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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Behind the normal

© 2012 Julie Crane All rights reserved
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

They all looked so normal. Holding coffee cups, reading books. Someone on their phone. Others heads together chatting softly. Normal people stuff. Sure looked like regular people having a regular day. Right? Are you picturing a coffee shop perhaps?

The fact is, this is taking place in a hospital waiting room.Waiting for lab work to be done. Waiting for radiology. Which means all these normal, average looking people have some real issues they are contenting with.

It sure is hard to tell just by looks who is dealing with pain.Worries. Strife. Anxious over the possible outcomes. They sure looked okay - just by looking. But this scene could very easily be found in a coffee shop, grocery store line, worship center, at the bank, at work, any group gathering really. 

It made me pause and think - so many of us, carrying burdens, yet carrying on with regular normal routines of daily life.

Looks don't tell the whole story. Stuff is going on the the life of the one with the smile. Stuff they are trying to grin-and-bear through. More people than you realize.

So let's be gentle. And kind. You don't need to know the whole background story. Just like we all have sinned, we all have trials and tribulations too. 

Let us pray for the known - and the unknown - burdens of each other.
Let's just be a little more gracious and forgiving.
Let's draw everybody a little closer to God.
The God Who carries us through it all.

And you know that the Lord has taken care of us the whole time we've been in the desert, just as you might carry one of your children. (Deuteronomy 1:31 CEB)


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Pep Talk

© 2012 Julie Crane All rights reserved.
The Lord's unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. (Lamentations 3:22-23 GNT)

Shake off the yesterdays.
Believe in God.
Believe in new mercies for today.
Believe blessings can happen to you.
Yes, you.
Cast off fears, doubts, predictions that things in life today are going to be stressful.
Envision beauty.
Envision success.
Envision awesomeness.
From your Father God.
Envision God's plan for your life being fulfilled today.
Know without a doubt that you are loved.
Know without a doubt that you are okay right where you are today.
God is still loving you.
God is still using you.
Whatever you think you see, God sees a beautiful big picture that includes you.
God sees things in you growing, blossoming, maturing day by day.
Things like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Yes. It's true.
You are loved and you belong as much as anyone else.
Says God.
You can succeed in life.
With God you will succeed in life.
Thanks be to God.
Who will never fail you.
Never let you go.
Never leave your side.
Beloved.
Yes. Beloved you.
As sure as the sunshine.





Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Hungry, Thirsty, Lonely, oh my!

© 2012 Julie Crane All rights reserved.

'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? (Matthew 25:37-38)



'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
  • "Cereal is on sale this week. Let's grab a couple extra boxes for the food pantry."
  • "I know going through a divorce come be really hard. Why don't you stop by on Wednesday for dinner?"
  • "Let's go out for coffee at that new donut shop. My treat!"
  • "Sorry to hear you are laid up for awhile. How about if I drop off some of my famous taco casserole?"
or thirsty and give you something to drink?

  • "I'm so glad you stopped by. How about some of fresh lemonade?"
  • "Let's hand out bottles of water during the car show tonight. It's going to be so hot out!"
  • "Free coffee - while you wait!"


When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, 
  • "It's starting to rain. Let me give you a ride to the store."
  • "You're new here? Come sit by me and I can explain things as we go along."
  • "Playing euchre is so much fun! Are you free on Wednesday nights? Would you like to join us?

or needing clothes and clothe you? 

  • "Definitely time to clean out my closet! The thrift store will even pickup!"
  • "So much yarn at the church. How about we make up some blankets and afghans and take them to the homeless shelter?"
  • "I heard the store in that strip mall nearby is having a BOGO sale. Let's go together and we can both enjoy some savings."



Friday, July 27, 2018

All clean ... again!

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:7)

I love the look (and feel!) of clean nails after a shower. So fresh, smooth and natural. A healthy pink. Ready for the new day. Free of yesterday's grime. Freshened and renewed to do and to be.

On normal, more mundane days, they don't look too bad. But do some weeding or pick blueberries and eek! The stains can linger if you don't wash and scrub them right away.

Prayers of confession (gulp) can have the same effect. Getting rid of the dirt and grime of dark, guilty thoughts can actually feel like stepping out of your morning shower. Yes. Naming your sins, putting them out there for God to scrub away. Imagine the darkness - gone! Imagine your heart and mind being light and fresh and a healthy pink! As freshly showered hands.

That's what Jesus did for you.

Clean from head to toe.
Clean inside and out...
Is a reality.
Can be your reality - today.
Free of yesterday's grime.
Freshened and renewed to do and to be.

Am I going to have to take a shower again tomorrow morning?
Probably so.
And that's perfectly okay.
Its certainly an acceptable practice.
The same goes for confessing of sins.
Its okay to do every day.
Its okay to cleanse, purge, wash away, get rid of ...
every kind of filth.

Get spiritually showered every morning.
Receive the cleansing power of Christ.
Believe this truth: He takes away the sins of the world! (John 1:29)

So now, what are you waiting for? Get up, immerse yourself and have your sins washed away as you call on His name. (Acts 22:16 CJB)

Sprinkled with the blood of Christ, our hearts have been made free from a guilty conscience, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. So come near to God with a sincere heart, full of confidence because of our faith in Christ. (Hebrews 10:22 ERV)





Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What a mess!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding … (Proverbs 3:5)


My husband and I enjoy working on jigsaw puzzles together. I like the ones with lots of color and a variety of items in the picture to piece together. While he tends to lean toward the ones with a lot of the same color - blue ocean and blue sky. We are currently working on one of his puzzles. And I am trying to enjoy it. But I can get overwhelmed by all the blue pieces! What challenging work it is to find just the right shade and shape to fit!

Like many people, we begin with the edge. It isn't long before things start to connect. Make sense. But the piles of blue pieces …! While I have had some successes in getting various areas filled in, I don't think I could ever do it all on my own. It's just too big a picture for me. I am able to  participate in a share of it, I can not do it on my own.

But I DO know, this puzzle does go together and I know all the pieces will fit somewhere.

Sometimes life can feel the same way. So much going on. It can be overwhelming. How will I ever finish? I can't even find the next piece!

We can figure some things out. (like the edges)
We can even fit some of the areas in (probably by trial and error)
We can even get some areas joined together (with a little help from our friends)

But the whole big picture of life...
GOD can see it. See it all. And see it to completion.
The puzzle of life does go together.
All the pieces do fit together.

God is our constant Helper.
God can help us get started.
God can join things together.
No matter how overwhelming things look, God knows the way through.

We can't see how our lives will pan out. There are surprises all along the way. But God has His hand on every piece. In your life. In my life. In the world. We may not always be able to see it, but God still reigns over all the earth. Today. And all days. Until that very last piece is put into place. 

Thanks be to God!













Monday, July 2, 2018

In other words

© 2012 Julie Crane All rights reserved.
... so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11


I'm sure we all have our favorite translation of the Bible.  Whatever it is, it has become the familiar, the cadence and rhythm version that brings the most comfort to us. Some of the most well-known, well-loved verses almost have a sing song-y quality to them as we have memorized and recall them.

And still, there are some words or phrases that are hard to understand. Even though they are in understandable English! So I have been venturing into the world of other translations. Not to replace the beloved Bible I have and use all the time, but to enhance, develop, add depth to my understanding of a passage. That I might recall a fuller meaning even as I recite the familiar.

Come with me. Join me in this morning's adventure of studying and discovering a passage found in the Psalms:

Psalm 42:11
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (NIV) This is the version I normally use and the one that I am able to memorize and remember in times of need. It doesn't really matter which version you connect with ...

But, O my soul, don't be discouraged. Don't be upset. Expect God to act! For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise him for all that he will do. He is my help! He is my God! (TLB) What jumped out for me in this version is the believing God will act. And believing I will have reason to praise yet again. Whatever is upsetting me, will pass.

Why am I so overwrought, why am I so disturbed? Why can't I just hope in God? Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One who saves me, my God. (VOICE) This version echoes my heart both the frustration of why can't I just hope and believe (!) and when it says despite all my emotions (!) - I will still believe in God.

So I say to my soul, "Don't be discouraged. Don't be disturbed. For I know my God will break through for me. Then I'll have plenty of reasons to praise him all over again. Yes, living before his face is my saving grace! (TPT) God will break through for me. God will! For me! Plenty of reasons to praise him all over again. Again and again. It will surely come.

My soul, why art thou sorry; and why troublest thou me? Hope thou in God, for yet I shall acknowledge to him, he is the health of my cheer, and my God. (WYC) The "thou's" don't derail me because I have now read various other translations so I know and understand. I like the use of the word "acknowledge" and also the concept "he is the health of my cheer".

Can you see now how using various translations can pull together a more complete, more in-depth look? You read all these - one after another - and surely your soul can be lifted up and stand secure in the promises of God. The God Who saves you. Helps you. Breaks through for you. Over and over again.

Yay, God!





Wednesday, June 27, 2018

I'm lovin' it!

© 2018 Julie Crane All rights reserved
Look at My hands and feet, and see that it's really Me. Touch Me, and see for yourselves. Ghosts don't have flesh and bones, but you can see that I do. - Luke 24:39


My brother was a car salesman. Now put all the car salesman jokes aside. Because my brother had to develop a real skill in relating to people through their senses. Discover their preferred sense in a matter of minutes in order to match them up to a car they would truly enjoy.

A strong sense of sight? "Check out that paint job! And those racing stripes!"
A sense of touch? "Run your fingers across the buttery smooth leather on those seats!"
Sound? "Just hear that engine rev and roar!"(or purr)
And let's not forget that new car smell. And kicking the tires!

These are all ways people experience true enjoyment and appreciation. Buying a car can be an emotional event! Touch! See! How awesome! How perfect!

Isn't that also how we connect with God?
Sight - an awesome sunset, a field of flowers, blue sky with puffy white clouds
Touch - a comfortable sweater, an ice cold drink, a hand reaching out to take hold of yours
Sound - children giggling, waves lapping around your ankles, a gentle rain
What about the smell of coffee in the morning, lilacs and roses, a newborn baby

If you've been wondering where Jesus is - Touch! Taste! See for yourselves.
It is I.

I'm lovin' Him!