Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Lessons from Children

photo by Bill

“Uh-oh. There’s a group of school kids headed our way,” I whispered to my husband Dick as we stood watching the otters at the Brookgreen Gardens zoo. “These critters will hide for sure.”

We savored our last few minutes of quietly watching the otters lazily swimming in the stream  and lounging on the bank. Both seemed completely oblivious to our presence.

We were soon surrounded by about 20 children under age seven, all clamoring to get to as close to the wooden rail as possible. They loudly exclaimed in wonder when they spotted the slick furred animals.

Imagine our surprise when the otters, rather than retreating to their hidden den, started performing! They swam as close to the kids as possible, diving and leaping with abandon. And each time they surfaced, they checked to make sure the children were still watching!

Dick and I just looked at each other in wonder. The otters certainly didn’t react the way we expected. They loved the children!

Later, we meandered down a path indicating barnyard animals ahead. Although it was nearly one o’clock in the afternoon, we could hear the rooster in the chicken enclosure crowing.

“That rooster’s timing is a bit off,” I said with a chuckle. As we got closer we heard several little boys trying their best to imitate the “Cock-a-doodle-do”. The rooster loved it! He was answering the children! Again, it was not the reaction to the children that Dick and I expected.
Dominique Rooster


Later, as we talked about our zoo visit, Dick said, “You know, it reminded me of when the people brought children to Jesus. The disciples thought He wouldn’t want to be bothered and rebuked the ones who brought them. They were surprised when, instead, Jesus welcomed the kids and said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” (Matthew 19:13)

Adults often see children as the ones who need teaching, but Jesus saw them as teachers and examples. In Matthew 18, we read how Jesus called a little child to stand among the people and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself, like this little child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. . . “

Matthew 21 tells us, “The chief priests and scribes were indignant when they saw the wonders [Jesus] did and the children shouting in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’

‘Do you hear what these children are saying?’ they asked.

‘Yes!’ Jesus answered, ‘Have you never read the Scripture (Psalm 8:2) that says from the mouths of children and infants You have ordained praise?’”

I admit, there have been times, especially when my children were still at home, when I have dreaded a child’s presence (that of my own children or the children of others), ignored his/her behavior, failed to consider what they were thinking, or dismissed what they said. According to Jesus, by doing so, I have most likely missed out on valuable spiritual and life lessons from God.

Our experience at the Brookgreen Garden Zoo taught me I should express my always appreciation. The children’s exuberant enthusiasm for what they saw actually pleased the animals and prompted them to perform even more. Wouldn’t we get the same reaction from people if we let them know we noticed they did a good job?

What has God taught you through a child?

Be encouraged!
Pam

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

My Dear Watson


We are on vacation this week. Dick and I are looking forward to the time to relax and re-charge before our upcoming move. I will miss our cat Watson though. He is never too far away from me, whether I am folding laundry, sleeping, or even running the vacuum (yes, he likes to have the vacuum run on him!) I want to share a story with you about Watson, that was published in I Love Cats magazine, along with Watson’s picture on the cover. He is one very special cat.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Williams. The biopsy shows cancer,” the surgeon said. “You have a couple of treatment options, but we want to get started right away as this is an aggressive form of cancer.

Stunned, I suddenly found myself scheduled for surgery in ten days, followed by an appointment with an oncologist to discuss chemotherapy. My husband Dick and I held hands and walked to the car in silence.

We took things a day at a time. God’s people prayed, and October 13th I happily completed treatment and began regaining my strength.

During the four months that I underwent chemotherapy, our cat Baxter exhibited more and more episodes with his heart. We had known for several years that he had a heart murmur, but his symptoms were increasing significantly. Selfishly, I prayed I wouldn’t lose him during that time. I didn’t think I could stand the heart-break.

Three weeks after my last chemotherapy treatment, Baxter passed away in his sleep. It was as if he were holding on just for me, and now could finally let go.

I wasn’t sure I wanted another cat—or any other pet for that matter. Loving and losing wrenched my heart. Yet, our house seemed so empty and quiet with no one to greet us when we came home or to snuggle with us on the couch.

I started looking online at the local rescues. Dick wanted a young cat that we could train to walk on a leash and to ride in the car without getting stressed.

During a trip to our nearby SPCA, while Dick checked out the kittens, I visited with the adult cats. A volunteer was walking around with a cat in her arms. He was huge, had medium length hair, and was a total love bug wrapped in luxuriously soft fur. Trouble was, he was no kitten; he was eight years old. According to the shelter’s intake report, he had been a stray for five years.

I asked to hold him and walked around the room carrying him. He gazed at me with the most, soulful, wise eyes I had ever seen. And his purr rivaled the vibration of a passing freight train.

Watson was everything I needed in a cat at that moment—an armful of comforting love who welcomed my kisses with a contented squeeze of his big, beautiful sea-green eyes and a gentle pat on my chin from his huge paw. An old softy, Dick set aside his kitten-dream and consented to take the older cat home with us.

I have never fallen so hard and fast in love with a pet. Watson fit into our household immediately—it was like he had been ours since his birth! He brought us much laughter with his obsession with running water, his ability to contort his body into the most uncomfortable-looking positions and fall asleep, and the way he loved to lay on his back directly under the ceiling fan, front paws reaching back over his head, his back legs stretched out straight. I couldn’t resist rubbing his downy belly.

Immediately, Watson became a champion lap cat and constant companion, wanting to be with me wherever that might be—making the bed, cooking supper, or working at my computer. We took picture after picture of him—riding in the car, “helping” me bead bracelets, sitting on the warm clothes in the dryer—and posted them on Facebook. Our friends and family loved keeping up with the antics of our new cat.

Within a week we scheduled a routine vet check. We informed the vet tech that Watson’s breath was very stinky and he had an odd habit of grinding his teeth. I figured he needed his teeth cleaned, just like my last two cats did when they reached his age.

I was stunned when the vet said, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Williams. Watson has a growth under his tongue that appears to be a squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer is treatment resistant and surgery isn’t always an option.”

Feeling like a boxer had delivered us a one-two punch, Dick and I left the office with an appointment to bring Watson back in a few days to be sedated in order to get a better view of the growth.

An hour after we delivered Watson to the veterinary hospital, I received a phone call from the vet. “Pam, I think while we have Watson sedated we should remove the tumor. I am fairly certain I can get good margins around the growth. There is a very good chance this will prolong his life. Please consider it. I can’t not try.”

I immediately gave the vet the go ahead. Eight hours later, we picked Watson up and brought him home. In four days he was eating his regular dry cat food and playing with abandon! No one would even know he had surgery!

Over two years later, Watson continues to both entertain and love on us—a perfect combination. We may have walked into the shelter with our own ideas of what cat we wanted, but I feel God knew which one we needed—and which one needed us. Watson and I have bonded, perhaps in part, because we have defeated a common enemy—cancer.

Blessings!
Pam Williams

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Peace and Forgiveness

Merli Sarnosky Park, PA
Photo by Pam Williams

Merriam-Webster defines Peace as:
  1. a state of tranquility or quiet, as in freedom from civil disturbance
  2. freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
  3. harmony in personal relations
  4. a state or period of mutual concord between governments
  5. a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or enmity
Everyone longs for peace, no matter which of Merriam-Webster’s five definitions we choose. Though we wish for them all, in actuality, peace, on many levels, seems quite illusive.

I recently read excerpts from Go in Peace, by Saint John Paul II. He shares keen insight into finding peace: “Real peace rests on mutual acceptance and a capacity to forgive from the heart. We all need to be forgiven by others, so we must all be ready to forgive. Asking and granting forgiveness is sometimes the only way out of situations marked by age-old and violent hatred.”

I don’t think I made the correlation between peace and forgiveness before reading those words, and yet, it makes perfect sense. Peace and forgiveness are inseparable partners.

Asking forgiveness requires that we be truthful with ourselves and others. Asking forgiveness demands humbly acknowledging our own failures and shortcomings. Neither of these is easy; but both are necessary for inner peace, as well as peace with others.

“If a brother or sister has something against you, go and be reconciled to them.”
(Matthew 5:23-24).

Granting forgiveness is just as hard. To rise above past hurts and injustices, calls for strength only God can give. However, by being truthful with ourselves, we realize we aren’t perfect either, enabling us to extend forgiveness and receive peace.

“Be kind to each other, sympathetic,
forgiving each other as God has forgiven you through Christ.”
Ephesians 4:32

Peace with others begins with forgiveness. Most importantly, forgiving others begins with our own forgiveness from God. If we want peace in our hearts, we need God’s forgiveness for the wrongs we have committed. Thankfully, God offers us that forgiveness freely and simply when we trust in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. All we need to do is ask Him (for more information); He will forgive us—and we will have peace with God—the greatest peace of all.

“Now that we have been put right with God through faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Romans 5:1

Be encouraged!
Pam

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Letting The Word Sink In


Growing up, my family attended St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. By the time I was in elementary school, I had the liturgy memorized. The words flowed out of me flawlessly, with no thought required on my part. I could mutter the phrases while simultaneously reviewing in my head what homework I still needed to do or daydreaming about my afternoon plans with friends. Unfortunately, I never allowed God to speak to me through the oft-repeated words.

In our mid-twenties, my husband and I finally tuned in to God’s voice. We asked Jesus to forgive us for our sins and committed our lives to serving Him. Dick felt God calling him into ministry and over the next ten years completed all the schooling required to be ordained.

My aunt and uncle were still members at St. Luke’s. One Sunday during a time when they were without a pastor, my aunt asked Dick to fill in at their church. He readily agreed.

It had been years since I had even heard the Lutheran liturgy, let alone recited it myself, so I followed along in the hymnal. Though the words of the service were exactly the same, I had changed. They now struck a chord deep in my soul, expressing genuine, profound repentance. I suddenly was aware that the liturgy was directly from Scripture!

The Bible says that God’s Word will not fail to do what God plans for it. (Isaiah 55:11) Part of the Lutheran liturgy quotes Psalm 51:16-17 and remains firmly fixed in my mind: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”

As I let the words from the liturgy sink in, God’s Spirit made me aware that, at times, I was still having trouble trusting them. After letting God down in some way, I would try to regain His favor by “sacrificing” things like ease, money, or “stuff”. I attempted to make up for not responding as I should have, or for behaving in a way I shouldn’t have. In truth, those “sacrifices” never counteracted or substituted for doing what God desired in the first place.

Can you relate? Have you ever made promises to God, or offered a “sacrifice” of sorts, in the hopes that a situation will miraculously turn out better? The truth is, we all fall short, let God down, and fail to follow His lead.

So, what does He ask of us when we sin? Leaning on the Scripture found in the Lutheran liturgy, we are assured that God welcomes a contrite and broken heart—a sacrifice everyone can bring! John 1:9 reaffirms this truth for us. "If we confess our sins, God forgives them and cleanses us from everything we have done wrong." Admitting we have sinned, and wanting to turn away from that sin, is all He asks.

Be encouraged!

Pam

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Pencil in the Hand of God


Each one of us has received a special gift
in proportion to what Christ has given.
. . . He did this to prepare all God's people for the work of Christian service,
in order to build up the body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:7 and 12

In a 1989 interview with Edward Desmond of TIME, Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “I am like a little pencil in [God’s] hand. That is all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used.”

Have you ever felt like that—like a little pencil in the hand of God? That what you were doing wasn’t coming from you but from another, wiser source?

I love it when God does that! As a writer, I find that during those times, the words pour quickly from heart to fingers to page. I am as amazed as those who will one day read what I have jotted down. I have no choice but to acknowledge that it is God who is guiding the “pencil”.

According to Ephesians 4: 7 and 12, God gives each person a special gift to be used for the work of Christian service. And, He gives us a passion for that service that can’t easily be ignored.

Recently a blogger that I follow returned to writing after a long hiatus. Like many of us, life interrupted and her writing ministry derailed. But God continued nudging her, prompting her to pick up where she left off so He could speak through her posts. He wanted her to be His “pencil” again.

How has God called you to be the “little pencil” in His hand? My prayer is that you will feel the wonder and thrill of allowing Him to use you as His instrument of saving grace for searching souls.

Be encouraged!
Pam

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

It's All in How You Look at Things


“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Morgan: “Wow! Your prelude was beautiful!”
Chris: “Thanks, but I just couldn’t get in all the sixteenth notes at the end.”

Morgan: “The pastor’s sermon this morning really hit home with me.”
Chris: “Really? All I noticed was the thirteen times he said, ‘you know’.”

Morgan: “Look at the snow clinging to the trees and bushes! It’s a winter wonderland!”
Chris: “Ugh. I have to drive in this mess.”

In each of these instances, Morgan and Chris were subject to the exact same circumstances. However, what they took away from the experience was vastly different.

With whom do you more closely relate—Chris or Morgan? How we look at things, what we concentrate on, where our focus lies, affects our peace of mind, our faith in God, and our relationships with others.

The truth of Philippians 4:8 is summed up in the old adage, “It’s all in how you look at things.”

Take the example of my hairdresser, Mary, who recently lost her husband after a year-long battle with cancer. All through Joey’s diagnosis and treatment, Mary stood by his side, encouraging him and advocating for him. She was a tower of strength and faith.

When we express our sorrow over his loss, lamenting, “I know you were hoping for a miracle,” Mary smiles and says, “Oh, we got our miracle! In fact, God gave us several. Because the cancer was discovered early during an examination for another problem, we had an extra year with Joey. And, at the end of that year, when treatment was exhausted, it was only a matter of days till God called Joey home, freeing him from pain. That’s another miracle!”

Wouldn’t we all like to be more like Mary and Morgan, and less like Chris? How can we gain a more positive perspective? By living Philippians 4:8:

“In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.” (GNT)

Be encouraged!
Pam

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Right or Easy?


Recently I watched the Harry Potter movie, The Goblet of Fire. While I am neither advocating nor opposing the Harry Potter series, in this movie, Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts, shares a bit of wisdom, “There will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

I missed the next several minutes of the movie as I mulled over Dumbledore’s statement. It is a statement full of truth—in more ways than one, with many scriptures saying the same thing.

Multiple times in our lives, we are faced with the choice to do what is easy or to do what is right. It isn’t a once-and-for-all decision. Having to choose between what is right and what is easy is a facet of many of the decisions we must make. God encourages us not to become tired of doing good. (Galatians 6:9)

While choosing what is right isn’t ALWAYS difficult, sacrifice is OFTEN involved—and sacrifice is NOT easy. Jesus warns us, “If anyone wants to follow after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)

Sometimes doing what is right even involves suffering. But, let us keep in mind what 1 Peter 3:17 says: “For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”

When we choose what is right over what is easy, we are following in Jesus’ footsteps. His choice to die on the cross for our sins certainly wasn’t the easy choice—but it was the right choice—the choice His Heavenly Father wanted him to choose.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “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.” When our hearts desire is to please God and follow Him, we can trust Him to show us what the “right” choice is, and will be with us, even when that choice is not the easy one.

Be encouraged!
Pam

PS I FINALLY got my comments box back!!!!

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Exceedingly Abundantly


I knew something was amiss. “We need to take a few more pictures, Mrs. Williams. Then the doctor would like to talk to you.”


All I could pray was, “Help me, Lord! Don’t let it be anything serious.”

But, as it turned out, it was serious—triple negative, aggressive breast cancer.

God didn’t answer my prayer the way I wanted—He did something even better. He taught me that I can trust Him. While I imagined a process riddled with fear, anxiety, and ghastly side effects, He brought me safely through with good health, a relationship with a team of compassionate doctors, and best of all, a story to share with others who are facing such a diagnosis. His answer was exceedingly abundantly above all that I asked or thought.

No matter whether our prayers are drawn-out and detailed or consist of nothing but the prayer I prayed in the imaging department, we have expectations of what a “good” answer will look like. What about when the outcome is NOT what we want? What about when the wisdom and excellence of His answer isn’t obvious?

Ephesians 3:20-21 assures us that no matter how well-intentioned our version of what God’s response to our prayers should be, His actual answer goes extraordinarily and lavishly beyond our wildest dreams.

Why? Scripture gives many reasons we can count on Ephesians 3:20-21:
  • God loves us. (1 John 3:1)
  • God has a plan. (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • God knows what we need. (Matthew 6:8b)
  • God is generous. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
  • God is powerful. (Ephesians 1:19-20)
  • God is good. (Psalm 119:68)
  • God’s ways are wiser; His thoughts are higher. (Isaiah 55:8-9)


When we pray, we can be assured that we are heard, we are loved, we are answered—in ways far beyond what our human minds can imagine. Isaiah 45:3 says,
I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches.
I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.
Isaiah 45:3
 So, when God doesn’t respond to our prayers in the way that we expect, let’s remind ourselves that He is working on an even better outcome than we are capable of visualizing, and give Him the praise and glory He deserves—even when we can’t see it yet!

Be encouraged!
Pam

Your thoughts on my posts are always welcome. If you would like to comment, you can do so on Facebook, Google+, or via my contact link below.

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Preparations


As we turned the corner from the hallway into the kitchen, Dick and I stopped short. I snapped the photo you see above—and looked over at Dick, wide-eyed.

When the trustees at Grace United Methodist Church, Lewistown, (where we will move in June), said they “re-doing” the kitchen, I pictured freshly painted cabinets and new linoleum. However, the kitchen will be completely transformed, including removing a wall and replacing the floor, appliances, and cabinets! We can hardly wait to see the finished project!

Preparations are being made all over the house—refinishing hardwood floors, addressing a radon problem, updating bathrooms, and painting walls. Dick and I are so excited that we will get to enjoy all these wonderful improvements!

An undertaking of this magnitude takes vision and commitment. Dick and I applaud the people of Grace UMC for being willing to invest so much time, effort, and funds into making their parsonage a lovely home where anyone would be thrilled to live.

As I thumbed through the pictures on my phone that I had snapped of the house and considered all the many preparations being made, I wondered, What am I doing to prepare myself for ministry at Grace UMC? How am I clearing the way for new and exciting movements of God within Grace church and within me?

Contemplating these questions, I realized there are ways I can prepare for the transition:
  • Reflect on all the wonderful ways God has walked with us in previous churches
  • Pray for the church members, the leadership, Dick, our neighbors, and myself
  • Learn all I can about the church and the area where we are moving
  • Plan ways to connect with church members and neighbors
  • Anticipate exciting new ministry opportunities

 Interestingly enough, this same list works for church members as they prepare for a new pastor!
  • Reflect on all the wonderful ways God has walked with you under previous pastors
  • Pray for the church members, the leadership, the new pastor, and yourself
  • Learn all you can about the pastor and his/her family
  • Plan ways to connect with the pastor and his/her family
  • Anticipate exciting new ministry opportunities

 What would you add to this list? How would you prepare for a pastoral change?

Be encouraged!

Pam

Your thoughts on my posts are always welcome. If you would like to comment, you can do so on Facebook, Google+, or via my contact link below.

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

God's Love Tester


Valentine’s Day—a day to celebrate the love in our lives. The love Dick and I share is probably the greatest love possible between two human beings. It is rock-solid, yet as beautiful and tender as the petals of an African violet.

The love between my children and me, and between my mother and me, deepens daily, even though we no longer live under the same roof. It changes and matures as we all grow a little older and a lot wiser.

For me, the love of friends fills in the gaps when family is too far away—whether physically or emotionally. A cup of tea and a few minutes to chat can ease the ache in our hearts, relieve our anxieties, and bring healing laughter.

However, the greatest love offered to us is the love of God. His love is greater than the sum total of all the earthly loves we have ever received. His love is pure, unconditional, and eternal.

Remember the Love Tester arcade game at the amusement park? For a quarter we grabbed its metal handle and the machine would “sense” the level of our affection. An arrow on the meter would waver back and forth and then indicate if we were “Blah” or “On Fire”. If God put His hand on the Love Tester, the indicator would fly right off the machine!

In 1 Corinthians 13, God offers us His own tester for love, describing the characteristics of true love:
  • Love is patient and kind.
  • Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
  • Love does not demand its own way.
  • Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
  • Love is never glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth.
  • Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

 When we compare what is touted as “love” today to God’s standards for measuring love, it certainly doesn’t raise the indicator arrow very far. What is the key to loving as God would have us love?

It all starts with a relationship with Him. God craves a real connection with us; but, since God is holy and we are sinful, the separation between us is huge. The good news is that God loves us so much He made a way for us to bridge that gap. On the cross, Jesus took on our sins and bore the punishment for them that we deserved! We now can live in fellowship with God! As we grow and mature in our relationship with God, He will equip and empower us to love others with the same characteristics of love He spelled out for us in 1 Corinthians 13.

Want to make this the best Valentine’s Day ever? Begin a relationship with God today and He will fill your heart to overflowing with love.

Be encouraged!
Pam

Your thoughts on my posts are always welcome. If you would like to comment, you can do so on Facebook, Google+, or via my contact link below.

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

We're Moving!


Three little words that I have heard often in my marriage still stir up a myriad of emotions: “We are moving!”

Beginning July 1, 2018, Dick will become the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Lewistown, PA. Lewistown is only 22 miles from Mt. Union, the town where Dick and I grew up. Many of my family members still live in the area, including my mom! So, I am elated!!!

At the same time, I am a bit nervous about getting to know so many new people, learning hundreds of names, familiarizing myself with the church’s ministries, establishing a new “normal”. Ambivalent feelings always accompany change.

As Dick and I anticipate starting a new appointment, I decided to remind myself of several Biblical promises that have held true for us over the years:

God always has a plan. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God is always with us. Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord himself will lead you and be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you, so do not lose courage or be afraid."

God always has a purpose for me, a job for me to do. Ephesian 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God always brings about good. Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Perhaps you, too, are facing a big change—a move, a new job, parenthood—and are feeling the same excitement, anxiety, joy, uncertainty that I have been. Take a few moments to ponder the Scriptures and allow God’s Word to speak peace into your heart and mind.

I KNOW God’s got this move and He’s got whatever you are facing, too.

Be encouraged,
Pam

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

While I cannot receive comments here, if you would like to share your thoughts on my post you can do so on Facebook, Google+, or via my contact form.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Signs of Love


While reading a devotional on the signs of God’s love for us, God reminded me of an interesting conversation I overheard during snack time as I was subbing in our church’s preschool.

“What are you making?” four-year-old Scarlett asked her classmate Hadley, pointing to the pretzel stick crosses Hadley was constructing from her snack.

“Crosses, like the one Jesus died on,” Hadley answered.

“Who is Jesus?” her friend asked with a puzzled look.

“Jesus is God’s Son. He loves us and died on the cross for our sins.”

Thinking back to that interaction between two four-year-old pre-schoolers, I realized, for Hadley, the cross is a sign of God’s love for her and for all people. Simple pretzel sticks reminded her of that truth.

As I continued my devotional time, I looked around for signs of God’s love.
  • I see my Bible. Next to salvation through Jesus, God’s greatest expression of His love is found in His Word. Many of the pictures on our walls share Scriptures, bearing witness to the fact of God’s love.
  • As the sun begins to shine on the barren trees out back, I noticed drops of water clinging like diamonds to the branches. Out of His love, God sent the rain that fell gently overnight—and the sunshine to brighten the gloomy landscape.
  • Throughout the room are little “projects” and conveniences Dick did just for me. His deep and abiding love constantly reminds me of how much God loves me.
  • Gifts from my husband, children, extended family, and friends bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart, reminding me that sometimes God shows His love through the arms and lips of flesh and blood.
  • My furry companion, Watson, lives in blissful and complete confidence that I will take care of him. His faith in my love for him is an inspiration, urging me to enjoy that same, unfailing trust in God’s love for me.

God really does love you and me—more that we can even imagine—with no limits and no conditions. His Word says so and I have found it to be true.
  • Psalm 136:26b God’s love is eternal.
  • Romans 5:8 God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!
  • Romans 8:38-39 For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Galatians 2:20b This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.
  • 1 John 3:1 See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God's children—and so, in fact, we are.

 What are the reminders in your life of God’s love for you?

Be encouraged!
Pam

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Although I cannot receive comments here, if you would like to share your thoughts, you can do so on Facebook, Google+, or my contact form. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Therefore, We Write


Lately, many of my blogging and writing friends seem to be struggling to “keep on keeping on.” I am facing that battle, too. We wrack our brains, week after week, to come up with “something to write about”. Many of us bloggers have been plugging along for five, seven, or even ten years! It takes a lot of effort and creativity to maintain a blog for that long. I admire those who can post more than once a week. Sometimes I feel as though I barely finish my woolgathering for my Wednesday post for this week and suddenly, here it is, Tuesday evening again—and I got nothin’! I don’t want to fill my blog with mere fluff or reposts. Oh no! What do I post?

Can you relate, my writer friends?

As I pondered this dilemma, I felt God nudging me to look back over the pieces I keep in a folder called “Works in Progress”. In it I found this poem I wrote as part of my blogging friend Arlee Bird’s 2011 A to Z Blogging Challenge.

God has called writers to witness to readers,
Through stories and poems . . . a book,
Of all that our Lord has done, saving us through His Son,
So to Him, each one will look.
Now by our wordsmithing, others to Christ we bring.
Spirit, please guide what we pen.
Choose us and use us and speak Your truth through us, Lord.
We want to serve You again.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

In this poem I see three reasons why Christian writers must write:

  • Writing is a calling, just like preaching is a calling. How do we know we are called? In an interview, John Piper, pastor and author said the following about the call to write, “It is a recurrent, not temporary; long-term, not short-lived; compelling, not merely interesting; benevolent, not selfish; Christ-exalting, not self-exalting desire to write, which proves fruitful in the lives of others.” Therefore, we write.
  • Writing is a witness, a means of sharing what God has done and is doing. Each and every one of us is called to share what God is doing. 1 Peter 2:9 says to the whole church, laity and clergy: "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." Therefore, we write.
  • Writing is a service, a way for us to serve God and our fellow inhabitants of this Earth. The world is hungry for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. —and we know the Source that can meet those needs! (Galatians 5:22-23) Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). Therefore, we write.

 When we step back and take a good look at our reasons for writing, the words begin to flow again. Inspiration seeps in from unlikely, unexpected places and we know the Source of our writing is nudging us to flip open our computers and post again.

Praying for each one of you as you navigate this holy calling to write for Jesus. Please continue to put your words out there for all of us to read and be drawn closer to God. Your words spark our faith, light fires of both comfort and courage, and fuel the hearts of your readers.

Be encouraged!
Pam

I have written a book of devotions specifically for writers, designed to inspire and re-kindle our ministry of writing. It is available from Crosslink by clicking on the icon to the right.

 ©2018 Pamela D. Williams Your thoughts on my posts are always welcome. If you would like to comment, you can do so on Facebook or Google+.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

White As Snow

"Come now, let's settle this," says the LORD.
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool.
Isaiah 1:18

We awoke to nearly seven inches of snow this morning! Everything is wearing a glistening white blanket. A snowy mantle covers the limbs of the trees, and their branches are adorned with cotton-like snowballs, transforming the drab and dreary winter landscape into a bright, glittering world.

School, church, and social events were cancelled. Facebook friends are sharing pictures from their back yards and comments are flying back and forth. Everyone seems to be talking about the snow.

In Isaiah 1:18, God talks about snow. He promises to take our depraved souls and make them as pure as new-fallen snow. How? God will forgive us for the wrongs we have done because Jesus took the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross. His sacrifice not only paid the price for our forgiveness, it cleanses our sin-stained souls to snow white.


The beautiful, pure-white snow has covered our area so that I can no longer see the dead flowers, brown grass, and leafless branches. Likewise, when trust in Jesus as the One who saved us from our sin, His forgiveness covers us. God no longer sees our failures and flaws. Instead He sees a beautiful heart, purified and ready to serve.

“If we confess our sins,
God is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9

Be encouraged!
Pam

 ©2018 Pamela D. Williams Your thoughts on my posts are always welcome. If you would like to comment, you can do so on Facebook or Google+.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Joy of Creating

Beading, beading, and more beading! As a way for me to fill winter’s hours, Dick bought me a bracelet beading kit for Christmas one year. Over the next month and a half, I made over 50 bracelets.

What I found most addicting about this hobby was the creative development. I loved gazing over my box of beads and cords and allowing ideas for patterns, color combinations, and braiding styles to percolate in my mind. The process brought a happy smile to my face. I experience even greater joy when I see someone wearing one of my bracelets!

Crafting bracelets has given me a tiny glimpse of the wonder and joy God must feel as He creates us. He shapes and forms us before we are born. (Psalm 139:13) He instills the traits, quirks and aptitudes that make me, me and you, you. Every person is unique—no two people look exactly alike, no two people share the exact same personality, no two people possess the exact same gifts, talents, and abilities.

Revelations 4:11 tells us “God has created all things, and for His pleasure they are and were created.” Ephesians 2:10 says, we are God’s masterpiece; He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

God made you; God made me. We were created for His pleasure. The best way for us to bring God the most pleasure is to seek to do the good He planned for us to do.

Be encouraged!
Pam

©2018 Pamela D. Williams Your thoughts on my posts are always welcome. If you would like to comment, you can do so on Facebook or Google+.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

On the Precipice


It looked like such fun as I seated myself on the sled at the top of the snowy hill. Fun quickly turned to fear as I careened down the steep grade, hanging on “for dear life” to the grips on the sides of the saucer. With nothing but a thin layer of plastic between me and the packed snow, my body jarred with every bump and hump along the slippery slope. I tried to control my descent by leaning first one direction and then the other, but only managed to make the ride more terrifying. As I approached the bottom, screaming at the top of my voice, the ground leveled off and the saucer gradually slowed. I rolled off, gasping my gratitude to be alive, panting with adrenaline and exertion.

Sometimes life can feel like that sled ride. As we stand at the precipice of a new year, many of us are thinking about the future. What will these 365 days hold? Some of us lean forward with anticipation; others hold back with dread.

We try our best to keep control of all the different aspects of our lives—finances, relationships, health—but some days we feel as out of control as I did that wintry afternoon, hurtling down the steep hill on a flimsy saucer.

But we don’t have to feel that way. Proverbs 16:9 says we make our plans but God directs our lives. When we submit to God, and truly believe that He is in control, we have the freedom to let go of our fears, anxieties, dread, and desperate need to be in charge. Someone Else is leading the way. Someone Else is responsible. And that powerful and loving Someone has a plan—a plan for peace and not disaster, plans to give us a future filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29: 11)

As we enter 2018, I pray that we can fully trust in God’s perfect plan for us. I pray that the Holy Spirit would enable us to sit back and enjoy the ride. And at the end, may we roll off with a loud “Whew! Thank you, Jesus!” as laughter bubbles up and spills out for all the world to see how great is our God!

Blessings!
Pam


©2018 Pamela D. Williams
Your thoughts on my posts are always welcome. If you would like to comment, you can do so by on Facebook or Google+.