Sunday, September 30, 2007

Changes and Chances

Have you ever worked those puzzles where you were given a word and then you had to make as many other words as you could? For example - CHANGE. If I were to break CHANGE down, I come up with the following words:

Can you find any words I missed? Now, what if I CHANGE 1 letter in CHANGE and make it CHANCE? The meaning of the word has literally CHANGED. Funny isn't it, how sometimes just CHANGing 1 thing, can actually CHANGE everything.

Think about your spiritual journey. How has it CHANGED since you accepted Christ? Have you taken CHANCES or made CHANGES? Maybe you've done neither, or maybe you've done both? Maybe you aren't really sure what you've done... For me, I have taken CHANCES and made CHANGES. Most recently, I took a CHANCE becoming a Sunday School Teacher with my husband, Don. We've been teaching now for 5 years. This experience has and continues to CHANGE my life. (Try spending 36 hours locked in a church with 13 5th and 6th graders stuck in rocking chairs. They have been some of the best 36 hours I've ever experienced!) I took a CHANCE when I started writing these weekly muses of mine. I never knew what a CHANGE they would make in my spiritual journey. Making CHANGES and taking CHANCES doesn't have to be all at once. Try doing it one letter at a time...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Walk with me...

Oftentimes we find ourselves on a road that leads to different paths, and we don't know which direction to take. To the left, the road is bumpy and needs repair. The trees are overgrown, and there is no sunlight shining through. To the right, the road is flat and long stretching out into nothingness. The ground is barren and depressing. The sun beats down from overhead. Which way do you choose? Which path is the right one? Is there no one that will go on this journey with you? You can't make this decision alone... you am tired and depressed. You have lost your teacher, your mentor, your best friend to a brutal killing that he didn't deserve. Which way do you go? How will you ever recover? You sit down in the middle of the road and bow your head in despair. You are lost. You are alone. You are afraid...
After a time, you feel a presence, a hand on your shoulder. You look up and there is a person beside you, reaching out his hand to help you up. Come, what are you so troubled about? Walk with me, the way is not long. I will go with you down whichever road you choose. I am not afraid. The road is long, but we can make it together.
You begin to tell this man of your troubles, how you have lost your best friend. Your way seems unclear and you have nothing left to give. The man speaks to you and it is only then that you can open your eyes and see who it is walking beside you - it is your friend. The one who you thought you had lost. He is RISEN as he said he would. You know you will NEVER be alone again, no matter what the road you choose...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Come on in.

What is the first thing people say to you when you walk into church? What about when you walk into a department store, or grocery store? Do they say anything at all? Do they have a big smile on their face and they just can't wait to greet you, so they walk towards you with their arms outstretched ready to greet you? Maybe they are just standing there and you know they really don't want to be there at all, but they have to. Do you even notice if there is someone to greet you when you walk into a restaurant or church, or are you too preoccupied with the list in your hand, the children at your side, and the time on the clock to pay attention?
What we say to someone the moment they walk into our place can affect their whole attitude the remainder of their stay with us. You certainly don't greet people who come to your home with a frown and a gruff tone of voice - "Come in. The house is a mess. We knew you were coming, but didn't care to clean up." Or, do you welcome people into your home with a smile and a cheerful tone - "Come on in. We've taken care of everything! We're so glad you could make it. Please make yourself comfortable and at home. We've made some snacks."
What welcoming words would make you want to come in and would help to set the tone for the visit. Think about how you greet people when they come to church. Do your words and actions make them want to stay, or turn around and run right out the door?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Welcome Basket

A little over 10 years ago, Don & I moved to Butler and rented a little one bedroom house on Carrington Avenue. Shortly after moving in, a friendly neighbor dropped by and presented us with a "Welcome Basket". Inside were gift certificates for local restaurants, hair salons, a map of Butler and places of interest, as well as a variety of flyers and brochures. (Not to mention the homemade goodies!) The Welcome Basket made us both feel so good. We were fairly new to Butler as we didn't grow up around here and only met while attending Slippery Rock University. This Welcome Basket made us feel at home in our new place, and welcome in our new neighborhood.

I look back on that Welcome Basket and think if only everyone were always that nice to others. What if we gave a "Welcome Basket" to people that came to our church (visitors and members alike)? I'm not talking a real basket full of gift certificates and homemade goodies, but a Welcome Basket of Love. A basket filled with joy and happiness. A basket filled with an open invitation to experience the love of a community of God's children. A basket that lets people know we are interested in getting to know them, and sharing our community of faith. A basket to let people know that we are "Loving People, Loving God". Imagine if you were to receive a Welcome Basket of Love every time you walked into church or a restaurant, or a department store, or or or...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

What does your label say?

Do you know what's so great about those nutrition LABELS they put on foods? You know everything about what you're going to eat or drink, even if you've never tried it before! The LABEL tells you how healthy the item is, or how unhealthy the item is. The LABEL tells you how many servings are in the package, and how many calories you're going to consume. How many fat grams, and trans fats, and saturated fats you'll be ingesting. A LABEL gives you these scientific ingredients that half the people can't even pronounce! What are red dye # 7 and yellow dye # 4 anyway? And can you really believe that they put ACID in your food? Honestly!!
Isn't it a shame people don't come with LABELS? That would take all the guesswork out of knowing who you want to get-to-know better. Who wants to have an actual conversation with someone when they could just ask to see their LABELS? We could all carry around an ID card in our wallets that would have a full description of what's inside us. For example:

Serving Size - 5' 9" female
Servings per container - 1
Calories - None of your business, but more than enough to go around
Total Fat - Too much!
Age - 33
Eyes - Blue (wears contacts, NOT colored)
Hair - Brown, Medium length
Vitamins Amount/serving Total Fat Amount/serving
Laughter 22% Angry 25%
Unending Smiles 95% Grouchy 45%
Perky 70% Mean spirited 5%
Silly 60% Lack of smiles 5%
Funny 73% Depressed 45%
Good listener 75% Procrastinator 80%
Creative 90%
Employed 100%
Patient 25%
Married 100%
Big Heart 100%
Christian 100%
Mother 100%
Daughter 100%

Would you want to get to know me based on my LABELS alone? Don't worry, I won't have hard feelings. Throughout my life, I've met many people that have only looked at my outer LABELS (as I'm sure you have) and haven't taken the time to find out who I am on the inside. For me, I think it's much more interesting to actually have a conversation with someone, rather than just asking to see their LABELS. Just think of all the people you would miss out on meeting if you only saw them for what they were on the outside...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Duct tape

Do you know what I love about duct tape? It holds anything and everything together. Have a leak in your plumbing, try some duct tape. Have a muffler with a hole in it, try some duct tape. Broken window in the back window of your car because your kids were throwing the baseball around and got a little too close - try duct tape! Who would think that something so simple and gray, like duct tape, could do so many amazing things? Duct tape, a simple, everyday household item that most people probably don't think to use when they need a fix.

Do you know what I love about Jesus? He holds anything and everything together. Have a bad day and you just can't seem to get out of the dumps, try talking to Jesus. Have a bad day at work and nothing seems to be going right, try talking to Jesus. Have a fight with your spouse or your children, or both, try talking to Jesus! Who would think that a simple carpenter that lived so long ago, is still in our hearts and minds today and can make such a difference in your life.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Lean on me

"Some times in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow. But, if we are wise, we know that there's always tomorrow. Lean on me, when you're not strong, and I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on. For it won't be long, 'till I'm gonna need somebody to lean on. Please, swallow your pride, if I have made, you need to borrow. For no one can feel those of your needs, that you won't let show. You just call on your brother when you need a hand, we all need somebody to lean on. I just might have a problem that you'll understand, we all need some body to lean on. You just call on your brother, when you need a hand, we all need somebody to lean on. I just might have a problem that you'll understand. We all need someone to lean on. If, there is a load, that you have to bear, that you can't carry, I'm right up the road, I'll share your load, if you just call me."
You all know the song, but have you really paid attention to the words? So often times we hear a song and we like the beat, we like the tune, and we know all the words, but we don't think how they relate to our everyday Christian lives. This week, we'll explore how we share each other's burdens - LEAN ON ME. But, when do we say THAT'S ENOUGH! We ALL need to work on our own burdens, as well as helping our friends.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Perhaps you've heard them on the street -- proclaiming that if you don't repent, you're going to go to hell. Or maybe they said the "end is near, accept Jesus today!" Maybe they've even tried to hand you a pamphlet that reads "Jesus loves you" and it lists some scripture and possibly a doomsday warning. Maybe you were on a college campus and they were in the quad on a box, yelling at a crowd of people about how immoral they are and what they are doing to their lives. Maybe you said something back at them. Maybe you took the piece of paper they gave you just so you didn't have to hear them anymore, and then threw it out in the nearest garbage can (or you took it home and recycled it). Whatever you did or didn't do, how do you proclaim your faith to people that don't know you? How do you share God's love with those you don't know? How do you use your Bullhorn?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

When you thought I wasn't looking...

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there is a God I could always talk to and I learned to trust in God.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it and learned we have to take care of what we are given.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't feel good and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything that I could be.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned most of life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, "Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking."
(Written by a former child)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Earth Day

Responding to widespread environmental degradation, Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator from Wisconsin, called for an environmental teach-in, or Earth Day, to be held on April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people participated that year, and Earth Day is now observed each year on April 22 by more than 500 million people and national governments in 175 countries. Senator Nelson, an environmental activist, took a leading role in organizing the celebration, hoping to demonstrate popular political support for an environmental agenda. He modeled it on the highly effective Vietnam War protests of the time.

The concept of Earth Day was first proposed in a memo to JFK written by Fred Dutton. According to Santa Barbara, California Community Environmental Council: The story goes that Earth Day was conceived by Senator Gaylord Nelson after a trip he took to Santa Barbara right after that horrific oil spill off our coast in 1969. He was so outraged by what he saw that he went back to Washington and passed a bill designating April 22 as a national day to celebrate the earth.

Senator Nelson selected Denis Hayes, a Harvard University graduate student, as the National Coordinator of activities. Hayes said he wanted Earth Day to "bypass the traditional political process." The nationwide event included opposition to the Vietnam War on the agenda. Pete Seeger was a keynote speaker and performer at the event held in Washington DC. Paul Newman and Ali McGraw attended the event held in New York City.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


How often in the course of your life do you have DOUBTS? Doubts about meeting the right person, doubts about getting married, doubts about having enough money to raise your child(ren). Doubts about making the right choices each and every day with every decision you make. How about doubts about your faith? What is it that keeps us believing in God and coming to church on Sundays and living a Christian life each and every day? What is it that keeps us coming back for more, and reading more and more books on prayer, devotions, faith, God and Jesus? Why do we do it? What makes us believe? What makes us trust in God and that He will be there for us when we need Him, even though we can't see Him? In one five-letter word - FAITH. Our faith keeps us from doubting that God truly exists and that Jesus Christ died on the cross for us. Our faith keeps us strong and helps us to get through the difficult times when we DOUBT ourselves and the situations around us. Our faith helps to put our doubts in perspective. Never DOUBT your FAITH. Never DOUBT the power of God's love for you.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Happy Easter!

If you're a gardener or a florist, you're probably pretty angry by this sudden change in the weather. We're supposed to be having moderately cool temperatures and rainy days, not snow and cold! I bet some of your plants had already started growing. Signs of spring in an otherwise bland landscape. Some of our flowers had just started blooming and then the snow hit. We also had other flowers with just the first hint of growth coming out of the ground. I wonder if they'll be strong enough to withstand the cold?

Have you ever planted a seed or a bulb, and watched its transformation as the days and weeks progressed? At first, nothing much seems to happen, the seed is planted, but the dirt is free of any seedlings. Then, one day you look and voila! a small bright spot of green has appeared out of the darkness and each day, that green gets taller and stronger and continues to grow. The darkness become smaller and smaller as the young flower starts to take hold and spread its joy all around. It's crucial in the beginning stages of a new plant to carefully tend it to see that it gets what it needs - water, food, love. (It's okay to talk to your seedling, really! They like it!!!) And don't think that after your seedling has become a beautiful flower that it doesn't need water, food, and love (and talking to). It does. As it grows, it needs nourishment, fulfillment. It needs You. As we celebrate this wonderful Easter Season, don't think for one minute that God doesn't need you. Let yourself be the seed, be planted, watered, fed and loved with His love and grace. Let God talk to you when you don't think you need it, and especially when you do. And when you feel yourself growing in His love, don't stop listening! Let Him continue to feed you with all that He has to offer. Let yourself grow into a beautiful flower and spread your seeds of love to others around you so they may know God's love as well. This Easter Season, let yourself grow into the beautiful flower that's inside of you...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I have a CONFESSION...

I have a CONFESSION to make - I AM A CHOCOHOLIC!! Phew! I feel so much better now to get that off my chest! Not a day goes by that I don't have some kind of chocolate. I'm not talking that white chocolate either. Oh no, it's got to be milk chocolate or dark chocolate. White just doesn't cut it. I usually have a chocolate pop-tart for breakfast - chocolate fudge or S'mores or chocolate chip. I just picked up a new flavor yesterday - Hot Chocolate! Can you imagine? A Hot Chocolate flavored pop-tart??? What will they think of next!

Seriously though, it's not always easy to CONFESS about something you're addicted to, or something you've done. It's especially not easy to CONFESS in public, or to a stranger. It's even harder to CONFESS to a friend. But that's what we must do when we do something wrong, CONFESS to GOD. He will forgive us. He forgave us when Christ died for us on the cross. Remember that NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, God will forgive you. You only need CONFESS to Him and ask Him to forgive you. He loves you, NO MATTER WHAT.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Thirsting for God

"I don’t need a lot of things, I can get by with nothing. Of all the blessings life can bring, I’ve always needed something. But I’ve got all I want, when it comes to loving you. You’re my only reason, You’re my only truth.

I need you like water, like breath, like rain. I need you like mercy fom heaven’s gate. There’s a freedom in your arms that carries me through. I need you. You’re the hope that moves me to courage again. You’re the love that rescues me when the cold winds rage and it’s so amazing, ’cause that’s just how you are and I can’t turn back now, ’cause you’ve brought me too far.

I thought of this song last night while thinking about what to write for this week's message. The theme is "Thirsting for God" as we continue on our series of Prayer. When I thought about the lyrics, I thought they made perfect sense with what we should be thinking and wanting in our everyday lives - to be "needing You". You for me, means needing God. Insert "God" wherever it says "You" in the song, and you'll see what I mean. It's pretty powerful. "I need God like water, like breath, like rain. There is a freedom in God's arms that carries me through. I need God." WOW! To understand and recognize that need, to know that God should be what we are thirsting for when we are dry and parched. When our stomachs and our souls are empty. Let God quench your thirst. Let Him fill you up with His glory. Let Him be the piece that is missing from your puzzled life...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Go to God first

"Dear Lord, I don't know why I'm coming to you now, but there is no other hope in my life, and I thought maybe if I talked to You, You might hear my pleas of help and do something to change my life. I've gotten myself into a lot of trouble, Lord, and I don't know what to do. My children are angry with me, my spouse wants a divorce, our house is near foreclosure, and I just don't know what to do with my life. I think I'm going to lose my job and then what will I do? We can barely support ourselves today with 2 incomes, much less 1. Lord, help me. I don't know how to do this prayer thing, but I'm asking for Your help now. Please, I beg of you, help me..."

Have you found yourself or know of someone, that turns to God as a last resort? Instead of going to Him first, they think they can handle everything by themselves and work out their problems on their own. That's just NOT the case! God is there for us anytime we call. He may not always answer you with words you want to hear, or at the moment you think you need it most, but He will answer you. He hears your cries for help. He hears your despair, feels your joy and collects your tears. Don't go to God when all the chips are down, GO TO GOD FIRST and share with Him all your feelings - happiness and sorrow, RIGHT NOW. Don't wait, don't hold back. God should be the first priority in your life, not the last resort.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Amazing Grace

Ten Amazing Facts about Amazing Grace

1) The words were written by a reformed British slave trader turned Anglican minister, John Newton, who wrote it to accompany a New Year’s Day church service in 1773.

2) Amazing Grace is the most covered song in history. Over 3200 different recordings exist.

3) The tune we now associate with Amazing Grace wasn’t matched to the words until 1835 in William Walker’s Southern Harmony. Until then it was set to a variety of tunes.

4) The final stanza—‘When we’ve been there ten thousand years’—was added by Edwin Othello Excell in 1909 and was taken from another hymn.

5) Amazing Grace is considered to be the anthem of the Cherokee Nation because the song was sung on the Trail of Tears during 1838-39.

6) The first gospel recording of Amazing Grace was made in 1926 by Rev. H. R. Tomlin.

7) Most of the recordings of Amazing Grace have been made since Judy Collins had a surprise pop hit with the song in 1971.

8) A survey of British teenagers in the mid-1970s found that the majority thought that Amazing Grace was a love song about a girl named Grace.

9) The popular bagpipe version recorded by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards was based on the hit version by Judy Collins and was only added to an album as an afterthought. Later released as a single, it became a huge international hit.

10) Amazing Grace was sung as the funerals of Richard Nixon, Sonny Bono, Barry Goldwater, Joe DiMaggio and John Kennedy Jr.

This is Amazing Grace Sunday and on this day, we are reminded to:
** praise God for the abolition of the slave trade 200 years ago
** pray for the remaining work of racial healing and equality
** pledge to free the men, women, and children still enslaved today

Thursday, February 8, 2007

It's all about LOVE

How many LOVE letters have you received in your life? How many LOVE letters have you written? Have you ever received a letter from God? Have you felt His presence surrounding you when you're feeling down? Have you felt His arms wrap around you in the highlights of your life, saying, "You are Worthy of this and so much more"? Have you sat down to read His word, and feel the LOVE in the words that are before you? Do you know that God LOVES you? Do you know how much God LOVES you? Do you know that you are WORTHY of God's LOVE every day of your life? When you're feeling down, take a moment to tell yourself that God LOVES you and you are WORTHY of His LOVE and grace. Your life has WORTH, your LOVE has meaning, and giving yourself to God is such a small thing to do to show your LOVE for HIM.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Service with a smile

"SERVICE with a smile." I'll never forget those words when I started my first "real job" working at Burger King. Whenever you were on the front counter, running the registers, it was always "SERVICE with a smile." Well, I smiled alright! I smiled until my cheeks hurt! I smiled when customers were yelling at me that it was taking too long and their fries were cold! I smiled when I was handing food out the drive-thru window and my hands were freezing from the cold and snow that was ever-present in good old Bradford, PA. I smiled when I had to wash dishes, and clean tables, and empty garbages. I smiled day in and day out. I was the epitome of "SERVICE WITH A SMILE." Today, I try and carry that sentiment with me as I SERVE the Lord and those around me. When I answer the phone, I hope the people can hear my smile instead of the frustration I might be feeling because I'm having a bad day. When I'm waiting patiently in the 20 items or less line at Wal-Mart, and the customer in front of me has a full cart, I hope that the cashier can see that I am smiling to help make their mood a little lighter. I hope that as I am a SERVANT in my daily life, whether in church or at work, or just getting groceries, that people know that my heart is full of love and that my smile is real and meant for them...

Thursday, January 4, 2007

To-do list

Things to do today (in no particular order):
1) Clean house
2) Take down Christmas decorations
3) Eat
4) Shower/get dressed
5) Go to the mall and return/exchange Christmas gifts
6) Go to Wal-Mart for puppy food, milk, etc.
7) Prepare Sunday School lesson
8) Prepare media for Contemporary Service tomorrow!
9) Pray
10) Spend time with family

Look familiar? What was your to-do list for today? Do you make a new to-do list each day, or do you just add to the one from the day before and hope that today's the day you'll get it all done? When you make a to-do list, do you list it by order of importance, or just a random order of things you'd like to get done? My to-do lists are generally random, because I can't PRIORITIZE everything I'd like to get done - they're all PRIORITIES for me at this point! However, my first and foremost PRIORITY should be my time spent with God. Whether it be through reading the Bible, or a devotional, or just a book that puts me in a better place emotionally and spiritually. That should come first EVERY DAY no matter what else I have going on.
This year, if you aren't already putting God first in your life every day, make it your New Year's Resolution to do so. And keep it! So often we make resolutions that are meaningless, and we know they will never happen. Make it your goal for this year to make God your #1 PRIORITY and see how everything else falls into place.