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.

Midnight Miracles

2 Corinthians 1 20

Written by Lisa Schroder

Have you heard the saying that God often moves in the midnight hour?? It’s a really great thought but what happens when midnight comes and goes and still the miracle hasn’t arrived? When we pray, we want God to answer our prayers immediately. He does answer us quickly on many occasions, but then on other occasions He also decides to wait.

There is a beautiful story in the Bible that tells about two sisters, Mary and Martha who were desperate for a miracle. Their brother Lazarus was very sick. Jesus needed to come quickly and heal him. They had seen his power, and they had faith that he would heal their brother if only he would come and lay hands on him. They were holding out for their midnight miracle.

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”” John 11:1-3 NIV

Instead of rushing to his bedside, Jesus chose to wait a few days. When finally he arrived, days later, Lazarus was already dead four days. The sisters where broken-hearted, and the whole town was in mourning.
Martha ran to Jesus saying ““Lord,…if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:21 NIV. This was the first time in the Bible that Jesus had “missed it”. His opportunity for the miracle had come and gone, and now it was too late. Her friend and her God had let her down. “If only you had been here Jesus.”

God’s timing is so very different to our own. While we move to human time, He is above time.
You see, circumstances do not limit God. He commands the wind and the waves. He has all power and authority.
There is NO circumstance that God will look at and say… “this one is too hard.” But the other beautiful thing is God is not limited by TIME either. When we think it is too late. God says, “This is where my Glory really gets to shine.”

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” John 11:26 NIV
He then walks to the tomb and raises Lazarus from the dead. (John 11:38:43)
God specializes in bringing things to life. He is the master at taking what is dead and bringing life to it. He takes broken marriages and restores them. He takes the abused and puts them back together. He takes the forgotten dreams and lets them live. He takes broken bodies and heals them.

If you think that your midnight hour has come and gone, then be encouraged that we serve a God who gives life. He is not limited by time or circumstance. So today, let your faith rise and say:
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

A Vessel of Joy

Ecclesiastes 3 12

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live. Ecclesiastes 3:12 (ESV)
“Ahh!” giggled my young sons as splashed in the water. Many years ago, we were spending Memorial Day watching our boys, Dan and Mitch, dig in the sandy beach of Lake Petenwell in Wisconsin. They had been asking us all weekend to let them play in the water next to the beach area. On Monday, the weather was perfect so we decided to grant them their wish before we packed up and headed back home to Illinois. As my husband and I were relaxing on beach towels, I couldn’t help but notice the variety of watercraft and pleasure craft in the water just beyond the sand-covered boys. Speedboats skimmed across the top of the water. Fishing boats hunted for desirable spots. Pontoon boats gracefully glided through the water. Whether they moved fast or slow, all of the boats created waves in the water that eventually reached our boys who were playing near the edge of the water. Those ripples in the water amused the boys. Thankfully, the ripples in the water were gentle and not dangerous. High-pitched giggles could be heard as they jumped and stomped on the moving water.
Like a little boat in a very big lake, I too can cause ripples in the lives of others. It may take time before my waves of influence reach people, but my words and actions do affect the lives around me. As I watched my boys fully enjoying the waves in the water, I felt a new commitment to bring happiness to others. I would use divine appointments with others to honor God by doing more acts of kindness. Acts such as smiling and saying hello to each person I passed by came to mind. Walking away from the beach that afternoon, I not only felt refreshed from my rest, but I felt motivated to be a vessel of blessings producing joyful splashes in the lives of others.
Father God, help me to be a vessel of joy to your people. Amen.

Hidden Weeds

Psalm 32 5

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
Psalm 32:5 (NLT)

“Wow, the grass looks great!” I excitedly stated as we pulled into the driveway after a full morning of soccer games. There had been an abundance of rain that summer so the grass looked liked a gorgeous, green carpet. Motivated by the warm autumn weather, I began to walk the perimeter of the house putting the river rock border back into place. Working on my hands and knees, I put the rocks that had rolled into the grass back with the others. With my eyes close to the ground, I then observed the baby weeds sprouting between the blades of grass. Hidden from view when we drove up, these tiny weeds were easily seen with my head only a few inches from the ground. As I pulled these tiny weeds, I thought about the concealed transgressions in my life. From a distance like my grass, I look okay. I love God, and I love others. Upon further inspection, deep within my heart, I acknowledged the secret habits such as bitterness, self-pity, and pride that had taken root. With each weed removed, I asked God to forgive me of each buried offense that came to mind. Hours later, the yard truly looked beautiful and so did my heart.
Merciful Father, thank you for your forgiveness. Amen

Share Your Gifts

1 Peter 4 10 2

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

After putting my car in park at the lot of a well-known drug store, I grabbed a few pieces of crumpled papers from the floor of my vehicle. My intent was to throw the papers into the garbage can outside the store’s front entrance. As I tossed the trash in the can, I noticed a flawless blossom wrapped in clear cellophane lying near the top of the can. Wondering who would throw away an unblemished flower, I peered a little closer into the can. It was filled to the top with discarded but undamaged wrapped packages of lovely looking blooms. Frugality being my middle name and not being ashamed to dumpster dive, I began to take each of the packages out of the can perplexed by the unnecessary waste. Thrilled, I set the flowers in the trunk of my car, shopped at the store, and then quickly drove home to unwrap the packages. When the blooms were put together, they made a gorgeous bouquet. Although the arrangement dressed up my table for just a short time, it made a lasting impression on me. That delightful bouquet reminded me not to discard my gifts and prompted me to have these thoughts: May I not waste the unique gifts and abilities God has graciously given me. Instead, may I use them to make the my little corner of the world a bit more beautiful.
Giving God, help me to be a good steward of the gifts you have granted me. Amen.

Share Your Story

Psalm 145 4

One summer day in June, my mom and I were cleaning her dining room. The main task was to wash the antiques in her china cabinet. Each precious treasure had to be removed from the hutch, hand-washed in warm, sudsy water, hand-dried, and put back in place after the shelf itself was dusted. The heirlooms had been handed down from both sides of the family. Some of the family treasures were so unique that they caused me to question my mom about them. While carefully handling each fragile figurine, I wanted to know the story behind it. To whom did it belong? Where did she get it? How long had that memento been in our family? From Great Grandma Tena’s one hundred plus year old ceramic baby cup to her ivory colored shell vase my Grandma Vera grew up seeing always on display, the history of some of the inherited possessions was discussed. Like the objects passed down through the generations, we too have sacred stories that need to be told. To whom do I belong? Where have I been? How has the Lord been gracious? Hearing the stories behind each of the antiques in the china cabinet taught me a lesson: We also need to share our past experiences that demonstrate the faithfulness of our Father. It is so important to tell our children and grandchildren the great things He has done in our lives and how He has been with us each step of our journey. Share your story. Boast about your God. Pass the baton of faith to the next generations.
Prayer: Father, help me to communicate how you have continued to work in my life. Amen.

Happy Father’s Day!


Tena and Dad

Richard Latta’s Legacy of Love

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
Gary Chapman writes in his book The Five Love Languages of Children that children need to receive love in all of the five love languages. These languages in which we speak love to one another are:
1. Quality Time
2. Physical Touch
3. Acts of Service
4. Gifts
5. Words of Affirmation.
As I think about my dad, I am often reminded of how many different ways he showed his love to our family. He was able to meet our needs right where we were. I asked my sisters, and they too agreed that dad showed how much he loved us by using all the love languages. We began to share story after story of how Dad demonstrated his love to us.
Although he was usually busy working on some project, he always stopped whatever he was working on if anyone needed some of his attention and time. Whenever the grandkids, Kaleigh, Kenna, Dan, and Mitch came to visit, he immediately stopped writing and took them for a nature walk to the forest or the pond near his house. Our children adore their Papa because he spent quality time with them. These journeys not only made his grandchildren feel special, but they also produced in each one of them a love for animals and nature.
When Alyssa was little, Dad used to sit at the old coffee table on the floor and let her style his hair. He was a great client because he not only allowed her to comb his hair, he let her put barrettes and pink rollers in it also. He would sit patiently while she worked. When she finished, she would laugh and be so proud of her accomplishment. Then, she would pull everything out and begin again. This not only fulfilled her need of physical touch but also prepared her for one of her careers in hair design.
Almost every day when the weather was nice in the summer, Tara remembers Dad chauffeuring all of us girls to the pool. While there were many moms that sat at the pool, our dad was the only father there keeping one eye on his girls and another eye on his clipboard in which he worked on creating puzzles for books. When he became too hot, he would take a break from his papers and spend time in the pool tossing Tara high into the air and allowing her to practice dives off his legs. Tara not only felt loved by these acts of services, but these acts also inspired her love for the water and encouraged her to spend many summers working at the Ottawa Street Pool.
One Christmas Sara received scrapbooking cutters. When she asked whom they were from, she was pleasantly surprised when she found out they were from Pops. She said she felt that Dad was trying to encourage her in her hobby of scrapbooking. However, true to his nature, Dad made her open the package so he could try them out on an idea he had. Dad always put a lot of thought into each gift he gave to each of us.
Each Christmas morning we would sit at the top of the stairs and get our picture taken together. Then, we would run downstairs to the lit-up Christmas tree and begin opening gifts. After all the gifts were open someone would shout out the word STOCKINGS, and we would race to the fireplace in the family room and see our Christmas sock hanging from a hook on the mantle. Inside we would find lots of treats and small treasures. When we were done showing each other our goodies, we would take the papers that had been peeking out of the top of our stocking and find a quiet spot to read the words of love written to us by our dad. Each year my dad faithfully put in our stockings five different poems about us that he had written. These poems usually summarized what we were involved that year and how Dad felt about us. They were love letters that we looked forward to reading each Christmas morning. These poems were Dad’s words of affirmation to us on pieces of paper. What was once a present peeking out from the top of our stocking is now a priceless gift from our dad. We are so thankful for the love our father gave us. We are grateful not only for the precious memories and pictures we have of our dad, but also for the proof of his devotion found in these poems. These poems not only fulfilled my personal need of hearing words of encouragement, but they also help create in me a passion for writing inspiring devotionals.
Gary Chapman states that when parents speak all the love languages to their children then their children are able give love in all the languages making them sensitive to the needs of others. My prayer is that we the daughters of Richard Latta will continue his legacy of love by giving, sharing, and caring for others as our dad so faithfully did each day of his life. I would LOVE to read what your dad did to make you feel loved and special. Please comment below. Thanks!

Useful for the Lord

Colossians 3 23

“Dad, if it is okay with you, I would like to keep this old coffee pot.”
“I don’t care; you can have it,” he replied. It was a November afternoon, and my dad and sister and I were going through some of my grandma’s possessions. We had just come from the hospital where my grandma was in the last stages of cancer. Over sixty years of accumulated family treasures needed to be gone through, and each time we visited Grandma in Indiana, dad, her only child, and whoever traveled with him stopped by her home to continue the long process of going through her home item by item. My sister, Sara, did not want it, and at that time I was not sure why I was drawn to it; I am not a coffee drinker. It was just a white porcelain coated coffee pot with a light blue handle, a glass knob on the lid and black spots where the porcelain had chipped. This type of coffee pot can be found in any local antique shop. The inside showed years of coffee making with hard water stains two and half inches high. When I arrived home, I washed the pot and boiled some water for hot cocoa. It stilled worked! Even though it was chipped and stained, it could still boil water. When the coffee pot is not in use, it sits on my stove as a daily reminder of my grandma. It also is a symbol reminding me of who I am in Christ. Similar to my antique porcelain coffee pot, I am aging. Years of life have made their mark on me. Gray hairs, memory mistakes, and a few more wrinkles are more common than before, but like the coffee pot, I am still useful in spite of my imperfections.
Dear Father, help me to remember that I am still useful to you. Amen.

National Day of Prayer 2015

1 Kings 8 28

National Day of Prayer 2015

May 7, 2015 is the 64th annual National Day of Prayer. This year’s theme is Lord, Hear Our Cry. The Scripture verse for this year is from 1 Kings 8:28:

“Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.”

 Let’s join together and pray. Here are a few ideas for prayer:

1. For children, that…

they will know Christ as Savior.

they will obey their parents.

2. For parents, that…

they will be imitators of God.

they will walk in wisdom.

3.For families, that…

they will be committed to loving the Lord and loving each other.

they will be protected physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

4.For schools, that…

students will grow academically and socially in safe learning environments.

students will learn Christian values and morals.

5.For churches, that…

pastors will clearly proclaim the Gospel.

all church activities will continue to glorify the Lord and draw people closer to Him.

6.For missionaries, that…

they will feel loved and encouraged.

they will be safe as they share the Gospel of Jesus with others.

7.For the government, that…

government leaders will seek the Lord as they lead others.

public officials will live lives of integrity.