Category Archives: Inspiration

He Calms the Raging Seas – Pat Patterson

The Raging Sea
ship_storm

The Raging Sea

“You rule the raging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.” (Psalm 89:9)

Lately my life has been a raging sea, one difficulty after another. So when I lost my wallet yesterday I wasn’t surprised. Good news is it was practically empty—no cash, one credit card, a keepsake $2 bill, and a N.C. driver’s license I had planned to carry till 2016. Still, I was pretty bummed. I mean what a hassle to lose your wallet, right? Replacing all that stuff? But the greatest loss for me was the wallet itself—a gift from my youngest son, Phillip. I knew I had to find it.

“Lord,” I prayed. “Please help me.”

After checking the car, my pants pockets, and searching the entire house, I sat down and retraced my steps. “Okay,” I muttered. “You left the office, went by the station for gas, drove home…hey, wait a minute,” I exclaimed. “That’s it! I was talking on the phone while pumping gas. I must have set it down on the back of the car.”

I drove back to the BP station and searched the lot…nothing. I went inside and asked the clerk, checked the road out front, even the on-ramp back onto the freeway…still nothing. By the time I got home my head was spinning. I couldn’t think straight. I searched the house and car one more time just in case, and then finally accepted the fact that my wallet was gone. Another wave had crashed down on my head. “God,” I whispered. “What are you trying to teach me?”

Well this morning I found my answer in the Book of Psalms. “You rule the surging sea,” the Psalmist proclaimed. “When its waves mount up, you still them.” I meditated on that passage. It made perfect sense, but could God calm the seas in my life?

I walked into work hanging my head. How quickly I had forgotten His promise. But as if an angel had tapped me on my shoulder, those words popped back into my head: He rules the raging seas…when the waves mount up he stills them…

Suddenly I felt encouraged. If God can rule the waves, He can certainly manage my life. I lifted my chin, entered my office, and checked the one message on my phone. “Well,” the caller announced. “Your prayers have been answered, Pat.” I thought it was a prank call until he continued. “This is Randy from church. I have your wallet.”

What?

Of course I called Randy back. It turns out he found it on the side of the road on the same on-ramp I had gone back to check. I mean I’ve seen miracles, but this one blew my mind. What are the odds that a friend from my church would just happen across my wallet on an on-ramp during rush hour, in a city of close to a million? Astronomical. The truth to this story is God’s power IS astronomical, and He can calm the raging seas of life. But He cares about the little things, too, in my case, a special leather wallet.

What a mighty God we serve. “Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea—the Lord on high is mighty.”

*

 

 

No Joke

single_candle

You know that time of morning
when the fog begins to lift,
you see your breath trail streaming
and you know that it’s a gift.

Once constant pains and worries
are loose paddles in the drift,
early birds and nightingales
toss Charlie Parker riffs.

When we hear of someone’s passing,
into the great beyond,
and wish we could tell them
that their life will carry on,

our heartbeat keeps repeating
not believing they are gone,
a signal uncompleted
unsure notes to start a song.

What Are You Passionate About?

Photo courtesy www.freedigital.com & Simon Howden

By Sandy Quandt

Photo courtesy www.freedigital.com & Simon HowdenWhat are you passionate about? What have you spent time studying, perfecting or enjoying?

My husband can tell from the sound of an engine what kind of plane is overhead. Once the plane is in view, he can tell you pretty much everything there is to know about it. Guess you could say he’s passionate about airplanes and flying. Me. . . I hear the same engine whine, look up and I ask myself two things. Does it have two wings? Is it larger than a bird?

I know what it is. . .it’s a plane. Now let an Apache helicopter fly over, a daily occurrence around here, and I can definitely identify that bad boy by its sound before I see it.

My husband can pick up an instrument and teach himself to play it quickly. No problem. Me, though. I took piano lessons in elementary and junior high school. The day my instructor handed me one of Mozart’s masterpieces – you know,the ones where the left hand and the right are playing two completely different songs, I begged my parents not to force me to go back. Much to my piano teacher’s great relief, they consented.

Both of my siblings played instruments in their school bands. My dad played a clarinet as the Navy Band marched across the Oakland Bay Bridge when it opened November 12, 1936. Musical talent abounds in my family. It just got used up before I was born.

I have a heart for missions, and I seriously contemplated becoming a foreign missionary. That is until I took two years of Spanish in high school, and two more semesters in college. That led me to realize I am not a linguist. Yo no hablo Espanol.

So what am I passionate about? I had to ponder what gets my heart engaged at the very thought. There are several things, but if I had to choose one, besides my passion for Jesus, I would have to say it is writing. Creating stories. Helping people come to life on the page in front of me. Writing stories that make history come alive. That’s what I enjoy, love, and get excited about. Writing is something I believe God has placed inside me. I believe I am a tool in his hand, a pencil if you will. A tool God intends to use for his purposes and glory.

Sometimes I think we humans falsely believe we are the ones who choose what we will be passionate about. We believe we are the ones who choose what we’ll be good at or enjoy doing. But to my way of thinking, we have it all backwards.

Since God is the one who knit us together in our mother’s womb. (Psalm 139) I believe he is the one who placed the passion, the desire, the ability inside us to accomplish what he wants to accomplish through us. We didn’t create the passion, but it is our choice to pursue it, or not.

I can’t identify planes like my husband, or play an instrument like my dad. I can’t converse in any language except English. There’s a bunch more things I can’t do. But God didn’t put those things in me. I’m not going to moan about what I cannot do. Instead,

I’m going to celebrate what I can and work at it with all my heart as a worker who needs not be ashamed.

So I ask you again. What’s your passion? What would you feel lost without pursuing? Figure that out, and go after it. That’s what God designed you to be passionate about. That’s what he created you to do.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NIV

 

Photo courtesy www.freedigital.com & Simon Howden

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Sandy Kirby Quandt is a follower of Jesus with a passion for history, travel, and photography. Sandy has written numerous articles and stories for adult and children publications. Looking for words of encouragement or gluten-free recipes? Then check out Woven and Spun. www.sandykirbyquandt.com. Sandy lives with her husband in Texas.

When Should Kids Receive Awards? By Sue Badeau

Ribbons award morguefile

With summer days ticking away and school days on the horizon, this is a great time to share Sue Badeau’s article about how to really encourage, praise, and award your kids. And, as the mother of 22 kids, Sue should know!

When Should Kids Receive Awards?
By Sue Badeau

Gold…Silver…Bronze…and Oscar…

It has been a season of awards. Who doesn’t like to be recognized for hard work and accomplishments?

Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world where every small child could aspire to standing on a podium and receiving a gold medal, or hearing her name read when a special “envelope” is opened?

For children to dream big dreams and aspire to great goals, they need adults in their lives who will draw out and nurture their strengths, building upon them with encouragement and enthusiasm.

Many children who have experienced trauma and others with a variety of special needs or life challenges are often noticed more for negative behaviors than for their strengths. These children need adults willing to be intentional and creative about noticing, encouraging and rewarding positive attributes and behaviors. We need to “catch” them being good and provide meaningful and effective praise.

Research, brain science, the Bible , and even Mary Poppins all agree on the old adage I first learned from my grandmother: “You catch more flies with honey than Sue Badeau kids with awardsvinegar.”

And yet some children just seem to be “asking for” vinegar (i.e. punishment, anger, correction, or even shunning) more than others. Should we give false or insincere praise?

“May it never be!”

Generic, non-specific, insincere or incomprehensible praise can actually do more harm than good.

Praise is a very important tool in both the character-building and behavior management toolkits for parents and others who care for children, but to be meaningful and effective, it needs to be honest, sincere, clear, and specific.

Here are two examples of praise that is not effective:

* “You are so smart!”, or
* “What a good boy you are!”

Here are a couple of better examples:

*“I noticed how you picked up all the crayons that spilled without being asked – that was very helpful.” and
*“Thank you for sharing those toys with Justin, I know they are your favorites, so it was very thoughtful. And he will be more likely to share with you sometime!”

See the difference?

It is also important to notice incremental progress. For example:

Sue Badeau prize jar“Last week when you were upset it took 15 minutes before you were able to be calm. And so you had to miss some of your play time and that was sad for you. But today, even though you got upset, you calmed down in only 5 minutes so you have more time to play. This is great progress! I can see you are working really hard on this.”

Encouraging children to continue to practice their best behaviors can be promoted through the creative use of motivational supports including awards. You may not have gold medals or Oscar statues available, but here are a few ideas we used over the years with our children. I’d love to hear your ideas!

Keep a “Prize Jar” on hand to give attention to “random acts of goodness.” For us, it was a giant pickle jar stocked with little things that would bring a smile to our children’s faces. For small children this often included small toys, trinkets or snack items, and “gift certificates” for things like extra story time, or the chance to choose the next movie to be watched. For older children the “gift certificates” included a day free from chores, or a night out with extended curfew. These were intermittently handed out to children when they were “caught being good!” by sharing, volunteering to help someone, taking initiative, or demonstrating positive character traits such as kindness, honesty or respect.

We also used weekly “Pats on the Back.” Sue Badeau pat on the back photoWe traced a handprint on a sheet of paper and wrote the words “Pat on the Back TO ______________ FOR ___________” inside the shape of the hand. We copied this onto bright colored paper and had a supply of them handy along with craft and homework supplies. Children (and adults!) were encouraged to use them to notice something good someone in the family did and write it down anytime during the week. Once a week, (for us it was during Sunday family dinners) these were all read aloud, to much applause! It becomes contagious, and soon everyone is vying to give a “Pat” away!

Not everyone will win a medal or an Oscar, but everyone can be nurtured, supported and encouraged to do and be their best!

(Image courtesy of Morguefile.com)

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Sue Badeau headshotBIO: Sue Badeau is a nationally known speaker, writer and consultant with a heart for children and a desire to help adults and children build bridges of hope following the pain of trauma or loss. She has worked for many years in child services and serves on several national boards. Sue writes and speaks extensively to public agencies, courts, parent groups and churches. Sue and her husband, Hector, are lifetime parents of twenty-two children, two by birth and twenty adopted (three, with terminal illnesses, are now deceased). They have also served as foster parents for more than 50 children. They have authored a book about their family’s parenting journey, Are We There Yet: The Ultimate Road Trip Adopting and Raising 22 Kids, which can be found on Amazon.com or on Sue’s website – www.suebadeau.com – Sue may be reached by email at sue@suebadeau.com. She lives in Philadelphia and is a member of the Summit Presbyterian Church.

Tide Fool

man on park bench morguefile

What I read,

hand shading the gold glint

of the ocean,

is my scribbled pocket book

of hope.

 

A smooth cold rock

turns in my hand, like the chorus

of a secret sacred song.

 

The bench I watch the west from

is a pew to the wide sky and white caps.

 

What I negotiate here, what I navigate,

what I need is a way to walk on land,

as well as He traversed the waves.

As the deer pants for water. . .

Photo courtesy of Cindy Sproles

As the deer pants for water

 

 From the psalmist we read:

As the deer pants for streams of water,so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Psalms 42: 1-4 NIV

Face Your Fear – Andrea Merrell

Photo courtesy of www.morguefile.com & georgina53

“No problem, it’s just rain and slush,” my friend said with a smirk. “If you can’t handle this, how are you going to handle the tribulation?”

“I’m not planning to be here for the tribulation,” I shot back. “You can stay if you want, but I’m outta here.”

The subject of this conversation was my one-hour drive from the foothills of South Carolina to Asheville, NC, and my life-long fear of driving in snow and ice. After a terrifying snow-experience in high school, I have shied away from venturing out in a vehicle ever since.

Several years ago I faced this fear head-on by driving four hours to Crossville, Tennessee. There was an abundance of snow and I drove in, on, through and around it. When my car came safely back down that mountain, I thought my fear had been conquered.

Apparently not. Now it was resurfacing and I had a decision to make.

I chose to face it again and headed up the mountain. Twenty minutes into my drive, I called my husband. “I have a knot in my stomach the size of a grapefruit.”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “You’ll be fine. Just take it slow and be careful. And don’t slam on your brakes.” His words of encouragement gave me the courage to press on.

The trees were solid white, snow blanketed the ground, and slush covered the road. I quoted every Scripture I knew on fear, peace, and God’s protection. I sang, “I have the peace of God in me . . .” and tried to concentrate on the beauty around me instead of my fear. Several times I had to remind myself to breathe.

Three days in the North Carolina mountains surrounded by snow-capped hills, trees painted with a icy glow, and fellow believers and friends made the trip well worth the effort. My next hurdle was getting safely back down the mountain—in one piece and back to the security of my home and family.

Once again, God was merciful, gracious and faithful. As I prayed and kept my mind focused on Him, He lovingly guided and protected me, just like He always does. God has truly not given us a spirit of fear and, when that fear tries to attach itself to us, perfect love—God’s love poured out in our hearts—will cast it out.

What are you afraid of? Recognize it and give it to God. He will wrap His arms around you, fill you with His peace, and deliver you safely to your destination.

Photo courtesy www.morgefile.com & georgina53

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Andrea Merrell Photo 10Andrea Merrell is Associate Editor for Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She has led workshops at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference (KCWC), Writers Advance Boot Camp, and The CLASS Christian Writers Conference. Her work has been published online and in numerous anthologies. Andrea’s first book, Murder of a Manuscript, was released by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC) in 2014. Her next book, Praying for the Prodigal, will be released by LPC in 2015. To learn more about her, visit her website, www.andreamerrell.com, or her blog for writers, www.TheWriteEditing.blogspot.com.

Encouraging Words

encouraging words morguefile

I love to sing. I admit, I’m not all that good at it–certainly not recording artist material–but I still love it. You should hear me in the car when I’m all alone and the music is turned up loud. I sing with abandon, and praise God with my whole heart. I know He thinks my voice is beautiful!

But it’s a different story when I’m in front of the church. I want to sing with abandon, I want to praise God with my whole heart. But instead, my throat tightens, my voice trembles. And even though I know I shouldn’t, I remember the day they laughed.

It was years ago, my first attempt at singing a solo in a previous church. The older couple sat on the front row, arms crossed and brows furrowed. Why did I continue to look at them? Why didn’t I zoom in on the faces of my precious family, smiling at me from the third row?

My heart pounded as the song began. My voice-clear and strong in the car-came out weak and unsure onstage. And then the moment came. The one I had dreaded since I stepped up to the podium. The high note squeaked out . . . off-key.

My eyes went straight to the couple, hoping for grace and acceptance. The husband elbowed his wife. She rolled her eyes, crinkled her mouth into a smirk, and shook her head.

I had specifically chosen that song to minister to our body. Our church was at a crossroad, and the words were just what we needed to hear–a message of hope and confidence in the power of God. But instead of encouraging the people, I had caused them to laugh.

Yes, it was only one couple. But they are the ones I remember. Their response is the one that’s indelibly printed on my mind.

I still sing, and I love it, but oh, how I want to be able to sing onstage with abandon, like I do when it’s just God and me in the car with the music turned up loud.

That experience reminds me to support and lift others up, even though he or she may not be the best soloist or the best Sunday School teacher or the best preacher I’ve ever heard. Ephesians 4:29 tells us to build up others, according to their needs.

Satan is the author of destructive criticism. Let’s look for opportunities to minister to each other through the gift of encouragement.

Instead of being like the couple on the front row, crossing our arms and laughing, let’s ask God to use us to deliver encouraging words. Let’s ask Him to guard our mouths and give us discernment as we help each other through life.

We can be the difference between helping someone sing with abandon or causing them to tremble with fear. It’s all in our words.

(Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com)

Getting Directions

Like the stars that tease of the brightness of Heaven....

by Will Schmit

A string of naked ladies,
the pink flower,
face away the ridge road.

Orange sunset spent
on the odd nude
stalks.

The ocean, not a mile away,
but the hill parched.

Our blankets catch shooting stars,
nameless streaks
scorch the night.

Their Father, our Father, knows them,
but for us it’s just point at heaven
and awe.

A New Creation

A New Creation

by Maureen Hager

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Since I was a small child,
From that time until now,
I looked out just for number one;
There was no one else allowed.

I found out young how people are,
And life had taught me well.
There was no one around to pick me up;
Except me, each time I fell.

I learned to hold my head up proud,
Even when I fought back tears.
To strike out first and hide my pain;
Refusing to show my fears.

Now I’ve met the Son of God,
Jesus is His Name.
He says that life taught me wrong,
And now He wants me to change.

He wants me to open my heart,
And to tell Him of my pain.
But, I’ve lost my ability to cry,
Even though I’m not the same.

I have always mistrusted and doubted,
Anyone who said they cared.
I’ve been let down before, you see,
Every time I reached out and dared.

Maureen Hager

So now He wants to help me,
Mend my broken heart.
To heal the memories and dreams,
That life has torn apart.

He wants to take my hate and fear,
My prejudice and pride.
All those things I learned from life,
The world’s promises that lied.

I don’t have anything to give,
Jesus, look and see.
But, maybe all you’re asking for,
Is what I have – just me.

Okay Lord, let’s try this out,
I know my life is wrong.
So take these wounds – I’ve had enough,
And to you Lord, I belong!

© 1979 Maureen Hager

Maureen HagerMaureen Hager is a survivor. Her passion lies in empowering women to receive healing from their brokenness through the love of Christ. Caught up in a violent bikers’gang war, she became a victim of two gunshots when a rival gang opened fire with M16 rifles. Within those few seconds, the crippling bullets forever changed her life. In her determination to start a new life, she encountered the hope and healing of God’s transforming love. www.MaureenHager.com
www.OutoftheBrokenness.com

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