Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Handbell Practice

“Grant, O Lord, that I may be
conscious and grateful
for all the good things
you have given to me.”

Sometimes it takes three years to fully recognize a blessing.

In the midst of handbell practice this week, it suddenly hit me what a blessing it was to be able to play the bells again. It is a music ministry that I love and have joined in several of our churches. But in 2015, I was forced to give it up.

Our church at the time had a fledgling handbell choir. We debuted earlier that year and then had taken the summer off. In the meantime, my doctors discovered I had breast cancer and I underwent surgery and followed up with chemotherapy.

When September rolled around, although still undergoing treatment, I eagerly attended our first handbell practice of the season. To my dismay, I quickly learned that I needed to take a hiatus from my involvement in the bell choir. When you are playing the bells, and your notes end, you bring the bells up and dampen them on both sides of the upper part of your chest.

My chemotherapy required a port implanted in the upper part of my chest on the right side, like a cap from a water bottle just under the skin. My upper left side was still a strange mix of tender/numb from the surgery. So, when I dampened my bells, I felt immediate discomfort on both sides. I tried to adjust my playing technique around the port and the surgery scars, but couldn’t find a way to do that and still concentrate on the notes I was to play. I reluctantly took an extended leave of absence from playing the bells. In the meantime, our handbell choir dissolved.

I missed the comradery and the joy of being part of an instrument of praise. So, when we learned we were moving, I was thrilled to hear that our new church had a bell choir—and needed a few ringers!

This week, as I stood at the table with my fellow bell ringers, God gently but powerfully reminded me of how far He has brought me in the last three years. My heart flooded with thanksgiving for the blessing of playing the bells again, pain-free.

Be encouraged!

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

The joy of Grandkids!

Our annual family photo after a great week spent together!

Pre-Thanksgiving Get-Together with extended family!

So many blessings! No words needed!

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Hit the Switch

I have a colorful bruise along the side of my knee. Very early the other morning, while it was still dark, I was making my way through the living room without turning on any lights. Suddenly I tripped over the edge of our area rug and rammed smack into the coffee table. It would have been much wiser to turn on a lamp.

Banging my knee while traipsing through the house in the dark turned out to be painful physically, but many of us are traversing a much more dangerous path with far greater disastrous consequences—walking around in the dark spiritually when we don’t have to be!

Psalm 119:105 says God’s Word is a lamp to guide us and a light for our path. God has given us a spiritual nightlight, yet, even those of us who are Christians continue to try to navigate life in the dark! We strain our eyes to see where we should be going, what we should be saying, how we should be acting, when God has handed us His flashlight! We just need to turn it on!

The Bible is full of insights, wisdom, warning signals, and directional arrows for right living. (2 Timothy 3:16) No, we may not find “Buy that new, red Jeep Cherokee” spelled out, but we will find wisdom to help us make good, thought-out decisions. Although there is no verse that says, “Take your curmudgeon neighbor a pumpkin pie next week,” the Bible is full of guidelines for right behavior.

As we read God’s Word, His Holy Spirit will highlight passages, shine a spotlight on certain verses, and give us those “lightbulb” moments of understanding and application that we need. (john 14:26) But it won’t happen unless we “hit the switch” by opening the book and reading the words.

Believe me, my bruised knee has taught me to turn on a light or plug in a nightlight before wandering through the house at night. Likewise, let us open God’s Word and let His light guide and direct us each and every day, rather than stumbling through life tripping over our own limited understanding and stumbling up against the consequences of unwise decisions.

Be encouraged!

©2018 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Above the Fray

“Why are some people so mean?” the young woman tearfully asked. Two co-workers at a new job were going out of their way to make things difficult. At the same time, she was going through a painful divorce. To top it off, the fallout from the broken marriage was affecting friendships she had thought could be counted on.

“I made such a fool of myself,” she lamented, referring to a specific episode when, out of hurt and anger she said and did things she immediately regretted.

“You also did the right thing afterward,” I encouraged her. “You swiftly apologized, both to the ones you lashed out at and to those who witnessed the incident.”

“I just don’t get it,” she said. “Ever since I have committed my life to Christ, people who I thought were my friends have turned on me.”

Many Christians have been confronted by challenges like this person is facing, I think we are fighting a battle on two fronts—personal and spiritual. When others attack us, whether in words or actions, they not only want to hurt us emotionally, they also want to prove that Christianity is a bunch of hooey that doesn’t make a lick of difference in a person’s life.

People tried to hurt and discredit Jesus, and they want to do the same to us as Christians today. If they can do that, then they don’t have to accept Jesus’ teachings or change their behavior. They will do anything they can to goad us into breaking down and behaving just like them.

On our own, we do not have the strength to hold up under pressure like that. But, as Philippians 4:13 promises, we can do ALL things through Christ, including control our reactions.

As arrogant as it sounds, in volatile situations like this young woman’s, I try to take a step back and remind myself, I am the better person; I do not have to respond in the same hurtful way. Why? Not because I am by any means superior, but because, as a Christian, I have the Holy Spirit inside me, Christ beside me, and the Father watching over me. That is where my power to rise above the fray comes from.

“How very great is [God’s] power at work in us who believe. This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength which he used when he raised Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world.” (Ephesians 1:19-20) Now that’s power to overcome!

Be encouraged!

©2018 Pamela D. Williams