Friday, January 1, 2010

When God Smiles

By Beverly Hill McKinney

“Hey honey, you have a letter”, my husband, Jim said as he handed me the morning mail.
Since we retired and moved to Oregon, the daily mail delivery is a highlight. I enjoy emails and phone calls but getting a letter is a high point.

As Jim handed me the letter, I noticed it was addressed to “Grandma and Grandpa.” I immediately knew it was from our eight-year-old grandson, Jacob. Tearing open the envelope, I pulled out two sheets of paper. One was a letter to me and the other a drawing.

I carefully unfolded the letter and in giant script it read, “Grandma, I want to come visit you because you are my best friend. I love you, Jacob.”

The attached drawing was a mother hen and her baby chicks. The caption read, “To Grandma” with arrows pointing to the mother hen with the words “grown” next to it and arrows to the chicks with “babies”. The picture was special to me as it brought back memories of our visit to a petting farm when Jacob and our daughter came for a visit last year. Jacob lives in Southern California and does not get to see farm animals often. He enjoyed the miniature goats, the llamas and especially the ride on the horse, Doctor Pepper.

Looking at both these pages, I smiled at the love they conveyed. Thinking of him at his desk with his top teeth clamping his bottom lip, I felt such instant love for this child.

When I thought about the effort that went into the contents of that envelope, I thought how God must smile at us, his children, when we send love letters to Him. With our every prayer, we are telling him how much we love Him. Whether a whispered prayer on the go or a time spent in sweet fellowship with Him, it reflects our love for our best friend. Although just a simple letter, it is a lesson to us in how we can show greater love to our Savior.

Jacob’s letter did not ask for anything. He simply told me he loved me and I was his best friend. How often we approach our Lord and immediately begin our laundry list of things we need but forget to just sit in His presence and love Him for who He is, not asking for anything but being with Him. Yes, I do send things to Jacob as small “surprises” but his letter to me felt like he just wanted to sit in my lap and enjoy my presence.

Jacob also stated he wanted to come see me. Are we looking forward to our times of fellowship with the Lord or is it drudgery to spent time with our Friend? One of the highlights of Jacob’s visit each year is the time he and I spend in the patio swing and just talk together bringing each other up to date on what we have been doing. His quiet laughter and sharing are special both of us.

The other thing Jacob tells me in his letter is that he loves me. How many times in the day do we tell the Lord that we love him? God showed his love for us by sending his Son to die for us. Yet, do we stop and tell the one who died for us how much we love Him for loving us so much?
The picture Jacob drew also brought back memories. That day spent at the petting farm was a special time for us. Enjoying God’s creatures and seeing and petting newborn baby goats helped us to realize what a wonderful world God has given us. That day was a highlight of Jacob’s visit and he remembered the fun we had.

Our lives are a picture for our Lord of either happiness and contentment or discontent and unrest. If we were to draw a picture for God would we draw a beautiful picture, carefully showing how much He has done in our lives? Or would our picture be dark with despair and regrets for those times we have failed Him?

The Bible tells us how much the Lord loved children. He enjoyed spending time with them and wanting them to sit with him and love him. We are God’s children and we can either tell Him how much we love Him and the blessings He has given us, or spent the time with Him complaining about all the burdens we bear through our life.

In Matthew 18:3 (NIV) we are told that unless we become like children, we cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven. May we become as little children and enjoy the blessings and excitement of the life God has given us, daily spending time in His presence, loving Him, and just wanting to be with Him. As we praise Him, love Him and look forward to spending eternity with Him, I am sure God smiles.

Make Piles of Papers and Magazines Disappear: Steps You Can Take to Conquer Clutter

By Eileen Koff

Reduce Junk Mail
It’s not the mailman’s fault! Stop the junk mail from coming into your home forever. You can fight back. There are many services to help you eliminate junk mail on the internet. Some provide a free service. For example, go to It will only cost you time, recording unwanted catalogue titles and other unwanted mail. Or, for a small fee, you can go and they will take your information and do it for you

Give Your Papers a Home
Many times paper piles accumulate because they have no home. Current papers that come into the home such as bills, upcoming events, information that belongs to someone else and items that need reviewing for decisions are just a few categories for incoming papers.

Desktop File for Action Items
Give those papers a home by using a desktop file system. A desktop file can be purchased at,, or at your favorite office product store. Their main purpose is to keep all action-oriented files in one neat and accessible place so that you aren’t hunting for papers beneath mountains of piles.

For example, if you have five envelopes in your mailbox- two are bills, one is an invitation for a birthday party, one is a school-related item for your daughter and one goes to your husband for review, you can quickly organize them with your desktop system. Set up a file labeled for each related item. The bills will be housed in your bill folder, your up-coming event will be housed in a folder called “Events,” your daughters’ school information will be housed in a folder with her name on it, and any information needing your husband’s attention will be housed in his folder with his name.

Remember, these are NOT resource files, but an action system that is to contain only those things that are action oriented or those things that need your immediate attention. My clients create what I call a “hot” red folder for any action that must be completed within a 24-48 hour period. The key is to remember to use your system everyday. This maintains the inflow and output of your folders, insuring that your items receive daily attention.

Warranties and Instructions

Most of my clients have bulging file cabinets because their warranty and instruction manuals are placed there. I recommend getting a file tote instead. Find a decorative tote in which you can customize the labels. Go room by room and find all the items that have warranty information.
For example, in your den you may have a TV, stereo equipment, DVD and gaming equipment. Label a section in your tote “Den.” File all warranty and instruction information for each product under the specific room, not under what the item is. A filing system works well when information is easily accessible and retrievable.

To learn more on paper management, contact Eileen at

Biblical Resolutions

By Mindy Ferguson

Are you planning to make any resolutions this New Year’s Eve? I must confess, New Year’s resolutions have never really been my thing. But, as I prayed about the coming year, I sensed the Spirit’s prompting to research a few of the resolutions that are recorded in Scripture. I think you’ll be as challenged as I was by what has become my list of Resolutions:

Resolve to Inquire of the Lord

The first resolution I came upon was Jehoshaphat’s resolution to inquire of the Lord. Jehoshaphat was told that a vast army was coming to make war against him. But before he ever rallied his troops or formulated a battle plan, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all of Judah (2 Chronicles 20:3). The people gathered together and Jehoshaphat prayed earnestly before the entire assembly. He ended his prayer by declaring to the Lord, We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you (v.12).
Undoubtedly the year ahead will, for many of us, bring about situations for which we have no answers. But regardless what struggles lay ahead, we can take comfort in the fact that our God sees our need (Genesis 16:13), hears our cries (1 John 5:14), and knows us intimately (Psalm 139:1). He is never caught by surprise or left without a plan. When we don’t know what to do or where to step, we can resolve to inquire of the Lord and fix our eyes upon Him as Jehoshaphat did.

Resolve to Guard My Mouth From Sin

The second resolution I found is a challenging one. In Psalm 17:3, King David resolved that his mouth would not sin. Can you think of any words that you said this past year that you wish you could take back? Ephesians 4:29 tells us, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. It’s a lofty goal, but even if we fail from time to time, just imagine the impact we can have on the people around us if we will choose to say only those words that will build up or benefit others. It is an aspiration that is well worth the effort.

Resolve to Guard My Purity

The third resolution I discovered was Daniel’s resolution to keep himself pure. When Daniel made that resolution, he was surrounded by a culture that was replete with idol worship and completely opposed to the standards of the God of Israel. But Daniel resolved not to defile himself (Daniel 1:8).

Sadly, our society is growing more and more opposed to the standards outlined in God’s Word. We are bombarded by images on our televisions or movie screens that threaten to desensitize us to evil, immorality, and violence. Lines are being blurred and boundaries are being crossed. But Romans 12:2 warns us not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. We are to be distinctive and committed to purity. We can’t always control our culture, but like Daniel, we do not have to allow our culture to control us.

Resolve to Keep Jesus as my Primary Focus

The final resolution is my favorite. The Apostle Paul resolved to keep his focus on Jesus. As Paul reflected on his ministry in the city of Corinth, he said, “For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2 AMP).
It was Paul’s passion to wholeheartedly keep his focus on being acquainted with, displaying the knowledge of, and being conscious of our glorious Savoir. What greater resolution could there be?!!
So I challenge you to join me in making these four New Year’s Resolutions. Display them where you will see them often. Pray often and confess when you fail. I pray you have a blessed and resolute new year.

Learn more about author Mindy Ferguson at