Garbage Day

1 John 1 9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Today is garbage day. After Sunday this is one of my favorite days. In my community garbage is picked up on Mondays which is so convenient after the weekend. If you were able to peek in on my life on Mondays, you would find me gathering all the garbage around the house that I can find. I visit each of the bathrooms and empty their small garbage cans. I also search through the refrigerator to examine the plastic containers to see if anything is not edible anymore. You know the ones hiding behind the milk on the lowest shelf in the back that we tend to forget are there! I move quickly through the basement and garage to find any leftover wrappers of newly opened items. After breakfast (which of course is the last portion of cereal in the cereal box), I toss all the crumbs and remains in the plastic bag I have been carrying around all morning. At last, the plastic bag is full, and I slip on my shoes to run to the end of the driveway where my husband has already put the garbage can. In goes the rest of the trash collected that morning. The walk up the driveway is always exhilarating! Why? It is because I have just emptied my house of one more bag of debris and junk. Usually, I feel lighter than air because I am walking into a home that is cleaner, fresher, and emptier than it was a few moments ago.
It is similar to the feeling I have when I spend time in prayer especially my times of true confession to God. It seems that when I confess to the Lord the accumulated sins in my life, I immediately feel fresh and clean like my house on garbage day. Sometimes my failures stand out like a piece of litter on my grass. Other times I need to do an honest search to find the offensive ways lingering in the corners of my heart just like the crumbs hidden under my kitchen table. Unlike the garbage man who is only able to pick up my trash once a week, our forgiving Father is always ready and waiting to forgive our transgressions. Sinful habits such as impatience, pride, stubbornness, and worry give us impure hearts. Praise God we do not have to wait to experience His cleansing power of forgiveness! We can have pure hearts when we make every day a garbage day!
Forgiving Father, create in me a clean heart. Amen.

God Our Guide

Psalm 48 14

This is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.
Psalm 48:14

One Memorial Day weekend, my husband, Steve, and I loaded up our boys and traveled from our home in Illinois to his parents’ cottage in Wisconsin. Not only did we pack up the usual items such as our suitcases, food, and toiletries, but we also hooked up a trailer with a couple of four-wheelers on it. Part of the vacation was spent driving the four–wheelers on the trails especially made and marked for them. Since I was a novice at driving a four-wheeler and unfamiliar with the winding trails, I followed my husband, who led the way. As I was riding, I savored the beautiful scenery of pine trees, deer, birds, and bushes. I could not let my eyes linger too long because the view could quickly become a dangerous distraction. Had I not kept my eyes on the path in front of me and on my husband ahead, I could have easily run into the deer that crossed the trail or scratched my helmet and arms on the encroaching branches along the path. As we put our four-wheelers and helmets away, I took a moment to give thanks to God who not only has given me bountiful blessings to cherish, but who also gently reminds me not to let them hinder my focus on Him. Even though I sometimes get stuck along the way preoccupied by the scenery of life, this vacation was a stopping point where I acknowledged my need to faithfully focus on the Guide of my path.
Father, forgive me of all the times I have allowed myself to be distracted with the landscape of life. Help me remember to keep my eyes on You, my loving Guide. Amen.

Seeking God

Jeremiah 29 13 hawk

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
Driving from our church’s Vacation Bible School years ago with my sons, I observed a hawk resting on a telephone pole. I drove another mile down the same road, and again noticed another one perched on a different pole. “Look boys, a hawk! It is the second one I have seen since we left the church. I can’t believe it! Let’s see if we can find any more before we arrive home!” Sure enough with our eyes on alert, we were able to spot two more hawks sitting on light poles before reaching our house. Later that night during dinner, we each took turns sharing something special about our day. I mentioned our experience with noticing the birds. With a new perspective, I told my family that the hawks reminded me of God. Like our Lord, they had been within my eyesight, but it was up to me to look for them. Thankfully, our unchanging Lord is omnipresent! He is ALWAYS present in my life. I just need to keep seeking Him.
Holy God, thank you for your constant presence in my life. I sincerely seek You with all my heart. Amen.

Love Letters

Deuteronomy 23 5

Getting the mail is one of the highlights of my day. As soon as the mailman delivers my mail, I quickly slip on my sandals and walk outside to see what treasures are hidden in my mailbox. Sometimes I am very disappointed because the mailbox just holds bills that I need to pay. Other times, though, I am pleasantly surprised when I receive a card or package from someone. Whether it is a birthday, a thank you, or a thinking of you card, I feel truly loved because someone took the time to encourage me.
I also feel truly loved when I read Scripture verses. Many passages of the Bible are love letters to us from God. Numerous verses describe the abounding love God has for His children. Throughout His Word, our Father clearly shares how much He cherishes us. In fact, the Bible says that, “God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). What lovingkindness! Unlike my mail, which arrives only once a day, God’s Word is available at any given moment. When I am in need of a fresh filling of love, I grab my Bible and dwell on the comforting and encouraging words given to us by God.

Greeting God

Psalm 118 24

This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
When my two sons were little, they would wake up in the morning, stumble down our hallway rubbing their tired eyes, and ask me, “What are we going to do today, mom?” Even though they were half awake, they spoke with anticipation and excitement as they wondered what I had planned for them. Please understand that I did not plan structured, adventurous, and creative activities for my boys each day. In fact, some days all I had on our agenda was for me to catch up on the six loads of laundry piling up on the floor of the laundry room and for them to play with their toys. It did not seem to matter to my children what we did the day before. Whether the previous day was full of chores or fun, they always greeted me each morning with the same question. It was as though they anticipated that no matter what we did, we would do it together and that I had their best interest at heart. Oh, how I wish I had faith like a child! Instead of fearing the unknown happenings of each day, I long to form the healthy habit of greeting my Father in heaven each morning by asking, “What are we going to do today, Lord?” Like my sons displayed their trust in me, their imperfect mom, I want to make a deliberate effort to trust our perfect Lord with each moment of each day.
Glorious God, enable me to greet today with an eager attitude. Amen.