Embrace Your Pastor. He or she needs your support – And needs your feedback!
Your pastor plants seeds With each sermon presented. You fertilize them.
You add nutrients To the soil where they’re resting By watering them.
Water the ideas By ruminating on them. What was the message?
Each week I take notes. I capture the main ideas As they resonate.
Today’s seeds that Pastor Mary Grace Reynolds sowed were inspired by Ephesians 2:11-22 and enhanced by the experience she had Friday night and Saturday morning with a group of young bicyclists who were traveling 4000 miles for cancer research. Here are my notes that I took while listening this morning.
Serving 400 hours as a hospital chaplain Was required in my seminary studies. Why God – why? What’s the answer? With integrity and stamina, just serve!
Ephesians 2 is not about empty connections. It’s talking about the death of our worst instincts. It’s talking about getting on board with Christ. Paul believed Christ would come back yesterday!
We’re still here thousands of years later… Wondering when that victory over death And division will come to this earth. The Kingdom of God didn’t come in Paul’s time.
It hasn’t come in our time, either. Addictions, abuse, fires, death, wars continue. Where is the world where all divisions are erased? We’re here to put our feet on the ground and be hopeful.
Moments of hope will come to you. The U of Austin bike riders were my moment. Stories of lodging needs and cancer research, Tenacity, friendship, and HOPE scenarios entered.
Hope is a screamer and fighter. Sometimes it works out for the good. HOPE is the reality that God is love. Evil will not win. God’s hope will!
Say YES to what pulls on your heartstrings. Say YES to the reality of God’s hope. Say YES to Truth and love and reaching out. Say YES to cancer research and to helping.
Every inch gained in the fight against cancer Is an inch toward life and hope. We are building the Kingdom of God here Where violence and oppression will be foreign to us.
With tenacity, hang in there. With tenacity listen to God’s response to Your questioning… Why God? Why? With tenacity and stamina and love, just serve!
Embrace Your Pastor. He or she needs your support – And needs your feedback!
Happy Sunday. Thanks for visiting JanBeek See ya tomorrow (God willing).
In my reading this morning, These Days – Daily Devotionals for Living by Faith, I was inspired by the commentary of Robin Gallaher Branch of Memphis, Tennessee. The scripture that motivated her thoughts was from Ezekiel 1-2:1
The word of the Lord came to the priest Ezekiel, son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar, and the hand of the Lord was on him there.
What Does That Scripture Mean?
Study that painting. Obviously artists have been inspired by this scripture. But somehow, as I read it again, the depth of its meaning escaped me. I was not quite sure what to make of it. Robin Branch, on the other hand, saw “A Vision is a Divine Interruption.”
She wrote, “I tell my students this: Expect Divine Interruptions.”
Why? Because they occur regularly in the Bible.
And that is what she understood was happening to Ezekiel in this passage. She wrote, “He was minding his own business when the heavens suddenly opened.”
Another artist depicted the scene this way:
Wow! Robin Branch describes it in words, “He saw four living creatures in human-like forms. Each had four faces: those of human being, lion, ox, and eagle… When the creatures moved, their wings sounded like mighty waters.”
What did he do? Ezekiel’s response was, “I fell on my face.” (verse 28)
God Interrupts Our Lives
Ezekiel shows us what to do when God interrupts our lives with a vision, a dream, or an angelic encounter. Worship and wait to be addressed!
But, how many of us have had God present Himself to us in a vision or a dream or an angelic encounter?
Maybe more of us than we realize! Do we open our eyes and hearts to recognize those defining moments? Do we see the angels in our midst? Do we know God makes divine appointments with us? Do we feel His presence?
Live in Expectancy
Do you live in a state of expectation, looking to see God in others? Do you know God is making broken things brand new? I see God in you! I see God in the defining moments of my life.
Daily Word, a Unity Publication, provides a daily word (or words) to ponder. It has a short devotional to enhance the word. Today’s word was “Expectation.” In the commentary, the title was, “Expectation keeps my mind positive and my heart full.
“Living in a state of expectancy kindles a quiet excitement in my heart, keeping me passionate about life.”
If I live in expectancy, I encounter defining moments …
Moments that define us are often not recognized until years later.
What are Defining Moments?
Of course, if you are married happily, you know a defining moment in your life is your wedding. That one is easy to recognize.
Defining moments are those that impact you, change your direction, or reinforce it. They change your thinking. They wake you up to an Ah-hah moment, or they sit quietly in your subconscious – ready for the day you are prepared to recognize their impact and put their lesson to work in your life.
I asked Bob, as we were together in our sanctuary this morning, doing our Bible Study and devotionals, “What are the defining moments of your life?”
Right away, he said, “Our wedding day.”
See, I told you.. that one’s a given. Especially for folks like us who have stuck it out through thick and thin for 59 years!
Not All Are Positive
Not all of your defining moments are going to be the mountaintop experiences. Some are experienced in the valleys of our lives.
One of mine was when I had a burst appendix. I thought I was constipated and that’s why I ached so much. I tried laxatives. I tried a therapeutic massage. It just got worse. Finally the pain was so intense, I couldn’t sleep and I was crying out. Bob took me at midnight to the emergency room in the hospital just 5 minutes from home. They ran a bunch of tests, took x-rays, thought it was diverticulitis. Sent the x-rays to the larger hospital in Bozeman (an hour’s drive away). The doctors there looked at them and called to say, “Get that lady in here right now! She has a burst appendix.”
Why was this a “defining moment”? A dear lady (one of our medical center volunteers named Donna) road with me in the ambulance to Bozeman held my hand and prayed with me the whole way. She was an angel on earth! She helped me survive the painful ride to the hospital. Once there, the doctors told me I could have died. At my age (I was 79 or 80), many don’t survive such an ordeal.
it’s probably not a good idea to ignore excruciating pain or self-medicate
it’s not wise to diagnose your own ailment
a prayer angel can make all the difference between life/death and comfort/agony
Some Defining Moments are Very Positive
A mountaintop defining moment for me occurred when I was only 16 years old. It was the summer between my junior and senior years in high school. I was attending a summer “Music Therapy Clinic” at the College of the Pacific. One of our participants was a little boy named Jeremy. He about 4 years old and had never spoken. He had a voice. He could scream when he was upset. He could moan. He could whimper. But he had not spoken any words.
My music therapy counselor/teacher, Mrs. Harbert, was playing the piano. We all were sitting on the floor in a circle. Each of us had a child in our lap. Mine was Jeremy. Mrs. Harbert was playing a non-sensical, very rhythmic song. Its only word was “Hospodipomilwi.”
I bounced Jeremy on my lap and sang quietly in his ear.
All of a sudden, Jeremy began to sing!! “Hospodipomilwi”
A year or so later, I saw Jeremy and his mom when I was shopping near the college. She said, “I can’t believe I used to pray for him to speak. Now I can’t get him to stop talking!”
There is no greater thrill than to help a needy child
Music is magical
I wanted a career where I could work with children and music
God’s Divine Interruptions Change Us
We were living in California. Bob was still working as a beekeeper. I was retired. He wasn’t sure he was ready to retire yet, but we talked about it. We didn’t know where we wanted to live after his retirement, but we were pretty sure we didn’t want to stay in California. The state was growing in population faster than the the infra-structure could handle the numbers.
Then he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Life changed. We changed.
I won’t take you through the whole three year process, just suffice to say, it was a defining moment! His cancer caused us to reevaluate where we were, who we were, and where we wanted to be.
It is the reason we now live in this place we call God’s Country, Ennis Montana.
The Road of Life is Filled with Defining Moments
The road of life is filled with highs, lows, mountaintops and valleys, potholes and gravel.
When life knocks you down, when you are going along minding your own business and the heavens open up, or the bridge collapses and you fall into a crevice, remember Ezekiel.
He fell on his face. He called out to God. He waited for God to direct him.
Let God’s still small voice direct you. Like my Donna, watch for the angels all around you.
Let His strength illuminate your path. Like Josh Williams, see God in others and let their strength encourage you.
Let the defining moments speak to you. Like Jeremy, find your voice and sing! Hos-po-di-po-mil-wi
Teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites. Right?
See that young man on the left up there? His name is Ty. He is my favorite!
(Well, in honesty… don’t be dismayed if you’re one of my students…. I have lots of favorites, OK? But Ty… well, read on!)
Ty was my kindergarten student in 1962-3. Every day when he stepped off the school bus, the girls all stopped what they were doing. “Hi Ty!” they would swoon. Yes, even kindergarten girls recognize a sweetheart when they see one!
And every day when it was time to go home, the girls all waved to Ty, “Bye, Ty!” they would swoon.
I was a newlywed. It was my second year of teaching. I decided if I had a boy someday, I would name him Ty. And I did!
Ah yes, my Ty is a sweetheart, just like his namesake!
So why the HOPE title?
Yesterday I heard the devastating news that my favorite student, Ty, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. It has metastasized. He needs our prayers. My heart is heavy, but I am a believer… and HOPE is what believers do, right?
Day before yesterday I posted this scripture:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
I know God has Ty tucked into the palm of His hand, just as He holds our world in His hand.
I know God is watching over Ty and his treatment process. But, won’t you add your prayers to mine? “Dear Lord, please give healing to Ty.”
My heart is heavy. God answered my fervent prayer. So why am I sad?
My cousin, Cliff, died. I received the news today: God answered my prayer.
I prayed for freedom – Freedom from this earthy pain. Our God is faithful.
His family gathered; All his loved ones surrounded, And God took him home.
God of Great Mercy, Thank you for answering prayer. Now, heal my heart’s hole!
Cliff & Janine with their two daughters and sons-in-law, two sons, daughter-in-law, and three grandsons
Cliff and Janine are two of my favorite people in the world! And now Cliff has left this world… but he lives on in the hearts of all of us who will always love him.
Janine’s mom is my second cousin, Betty. Her mom was my mom’s oldest sister’s oldest daughter.
That sounds rather confusing and maybe like a “distant relative”… but there is nothing distant about my relationship with Janine. I was twelve when my family drove from California to Washington to visit mom’s family near Seattle in Issaquah… and to meet Aunt Evelyn’s first grandchild.
Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Hans were my first connection to the land of Switzerland which claimed our daughter DeAna about two dozen years later! Uncle Hans immigrated from the German part of Switzerland to the state of Washington. Their daughter, my cousin, Betty, with her husband, Nick, lived right across the alleyway from her parents. Knowing we were there, she came over with her new baby, Janine. You know my name in JAN – and so I immediately claimed JANine as my own!!
I was there for Cliff and Janine’s wedding. I claim Cliff as my cousin, too!
Cliff was “Opa” to his three grandsons. A more doting and loving grandfather never graced this earth! I am so sad that those three boys will not have the presence of the Opa as they grow into adulthood. And the youngest one is too little to have lasting memories of him. It makes me cry!
Cliff was a robust man – a former University of Washington champion rower – weighing over 200 pounds most of his adult life. Cancer and the chemo treatments wasted away his body and took away his strength – and eventually his life. But his spirit lives on.
He’ll remain strong and robust forever in all of us who knew and loved him.
We are a vast array of Cliff-Dwellers!
God bless you, my Word Press family. Thank you for praying for my cousin, JANine, and her family. See ya tomorrow. JanBeek
Thank you for all the sweet responses and inspiring messages that helped make my 81st birthday so memorable. I love my WordPress community!
It’s Sunday, so of course, Bob & I went to church this morning. Our worship service was outside. It’s a beautiful day here in Ennis, Montana. Thank you, God, for the sunshine and mild temperatures in the 70s. Everyone wore masks and socially distanced. The sermon topic was based on two New Testament scriptures: Romans 8:26-30 (A Wonderful Future for God’s People) and Matthew 13: 31-33 (The mustard seed and the yeast).
Hope in Difficult Times (as usual I took my notes in poetry as I listened. Here they are:)
Bombarded daily with bad news, It’s hard to keep our spirits up. But reading the Bible is a fresh breath Of positivity and love that fills our cup.
The parables of the mustard seed and The yeast that magically rises the dough Are examples of Jesus’ storytelling. They are hard to easily explain, though.
Trying to explain the parables is like Describing photosynthesis to a four-year-old. You can say all you want to explain them, But we need simplicity in what we’re told!
See the mystery of God’s world. Don’t try to explain it away. Look at the wonders of creation And let the mystery come into play!
It’s okay to read and not understand How God makes the world work. It’s okay to wonder and say “I don’t know,” We can’t see it all – Some’s in the dirt!
Some of the greatest miracles Of Jesus are buried from our minds. We can’t see the way His mysteries Play out – but we see the love that binds!
Look at how the mountains skip, And the trees clap their hands, And know that these exaggerations Are part of the Power where God stands.
Read the Bible not with a microscope, But with a telescope so that you Can see the bigness of His Word. He’s bigger than our understanding – That’s so true!
The music that accompanied our worship service today was so appropriate to this world we currently are trying to navigate. Sing along … the words are here for you on this You.Tube:
Lord, show me the Way, one day at a time! Help me believe in what I could be – and all that I am. Just give me the strength to do every day what You want me to do. So for my sake, teach me to take – One Day at a Time. Show me the Way!
The other song that we had printed on song sheets so we could sing along was “Mansion Over the Hilltop.” I had not heard it before. Have you?
In our call to confession, we read in unison these words from our bulletins:
“Let us trust in the words of the Psalmist who said, ‘The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit,’ as we lay our burdens before our God.”
The biggest burden on my heart today is this big guy pictured on the left in the photo below. My cousin, Cliff, is shown here with three of his rowing buddies from the University of Washington. Cliff is losing his battle with cancer.
I lay my burdened heart before God as I asked for prayers for my cousin, Cliff Hurn. He is in his last days of trying to fight off cancer. He has fought the good fight and he is tired. Hospice has been called in and his family has gathered around. Please pray for his wife, Janine, his family, and all of us who love him so much.
In joy you step out Trusting every step you take Listening for His Word
Guided by scripture, And not your understanding, You can Walk the Talk!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Listen for His Leading
In my Daily Guideposts 2020 devotional today, Kim Taylor Henry told us about her trip to the Holy Land. God took away her fear of traveling to that part of the Middle East. She listened to His prompting when an invitation showed up on social media. Signing up for the trip was a leap of faith.
Is there a place you would like to visit, a spot you’d like to go, but for whatever reason, you are hesitating? Take it to the Lord in prayer, and listen for His leading.
I have had Maine and Nova Scotia on my “Bucket list” for about a decade now. I am not sure why that part of the world is calling me. Is it the lobster? The ocean? The farm stays? A cruise opportunity? In my 80 years on earth, I have never taken a cruise. Many (if not most) of my friends have. I can die happy without ever going on a cruise, but I feel God calling me to that part of the world. I wonder why?
Maybe It’s the Lighthouses
I have had a long-standing love of lighthouses. I wrote about them back in November of 2018
God places in our hearts other reasons to have certain places on our Bucket List. Usually for me, the places I want to travel have little to do with the place. They have everything to do with the people. (That’s why we have traveled to Switzerland so many times… our daughter and her family are there!)
If you have followed my blog for awhile, you will recognize these people below as my cousin, Janine, and her husband, Cliff. I posted about Cliff’s battle with esophageal cancer last November 9th. Since that time he has been through Hell and back… and is a determined survivor.
Janine and Cliff moved a year or so ago from the Seattle, Washington home where we last saw them – about 5 years ago, I think – to Clinton, north of Seattle on Whidbey Island. Wikipedia tells me Clinton is on this 3.7 sq. mi. piece of land whose total population back in 2010 was less than 1,000. I am sure it grew by leaps and bounds in the last decade. Wikipedia has a few delightful pictures of it on their website:
But, it is not the scenery that draws me to this place. As I said, my motivation is the people I love. As I listen for God’s leading, God calls me to the love.
What is the next step you’re ready to take? Are you leaning on your own understanding?
Ask God to make your path straight. Listen for His leading. Then step out in faith.
2020 is a year for 20/20 CLARITY. It is a time for New Beginnings. What will they be?
THESE DAYS, Daily Devotions for Living in Faith, ended its 2019 entries with this prayer:
“God of all our beginnings, plant your hope so deeply within us that we never lose it. Show us the beauty of small beginnings and nurture Your life within our own lives.”
A couple days ago I asked you to pray for my cousin, Cliff, who had esophageal cancer and had his esophagus removed. I know some of you are praying people who take requests like mine to heart and actually add CLIFF HURN to your prayer list. I want you to know how much I and his family appreciate it!
Today I received the following news from Cliff’s daughter, Heidi:
“You can see from the smiles that Cliff had a great day… and of course it helps that he’s surrounded by his favorite ladies 😉 The nasal tube is gone – good news since that means he can wear his CPAP and get some sleep, he has a new feeding tube installed near his tummy, and he finally gets to eat ice chips! Who knew these milestones would be so exciting!?”
Continue those prayers, please. We are hoping Cliff can go home on Monday. His wife, Janine is a nurse. Between his daughters, spouse, and God, he is in good hands.
Music increases Intelligence, I am sure; Especially strings!
Science bears it out! Or is it that violins Attract the wise ones?
Today at our Madison Valley Woman’s Club, there were about 75 women present to enjoy a variety of homemade soups for lunch while being entertained by Katie Coyle’s violin students.
Teacher, Katie, said she was not a trained teacher, but no one else in our little town of less than 1,000 residents was teaching violin. So, when Katie (who to played the fiddle when she was a youngster) was asked, she stepped up to the plate. There is no way you would agree with her when she says, “I don’t know how to teach violin.”
Katie obviously knows how to teach violin in a way that brings the students back each week clambering for more.
Our MVWC donates money annually to Katie’s Music and Art Academy. Our donation made it possible for 3 families to attend Fiddlers’ Camp last summer. Next summer Katie hopes 6 families can attend.
Our “Collect” or “pledge” that we resign together each month at the start of our meeting tells you a little about our mission:
Today I was one of about 8 ladies who provided the crock pots of soup for the lunch. Each month a different volunteer committee provides the meal and decorates the tables with seasonal themes.
Do you play an instrument? Is it your conviction that music enhances intelligence? I may be a little prejudiced in that regard!
Just listening to beautiful violin music makes me feel smarter! How about you?
My cousin, Cliff, who had surgery yesterday to remove his esophagus (due to cancer) loves sending me jokes about my instrument of choice: the accordion. I ask you to pray today for Cliff’s recovery and return to strength and humor. I think of him as I listen to this beautiful music.
One of the jokes Cliff sent me was a picture of St. Peter welcoming someone to Heaven saying, “Here is your harp.” And Satan welcoming someone to Hell saying, “Here’s your accordion.”
Thanks, Cliff!! In spite of your sarcastic humor, I love you!! (Maybe it’s because of your humor??) Even in your strapped down, hooked up, post surgery posture, I can see that devilish smirk and the twinkle in your eyes!
Listen to music. It’ll make you smarter. And bee sure your kids get music lessons!
Bee well! Always Bee Grateful for your health!! See ya tomorrow, my friends.
My friend, Gloria, and her husband Bob Wilson, are in Hawaii right now. I may not have had a beautiful sunset last night here in gray, cold Montana, nor a gorgeous sunrise this morning, but the Wilsons did. Thanks to the internet, their generosity, answered prayer, and miraculous cancer treatments, I could enjoy these scenes with them.
ThePhysical Beautyof Health
So, as I thank God for another visually beautiful day, I also Thank the Lord for the beauty of health. Gloria is experiencing miraculous cancer treatments (it was in her lungs and brain and lymph system). The amazing treatments have given back her life and her ability to travel and enjoy such beautiful scenes as these.
Praying for Others’ Beautiful Day
Do you have friends/family who have “Beat the Big C” or are in the process now of treatments? My cousin, Cliff, has scheduled surgery for esophageal cancer this week… and Bob’s sister, Bonnie, is seeing the doctor today about continued radiation and chemo related to breast cancer.
Thanks to our many medical advances, the “Big C” does not have to mean a death sentence these days. My husband, Bob, is an 12 year survivor of prostate cancer. He had it frozen. There are so many options for people who are diagnosed with the disease these days. We can pray and ask God for His mercy and healing, but God also expects us to do our part by becoming educated.
After Bob’s diagnosis, we called another cousin of mine who is the “Prostate Cancer Survivor Poster Child” and we asked for his advice. He sent us to YANA.org (at that time it was a website called “You Are Not Alone” where men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer could go to learn about other men’s journey toward wellness). Now, trying to Google it, I discovered lots of YANA sites… but not the one Bob spent days where he read histories of others and learned about their treatment options, choices, and successes. There are so many places to go to get ideas. You don’t have to take the first idea the oncologist throws out at you! Be your own best advocate!
This morning I received an e-mail from a dear cousin. Her husband has esophageal cancer. The chemo and radiation treatments are making him feel tired, gaunt, and bored with the required liquid diet. Swallowing is painful. He’s lost 30 pounds.
In the midst of life’s struggles,
we need strength, courage, and assurance.
Where do we find it?
Joshua 1:5-9 “No one will be able stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you. Be strong and courageous… Be strong and very courageous… Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
In my morning devotional today
from In Touch Ministries,
this very scripture and topic were discussed.
Yes, obstacles are faith’s fertilizer!
As the devotional said,
“Obstacles are one way our faith can grow.”
What obstacles are you facing today? They may not be as serious as cancer of the esophagus, but every challenge we face is an opportunity to lean on our faith and allow the obstacle to grow us. Use them as stepping stones. Know that God is with you. Be assured by that cross that hangs in my sanctuary and reminds me daily to remember what our Creator tells me: “Be Still and know that I AM God.”
My cousin’s husband is Jehovah’s Witness.
I have sent him a couple of inspirational cards
wishing him well and reminding him
that I have him in my daily prayers.
My cousin told me in her e-mail today,
“While he may not agree with all your theology…
he most certainly believes in God and appreciates your prayers.”
I am reminded that God is soooo much bigger than religion.
God is the Creator of us all.
God loves and cares for us all.
We may not practice our religious beliefs the same way,
but our faith in God binds us together as one.
As Christians, we say we are “One in Christ.” We believe in the Trinity – that God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are One. Who am I to say that those who say we are “One in God, our Creator” are wrong? God is Omnipotent. He sees into the heart of us all. When He promises, “I am with you,” he’s talking to you … each of you!
What obtacles are fertilizing YOUR faith today?
Be still and know
God is with you.