Grouch

April 30, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Charlotte Riegel –

I had it coming to me. It was not a wise choice to stay up so late reading. Weariness knocked on my door at the usual go-to-bed time but I refused it entrance and kept pushing myself past tired, somewhat like athletes do when they push themselves ‘to the wall’ and then break through it.

It started innocently enough. I thought reading before turning off the light would help me fall asleep faster. It had the opposite effect this time because I was already past the ‘wall’, on the other side of sleep, happily heading into an all-nighter though at the time I did not realize this fact.

At 2:30 a.m., knowing I needed some sleep, I put away the book I was reading, turned off the light, and began tossing and turning. My mind continued to race through what I had just read in an attempt to process and mentally file all the information. Brace yourself, it was not a romance thriller, or an intense Bible Study book. No, it was the 2012 – 2013 Academic Calendar for Rosebud School of the Arts.

I delighted to see the various course options available, pondering if I should take any. The instructor profiles fascinated. And then, the ‘Who’s Who’ section introduced me to various people, beyond staff, that made this organization function.

What? My name is among the ‘who’s who’ of RSA? Well, yes, I had volunteered to become the ‘volunteer coordinator’ for the Art Gallery but never dreamed my name would be included in their publicity!

And the wheels turned, both in my mind and in the clock. Morning came and although I did not feel particularly tired I felt frustrated and grouchy because I knew I should have slept and hadn’t.

As I pulled back the curtains, bright sunshine greeted me. A story I read recently flashed to mind, about personalized license plate messages. Two cars randomly stopped side by side at a red light. One said, ‘SUNZOUT’. The other, ‘GROUCH’.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for a sunny day. I will work at not being grouchy.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).

Rabbit on a Swim Team

April 24, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Charlotte Riegel –

Years ago I read a story about forest animals deciding to begin a school for animals to attend. It was determined that all the animals would take all the courses. It reminded me of our public schools.

In this story the rabbit started at the top of his class in running, but developed a nervous twitch in his leg muscles because of so much make-up work in swimming. The eagle was a problem child and severely disciplined for being a nonconformist when insisting on getting to the top of the tree his way, flying instead of climbing. The duck was excellent in swimming and very poor in running. The squirrel encountered constant frustration in flying because he was forced to start from the ground up instead of from the tree top down.

I did not excel in foreign language studies, saw little use for studying history, and enjoyed English studies as long as I was allowed to do it ‘my way’, i.e. read and write stories, but became frustrated and discouraged when I was forced to interpret poetry according to the instructor’s protocol.

As my children wound their way through the school system it became obvious that each had their own ‘bent’ and excelled when taught and guided in their areas of natural proficiency. One of my boys was, and still is, a gifted musician, however most of his schooling offered little instruction in music. He took private lessons but was unable to spend much time practicing because his regular schooling and homework took up so much of his time. I feared he would quite high school before graduating because of his boredom and frustrations. Thankfully he didn’t.

Now as I watch grandchildren fighting their way through that same system it is apparent we are still a long way from understanding the uniqueness with which we are all created. David reminds us in Psalm 139:13 how God created each of us from the inside out before we ever took our first breath of oxygen.

In Ephesians 2:10 Paul encourages us to recognize that we are God’s handiwork. Pastor Tony Evans encourages us to recognize that we are ‘custom-made’, not manufactured on an assembly line.

Prayer: “God, help me to recognize the uniqueness of others and grant me the grace to avoid attempting to make them fill a mold they were never created to fit.”

Quote: “When you or someone you know doesn’t fit society’s mold, it’s okay to make a new one” (Fairchild, Lori. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hooked on Hockey/What Hockey Taught Us).

Poor Me

March 16, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Charlotte Riegel –

I love to read, for myself, not just to engage a two year old. I love to relax with my crafts, alone, but am often interrupted by a youngster pleading for my help with a puzzle. By the time the children are settled for the night and the house is tidied for the morrow I’m too tired to read for personal pleasure or to do much of anything but go to bed. I know ‘this too shall pass’…something I have drummed into my children as they whine or complain about challenges facing them. Ah yes, now I must prove to myself and others these words apply to me as well as to those I challenge to buck up, dig in, and persevere all the while looking for anything that resembles the positive.

I had eagerly offered to help a family wrestling with health issues when anticipating a few weeks away from my regular routines. Then complications set in. Weeks beyond what had been originally considered for recovery time I slog on, remain positive and encouraging in the presence of others, yet fight to overcome feelings of ‘poor me’. I long for some ‘me’ time.

My thoughts often drift to thinking of Jesus coming to earth. He left so much behind, yet we are told he took no thought of Himself. He willingly ministered to others and taught about the Kingdom of God even when fatigued. Sometimes He snuck away to rest and to spend time with His Father and even then the crowds and His followers often found Him. When they did, He put aside His needs and desires, lifted up the fallen, healed the sick, and taught those who clung on His every word. I wonder if He got homesick for heaven and His Father? Did He ever long for more ‘me’ time away from the crowds? Did He ever feel exasperated by the disciples’ lack of understanding even after He lived what He taught and explained the Kingdom over and over and over? Yet He did not grumble or complain.

Prayer: Father God, I long to please You in all that I do. Forgive me for being selfish when others need my help. I desire to shine Your light of grace and mercy to the world I live in. Thank you for all the examples Jesus gave while living among us.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:14-16 NIV).

Icebergs

March 10, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Charlotte Riegel –

I was experiencing a particularly difficult time with a family member. He had gone off the rails several years earlier and I was increasingly moved to pray for this prodigal. It was very difficult to watch him make such a mess of his life. He knew it was in a mess but somehow his eyes were blind to see it was his poor life choices that were at the root of all his ills. Poor financial management left him in a heap of debt. Poor interpersonal skills often were the cause of yet another lost job complicating his need to live independently of his parents. Poor nutritional habits affected his ability to cope.

The Christian teachings he received into his teen years were chucked when the ‘big Santa god’ did not give him what he selfishly asked for. So much talent being wasted. So much unnecessary pain for him and those nearest him.

And he lived under my roof.

I saw a lot more than I wanted to. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ seemed like a nice option yet I could never bring myself to ‘kick him out’ although some had suggested it. I suffered in silence and prayed, a lot.

One day while walking the streets of my neighborhood in mental anguish, praying for him yet not being quite sure how to pray, I heard God say to me, “Iceberg”.

“What? Iceberg? What’s that about, Lord?” I asked.

“When you look at him you see the tip of the iceberg. I’m at work with all that lies below the surface that you cannot see. Do you trust Me?” came the calm yet hard-hitting response.

After some moments to ponder I replied, “Yes, Lord, I trust You.”

In the following year the iceberg began melting and signs of God’s handiwork became increasingly visible. With each challenge I now quickly acknowledge my trust in God’s activity in the life of this loved one and remember ‘iceberg’. My burden has been lightened by taking my eyes off the tip of it and focusing on the work of the Son.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for Your incredible love for the wanderers, always working to bring home the lost sheep of Your flock even when we see no evidence of Your work in their lives. I desire to increasingly trust You to accomplish Your plans in the lives of my loved ones.

“I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11 GNT).

In Over My Head

February 28, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Charlotte Riegel –

The deadline for my application was fast approaching and I was beginning to feel as if I was ‘in over my head’. We had moved to a new community during the previous year and my love of flowers and gardening pushed me into determining to beautify this new community with more flowers. The county was offering grant money for Community Enhancement and I thought my idea fit the qualifications.

I had never applied for a grant before but a kind neighbor offered to guide me through the process. As various people in the community heard about my project proposal they gave me encouragement because they too wanted to see lots more flowers next summer. Several offered suggestions for where to put new planter boxes and one lady even agreed to assist with planting and caring for the flowers.

I walked around town several times taking pictures. Another friend from a neighboring community sent information about self watering containers and I spent many hours looking through their web site to determine which size of containers to put where. It was coming together nicely but the deadline meant I had to put a dollar figure on the grant application and figuring out all the details was overwhelming me.

Apparently my husband sensed I was getting a bit ‘riled up’ so he graciously accompanied me, camera in hand, to take more pictures, and even offered to do the number crunching. In the evening, another neighbor came to the house and gathered up all the details I had put together then determined he would actually fill out the grant application form together with his project, thereby removing another huge stressor for me.

As I tucked into bed that evening I remembered the scripture verse I read and prayed that morning: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5 NIV).

I took that instruction to heart, prayed that verse asking God for wisdom with this project and by the end of the day it became very obvious He had answered it quite wonderfully.

Prayer: “Thank you, Lord, for being so gracious and helping us when we but come to you with our need for wisdom. Amen.”

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