giving us hymns of praise, Lord. Amen.

© 2022 All Rights Reserved

60 – Train your brain

I have always admired people who seem to have it all together. You have probably met them, too. I am drawn to someone who has a positive outlook on life regardless of their circumstances. I visited a dear friend on her death bed, and I asked if she was afraid. Her face lit up as she softly smiled, “No, I am not afraid.” Those were the last words she spoke to me, and I want to think and speak fearless, positive words to others, too.

Talking with positive people, reading encouraging stories and watching movies that inspire me have trained my brain to think more positively. A Bible verse or a prayer to recite when a negative, worrisome thought arises also helps. You and I can change our thoughts. Fill your brain with good thoughts leaving no room for clutter.

Scripture: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 ESV

Prayer: Gracious Father, thank you for loving us with all our faults and negativity. You alone are worthy to be praised. Cleanse our minds of worry and criticism today. Show us the path to a pure heart and positive mind. We want to speak words of affirmation about our lives and comfort others in their time of need. May we always have a smile and kind word for everyone we meet. Amen.

© 2021 All Rights Reserved

57 – A little help

For a few years in my court work, I was on a judge’s team. Cases were divided among five of us for docketing pleadings and proceedings. We had paper files in the early days and each employee was responsible for placing the folders categorically in the large file room after data entry. Sometimes it was necessary to communicate with an attorney or staff over the telephone. I struggled with communication due to profound hearing loss, but I could do all tasks except answer the phone. So if a team member had to make or take a call for me, I would return the favor by filing their case folders in the file room.

When I had cochlear implant surgery, they were excited and happy for me. They joked that they were all going out to lunch and leave me to answer their phones! I asked for volunteers in our department to help me learn to hear words again. A few employees took their break time for a few weeks of hearing practice. Someone would sit with me and say words progressing over time to phrases then sentences then phone calls from a plan I wrote for my coworker tutors.

The Bible is rich with stories of people helping people in everyday life with hardship, disabilities, illness and death to name a few. We often think it is amazing when others volunteer, but we may hesitate to help. I hope my personal story will encourage others to seek Divine leadership toward lending a helping hand. Each person has something to give.

Scripture: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 ESV

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us helping hands and generous hearts. We want to be givers and seek to do your work so others will know your loving kindness. Instill in us the desire and wisdom to volunteer when someone needs help. Let others see Christ in us. Amen

© 2021 All Rights Reserved

56 – A cheerful giver

When I was a little barefoot girl, I learned about giving from my parents and my church. We didn’t have luxury items, but we had what we needed. I remember listening to a conversation between my parents one summer night. Daddy started supper when he arrived home from work. He was a cook in the Navy during World War II and helped Mama in the kitchen. When she got home, she asked him what happened to one of the porch chairs. He said one of the neighbors had remarked how much she liked the chairs, so he gave her one. Mind you, we only had two chairs.

Another generous gesture I observed was Mama and the neighbor ladies giving food gifts to each other. I learned to never return an empty plate. At church, we were taught about missionaries, and I participated in giving my offering at an early age. The more I gave, the more I wanted to give. This is not just about money. Giving my time for charity, sharing my resources and knowledge with others in my community and church has been a blessing. Everybody can do something. I find myself thanking God for the opportunity to give. I don’t want to return an empty plate to the Lord because he gave me his Son.

Scripture: Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the grace and blessings you bestow on me daily. Every minute of the day you walk beside me. Knowing you love me and have a plan for my life makes me a cheerful giver. Show me ways I can share your love with others. Send me to someone today that I can help, and let them see Christ in me. I want to be your cheerful giver. Amen

© 2021 All Rights Reserved

54 – A song for love and comfort

My elderly friend asked me to take her to the hospital one morning. She had diminished eyesight and left her car there the night before. She stayed too long visiting her husband and someone had to drive her home because it was dark.

I plugged in my iPod and turned up the volume since both of us have hearing impairments. I played a few songs from the 1940s, and I loved hearing her raspy voice singing the lyrics perfectly. We laughed and hugged as she exited my car to visit the love of her life who was sick.

The next day she told me that he was gravely ill, and she decided to sing ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so’ to him as he slept. But she giggled into the phone and said, “he started singing it with me.”

In sickness and in health, music warms our hearts. Share a song about Jesus with someone today. Sing it together aloud. Make a joyful noise with someone you love.

Scripture: Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart. Ephesians 5:19 ESV

Prayer: Lord, we thank you for giving us the ability to love one another. Thank you for the spiritual songs that have been written for us to sing. Our hearts love being filled with your Spirit as we sing praise and glorify you. We seek ways to comfort our loved ones when they are sick. Softly singing about Jesus tells them, “Jesus loves you and so do I.” Amen.

53 – Sunflowers

We were riding in my friend’s Mini Cooper through a rural area of winding roads. My arm extended through the open window with my hand surfing the air waves of summer. He was playing oldies loud on the radio, and we were singing and laughing.

Suddenly I squealed, “There’s a field of sunflowers!” He turned the little sports car around and drove down a dirt road. I walked, barely visible, row by row between the yellow giants. We found a farmer’s shed with buckets of cut sunflowers. A sign on the front read ‘Honor System’ so he dropped a few dollars in the cigar box, and I took home three flowers to enjoy. He explained to me how sunflowers face the sun all day and bow their heads at night.

I want to live my life facing the Son, feeling his light on my face and in my heart all of my days. Bowing my head like a sunflower at night to pray and thanking him for guiding my day.

Scripture: Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.Luke 12:27 ESV

Prayer: Loving Father, we thank you for the beauty of the earth. Thank you for all the flowers that you designed knowing we would love them. Help us to be good stewards of the soil, air, and water for nature to thrive. Remind us of the sunflower if we forget to seek your face daily and walk with you in all we do. We humble ourselves by bowing our heads to pray with gratitude for each day. Amen.

51 – Scarlet sins

As the sun begins to shine brightly through my window, I thank the Lord for another day. I always walk into the living room and stand at the bird cage to softly sing a hymn to my parakeet. She tilts her head and doesn’t move as she watches my mouth and listens. I think she likes it when I hold a note. Today I sang a hymn from my choir days about your sins being scarlet, but they will become white like snow.

Imagine walking up to Calvary and pouring out your heart to Jesus Christ. Piling up your sins, all of them, at the foot of the cross. Gazing up at his agony and weeping because you love him. Feeling the blood He shed for you and watching that crimson flow cover your sins and touch your feet. His love and forgiveness will change your life.

Scripture: Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:18 ESV

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the stories by the prophets and preserving scripture for us through the ages. It is hard to imagine the human suffering of Jesus at Calvary. No one ever loved us that much before. Because of You, we know we can be forgiven and grow our faith. Help us to live every day walking with the One who forgives our scarlet sins and makes our hearts white as snow. Amen

© 2021 All Rights Reserved

50 – Protection

I worked the early shift in the courthouse from 7:00 AM – 3:45 PM. It was perfect for me because I had a long commute from my home in the suburbs to the federal courthouse downtown. One day as I clocked out and picked up my purse to leave, I noticed the overhead lights seemed brighter. It was because outside my window a storm was brewing, and the sun was no longer in view. I pulled my spare umbrella from the bottom desk drawer and headed for the elevator.

Walking toward the loading dock exit on the lower plaza level, I saw a tall U.S. Marshal with his long arms outstretched. A group had gathered in front of him to listen to his warning. “If you are headed South, you must stay here until the tornado has passed. It is for your safety so please be patient, and I will let you know when it is safe for you to go.” Some employees left while others congregated with me in the hallway. About half an hour later, the marshal announced we were allowed to go home.

Reflecting today about that incident long ago made me think of my Savior with his arms outstretched to protect me from harm. Like the marshal that stormy day, Jesus asks us to believe his word and accept his protection from eternal damnation. I accepted, will you?

Scripture: He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. Psalm 62:2 ESV

Prayer: My Lord, thank you for speaking to my spirit and guiding me away from harm. So many things have happened that could have been different had I listened to your quiet voice in my mind. I am listening and seeking your guidance through the storms and danger ahead. Help me trust you in all things. Amen

© 2021 All Rights Reserved

48 – The big picture

In a phone conversation with my son once, I described my jealous pity party to him. He didn’t join in. His comments set like quick cement in my memory. I was feeling sad because everyone (slightly exaggerated) I knew had a nicer home than me. He told me to look at the big picture. “You have more than most people in the world,” he spoke calmly, my peacemaker son.

That was many years ago, and I took that comment to heart. I have learned to be satisfied and make the most of what I have. I am not rich or famous, but I know God loves me as much as he loves a wealthy person. He loves us at any stage or status in our earthly lives. It’s not material wealth that matters in the end. What’s in your heart and mind is your real treasure. I hope you have God, the one who makes you spiritually wealthy.

Scripture: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1 ESV

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am very thankful for my home. I want to be satisfied and not envious of my family or friends. Help me stay positive and grateful for all I have. Remind me when I forget, Lord, there are many ways to be wealthy in this world. Being a child of the kingdom of God makes me one of the richest people on earth. Amen

© 2021 All Rights Reserved

47 – Honeycomb

Does it make you feel good to read all the hostile comments on social media? Do you join the crowd mentality and write angry criticism? How about thinking and speaking negative thoughts about yourself?

The more we dwell on negativity and talk about it, it plays on an endless loop in our minds. No peace for the weary.

We have the freedom to choose what we read, think and say. Change your thoughts and attitude. Speak words of kindness and affirmation to yourself and others. Daddy once told me, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Scripture: Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24 (ESV)

Prayer: Father God, thank you for giving us brains that can think and a conscience to make choices. Help us to use them wisely and not to inflict harm on ourselves and others. We may appear anonymous and untouchable in social media, but you know everything we think and say. Please remind us when we falter. Amen.

© 2021 All Rights Reserved