Category Archives: Touching Lives with God’s Grace

Graduation

Last Sunday, graduation pictures of church members, a congratulations sign, streamers, and balloons decorated our church sanctuary as we celebrated all the young people of our congregation who were graduating from Senior Kindergarten, grade eight, high school and university. During our minister’s conversation with the children, one young Mom announced that her son had just graduated from diapers to using the potty.
The scripture that morning described the confrontation between the shepherd boy David and the Philistine giant Goliath. Throughout the story, David declares that, strengthened by God’s presence within him, he can use his God-given talents to do God’s work. David needed only the courage of his faith, his ordinary slingshot and five smooth stones to complete the task.
            Although I have never liked this violent story, it carried a message for me and, I hope, for our graduates. During our lifetime, we will be faced with difficult tasks. Sometimes, like David, we’ll be aware of the importance of the task for ourselves and the world. Much of the time, we’ll think that our efforts will go unnoticed. But all of the time, we can draw on God’s strength. We can have courage because we know that God is with us, and has provided the gifts God knows we need to do the job.
            Last Sunday, as we congratulated our young people, I hoped that their time among us had helped them know four things:
1.      They are God’s precious children.
2.      God is always with them, giving them strength and hope.
3.      Their church family supports them with prayer and love.
4.      God asks that they live a life of love for others, for God and for themselves.
 The Lordwho rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”  1 Samuel 17:37

Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Every morning at breakfast, Tom and I join hands and pray. Instead of bowing our heads, we look into each other’s eyes. Tom begins with “Thank you, God, for my “just right” Jan.” I add, “and my wonderful Tom.” We go on to give thanks to God for food, family, home and friends, followed by offering up the people and events that are uppermost in our minds. Our breakfast “Grace Prayer” takes only a few moments. Some might think this is romantic, some that it’s ridiculous. For Tom and I, this short prayer time means that whatever the day brings we’re together on it and God is with us.
Our morning prayer reminds me to pay attention to Tom, to remember that I love him. Why, then, would I bother with Valentine’s Day. After all, I’ve heard it said that Valentine’s Day is just another money grab. It means nothing. It’s foolishness.
For Tom and me, Valentine’s Day gives us another opportunity to show that we love, value and respect each other. We know that God has blessed us with our relationship. Life experience has taught us that relationships do not prosper if they are left unattended. Just as a plant cannot grow and become more and more beautiful without water and sunlight, our relationship will only shrivel and become flat without love and care.
            There used to be bill boards that said, “The family that prays together, stays together.” Praying helps. Prayer is one of the nutrients needed. Speaking words of love and doing actions of love are also essential to a healthy relationship. I suggest you use this Valentine’s Day to add to the ways that you nurture your relationships with spouse, children, family, and friends. Endeavour to be a blessing to at least one person that you love, on that day and every day for the rest of 2012.
St. Paul tells us “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others; it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7).

Wrinkles

In a book titled “Laugh Yourself Healthy,” I found this wise saying: “If you laugh a lot, when you get older your wrinkles will be in all the right places.” At first, I thought about the “crow’s feet” wrinkles we call laugh lines that form around the outer edge of our eyes. With deeper thought, I recognized the wrinkles that form in our hearts from events that happen in our lives.
One summer night, when Tom and I were first going together, we got lost on a remote country road in northern Ontario. For some reason, instead of becoming angry or frightened, all the silly jokes about men refusing to ask directions began to march through my brain. Laughter bubbled up inside me until it burst forth. Tom pulled the car over to the side of the road. “You’re not angry?” he asked, his face full of surprise.
“No,” I answered. “Anger won’t help.”
“Thank you. You’re wonderful,” he said, and smiled. He pointed at the sky. “There’s the north star. We want to go west, so I’ll turn left at the next side road. That should take us back to the highway.” Sure enough, within five minutes we were on a paved road with signs directing us to the next town. That experience has been foundational for our relationship.
Laughter helps. We remember the times we laughed till we cried and our sides ached. Such moments of blessing leave us refreshed and exhausted. Scientists’ studies have proven that laughter brings healing.
Since I struggle to remember jokes, I have decided to start each week of 2012 reading in “Laugh Yourself Healthy” until I find a joke that causes me to at least chuckle. I will write it down and share it as often as possible. After all, I know I enjoy people who bring laughter into my life. And I know wrinkles are inevitable. They might as well appear in all the right places.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”            (Proverbs 17:22 NIV)

How Many Lives Shall I Touch Today?

Some mornings when I first wake up, I do some stretching exercises. Often I find an excuse that allows me to skip them. After all, they aren’t rigorous enough to be part of a weight loss or muscle building program. Besides, it takes at least a week before I notice the stiffness creeping into my back and hips.

Living our Christianity, like daily exercises, requires intentionality. In my daily devotional reading I found this poem written by a person named “Jones”.

            “How many lives shall I touch today?

             How many neighbors will pass my way?

             I can bless so many and help so much,

             if I meet each one with a Christ-like touch.”

How many lives shall I touch today? Most of us come in direct contact with an entire crowd of people in any one day. Think about it: family, friends, co-workers, shop-keepers, restaurant workers, doctors, computer connections, strangers …

Being intentional about our interactions with people can add to the total love and joy in this world. Offering the waitress a word of praise can make a difference for her, and for all who hear you. A word of encouragement for a complaining teenager warms your heart and hers. Pausing to listen when a co-worker speaks of concerns or celebrations starts a wave of good feelings that emanates outward. We know this, and yet we get so wrapped up in ourselves, our concerns, our impatience, we forget.

During your morning exercises, prayers, or coffee, tally up the people you will be touching today. Follow this with a short prayer, asking God’s help in making each touch a Jesus touch of joy and love. Over time, this exercise will make a difference in your life and in this world.

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)