On Coyote Patrol

I know I keep talking about cows – “our” cows.  We love watching them munching in the pastures surrounding our cabin and taking their dips to cool themselves in the water.  Every morning we sit on the porch, rocking in our chairs, and peering out beyond the dock to the banks watching our cows ease in and out of the water.  We have given some of them names and we have come to know which calf belongs to which mother.

Yesterday we had a fright!  Several cows were in the water while others in the herd, having finished their dips, were wandering away.  Suddenly I sat upright, alert, narrowing my eyes to make certain I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.  Yes.  I was right.  “Mom!” I called, “coyotes!”  There, peeking from a clump of trees was the white colored neck of, first one, and then another, and then five coyotes, tan in color, stepping into full view.  One of the smaller calves was strolling right to them, seemingly unaware of the coyotes presence.  

I whispered to my mother that I would slip inside, grab a pistol, and return to shoot in the air. That would scare the coyotes away and keep our cows safe.  I had no intention to harm the coyotes, just to protect our herd.  I stood, but my movement did not go unnoticed by the coyotes.  Just as quickly as they had appeared, they ducked back into the trees and we never saw them again.  The small calf finally returned to the herd causing my mother and me to exhale with sweet relief.

These are not our cows. They belong to the friends who have loaned us their cabin for our stay in the States.  Even so, in our hearts, we have adopted this herd.  Therefore, we feel a protectiveness toward them.  We love loving our cows.  We want to do anything we can to care for them and just to enjoy them.

I am warmed in my heart to think that when each one of us becomes a child of God, that He, too, like a good Father to His children, keeps a watchful eye upon us. We are told in Scripture that when we receive Jesus as our Savior, that we are then adopted into His family.  We are His.  We belong to Him forever.  In Luke 13:34, as Jesus was thinking about Jerusalem, longing that its people would receive Him, He said, “…How often I wanted to gather you together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”  

Oh, how sad if our cows were in any danger, but ran from us when we came to help.  It’s the same when we refuse the love of Jesus, to accept Him as Lord in our lives, as the One who gives hope to each new day and promise of an eternity where there are no more tears or death.  There are many coyotes in this world, taking on various forms, seeking to destroy us.  How easy to run to the One who always has His arms open wide.


A Cow’s Life

My mother and I are so enjoying our visit to Alabama where we are staying in a friend’s cabin.  To reach the cabin you have to drive through a cow pasture, go over a small hill, and then, there it is, built on a large pond with a deck and dock over the water.  This place of quiet is serene bliss!

We love watching the cows take morning and late afternoon dips, actually gliding through the water with the grace of a swan!  Amazing how they ease in an out, barely making a ripple in the water.  There is one cow in particular that has grabbed our attention.  We call her Miss Independence.

Miss Independence will often be found in the water or in the fields when no other cow is around.  One evening last week we came in late.  It was jet black as our car gently bumped along through the pasture.  Suddenly, in the light of the headlights, an image appeared.  It was Miss Independence.  The rest of the herd was nowhere to be seen.  They often disappear into the wooded areas along the outskirts of the property.  

As we drove by, Miss Independence raised her head for a moment to peer at us; then just as quickly, she went back to her private munching.  We can tell she enjoys times when she is in the middle of the herd, but she definitely craves her alone moments of munching and dipping by herself.

I thought to myself, how like Miss Independence we should all aim to be — loving times with friends and family, but understanding the beauty of alone time.  It is necessary to our spiritual development to have alone time with our heavenly Father when we glide through the waters of His refreshment, recharging tired hearts and minds, and to munch on the holy words of truth and guidance in His Word, so needed to get through each day of our busy lives.

We can get so very busy, even doing good things, that we can easily miss the very best — intimate fellowship with the One who loves us and sustains us, who guides us along the best paths, and feeds us with the best of spiritual food for our journey.  So, today my prayer is, “Lord, help me to be more like this adorable cow, this Miss Independence who understand the beauty and value of alone time.”

“Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’  He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat.”  Mark 6:31

With My Eyes Closed

This past week my mother and I enjoyed spending a few days driving through the Smokey Mountains.  At one point we parked the car and walked along a path next to one of the mountain’s beautiful streams.  My mother sat on a bench to enjoy the view while I walked on.  When I was all alone I stood close to the water on the stream’s bank.  Then I closed my eyes.  I kept them shut for several minutes.  At first I was only aware of the sounds of water rushing over rocks, but then, I heard a bird’s song that I had not noticed before.  Then, gentle whispers above as wind danced with leaves on branches. The longer I kept my eyes closed, the more acute were my ears to nature’s music.  The beauty of peace filled my senses.

As the day passed, my thoughts kept returning to those few special moments.  My eyes had been closed.  Therefore, my ears took the lead in drawing me to my surroundings in a way I had not known with sight.

I began to contemplate the eyes and ears of my own spiritual heart.  If only I would take more time to close my eyes to the things of this world, allowing my ears to sharpen its hearing to the still, small voice that speaks love, truth, peace, and guidance into my being.   I recalled the words of John in I John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it: but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  This verse is not about the physical world but about the evil in this world.  It’s about all the things that can lure us away from the beauty of God’s love.  It’s about all those things that can hurt us and deceive us into thinking we have peace when really we have only a temporary pleasure that seeks to destroy us in the end.

If only we would take time to close our eyes to the world and listen to the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit.  What joy would replace troubled thoughts.  True peace would soothe away our worries.  Pure love would wash away all that stains, and would cleanse our hearts, filling us with divine tranquillity instead.

May we all take time to close our eyes.

A Calm On The High Seas

I’ve recently had an experience of high winds and waves while travelling on a ship.  Wonderfully and thankfully, there were no sea sick feelings.  I even managed to have sailor legs and keep my balance, although at times, the slight rocking and tilting from one side to the other caused me to reach my hand to the wall to steady myself.  

I am not in the least a sailor.  I love to look at the sea and occasionally swim the edges but I have never thrilled at the thought of taking to the high seas.  Nonetheless, I determined to make the best of this experience. I was taking mental note of all my surroundings.  One thing in particular captured my attention.  I noticed that when I was at either side of the vessel, I could feel the tilting with greater swaying back and forth.  However, I also took note that when in the centre of the ship, the feel of the sway was at a minimum.  It was still there, but my balance was unaffected and I could carry on and walk straight without the occasional aid of the wall to hold me up.

You may have guessed at this point exactly what I am going to say:  it’s the same in our spiritual world.  Life has its ups and downs, its challenges and difficulties.  None of us can escape times of turmoil that, like high waves and wind on the sea, may send us grabbing for something to hold us up.  We may look for a handrail of mental escape where we just don’t have to think about it for a time.  We may hug a wall of anything that gives us hope so we keep standing in the storm of our difficulty.  

While any of the above may help for a time, it’s only when we go to the source of all calm, the One who is the centre of all we are, Jesus who is our peace of mind and heart, when all around us there is tilting and swaying of confusion, depression, and fear.  If only we could remember, when all around the edges of our world, troubles abound, in the centre of our own hearts and minds, there is Jesus with us in the storm, speaking to the wind and wavs of our dilemmas to be calm again.

“Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with His disciples.  Suddenly a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat.  But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke Him up shouting, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’  Jesus responded, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith.’  Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.”   Matthew 8: 23-26

“Oh no! Which way?”

If you use GPS I have a feeling that I won’t be the only person who has ended up going the wrong way in spite of verbal instructions to —  “in 100 yards, turn left.”  Well, I did turn left, but I guess it was too early to turn left because I knew I was on a road that was not the correct one.  I must have turned in 50 or 60 yards instead of 100.  Streets were close together.  Cars were close behind, so how could I slow down to better see and think!  Butterflies began churning deep within.  Suddenly, I hear a somewhat panicked voice call out, “Oh no!  Which way?”  For some reason I feel startled that the panicked voice is my own.  I even glance sideways and in my rearview mirror to see if the other passengers noticed.  They did.  “You went the wrong way,” the backseat driver helpfully points out.  I say nothing to this obvious statement which probably adds to the tension only there because of my own nervousness.  “I’ll find a place to turn around,” I am forcing my voice to sound calm.  Then the GPS speaks out, “Recalculating.  In one mile turn right.”  The GPS immediately knew my mistake.  In seconds I was back on track, led to turn back onto the road intended.  All was well.  I breathe a sigh of relief.

When we are safely on the correct road and my panic level slows back to true calm, I begin to think about life’s directions that we are given from our Heavenly Father.  There are the easier instructions that we can read in black and white in Gods’ Word.  Then there are the holy instructions that are whispered to us in the innermost place of our minds.  This is the place where the Holy Spirit is guiding our daily walk; the place from where we must listen intently to recognise His voice.  Sometimes we get it wrong.

Have you ever gone in a particular direction, only to find that spiritually, it wasn’t the way to go?  You truly believed the road you were travelling was the right one until it becomes obvious that you have taken a wrong turn.  Panic sets in.  You thought you heard God.  You thought you heard right.  “Oh no! Which way?”

At the exact moment of our call to help, the Holy Spirit, like our GPS, begins to re-route.  He is most capable to lead us back onto the intended path.  We all get it wrong at times but may I encourage you not to beat yourself up?  Our Father understands our frailties.  He knows we are not perfect.  He doesn’t look at the outside chaos of our lives and judge our inadequacies; He looks at the intent of our hearts and showers us with love.  He knows when we have pre-programmed our intent to travel the right path.  Therefore, He will always, without exception, guide us back onto the correct road.

Just keep looking up, trusting the One who is always ready to “make the crooked places straight.”  Isaiah 40:4

Shared Excitement!

We have a dear friend from America visiting us here in the UK.  Each day has been something new.  My mother and I have enjoyed every moment.  While all our touring is going on, we decided it was best for our dog, Jack, to go to his hotel.  It’s a lovely boarding facility.  They have large fenced in and gated grounds.  The dogs are taken out everyday to run in the woods and play in the grassy laid areas.  Whenever I take Jack, he is full of happiness.  He never even looks back at me as they come to take him away.  His tail is up as he trots onward, ready for playtime with new canine friends.

While we are glad that Jack is happy, we still miss him, and look forward to his return.  The plan has been that we will come for him on Monday.  However, our neighbor suggested that we get him on Saturday.  He will be home from work and can look after Jack while we are taking our friend out and about, seeing the sights of our UK home.  My excitement rose!  Mom, too!  What a welcome idea!  We know, also, that as happy as Jack has been, he will be terribly excited when we arrive to bring him back home.

My rousing anticipation of going to get Jack made me think of something that has never entered my mind before.  It concerned thoughts about the return of Jesus.  Often I have had a sense of thrill at the thought of Jesus coming again, of seeing Him face to face, but never have I thought about how excited Jesus would be, too!  Think about it.  Jesus loves us so very much.  He is looking forward to the day when He will come for us and set up His kingdom on earth.  When He returns, an eternity of sheer bliss begins.  He is waiting with eagerness!  He doesn’t know when He is coming, so with the signs of the times, His own anticipation must be mounting!  Jesus told us in Matthew 24:36, “No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself!  Only the Father knows.”  What an extraordinary thought!  Just as we are awaiting His return with great eagerness, Jesus is also waiting with a passion that we can only imagine!   At His Father’s word, He will come swiftly for us.  What a thrill this is going to be, for us, and for Him, too.


A Flight With No Delays

Yesterday a dear friend from America arrived to visit us.  Mom and I love being tour guides.  We have our itinerary planned and look forward to showing her our UK world.

When she arrived at the departure airport in America,  she sent a message to tell us her flight was delayed.  A little while later another message came informing us of another delay.  I kept watch on this end, looking online at flight arrivals so we would know what time to be at the airport.

Now she is with us and we are already off to a great start, having taken her yesterday afternoon to see some of our favorite views where we live in our coastal town.  She walked on our pebble beach.  Even our dog, Jack, took her into the hills to show her a much loved walking place where the views back over to the sea are gorgeous.  She was slightly delayed in her flight to get here but all is well now.

I couldn’t help but think of the flight departure that awaits everyone who personally knows Jesus.  He has promised to return to take us to Himself.  He will actually meet us in the air!  What an exciting flight that will be.  There will be no delays in that flight.  At the already appointed time (Our heavenly Father has scheduled that time) Jesus will be sent to collect us.  Here is what we are told in I Thessalonians 4:15-18, “We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet Him ahead of those who have died.  For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.  First, believers who have died will rise from their graves.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  Then we will be with the Lord forever.  So encourage each other with these words.”  It certainly is encouraging to know that we who have invited Jesus into our lives, accepting His forgiveness and promise of eternal life, will be taken to live with Him in perfect joy (no sadness, tears, or death) in heaven for eternity.

I sometimes look into the faces of people I see on the streets or in shopping areas, or I think of people I have met all over the world in my travels, and I wonder and hope and pray, that understanding of the opportunity of eternal life in heaven will come to them.  It’s so easy to receive Jesus into one’s life.  Just call out to Him, thank Him for dying to forgive everything you have ever done, invite Him into your life.  He will come.  He will forgive.  He loves you.  I hope you come.

Running Through Puddles

The U.K. has been having some consistently warm, and even record breaking hot weather.  Last week, after the hottest day so far this summer, we had a day of cloud and rain.  It was a welcome relief.  My dog, Jack, and I, got in the car to drive to one of our favorite walking places.  The air smelled of fresh rain, the wind picked up and suddenly a spray of mist was blowing in our faces.

I headed toward the shelter of trees, but Jack, mouth open and eyes dancing with delight, started running in large loops, expressing his joy in the weather.  Then he saw a puddle and zoomed through the middle of it.  Great streams of water shot into the air.  His wild abandon was infectious.  I pushed back my hood, stepped into the rain and began running after Jack.

It never occurred to me what we looked like; a sixty-two year old woman and her dog zooming in circles and splashing through puddles.  I only knew what I felt inside — exhilarated!  After several minutes of our sprinting and jumping, we both eased into a walk, still smiling with our water soaked hair, and lungs heaving from the adventure.

While we ploughed on in our weather joy, the verse in Psalm 16:11 sprang into my mind: “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasure of living with you forever.”  I pictured Jesus running with us.  I envisioned His own joy in our delight.  I imagined being with Him for eternity.  I can only imagine now, but the reality is not far away when the children of God will be running and jumping and praising and living in perfect joy in a place where there are no more tears — forever!

I hope every person reading this is one of God’s own.  If not, remember His promise in Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  This is the most wonderful promise ever, allowing us, because of Jesus, to live in absolute jubilation for eternity.


A Matter Of The Heart

It’s a trait of human nature to compare ourselves with others.  Disappointingly, there are those who feel themselves superior, perhaps because of wealth or business prowess, or skill.  Sadly, there are those who feel themselves as insignificant.  They look at others around them, see that some have money, others have great talent, and many come from what appears to be a perfect family.  They shrink away feeling they don’t measure up.

Comparing ourselves to others is never a good idea.  We are warned of this in II Corinthians 10:12, “…when one compares his or herself to another, using another as their standard of measurement, is not wise.”  Our very best example to follow is the example of Jesus Christ and in those we see living like Him.

Do you realise that God Himself wants you to be the very best you, in Him, that you can be?  He doesn’t want you to be the best copy of your neighbor.  You can be encouraged by your neighbor, but the best one to imitate is Jesus Himself.

Perhaps our arch enemy, Satan, whispers the lie, “you have nothing worthwhile to give.” What a terrible deception that too many have believed through the ages.  You have something most valuable indeed to give; you have you.  I love the practical illustrations of this that we find in God’s Word.  Remember the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes?  The story is recorded in John 6.  There is a young boy with five bread rolls and two pieces of fish.  He could only feed himself with that size of lunch, but He gave that lunch to Jesus.  He gave everything he had to give.  We know what Jesus did; He performed a miracle, feeding thousands with that meager offering, touching many lives as a result.

There is another story of a poor widow.  It’s recorded in Mark 12.  Jesus was sitting in the Temple near the collection box.  He watched many wealthy people put in large amounts. Then He watched as a poor widow dropped in two coins.  He called His disciples and said that she had given more than anyone because she had given all she had.

Remember, it’s never the greatness of skill that you have, or wealth that you possess, or a charismatic personality.  It’s the attitude of your heart.  It’s the idea that everything I have belongs to Jesus; therefore, I will give it all, little or much, and watch what He will do with it.  Everyday I will awake with the attitude, “I give you all of me, Father.  What will you do?”

When one possesses that attitude, stand tall and watch, because God has a plan and it’s always a good one.  There is nothing in this world that can bring joy, equal to the delight, that comes from total giving oneself to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

“Above all things, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.”  Proverbs 4:23

Who we are, what we become, is always a matter of the heart and to whom we give it.


The Man on The Moon

I read a post on Facebook this week that touched something deep inside me.  It was the sweet nostalgia of childhood filled with its wonder and innocence.  The post was written by my cousin, Cheryl Kelly,  who has given me permission to share it with you. Following are her words:

“As America celebrates the 50th anniversary of landing / walking on the moon, I would like to share my memories of that night.  I was 10 almost 11.  We lived in Graceville, Florida. We went to Mr. TOMMY Fowler’s House to watch it.  I remember sitting in the floor in front of the TV as they landed.  Suddenly, myself and all the children jumped up, ran outside to see the moon.  Now in 1969 being 10 was a lot different than 10 yrs old now.   Life was simpler.  We children were convinced we could see the spaceship.  We ran back in, exclaiming to our parents we could see them.  Do you know what I remember?  Not one parent corrected us, no one said that’s not possible.  We were allowed to believe the shadows we saw was a space ship.  They knew full well it was not but they also knew that as we grew up we would also learn the truth.  They allowed us our brief excitement, they allowed us to be children.  I’m taking a lesson from this memory.  I’m going to try much harder to see the wonders of the world through the eyes of my grandchildren.  They are only Little once, let them be little.  Look at the man in the moon.”

As I read her words, I also remembered where I was when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.  Like my cousin, I too, was sitting mesmerised in front of the television, watching the grainy images of the first humans walking on the moon!  What a wonder!  Today, our mobile phones have more memory that the computers that put the lunar module on the moon’s surface.  Scientists have continued to seek for knowledge and have made amazing leaps into technology.

Of course, we know that all knowledge comes from God.  Imagine His delight as he watches mankind discover more and more. Imagine His own heart being sweetly touched as He observes His children making their first steps along their journey of Christianity.  He watches them make mistakes in what they think they know, but there is no scolding or ridiculing, for God looks on the intent of the heart.  There is only great patience, love, and thrill as He cheers each of us onward, knowing that as we mature, as we seek to know, that surely we will find.  Just like children believing they see the man in the moon, our Father delights in our own quest for discovery of His ways

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child.  But when I grew up, I put away childish things.  Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me completely.”  I Corinthians 13:11-12

May we always enjoy seeing the world with the eyes of a child, enjoying the wonder, revelling in discovery, knowing that our Heavenly Father delights in the journey with us.