Who Do You Follow?

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 NKJ)

My husband sometimes uses an experience with sheep as an illustration for a sermon. He tells of the time when my father, who kept a small flock of sheep, demonstrated voice recognition on the part of sheep. Frank stood in full view of the sheep while my father hid from their view. My father called the sheep, but when they saw Frank, they ran to him because they recognized my father’s (their shepherd) voice.

I grew up with sheep, so I understand how easy it is for them to “go astray.” If for one moment they take their eyes off the shepherd and follow the wrong leader, they get lost or into a lot of trouble. Helpless in the face of enemies, whether human, animals, or disease, they need strong leadership to keep them in the right path.

As a Christian, I am one of the Lord Jesus’ sheep. Like a sheep, I am at times disobedient to His Word, or I stray after an imposter. Isaiah wrote, “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one, to his own way….”
(Isaiah 53:6) Jesus knows me; it’s up to me to follow Him. Jesus paid the price for my going astray by His death on the cross. “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” And because He had the victory over death by His resurrection, I have eternal life.

Who do you follow?

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A New Normal

A year ago, my husband and I entered into a period of change in our lives, resulting in moving out of our home of more than fourteen years, the beginning of a new job search for Frank, packing up two-thirds of our possessions (and downsizing by throwing/giving away), storing that two-thirds, living in an apartment for six months, then moving again and starting afresh.

I’m not always crazy about changes, but I have a distinct dislike for packing up and moving. Change isn’t always easy, but moving is definitely “the pits.” (I guess being homeless would actually be “the pits.”) I like to put down roots. I like to feel I belong.

We have been in our new home for six months. And we have come nearly full circle. Frank and I both grew up in communities nearby, so we are becoming acquainted and reacquainted. Life is beginning to take on a comforting rhythm. I think I finally feel like I’m settling into a “new normal.”  Then there is the question, “what is normal?”

Change is often difficult, but we have to be flexible enough to accept it when it comes. It is a fact of life.

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Egg Roll

From the White House, to school yards, to church lawns — it’s time for Egg Rolls and Egg Hunts. It’s Easter! Kids enjoy getting outdoors in the fresh spring air to play games and seek sweet surprises. As a child, I enjoyed coloring real hard boiled eggs for Easter, a tradition I carried on with my children. Today the eggs are often the plastic kind with candy or a small object inside. Eggs became a part of the celebration of Easter many years ago, a sign of new life.

There are many fun traditions connected with holiday celebrations, but too often these traditions mask the true meaning of the holiday. The story has been told of the little boy who brought a plastic egg to school for show-and tell. The other children didn’t understand what was so special about a plastic egg. “It’s empty!” they exclaimed. “Yes,” said the boy, “like the tomb after Jesus rose from the dead.”

Easter for the Christian is actually Resurrection Day, the day the angels announced to the surprised women at the tomb, “He is not here, for He is risen as He said.” Had He not died and shed His blood to pay for our sins and then come back to life, having victory over death, the apostle Paul tells us our faith would be worthless (see 1 Corinthians 15). So we can have fun and feasting as we remember what Christ has done for us. Celebrate the Resurrection and Eternal Life!

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A Winter’s Tale

The icy lake lies deep and dark, a secret
mysterious prison. Descending fingers of ice from tree branches, forming lacy shadow-patterns on snow as the cold
winter sun breaks weakly through gray
clouds, point to the white-encrusted ,
landscape. Winter holds life encased
in its icy breath, the frigid air keeps
silent vigil over nature.

Frosty flakes burst from formless
clouds, gray darkness covers the lake,
the trees. Whistling north wind and creaking
complaint of the giant spruce wipe
away sun, lace, anticipation. Ruffed-feathered
birds and tail-curled squirrels wait out
the storm in sleepy quiet. Winter’s icy breath
being sovereign, the earth lies
cold, and dark, and waiting.

Jewel-sparkling snow in
sun-lighted morning, frost-painted
patterns on windowpanes, icicles
dripping from tree branches, cheery
“dee-dee” of the chickadee and harsh
call of the blue jay, tail-flit of
the saucy gray squirrel stealing seeds from
the bird feeder–hope is released from
icy encasement, life awakens
and breaks free!

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Celebrating Christmas

A friend once asked, “Why can’t we do for others all year what we usually do for Christmas?” She was referring to the extra out-pouring of generosity so typical of this season.

I think we make an effort to do more for others at Christmas. In our culture, it’s an accepted practice. For us as followers of Christ, it gives us another opportunity to share the love of Christ as we celebrate His Incarnation, when He became a man so that He could provide forgiveness for our sins and give us eternal life.

We have many opportunities to help others all the time and not just at Christmas. Jesus’ example was to be a servant. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) God’s greatest gift to us is eternal life through Jesus Christ. We can never out-give our omnipotent God, but our giving to others, in word or deed or generous act, is a reflection of His giving.

Personally, I find nothing wrong with churches or individual Christians being extra-generous this time of year. But the challenge is to continue to give at every opportunity throughout the year, as God gives opportunity.

As you celebrate the birth of our Savior, may you have special joy in giving to and sharing with others. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15.

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A Birthday, a Celebration, and God’s Provision

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A Birthday, a Celebration, and God’s Provision

On Friday, November 15, 2013, Rylen Darrell Lynch celebrates his second birthday.

Two years ago Frank and I flew to Fort Worth, Texas, to be there for his birth and to attend his funeral.

Born with hydrocephalus, which the doctors thought had prevented brain tissue development, we had already been mourning for Rylen. Our daughter and son-in-law had been told his brain would be unable to support his body functions. But God knew better.

Today Rylen is a vibrant toddler, very curious, very active, and with a smile that lights up the world.

We could never give our children the grace and strength to stand strong in a time of crisis, but God can do it. And He did. And now Alicia and Reagan are preparing to help other families with special needs children through a brand new non-profit, Our Little Blessings.

Rylen is still learning how to walk and how to talk, and he still needs some medication. But, praise God, he is healthy and growing, and loving.

I am pro-life. I believe every baby has the right to life. Without Rylen, we would have missed many blessings. And I know his story continues to bless many people, and it hopefully encourages other parents raising special needs children.

I am thankful for all my grandchildren and the one on the way. Children are God’s gifts, whether they are “normal” or face special challenges. God is able to do more than we can ever ask or think.

Thank you, Father, for this birthday, this celebration, and mostly for Your provision.

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