Sunday, September 14, 2014

A place of refuge

The ABC’s of knowing God better: the letter “R”

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress.” – Psalm 91:2 NIV
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”– Jesus, as quoted in Mark 6:31 NIV

When my parents bought a rustic one-room cabin in the western Pennsylvania mountains, my mother dubbed it “Camp St. Jude” – “after the saint of impossible cases,” she said.
I don’t think she was as fired up about buying the property as my father was. Dad wanted a guy place where he could hunt and enjoy the peace only a place like this could offer. It was the polar opposite of the life we lived in Donora, one of the steel mill towns along the Monongahela River.
Camp St. Jude had no water or electric, only gas-fueled sconces on the wall, a kerosene lantern on the table, a wood-burning stove (which we named “Hot Stuff”) in the middle of the yellowed linoleum floor, and an outhouse, which we called “the poogie house” (rhymes with “cookie”), out back.
To convince Mom to buy the place, Dad treated us to a week in a log cabin in Cook Forest – the first family vacation I remember – and promised Mom electricity, running water, an addition so the five of us wouldn’t be crawling on top of each other, and a foundation of concrete block instead of the piers it stood on.
The next several summers were spent fulfilling that promise, although the only running water we obtained was from the neighbor’s well, which we pumped by hand and carted back along a swampy path in five-gallon galvanized milk cans.
But we had fun. Fun yanking nails out of old siding, ripping off the roof, holding lumber in place while Dad sawed. Fun imagining branches were horses, pretending we were space travelers and the wooden swing hanging between two big pine trees was a space ship from Mars. I spent hours in the boughs of a big pine on the corner of the property where I dreamed of what my life would be like when I grew up.
And then I grew up. We sold Camp St. Jude when I was pregnant with our third child. Close friends bought it and, over the years, remodeled it. This summer they invited Dean and me to spend a weekend there with them.
Camp St. Jude hasn’t lost its magic. I awoke Saturday morning refreshed and relaxed. I hadn’t slept that well in I don’t know how long.
It is still a place of refuge – a place to go when the world is just too much to bear, when the stress stretches me to a breaking point, when I feel overwhelmed and in too deep. Perhaps that’s what Dad saw when he first set eyes on the place.
I can’t always go to Camp St. Jude when life gets a little too much, but I can go to God. He is more than “the saint of impossible cases.” He can make the impossible possible.

Thank you, Father God, that I can run to You for refuge any time. Amen.

Special-Tea: Read Psalm 91

Camp St. Jude as it is today.


Monday, September 8, 2014

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Life's a ball game

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me.  – Psalm 138:8
Anyone who knows me knows I love baseball, especially my Pirates. Through the years our son played—from Little League to college ball—I saw how much the game of baseball is like life itself.
First, you’ve got to expect the curve ball.
Life certainly throws us a lot of curve balls, doesn’t it? But it’s the pitcher’s plan to keep the batter off balance, not knowing what to expect. And curve balls fool you. You think the ball is coming one way, then it curves out of range right when you start to swing.
The unexpected. It happens to all of us, more frequently than we want. We swing for all we’re worth—and miss. Or we stand there, watching it sail by.
What do we do when life throws us curves?
Remember God is in control. Pray for guidance when you’re standing in the batter’s box with two outs and only one more chance—or when you’ve struck out. And remember, until the last out in the last inning, you’ll get more at-bats.
“Be alert,” the apostle Peter wrote. “Keep a firm grip on your faith” (1 Peter 5:8).
Second, make the most of rain delays.
I think of Moses, who fled Egypt and went from a busy palace to the lonely hillsides of a mountain wilderness. From hopes of ruling Egypt to tending sheep. He probably thought he was all washed up, a has-been. He didn’t know it, but he was in a rain delay—a pause in the action until the storm passes and the downpour eases up.
Sometimes rain delays are times to rest, regroup, and refresh your body, mind, and spirit. Sometimes they’re periods of preparation for a time of busyness, when you’re called off the bench and thrust back into the game.

Remember, “they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Third, don’t argue with the umpire.
The omniscient God doesn’t make bad calls. What you think is a bad call may be God’s purpose for you. Arguing, whining and complaining will affect your attitude and performance (and perhaps get you benched until you get your game face on). The umpire knows more about the game than you do and sees what you, in your position on the field, can’t.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established” (Proverbs 19:21).
Fourth, use what’s in your hand.
“What is that in your hand?” God asked Moses. Before God could work miracles through him, Moses had to acknowledge what he had in hand and let God use it for His purposes.
What is in your hand? A pen, music instrument, diaper, dust rag, hammer? A common, ordinary thing you’re used to and don’t even think about. Acknowledge it, no matter how small or inconsequential you think it is. Give it to God to use for His purposes. In His hand, it becomes uncommon, extraordinary. Don’t strike out looking. Use what’s in your hand.
“I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all,” Martin Luther once said, “but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”
And finally, remember, when you allow God into the game, you’ll always be a winner.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful game of life. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Exodus 3:1–4:17

Thursday, September 4, 2014

September Goodreads giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Before I Die . . . I want to fall in love again by Michele Huey

Before I Die . . . I want to fall in love again

by Michele Huey

Giveaway ends September 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The 3 Q's of God

The ABC’s of knowing God better: the letter “Q”

So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.” – Isaiah 28:16 NIV
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” – Matthew 21:42 NIV

“Q? What was I thinking?” I muttered to myself lastweek as I mulled over words beginning with the letter “Q” that describe God.
I browsed through the “Q” section in a Bible dictionary and my “Flip Dictionary,” which is actually a thesaurus, and came up with three possibilities: qualified, quantity, and quoin.
Qualified means “having the necessary skill, experience, or knowledge to do a particular job or activity: having the qualifications to do something” (Merriam-Webster online dictionary). You could say God, the Creator of all there is, is qualified. He sets the bar. More than that. He is the bar. He is the omni of omnis. He can do anything, for nothing is impossible for Him (Luke 1:37, Matthew 19:26).
Quantity, a noun, means “an amount or number of something; a large amount or number of something.”
How big is God? Bigger than you or I can imagine. He limitless, infinite.

I love the way A.W. Tozer describes this attribute of God: “God, being infinite, does not dwell in space; He swallows up all space. Scripture says, ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ (Jeremiah 23:24), and that sounds as if God were contained in heaven and earth. But actually God fills heaven and earth just as the ocean fills a bucket which has been submerged in it a mile down. The bucket is full of ocean, but the ocean surrounds the bucket in all directions.” (The Attributes of God)
Then I came to quoin.
What’s a quoin, and why would I choose such an odd word to describe God?
Actually it’s quite appropriate.
Wikipedia describes quoins as “masonry blocks at the corner of a wall. They exist in some cases to provide actual strength for a wall made with inferior stone or rubble.”
A quoin is like a cornerstone – “the stone representing the starting place in the construction of a monumental building” – and a keystone – “the wedge-shaped piece at the crown of an arch that locks the other pieces in place; something that is essential, indispensable, or basic.” (
“See,” God tells us through the prophet Isaiah, “I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame” (Isaiah 28:16).
I thought finding a word beginning with the letter “Q” was impossible.
Then God showed me nothing with the One who fills time and space and gives strength to inferior rubble like me is impossible.

Thank you, infinite God, for being my cornerstone, my rock of stability, in a world that gets more i\unstable by the day. Amen.

Special-Tea: Read Psalm 118