Beliefnet
Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Perhaps you have seen and heard the U.S. Postal Service’s cute advertisement about the little girl who obviously has asked for a hippopotamus for Christmas. The catchy tune plays over and over in the background. Her parents have looked and researched for one online and it is delivered just in time for Christmas by the USPS. Then on Christmas morning she opens it up, is excited but…out of the corner of her eye she sees through her window a deer in her snow-covered yard and reaches toward the window longingly. Her parents notice her longing and their happy faces become crest-fallen knowing another “want” has just been created!

Such is the dilemma of our commercial driven culture. We are not satisfied. Madison Avenue, Hallmark, Target, Toys R Us and a host of others know just which buttons to push to get us to “want” other stuff.

However, that is not my drumbeat today!

The tune, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” is catchy and I find it goes round and round in my head during the day – not “Silent Night” or “Joy to the World” but “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”! (At least I have learned to spell it!) And I bet that just reading this makes the tune start in your head!!

Well…one morning as I was reading my Bible my eye was caught by a note in the margins with the word “hippopotamus”. Was a hippopotamus mentioned in the Bible?! Yes. (Job 40:15) The word actually is “behemoth”. But it means hippopotamus.

How’s that for Biblical trivia?!

Just an extra gift to you at this wonderful time of year!

A Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and those gathered around your table.

I love this holiday – so far they haven’t really found a way to over-commercialize it. It is simply family and friends getting together to share big bird, time-loved dishes from grandmother, football, conversation sprinkled with arguments all hemmed with nostalgia.

“They” are trying to encroach on the holiday by opening stores in the late afternoon or early evening. (In recent past, my youngest daughter ventured out to the stores and enjoyed the chaos. The older I get the less I like chaos.

All three of my children will be with me! And 6 of my grandchildren. I’ll share photos.

But I am sure each of you are preparing for the days with anticipation just like I do. All families are alike. All are dysfunctional. So don’t beat yourself up over some unpleasantness that occurs. Just don’t you be unpleasant!

And do take the time to thank God for His many blessings. In this country we are blessed with peace, bounty, beauty and diversity which adds color and texture to this amazing tapestry. I am blessed in my family with a father who is still living and has 4 great-great grandchildren and 4 siblings still living and in good health. I came through two successful surgeries this fall. My children are well and employed!

Sometimes I look around me and just thank God for the blessing of heat, a dry bed, actress to healthcare, a bed at night – not to mention that I can get out of bed on my own, can smell and see and hear. So often I just take it for granted…But it is all God’s blessing on my life.

It could be gone tonight…but He is still God and He still blesses me with His presence and love. Nothing can separate me from His unconditional love. Nothing can separate you for His unconditional love.

That is a blessing worth celebrating this Thanksgiving Day!

(And everyday!)

 

I have been away for a couple of weeks due to back surgery. After some snags, I am on the way to healing. It’s been harder than I imagined and I hope to make up for lost time.

Before I went to the hospital I made sure to put up meals and have them in the freezer. I changed my sheets, polished silver, put my pots and pans within reach so I would not have to bend down to get them. I bought loose fitting clothes – nothing binding. I did my laundry, stocked up on groceries…did all I could to prepare so I wouldn’t have to bend, twist or lean. I prepared. Because I live alone, I may have over-done it; I just didn’t want to be caught unprepared.

While recovering, I watched the Presidential debate. Or I should say, I watched part of it. To me it seemed like and exercise in immaturity, name-calling and lack of depth. I got weary of it and knew the next morning all the pundits would tell me what was said. And they did. I was better off getting some sleep.

It appeared to me Mrs. Clinton was well-prepared. She knew the issues and was calm, well-spoken – even if she was incorrect she came across as in control. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, did not appear to be prepared. He seemed to shoot from the hip. He would make all sorts of statements and follow them up with “Believe me”.

Why should we believe him – or Mrs. Clinton? Their history is not impressive in the area of truth.

I am not making a political statement nor do I endorse any candidate. Yes, I will be prepared to vote but, this time, it is incredibly difficult.

Being prepared is the subject of this blog – not politics.

We prepare for all sorts of thing: exams, Christmas, childbirth, old age, buying  a home…all sorts of things. Are we prepared to die? The death rate for every generation is 100%. All of us will die. Are you prepared?

How do we prepare for death? Make a will? Maybe buy a cemetery plot? Maybe some of us work harder at being good to earn points with God. Talk to our children. Make amends with those we don’t get along with. We could work really hard or throw up our hands and give up. We are so afraid we’ll be caught short – left out.

There really is nothing we can do to earn place in Heaven. Nothing. We can’t earn it at all. So are we left on our own – unprepared?

What a grim subject for a blog! But there is Good News! We have been given a simple way to prepare for Heaven. It is guaranteed.  No-fail.

It is a gift from God. All we have to do is to acknowledge we are sinners – and we all are. That we are sorry for our sins and ask God to forgive us and take control of our lives. Simple. So simple people think it’s too easy and they try to make it more complicated. It isn’t.

 

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

The Apostle Paul wrote, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

And you will be prepared to go to Heaven and meet God face to face as He open His arms wide to welcome you – His precious child.

 

 

I cut out an ad a couple of weeks ago that I really liked.  I think it was for some sort of conference – my apologies to the conference leaders for not remembering. The ad said, “Learn how brokenness is the away to wholeness, mourning is the path to blessing, and emptiness is required to know true fullness.”

That is right up my alley and could describe my ministry easily, certainly my heart.

This week a dear friend loaned me her copy of Jan Karon’s latest book, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good. I like that thought! Don’t we all want to be somewhere safe with somebody good?

I have experienced a lot of wonderful places, safe places and I am blessed with many friends who are safe places for me. I love them and depend on them.

The safest place to be – ever – is in the center of God’s will. Sometimes it is hard to discern where exactly that is. God doesn’t usually send us a bulletin or big sign pointing to it. Often we only know it is God’s will in hindsight.

But there are some signposts. Does it line up with God’s Word? Are circumstances conducive and right? Do your counsellors (friends) agree? Have you been honest with them? If all three line up, it’s a good indication that that is where God is pointing. If even one is not aligned then you might want to back off and continue to pray. (And I know what I am talking about. I’ve made too many wrong choices and suffered the consequences.)

Now when we make wrong, sinful, bad choices God doesn’t leave us there. He always gives us a second, third, forth…chance once we have repented. His specialty is restoration. I experienced that many times.

Yes, there were consequences, but that does not mean God is mad at us. He’s not getting back at us. We set the consequence in motion as soon as we made the choice.

God is full of grace and wants to help us make good choices! He wants us to be in a safe place!.