Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Psalm 51:10-12


"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit
."

Psalm 51:10-12



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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Come



“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” 
(Matthew 11:28, NISB)


  “Come...” 
“Move from where you are"

  “…to Me.”
“Jesus. I’m all you need. I can help.”

  “all”
               “Anyone. Everyone.”

“who are weary”
               “I want to be your strength.”

 “and heavy laden”
               “I carried the cross and then bore it – just for you. I can carry you, too.”

 “and I will give you rest.”
               “Rest for your mind, body and spirit.”



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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Music Lesson

          Two of the sources of joy in my life rest in our two beautiful daughters and the young women they've become. The younger of the two, Mandy Kniskern, and I often finish each other's sentences, reach for the phone to call each other at the same time - you know how it is with mothers and daughters.
          I was thinking through my post for this month, but just had not stopped to see if my thoughts would lead to anything helpful. No worries. I checked in to see what my facebook buddies were up to today, and there she was: Mandy. Not only finishing my thoughts, but doing it so eloquently it would be a shame for me to attempt a rewrite for "our" point of view. With her permission, I'm giving my corner over to her today. I hope it blesses you as much as it did me.

      "I love to sing harmony. It often makes me smile to think of how Ken’s and my singing styles speak so much to our personalities. Ken has an undeniably strong, effortless, leading solo voice. I love to blend. I love singing with and against other parts. As we were singing Sunday morning, I was harmonizing on a dissonant note, pressing in, loving the dissonance, anticipating the resolution… and it started me thinking...
      We experience that same dissonance in life...
      That tension that begs for resolution.  Whatever the situation is that’s unresolved, I can press in and learn what there is to learn, grow how I can grow while I wait for resolution. And sometimes it doesn’t come in that particular song or situation. 
          Just as some songs you hear trail off without resolving like you just know they will, such is life.  Not everything gets wrapped up and tied with a nice big bow. The closure that you’re waiting for in your situation doesn’t always come. But there will be a new song, and another new song after that. Just as our lives are a series of chapters, so are they an eclectic blend of music. Some songs will build and swell and give us that big dramatic finish that ends on tonic, the way that feels right, and some songs will deliver more complex chord structures, more dissonance less resolution.
           Who can understand why God allows the discord in our lives… We live in an imperfect world with spiritual battles being fought all around us, and I believe that there are simply times when evil prevails. But God can always work good out of what the enemy intends for our harm.

           If you’re in a particularly dissonant season, press in. Maybe resolution will come, maybe it won’t. But in time, a new song will begin."


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Monday, August 29, 2016

Out of Sight...Out of Mind


I always look forward to spring. Bedding plants, raking last year’s dead leaves from the flower beds, and cool mornings sitting on the porch are a welcome respite after the snow and ice of winter finally melt away. Then summer arrives. I abandon the fresh air and sunshine for the comfort of air conditioning and settle back in until the thermometer drops below 85 degrees again.
          My husband is an outdoor guy. Year around. He works in the extremes of each season, and he’s at home there. This past week, he has encouraged me to be outside with him more, watering trees and flowers, helping with the mowing and pulling the persistent twigs of grass from dirt that reluctantly surrenders the tiny roots.
          Once outdoors, I enjoy the physical labor of gardening, even on such a small scale. And I love seeing the buds and flowers on the rose and lilac bushes gracing a small fenced-in area on the east side of the house. We have no windows on that side of our home; consequently, as the temperatures rise, my memories of the wonders of spring fade. The small round table and chairs of scrolled metal rich in patina and not so rich in comfort sit idle and empty.
          That gentle nudge from my husband takes me back to tend the otherwise helpless blooms and blades. A surprise of new roses and promising buds await me there. The giant yellow day lilies are majestic and begging to be noticed. The two lilac bushes will explode with lavender petals any day now.
This scene reminds me that beauty is always present in our lives. In the face of intensifying headlines that spell trouble and so many loved ones and acquaintances who are in need of prayer for healing and support can sometimes blot out the beauty that God still supplies. And it reminds me of the gentle nudge of our Heavenly Father drawing me back to His beauty

"When You said, 'Seek My face,' my heart said to You,'Your face, O Lord, I shall seek'"Psalm 27:8 NASB

          There is beauty in the quiet times of prayer and reading God’s Word. There is beauty in the sound of laughter and conversation with family and friends. There is beauty in fresh air and creation with the scents and shades of life growing just beyond a porch or fence. There is beauty in each cloud, whether they are floating lazily across a blue, still sky or embroiled with storms and threats of severe weather. Sunrises. Sunsets. All a reminder that we have a loving God Who is still in control and Who has a plan that is unfolding before our very eyes.








"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory." Psalm 63:1,2 NASB






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Monday, August 8, 2016

Ms. Know It All



I just dropped in for a cup of tea
And maybe a word or two
It came from Mrs. Soandso;
I know it must be true.
The rumor mill is running hot,
Spewing forth pure gold
With stories full of shocking news. 
The likes have not been told.


It all began when just last night –
Well that part doesn’t matter
I hear Ms. Newintown arrived
And eyes were lookin’ at her
Can’t say for sure, but some folks think
Mr. Deacon is the one
That couldn’t keep his eyes off her.  
He even called her “hon”.

Then there’s that kid that just got caught. 
You know which one I mean?
He’s tall and blond or short and blond,
Or somewhere in between.
Well, anyway, you know those kids;
They lie and steal, then run
I even heard that one of them
Is Pastor Someone’s son! 

The last I heard, Brother Cantdoright
Is in trouble once again.
Seems he fell into an empty pew,
Passed out from too much gin.
The goings on around this place
are enough to make one drink
Guess that’s why Sister SmilesALLthetime
Hides her stash ‘neath the sink.

Now, don’t you go and tell the folks
That you heard this from me.
Why, I just somehow, always seem
Unfortunate to be
Within the earshot of such things
That do go on and on
Lord knows, I hate this job
Of guidin’ everyone along.

But truth is truth, and Good Lord knows,
These things have got to stop
Before the devil has his way
And harvests his sinful crop.
No need to send me flowers
Or give me undue thanks.
Just please be sure to contact ME
Once YOU’ve filled in the blanks.

Nancy K. Sullivan
(c) 11-1-2010





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Friday, May 27, 2016

No Regrets


Each day begins anew
And I receive a measure
Of breath to share a moment
That could someday be a treasure.

Shall I but take for granted
My years upon this earth
Not listening to the rhythm
Of my breathing set at birth.

Breath spent cannot return
No matter how I pray
That I can have another chance
To relive a wasted day.

Shall I run breathless through my maze
Letting time pass quickly by
Or choose to direct my path
And catch the memories before they fly.

Each time I breathe a prayer
For His hand to lead me on
I must listen and obey
Before a chance to serve is gone.

The gifts He breathed in me
To be used to glorify
Will wither and fade away
Unless I lift His banner high.

Every breath I have is numbered
And I cannot know when
My voice will become silent
And my life will see its end.

His Spirit gives my soul
The breath to sing and dance
Let not my last words be,
“Please give me one more chance.”

Let me work through each new day
To see each battle won
‘Til the Spirit breathes the words
That say, “My child, a job well done.”

Nancy K. Sullivan
8-22-2010

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Holy Bat Man

     You meet the nicest people in a hospital. One of our favorite team members on the hospital staff was the kind man who took care of the lab procedures to track my husband's progress in overcoming pneumonia about three years ago.

     Mr. Moore's (not his real name) warm smile and caring demeanor surely make him a welcome visitor to each patient's room despite the needles and vials that accompany him. And he listens to his patients. 

     After we explained that blood had been drawn and set aside in the ER in case more lab work was needed, he took extra time to track it down and avoided yet another needle stick in my husband's now-perforated arm. He then shared an experience that taught him the importance of really listening to and respecting what his patients say to him:

     A few years earlier in a different hospital Mr. Moore entered the room of an elderly lady who was very ill with cancer. Her extended stay had resulted in a friendship between the two. She was crying. When he asked her why, she told him she was in terrible pain. 

     "Why don't you ask for some pain medication?" 

     "I can't. They think I'm hallucinating."

     "Why do they think you're hallucinating, Mrs. James?" (Again, a fictitious name.)

     "Because I told them there is a bat in my room."



     "There's a bat in your room!"

     Mrs. James nodded in the affirmative.

     Mr. Moore's kind spirit led him to the next question:
    "Can you tell me where this um … bat … is?"

     "Yes. It's behind that chair in the corner."

     Mrs. James' confidant dutifully walked to the designated corner and slowly pulled the chair from its resting place. There it was. A bat. About two inches long, his wings clinging to the wall.

     This particular hospital was an older facility located near a wildlife habitat. The roll-out windows of the hospital could be opened only slightly, but wide enough for the winged rodent to slip inside.

     Mr. Moore immediately contacted security and had the bat removed from her room. He then took the necessary steps to secure the much-needed pain medication for his grateful patient/friend, Mrs. James. How much more suffering would she have had to endure had it not been for the listening heart of a busy professional? I will always remember Mr. Moore’s engaging smile and the way he rescued Mrs. James from the bat no one else bothered to locate.
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard
one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out
for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."
(Philippians 2:3-4, NASB)

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