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Blue Skies and A Hair Cut

25 Jan

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Psalm 19:1

Escorting me on the way to work yesterday morning was the brightest blue sky I have seen in a while.  As the fog that had kept us company for a few days began to lift, so did my spirits.  Regardless of the temperature outside, if the sun is shining and the sky is blue, it is difficult to keep a smile from my face and my heart from soaring.  Just moments from work, I passed by a meadow of sheep where a few were munching on their breakfast out at the fence row by the road.  They were no doubt excited as they were finding pockets of fresh grass poking through the clumps of melting snow.  I chuckled as I realized that these sheep looked a lot like the side of the road where the snow was once white but is now dirty.  To be expected, I suppose … it is winter.  January is winding down, but there are still several weeks left of the gray, the wet, and the cold.  That’s why I love blue skies and hair cuts!

My new hair cut

Trends, styles, and the impulse to do something different encouraged me over a year ago to begin the process of letting my hair grow out.  The end result was to be an A-line cut, which I was successful in reaching the correct lengths for, but my hair is just not suited for the look.  Thanks to my Mother, I have volumes of hair … and thanks to my Daddy, it’s naturally curly.  Even after using a flat iron to straighten my locks, more times than not they become frizzy and bumpy … and I become very frustrated.  The mirror was often giggling and pointing fingers at me, reminding me that I am no longer 32 years old, but never giving any advice or assistance in slowing down the aging process.  I did, however, catch the hint that I should chop the heaviness from around my face and cheerfully welcome back the curls that smile and dance in the sunshine or rain!   So on Monday, in the midst of the drizzling cold mist of the day, the simple thing like a fresh new hair style was an immediate boost and encouragement!  Rain?  What rain?

I know I’m silly.  I know I’m sappy.  But in the midst of life with its difficult days, we all need an occasional blue sky and a hair cut!  I have a friend who is holding on to a thread of hope and sanity as her husband continues to suffer with the cancer that keeps stealing his very life from him.  Little babies and children have been battling serious illnesses this winter.  Others are in pain and have gone to the doctors time and again trying to find out what the problem is.  Strokes, heart attacks, and diseases are constantly claiming the lives of people we know and love.  Concerned pregnancies, troubled marriages, insufficient funds, and on and on and on.  Even while the unexpected continues to invade our routines of life, time marches on.  It marches on with determination and is very deliberate in its agenda.  All the while I find myself lagging behind and sometimes stopping to catch my breath in the wake of the dust.  It is in those moments that when the dust begins to settle and the clouds clear away, I look up and see blue skies.  Or I call and make a hair appointment … or I decide to do something out of the ordinary that makes my heart happy.  Maybe a quick stop at Starbucks for a white chocolate mocha!  What is it for you?  A night at the gym to work out the stress and tension?  How about a walk along the ditch bank road or wherever your heart finds solace.  For some, it may be a favorite flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, or a ride in the country on a motorcycle.  Whatever the temporary calm to your storm might be, embrace it to the fullest, knowing that it came from God’s hand of mercy and love.  It is in moments like those that He desires us to wait in hope for Him … our Help and our Shield…our Refuge and Strength … an ever-present Help in trouble.

As I catch my breath and once again expect the known and the unknown of life, won’t you join me in anticipation of the next clearing of blue skies and a new hair cut?

We wait in hope for the LORD;
He is our Help and our Shield.

In Him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in His holy name.

May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in You.
Psalm 33:20-22

~~~~

God is our Refuge and Strength,
an ever-present Help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
                                                                                      Selah
Psalm 46:1-3

 

Until next time,
Debbie

For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family         https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

**  Blog photo of the blue sky  ~  tree in our back yard, fall of 2011.

 

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Reflecting His Son

27 May

   Be Holy for I am Holy.
 I Peter 1:16

The following is the devotional that I shared two weeks ago at a friend’s church in Lawrenceburg, IN.

You know what it’s like when you first move … you must find new doctors, dentists, hair stylists, and the list goes on and on.  For those of us who move to a different state, some of those chores are even more dreadful.  Last fall, right before our auto insurance was about to expire, we took care of getting our drivers license, insurance, and then plates.  I had been out job hunting that day, so dressed in my nice professional attire, I made my way to the MVD.  I waited in line to take the short test, waited in another line to have my picture taken, and waited again to pick up my license.  As I finally walked out to my car with my new photo ID, I chuckled to myself as I looked at the picture.  The silly computer operator messed my picture up!!  You know when you are working with photos and you don’t grab the corners of the picture just right? You end up squishing the picture or, as in my case, you chub it out!   There was my face with chubby cheeks!  Hehe!!  Oh well!  Next, I needed to run my new license over to an insurance agency where we were getting a quote ~ they were waiting to add my license number to their form.  I walked in with my card in hand and quickly explained how goofy the photo looked … all because the employee at the MVD wasn’t too computer savvy.  The woman on the other side of the counter looked down at the photo … looked back up me … and back at the photo and said  ~ I think it’s a good picture!   Seriously?   I shrugged her comment off, figuring that she had left her reading glasses back at her desk.  It certainly was NOT a good picture!   Ok … now jump ahead through the calendar a few months to February.   I was hired for a temporary position in theYork County Administrative Center, requiring that I wear a photo ID badge.  I marched up to the second floor where the HR department was and once again stood before a camera and smiled.  The nice woman on the other side of this counter handed me my new card … and oh my goodness!  There were those same chubby cheeks again!!  Could both of these people be that irresponsible with their technique of transferring pictures onto cards?  Honestly!  As I walked down the steps and back out to my car, a light bulb clicked on.  Maybe it wasn’t the workers after all.  Is it possible that I could really look like that?  I mean, I look into a mirror a gazillion times a day!  We all do!  I haven’t really noticed that my cheeks are that chubby.  Sigh!!  But I suppose it’s possible that now at the age of 50 and the metabolism not being what it used to be, this could be a true reflection of how I really look!  Wow!   Thinking back about as I stood there in front of the camera, my image was reflected on the lens of that camera and was captured on the computer, that then printed out my picture on those ID cards.  The lens was able to reflect  my dark hair, my pretty outfit, and my chubby face, but it was unable to reflect who I really am.  Who I really am on the inside.  Just to make this clear … we ALL reflect what’s on the inside of our hearts to the world around us.  WHAT we reflect is our choice. 

When we stand in front of the mirror every day, we check that reflection to see how we look … really messed up, cute, blah, just ok, or even attractive  … or NOT attractive.  And if we find that we are not, then we do what we can to fix that, don’t we?  We would never think of leaving the house first thing in the morning without looking in the mirror to make sure everything is in its rightful place.  Now I did say attractive.  I don’t necessarily mean that we are hung up on making sure we are drop-dead gorgeous, because at this age, I guarantee that is not even a possibility.  But I do try to look pleasant and nice-looking  ~  which when turned around says looking nice.  Even the word appealing is appropriate here.  If I were to walk out of the house and enter the front of door of my work place in my grungy but comfy sweats, a big t-shirt, and my hair caught up in a hand band  …  oh and in my monkey house slippers, I would not be considered attractive, nice-looking or appealing … meaning that those I work with would not necessarily want to be around me.  We all can agree that we want to look nice, right?  And pleasant?  And appealing.  All are synonyms for ‘Attractive’. 

 Let’s take the word attractive to a deeper level.  The inside level.  At any given moment, whether you have taken the time to look in the spiritual mirror or not, you are reflecting the inner you.  Who you really are.  Scripture says in Matthew that the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man `unclean.’  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  These are what make a man `unclean’.

Notice that scripture doesn’t specify that evil is just the things we do or the words we speak … what makes a man unclean comes from his heart.  It’s a heart issue.  What does your heart reflection look like?  Is it attractive?  Is it appealing?  Does it make other people want to be like you … or to have what you have inside?  As hard as we might try to reflect holiness, if the foundation of a holy heart is not reality, then reality will eventually always be reflected.

The first chapter of 1 Peter, verses 15 and 16 are stated very plainly when scripture simply says Be Holy for I am Holy.  God’s design is that we reflect His Son.  It is His design that we choose to confess our sins and repent of them, which means to turn away from them, and then to allow God’s Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

A synonym for reflection is image.  Genesis 1 says that God created man in His own image.  That image or reflection of God became tarnished and messed up because of the sin that took place in the Garden of Eden. 

Later in scripture, we know from the Christmas story that Jesus came as the New Image or Reflection of God  ~  in Colossians 1 it say that He is the image of the invisible God … or I like to say He is God with flesh on.  Jesus came to restore us back to our original image before sin …  by dying on the cross, by His resurrection from the grave, and by leaving us His Holy Spirit to fill us and dwell inside of our hearts.  Be Holy for I am Holy.

There’s another story in the New Testament about the religious leaders of that day who were more interested in rules and regulations than in a relationship with God   ~  They came to Jesus, trying to cause trouble by asking Him about paying taxes.  Jesus held up a coin and asked them … whose image is on this coin?  They answered “Caesar’s”.  So Jesus said … “Give to Caesar what belongs to him and give to God what is God’s”.  As beings who are fashioned in the Image of our Creator, God longs for us to give back to Him what is His, and that is ourselves.  Our image, purified by the blood of Jesus, then reflecting God’s image … Be Holy for I am Holy.

 There’s an old hymn of the church, entitled “O To Be Like Thee”  here are the words …

  1. Oh! to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer,
    This is my constant longing and prayer;
    Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
    Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.(Chorus) 
    Oh! to be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee,
    Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
    Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
    Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
  2. Oh! to be like Thee, full of compassion,
    Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
    Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
    Seeking the wand’ring sinner to find.
  3. Oh! to be like Thee, Lord, I am coming,
    Now to receive th’ anointing divine;
    All that I am and have I am bringing,
    Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.

I’ve talked a lot about mirrors, reflections, images, being attractive and appealing … but the most important truth that I want us to grasp a hold of is that it’s all about Jesus.  It certainly doesn’t have much to do with our outward appearance, how we fix our hair or how flat our bellies are.  Yes, these things have their rightful places in our daily routine of our social life and being healthy, but what matters most is our appearance on the inside.  Attitudes, bitterness, moods, unforgiveness, and the list goes on and on … the things that will distract, taint, and hinder the reflection of Jesus. 

When your world sees the spiritual mirror of your life, what does it see?  Is the reflection distorted, blurred, and hazy due to the source of the image being broken?  God is extending an invitation to make your spirit whole.  He wants you to bring your sin and lay it at the foot of the cross  … so what you reflect is no longer yourself and the sin that tarnishes your true image, but you reflect God’s Son … Be Holy for I am Holy.

Here’s a song by the Cathedral Quartet, sung by Roger Bennett who died 4 years ago from cancer.  “When the World Looks at Me, Do They See Jesus?”  Click here to listen  May it challenge your heart and even stir you enough to pray about your own reflection to those around you.

Until next time,
Debbie