Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Beauties

Poinsettias, Christmas Cactus, Cyclamen—since I began working in the greenhouse at The Lands at Hillside Farms, I have learned a lot about these beautiful flowers that bloom in Winter, adding rich color to the otherwise rather dreary months.

Curious as to why we associate them so closely with Christmas, I did a little research on these beauties. Setting legends aside, I found some interesting qualities in these plants that can remind us of the true reason for the celebrations of the season—Jesus!

The most popular Christmas flower in the United States is the Poinsettia. The star shape of the leaves is reminiscent of the star that stood over the Christ Child, leading the magi to the place where Christ was born. (Matthew 2:1-10) The poinsettias rich, blood-red color reminds us of the blood Jesus shed as He died on the cross to save us from our sins. (1 John 1:7b)

In Europe, Cyclamen hold top billing at Christmas. Attractive, easy-care houseplants, they will flower continuously throughout the winter months. Their intense colors brighten the lackluster days of Winter, just as faith in God fosters hope in our hearts amid bleak situations. (Romans 15:13) The backswept blossoms resemble a gathering of tiny butterflies, a symbol of the new life we receive when we give our lives over to the Christ-child, born to be our Savior. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The Christmas Cactus produces beautiful pink and red blooms atop green spikey stems. Their ever-present green color symbolizes the eternal life Jesus offers.(1 John 5:11-13)

Like most succulents, Christmas Cactus have adapted to dry, arid climates, reminding us that God can bring good even from times in our lives that prick our souls and wither our spirits. (Romans 8:28)

I extend a challenge to you. As you enjoy the flowers of the Christmas season, look for clues to link them to the best gift any of us could ever receive—Christ, the Savior!

Merry Christmas!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Light the Candles!

In our family, birthdays are traditionally celebrated by lighting candles on a birthday cake and singing the “Happy Birthday” song. I can’t tell you what I received as a birthday gift even a year ago, let alone ten years ago or 50 years ago. But I can remember many, many occasions of blowing out the candles on a cake surrounded by loved ones singing “Happy Birthday”.

Candles play a prominent role during Advent—the Advent wreath is lighted each week at church, electric and battery-powered candles are placed in windows to welcome visitors, and candles grace many mantles, giving off their memory-inducing scents of the season. Candles flicker on the faces of loved ones gathered around our dinner tables and paint our fellow worshippers with a golden glow during the Christmas Eve candlelight service.

During Jesus’ time on Earth, candles had far more practical uses. They provided essential light for daily activities like reading, working, walking safely at night. Candles helped to dispel fear, warn of danger, and reveal obstacles.

It is easy to see why Jesus calls himself “The Light of the World.” (John 8:12) He helps us find our way spiritually, reveals hidden traps and dangers, and brightens our outlook on life.

Candles provide light by giving up themselves. Jesus gave himself so that the world could see, in his death and resurrection, the love of God. That’s what light does. It helps us see! Jesus showed us God’s love by dying on the cross for our sins!

The second half of John 8:12 shares Jesus’ promise that we will never walk in darkness. He is always with us, guiding us, helping us to see our way, even when we go through difficult circumstances.

There is a condition attached to this promise--we must be following him. For Jesus’ light to shine on our lives, we must be following him.

I can remember times when a storm has knocked out the power and I had to follow someone carrying a candle. If I veered away from the person with the candle, or tried to get ahead of them, I found myself stumbling in the dark. That’s how it is with following Jesus. We need to stay close beside him and let his light lead us.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus by lighting candles this Christmas, may we remember why—because Jesus is the Light shining in the darkness. May you walk in His light this season and always.

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Christmas Eve Circuit

Daddy and Uncle Junie

From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another.
The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other.
~Emily Matthews

For me, the most memorable Christmas gifts aren’t under the tree. From my earliest memories of Christmas, my greatest treasures have been the unwrapped, bowless moments spent with family.

My dad was the youngest of 11 children. Seven of them lived within four short blocks of one another. One of my favorite Christmas traditions as a child was making the rounds to their homes on Christmas Eve. After supper, Mom and Daddy, my two sisters, and my brother and I would excitedly begin our circuitous journey. I skipped along in happy anticipation, knowing that wonderful times awaited.

Our first stop was a mere half a block away--my Aunt Jan and Uncle Junie’s. Daddy and Uncle Junie were born just one year apart and were best friends. These brothers had married sisters, so our families spent time together practically every day. Christmas Eve, though, made even this frequently-visited place feel extra special.

The mammoth trees they chose were always dazzling with lights, homemade decorations, and tinsel. Best yet, Uncle Junie set up his electric train with its nifty buildings, businesses, and working cars—a treat, reserved only for the Christmas season.

Uncle Junie and his family would accompany us on the next leg of our journey--Aunt Althea’s. I can still hear her husband Dick’s jolly laugh. With his teasing, jokes, and stories, he made everyone chuckle.

From there, we moseyed over to my Aunt Edna’s home. Though widowed during World War II, Aunt Edna exuded joy and love. She gifted everyone with a huge smile and a hug. Her teen-aged daughters, Francie and Nancy seemed so very grown up—they even had boyfriends!

By the time we hiked up the hill to the house where my dad grew up, my cousins from out-of-town had usually arrived. We didn’t see them often, making the Christmas Eve visit extra special. Grandpap and Grandma Flasher still lived at the old homestead, as did my dad’s oldest brother, Allen. Etched in my mind is an image of him pulling his worn brown leather wallet from his back pocket to slip us each a couple of bills to get ourselves “something nice”.

Trudging further up the exceedingly steep street, we reached my Aunt Keek’s house. Keek was a talented artist and her work adorned many of their walls. I gazed in wonder at her paintings, amazed at her ability.

Right next door, literally only ten feet away, lived Aunt Betty. Like my dad and Junie, these two sisters were best friends. Amusingly, they both married men named Frank. Frank and Frank were also buddies, so the two families were very close.

At each stop we shrugged out of our coats and traipsed out to the kitchen for a snack. There we enjoyed a variety of treats offered only at Christmas—tangerines, potato candy, sugar-glazed popcorn, penuche, date and nut cookies, homemade fruit cake, cut-out sugar cookies, ribbon candy, tree-shaped ice cream treats, poppy seed roll, nut horns, and much more. Christmas was the only time soda pop was purchased and we savored those ice-cold bottles of 7-Up and Coke.

I can still hear the Christmas carols sung in beautiful four-part harmony by my dad, his siblings, and their spouses, as they stood with their arms draped around one another. The glittering lights, peals of laughter, and hum of a dozen conversations at once pleasantly warmed the crowded rooms. The fragrance of fresh-cut pine trees, baking spices, and brewing coffee combined to transform the winter evening into a magical celebration of faith and family, topped off by the 11:00 PM Christmas Eve worship celebration—a fitting end to a truly soul-warming, treasure-filled Christmas Eve.


©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Christmas Eve House Call

“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.”
~Peg Bracken

“All three of my kids are sick,” I heard my mom explain to Dr. Cunningham over the phone.  Releasing the furrow between her brows, she sighed, “Thanks. So sorry to bother you on Christmas Eve. See you later.”

In those days, doctors made house calls and it wasn’t unusual for him to be called out at all hours. But on Christmas Eve? As children, we dreaded his visit, not knowing if we might need a shot.  My mother, however, felt bad that we needed him when he could have been home with his family.

What disappointed us kids even more was that we wouldn’t get to go caroling, visiting relatives, eating all kinds of special Christmas treats, and going to church—all joy-filled traditions we usually observed the night before Christmas.

Surprisingly, however, that Christmas Eve turned out to be one of my most memorable, an evening touched by joy, despite not feeling the best.

I don’t remember exactly what ailed us. I only remember being in our pajamas most of the day. We helped decorate the tree my dad hauled in, but our efforts lacked the usual enthusiasm for the task.  Feeling sorry for us, before our baths my mom allowed us to open the packages that contained cozy flannel pajamas. A simple, practical gift, new jammies were something we all loved and looked forward to receiving each Christmas. I think Mom also wanted us to at least be clean and wearing fresh sleepwear for Dr. Cunningham.

Dr. Cunningham had white hair, bushy salt-and-pepper eyebrows, and smelled slightly of medicine overlaid with a liberal amount of aftershave. He was a big-boned man with large hands. I never saw him in any other attire than a rumpled black suit, white shirt, and a black tie, loosened for comfort.

Dr. Cunningham arrived at our home about 11:00 PM. He took our temperatures and listened to our breathing with his stethoscope. He looked in our ears and peered up our noses. He told us to open wide and say, “Ahhhhh.” After asking my mom a few questions, he gave us each a shot and handed over small white envelops of little tablets with instructions hand-written on the packets. He was a great believer in penicillin and camphor pills.

Although Dr. Cunningham was as gentle and kind as he could be, getting a shot always caused us to shed a few tears. However, what I remember most is how he took the time, not just to treat us medically, but afterward to calm and cheer us. He asked us what we hoped Santa would bring us, successfully diverting our attention from our sore bottoms.

What he did next surprised us all. This weary, overworked doctor said he was going to teach us a trick. He told me to bend over and reach both hands through my legs. Dr. Cunningham then grabbed my hands and, quick as a wink, he had flipped me completely over! It was exhilarating!

My siblings all wanted a turn. We clamored, “Again! Again!” until our mom intervened. “That’s enough now. It’s late and I’m sure Dr. Cunningham is tired.”

Afterward, the good doctor sat in the kitchen with my dad. He sipped a cup of coffee and enjoyed a few Christmas cookies while they talked. I’m sure Daddy offered Dr. Cunningham something stronger, but he refused. Well known for falling asleep while holding a stethoscope to a patient’s back, the dedicated but exhausted doctor probably felt he would have enough trouble staying awake to drive home without the influence of alcohol, or he may have had other patients he needed to see that night.

Although it wasn’t a typical Christmas Eve, it’s a night I have never forgotten because of the good memories it holds. The excitement, laughter, and joy of the season prevailed, despite three sick children.

Guess Dr. Cunningham knew the truth behind Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine . . .”


©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Giving Thanks

Psalm 107

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!
Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
3 For he has gathered the exiles from many lands,
from east and west,
from north and south.
4 Some wandered in the wilderness,
lost and homeless.
5 Hungry and thirsty,
they nearly died.
6 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he rescued them from their distress.
7 He led them straight to safety,
to a city where they could live.
8 Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
9 For he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
10 Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom,
imprisoned in iron chains of misery.
11 They rebelled against the words of God,
scorning the counsel of the Most High.
12 That is why he broke them with hard labor;
they fell, and no one was there to help them.
13 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
14 He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom;
he snapped their chains.
15 Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
16 For he broke down their prison gates of bronze;
he cut apart their bars of iron.
17 Some were fools; they rebelled
and suffered for their sins.
18 They couldn’t stand the thought of food,
and they were knocking on death’s door.
19 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them,
snatching them from the door of death.
21 Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
22 Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving
and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.
23 Some went off to sea in ships,
plying the trade routes of the world.
24 They, too, observed the Lord’s power in action,
his impressive works on the deepest seas.
25 He spoke, and the winds rose,
stirring up the waves.
26 Their ships were tossed to the heavens
and plunged again to the depths;
the sailors cringed in terror.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards
and were at their wits’ end.
28 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
29 He calmed the storm to a whisper
and stilled the waves.
30 What a blessing was that stillness
as he brought them safely into harbor!
31 Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
32 Let them exalt him publicly before the congregation
and before the leaders of the nation.
33 He changes rivers into deserts,
and springs of water into dry, thirsty land.
34 He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands,
because of the wickedness of those who live there.
35 But he also turns deserts into pools of water,
the dry land into springs of water.
36 He brings the hungry to settle there
and to build their cities.
37 They sow their fields, plant their vineyards,
and harvest their bumper crops.
38 How he blesses them!
They raise large families there,
and their herds of livestock increase.
39 When they decrease in number and become impoverished
through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,
40 the Lord pours contempt on their princes,
causing them to wander in trackless wastelands.
41 But he rescues the poor from trouble
and increases their families like flocks of sheep.
42 The godly will see these things and be glad,
while the wicked are struck silent.
43 Those who are wise will take all this to heart;
they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.

How have we seen the faithful love of the Lord in our lives, in our “history”? Are we speaking, telling, singing, praising, exalting, offering sacrifices of thanksgiving so that not only does God receive the glory He is due, but others will hear and learn and turn to Him?

The season of Thanksgiving is a great time to start offering our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving so all those around us can know the greatness of our God!

I thank Jesus for not only taking the punishment for my sins by dying on the cross, but also for sending His Holy Spirit to draw me to Him. I pray that you know Him, too, my friend. If not, I would love to share with you how you can. Just contact me or click here.


©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Take 5

We make sure we eat three meals a day. We know we should exercise 30 minutes five times a week. But do we fully comprehend we are more than flesh and blood? That we are spiritual beings? We need to link with God to be spiritually healthy and to experience inner peace.

For me, it only takes five minutes of simple quietness—listening, watching, waiting, embracing. With each passing season, God gives me opportunities to connect with Him, to nourish my innermost being:

  • I can watch the Autumn leaves slowly drift down and realize God’s infinite patience and wise provision.
  • I can catch snowflakes on my tongue, feel Winter’s chill on my cheeks, and marvel at God’s ability to forgive and wipe away every spot of sin, making my soul whiter than snow.
  • I can gaze at the tiny Spring shoots poking up through the earth and take hope that although difficult situations seem to be unchanging, underneath God is at work and will bring forth something beautiful.
  • I can soak in the Summer sun’s healing warmth and bask in the knowledge of God’s unconditional and unmerited love shining on me and all those I love.

 With Advent and the Christmas season soon upon us, quiet time can be a rare and precious commodity. Finding even five minutes to slow down and breathe in God’s presence will require preparation, but will reap eternal rewards. What are your plans for nourishing your soul during these busy weeks?

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Keeping it Real

photo by

I recently read a short, thought-provoking piece by Becky Eldridge on the many “30 Days of Thankfulness” challenges that crop up during November. Becky praised the concept of recognizing all that we have been given by our generous Heavenly Father. And then she asked, “I wonder how many of our human relationships would last if we kept all our conversations at the level of thanks? Relationships move to a different level when we risk being vulnerable, when we have a deep sharing of heart, and when we have a space to voice not only what we are thankful for, but also our lingering questions, our desires, and our struggles.”

She’s right. A relationship which is less than open and honest soon feels shallow and fake, eventually losing its importance.

Likewise, I wonder how many of our human relationships would last if we rarely recognized and expressed our thanks for all the positive, wonderful aspects of our lives, including the relationship itself? Constant grumbles, criticism, and needs causes a relationship to become burdensome, dreary, and unwelcome.

I find I am sometimes guilty of these unhealthy extremes, not only in my interactions with people, but also in my communication with God. At times, I fear admitting to God how I honestly feel—let down, doubt-filled, angry, scared to death, empty, blah. Other times I go on and on complaining about this and ranting about that.

I can pretend all is well with my world, outwardly “counting my blessings” while inwardly listing my woes. But God sees through that. I also can allow the struggles of yesterday to block out the blessings of today, whining about what I “wish” were different and failing to see the fresh God-sends right in front of me. “Tsk, tsk,” says God, with a slow shake “No” of his head.

Psalm 139:2 says that God knows our thoughts, He perceives what we are thinking. So why not be honest with Him, why not keep it real? If we truly want a living, breathing relationship with Jesus, that is what it takes—moving to a different level where, like Becky shared, we risk being vulnerable, where we have a deep sharing of heart, and where we voice both what we are thankful for, and our lingering questions, desires, and struggles.

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Now?

It’s over at last! No more campaign ads, persuasive speeches, annoying phone calls, and political Facebook posts! (Happy Dance!)

At our polling place, my husband and I waited in line two hours to vote. It was that way ALL DAY LONG—right up to when the doors closed on the last person allowed to enter the building to cast their ballot! We live beside the education center where voting takes place and the parking situation and traffic jams were downright dangerous! I have NEVER seen so many people determined to get out and vote!

Believe it or not, everyone at our polling place was civil, friendly, talkative, and neighborly! I didn’t hear one political conversation during that two hours! There was lots of laughter and many exclamations of, “How ya’ doin’? Haven’t seen you in years? What are you up to these days?”

I don’t think my fellow voters yesterday will have too much trouble with John Wesley’s election advice, but I think it is worth sharing:
1) Vote, without fee or reward, for the person you have judged most worthy.
2) Speak no evil of the person you voted against.
3) Take care that your spirits are not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.

No matter who we voted for, now that the decision has been made, it is our responsibility to follow Romans 13:1 “Be a good citizen. All governments are under God and the existing authorities have been put there by God. So live responsibly as a citizen.”

There it is, spelled out in plain language—God is in control.

Our response is to pray for those He has put in power. “Pray especially for those in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceful life with all reverence toward God and with proper conduct. This is good and it pleases God our Savior.” (1 Timothy 2: 1-3)

Let's join in prayer for President-Elect Donald Trump. May he allow God to lead him as he leads our nation.

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What Goes Around Comes Around

photo courtesy of

“You know, what goes around comes around,” I jokingly told my daughter when she related a story about the exasperating behavior of one of her boys.

Most of the time when we quote that adage, it carries a negative connotation. Lately, however, I have experienced it in the positive sense.

About a month ago, our daughter began worshiping with a different church than the one she previously attended. She LOVES her new church home! Every time I talk to her, she mentions something spiritually challenging she heard in the sermon or at the fellowship group she is attending on Monday evenings. Her boys eagerly attend both church and the youth program; THEY remind HER of meetings and special events. She has questions and I hear the excitement in her voice about what she is reading in her Bible. I am witnessing not only my daughter walking with Jesus, but my grandsons as well! Those phone calls warm my heart and renew my own enthusiasm for Jesus.

As Christian parents, we all pray that our children with one day discover for themselves a relationship with Jesus. By word and example, we do our best to instill a living faith in their souls and minds. Sometimes we wonder about just how good a job we are doing in that department. And then we get a phone call like the ones I have received lately, and our feet and hearts start doing the happy dance.

My experience reminds me that even more than human adages, God’s Word is true. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Sounds a lot like, “What goes around, comes around.”

And that isn’t always a bad thing.

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tougher Than We Realize

art by Denise A. Wells

We Christians are tougher than we realize. Three weeks ago, my cousin’s son Jeremy and his wife Roxanne delivered their second daughter, Lilly, who was born with CDH, congenital diaphragmatic hernia. You can read more about this condition on my post entitled, Lilly.

In the weeks since her birth, Lilly has undergone several procedures to help her lungs and heart function more efficiently with less stress and effort. She has steadily progressed. This week Lilly underwent surgery for repair of the hernia. Your continued prayers for this little warrior are greatly appreciated.

The struggles that Roxanne and Jeremy have faced would bring a prize fighter to his knees—Roxanne’s diagnosis of gastroparesis just months after their wedding, loss of their first-born to CDH, job loss for Roxanne, a complete job change for Jeremy, and a major move. Add to that the challenge of having a second child born with CDH and you have a recipe for STRESS, in all caps!

And yet, they soldier on, giving praise to God for carrying them through. Their life reminds me a lot of what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9: “We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.”

Most of us won’t face that kind of intense and concentrated troubles in our entire lifetime. This young couple has dealt with all of this in just over two years. They are a shining example of faith that has been refined by fire. Please join me in praying for Roxanne and Jeremy, and for their precious Lilly.

Lord Jesus, strengthen Roxanne and Jeremy and Lilly by your Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in them as they open the door and invite You in. We ask that with both feet planted firmly on love, they’ll be able to take in with all Your followers the extravagant dimensions of Your love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of You, Lord God. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What's Your Gut Tell You?

My daughter asked me a thought-provoking question. How does God speak to you? In my women’s fellowship group one person talks about how God speaks to her through dreams. That hasn’t been my experience. How does He speak to you, Momma?

Good question, Erin. God speaks to me in a variety of ways. Often it is in whispers. In order for me to hear Him, I need to follow Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Sometimes those whispers take the voice of a trusted Christian friend, sometimes on the wings of prayer, and sometimes from a Scripture echoing through my mind.

God’s spoken to others in whispers:

1 Kings 19: 11-15 Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.” A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. . . God said, “Go back the way you came through the desert to Damascus.

Matthew 10:27 What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!

Isaiah 30:21 Your ears will hear sweet words behind you (sounds like a whisper to me): “Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go” whenever you must decide whether to turn to the right or the left.

Often, God takes His God-sized neon marker and highlights a passage, a sentence, or sometimes just a phrase from His Word. Parts I have read over and over in the past suddenly jump off the page, and almost shout at me.

Like David, I find Scripture is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105) Like a flashlight in the night, that Light often shows me things I would have stumbled over in the darkness on my own.

God’s Word is alive and active and cuts to the chase. (Hebrews 4:12) I may flounder around in ambivalence, but a search inside The Book soon clarifies things.

After all, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Thankfully, even when my Bible isn’t handy, the Holy Spirit helps me to remember what Jesus has told me. (John 14:26)

And sometimes, God simply speaks to me through peace. I have to let go of what I want, of what I “know”, and simply trust.

When I have correctly discerned how God wants me to act or react, I have a peace that passes all understanding, a peace that guards my heart and mind. (Philippians 4:7)

Agent Gibbs (on NCIS) says his “gut” tells him things. I know what he means. When I am unsure of something, my stomach does this roiling, tightening, near-nausea thing—quite unpleasant. It’s often a red flag for me, urging me to use caution, to seek God before acting or speaking. Colossians 3:15 advises us to let the peace that Christ gives guide us in the decisions we make.

I often hear this verse singing in my head, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Any words of advice for my daughter? (I am not sure I have my comments problem fixed. If not, please share your thoughts either on my Facebook page or through Google +.)

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Reflections of God

photo by Pam Williams
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image,
make them reflecting our nature.”
Genesis 1:26 (The Message)

It was all so perfect in the beginning. Adam and Eve had everything, including a nature like God’s. Then came “The Fall”, (and I don’t mean the season of Autumn). All humanity now lives under the influence of sin.

Since that time, human nature no longer reflects God's nature. It takes a life-changing experience with Jesus to bring our sinful human nature under God’s influence. Galatians 5:24-25 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires. The Spirit has given us life; He must also control our lives.”

God’s Word says that when we wholeheartedly trust in Jesus we receive His Spirit and gradually become more and more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18).

When I look at other believers, I CAN see something of the nature of God! What I have learned about God from other Christians? Quite a lot, actually!

God shows intense compassion and heart-felt empathy.
God gets fiercely angry yet offers infinite patience.
God displays awesome creativity and mind-boggling intelligence.
God gives unconditional love and unending understanding.
God possesses infinite wisdom and soul-bearing insight.
God is completely sincere and reliably dependable.
God draws us in close and is eternally present.

Proverbs 27:17 reminds us, "People learn from one another, just as iron sharpens iron." Let's consider today what our words and actions are teaching others about God.

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


CDH, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, is a birth defect that I never heard of till about 18 months ago. CDH occurs when the diaphragm does not form properly and some or all parts of the abdominal organs (stomach, spleen, intestine and/or liver) move into the chest, affecting the development of the lungs and heart.

A week ago my cousin Jeremy and his wife Roxanne delivered their second daughter, Lilly. Lilly has CDH and is fighting a hard battle. Sadly, her older sister, Briella, born with CDH one year ago, lived just 45 minutes. Doctors say there is only a 2% chance CDH happens more than once in a family. And yet, it has. We covet your prayers for Lilly, Roxanne, and Jeremy.

Lilly is responding well to ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation), a procedure that uses a machine to take over the work of the lungs and sometimes the heart. This past weekend she was more alert and wiggly, stretching her legs out, opening and closing her hand, holding on to her mommy’s finger. Her vitals, blood work, and EEG are good. She got her hair washed and had oral care with her mommy's milk!

Lilly’s family is full of hope for this little one. They believe in the power of prayer and the love of God, as do we. Each day is a gift for which we thank God. Lilly will be facing major surgeries and uphill battles in the future. I can’t even imagine the stress and strain on her parents.

Dick and I know from experience what a difference prayer makes when going through trials and challenges. Please join us in fervent prayer for Lilly, Roxanne, and Jeremy, and a chorus of praise for the One who loves her most.

“You are helping us by praying for us.” 2 Corinthians 1:11

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Worry or Concern?

How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy-hearted?
I may be very much at peace, happy.
Equally, I may be frustrated, worried or angry.
I acknowledge how I really am.
It is the real me that the Lord loves. (from

How AM I really feeling? A few situations near and dear to my heart immediately pop into my mind. As I examine these feelings I wonder, Am I concerned or am I worried?

Is there a difference? To me, concern is a healthy interest in an actual matter of importance. On the other hand, worry is an unhealthy anxiety over a matter that is merely a potential.

When I am concerned about a situation, I am able to see the facts involved and admit there is a problem that needs remedied. Though the situation may cause me hurt, fear, or anger, I am able to pray about it, do what I sense God calling me to do, and then I can let go of what I am powerless to change. There is nothing wrong with having concerns—we all have them. There is no sin in admitting that problems weigh on our minds and hearts.

However, when I am worried, my assessment of the situation is distorted. I make a mountain out of a mole hill. I feel desperate and frustrated, and though I try to pray, my mind just keeps repeating the what ifs, like a scratch in a phonographrecord above, causing the needle to skip back to the same groove and play it over and over. I feel paralyzed by fear and can’t seem to release the situation into God’s hands.

Can anybody here relate? So how do we move from worry to concern? What does God’s Word advise? offers 15 Bible Verses About Worry and Anxiety where we can find comfort and peace by meditating on God’s Word and casting our cares upon Jesus! Here are just a few of my favorites:

  • “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
  • “Cast all your anxieties on Him for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
  • “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid for You are with me. Psalm 23:4

An eye-opener for me was realizing that most worry is a failure to genuinely trust in God’s love for me. David Peach in his article, “How to Stop Worrying: 7 Tips for Christians”, says, “Worrying sends a message to ourselves and those around us that we are helpless and have nowhere to turn.”

That, quite simply, is not true!

We are not without help; As Christians we have Someone to turn to!

The Bible clearly teaches that Christians are not to worry. We can move from worry to concern by taking Philippians 4:6 to heart, “Do not be anxious [do not worry] about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Ready to move from worry to concern?

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Don't Be Afraid of Pruning

photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens

“Don’t be afraid to prune these back to where you see new growth. They’ll come back better than ever,” Diane, the greenhouse supervisor told me. Although I know next to nothing about plants, I volunteered to help out in the greenhouse at The Lands at Hillside Farm, (where I regularly work in the Mercantile). Hence, my recent posts connected to gardening. J

I figured maybe I would learn something by volunteering—and I was right. I am learning plenty—though not all of it is about plants.

For the last few weeks I have been taking each of the perennials we sell at Hillside and pruning off dead leaves, stems, twigs, and drooping blossoms. Some only required a snip here and a pinch there to bring them back to optimum growing conditions. Others needed pruned back almost level with the soil before I found evidence of healthy growth. Several had over-extended themselves, necessitating a cut back so the plant could build stronger roots and stems for support. A few were dried up and wilted, spent for the season.

As I worked I realized that spiritually, I am like those plants. Sometimes I try to juggle too many things, over-extending myself, and nothing that I do receives my best. And other times, avenues that I have previously found helpful have become dead ends and now leave my spirit dry and thirsty.

These circumstances require pruning—like backing off from busyness, for even those things that appear to be spiritual in nature can become draining when I am doing, doing, doing; or curtailing activities that take me nowhere spiritually, such as over-used devotional routines or prayer practices that no longer provide a meaningful connection to Jesus.

How do we go about this kind of spiritual pruning? We let God do it during quiet times with Him. Joe Paprocki in 7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness says, “Practice an extended period of private prayer, reflection, meditation, pondering, percolating—whatever you want to call it. But do something on a regular basis to engage in a conscious dialogue with your inner self and with God. If every waking moment is crowded with input and stimulation, your soul’s voice is being drowned out. You’ll eventually begin to experience spiritual numbness . . . a blasé feeling. Without prayer, you run the risk of avoiding issues that may lead you to self-destructive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Like dead-heading flowers or trimming spent branches, let’s cut back to where spiritual growth happens. Don’t be afraid! With the Master Gardener doing the pruning we’ll come back better than ever!

Jesus said, “[God] cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”—John 15:2

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tending the Garden

photo by Pam Williams

As I spun the tall rack holding packet after packet of flower seeds, I suddenly spotted the one I wanted—Four O’clocks. The picture on the front of the package showed blooms in a variety of pastel colors covering tall willowy stalks. I couldn’t wait to plant them.

I carefully weeded and sifted the rocks from the area where I wanted the flowers to grow. When the soil was prepared I dug a little trench and put in the seeds. I watered them faithfully, and after about two weeks the seeds germinated and tiny plants appeared. Around mid-summer colorful trumpet-shaped blooms popped open around 4:00, just like their name indicates, although for some reason, mine bloomed at 4:00 AM and closed up by 4:00 PM).

After a few weeks of blooms, I noticed small green pods holding plump, bomb-shaped black seeds eager to roll out of their little nests. I didn’t know that Four O’clocks yielded such an abundant harvest of seeds for planting next year. Every day I go out and gather them up. You can see how many I have collected so far. I sowed just a handful of seeds at the beginning of the season, but have reaped many times that over the past weeks.

Recently I was reading the parable Jesus told about the sower in Mark 4. Verse eight says, “Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times."

What constitutes “good soil”? What elements are necessary for plants to flower or bear fruit? According to, seeds need proper placement (meaning the light, nutrition, and drainage are optimum), pollination, pruning and patience. Naturally, I thought of the Four O’clock seeds. They definitely love the light and the soil content where they are planted. I have watered them thoroughly when rain was scarce. thinned out the plants when they first came up, kept their space weeded, and plucked off the spent blooms. I am so pleased with the return for my efforts—the profusion of beautiful flowers and the copious amount of seeds I am collecting.

As the story and my experience with the Four O’clocks intertwined in my thoughts, I began to see the
correlation. My spiritual harvest is dependent on conditions that are very similar to those of my Four O’clocks.  My spiritual growth requires the light and nutrition of God’s Word daily. Prayer will help me to examine my soul and weed out those influences that choke Jesus out and prune those habits and thought patterns that are inconsistent with His teachings. For my spiritual life to blossom and bloom, I must tend the garden of my soul in much the same way that I tend my flower garden. When I do, others will be attracted to Jesus, like the bees and butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to my Four O’clocks. And the harvest will be more followers of Jesus!

Hmmm. I think my spiritual garden could use a little more attention. How about yours?

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

As the Seasons Change

Photo by Pam Williams

Acts 17:26b-27 “God has given us the seasons of the year and the boundaries within which to live. God has done this so that we would look for him, somehow reach for him, and find him. In fact, he is never far from any one of us.”

The days are getting shorter. The seasons are changing. Summer is coming to an end. In less than two weeks it will officially be Autumn. Each season offers its own beauty, revealing the awesome imagination of God.

Why did God bother to make the world so interesting and thought-provoking? Acts 17 offers us the answer: “God has done this so that we would look for him, somehow reach for him, and find him.”

God wants us to seek him and to find him. He makes his presence known in obvious ways as the seasons change so that we have don’t have to look very far in order to see his workmanship and to recognize whose creation we are observing.

For me, Autumn shows many signs of God’s presence:
  • Who, other than God, tells the birds to gather into flocks for a long journey? Who beckons them south, where food is more plentiful and temperatures more moderate?
  • Who, other than God, bids the plants to drop their seeds before the ground freezes so that they can be buried in the soil over the winter, ready to sprout in the spring?
  • Who, other than God, causes the birds and animals to shed their bright, summer coats for warmer, subtler shades that offer protection not only from cold, but from predators?
  • Who, other than God, offers all of creation the time to wind down, to slow production, in preparation for a few months of much-needed dormancy and recovery?
  • Who, other than God, could create such beautiful colors and fragrances and sounds—the myriad of changing leaves, the delicious smell of ripe grapes and crisp apples, the crunch of pine needles and dried leaves underfoot?

 God is here. Let’s not miss the evidence of his presence.

How do you see God in the changes from Summer to Autumn?

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Raising Children

It’s a difficult world and time in which to raise children. So many conflicting “words of advice” bombard us from both reliable and dubious sources. Where do we turn for the truth?

God’s Word never fails. Within the pages of the Bible are many proven truths. When it comes to parenting, I find the wisdom book of Proverbs to be an excellent source of guidance.

These Proverbs stem from the basic premise that parents deeply and sacrificially love their children and want what is best for them. (Sadly, that is not always the case today.) But knowing what that best is can be quite a challenge. Since children are not born with a “manual” attached, I simply offer these tried and true Proverbs as words of encouragement:

·       Proverbs 1:9 A parent’s wise teaching will improve a child’s character.
·       Proverbs 6:22-23 A parent’s teaching will lead children when they travel, protect them at night, and advise them during the day. Parents’ instructions are a shining light; their correction can teach children how to live.
·       Proverbs 13:24b If you love your children, you will correct them.
·       Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up.
·       Proverbs 18:21 What you say can preserve life or destroy it.
·       Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your children while they are young.
·       Proverbs 22:6 Teach a child how he should live and he will remember it all his life.
·       Proverbs 22:15 All children do foolish things, but firm correction will make them change.
·       Proverbs 23:26 Our lives are our children’s examples.
·       Proverbs 27:15 Nagging is like water going drip-drip-drip on a rainy day.
·       Proverbs 29:15 Correction and discipline are good for children.

When my children were growing up, I remember praying and seeking guidance for how best to raise them. What words of wisdom from God’s Word would you offer fellow parents today?

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams