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nests

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established. Proverbs 24:3

Before starting a project whether it be baking, wood working, sewing or gardening, we need to gather supplies. We can’t do a job without supplies or materials. Once we have the materials we have to use them or the project will not be completed. I am reminded of this each spring as I watch birds gather and build nests in our nesting boxes. First the birds spend a few days flying back and forth in and out deciding which location is the best place for their nest. Once the spot is decided upon they fly around the area gathering bits of this and dabs of that to create the nest. Once they are sure they will be able to find the needed supplies they start building the nest. As they build they must continue to gather until they have a strong safe home. They do not just stuff the box with one item. They gather what they need and weave each item in little by little. It is fun to watch the birds fly about choosing nesting material: bits of fur, a few small twigs, long strips of grasses and maybe even some yarn or soft batting. The birds do not just gather the supplies and then stop. They use the supplies and keep on working until the job is done.

We need to do the same with our spiritual “nests”. We should visit around our local area and choose a church home. We can gather supplies such as a Bible, our favorite Christian music, a devotional plan and so on. Once we have the place and some supplies we are not done. We have to put it all together. If we do not follow through and use these items to build a strong faith they will do us no good. The grass sprigs and batting lying on the ground in the collage did not help the birds just by lying there. The birds had to work hard and weave everything together to get it just right. God gives us His Word and His forgiveness but we have to use them to build a strong faith. It does no good to choose a church home if we don’t attend the services on a regular basis. What good is a Bible if we do not open it and read it? Christian music will not uplift us if we do not listen to it. God’s forgiveness will not transform us if we do not grab hold of it and weave it into our lives. Let’s take a lesson from the birds and gather what God has given us and use it to build a strong Christian life.

Devotion and Photo Collage: Marge McCoy

Memorial

Instead our usual Sunday hymn we decided to post this responsive reading in honor of Memorial Day. We hope you will click the link and let the background music play as you read the words of this meditation. May God Bless ALL who serve our country and especially those who give the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Responsive Reading for Memorial Day

Let us give thanks to God for the land of our birth with all its chartered liberties. For all the wonder of our country’s story:

WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD.

For leaders in nation and state, and for those who in days past and in these present times have labored for the commonwealth:

WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD.

For those who in all times and places have been true and brave, and in the worlds common ways have lived upright lives and ministered to their fellows:

WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD.

For those who served their country in its hour of need, and especially for those who gave even their lives in that service:

WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD.

O almighty God and most merciful Father, as we remember these your servants, remembering with gratitude their courage and strength, we hold before you those who mourn them. Look upon your bereaved servants with your mercy. As this day brings them memories of those they have lost awhile, may it also bring your consolation and the assurance that their loved ones are alive now and forever in your living presence.

AMEN!

Responsive Reading from The Book of Worship for United States Forces (1974)
Background Audio: Honor the Fallen by Mark Kueffner (Royalty Free Music)
Photo: Bob McCoy

manna

manna

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Something struck me as I read through my daily Bible verses today. I was reading in Exodus, Chapter 16, the account of the Israelites in the wilderness and I had to stop, go back, and read it a second time. Because I saw myself.
God had just done a miraculous work — parting the Red Sea, and now the people were murmuring for bread. God provided bread (manna) — all they had to do was collect it. But they murmured about the manna.
14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. (Exodus 16:14,15)
The people didn’t realize they’d gotten what they asked for because it did not look like what they were expecting. They asked for bread, and God gave them wafers that tasted like honey! (Ex. 16:31)
I think of the time I prayed about my finances. I imagined a miraculous work — the Publishers Clearing House van pulling up in front of the house with a big ol’ check. Instead, God provided an opportunity for a wonderful job. No interview required. All I had to do was show up!
And the time I prayed from the depths of my loneliness, and God provided a shaggy, ten-year-old poodle, the best companion I could have wished for — and all I had to do was adopt him.
In so many ways, God pours out blessings in disguise. Our part is to simply accept them, and be thankful.
Lord, thank You for blessings in disguise, for the manna You provide daily. Open my eyes to recognize them. Open my heart to receive them with thankfuness.

Photo and Devotional by Jean Pike

comforter

comforter

I’ve realized there is a spot of blood on our white comforter. I was going to share a picture but decided that was gross. My husband recently had outpatient surgery. It turned into an overnight stay. Then after being released and spending an hour or so at home he had a significant blood loss and passed out resulting in the most terrifying incident in my life. I rushed him back to the hospital where he spent 2 more days. He is doing well but it is going to take quite a while to get his hemoglobin back up. For several days he was very helpless and I was very worried. We treated each other during this time with great care, tenderness and gratefulness. Back to the blood spot. Now that life is getting a little back to normal it is so easy to forget to treat each other with as much kindness as possible. So maybe I will just leave the blood spot there (not that I could get it out at this point anyway) to remind me that no matter how he is aggravating me at the moment that I’m blessed beyond measure to have him.

Reflection by Leslie Taylor Leach

Photo: Marge McCoy

power

power-in-blood

When I was a child, my church sang an old hymn that was one of my favorites, “There is power in the blood.” I remember our preacher used to add 2 or 3 extra words of “power” in the chorus. I remember when I did handyman jobs one summer, I taught the boss and one of the guys how to sing it that way. We sometimes would sing that song while we worked roofing houses.

After losing a lot of blood from a recent surgery, this song has never been more true to me. I am weak without blood. I have no life without blood. I have no power without blood.

Jesus shed his blood for you, he gave his blood to give you life. He gave his blood to give you “power!” Praise him, today! “There is power, power, power, wonder working power, in the precious blood of the lamb!”

Reflection by Bryan Leach
Photo: Marge McCoy

if

if-2

I Corinthians 13
A Christmas Version

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime: but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at a soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity; but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love does not envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love does not yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love does not give only to those who are able to give in return; but rejoices in giving to those who cannot.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust; but giving the gift of love will endure.

Author Unknown
Photo: John Brasley

box of love

box-of-love

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

I enjoy cooking and baking but days get busy and at times I feel like I get stuck in a rut making the same dinners and desserts over and over. I have no shortage of recipes. I have plenty of recipes in my head, I have stacks of cookbooks in my cupboard, I find interesting recipes in the weekly cooking column in the newspaper and l have my personal collection of cards in my recipe box. Although I like to try new recipes there is a different kind of satisfaction that comes from following a tried and true family recipe. As the holidays approach I find myself thinking more of traditions and family favorites. The other day I noticed my recipe box on the counter bulging so that the lid barely closed. I sat down with my recipe box thinking I might sort and remove a few recipes so I could get the lid to shut properly. As I searched through my box I got lost in time. I found handwritten recipes by precious friends and family members. It was like walking down memory lane as I saw the writing and thought of each person for just a moment. I pictured them in their kitchen gathering the ingredients to make the dish. I thought of them sitting down, pen in hand to share the recipe with me. It brought a smile to my face. Times are changing and I wonder if recipe boxes are becoming a thing of the past. If we want to make something these days we can just google it or go to pinterest for ideas. The internet is a quick and easy way to find what you want but it does not compare to following the instructions on a handwritten recipe given by a loved one. I treasure my handwritten recipe cards. I have cards from my early baking days when my mother shared tips and wisdom in her directions to my young baker-self. I have cards with funny sayings, little inside jokes between the recipe writer and myself. I have recipes that contain family twists on traditional goodies and notes on cards that say things like: “Our old standby”, “Dad’s favorite” or “This won me a blue ribbon at a 4H demonstration”. I have cards written by my grandmother, mother, mother in law, aunts, cousins, sisters, and friends from every phase of my life. Some of my cards are in perfect shape while others are tattered and fading. Some look unused but the favorites are splattered from butter, flour and fingerprints. No matter what shape it’s in, holding a recipe card that is handwritten by a loved one is a true treasure. It’s a little bridge to the past and a connection to a loved one Even though I know I will never make some of these recipes I can’t throw a single card away. My box will stay stuffed and the lid won’t close but who cares? I’m thankful for my recipe box – my little box of love!

Reflection and Photo by Marge McCoy