Today’s Daily Bread ~ “I Spy”

24 May

Deuteronomy 4:29 – From there you will search again for the LORD our God.  And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.

My children love a good game of “I Spy.”  If you’re not familiar with it, it goes something like this: “I spy, with my little eye, something blue!”  The participants are then required to guess until they discover the object.

With my almost-4-year-old son, the answer is typically something simple, like “the sky” or “the grass.”  Caitlyn, not wanting anyone else to win, makes it nearly impossible to guess. 

During one particularly nail biting game (tongue firmly planted in cheek), I saw an American flag waving off to my right.  “Ok, kids,” I sang, “What is red, white, blue, and waving in the wind?”

I thought they would know immediately, but after several guesses, they still didn’t have the answer.  So I started in with the hints (a major infraction of the “I Spy” rules and regulations).  “Up in the air, love-bugs.  To Caitlyn’s right.  No honey, your right.  Up, Nicky.  You have to look up.

Finally and simultaneously, they yelled, “the American flag!”

Contrary to my daughter’s cut-throat style of play, I have no desire to win.  I want them to guess.  I deliberately craft my clues to make the object as findable as possible. 

Just like God does for us. (more…)

Today’s Daily Bread ~ Coffee

23 May

Psalm 138:3 – When I pray, You answer me; You encourage me by giving me the strength I need.

I love coffee.

I love that first cup of the morning.  I love the merrily gurgling sound of the coffee maker.  I love coming downstairs to that warm, inviting aroma.  I love pouring the milk and spooning the sugar.  I love breathing in the fragrance as I raise the mug to my lips, and I love the warmth that spreads down to my toes as I take that first sip.

I do love my coffee.                                                

During the 2011 Lenten season, my husband and I gave up caffeine.  Having gone through the detoxification process before, I chose to ramp my coffee intake down two weeks prior to Ash Wednesday.  It didn’t make it much easier.

My body was used to that jolt of artificial energy every morning.  My physiological system issued a painful headache in protest, but still I persevered.  After about a week, I found that I actually felt better.  Without my afternoon pick-me-up, I fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer.  Fully rested, I bounced eagerly out of bed instead of sluggishly and reluctantly.  I came downstairs, made myself an herbal, non-caffeinated tea and got to work, eager to meet the day.

By the end of Lent, both Mike and I were toying with the notion of saying goodbye to caffeine forever. 

And then I caved. 

We still enjoy our morning cup of coffee, but not wanting to rely on it quite so much, we’ve switched to half-caff.  I do my best to limit my caffeine to the morning, so I can continue to enjoy the benefits of a long, restful night’s sleep.

Nothing can take the place of a solid eight hours of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep.

I can make it on seven.  I can survive one day on six.  Anything less and I’m absolutely ineffective.  Caffeine gets me through for a few hours, but once the effects wear off I’m more tired than I was before.

The longer I walk with Jesus, the more I recognize just how much I need Him.

Jeremiah 31:25 – “For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.”

Although many might argue the opposite, God did not make us self-sufficient.  Our bodies need rest to function at their fullest potential.  Our souls need Jesus to do the same.

We were created purposely incomplete, with a void inside of us.  The void is the shape of a cross.  People will live their entire lives trying to fill the emptiness with other things, only to find that nothing fits.  Nothing works for long.  Just like the temporary burst of energy from caffeine; you feel better for a while, but then you need more.  And more.  And more.

I find myself comparing my need for Jesus to an iPhone.  (more…)

Today’s Daily Bread ~ No Worries

20 May

Matthew 18:2-4 – Jesus called a small child over to Him and put the child among them.  Then He said, “I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

My husband and I both have family in town, and consider ourselves fortunate that the in-laws get along so well.  Last year, we hosted the Thanksgiving feast, with my parents and Mike’s mother.  We eat around two, so we can be all wrapped up with the gluttony by the time the Cowboys kick off.

Two o’clock, of course, is right smack in the middle of naptime for my two small children, and that makes for a long day.  By the time the game hit the fourth quarter, my son, who’d been whining and grumpy since 2:30, was in quite a state.  So I pulled him onto my lap, rubbed his back, and tried to soothe him.  It took about ten seconds for him to sigh and snuggle in.

“Isn’t that sweet?” My mother said.  “He just needed you.”         

“It’s so simple to be a child,” she continued.  “They haven’t learned how to worry yet, they truly just live in the moment.”  I turned and looked at her.  “You’re right,” I said, impressed by her wisdom.  “I wonder when that kicks in.”

“I’m not sure,” she answered.  “But children Nick’s age don’t have the capacity to contemplate the future like we do.  They just live on a moment by moment basis, trusting that their mommy and daddy will meet their needs.”  Wow.

Her words rattled around in my head all night, and they resurfaced the next morning, shortly after I opened my prayer journal and put pen to paper:

My mom made such an interesting point yesterday, Lord: how we, as children, don’t have the capacity to worry.  How perfect that You tell us that, to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must be reborn, and come to You with the faith of a child.

I want to be honest with you; the idea of “childlike faith” has puzzled me through the years.  I thought it meant parking our brains and blindly believing in Jesus like children believe in Santa Clause.  But as I continued to write and seek God’s wisdom, He spoke to me:

Daughter, I don’t want you to suspend your intellect…on the contrary…I gave it to you.  Look at your two beautiful children, both gifts from me.  What is the word they use more than any other?  “WHY?”  They cling to you, feel safe with you, and they believe, above all else, that you and Mike can fix everything.  Cling to me.  Seek me.  Ask me.  Rest in me, as your children rest in you.  

God wants us to seek Him; He invites us to question Him!  Jesus says, in Matthew 7:7, “Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for.”  There are several words in the Greek for “ask.”  One is punthanomai, which means to ask or inquire; it implies casually seeking information.  The word used in this text, though, is aiteó.  Pronounced ahee-teh’-o, it means to ask and keep on asking, to ask continuously.  It is the same word used for beg, crave or deeply desire.  Imagine a small child, pulling on their father’s pant leg, “Why, daddy?  Why can’t I go?  Why?”  To put it simply, God is inviting us to pester Him.

The notion that God is removed from us and watches from a distance is completely inaccurate.  One of His many names is Immanuel, meaning “God with us.”  Psalm 37:22 says, “The steps of the godly are directed by the LORD.  He delights in every detail of their lives (emphasis mine).”  He desperately desires a relationship with you, and wants you to seek Him: “In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me.  I will be found by you,” says the LORD (Jeremiah 29:12-14a).”

I was watching my children play the next day.  (more…)

Today’s Daily Bread ~ Weeds

18 May

Psalm 5:8 – Lead me in the right path, O LORD, or my enemies will conquer me.  Tell me clearly what to do, and show me which way to turn.

 The other day I had my two children out in the stroller.  Our routine is to run to a park a couple of miles away, play for a while, and then run back.

 Needing a change of scenery, I decided to take a different route home, a way I’d never gone before.  We’d run about five or ten minutes, when I saw in the distance the end of the sidewalk.  And it wasn’t just grass…it was about a hundred or so meters of tall weeds and overgrown underbrush. 

 It was a busy, six lane street, with no break in the traffic and no intersection at which to cross.  If it were just me, I wouldn’t hesitate to run in the street, but with my two kids in my double-wide jogger stroller?  No way.  I’d have to find a way to run through the weeds. 

From a distance, it looked impossible.  As we drew closer, I began to make something out.  A faint, narrow path, probably created by bikers and fellow stroller-moms.  My kids and I got through it fairly easily, but running on ground compared to pavement is always tough.  At the next intersection, I stopped for a few minutes to catch my breath.  I turned to look at what I’d run through, and my eyebrows shot up.  Even at twenty feet away, I couldn’t see the little trail.  You had to be right up on it to see that there was a way to make it through. 

 As I continued to gasp for air and wait for my heartbeat to return to a semi-normal rate, I looked up at the sky.  “I know what You’re doing,” I told God.  “You’re telling me not to worry about the future.  You’re telling me that You’ll make the way clear when it’s time.  Not a second sooner, right?”  Somewhere in my spirit, I felt Him smile.  “Now You’re getting, it my child.  Walk by faith, not by sight.” 

Psalm 119:105 is a verse treasured by many, including me.  “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith turned it into a song.  The lyrics following those words sum up the concept of walking by faith – “When I feel afraid, think I’ve lost my way, still You’re there right beside me.  Nothing will I fear, as long as You are here, please be near me to the end.”  Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. 

God doesn’t shine a spotlight down our path so we can see where we’re going.  (more…)

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