Transforming Water to Wine? Or to Tea?

I was just reading Billy Graham’s Decision magazine for July – August 2014, leaving my favourite part until the end, the very last page called “Ruth’s Attic.”

Ruth and Billy Graham

Ruth, of course, was Mr. Graham’s late wife and she had a collection of some of the most interesting and moving stories from average every day people.

The one that I read today is of particular interest to those who may not have exactly what they want in life, or who feel that they’re lacking in something. Please ponder the following story.

In one of F.W. Boreham’s books, he tells of an old Scottish woman living alone and very poor.

But she carefully tithed what little she had and gave to the church. When unable to attend service, she expected a deacon to drop by and collect her offering. The deacon knew well she could not afford it, but knowing also that she would be deeply offended if he did not collect it, he was careful to stop by.

It was late afternoon one day when he made his visit.

Old Mary was sitting near a window having tea.

“The tithe is on the mantel,” she said, greetings over. “Won’t ye sit and have a cup of tea?”

The deacon sat, and when Mary passed him his cup, he looked down in surprise and exclaimed:

“Why, Mary! It’s only water ye have!”

“Aye!” said old Mary. “But He makes it taste like tea!”

“Tea Time,” Taken from “Legacy of a Pack Rat,” By Ruth Bell Graham. ©1989, The Ruth Bell Graham Literary Trust.  I found this article on http://www.billygraham.org (http://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/july-august-2014/tea-time/)

Oh, that we might have the faith of that old woman!  To be content regardless of our situation!

Keep up the good fight!

Christmas with a Capital C

Yes, I am recovering from my illness, slowly but surely!  I’m not 100% yet but I can’t miss the chance to delight in Christmas.  When else can one walk in the public spaces, malls and schools singing about Christ together with everyone else?  Even when I was in Thailand, a mostly Buddhist country, they had Christian Christmas carols playing everywhere! Amazing.

And yet…there is this battle between “Merry Christmas” vs “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.” Why do North Americans insist on taking Christ out of this season?  As  the comedian says in Go Fish’s Christmas With a Capital C, “No one wants to say Merry Christmas because of the name of Christ.  After 2000 years he’s still intimidating people!” (approximate paraphrase!).

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  Luke 2:8 – 14 NIV

I could say a lot about Christmas; many have.  But what seems to touch my heart right now is the phrase that the angel said, “Do not be afraid.”

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive
Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God
appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

There are many in the world who are living in exile right now.  When you mention Christmas it reminds them of many things:  they’re away from family, they’re tired, lonely, sad, desperate, lost.  I think for some there is a fear in saying the name of Christ.  There is a power about it.  It makes us feel the depth of our emptiness if we are separate from God.

“Happy Holidays” is easier to say.  There is no suggestion of Lordship or obligation or conviction.  No mysterious sense of missing something.  We don’t have to really love to say “Seasons Greetings”.

I encourage you to remember this season that Christ is the reason for our joy and celebration at this time.  Not what we have or don’t have.  Not where we live or whether we are single or married.  But rather the hope that God promised us all those centuries ago that is fulfilled in His perfect Son, Jesus Christ.  And that this joy is for all people.  Let’s not be afraid!  Let’s love those who are hardest to love.  If God can do it, surely with His help, so can we!  And let’s remind people that this is the season of joy, of Christmas! Of the best gift of all time:  the gift of Christ!

The Final 14 Days of Gratitude–Days 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14

So far I am thankful for:
Day 1.  Jesus Christ
Day 2.  The Bible
Day 3.  My parents
Day 4.  My Grandmother
Day 5. God’s Holy Spirit
Day 6.  My nephews, Caleb and Joshua.
Day 7.  My best friend, Mandie
Day 8.  My job that I love
Day 9.  My home.

I haven’t posted in a while.  I’ve been sick and unfortunately in the hospital.  It has made me think a little about the single life.  Hospital bed

As a single person, I have sometimes wondered what the outcome would be if something happened to me.  You know, a slip in the bath tub and blunt force trauma to the head…(thank you, CSI…)

Would anyone know?  Would anyone care?  Or would I just die there in the bath tub–yeah, an awfully undignified way to go.

Well, I have learned in my illness that I have many people who would be concerned and come looking for me if something happened.

This is the tenth thing I’m thankful for–the true concern and overwhelming outpouring of love from all around me when I got sick. I can’t believe the number of visits, texts, emails, cards and phone calls that have come from concerned friends.  It has truly been an eye-opening gift from God.

The eleventh thing I’m thankful for is our wonderful health care system, including my family doctor, the dotors in emergency and in the hospital, the nurses, the lab workers, the housekeeping staff and even the lady who brought me my meals.  These people often do a thankless job well and with dignity.

The twelvth thing I am thankful for is good health.  It would have taken me a lot longer to overcome a bilateral (double) pneumonia if God had not given me a healthy body to care for.

The thirteenth thing I’m thankful for is for great colleagues at work.  Part of the time I was sick I was on vacation but for the rest of the time I’ve had no trouble with having to find people to cover for me at work.  On behalf of all my appointments, thanks, guys!

And (FINALLY) the fourteenth thing I am thankful for is for the opportunity to be able to blog and talk about all the things that randomly rotate through my mind (thanks to God’s Spirit).  I have so long wanted to provide some encouragement to my single and non-single brothers and sisters in this world!  To those of you who follow me, thank you for the support.  To those who are just visiting, I pray that God blesses in some way as you wend your way through these incredible blogs on WordPress and elsewhere.  May God bless all of you!

I could continue to praise You, God, all day for these precious gifts of Yours to me!

Thank-you!

(I’m so glad I only picked 14 days of Thankfulness!  I have many more things to be thankful for but my friend is doing 90 days of thanksgiving…)

14 Days of Gratitude–Days 7, 8 and 9

I am thankful for:
Day 1.  Jesus Christ
Day 2.  The Bible
Day 3.  My parents
Day 4.  My Grandmother
Day 5. God’s Holy Spirit
Day 6.  My nephews, Caleb and Joshua.

This is taking me longer than I thought it would so I am going to do multiple items today. 😀

Mandie and Mary

Mandie and Mary

The seventh thing I’m thankful for is my best friend, Mandie.  She has been my friend since the summer of 1990 when we worked together.  Yes, that’s right, we have been friends for 23 years.  We really are more sisters than friends, but the kind of family that you get to choose!  When we travel together we take time to be silly and I love that about Mandie–she doesn’t shy away from being silly together.  We understand eachother well enough that we don’t always have to end sentences or sometimes we will take up a conversation from earlier in the day and just effortlessly finish it hours later.  This really annoys her husband!

Thank-you, God, for my wonderful friend, Mandie!

The eighth thing I’m thankful for is my job.  I can’t say that I always enjoy the politics that comes with every job it seems but I really do love my job.  Not only does it support me financially but I get great fulfillment from it and have great opportunities to meet people and to help them.  This is such a great thing!

Thank you, God, that I have a job and that I love it so much.

The ninth thing I am thankful for is my beautiful home.  I have a non-leeking roof over my head that keeps me warm in winter and cool (mostly) in summer.  I live right on the running trails in my town and could run for hours in either direction from my home.  My friend, Mandie, helped with the interior design of my place and so it is beautiful, cosy and bright.

Thank you, God, that I have a safe and warm place to live.  Thank you that it is in a beautiful location and is close to where my friends live. What a gift, Father!

I could continue to praise You, God, all day for these precious gifts of Yours to me!

Thank-you!

14 Days of Gratitude–Day 6

I am thankful for:
Day 1.  Jesus Christ
Day 2.  The Bible
Day 3.  My parents
Day 4.  My Grandmother
Day 5. God’s Holy Spirit

So, I had intended to be finished the 14 Days of Gratitude by Thanksgiving, but since Thanksgiving is today, I think I will have to rethink my plan.  Seeing as American Thanksgiving is a while off yet, I will continue until either I am done the 14 days or until Thanksgiving in the US.  Whew…bought myself a few more weeks!

Day 6.  My nephews, Caleb and Joshua.

Batman and Robin (Secret identities--Caleb and Josh)

Batman and Robin (Secret identities–Caleb and Josh)

The sixth thing I’m thankful for are my delightful, fabulous, hilarious, mischievous, crazy nephews!  Caleb is 7 and Josh is 4.  They are both very clever and fun.  They love superheroes and spies and Star Wars.  Yes, I have a Princess Leia costume…there was a Star Wars birthday party…anyway!

They bring love and fun to my life!  I get to imagine and run and wrestle and jump and sing and tell stories with them–such fun for an auntie who really is just a kid in an adult suit!!

I want to be their mentor.  I want them to learn to love Jesus and grow up to be like Him.  They are such precious little princes!

Thank-you, God, for my wonderful little nephews!

I could continue to praise You, God, all day for this precious gift of Yours to me!

Thank-you!

14 Days of Gratitude–Day 5

I am thankful for:Every good and perfect gift 1
Day 1.  Jesus Christ
Day 2.  The Bible
Day 3.  My parents
Day 4.  My Grandmother

Day 5.  God’s Holy Spirit

The fifth thing I’m thankful for is God’s Holy Spirit.  I was reminded of this the other day as I was listening to the radio while driving to work.

The radio commentator recounted a story of a young girl at school.  She was being bullied one day in class because she always wore the same clothes.  Apparently her family was unable to afford more than one set of school clothes for her.  The bullies made her cry because of their mean and thoughtless comments.

During lunch, seven of her classmates went home.  They each went through their closets and returned to school with 15 new outfits for the little girl to take home for her own.  So that she wouldn’t be teased anymore.

What an amazing story!

This is God’s Spirit at work!  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights. James 1:17a,b NIV  God’s Spirit leads us to act like Jesus: to love others, to help others.  He encourages us with the words of God, he shows us the good things that God has set out for us to do.  Even when we don’t know what to do or say, he guides us, always to do the will of our Father.

Thank-you, God, for Your Holy Spirit.

I could continue to praise You, God, all day for this precious gift of Yours to us!

Thank-you!

14 Days of Gratitude–Day 4

I am thankful for:
Day 1.  Jesus Christ
Day 2.  The Bible
Day 3.  My parents

Day 4.  My Grandmother, Lynden

.

The fourth thing I’m thankful for is my wonderful Grandmother, Lynden.  I just went to her 90th Birthday party…and she had just finished harvesting her potatoes and tomatoes!  (with a little help!).  Yes, she says she’s slowing down a bit but she still lives on her own (for now) and looks after all her flowers.

She is so delighted any time I call!  She loves her family so much and is almost moved to tears just by a visit.  She poured so much of her life into her family and now she gets a simple enjoyment in joining in their victories and challenges, listening to their stories of adventure and looking at all the many pictures of their lives.

My Grandmother is one of my heros.  Regardless of the changing situations over the past 90 years she has always had calm and practical attitude which has kept her well throughout.  Someday I hope to be like her.

Thank-you, God, for my beautiful Grandmother!

I could continue to praise You, God, all day for this precious gift of Yours to me!

Thank-you!