What is that, I wondered? Is it some type of cactus? Or, maybe it’s a tree. In silent awe, I watched as a few of these large plants, scattered through the desert landscape, became an unusual forest of vegetation.
Eventually, I turned to my husband and said, “I’ve never seen anything like those before. I wonder what they are.” He had seen a sign saying we were on the Joshua Forest Parkway and suggested maybe we were looking at Joshua trees.
I took a picture as we drove so I could research them later.
Not only did I confirm that these were indeed Joshua Trees, I also learned some interesting facts. The Joshua tree, also known as a yucca palm, is an evergreen plant belonging to the lily family.
Even more interesting to me was how they got their name. Legend has it that in the mid-nineteenth century, a group of Mormon settlers crossing the Mojave Desert came across these plants. The erect branches reminded them of the biblical story of Joshua, reaching his hands up to the sky in prayer.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were like Joshua trees and our appearance reminded people to lift their hands in prayer and praise? Unlike the trees which only inhabit a specific area, we can move about impacting others with the message of love and hope found in the Bible. So, if you see me with my arms lifted high, you’ll understand why.
“Pray in the Spirit in every situation. Use every kind of prayer and request there is. For the same reason be alert. Use every kind of effort and make every kind of request for all of God’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18 GWT)
I have happy memories of playing card games and board games. This enjoyment of games was passed on first to my children and now to my grandchildren.
Recently I pulled out a board game that had been neglected for many years. Nine year-old Emily and ten year-old Logan were excited to play a game their mom had played as a girl.
It had been so long since I’d played Big Deal that I had to learn the rules all over again. Fortunately they were printed inside the lid of the box so we had guidelines to follow. There were more rules than I remembered and it was easy to get confused and forget some of them.
We decided to start anyway and learn as we went. Many mistakes were made and I was grateful for understanding grandchildren. They asked lots of questions and waited for me to look up the answers. The rules were always beside me and they let us know how to play and how to win.
Life also comes with a rule book. It’s called the Bible. Jesus came to show the joy and peace found through following God’s laws. He demonstrated how to play by the rules in order to win the prize of everlasting life.
I still sometimes struggle with or forget some of the rules. Jesus is always beside me to instruct me as I go along. He is the one who makes it possible to play by the rules and win at the game of life.
If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them. (James 1:5 GWT)
My chiropractor schedules regular progress exams with his patients. After a certain number of treatments, an assessment is done. I have completed three progress exams.
One part of checkup is having my photo taken while standing in front of a grid on the wall. This enables us to see if I am off centre. A thermal rolling scan was done as well as a questionnaire regarding my health
The purpose of all of this is to find out how my body is responding to treatment and if any changes are needed to make it more effective.
I think of other areas in life where it would be a good idea to get regular progress reports. I’ve been working on having more patience. How am I really doing with that? It seems to be going well until I’m in a stressful or frustrating situation. Those tests clearly show where I am off center. My calm, cool demeanour is shattered and my voice takes on a sharp edge. I’m not happy with the outcome of this testing but am now aware of changes that need to be made.
God allows us to be tested to teach us endurance. It is a way to train us to persist and not give up. The question I need to ask myself is how to make the necessary changes to improve my spiritual health.
I can start by spending more time in prayer and reading God’s instruction manual, the Bible. My time with Him will reveal the answers to my progress exams.
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.” (James 1:12 NLT)
My husband and I went to the mountains for a weekend escape. We arrived at night so weren’t able to take in the view until the next morning.
Our room promised a scenic vista and I was eager to check it out in the daylight. Although the mountains loomed close, they were shrouded in clouds so not as picturesque as I had hoped.
The next morning I saw an entirely different view. The mountains were the same but sun shining on the clearly defined peaks made them magnificent.
I took pictures at the same time each morning and they tell the story of the difference a day can make.
There are times in my life when the picture in front of me isn’t what I had hoped for. The days are gloomy and the future is anything but clear. It would be so easy to give in to despair.
Instead, I need to keep moving forward. My steps might not be as quick and lively as they once were but I can’t let that stop me.
I take comfort in a well-known Bible verse which says God will be with me as I walk through the dark valley. He doesn’t abandon me there. He is beside me every step of the way and will lead me to the bright sunshine once again. It may not be today or even tomorrow. All I need is the faith that a new day can make all the difference.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV)
I’ve often heard people say that time slipped away. In my case this was a literal statement when my watch slipped out of my hand, hit a concrete floor and ended up in three pieces.
After several attempts I put it back together, minus a little plastic part that would no longer fit. The second hand started moving in its normal rhythm and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Later I glanced at my watch and was pleased to see how much I’d accomplished in a short time. Wait, something wasn’t right. The time hadn’t progressed since the watch had been dropped. Although the second hand continued its sweep, the message wasn’t getting to the other hands.
Over the next few days, I was surprised at how often I checked my wrist for the time. It was a habit more than anything. Although I wasn’t constantly being updated by a clock, I still had the same amount of time to use each day.
It’s up to me to either use it wisely or squander it. Is the importance of making the most of my time getting through to me or am I like that broken watch, going through the motions with nothing to show for the effort? Time should be made up of captured moments which turn into treasured memories.
The Bible tells us there is a time for everything. I’d hate to think I missed mine by letting it slip away.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)
Behind the chain link fence several old vehicles are left to rust. Their useful life is over and they have been abandoned to the effects of the elements.
A collector car show is happening in another part of town. Those vehicles have been restored and have shiny new paint jobs. Signs tell us of their history and ask us not to get too close. Crowds of people hover nearby expressing their appreciation for these vehicles.
It made me wonder why some are abandoned while others are lovingly restored. Is there a determining factor as to what is worth saving? Who decides what is collectible and what isn’t? Is it the outside or inside that matters most?
I am so thankful that God does not judge me by my outside appearance. The signs of aging do not diminish my value.
Among the many promises of the Bible is one that says God will never abandon me. I know this to be true. When I attempted to rely on my own strength I faltered. God could have turned his back but instead lovingly restored me. He invites me to come close. It gives me great peace to know I will always be loved and cared for, even if I do have a few dents in my fenders.
Be happy with what you have because God has said, “I will never abandon you or leave you. (Hebrews 13:5 GWT)
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. (Isaiah 55:8 NLT)
The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)
Many years ago when we first bought a time share, there were owner education classes. These classes were scheduled for specific times in designated locations. In order to learn more about maximizing our investment we would have to travel to one of these classes.
Today we have the option of onsite workshops, online webinars at pre-designated times or pre-recorded webinars to view at our leisure.
The information keeps changing as the benefits of membership improve. There’s a lot to keep up with if we want to know about all of the options available. It can sometimes seem overwhelming.
I pause to think about how things that should be simple can easily become complicated.
The best information I can receive for getting the most out of life doesn’t come from a classroom or a podcast. It is available to me no matter the time or my physical location.
My instruction comes from the word of God. The Bible has not changed, yet is as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago. The benefits of being a member of God’s family have remained constant.
When I need help understanding a difficult concept I can turn to God. The author of this book of instructions is also the author of my life and he is always available to guide and teach me.
The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living. (Psalm 19:7-8 NLT)
It was a surprise to realize how lazy I’d become. I’d been doing the exercise class with the same instructor for several years. The routine was familiar and I could change from one exercise to the next before the instructions were fully given. Although I was participating, my mind often drifted.
Then came the day that some of the exercises were changed. The instructor repeated the instructions more than once before I realized that I was doing something totally different.
This was when I realized I wasn’t working as hard as I thought I’d been. I was merely going through the motions. No wonder I wasn’t getting the desired results from the class.
I questioned if this behavior was repeated in my everyday life. Too often I have put in the minimum effort to get by. This is not the way to reach my goals.
My life is worth more than that. The Bible tells us not to grow weary in doing what is right. God has given me talents and abilities that are to be used for him. These are to be used and not wasted. The extra effort to ensure I am living life to the fullest will have consequences far greater than anything I can comprehend.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9 NLT)
Generally I think of myself as a positive person. For many years now I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal. Looking for positive things every day has changed my outlook and my life.
Recently I was in a setting that normally uplifts me. Instead of feeling peaceful and happy I was discouraged and sad.
I prayed for a change in attitude. The next morning my devotional readings had a few things that seemed custom made for me. The first sentence I read said that there was a mighty battle going on for control of my mind. How could this book, written several years ago have the perfect opening line for me on this day?
My Bible verse of the day said “Do not throw away your confidence.” This is when I realized that instead of being grateful for what I had; I was looking at what others had and feeling that I was missing out. I had, in effect, thrown away my confidence and was looking at my glass as half empty.
When I stopped to think of all of the good things in my life I was once again able to see my glass as half full. I apologized to God for my attitude and thanked him for his loving guidance. My day became brighter. My entire outlook changed. I am very grateful to serve a God who loves me and answers my prayers in ways that bring me closer to him.
The mind of a sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6 NIV)
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Hebrews 10:34-35 NIV)
The daylight hours are dwindling and the nights have crispness to them. As summer comes to an end we have started the process of cleaning and packing up our trailer in preparation for the winterizing that will soon take place.
There are a few more weeks before this will become necessary but a new, busy fall season beckons us to other things. There is very little time left this season for us to enjoy our summer get-away.
Am I sad that this time is coming to an end? No, instead I am thankful for the long walks, playing in the pool with grandchildren, making s’mores over a campfire and the memories made.
The seasons of life are ever changing. As one comes to an end, a new one begins. This is such a good reminder to me to enjoy what I have at this moment. Once today is gone it will never come back again.
On the same note, I can’t rush a new season. My life will unfold one day at a time.
The Bible tells us there is a season for everything. I need to remember this and thank God for the season I am in right now. Each one is a precious gift.
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT)