No Bingo in June

February 12, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Hally Franz –

Did you ever wonder how much money is spent on weddings each year? More precisely, have you pondered how much is spent during the month of June on weddings? I don’t have the answers, but we all know it’s a chunk of change. Weddings are big business!

There are the dresses, the décor, the music and the venues. There are meals, pictures, attendant gifts, flowers and party favors. Some weddings include themes, and some even become part of reality television. While current trends in weddings may be a retailer’s dream, I hope that this year’s June weddings fill life-long dreams for the couples who walk down the aisle (or, the beach, brick road or garden path).

I know a very special June bride. She is the daughter of a dear friend, and she was a great babysitter for my children when they were small. In fact, my 10-year-old daughter, Rosaline, has been asked to be a junior bridesmaid for Jessica, and she is super excited. We had a shower for Jess a few weeks ago. I was remembering the shower, and it occurred to me that there is a certain discord in one of the games that we played that day. I called it Bridal Bingo.

Bingo is a game of chance. It requires no work, preparation or special set of skills or characteristics. Isn’t that the reverse of marriage! Successful marriage is very much related to the work that the partners put into it. And, most definitely, there should be some preparations made prior to the wedding day. Aside from the actual planning of the event, couples must prepare by talking through issues they’ll face as a married couple. They should consider the lifestyle they want for their family including where they will live and worship, whether they will have or adopt children, work and leisure questions, and a host of other concerns. Addressing those topics takes time and energy. Aside from work and planning, successful marriages are built by two partners who demonstrate maturity, generosity, kindness and caring toward one another. Marriage isn’t for the poorly prepared or ill-tempered.

No, indeed! Weddings may be big business, but marriages ought not to be risky business. As for my special June bride, I have every confidence that she and her husband-to-be have taken time to lay a foundation for a successful marriage, as well as an awesome wedding day.

PRAYER: Merciful and Mighty Father, bless this year’s brides and grooms with the qualities of wisdom and kindness, commitment and caring as they begin their lives together, so that their unions may bring honor and glory to You.

“With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3 NKJV).

Seize Your Day

February 4, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Peter Lundell –

I paid close attention at my daughter’s promotion from middle school to high school. The student speeches were good, and I was struck by these thirteen-year-olds talking about how “time flies.” Oncey they’re adults, they’ll find out how fast it can truly go.

I reminded myself of the commitment I made almost ten years earlier: When my kid’s name gets called to receive her high school diploma, I will NOT sit here and wonder where all the time went.

If time flies, each of us is a pilot. We choose how it flies. Whether we actively decide what we do with it, or passively let things take their course, we determine how time flies—or doesn’t.

But let’s get real, time doesn’t fly at all. Every minute, hour, and year is a set length (even leap year). The “flying” part is entirely our perception. Ask someone in a penitentiary or someone with a terminal illness if time flies. We all have time when it drags, even if temporarily.

So what should we do with these conclusions? The same thing writers have said for centuries: carpe diem—”seize the day.” But in a way that is more life enriching rather than just living for the moment.

Seizing the day is something we consciously decide every day—otherwise the day’s potentials vanish like mist. We make choices deliberately, and fully engage in what we do, rather than drift through life letting things happen to us. We engage meaningfully with people and events around us, and we nourish a caring heart toward them. We live for each moment rather than wallow in the past or pine for the future. We refuse to live in perpetual busyness, and as in the Luke 10:38–42 story of Martha and Mary, we focus on what is most important.

How will you seize your day?

PRAYER: “Lord and Master of my life, each day I live is a gift from You. Lead me to seize it as a zealous steward of time and experience. Open my eyes to see Your hand in all of it. . . .”

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14 NIV).

Starting With Graduation

January 25, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Hally Franz –

As May rolls around each year, I take an inventory of the graduations we will be celebrating. This is a light year with only four. In my rural community, the graduation party season is big. Starting by mid-May and running through most of June, graduating seniors spend several weekends on the party circuit checking in at multiple events in a given day.

My own son is graduating from eighth grade this year. I asked if he would like a party, but he declined. I do, however, see this as a major transition for him. He has attended a small Christian school since kindergarten, and he will enter a public ninth-grade building with over 500 students in August. It is a little scary for mom!

Graduations are about celebrating accomplishments and marking milestones. Little guys will stand for pictures on stage after surviving tear-filled days of preschool. Young men and women will cross stages to accept college degrees earned after countless long nights of study. Graduations also represent the beginning of something new. Perhaps it is simply an unfamiliar teacher or school. Maybe, it means leaving home and family to go to an unknown place. It almost certainly involves challenges and change. New friends, new towns and new jobs can all be frightening.

When we begin our Christian journeys, we don’t know what He might have planned for us. We celebrate our baptisms and commemorate the day that we became part of the body of believers. While that life-changing milestone in our spiritual life is joyful, it brings challenges and new territory to face. Like the child moving from one grade level to the next, believers are expected to grow in our faith. We are called to greater responsibilities to serve and witness to others.

As we recognize this year’s graduates, let’s applaud their successes and send them into the next life phase with our hugs, well wishes and prayers. And, when we celebrate with new believers, let’s give our Christian brothers and sisters the same support in their new journey.

Blessed be our 2012 graduates and new Christians!

PRAYER: Gracious God, bless this season’s graduates and new believers, and send them fearlessly into the world to do grand and glorious things on Your behalf.

“Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged”
(1 Chronicles 22:13 NIV).

The Biggest Piece of Pie

January 14, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Cheri Cowell –

I am so grateful to my mother for teaching me the lesson of the biggest piece of pie. Whenever mom made a pie, cake, or any form of dessert, my sister and I were taught the biggest piece always went to daddy. At the time, I hated this practice in our home. She explained to my sister and me that we wouldn’t have dessert if it weren’t for daddy’s hard work.

This was so much a part of our homelife that when I went to a friend’s house and the children received the biggest pieces of pie, I actually felt strange. Later, when I married, this lesson of serving others the biggest piece of pie was one I really appreciated. God wants us to take that lesson a little further.

In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, Jesus makes the point that service is more important than status in His kingdom. If we are always expecting the best seat in the house, the last soda in the refrigerator, or the biggest piece of pie, then we’re not seeking God’s way, we’re seeking ours. The way we view others and ourselves is often not seen in the big things we do, it is demonstrated in the little ways we serve others.

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for all the little ways You show how much You care. Reveal to me today ways I may need to give someone else a bigger piece of the pie.

“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited” (Luke 14:8 NIV. See 7-14 for full parable).

Making the Most out of Mother’s Day

December 31, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Mother’s Day is billed as a wonderfully happy day, but that it can be a difficult day for celebration. Being a mom, I love Mother’s Day, but in my role as a daughter, this day stirs up sadness. In my teenage years, my mom developed Alzheimer’s disease and I became her caregiver. I hated Mother’s Day, because it reminded me that life had not turned out like I had hoped.

Maybe you find Mother’s Day difficult as well. Maybe its an abortion, miscarriage or infertility that will have you waking up on Sunday mourning about the baby you never knew. Maybe you have a prodigal child and you wonder if they will even bother to contact you. Maybe, for any number of reasons, your relationship with your mother is fractured. Mother’s Day can be one of the hardest days of the year.

So how can we make the most of Mother’s Day? Start by acknowledging the pain we are feeling. If we don’t recognize that we are feeling sad about our circumstances, they will be like a trap door that will engulf us, causing the day to turn out even worse. Keeping things in the dark, by ignoring them, becomes our greatest threat. Part of my routine on Mother’s Day is to take a few minutes in the morning to think about my mom, even shedding a few tears. Mourning is the best path to healthy emotions as long as we don’t wallow in it.

Which leads to the next step – accept the love that comes your way. Accept the breakfast in bed with a heart of gratitude, even if it is cold, burnt toast. Be thankful that you are treated to dinner at a restaurant, even if it isn’t exactly the one you would have chosen. Cherish the handmade cards and the goofy lawn ornaments. Accepting love, even if it is flawed, will help us shift our focus off what we don’t have onto the good in our lives. A little gratitude goes a long way!

The third step to making the most out of Mother’s Day is to pass on love to others. You may not have a mother to celebrate, but be on the lookout for women who have influenced your life. Take this opportunity to express your appreciation. Make this a day to celebrate womanhood.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to make the most of this day and to look for ways to show love, acceptance and appreciation.

“In everything gives thanks” (I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)

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