Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Devotion for April 27, 2016

Greetings!!

My husband and I had to travel this past weekend.  We were leaving our current home to go back to our former home (anyone want to buy a house?) to do some packing and cleaning and organizing so that my husband could complete his move from WV to NC.  
The trip takes about 5 1/2 hours and realistically is not a bad trip.  Most of the trip is four lane and except for a few quirky moments goes pretty smoothly.  Of course those quirky moments are enough sometimes to make the trip a little nerve racking - like one of the entrance ramps that give you about 16 inches to merge into heavy, truck filled oncoming traffic.  This is a little disconcerting and I admit until this feat is accomplished the preceding moments are a bit stress filled.  
Depending on the route we take - there are several to choose from - there are also the two long, dark tunnels to travel through which again are a bit distressing only due to the large trucks which are traveling through at the same time at a higher rate of speed than they probably should have!  The relative size of large trucks and my average SUV inside a tunnel can be quite daunting.
Regardless of what route we do take - unless of course we  take one of our hair brained journeys cross country which we do occasionally to ‘just do something different’ - the one constant in our travels to and from is that there is always, always, a lot of traffic.  
A lot of traffic.  Usually bumper to bumper, both lanes full of cars and trucks for most of the trip.  The road we take is the major north/south highway for everyone on the east coast - or at least it seems that way when we are driving it!
This amazing amount of vehicles means that there are often miles and miles of following the same car or van or big truck or little truck simply because there is no where else to go - following what is in front of you is the only way you can move forward because there is a car beside of you in their own line going about the same speed as you.  
As long as everyone is traveling at the same speed and no one is coming on or off the road (which is often quite a long distance because there is no place to get on or off!) you are stuck there in the same little cluster of vehicles for miles and miles.
And that is how it was on this trip to WV.  We successfully maneuvered the difficult moments of the trip and found ourselves in our little enclave of vehicles all traveling at the same speed and all traveling together.  We found ourselves behind a truck that was pulling a boat - a fishing boat.  
How did we know it was a fishing boat? Because this was a well stocked fishing boat!  We had plenty of time to assess the collection that was included in this fishing boat.   There was a large net sticking out from somewhere in the boat - one of those nets that has the long handle so you can reach down in the water and snag the fish.  There was a big motor on one end of the boat and also one of those little trolling motors hooked to the side of the boat.  There was a large ice chest strapped to one side of the boat - was that for fish that was caught or did it hold drinks and snacks or maybe both?  Well that is just a short list but I could go on and on and on about all the fishing accessories we were able to catalog during our time of following this truck pulled boat down the road.
We didn’t have any idea who the person was driving the truck that was pulling the boat - but what we did know is that whoever the fisherman was, he (or she) was well prepared for his task of catching fish.
Are we that well prepared as we try to live our lives as people of God?  Can people look to us as we surveyed this fisherman and know that we know who we are as God’s followers?  Are we equipped to live and serve as those whom God has called us?  
I’m sure that fisherman who owned the well stocked boat spent lots of time in sporting good stores or online at fisherman sites or with those myriad of fishing magazines so that he (or she) would know what a well primed fisher person would need. 
That should teach us what a well prepared God follower would need to do as well.  We have great resources - The Bible, great teachers and leaders, other followers of God.  We have great opportunities - our worship, Bible study, time together as God’s people - and we need to take advantage of all of these times in order for us to be able to stock our ‘boat’ with the tools we need to do what God calls us to do.  

Amen                                                                             
 Joanne




These devotions began in 2006 as a way to give us a midweek boost as we live out our lives as the people of God!  Feel free to share them if you wish.

Devotion for April 20, 2016

Greetings!!

It was a big weekend and as a result we had a lot of company in our house. We have a nice house, normally a good size for us, but anytime you start to have more people than you are use to, things get a little crowded. Not that that is bad but it does render one to think and work a little differently than usual. And, that is OK.
Now when your company consists of those younger than 3, the whole situation takes on a whole new different perspective. It is amazing how much more space a young child occupies than an adult. Perhaps it is because they are in constant motion or the fact that adults like to keep space around them so that they can run and save them from whatever harrowing problem they have found themselves in!
So company came. Now there were multiple toddlers and pets and various adults and we spent time together and we ate and we played cribbage between jumps up to retrieve toddlers. Before we knew it, the house began to look like there were extra people and various toddlers and pets traversing around. Seems the toddlers had found the daily the newspaper which now lay separate sheets all over the house; the toddlers had also found each and every available toy which no longer resided neatly on the shelves where they had been previously located. They had discovered the cabinet which held our ‘to go’ cups and these had been disassembled and strewn to various locations.
All of this, of course, in the span of a ver short time - much quicker than we ever thought possible.
It is then that we came to the realization that there were more friends coming to visit and it would probably be a good idea if we repair the chaos generated by these two wee ones as well as a bit of chaos created by the adults as well……
It was then that an amazing thing happened… the toddlers went to bed for their nap and everyone got busy. Without even any prompting, I headed to the bathroom and began to clean and my husband took out his floor cleaner and fired it up, the son-in-law began to pick up the plethora of items that were strewn about on floors and surfaces and everywhere, the daughters did dishes and swept and hung up clothes and scrubbed whatever had not been cleaned by something else…..
Within the span of quickness, before you would have even imagined, the previously paper strewn, toy strewn, cup strewn, and other object strewn, well used and well enjoyed happy home was now sparkling and shine and neat and clean and had taken on the appearance of a completely new place! And it was all due to the teamwork of a family who motivated by a common cause was able to work together and accomplish a task - even an impossible task of working to correct a couple hours of toddlers randomly exploring the world around them and the resulting havoc! Now we had a space that was truly ready to receive the company that was on their way…..
None of this could have been accomplished with such speed and completeness had there not been everyone working together. None of this could have been accomplished had there not been those willing to just pick up and do a task without cajoling or guilting or really even a little prompting. There was a need and it was met…. Even the impossible task of toddlers!
Is this not the picture of the church? We as a church have been gathered together by God. We are in our church for a common purpose; a common goal; a common bond of life in Jesus Christ. We aren’t a part of the church just to come and sit behind one another in the pews during worship, but a church who comes together so that we can accomplish the mission God has set before us to love and serve others. Each of us has a part to contribute; each of us has a ability to be a valuable part of the church; each of us is motivated by the love and example Jesus sets before us and as we pick up and heed the call and work together - think about what we can accomplish together!
God in his wisdom gave us this opportunity through the church to love one another, to care about one another and to work together. Think about how much we can accomplish together and what a feeling of accomplishment we will have together as we honor our Lord and Savior that as the church we simply pick up and together do what needs to be done! Amen                                                                             

Devotion for April 13, 2016

Greetings!!

My daughter and I decided to go to a continuing education event.  It was a short event, just one evening and the following day but the subject was interesting to us and we have always enjoyed learning.  This event was close enough for us to go and not have to travel very far and was fairly inexpensive so it pretty well met all the criteria we needed to decide to go to an opportunity like this.  So we signed up and we looked forward to when the day will come when we would head off for our learning adventure.
But then the light bulb went off over both of our heads at the same time - there was this small child that was a sticking point in our attending the classes.  What would we do with the daughter/granddaughter while her Mom and I were off galavanting in academia.  We looked at the calendar and her father was working so he was not an option for child care.  Her grandfather offered to watch her and so we sighed a big sigh and said, “problem solved” and on with our life we went not thinking much more about the event which was about a month away.
But then the snag hit and grandfather wasn’t going to be able to come and watch the aforementioned child/grandchild and so her Mom and I were back to square one.  Of course by now we are really excited about going to this conference and went back to the drawing board to decide what to do about our little stumbling block - otherwise known as ‘the child’.
After much consideration, the consensus was that we just take her with us.  She was small, she was relatively good (or as good as a 15 month old can be!) and we thought we could pull it off.  So packing day came for our odyssey and we packed ourselves and we packed for the small child (whose stuff was more than our two stuffs put together…..) and off we went to learn more and to see what class with a toddler might be like - crossing our fingers that she wouldn’t be too much of a distraction.
All was going well after we arrived and she was doing as well as could be expected for one so young cooped up in a classroom with a bunch of stodgy adults.  So for a while I decided to take her to the lobby of the hotel and let her burn off some energy.  We walked around for a while and she crawled around for a while and we cruised the edges of the couches and the tables, we climbed under chairs - fun times!  And I pretty much let her do what she wanted as long as she wasn’t actively destroying something or putting herself in danger - but grandma was always within quick saving reach.
She then decided that she wanted to play on the steps and I knew that she was pretty good with steps - she has the crawling down backward step descending method pretty down pat.  So we began to work the stairs - she would crawl up the stairs, crawl down the hallway at the top of the stairs for a little while then crawl back to the stairs and backwards crawl to the bottom of the steps and then back up we would go.  It is amazing how many times in a row a toddler can repeat the same action!
She was doing a great job but I, as the dutiful grandmother, also knew that the stars were just high enough that a tumble down could be a bit dangerous and could result in some type of injury.  However, stairs are one of those necessary skills we all need to learn so I also knew she needed the practice.  
Long story short, we continued to practice stair skills but I was right there with her each ‘step’ of the way.  I didn’t hold her or even tell her to be careful, I just walked along side her, often with my open hand held behind her just incase there was a quicker than I could really react falling.
Regardless of her doing the stairs correctly or her miscalculating and ending up falling, I was ready to snatch her at a moments notice.  I’m sure as others looked on we were quite the pair - the ambivalent toddler who never thought of anything bad happening as she climbed and unclimbed the stairs without a care and the doting grandma hovering over the act of this young child.
I often picture God like this hovering grandmother.  God is very good at letting us go our own way.  God is very good at letting us make our own choices.  God is very good at letting us put ourselves in harms way…… But don’t you see God, right beside of us all the time, a little bent over towards us so he can react quickly, with his hand held close to our backs to he can catch us in a moment’s notice?
God has always promised to love us and protect us and never forsake us.  God is always there and always will be.  God is always ready to react when we need him - and maybe even when we think we don’t need him.  God’s love and care has no bounds - like a grandmother and a small child.  

Amen                                                                             
 Joanne

Devotion for April 6, 2016

Greetings

Moving. What a chore moving is.  Sorting, packing, unpacking and sorting again.  But the unpacking can also be a lot of fun!  We have moved umpteen times and I have never had an opportunity to unpack while I was not working at the same time - which means that unpacking was a hit or miss experience with not a lot of thought going into where things went, or what to keep and what to get rid of; what to put out and what to continue to store.  It meant for years, we hauled around boxes from place to place that often never got unpacked!  
Makes you wonder what we were thinking….. But I guess it was the ‘we might need something in there someday’ syndrome or the 'we've got plenty of space to store that so we will get to it later' syndrome.  We never did need what was in them or even get to them to see what was in them because the boxes never had the tape removed but there truly could have been something in those boxes; something very important that one day could have come in handy!  I kind of figured we ended up buying whatever was in those boxes again because we didn’t remember what happened to the one we had and we never thought to look into those taped long stored boxes!!
But this last move was different.  This move I had time.  There was a lag time between my moving and my beginning my work.  What a luxury!  I had time to go through every box; I had time to think about objects as I took them out; had time to sort and keep and throw and give away.  
So I meticulously arranged and placed each object where I thought it would do best - where I could see it and think about it and remember the moments that precipitated why I had that object.  I displayed the objects in proximity to others where they would peak the same emotional tie.  It was such a joy to be able to relish this slow process and know that all those long hidden box items would now be revealed and put in areas of best use…….
Well, it lasted for a while.  And then came the baby to live in the house… Not that it was a bad thing for the baby to come to live.  It is a treat (most of the time - there are those moments……. ) to have this youngster crawling around and watching her as she discovers the world.  However, that is the problem - that baby discovery process.
Babies explore the world around them - constantly and intently with no object left untouched.  It didn’t take long for us to realize that the baby necessitated the repacking up of all of those carefully placed objects I had so relished putting out; it didn’t take long to realize that if those precious mementos were going to remain precious mementos - it was back into the box they would go. 
So that became the next job - all of those carefully, slowly, deliberately unpacked and placed curios were not so carefully or slowly yet very deliberately repacked up and placed back into taped boxes and into storage they went.  
The shelves quickly refilled with wooden blocks and small toys and stuffed animals and plastic books and dolls and sparkly balls….
As I walked through the house I realized how completely a small child takes over your life.  Not only is your time not your own, but apparently neither is your space or your memory laden nic nacs!  And not that that is a bad thing - it is just what happens as that little innocent bundle of joy grows!
This, too, is what our life with God is to be like.  As we grow in our relationship with God, he begins to take over more and more of our lives.  The things that we so carefully believed were important and essential to who we are, eventually and often painfully and reluctantly, become replaced with the things of God.  
Part of growing in our relationship with God is being willing to part with habits and emotions and beliefs and practices that we had collected through much of our life.  Just like precious curios on a shelf, we have to stop and evaluate and consider if and how these ‘important’ aspects of our lives might be an obstacle or hindrance to our being close to our creator.  And often, we have to pack up things that are so important to us and put them away so that we can truly give ourselves over to God.
Just like a small child takes over our lives and what we have and what we do, God desires to do the same.  And just like the small child brings us joy (and a bit of hard work), if we truly let God take over our lives - we will have that same joy (and a bit of hard work!)
Amen                                                                             

These devotions began in 2006 as a way to give us a midweek boost as we live out our lives as the people of God!  Feel free to share them if you wish.