Hello and thanks for stopping by my blog. If you’re looking for specific resources, be sure to check out the topics in the column to the right. Otherwise, feel free to look around! ~ Kerry

Friday, December 11, 2009

Challenged and Encouraged

As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth, I am reminded of a woman who, through challenging circumstances, became part of our Savior’s family tree.

Ruth’s story is a beautiful example of many truths regarding our responses to life and God’s provision and sovereignty. As I read the book of Ruth this morning, I felt challenged to take a close look at myself.

Self-Sacrificing Love
RUTH—In spite of very difficult circumstances, Ruth chose to love the way Christ described love—in a self-sacrificing way. After the deaths of her father-in-law and husband, Ruth loved Naomi in spite of her own pain. Her love is seen in the words to her desolate mother-in-law, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me” (1:16-18). Ruth was willing to give up her home and future to care for Naomi.

ME—I have to ask myself, am I willing to love those God has placed in my life with the measure of self-sacrifice Ruth demonstrated? My husband? Children? Parents? In-laws? Aunts, uncles, cousins? Close friends? Do I daily lay aside my desires to demonstrate genuine love and care for them?

Diligent Service
RUTH—In Ruth’s time, two widows living alone were at the mercy of the kindness of others. In that time of great need, she chose to serve diligently. She said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain” (2:2). Ruth was willing to follow the servant girls and pick up what the harvesters left behind. This may have been a menial, even degrading task. But prompted by love, Ruth was faithful and hardworking. Her character was noticed by all who knew her. Boaz said to her, “All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character” (3:11).

ME—What is my attitude when I’m faced with menial tasks? Do I grumble, thinking they are below my potential? Or do I serve willingly, realizing it is a test of my true character, as it was for Ruth?

Unquestioning Trust
RUTH—She knew that her mother-in-law and the God she served could be trusted. Naomi asked Ruth to go lay at the feet of Boaz. Ruth was not an Israelite, and this custom may have seemed quite strange to her, but she trusted that Naomi was looking out for her best interest. Ruth simply responded, “I will do whatever you say” (3:5).

ME—Do I willing take the advice of those who are wiser and more experienced than me? Do I take God at His Word—trusting that He will always lead me to what is best?

Discovering God’s Plan
As Ruth loved, served, and trusted, God was divinely orchestrating her steps! Verse 2:3 tells us, “As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz.” Boaz was a generous, kind, worshipper of God who cared for all who worked for him. He married Ruth and together they became the great-grandparents of King David. When we see Ruth’s name mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in first chapter of Matthew, we clearly see that God works His divine plan beautifully through those who love, serve, and trust.

Today I’m challenged by this woman who lived so many years ago! I want to love sacrificially, serve diligently, and trust unquestioningly. As in the life of Ruth, I believe God is ordering my steps and working His plan in and through my life—what an encouraging thought!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Not a Picnic on the Beach

Many days, life feels more like a storm on a sea than a picnic on a beach. This morning I read Matthew 14—it is the story of when Jesus’ disciples found themselves out on the Sea of Galilee in a great storm. (Even if you know the story, indulge me and read it again.)

During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:25-31, NIV)

When we are in the midst of any storm, the most important thing we can do is look for Jesus and walk toward Him. He is there in every situation, just waiting for us to turn to Him. And He wants us to trust His instruction. In the midst of that storm, Peter had enough faith to get out of the boat and walk toward Jesus. But when he took his eyes off of Him, Peter immediately began to sink.

Think about some of the storms we face, what Jesus says to us in the midst of them, and then what happens when we take our eyes off of Him:

The storm: Someone offends us.
Jesus says: Forgive as I have forgiven you. Turn the other cheek. Trust My love for you. Your security is in Me.
If we take our eyes off of Him: Waves of hurt overwhelm us.

The storm: Finances are really tight.
Jesus says: Seek first the Kingdom of God and I will take care of you. You matter so much to Me. I will meet all of your needs.
If we take our eyes off of Him: Waves of fear and discouragement overwhelm us.

The storm: Circumstances seem out of control.
Jesus says: Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything. And My peace will surround you.
If we take our eyes off of Him: Waves of anxiety overwhelm us.

The storm: We are sick.
Jesus says: I am Your Healer. I will never leave you or forsake you. Trust Me. Even when you walk through the shadow of death, I am with you.
If we take our eyes off of Him: Waves of dread and concern overwhelm us.

The storm: Our responsibilities feel bigger than our human capacity.
Jesus says: Come to me. Keep company with me. Learn from me. With me you will find rest for your souls and the productivity your life is demanding.
If we take our eyes off of Him: We don’t even want to get back in the boat, we just want to swim for the shore.

So maybe you can identify with these “waves that overwhelm.” You are like Peter: you are walking in faith, but you’ve taken your eyes off of Jesus for a moment and you feel yourself sinking. Be like Peter and cry out, “Lord, save me!” And then trust that Jesus is reaching out His mighty hand and holding you. Take some time for your soul to rest in His arms. You can trust those arms that hold you!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

So Thankful!

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we celebrated my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.

It was an extra special celebration because my dad suffered a cardiac arrest on August 28th this year. He was without a heartbeat for more than 20 minutes. Once they shocked his heart and got a regular heartbeat, he was life-flighted to a hospital in Kansas City.

The three-hour drive from Wichita to Kansas City was the longest drive of my life. We all felt we were going to a death watch. My dad was in a coma for several days and in intensive care for nine days—around 225 hours. His condition changed almost hourly, creating quite a roller coaster ride for our emotions. I remember sitting in the quiet, dark waiting room that first night when the thought hit me, “Awwww, it doesn’t look like Daddy is going to make it to their 50th anniversary.” It was heart rendering.

Well, here we are... three months later, and dad is growing stronger every day. We have truly witnessed a miracle! We were able to have a wonderful celebration. Our son Tyler wrote a song for his grandpa while he was in the hospital and sang it for him at the celebration—there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

I have lost all of my grandparents and several uncles and aunts. But this is the first time for me to walk through a near-death experience with someone in my immediate family. My dad is more precious to me today than I ever thought possible. Actually, every moment I spend with those I love feels more valuable.

Don’t take anyone in your life for granted! Soak up every moment with them and don’t waste even the smallest opportunity to show your love.