What the Photo Can’t Capture

Today is Friday, February 8, 2019.

Day 22,247

FIVE DAYS until Spring Training!!!

“If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; But if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.”
Don Marquis, U.S. humorist, 1878-1937
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is wiseacre. It means, “one who pretends to knowledge or cleverness; especially : smart aleck.” (Merriam-Webster)

The practice session with the bride-to-be went pretty well last night. Oh, her maid of honor was present, as well. She was pleased, and even said that my playing on her “walking-down-the-aisle” song sounded better than the video she sent me as an example. She’s very sweet to say that. There were a few rough spots, but I have until next Friday to get it all polished up. It’s feeling more and more natural every day, so my confidence level is rising. I won’t get overconfident, though, no worries, there. I don’t know that I have ever been overconfident about performing music. I am always terrified when the moment of performance arrives, no matter how much I have practiced. And this is the first time I have ever played at a wedding.

It’s Friday!!! And I won’t have to work late, because I’m leaving early to pick up C at the Lasik surgery center. As previously mentioned, she is getting an adjustment/correction on one eye from her previous surgery.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Revelation 7:12

Today I am grateful:
1. For a good practice session last night.
2. That the bride was pleased with my playing.
3. For the musical talent with which the Lord has blessed me.
4. That the Lord put it in my heart to use that talent to glorify Him.
5. For places like Glen Rose, where I can go and “be still.”

Let my prayer be set forth in your sight as incense,
the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 141:2)

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
Psalm 16:7

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10

(This is inspired by today’s reading in Daily Guideposts, by Erika Bentsen)

At least once a year, my wife and I travel to nearby Glen Rose for a long weekend, staying in some cabins on the Paluxy River. I’ve written about it before. It’s one of our favorite places to be. The cabin settings are serene and rustic. They are nestled in the midst of trees and rocks, each one with its own unique view of the river and parts beyond. Our favorite cabin has an upstairs balcony, which has a magnificent view of the evening sunset in the west.

The beauty of the place cannot truly be captured in photographs. Sure, we have tried. And while the pictures look nice, there is one thing that they cannot capture; the atmosphere, the ambience, the sheer feeling of “with God” that we get when we get up in the morning and walk out onto that deck and simply breathe.

These are the times when I most feel Psalm 46:10. “Be still, and know that I am God.”

We need these times of stillness and refreshing, especially in our current culture of hurry. We rush around everywhere. The crazy driving on my morning commute seems to have gotten worse as time marches on. And the closer it gets to 8:00 AM, the worse the driving. Not me, though. I refuse to participate. If you want to get in front of me, more power to you. I don’t care. Go ahead. I’ll give you space. No doubt this annoys drivers behind me. But that’s just the way I drive now. I’ll match the flow of the traffic around me, sure. But I won’t drive so close to the car in front of me that no one can get in. I’m not in that big of a hurry.

I saw a funny picture on Facebook once. It had a picture of traffic, and it said something to the effect of: “People get so angry in traffic on the way to work. Like they’re going to be any happier once they get there.”

One of my favorite Dallas Willard quotes (yes, him again) is “Relentlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” I like that word, “relentlessly.” Hurry is the enemy of time. I think Eugene Peterson may have said that.

When we hurry, it affects everything in our minds. And we become driven by something that may not be that important. What is important? Look at Psalm 46:10 again. “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Father, help me to be still today. Sure, I have to do work. But there can still be moments of stillness. And I am grateful for the stillness of places like our favorite cabin in Glen Rose, where we can rest and know that You are God.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Under His Wings

Today is Thursday, January 31, 2019. Last day of January.

Day 22,239

“Don’t accept rides from strange men, and remember that all men are strange.”
Robin Morgan, American poet, author, and activist, 1941-
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is gibble-gabble. It means “senseless chatter.” Pretty much what I would have guessed. (Dictionary.com)

We didn’t do much last night. The work day went okay for me, but was rough for C. She picked up dinner from Freebirds on the way home, and we watched a little TV, then went to bed.

Looking toward the weekend, not much is planned. I still have a good bit of work to do on the piano music for the upcoming wedding. The wedding is Friday, February 15, and rehearsal on the previous Wednesday. I have scheduled PTO for half a day, both days, so I don’t have to worry about hurrying home from work. I’m really looking forward to the wedding, not because I get to play, but because we really love both of these people and are excited for them.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

For the LORD comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.
Isaiah 51:3

Today I am grateful:
1. For the comfort of God in all situations.
2. For the fact that God is with us all the time.
3. For the fact that God is good all the time. Funny how people only say “God is good” when good things happen. But He is good even when “bad” things happen.
4. For the shadow of the wings of God.
5. For the peace from God that I am currently feeling.

O Lord God Almighty,
as you have taught us to call
the evening, the morning, and the noonday one day;
and have made the sun to know its going down:
Dispel the darkness of our hearts,
that by your brightness we may know you to be 
the true God and eternal light,
living and reigning for ever and ever. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

(From Daily Guideposts 2019)

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 17:8

Guideposts writer Rick Hamlin writes of a time when he began to feel weighed down by all of the worries in his prayer time; health concerns, financial issues, relationships, and so on. As he sat on the sofa, huddled under his blanket, he released all of those concerns and anxieties to God. “One by one, I let go of my burdens.”

When he opened his eyes and checked the time, he reasoned that it was “time to face the day.” As he stretched out his arms and flung open the blanket, he says it felt like a pair of wings. Then he remembered Psalm 55:6. “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” “Where would I go?” he wondered. The answer: “Exactly where I was. God was my refuge, and I’d huddled under my blanket as though in the shadow of His wings.”

This is a topic that I return to often in my morning devotions. God is present. He is here. He is everywhere. There is nowhere that I can go where He is not. That is of the utmost comfort to me. I don’t find it threatening at all. And in this current episode of our lives, it is even more important. Peace. Jesus makes the darkness tremble.

The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, ‘Destroy.’
Deuteronomy 33:27

In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Father, thank You for the reminder that, no matter what is going on in our lives, You are there with us, and, as people are wont to say, You’ve “got this.” Thank You for the reminder that I am sheltered under Your wings. As my verse for the year says, He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Let me never forget that, most especially in the most trying times.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!

Divine Appointments

Today is Tuesday, January 29, 2019. Only three days left in January.

Day 22,237

“At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.”
Plato, Greek Philosopher, 427-347 BC
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is synecdoche. It means, “a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for a part, the special for the general or the general for the special, as in ten sail for ten ships or a Croesus for a rich man.” (dictionary.com)

C and I made it to the Y for some exercise, last night. I spent 35 minutes on one of their brand new treadmills. I like the machine, but I never burn as many calories on the treadmill. For one thing, there is no place, that I can see, to enter age and weight specs on the treadmill. The elliptical has that feature, and I truly believe that the number of calories burned is related to that. At any rate, I walked just over a mile on the treadmill, and it felt good.

We picked up Subway on the way home, for dinner, so I have a six inch sandwich for lunch today. I think we will probably stay home and have chili for dinner tonight.

Speaking of chilly, it’s a frigid 26 degrees, this morning. However, it is projected to reach 50, so it should still be a nice day out. At least we aren’t having blizzards. Unless we go to Dairy Queen.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
Psalm 116:17

Today I am grateful:
1. For the ability to keep warm in winter.
2. That the place I work has a climate-controlled warehouse.
3. That God will never leave me nor forsake me.
4. For those random meetings with people that turn into blessings.
5. For God’s constant care in my life.

Almighty God,
we give you thanks for surrounding us,
as daylight fades,
with the brightness of the vesper light;
and we implore you of your great mercy that,
as you enfold us with the radiance of this light,
so you would shine into our hearts
the brightness of your Holy Spirit;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

We always stop with verse nine when we are quoting from Ephesians 2. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. But we should keep reading, because verse ten gives us a reason for this “saving.” God has prepared “good works” for us to do, and He had them prepared “beforehand.”

Some of these good works include meetings with people that might seem completely random. Guideposts writer Carol Knapp writes about three of those in today’s reading. I’ve experienced some of those, and I’m sure you have, too. In the grocery store, at the laundromat, at the gym . . . any number of places. Carol calls it being “written in in God’s appointment book.”

What that means for me is that I need to be alert and ready. If I go through life with my head down, not paying attention to anything around me, I might miss some of these “divine appointments.” Of course, if I do miss them, it doesn’t hurt God. But I will miss out on some blessing, whether it be the blessing of encouraging another or vice versa.

I want to share a few other verses that reinforce this idea.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25

Often used to encourage church membership, these verses also stress the importance of simply encouraging one another “to love and good works.”

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

These verses are frequently used in weddings. But I believe they speak more of the beauty of friendship than of marriage (not that it doesn’t apply to both). And “divine appointments” can certainly become good friendships.

Be on the lookout, for you never know when those appointments are going to occur.

Father, make me more aware of my surroundings and the people around me. I don’t want to try to force anything. I just want to be ready for when those appointments come. Open my eyes and my heart to the good works that You have prepared for me.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Walk Humbly

Today is January 3, 2019. The tenth day of Christmas.

Day 22,211

41 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, English novelist, 1892-1973 (Today is the 127th anniversary of his birth.)
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is elevenses. It means, “a midmorning break for refreshments.” (Dictionary.com) Due to above fact, this makes me quite happy.

At least twice, yesterday, I mistakenly wondered why someone was at work who does not normally work on Mondays. I really don’t like mid-week holidays! Haha!

I made chili for dinner, last night, and it was quite satisfying in this winter weather we are having. C and I watched a recent episode of Saturday Night Live, in which Jason Mamoa hosted. It was bloody awful! Not so much him, I think, as the writing. Mumford and Sons were the musical guest, and they were pretty good, at least.

The weather is still threatening, this morning. When we got up, the temp was 35, though. Raining, but nothing freezing. It is now 36, according to Wunderground, so I’m not worried about ice, at this point.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.”
Isaiah 12:4

Today I am grateful:
1. That we have not had any ice on the roads, these past two days. This gratitude is humble, though, as I realize that not too far west of here, there is ice and snow.
2. That God calls me to be watchful of Him working in my life.
3. For the opportunities to intercede for others.
4. That C remembered, last night, that I needed to order a new sustain pedal for my keyboards.
5. That God knows me.

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father,
you have brought us in safety to this new day:
Preserve us with your mighty power,
that we may not fall into sin,
nor be overcome by adversity;
and in all we do,
direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Grace)

(From Daily Guideposts 2019)

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

John Dilworth wrote today’s reading. He writes of being inspired by a sermon based on the above verse. He says that he began to be “more intentional about God’s expectations” found in the verse. “I began closing my morning prayers by asking God to guide me to act justly in all I do that day, to be kind to all I am with, and to walk humbly with Him all day.” That sounds like a prayer with which you can’t possibly go wrong.

Humility, it seems, may be the key component to each piece of the prayer. Unless we walk humbly with God, can we possibly “be still and know God,” “Wait patiently for Him to renew our strength,” “Love God with all our being,” or “Love others as ourselves?”

If I am walking humbly with God, then I “must become less so He can become more,” just as John the Baptizer said. I plan to echo Dilworth’s prayer this morning, and every morning that I can remember.

Father, guide me to act justly in all I do today; guide me to be kind to all I am with; guide me, most especially, to walk humbly with You.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Invisible Reality

Today is Monday, December 31, 2018. Seventh day of Christmas. Last day of 2018.

Day 22,208

2019 begins tomorrow!

“With our love, we could save the world.”
George Harrison, British musician, 1943-2001
BrainyQuote
You know, he wasn’t too far off the mark, there. If everyone would love their neighbor as themselves, following the Golden Rule, can you even imagine what the world would look like?

The word of the day is totsiens. It means, “until we meet again; goodbye.”

We had a really good worship gathering, yesterday morning. At least until the last song, when my keyboard pedal started squeaking. That really threw me off of my game. I don’t think I made any mistakes, but it affected my focus, and upset me. It’s happened before. I think it’s time to replace the thing. Oddly enough, only about half the people I “polled” said they heard it.

After church, we took S up to Best Buy and Petsmart to help her spend her Christmas money. She bought a Fire 8 HD tablet (she wanted a Kindle, but this was cheaper and can do more stuff, so she chose it) at Best Buy, and a couple of Betta fish at Petsmart. Then we stopped by Freebirds to get some lunch to take home. Things got a little tense during all of this. Partly my fault, I’ll admit, but I think we all contributed. It all turned out good in the end, though. The rest of the day was peaceful and restful.

As previously stated, I have to work today, which is why I’m already up doing this. C is off. We both have off tomorrow. Wednesday has potential to be nasty, weather-wise, but maybe not as bad as we originally thought. It looks like the temperature will stay right at freezing or slightly above for most of the day, and it’s going to be nice today, around 60 or so. And the prediction for snow is now only in the morning on Wednesday. I’m hoping that doesn’t get worse.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.
Psalm 140:13

Today I am grateful:
1. For phone conversations with my mother.
2. For my musical talent, with which I can praise our God.
3. The Bible, which I can read to learn about and draw closer to God.
4. The Holy Spirit, who is constantly drawing me in.
5. For friends, who, even if we aren’t close together, are still friends.

Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
Govern and uphold them, now and always.
Day by day we bless you;
We praise your Name for ever.
Lord, keep us from all sin today;
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
Lord, show us your love and mercy;
For we put our trust in you.
In you, Lord, is our hope;
And we shall never hope in vain.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Deuteronomy 31:8

There is a similar verse, one that has, in the past couple of years, become one of my favorites.

. . . fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 
Isaiah 41:10

I’ve written many times on the truth that God is always with us. And I’m sure I’ll write it again. It’s one of the greatest truths of our faith. And it is one of those truths that can either provide great comfort or induce great awkwardness or comfortableness. God is always with you and me. There is never a time when God is not there. Because He is everywhere, all the time. We really need to focus more on that awareness. I believe it would prevent a lot of sin in our lives. My frustration in circumstances (such as yesterday afternoon), would be far less if I would remember that I am always walking in God’s presence.

But most of all, the things I worry about would not phase me at all. Yesterday, our pastor spoke about when the visible and the invisible collide. The visible reality is all the things we can see, touch, taste, smell, and hear. The invisible reality consists of things which we cannot see, touch, taste, smell, and hear. I am aware that some people have heard the voice of God. But the majority of us have not. Anyway, when those two realities collide, as they did when Jesus Christ walked the earth, some pretty phenomenal things happen. I do believe that some of those things are still possible today, if we would be recognize the invisible reality and try to engage ourselves more with it, in the midst of a culture that would have us focus only on the most shallow of the visible reality.

The two verses above call us back to that invisible reality. God is with us. He goes before us. He will help us. He will strengthen us. he will uphold us with his righteous right hand.

Joshua 1:9, while spoken to a specific person, still applies to anyone who follows the Lord, I believe. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

There are many more Scriptures that back up this truth. I don’t have time to find them all, this morning. I simply want to point us in the right direction as we hurl headlong into another year. God is with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. There’s a line in an insanely popular worship song, these days, it says, “You leave the ninety-nine.” No. He doesn’t! God never leaves anyone. No matter what.

Father, day by day, I pray that You remind me of Your nearness to me, that I might know that You walk with me and I with You, all the time. May Your Holy Spirit remind me, constantly drawing me into the invisible reality.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Open My Eyes That I May See

Today is Monday, November 26, 2018.

Day 22,173

29 days until Christmas!

“When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”
Arthur C. Clarke, English physicist & science fiction author, 1917-2008
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is tsuris, “trouble, woe.”

Yesterday turned out to be a good day. We had a good worship gathering in the morning, which included a tremendous message by our friend, Clark Dunlap, previously pastor of First Baptist Church Smithfield. It was, essentially, a whirlwind tour through 1 John with an emphasis on making sure our faith is settled.

Our “Fall Feast” was a huge success, I think. The food was all great, and we had a great time in fellowship. At the end, we sang a few songs, finishing up with “O Holy Night.” Brandon and Terry lead the worship time, but asked me to come up and sing with them. Of course, I belted out, “O Holy Night,” as it is one of my favorite Christmas songs to sing.

But, alas, today is Monday, and we must return to work.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
Psalm 28:7

Today I am thankful for:
1. Cooler temperatures (I don’t mind the cold)
2. Good food and fellowship that we had last night
3. Music, which “hath charms to soothe a savage breast”
4. Weekends, so we can rest
5. The Christmas season, for ’tis joyful

(From The Book of Common Prayer)

“Almighty God, who hast given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication unto thee,
and hast promised through thy well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name thou wilt be in the midst of them:
Fulfill now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants as may be best for us;
granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth,
and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen.”
(A Prayer of St. Chrysostom)

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. 
Psalm 119:18

What a beautiful, short, prayer from the author of the epic Psalm 119. The longest chapter, by far, in the entire Bible, Psalm 119 contains 176 verses, almost all of which make some kind of reference to God’s Word (law, precepts, rules, and so on). Each verse is a self-contained prayer.

In this one, the Psalmist asks God to open his eyes. It’s a prayer worthy of our consideration. I am constantly needing my “eyes” opened that I might see the truth in God’s Word, the “wondrous things” contained in His Word. Because my eyes get clouded by circumstances and distractions; they get glossed over by my own concerns and worries. There are many things that take my eyes off of the beauty of God’s Word. So I should pray this prayer frequently.

The story that Daily Guideposts uses to illustrate this truth is of a skunk with his head stuck in a yogurt cup, wondering aimlessly around a parking lot, changing directions when he bumped into something. Are we not all like that skunk sometimes? I fear I am, more than I want to admit.

May God open my eyes, that I may see.

I am reminded of an old hymn by Clara H. Scott.

Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.

Open my ears that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.

Open my mouth and let me bear
Tidings of mercy everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.

Open my mind that I may read
More of Thy love in word and deed;
What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead?
Only for light from Thee I plead.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit Divine!

Father, indeed, I pray today that You might truly open my eyes that I may see all of Your wonder and beauty. Let me know Your presence throughout this day.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Grace and peace, friends.

He Heals the Broken-Hearted

Today is Thursday, November 22, 2018. Thanksgiving Day in the US.

Day 22,169

33 days until Christmas! 🙂

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”
Jim Davis, American cartoonist, 1945-
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is cornucopia, “a curved, hollow goat’s horn or similarly shaped receptacle (such as a horn-shaped basket) that is overflowing especially with fruit and vegetables (such as gourds, ears of corn, apples, and grapes) and that is used as a decorative motif emblematic of abundance.” Also, “an inexhaustible store : abundance.”

Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating today. Does it feel a bit early to you? It is the fourth Thursday in November, though, as November began on a Thursday, this year. I’m glad it’s early, though. If it were next week, I might be having to work tomorrow, since it would be the last day of the month.

In just a little while, I will be heading back to Mineral Wells to pick up Mama and bring her back to our house for our Thanksgiving lunch. She plans to stay overnight tonight, and then I (or we) will take her back tomorrow sometime.

C is in the kitchen, getting things started up. She already made the sopapilla cheesecake, made it last night. I saw it when I got home from work, after an eleven-and-a-half hour day. (That’s all I’m going to say about that. Except that none of it was overtime because it’s a holiday week.) It looks delicious!! Let’s see if I can remember the menu for today. Ham, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, green bean casserole (R & J are bringing that), deviled eggs and cherry cream cheese pie (Mama is bringing those), rolls, and the aforementioned sopapilla cheesecake. That should be enough.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

“O God, who dost manifest in thy servants the signs of thy presence:
Send forth upon us the Spirit of love,
that in companionship with one another thine abounding grace may increase among us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(The Book of Common Prayer)

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
1 Chronicles 6:8

Today I am thankful for:
1. My eyes, that I might see the beauty of God’s creation, and read books.
2. My ears, that I might hear the sounds of nature and beautiful music.
3. My mind, that I can think rationally and remember pleasant memories.
4. God’s Word, that is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
5. The grace that defines the title of this blog.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

It’s Thanksgiving. The official beginning of what has become known as the “holiday season.” It is also one of the most depressing times of year for many people.

While we joyfully proclaim, “Be thankful,” there are people around us who seriously wonder what they have to be thankful for. And there is so much loss, all around us.

I have a friend at work, a young single mother, who lost her Grandmother last week. The funeral was yesterday. The day before Thanksgiving. She told me that her family had decided to move Thanksgiving to tomorrow.

My family lost a patriarch a couple weeks ago, and the funeral was last Friday. I wrote about him in the blog. He was the last of nine siblings from my Grandmother’s family. His wife had passed away only in September, so their daughter and son lost both of their parents in the space of three months. And had a funeral a week before Thanksgiving.

A family lost a two year old son a couple days ago. Apparently, he fell out of bed in the middle of the night and struck his head on something. I don’t know any more details on the situation . . . it was a prayer request sent to me.

My father’s birthday was last Thursday. The day before Uncle Wallace’s funeral. He would have been 81 years old. This morning Facebook gave me one of those “memories” posts. Six years ago.

He’s been gone for three years. Oh, and the cat that R is holding is gone, as well.

Daily Guideposts had a story, shared by Roberta Messner, of a Waffle House waitress who seemed grumpy. But then Roberta found out that the waitress’s “man” was probably about to have his last Thanksgiving, suffering from “end-stage lung cancer.”

A little over ten years ago, the family of another of my best friends suffered a tragic loss. His sister’s oldest daughter was killed in an accident involving a drunk driver. Right before Thanksgiving. Their family no longer celebrates Thanksgiving.

So much loss. So many broken-hearted people. And many don’t find the peace that they need.

I feel fortunate today, because I have the peace. I have the answer to the brokenheartedness. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit,” we are told in the Psalms.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds,” we are told in Psalm 147:3

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid,” Jesus tells us in John 14:27.

” . . . casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you,” we are told in 1 Peter 5:7.

And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to verses about peace and God’s care for us.

I assure you, God does care for you, and He can heal the broken hearts that so many of us suffer from. I know, because He healed mine. It doesn’t mean that I don’t still miss those that I have lost over the years. I still occasionally break down in tears over a best friend who committed suicide when I was a junior in high school! Nobody expects anyone to get over these things. Well, some may, but they’re wrong. You don’t “get over it.” You live with it. But hopefully, you can find peace. If you look for it in Christ, you will find it.

Father, I praise You that You heal the brokenhearted and the crushed in spirit. I give You thanks that you bind up our wounds, and that, in Christ Jesus, You give us peace that transcends all understanding. May You remind us so that our hearts will not be troubled or afraid.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

. . . fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Grace and peace, friends.