Thursday, January 31, 2013

Being Sustained

We didn't have time to pull the lights off this little tree after Christmas before the snows came.
Jan. 4, 2011--Peoria, IL

I needed a photo today but it has nothing to do with my post.  I just liked it.  

I want to share a little of how God sustained me during the remodeling of our house last summer.  These scriptures kept my head above water when I was so tired.

My zeal wears me out.  Psalm 119:139
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.  Psalm 119:147
Let me live that I may praise you and may your laws sustain me.  Psalm 119:175

I craved God's word and looked forward to His speaking every morning before we headed off for the house or I headed to school and then the house.  God did provide for me through His Word, as he always has if I just open it and read and expect Him to speak.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Winter in Tennessee

 The tempest comes out from its chamber,
    the cold from the driving winds.

 the breath of God produces ice,
and the broad waters become frozen.

He loads the clouds with moisture;
he scatters his lightning through them.
Job 37:9-11

Winter is intermittent here--seventy degrees one day and forty the next.  One wears summer clothes one day and winter clothes the next.  Tired of winter?  Not yet.  We haven't had enough.      We've had a little snow and a little ice--just enough to please my love of winter hasn't disturbed our daily walk but a couple of times.  The photos show a few places along the lovely wooded road that we're privileged to travel.  The weather is changing as I write and the change usually brings winds.  I expected to be awake all night but prayed that God, the producer of weather, would see us through.  He did and I slept like a baby.  Good morning to another day without disaster.  Thank you, God.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Just Dust

As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

Photo attribution here

The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children--
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
Psalm 103:13-18

I used to look at these verses differently than I do today--a fatalist's viewpoint.  I didn't want to think how short my life was.  I see more than that now.  I see a mission for today and a hope for the future.  I see a Father's love and mercy on fallen mankind and a provisional agreement for that mercy.  Things look different when one gets older.  It's ok to be "dust" today.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Photo attribution:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

Pure as a trout stream? bottled water? the driven snow? a pure heart?
Now, we're getting there.  If you look up the word "pure" you'll find a myriad of definitions, most of which indicate being untainted.  It disturbs me to think that I'm never pure.  How can God accept me and my impure heart?  Maybe I need to contain my thoughts, curb my actions and concentrate on looking only at pure things--turning my head and heart away from impurities.  
That may last about an hour on any given day.  I'm doomed.  
 Because of Christ's death for me and my confession to Him of my impurities,
 I'm accepted as pure in God's eyes--
a mystery... 

and a relief.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Firm in the Heavens

Red Sky At Night Fabric Art by Sally L. Smith from personal files
yarn, tulle, muslin, thread

Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.Psalm 119:89

I've been missing my art days.  Next week I start accompanying again at Union and that means much of my time is spent in learning music.  This is definitely a ministry because the pay does not compensate for the hours, days, I spend at the piano.  There is also the element of stress that comes with performance.  I'm hopeful this semester goes a little more smoothly than last, however, God was always with me and helped me when I asked.  Over and again His word spoke to me and calmed my fears.  Great are you, Lord, and greatly to be praised.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Photo attribution:

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
Habakkuk 3:19

Sometimes our walks are uneventful but not yesterday.  I was bundled up, as usual, for my winter morning walk.  Bill was having breakfast with a friend so I walked alone.  We many times see wildlife on our walks and today was no exception.  As I turned a curve I decided to look across the clearing.  We’ve only seen deer there a few times but today I was stopped dead in my tracks as one, two. . . . . . seven, eight deer crossed my path only 100 yards in front of me.  They hadn’t seen or heard me so I stood still, in wonder, observing their movements and crossings, their unawareness.  Tears coursed down my cheeks and contained laughter bubbled up from my heart as I thanked God for this precious morning gift.  They were set to eat breakfast and I was set to finish my walk so I slowly moved forward to see what they would do.  I expected them to move ahead in the direction they were going but as they saw me,  

Photo attribution:

looking straight at me, they turned around and one by one lithely ran and leaped across the path—one, two. . . . . . .eight, NINE!  I had miscounted!  Tears welled again.   Into the trees they disappeared as only deer can do.  I did finish my walk and was given new energy to do so.  Of course, I didn’t see them on my return down the path but I’ll never forget that beautiful moment.  I'm actually looking forward to exercising today.  Who would have thought?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Angels or Demons

 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,

good income or no income
sleep or no sleep
children or no children
sickness or health
friends or no friends
family or no family
car or no car
house or no house
education or no education
food or no food
sanity or insanity

whatever has happened in our lives)

will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Our Spacious Place

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

2 Samuel 22:20

This photo was taken the day after Christmas last year.  Eight of my fourteen grandchildren were either inside, tromping around in the woods in the back or making snow angels. One of them took this picture.  "Spacious?"---not according to some but to us it is and it was God-sent.
A month and a half before we were to move, we were floored by news from the bank that we could not get a loan for the house we had wanted.  We didn't qualify because neither Bill nor I would  have a steady income and we wouldn't be living on our retirement, believe me, we wouldn't!  Neither of us even had part-time employment at that time (but we do now.)  A year and a half before, we had purchased and rented this home to a couple who already lived in it and were facing foreclosure because their payments had risen to more than they could handle.  We did nothing to the house and just left it as is which allowed them to stay there without changing their lifestyle--a good thing since the man had Alzheimer's and his wife was caring for him.  A week after hearing from the bank about no loan, we got a call from them stating that they would have to move because he needed more care than she could give and they had to move in with her family to help....We now had a house!  Yes, we had to work hard to get it livable but we had a house.  The verse above was a word of reminder and encouragement to me this last summer as we started another long day of work on the house.  This house is definitely spacious enough to contain 22 people--our crowd of family we entertained at Christmastime.  Thank you, Lord, for your generous provision.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Photo: no known copyright restrictions
Attributed to:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8

It used to take a long time to plant a field with two horses and a two-row planter.   Look at the small containers for seed.  He must have had to refill every other pass.  How did he keep the rows even?  Didn't the horses get tired?  Wasn't the sun hot?  What about water and food for him and his animals?  Look how far he has to go before he's done.  What if the seed didn't grow?  What if the farmer planted the wrong seed, for whatever reason?  Farmers have to trust that the weather will be good with enough rain and sun, that their equipment will work (horses count here), that the seed will germinate, that the weeds won't overtake the young plants, that the harvest will be plenty, that the prices for the product produced will pay the rent.  Farming is not for the weak. But when the planting and harvesting is over, the celebration begins.   We have a lot to learn from the farmers. 

Are we fair-weather Christians?  How have we been equipped for our task to serve?  Are we afraid to testify for Christ because we think our words will not be accepted?  Do we not trust the power of Christ to change hearts?  Do we not share Christ because we think our witness will be ineffective?  Do we not anticipate a harvest?  Christianity is not for the weak.   But we still have a job to do and when our life is over, the celebration begins.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Photo credited to Sean MacEntee on Flickr

Great is His faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
Lamentations 3:23

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Photo used under the condition of Attribution
from robin_24 on flickr

Philippians 2:14-16

New International Version (NIV)
 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

This scripture speaks loudly to me.  First, I grumble and argue. I am not blameless and pure.  I'm like the children of God who disobeyed Him and I live in a "warped and crooked generation," as described in Moses' song in Deuteronomy 32.  I'm not too shiny either--not like a star at all...more like a rain cloud.  I do trust God's word and I believe He means what He says... but do I show that I do?  Hmmm, I don't think so, not all the time.  Paul taught the Philippian Christians through this letter and his words are still valid today. Now, if I'll just be a doer of the word and not a hearer only (James 1:22)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Clothed in Christ

Photo: no know copyright reistrictions

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:26-28

If you had to pick the one "clothed in Christ," which person would you pick?  Yep, me too.  However,  all of these may be Christ's children.  How does one know?
Maybe this can be a starter:
 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23
 Throughout the Bible, God and his scribes have given us definite rules on Christian behavior.  They've even posted First Century dress codes.  This nun and others like her have vowed their allegiance to Christ and are not ashamed to make a "habit" of it.  How do the rest of us Christians make habits of Christ?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Promise of Peace

Photo attribution:

Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Isaiah 54:10
 Sometimes it just helps to remember God's promises to those who love Him.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Photo from Personal Files

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.  The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.

Matthew 25:1-4

My daughter called last night:  "Do you have your flashlights ready?   Do you know where your candles are?  Do you have oil in your lamps?"

 It had been raining all day and my lessons were cancelled due to the threat of an ice storm.  All day I enjoyed watching the ice collect on the branches outside my back door, however, I was not ready for the storm.  I didn't have my flashlights, candles or lamps.  I actually knew where they were and that is amazing having moved in our house just 2 1/2 months ago and not all of the boxes have been emptied.  We went to work gathering and filling.   We were ready!  The storm came and went and we didn't have to use them (and I'm grateful) but we were ready just in case.

Have we done all we've been called to do?  Are we ready to meet the Master (Bridegroom) when He comes again?  I think I have more gathering to do.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


(photo: no know copyright restrictions)

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21

I, Sally Smith, am a hoarder.  It became increasingly apparent a few years ago when I quit having people over because it meant a whole day trying to find a place for the things that crowded my kitchen table.  It really struck me when I had to sort through all my belongings, touching each and deciding whether to keep it or not.  I struggled letting things go to Goodwill or auction.  There was a cathartic feeling, however, once it was gone...a knowledge in the fact that I really hadn't needed that item and someone else had it and would use it.  Why did I collect things?  I thought I would either use them myself or resell them and I did neither.  They stayed in boxes or on shelves...waiting.  My heart became addicted to collecting things.

Here's the rest of the passage:
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
(Mice had actually broken into a box of toys and destroyed many of them.)

The first paragraph of the Matthew 6 (NIV) starts with the heading, "Give to the Needy."  I think back at the amount of money I wasted on things that sat idly in my house and recall the many ways I could have used that money, a blessing from God, to build His kingdom's work.  I'm hoping I learned a lesson from my past hoarding experiences.
  There are more important things than "Things."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Personal Prayer

(photo: no know copyright restrictions--Flickr Commons)

The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11

The one who truly prays to the mighty God trusts that He will listen and answer.  They know His love in all circumstances and realize that God is the reason for their hope.  They "fear" Him--other words might be "respect or revere."  They are humbled in His presence, convicted of their own inadequacies and know they can do nothing without Him.  They are the ones in whom the Lord delights.  I want to be one of those precious few.  And pray.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Great Instructor

(photo: Flickr Commons)

He will instruct them [who fear the Lord] in the ways they should choose.
Psalm 25:12b

Our choices are not always the best, but because we revere Him, He will instruct us when we don't know what we're supposed to do.  I've been in this situation so many times saying, "Why did I get myself into this?"  I cry out to Him and He leads me out or through.  Praise His glorious name!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Wailing Into Dancing

 Photo: no know copyright restrictions.

You turned my wailing into dancing,
 you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy
 that my heart may sing your praises 
and not be silent, Lord, my God. 
I will praise you forever.
Psalm 30:11-12

The first part of November I decided to encourage some of the voice students I was accompanying with some scripture.  These verses inspired me to place my life in God's hands and praise Him for everything that happened because it was for a reason.  Sometimes I just had to find the reason.  This is one of my favorites.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Defend the Oppressed

Photo: no know copyright restrictions on Flickr Commons

Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
Isaiah 1:16-17

Seeing these little dirty faces grabbed me.  Living on a farm is dirty and everyone is expected to work...even the little ones.  My husband was on a tractor at the age of 5 and he had to stand up to work the clutch.  When the baby came, he had to baby sit while his mom and dad milked the cows.  He was 5.  The next year another baby, there were two under the age of two.  Later in the day he was on the tractor.  All he knew was work.  There are no child labor laws on a farm.  He says he had a good life because he worked hard and he was proud of himself that he was able to help his family.  His parents were also proud of him and depended on his help.  Today he has a tremendous work ethic and a healthy self esteem.  There are those, however, who are exploited by cruel people...ones who use them and abuse them.  These are the ones we need to defend and God commands that we do so.  We have prerequisites, though...wash and make ourselves clean, take our evil deeds away, stop doing wrong, learn to do right, and seek justice.  Maybe when we're not so fixed on ourselves, we will be able to focus on others.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Prosperous and Successful New Year

Page from the Gutenberg Bible
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Joshua 1:8

Here's hoping your New Year is prosperous and successful.  Following the words above is how to accomplish that feat.  However, be ready to accept divine interpretations of the words "prosperous and successful."

(photo: no known copyright on flickr:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Holding Hands

(photo credit goes to

I am the Lord your God. I am holding your hand, so don't be afraid.  I am here to help you.
Isaiah 41:13

Thank you, friends, for you comments on yesterday's post, on Facebook and here.  This is one of the verses I found to strengthen me last semester and I'm sure others remember this, too, when faced with the world's difficulties.  Fear can be debilitating.  Now, I need to remember that the 365 mentions of "fear not" in the Bible are not there on a whim.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tears in a Bottle

I feel so limited sometimes.  As I age I'm confronted with inabilities I've never had before.  Last semester it was music--not being able to learn as quickly as I needed to learn and corrected by a professor over and over.  I'm accompanying voice students and it takes more than sight reading to learn a piece of music.  Unfortunately, I've had to learn pieces very quickly and I don't have them securely in my fingers.  It's been a lot of stress and I've shed many tears.  I've turned to the Lord on many occasions these past few months for many reasons and he's brought me through.  Even the professor eased up a bit and we actually became friends.  God is so good and cares so much for us.  Now, if only I'd remember this the next bump in the road and call on him immediately instead of waiting for the tears to come.

"You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book."
Psalm 56:8
(photo from personal files)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Walk In Love

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:1-2

(Photo: No Know Copyright on Flickr---

Saturday, January 5, 2013

As Long As The Earth Remains

As long as the earth remains,
there will be planting
    and harvest,
    cold and heat;
winter and summer,
    day and night.

Genesis 8:22

(Photo:  Crater Lake in Winter, no know copyright.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Walking Humbly

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Happy New Year

(Photo: No know copyright restrictions on Flickr--