Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

July 10, 2019

Greetings!
The sainted husband and I were on one of our many road trips when I thought about the days when road trips were quite the rarity.  Seems like now we are always going somewhere - however this wasn’t always the case! 
In his former life my husband worked in a job where he traveled all the time.  He had a company car and would climb into his vehicle first thing in the morning, go into the local office, get a list of the repair jobs he needed to accomplish that day and then off he would go on his appointed rounds.
These appointed rounds comprised half of the state of WV.  Interestingly enough when he first started this job he had the entire southern half of WV (and later was 'promoted' to the entire northern half of WV!)  This particular part of the state was full of challenges since this was an area that was just one mountain after another.  Up one mountain over 2 lane curvy roads, competing with large coal trucks that didn't understand curves or speed limits,  and down the other side of the mountain where in the valley would be a town of some sort - some very small and some small - that was pretty much it.  
All of these towns were laid out in valleys where you would have mountain sides on each side of town (all four sides…..), a row of businesses/houses whose back butted up against a mountain on one side of a road, a railroad track on the other side of the road and a creek beside the railroad track and then another mountain.  The businesses were slim pickens' as they usually consisted of a store of some type which carried a little bit of everything, a church, maybe a restaurant/diner, perhaps a lawyer and/or a doctor. The people who lived in these small WV towns were really nice people and liked this simple existence. 
The one building these towns  had in common was a bank and that is where the sainted husband would do his repair work on machinery that no longer exists because technology has quickly surpassed the old machines banks use to use!  No longer are microfilmers and the old style copiers something that is part of the responsibility of a bank employee.  
But not in those days - every bank had its microfilmer and someone had the job of standing by the microfilmer and scanning each check by hand in order for the bank to have records of all the checks that came through the bank. The microfilmers were hooked to copiers which would be used when a check needed a paper copy.  Sounds quite archaic doesn’t it as we think now about the teller who just runs the check through that little machine sitting on their desk and it is done!  But when these machines broke, the sainted husband was right there!
Now each of these small towns were pretty spread out and often it would take half a day to travel to one of the towns even though the mileage didn’t seem to be that far.  But when all your mileage is up a curvy side of a mountain behind a coal truck and down another curvy side of a mountain behind another coal truck time is much more the factor than mileage.  In fact one time a new supervisor took over and couldn’t figure out why the service men in southern WV were taking so long to do their jobs…  until he came down and did a ride along and quickly figured it out!
Even though practically the sainted husband could have stayed out overnight occasionally on these forays to these small towns literally isolated from much else which would have made the trips each day a little less driving, motels were rare and the few that were around had the appearance of No-Tell Motels or reminiscent of the Bates Motel (remember Psycho!) so spending the night out wasn’t often an option.  Occasionally he would find a nice one and would stay out in order to decrease some of the driving but that was pretty rare.
Needless to say his 1000 mile a month driving job resulted in our doing little driving fun places as a family on weekends.  Even if I was willing to drive, the thought for him of getting into a car and going somewhere just wasn’t that alluring!  “A bus driver’s holiday” he would call it when we suggested that we drove somewhere over the weekend…… 
God often calls us to do the very things for the church and for the mission of the church and for the work of Jesus Christ that we do all the time; that we do for our jobs.  How often does the church call on us to take on a task and our reaction is - “but I do that all week, can’t I do something else?”  
But think about it - if God gifted you with certain skills that you use for your employment - for the support of yourself and your family - wouldn’t it make sense to understand God wants you to use those same skills for the betterment of the church, for the work God has the church to do?  You do it for yourself and your family - now, God says,  do it for me….
Makes sense doesn’t it?
Amen!

DEVOTION June 26, 2019

Greetings!
The sainted husband bought a new car….. First real new car we have had - I can only think of one other really new car we have had over the last 40 some years and that car was a necessity because we needed a car whee there was plenty of room between the back seat and the back of the front seat!  We had two children (I wish we could say we had two children in car seats but when my two oldest children were babes and toddlers car seats were a luxury item that few people had.  Those of you who had little children during these years probably can relate to the ‘unsafe’ ways in which we ferried little ones around!)
Anyway, we had a small compact car - a Chevy Nova (not the big muscle car version of the Chevy Nova but the later model which had turned into a small, very small, family type car).  We did have a friend with the fast moving sporty Chevy Nova but while that would have been nice that just didn’t seem practical with two small ones…..
But it is true that small ones grow and we didn’t quite take that into consideration when we decided to take a family vacation and travel the journey from WV to Colorado to visit the sainted husband’s brother and his wife and of course to see the sights along the way  in the small little Chevy Nova. However, the sainted husband took off the halo during this trip because he went into ‘gotta get there’ mode and the sight seeing trip became a few and far between sight seeing trip.
We thought we were well prepared for a trip of that magnitude with two toddlers. We had snacks and books and (remember this was a whole bunch of years ago before tablets and internet and movie screens in the cars) I thought I had scored big time when I found a package which had a cassette player, books, headphones and an audio recording of those books on a cassette tape.  Bam!  A way to keep two toddlers occupied as we zoomed across the country….
And yes, for a good majority of the trip the cassette player/cassette tape/book/headphones entertainment system worked very well. Of course there were the few squabbles about who would liste to which book at what time and the inevitable "She's touching me" moments but not bad considering..... But what we did underestimate was the size of the car and the amount of space between the back of the front seat and the feet of the toddlers.  Now toddlers aren’t very big and we had two pretty small children size wise  and you would think there would be enough room for two tiny toddlers to sit on the back seat and not disturb the parents in the front seats…..
My husband has really long legs - I on the other hand have pretty short legs so we very carefully positioned the children so the one with the longest legs - the elder, the son - would sit behind the short legged me and the younger, the daughter - would sit behind the long legged husband.  We thought we had the thumbs up for smart parenting - right positions in the car, snacks, entertainment…..
But we did not take into account wiggly children in the small car….. entertained children will sit still won’t they?  Ha! you say - parent fail.  Even entertained children wiggle and entertained children strapped into seatbelts (yes even in the stone ages without car seats we did have seat belts!) only have certain parts of their bodies that can move freely - legs and feet.  So the entertained children spent most of the trip very well absorbed into their cassette player/cassette tape/book/headphones entertainment system - and kicking their legs.
Which meant that in this small car the kicking legs and feet connected on the back of the seats of the parents in the front seat over and over and over and over...... We took their shoes off… we stopped the car once and had a discussion….  And it wasn’t long until the “Quick kicking the seats!” became a futile endeavor - admittedly I gave up long before the haloless sainted husband but eventually it did happen and he drove a lot leaving forward so his back wasn’t against the pummeled car seat!  

It was a long trip in more ways than one.
How many times has God tried to get you to listen?  How many times has God tried to lead you to ways that are more productive in your life?  How many times has God stopped the car and had a ‘discussion’ with you?  
How many times have you paid attention to God’s message to you?  Or are we just like children with headphones absorbed in something else and disinterested in what is going on around us; disinterested in what God is trying to tell us?  Figuring we can just keep on doing whatever it is that God knows is not good for us, or good for those around us, or that we need to do for God or for ourselves or those around us….
Being a follower of God doesn’t mean we can just go along our merry way and do whatever we want…. being a follower of God brings with it responsibility and God’s call to us to pay attention to the one who created us, to the one who loves us, to the one who knows what is best, to the one who chose us to help do the work needed to be done. We can only do that work if we listen..
So quit kicking the back of the car seat and listen to the word of your God for you!
Amen!

Deoviton

Greetings!
It has been raining….. and raining…… and raining…….and raining…. I could go on and on and on and on and on because it has been raining quite extensively. It seems like it is has been an entire year of rain but maybe not quite - but almost…. there has been lots of rain!
We did have a couple rainless weeks but  they were short and quick and there was actually a day when I think I mistakenly said something like, ‘Wow, my garden needs some rain” and I shouldn’t have said that because the every day rain has begun once again….  that is a lot of weight to carry on my shoulders knowing I caused the raining to begin again.
The rain varies from nuisance rain - you know that rain where it is just raining enough that you can’t really do anything outside and you have to run your windshield wipers on your car but it is not really raining hard enough to be be ‘raining’.  And then there are the raining gully washers where you think that all the rain in the world has settled over top your house and it is all coming down at one time…. The rain where you are sitting on your couch and you look up at the ceiling because it is raining so hard you figure it must be coming through the roof soon!
Now I know rain is necessary and my little garden truly appreciates the rain - but I think that even my little garden is probably complaining in its little garden way that it has plenty of water and would appreciate a few days of sunshine.  
What brought on this diatribe against the rain happened yesterday as I was out running errands and doing work things and picking up some necessary items at the all purpose anything you need store.  It had not rained all day - kind of refreshing - and when it hasn’t rained all day there is a part of you which lives in this hope that the entire day will be rain-free.
But too much optimism…. After I had completed my last stop and I was walking back to my car guess what happened…  these little sprinkles began to fall.  Now in my cup half full dream world I was thinking that this was just an anomaly and that all this moment of rain was going to be - a few minutes of nuisance and then it would be over.  Not to be.
I did make it to my car when I noticed the rain was starting to fall a little bit faster… and then a little faster…. and then a little heavier…. and then a little heavier….. and then a lot faster and then a lost heavier…. until there was one of those gully washer deluge rains where there are just sheets of rain falling on your windshield and I had already committed to driving on the highway - otherwise I would have just remained in my parking spot to endure this bucket emptying water falling on my car.  
So now I am on the highway, rain is falling so hard that with my windshield wipers wiping their little hearts out there is still no vision in front of me except sheets of water cascading down and I am driving down the highway with other cars around me who are in the same predicament….
Which is when I thanked God for taillights on a motor vehicles.  Because even with the veil of flowing water across my front car window, and even with everything else pretty well blocked out, I could see the taillights in front of me - and remarkably I could see stoplights.
However this still required two things - well actually one thing in two different forms - this required me to trust the car  in front of me  with the taillights I could see to be rational and make competent decisions regarding driving in the rain and it required me to trust that cars coming from multiple directions at the stop light locations were also able to see the stop lights and would stop and go accordingly.  
And they did cause I made it home.
Life sometimes feels like we are in a car with water cascading down and creating stressful moments as we don’t know where we are going or where our lives are headed  and we don’t really know who or what to trust as we blindly move along…
Which is why God keeps telling us over and over - ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’.   Remember he doesn’t say, “I will never allow it to rain in your life”, God  just says he will be with us and help us maneuver through the blind spots and the rainy spots and even the rainy years and will always get us where we are suppose to be.  
We just have to trust that…….. and we can without a shadow of a doubt.
Amen!

June 19, 2019

Greetings!
My sainted husband and I were on one of our many road trips.  This one was to parts unknown as we were going somewhere we had never been before.  But undirectional road trips are not unusual for us.  When we were first married, young and free and pretty foolish most of the time,  it was a normal occurrence to just jump into the car or truck and go somewhere for a day or two - somewhere we had never been that was within driving distance of where we lived.  It was fun and educational and exciting as we often never knew what we might find.
Then when we had kids we would take a Saturday now and then and each child in turn would give us a direction and we would just head that way and see where we would end up.  We got to see some pretty nifty sights that way since at each fork in the road we would ask a child, right or left, and depending on what they said we would go that way - sometimes ending up in some really interesting and sometime some really bizarre,  locations!  
We rarely went on Interstates or even 4-lane roads and fortunately  we lived in an area where there were plenty of back roads and side roads.  Usually we would draw the line at gravel roads - although occasionally we did get rather adventurous and go on a gravel road….. humming the ‘Deliverance’ tune as we ventured into some pretty isolated and strange looking areas. 
The positive result of all of this adventurous traveling did lead to some fascinating sightings - the deer on the side of the road with a bandana tied neatly around his neck like she was getting ready to go somewhere special; the 4-way stop signs at an intersection on top of a mountain at least 6 or 7 miles from any type of civilization on a gravel road; the scary time we stopped at a store on the side of the road to get a beverage and a snack and realized it was a KKK product store; there were more equally peculiar spectacles.
Well I could go on…. but these little trips were a lot of fun and somewhat educational and allowed the children (and us for that matter) to see things they would have never seen or experienced had we not had the ‘which direction do you want to go’ Saturdays.  Sometimes we would even make an overnight excursion of these child led journeys and really travel far afield.  
But then as the children grew older and started to be involved in various activities and multitudinous sporting activities and happenings with school friends, these ‘which direction do you want to go’ journeys became fewer and fewer.  Our weekend driving trips became more designated driving trips as we had to go to specific places in order for children to participate in their sporting activities.  
And while we still got to go to some new places, our weekends were less about exploring and learning and being surprised by what we may come across and more about ‘we need to be here in this place by this time so we can warm up for the game’……  It is just not as alluring to have to be at a certain location by a certain time than it is to just twist and turn and wander. 
Maybe that is why some of the mystery and majesty surrounding our God is missing.  We have so boxed God into specific times and specific places.  Oh we can say, “I know God is everywhere” but in our thinking, God is in that building we go to every Sunday morning and too often God just stays there when we leave and go on our merry way to our own activities and our own lives.
Instead of allowing the wonder of God to lead us out of our buildings and into the world around us, we keep God ‘where God belongs’ in the ‘church’.  But think what great adventures we could have if we really listen to what God tells us, and believe the promises of God to always be with us, and allow God to guide our steps and our pathways. 
Imagine the wonder our lives will take if we truly let God be the one who leads us on the journey of our lives!!

Devotion May 29, 2019

Greetings!
I have to give up my flip-flops.  And to me this is quite the awful life event.  Now to those of you who are experiencing real problems, the eye roll, shaking head, “Get over it” can begin because you are right.  But still, giving up my flip-flips makes me sad.
I began this love relationship with flip-flops when I moved and I found myself in a warm enough climate that I could wear my flip-flops practically all year long.  It was great.  Flip-flops just appeal to my desire to want things to be quick and easy with minimal effort.  Flip-flops fit that bill.  You put them by the door, you slide them on and you are off.  No muss/no fuss.  
And while all these foot doctors say that flip-flops are not good for your feet, I found them to be quite comfortable and quite versatile.  That is until I found out that walking through high grass with flip-flops can be a lethal combination - literally.
My husband and I bought some land and an old farmhouse that we are fixing up for the days when I eventually retire and a good place to go and relax and to enjoy family outings.  It had been neglected for almost a year and the land especially needs some work.  And as land is when it is neglected it had acquired a number of critters living there in peace and quiet.  One of these critters were fire ants.
Now we had noticed the mounds of fire ants and really hadn’t thought much about them.  My husband bought fire ant killer stuff and we were working on putting this ant homicidal powder on the mounds we found - but with no great urgency because we figured we had a good amount of time to get rid of them and they really weren’t bothering anyone….
That is until one afternoon as I was meandering around the property with my son-in-law and we were talking and even mentioning the fire ant mounds we saw cause I was going to let me husband know where they were so he could ant killer bomb them.  And of course I was wearing my beloved flip-flops which in the back of my head I knew probably wasn’t the best idea as we slogged through the high grass….
We finished our walk and inside the house I went when all of a sudden I thought I had developed super powers and I was going to be able to shoot flames out of my hands cause I am sure there is a super hero who can do that.  It wasn’t long after developing this super power that I thought I had used the super power on myself because I thought I was on fire…. It was probably pretty comical to anyone who had been observing my craziness cause I kept looking at myself trying to see where the flames might be erupting on my body but I couldn’t see any.  My skin was getting rather red however and maybe the flames were there but just invisible?
It wasn’t long after that that I looked at my daughter and admitted that there indeed was something wrong and that I was not transforming into a super hero because now my head had decided it was going to explode at any moment and I wasn't sure there was a super power in that and I looked at my son-in-law and said in quite the calm voice “I see sparkles” at which time he gave me and hand full of Benadryl, laid me down and called 911 and I subsequently had my first ambulance ride.  Not sure that was on my bucket list but I can check it off anyway!
So it appears I was allergic to fire ants and now am banned from wearing flip-flops or sandals or any shoe from which I could sustain an ant bite.  I have always enjoyed shoe shopping so here is a perk in all of this! 
But almost gone are my flip-flops.  Sad face with a tear.  Not completely. I evaluate things like, I’m going to the mall and it is all concrete there so I assume it is a flip-flop approved zone.  But I was told that I really needed to eliminate them completely so I am not tempted…..  Another sad face with tear….  It will take some time.
We sometimes resist God because we see God as restrictive and we will have to quit doing things we enjoy and I want my life to be what I want it to be and I don’t want anyone telling me what I can and can’t do - especially God.  God loves me anyway, right? - regardless of what I may do or not do, right?
Right.  Yet God in God’s infinite wisdom knows who we are - every hair on our head - and knows what is good for us and what is not good for us.  God knows that there are certain things we want to do, or things we should do and don’t; things that may seem innocent enough, but can lead to problems in our lives.  God doesn’t want to restrict what we do simply because God is God and can, but God wants to help us live the best life possible.  And sometimes that means not doing things that are not good for us - even if we don’t realize it.  
God is pretty smart.  God knows the future.  God probably knows that if continue to wear flip-flops I am going to be bitten by an ant again with dire consequences….
Never think of God as someone who is trying to destroy all the fun in your life - remember God loves you more than you can imagine and God just wants the best for you - even if it means restricting what you may do……
Amen!