Dog Pieces

This might be the first post I’ve written about a dog. While looking for inspiration this morning, I discovered this little sign my friend Mari painted for Max’s room (my dog)!

I’ve discovered during the pandemic, that Max might not be the only one who prefers the company of other dogs to people. We tend to complain that we are soooooo bored, or are missing hugs, or sick of eating at home all the time. I miss movie dates with my hubby, popping by to visit a friend because I was “in the neighborhood.” Heck, even going to the grocery store and realizing after locking the car and walking 1/2 a block, I DON’T HAVE A MASK ON!! It’s getting old. No doubt about it. But what does it say for our faith when we are constant complainers or whiny about the state of our life?

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by believing and not by seeing.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

James 1:2-8 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Prayerful Pieces

I have recently started an online study titled: “The 28 day Prayer Journey.” The reminders of why prayer with our Heavenly Father is so important are compounded with simple words of grace.

Prayer connects us to God, any day, time or situation.

Believe that He hears you.

God WANTS to talk to you.

As human beings we tend to get into prayer holding patterns. A prayer before a meal, or before bed. Perhaps with our coffee in the morning. These are good, and important, but are we having actual conversation with our Savior? Are we allowing ourselves to spill the agony, embarrassment, defeat? Are we excited to share wonderful news? A new grandchild, the blessing of a prayer answered (asked so long ago)?

40 Top Bible Verses About Prayer - Encouraging Scripture

My own prayer habits have changed. I used to pray for those who had specific requests while I folded laundry. Now I’ve found myself hustling through the “chore” of folding laundry, not talking to God and not using this valuable piece of time as I once had. What changed? Maybe it was the monotony? The boredom of the “same old prayers.”

Use 2021 to grow in your prayer life. See how God change your heart.

Prayer is conversation with God

Advent Pieces

The colors of Advent have specific meanings, have you ever wondered about them? Tonight it’s a “101” class! Enjoy and learn! Thanks to crosswalk.com

The Meaning of the Advent Wreath | Advent candles, Advent wreath candles, Advent  candles meaning

The First Sunday of Advent’s Purple Candle Signifies Hope

The first Sunday of Advent leads our hearts to Hope. The purple color symbolizes royalty, repentance, and fasting. This week is a time for us to reflect on what it must have been like to feel the depth of God’s silence during the period between the Old Testament and New.

It is a time to ponder the prophecies about the promised Messiah. We begin the season with a mindset that creates hope in our hearts.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone (Isaiah 9:2).

For to us a child is born. To us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore (Isaiah 9:6-7).

The Second Sunday of Advent’s Purple Candle Signifies Preparation

On the second Sunday of Advent, we light the Hope candle and then we light the Preparation candle. First, hope blooms as we realize the prophecies about the Messiah are true. Then we begin to prepare our hearts to receive the Lord Jesus.

Imagine how Joseph must have rushed to prepare the crude stable for Mary and the soon-to-be-born Jesus. As we rush through the season of buying gifts and attending parties, may we pause and reflect on the words of Isaiah:

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5).

The Third Sunday of Advent’s Pink Candle Signifies Joy

The third Sunday of Advent brings us to Joy. The color pink represents rejoicing. We light the previous two purple candles and then light this week’s pink one. Rejoicing is our response to the Good News — joy that our Messiah has come.

The light of the world sweeps away the darkness in our world and in our hearts. We seek him and, in joy, find him.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

The Fourth Sunday of Advent’s Purple Candle Signifies Love

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we reach the culmination of Love. The Messiah comes in love and righteousness. The angels filled the sky with the greatest news of love.

They visited the lowest of the lows in Jewish society, the shepherds, with the most amazing birth announcement. This love is no respecter of persons but is for all who receive. As we light the four candles, we ponder,

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17).

Why Some Add a Fifth White Candle

A fifth candle is an optional addition to the traditional advent celebration and represents Christ. This candle is lit on Christmas Eve. The color white stands for purity, light, and victory.

Jesus is pure — without sin and because of his sacrifice he makes us white as snow. He is the light in the darkness and the victor over sin and death. We have life because of him.

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool (Isaiah 1:18).

A Prayer for Hope

Holy God, we begin this week of advent with a heart awakening to hope. You are our signpost lighting our way forward. Darkness may abound, but you reveal light. Night may linger, but hope comes in the morning because of you. May we turn our hearts turn toward you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Prayer for Preparation

Holy God, we praise you for the hope you give us. As we move into the second week of Advent, we prepare our hearts to receive you. Just as Mary and Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem over rough terrain, so our lives lead us down rocky paths.

Pieces of Symbolism

Yesterday I attended a socially distanced, masks optional, great scones and coffee class on prayer journaling. One of my favorite parts was using a scrapbooking technique to decorate a page in our journal. We cut up magazine pics or phrases, words, whatever was inspiring. It was fun and enlightening. Some people are so incredibly talented and creative; I am not. I am good at writing, but I do like decorating, doodling, making collages, journey boards. I find whenever I take on a project like this; the same words or images appear.

We journal, write, and meditate to draw closer to ourselves, and also our Heavenly Father. In time we can see the progression of our walk in faith.

Do you journal? Are you crafty and do a neat bullet notebook? Do you use your phone calendar for daily living and a customizable journal type book at home? Please share! Inquiring minds want to know!

Proverbs 3:3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.

1 John 1:4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

Times, they are a changing

It’s a strange new world.  Somber and oftentimes, lonely.  I am not in the camp that God is using this to bring people closer to Him.  I just don’t buy into that way of thinking.  Man creates these viruses, man is responsible for the unwinding of Mother Nature.  This was God’s paradise, until that fateful day when Adam and Eve realized they were naked and hid from God.  God always wants us to turn to Him.  In tragedy and joy.

But what about the people in our lives that we miss seeing and spending time with?  How can we reach out safely?  Our minister encourages us to make two phone calls a day to check in on friends and family!  Send pics of your kids or make funny faces!  A card in the mail is more of a treat than ever before!  I’m sending a package of cards I hand wrote that can be distributed at local nursing homes.  What can you do to stay connected?

Image result for staying connected when you can't visitTell your kids to “phone home” if they are under 30, they probably won’t get the reference!

May you be blessed, healthy, and sane during this time of separation from your tribe.

Influenza x 100,000

This is the strangest post I’ve ever written.  The past three weeks have been a time of anxiety and fear for people across the globe.  Including me.  I have a suppressed immune system for medication I take and have recently (2 years) had cancer.  I’m 55, so not in the elderly group, but that’s about all I have going for me.

Well, that and tons of hand sanitizer.  Oh and an active prayer life.  Those two will hopefully save my sanity.

The Coronavirus ranks with school shootings and tsunami’s.  There is very little we can do after the fact, but a lot we can and must do now.

The obvious; wash your hands, sneeze into your elbow, keep six feet away from people, don’t shake hands or hug. 

But what can you do on a larger scale?  Volunteer with the local Red Cross, volunteer to deliver groceries for the grocery store (they are overwhelmed with deliveries right now).  Find out how to safely check in on your neighbors.  Don’t keep the momentum going on buying toilet paper, hand sanitizers, milk or food.  Buy what you normally need.  Share your overstock with the local food-banks.

And mostly, be kind.  Be the (helping) hands, and eyes that see (need) of Jesus.

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Conversation and conversion

I like having a good conversation about why I became Catholic, it seems to be what people care about now days, and is the first topic we discuss when we haven’t seen each other for awhile.

What I dislike greatly is the morbid curiosity or judgment kind of conversation about my conversion.  Had one of those tonight at a pancake breakfast!  It was accusatory and put me on the defensive.  In the end I just said that it fed my spirit and let them push their nose up to the ceiling and sigh.  I did the latter and left the table.

Shared this theory with my SIL when we visited her last month, we agreed, it’s not like becoming Lutheran.  I mean – heck people don’t see that as admonishing.  Or Jewish; now I do have a friend that converted to Judaism and she’s functioning just fine and doesn’t seem to get hassled about her beliefs.  (Gypsy, I’m gonna need some feedback from you)!

Catholic is probably the most misunderstood religion on earth.  I should know, I had my high and mighty opinions too, when I was in RCIA (a class to learn more about Catholicism) I asked my many ignorant questions.  Why do you worship the Virgin Mary?  Why is she so important anyway?  What is purgatory all about (I still don’t buy that one)!  Why can’t priests marry?  The amazing thing is, all of my teachers were patient and gave me explanations that helped me understand.

I’m not an expert, trust me.  I attended mass tonight, my first Tuesday night service and felt like a 3 year old.  However, I was able to function and it was a lovely 1/2 hour. When you have conversation with people; whether it’s about lifestyle changes, religion, politics or child-raising, remember the other person is a human being and deserves the same respect you have for yourself.

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Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Celebration Hymn

These verses are repeated three times.  Isn’t it lovely?  Written for Steve Green Ministries

Find Us Faithful

O may all who come behind us, find us faithful.

May the fire of our devotion, light their way.

May the footprints that we leave; lead them to believe.

And the lives that we live, inspire them to obey.

when-you-are-moved-by-the-holy-spirit-your-thoughts-become-different

Sabbatical

I am taking a writing sabbatical.  It’s transitioning into a ‘against-my-will-don’t-make-me-do-it-social-media-once-a-day-check.’  It won’t be long, because this is part of my ministry, but I need to be cognizant of what’s in front of me and how I’m being guided.  Thanks for being a part of The Pieces Blog.

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Memory Pieces

I have a variety of pics on my desk, one rotates often as I come across memories I want to see more often than in a photo album (or phone).  For the past month it has been of my dad and I, taken in 1991.  We were visiting my brother in Amsterdam and it was also six weeks since my pacemaker surgery.  We are standing in big, yellow Dutch shoes at a farm of some sort.

Image result for yellow big dutch shoes

These shoes were everywhere!  Made mostly of wood, but there were also plastic and concrete types, ready to be stood in.

I have quite a few good memories of this trip; shopping at the Christmas markets in Germany, riding the train, having lunch at McDonald’s (except for the Coke, it tasted the same), eating authentic Dutch and German food, traveling to the many castles that dot the country side, etc.  But more than all of the experiences; it was time with my father.  It was the last trip we would make together; he died two years later.

God worked miracles in our relationship.  He was a tough parent.  I imagine it was his Norwegian/North Dakota upbringing.  I “never understood” him throughout my entire life; until this trip.   He was vulnerable, a word I never thought I’d use to describe him.  He was also funny.  We shared meals and laughter and he often took my arm for support.  God mended the fences without words; we just became comfortable with each other.  It was an incredible blessing.

Never give up on the people in your life.  I have a friend who hasn’t seen her grandchildren in many years; it’s heart breaking.  Yet, she continues to pray.  And praise.  And that, is the best solution to any request.  Ask, believe, and be grateful.