The Wedding Wall

May 22, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Hally Franz –

My grandparents would have been married 80 years this November, and while they didn’t reach that milestone, Grandpa and Grandma did celebrate 69 years of marriage. I always remember what year they were wed, because their 60th anniversary occurred the year my husband, Tim, and I were married. We just celebrated our 20th anniversary.

My aunt has a display of family photos I dearly love. One wall holds 5×7 photographs of every marriage our family has celebrated over the years; only three, which ended, have been removed. My grandparents’ black-and-white photo is at the top. The next row includes photos from the weddings of their four children. Eight of us eleven grandchildren, along with our spouses, fill the third row in full color. And the bottom group consists of wedding ceremonies for five of the 23 great-grandchildren. There are currently five great-great-grandchildren, with more weddings and babies added yearly.

My cousins and I sometimes gather at the photos and laugh at the ever-changing wedding styles. Big hair and bunned hair, full skirts and sheath dresses share the space. Long sleeves and sweetheart necklines evolve over generations to sleeveless and strapless. It’s fun to see how fashions have changed and how our family has grown in eight decades. The wall is a source of family pride.

Like wedding fashions and families, marriages evolve over time. Looking back, I can recall trials and triumphs Tim and I have experienced over the years.

Growing our family was a struggle, but eventually we experienced the joys of having a biological son and bringing home a beautiful adopted daughter. Tim recently celebrated thirty years of employment with his company, and he has supported me in my various endeavors outside and inside our home. There have been losses and times of turmoil – some years and memories better than others.

We’ve grown a lot in our faith since 1993, and our Heavenly Father has been with us during our most difficult and joyous times. If He had not, we may not have reached this anniversary.

So, what will the next twenty years bring? More photos added to my aunt’s wedding wall? No doubt. Perhaps a return to sleeves? I hope. Grandchildren? Not during the first ten, please. New goals and dreams? Of course. The comfort that each day we share will be because of Him, shared by Him, governed by Him, and blessed by Him. Absolutely!

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank You for the gift of marriage! Help us make each day count as a couple, enjoying our relationship while serving You in our home, church and community.

“Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Give to the LORD glory and strength.” (1 Chronicles 16:28 NKJV).

Grumbling and Gratefulness

April 27, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Hally  Franz –

Today marks the fourth snow day local children have had this year; in fact, it is the fourth they’ve had since President’s Day in February. Yesterday set records for the most snowfall in one day in our area, and we are nearing the end of March.

Therefore, much of the conversation in recent days has gone something like this… “I like snow at Christmas and over our holiday break. I don’t like it when I am thinking about spring.” “This cold, dreary weather is growing tiresome and depressing. I need some sun!” “Now, the end of the school year is extended!”

Then, reluctantly, after our complaining, we acknowledge that… “It is beautiful.” “We can certainly use the moisture after a couple of very dry years.” “We will still get out of school pretty early.”

Recently I had what seemed at the time like an especially bad week. My computer crashed, and I lost all the information on my hard drive. I had my annual visit to the dermatologist so she could check my light, freckly skin. Though my last few visits had gone fine, this time she found two spots of concern on my back and removed them with simple “punch-cuts.” That was fun! Then, we learned that my son’s FFA contest schedule over spring break would cause him to miss our family vacation.

I was grumbling and complaining about these things, and it took some time for me to step back and recognize what I should have throughout that week. My thinking should have gone more like this… “How blessed we are in this day and age to have gadgets that make our work and life so simple. I can handle a slight blip in the radar.” “I’m thankful for good insurance and access to doctors who can fix potential problems before they become serious health concerns.” “My kids have opportunities to do so many awesome things.”

My minister spoke recently about the complaining of the Israelites while in the desert, as recorded in Exodus 16. No matter what our condition, we humans are prone to complaining. Even the most positive among us will occasionally forget to be grateful, instead grumbling about our circumstances.

Philippians 2:14-15 are verses my daughter’s school has made her own, and I’ve always liked them. My challenge is to always live them.

PRAYER: Most Righteous God, while my worldly ways may cause me to complain, may Your word remind me not to grumble, but exercise gratefulness instead.

“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” (Philippians 2:14-15 NIV).

Girl Drama at Bible Camp

April 25, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Hally Franz –

Oh, to be a kid in 2013! Without going into sad speeches about the summers of yesteryear, I will simply say that today’s kids have access to countless exciting activities to fill their summers. There is no reason for boredom when our communities and churches offer so many things to do. Even elementary students attending summer school enjoy specially-designed curriculum to offer as much fun as they do study. Every class and camp has a theme; every adventure and outing is designed to please.

It is at this time each year that I finalize summer calendars for my own kids. My son, now in high school, has an agenda of his own, but my daughter still works with mom to decide what she’ll do over break.

When I mentioned Bible camp to her recently, she reminded me about the girl drama she had at camp two years ago. Those don’t seem to go together, do they? Girl drama at Bible camp? I remembered my sister and I arriving to pick up my niece and daughter, and I recalled the reports from the cabin counselors.

Our girls had become friends with two other girls, who were unrelated BFF’s. The four paired off throughout the week and were doing well. Until, something triggered a conflict. I don’t recall the issue, except that it was insignificant. Soon the foursome split according to their original loyalties, and a verbal brawl ensued. The teen counselors relayed the events to us, and we were mortified. We scolded our girls, but they seemed to be beyond the ordeal by then.

I know this particular camp is a great program, and Roz may well attend this year. I believe that most of the kids attending camp are from Christian families, and they are all probably fine children. However, I also had to recognize that they are little girl humans. That means they are immature and haven’t entirely figured out how to behave yet. They are girls, and they just like a little drama now and then (That may be precisely why I was reminded of this event when the issue came up). And, they are human – fallible and sinful humans.

Perhaps, Bible camp is exactly what Roz needs this year. Now, two years later, she is more mature and may get along perfectly.

Now, what shall we do about drama camp?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to choose for my children activities and endeavors that will enrich their lives, causing them to be educated and involved citizens, loyal and loving friends, and faithful followers and witnesses for You.

“Dear brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in understanding matters of this kind” (1 Corinthians 14:20 NLT).

Straight Talk

April 11, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Hally Franz –

As the mother of a teenage son, the mention of staphylococcus brings to mind unfortunate scenarios, potentially caused by sweaty, unwashed boy germiness, sports and open wounds. I’ve not personally faced that situation, but I know it is out there. So, when our minister began to speak one day about David, his “staff,” and its various uses in Bible times, I had to make the mental switch for the context.

As my 11-year-old daughter read from a “Little House on the Prairie” book one day, she asked me about the word “gay” that was used in the text. As a child, I understood that word to mean “happy” or “light in mood.” However, her experience has taught her something completely different, which didn’t seem to connect with the story she was reading. I provided an explanation about the meaning of the word “gay,” and how it has changed over time.

So much of the information we receive is subject to interpretation, context and culture. Messages that should be crystal clear are often made murky when presented in a certain way, or in another voice. One’s motive and mission can cloud and entirely change a communication in one direction or another. We often see this in politics and the media, where it sometimes seems impossible to get the real story.

As parents, we have a responsibility to be agents of truth for our children. And, our resource should be the ultimate book of truth. Just as our Father has given all of His children instructions on how to live, we should convey those to our children as simply and clearly. We ought to teach our young people the eternal meanings of words like: salvation, commands, baptism, sin and love, and the everlasting importance of people like Joseph, Moses, Ruth, Jonah and Dorcas.

In a time when it is so difficult to know what and who to believe, let’s equip our children with the one constant, unchanging message of truth – His word.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, grant me the wisdom I need to teach Your truth and present a life of truth to my children, so that they are not confused or distracted by wrong messages in the world.

“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long” (Psalm 25:5 NIV).

Hard Drive Down

March 29, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Hally Franz –

Unless you are a technology expert, there are few things that strike fear within a body more than a computer crash. In reality, the word “crash” may not invoke the feelings of chaos that the event generally does. Perhaps, “calamity” or “catastrophe” would be better descriptors.

My recent cataclysmic computer trial and the corresponding conversations with the computer support personnel brought to mind war movies I’d seen in which doctors urgently carry out triage on incoming wounded. “He’s hit in the chest.” The hard drive has been wiped out. “What’s this man’s blood type?” Did you have an anti-virus program? “Stay with me soldier!” Is it under warranty? “He won’t be returning to the field any time soon.” We’ll have to order parts, and it could take a week or so.

I absolutely understand that my temporary computer problems in NO WAY compare with the horrible life-changing events that occur during war, but in those moments, they can feel pretty serious. In our world, nearly all of us rely on our paper or electronic planners, laptops and desktop computers, phones and e-mail. Those are the keepers of our information, and without them, we feel vulnerable, disconnected and lost.

While the details of our personal and work life cannot be trusted entirely to our human minds, our Heavenly Father has the whole of the universe at His fingertips at all times. The tiniest details of prayer requests around the globe, and the major events taking place in our world daily, are all under His control at any given time.

That brings me lots of comfort, calm and confidence in the Creator!

PRAYER: Awesome God, keep me ever mindful of Your magnificence. Humble me daily with the knowledge that Your hand has made all things, and You are in control in all circumstances, great and small.

“All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent” (Isaiah 28:29 NIV).

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