Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Halloween Social Story





Halloween can cause quite a fright
With its spooky sounds and sights
There are spiders and ghosts and flying bats
Witches with brooms and big pointy hats

You’ll find Jack-O-Lanterns on everyone's porch
With mouths and eyes lit up like a torch
And little white ghosts strung in trees
That swing and sway in the breeze

A knock on the door makes me jump;
“Mom, did you hear that loud thump?”
She reminds me it’s Trick-or-Treat
Time to hand out candies and sweets

When Mom opens the door
There's a lion, a minion, a centaur
And a witch with an apple
A crooked nose and a cackle

One of the kids has a scary disguise
A mask with a scar and big creepy eyes
I shiver and hide behind Mom’s skirt
But she shows me it’s just my friend Curt.

There can be a lot to fear on Halloween
If you believe everything is what it seems
But the costumes, the decorations, the sounds you hear

Are just make-believe, a way to have fun this time of year.


CLICK HERE FOR PICTURE BOOK FORMAT

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The God Who Hears





But God heard the boy crying,
and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven.
“Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid!
God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.
Go to him and comfort him,
for I will make a great nation from his descendants.

Genesis 21: 17-18 (NLT)


          She had nothing. No home, no friends, no family, no inheritance for her son, no future, no prospects for marriage. Neither a virgin nor a widow, Hagar was considered a soiled woman.
Alone in the wilderness, Hagar wept. She wept for her child, she wept for ruined dreams and crushed hopes, she wept for the pain of betrayal and loss. She wept for the precious one she could not bear to lose.
          But God…  But God heard. God saw. God cared. He wasn’t done with her yet. Because of his great love, God stepped in and redeemed her story.
Though she appeared to have nothing, Hagar had everything; for she had God on her side.
Changes everything, doesn’t it?
          

          

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Why?


Why?

“I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I create the light and make the darkness.
I send good times and bad times,
I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.”
Isaiah 45:6-7 (NLT)

          His outburst could be heard clear across the house.
          “Why? Why me?”
          I hurried down to the family room to find Benjamin picking up the pieces of his wrecked Lego set. Apparently, one of the cats jumped onto the table and knocked it down with a brush of her tail.
          Not a big deal, you might be thinking. But to a boy with autism, who spent hours building his set, it was a catastrophe. Fixable? Certainly. Upsetting? Absolutely. Worth crying over? Debatable.
          Some days, I find myself asking that very same question; “Why, LORD? Why me?” It’s natural to question the reason for our trials, to wonder why God allows suffering, to ponder the purpose for the pain. Even Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk this earth, wondered why his life felt meaningless and empty. His wisdom only served to increase the gamut of his “Why?”
          I’m not saying it’s wrong to wonder why God allows hardships. But it’s dangerous to remain stuck on the whys of life and not move on to the “What?” and “How?” What is God’s purpose for this trial and how will I respond?
          The problem is in our perception of life. As human beings, we tend to focus on ourselves; our happiness, our well-being, our personal wealth, our success. We want God to fall in line with our man-made plans. When He changes them, and our world turns bottom-up, our first reaction is to ask, “Why God? Why?”
The truth is, we were not created to focus on our own pleasure and self-fulfillment. We were created by God and for God, to fulfill His divine purpose. Those very troubles and trials that beget our “Whys?” fit into a greater plan. Think of Joseph; his trials saved thousands of lives. Paul’s imprisonment gave us the Epistles.
          God has a reason for every one of our “Whys?” We may not understand, nor even know the reason until we get to heaven where the purpose of all our trials will finally be revealed – the ultimate aha! moment.
Until then, God calls us to trust, accept, and carry on. Only then will we be able to fully experience His joy, peace, and hope for the future.

         
         




Tuesday, September 25, 2018

When God Whispers




After the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
1 Kings 19:12 (NLT)


          Elijah had just recently reached the apex of his ministry; not only had he proved God’s sovereignty, he also sentenced 450 prophets of Baal to death.
          Yet, within a matter of hours, Elijah is in a funk because of Jezebel’s hate mail. Suddenly, his face is on “Wanted; Dead or Alive” posters. He’s on 20/20 and Nightline as Samaria’s Most Wanted.
So he runs. After a pitstop under a broom tree and a bout of self-pity, God restores Elijah’s strength by providing food and water. After a refreshing nap, Elijah sets out for Mount Sinai. He travels forty days and forty nights through the hot, dry desert. His Facebook posts probably looked a bit like this: Day One: Sand. Day Two: More sand. Day Three: Sand as far as the eye can see. Day Four: Sand here, sand there, sand everywhere!
Not quite one of those destinations listed on the Traveler’s Choice Awards. When he finally reaches Mount Sinai, Elijah hides in a cave. That’s when God comes to meet him right where he is.  
God sends a windstorm that pummels the mountain, tossing rocks about like mere pebbles. But God is not in the storm. God sends an earthquake, but God is not in the shuddering or the shaking. He sends a fire, much like the one that flashed down on Elijah’s altar on Mount Carmel. Yet God is not in the hot, flickering flames. Finally, God whispers. That’s when Elijah recognizes God’s presence.
It’s easy to feel God’s presence when the stage is lit, the pews are filled, the band is playing, and the crowd’s response is deafening. Yet God’s power in our lives is revealed not merely in those moments when good things happen to us, or when success pushes up to the top. His power is also at work in those quiet, lonely moments when He speaks to our hearts and stirs our souls.
When the spotlights are off, the crowds have dispersed, the adrenaline surge has petered out, and the stage door bangs shut behind us, it’s tempting to fall into discouragement. We want the highs and not the lows, wishing we could go from mountain top to mountain top. When we give in to despondency, wishing God would wipe our hardships away, we’re opening the door to one of the devil’s most common tactics; self-pity.
F. B. Meyer didn’t mince words when he said, “Self-pity is the most grievous of all sins. Self-pity says to the Lord, ‘I don’t like what you’re doing in my life.’” Ouch!
Yet even in our loneliness, pain, or suffering, God’s presence and power are still at work, preparing us for the next task, the next phase of life. He comes to us, in our place of darkness, and whispers, “What are you doing here, (insert your name)? Go back to where you left off. I’m not done with you yet.”



Monday, September 10, 2018

The God Who Sees Me



Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”
Genesis 16:13 (NLT)

          Hagar was frightened. She was hurting. She was confused. Alone, in the hot, dry desert, without help, without hope, without answers to her dire circumstances, Hagar faced a very bleak future.
          I can’t even begin to imagine what she felt, what she endured, and all because she obeyed her mistress who then turned on her. It wasn’t her fault Sarai couldn’t get pregnant. It wasn’t her choice to sleep with Abram. It wasn’t her plan to carry a child for someone else.
Yet, it became her problem when Abram refused to deal with the conflict between his wife and his wife’s servant. It became her dilemma when she was mistreated by her mistress because she was able to conceive. It turned into her crisis when she had to flee into the desert. You have to be pretty desperate to take such drastic measures.
Alone and afraid, Hagar plopped her weary body down beside a well to rest. That’s when God showed up. In the midst of her sorrow, without anything to her name but the clothes on her back, without any resources to pull her through, God comes and offers words of comfort. Not only will she be a mother, but she will have more descendants than she can count. How’s that for a complete turnaround?
Problem turns into promise. Woe becomes wonder. In one fell swoop, her future goes from bleak to blessed. Because God heard. Because He saw. Because He cared.
Hagar, the one whom Sarai scorned and mistreated, was touched by the Almighty God. In her joy, she calls Him, “The God who sees me.” Through that personal encounter with God during the darkest time of her life, her insight into God’s character is radically changed.
God is not an indifferent God. On the contrary, God is a very personal God. He calls Himself our Heavenly Father, our Abba, the One who hears our cries, who feels our pain, sees our tears, the One who deeply cares about each and every struggle-filled day.
Are you wandering through the desert right now? Physically, emotionally, or spiritually? Don't give up hope. God sees you. The same God who saw Hagar sees you. He hears your prayers, He sees your tears.

He will never abandon you because He loves you far too much to let you wander through the desert alone.   

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Imperturbable




Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

          An interesting word popped up today in my Merriam-Webster-Word-of the-Day email; imperturbable. Merriam-Webster defines this word as “marked by or suggestive of utter calm and unruffled repose or quietude; steadiness.”[1]
          Wouldn’t you love to be referred as “imperturbable?” To be know as someone who doesn’t easily become ruffled or upset? To remain steady and still in the midst of the fray?
          Lately, life in our house has been anything but calm; between back-to-school readjustments, behavior issues, an upcoming surgery, and waking up to a flooded kitchen when our dishwasher went on the fritz, I’m feeling just a little frazzled around the edges.
          Yet as I meet with God first thing each morning, He reminds me over and over that He is with me in each trial, a sure and steady (Imperturbable) refuge in times of trouble.
I have a Bible with wide margins for Bible journaling. Next to Psalm 46, I have a picture of a lighthouse being blasted by enormous waves. Yet, despite the violent storm, the lighthouse stands firm. Why? Because it is anchored to the rock.
          Be still (stop fighting, resisting, fretting, worrying) and know (be certain without a doubt) that I am God. No one is beyond his reach, nothing is beyond his control. If our faith is anchored in Christ, then it is possible to be ‘imperturbable’ no matter what difficulties life throws our way.
         









[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day