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peace lily

Several weeks ago I found a plant in a back closet at work. Its leaves were drooping, reaching for the sliver of light beneath the door. The plant was more dead than alive, but still… it was a little bit alive. And I could almost hear the poor thing crying out for water. I carried it to the classroom, set it in a sunny window, and gave it a big drink of water.
I watered it faithfully every Monday morning. I cut back all of the dead leaves, and within a few days, new growth appeared. A week or so ago, I noticed a white, diamond shaped bud. The next week, the bud opened and another one appeared. My bedraggled rescue-plant was transforming into a beautiful Peace Lily!

The plant made me think of the dry spells in my own life. The times I was dying inside, crying out for sunlight and water. And how, in those times, God provided people to nurture and to encourage. Sometimes the drink of water came in the form of a listening ear. Sometimes the sunlight came in the form of a much-needed invitation to lunch.
God has often used people to answer my prayers. And I hope He has used me to answer the prayers of others. I didn’t have to be an expert gardener to revive the discouraged Peace Lily. Just like you don’t have to have all the right words when someone is discouraged. All you have to do is care.

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness…
Isaiah 52:7
Devotional thought by Jean Pike

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leggo cross

This little LEGO cross hangs on the wall of the care center where someone deeply and dearly loved is dying. His wife sits by his bedside each day. Family and friends come to visit and pray, all under the shadow of this precious cross, crafted by a grandchild with love. It is the perfect gift. It represents, for all of us, our hope that we, too, when we lay in our bed, not long for this world, that over us will be the only true hope of the world, the cross of Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time…
1 Peter 1:3

Photo and Reflection by Michael Demastus

Jesus’ dog

I love the little Catholic elementary school where I work. I love that we are free to express our faith, free to lift up the name of Jesus. Last week, I read the first and second graders the story of Jesus feeding a crowd of 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. We talked about the miracle for a moment, and what 5,000 people all together in one place would look like. Some thought you might see that many people at Disney World. Others thought maybe at Wal Mart. I asked them to draw a picture of the miracle, and what it might have looked like. There were as many interesting interpretations as there were students, but this one, drawn by a first grader, made me look twice.

I asked him if the one animal was a little lamb. He said, “No, that’s Jesus’ dog.” I thought it was heart-meltingly cute, and throughout the day I smiled every time I thought about it. And the more I thought about it, the more I loved it.
From the time I was old enough to go to church, I was taught that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. When I think of Jesus walking the earth, I think of the miracles He performed. Walking on water. Healing the sick. Raising the dead. I think of His divine love. Forgiving prostitutes and thieves, and even the friend who denied knowing Him. A love divine enough to die for the very people who rejected Him. But I don’t often pause to think of the human side of Jesus.

I guess it takes a child’s heart to fully accept that Jesus, the divine King of Heaven, was also a flesh and blood, fully human man. A man human enough to get tired. Human enough to get hungry. Human enough, even, to have a dog.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, a glory as of an only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14
Photo and devotional by Jean Pike

we still bow

This makes me think. When we are heavy we still bow before Him. Because He is all, He is still there, He never leaves even when it seems like the weight of the world has got us. We bow, seek and worship Him. I love nature and the beauty it brings. I love the connections I can make.

Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker. Psalm 95:6

Photo and Reflection by Jennifer Ruggles

light

One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to drive around town and look at Christmas lights. Each year I’m amazed at people’s skill and creativity. Some houses are decked out all in blue, some in multicolored lights and icicles, and some are done all in white lights, offset with cheerful red bows. Some lights chase and twinkle, while others give off a steady glow, but all are beautiful. All translate the happy, festive feel of the season.

Jesus told His disciples, “You are the light of the world.” I suppose there are as many kinds of lights as there are people.

Some people are like flood lights, boldly shining in dark places, bravely speaking out for what is right.

Some people are like candles, glowing slowly and steadily with God’s love in their everyday lives, brightening the existence of all who encounter them.

Some people are Christmas bulbs, living their lives with humor and joy. A person can’t help but smile when in the presence of these people and the goodwill they seem to emit.

Whatever kind of light you are, whatever personality God has given you, I pray that you, and I, and all of us, will shine brightly this Christmas season, bringing joy to others and to the heart of God.
Peace!
Jean

Lord, Here Am I

Lord, Here Am I

Master, Thou callest, I gladly obey;
only direct me, and I’ll find Thy way.
Teach me the mission appointed for me,
what is my labor, and where it shall be.

Refrain:
Master, Thou callest, and this I reply,
“Ready and willing, Lord, here am I.”

Willing, my Savior, to take up the cross;
willing to suffer reproaches and loss.
Willing to follow, if Thou wilt but lead;
only support me with grace in my need.
Refrain:

Living, and dying I still would be Thine;
yet I am mortal while Thou art divine.
Pardon, whenever I turn from the right;
pity, and bring me again to the light.
Refrain:

Text: Fannie Crosby
Tune: John Ness Beck.
Audio: Stephen Sollars
Photo: Belinda Brasley

of bread and blessings

Since you are God’s dear children, you must try to be like Him. Your life must be controlled by love, just as Christ loved us and gave His life for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice that pleases God. Ephesians 5:1-2

I took my girl to get a haircut tonight and ran in to the grocery store for a few things when we were done. There were huge lines at every single register (even the self-checkout) and we only had a small cart with the top part barely full. An employee opened the register next to us and I told the gentleman behind us (who had a basket with 5/6 things) to go ahead of us and then we went over behind him. He had big crusty Italian bread on the conveyor. My daughter and I both looked at each other and said “Ugh, we should’ve gotten some of that bread.” (We have a pretty big love for bread). He overheard our silly statement and immediately offered to give us the free loaf because he was sure he and his wife wouldn’t finish both of them before they went bad. I politely refused and he went on his way. As the cashier was finishing up our items the man came walking back, hands full of his groceries, with two loaves of bread and another that he accidentally grabbed, and said “There was a stand with the bread right by the door, I had to bring some back for you.” It may not seem like a lot to most, but that little act of kindness made my entire day. Not just my day either, the cashier, my 8 year old daughter, and the woman in line behind us. It’s the little things in life that seem so unimportant, that really matter. So, thank you sir for being kind enough to take two minutes of your time and bring us that bread.

Lord, what do You want me to do for another today? Please lead me in my words and deeds. May the people with whom I interact see a glimmer of You.

Devotion: Emily Hopkins
Photo: Diane Domigan