Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

February 2016

Devotion for February 24, 2016

Greetings!!

Circumstances aren’t always what we want them to be.  Circumstances for my husband and myself in our current mode of living are not ideal.  I have moved to a new town and a new state - where I really enjoy living; but because we own a house back in the location where I moved from, my husband has stayed behind. There are many reasons why this separation was a necessity ….. mainly my husband stayed behind to have someone in the house during these cold and snowy winter months.  
Those of you who live in cold and snowy climates know that there are a myriad of things that can go wrong with a house when it gets really cold outside and the snow piles up.  Sidewalks need tended, pipes need checked, furnaces need maintained, roofs need to be inspected.  So that became my husbands job (while I get to stay in the balmy south......)
The husband was also tasked with doing the final clean up and repairs of the house as it sits on the market to be sold (Need a house?  We will make you a good deal!)  You know how you live in a house for a while and you get used to all the little (and sometimes big!) imperfections  - all those things you intend to get to some day but don’t really make the house unlivable so you just ignore them ….
And then when you need to sell the house these long forgotten and neglected projects somehow become a big deal!  Prospective buyers don’t know that you have lived here with these blemishes and that perhaps if they would buy the house anyway they wouldn’t notice them either…. prospective buyers don’t know about the many flaws that were in the house when you bought it and  you have repaired over the years.  Somehow saying “You should have seen what it was like when we moved in” in an incredulous voice doesn’t seem like the appropriate thing to do!  
So the husband is staying behind to not only maintain the house but to work on correcting those ‘little things’ we have lived with but that others might immediately notice!
And then there is all that cleaning that needs to be done.  We had a large house with a full basement which was a very convenient place to just put things - there is plenty of room and it was space we didn’t need for anything else, and we have 40 years of accumulated items - so whenever there was a “What do we do with this?” question, the answer was always “Put it down in the basement”.  And there it stayed and there it was forgotten.  
Most of those ‘put in the basement’ items were things we should have just thrown given away instead of shoving down the stairs - so now the husband is having to sort through this basement ‘stuff’ and decide what to keep and what is good enough to give away and what just needs to go in the trash….. not a job anyone wants.  But you know that old saying, ‘Someone has to do it!”  
Fortunately, my husband has a flexible enough schedule that he can take some time off occasionally from this old house sitting and refining and can come visit the new location.   Admittedly once he gets here he spends much time lamenting his being ‘left behind’ and jealously wishing he could become a permanent resident of our new location.  However once he is here for a bit the complaints stop and we settle into a routine….
That is until we begin to attempt to watch TV together……  My husband is the ‘owner’ of the remote and this is  non negotiable.  So when he is back at the old house and I am here the advantage is that I am actually in control of the TV shows I watch and admittedly he is in control of the TV shows he watches back where he lives.  So when he comes to visit, he snaps up the control of the TV and that is that.  
There are very few shows that we watch in common.  And as he watches his shows he has the habit of either silencing the commercials or flipping to another program when a commercial comes on. Both habits drive me absolutely crazy.
 I enjoy mysteries and detective shows and some science fiction - he stays on news channels and discovery channel and those shows where you really have to pay attention cause they are designed for you to think and learn something.  And it is not that I am against learning, it is just when I sit down to watch TV I want some escape - the last thing I want to do is think or learn….    So even though we are glad to be living together in the same house that TV control becomes a bit of a contentious issue….
It is the same way with God.  God wants to hold the remote for our lives and we want to wrestle it out of his hands.  God wants to guide and direct and help us make decisions, and we want to do it for ourselves.  God knows what would be good for us and what would be good to live out his purpose, and we want to do what we think would help God the best or what we think would be best for us.  
Whether we really realize it or not, we end up in this struggle, this tug of war, as we keep trying to pry the control out of God’s hands and ‘do what we want’.
We have to learn that  God knows  what is best for us and what is best for his kingdom.  God wants the best for us; he knows what will truly bring us peace - yet we want that control regardless of what is best for us.
Now I’m not going as far as to say that my husband’s control of the remote is what is best for me, but in God’s hands we will find out that giving control over to God is truly the best thing to do.

Amen!!                                                                              
 Joanne!
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Devotion for February 17, 2016

Greetings!!

If you looked in my closet (which I realize has way too many clothes), what you would find is a preponderance of sweaters.  I love sweaters and in my closet are a variety of colors and types of sweaters. I even have several of the same type of sweater in different colors - colors to match the mood of the day and colors to match the environment for the day and colors which match the chosen outfit. 
I think I like sweaters because there is just something comforting about being a little chilly and putting on a warm and cozy sweater - putting on a sweater just makes you feel toasty and comfortable. I especially like the cardigan type sweaters - the kind you put on and button up which just seems to give you an added amount of snug!  
Now days, they make cardigan type sweaters without the buttons and corresponding button holes which means you can’t participate in that extra snug….. but the sweater is still a cozy, comfy addition to the wardrobe.  
The reason for so many sweaters is the issue of what you wear your sweaters with - which necessitates different colors and styles of sweaters to go with whatever other article of clothing you are wearing. Of course about anything, any type and hue, go with the often worn blue jeans -  but when the destination of the day requires a little different attire then sweater decisions take on a whole new level of options.  
Depending on the formality of the function you are attending, different articles of clothing require different sweater choices - a little more dressy, a proper color for the rest of the outfit, a design which is a more form fitting and yes, a little less baggy and comfy.  But even in the formality of the occasion, sweaters are still a great way to feel warm and confident regardless of where you may be.
But over the years of sweater wearing, there are some of the most well worn sweaters that hold a special place in my heart - sweaters that have been with me for many years; sweaters that have been with me through circumstances both good and bad; sweaters that hold certain memories.  And there are more of these heirloom sweaters than I would like to admit! 
So hanging on the back of my closet door, and on a door knob in another room and the back of a chair somewhere else and who knows where else within easy access are these myriads of well worn, comfort induced, old and admittedly getting a little raggedy.  sweaters. 
Now I am smart enough not to wear these sweaters out in public and family members have actually cajoled me into taking one of them off when company was coming because these are ‘well loved’ sweaters.  Which of course is another way of saying they are pretty much worn out.  And yes there are the occasional (or not so occasional) holes in them and frayed cuffs and missing buttons and misshapen shoulder and necklines from hanging on door knobs.  There are a many of these cold and bitter nights where I will sleep with one of my snuggly sweaters over my pajamas - and I am so warm and toasty while I’m asleep.  But as you can imagine it doesn’t do the sweater much good to be worn like that. But these sweaters are kept not for their looks but for their warm, cozy comfort! 
Now the general consensus around the house is that I really don’t need quite so many of these worn out, damaged, hole filled, sweaters.  My argument of course is that if I have a bunch of them then they are always handy as there is one on the back of the chair in one room and one on a door knob in another room and one laying across the back of the recliner in another room  and one lying across my bed so that whenever I feel that bit of a chill a sweater is right there to put on and reverse that uncomfortable cold feeling - and it really does.  
What a mood changer to go from covered in chill bumps to feeling cozy and warm!  You have to admit the snugly warmth is better - and having a plethora of well worn sweaters in easy reach is a good thing….  Even if they are worn out and button missing and marked by a few holes and stretched out areas and frayed collars…..
Aren’t we a lot like old sweaters?  In our lives we have been pretty much frayed and stretched and torn and stained.  We often feel like we have just been worn out to the point where we aren’t that much good anymore.  We think that like an old sweater we just don’t have much use.  We are to the point of thinking we out to be hung somewhere on an old door knob and forgotten or packed away in a box or shoved into the back of a closet or even tossed out.  
But you know what is great about God….. we don’t have to be in pristine shape like we were a new sweater right out of the box and ready for the fancy party; we don’t have to worry about matching the right pair of pants or the right event or the current temperature;  God just takes us right off the back of that chair and keeps us and loves us and uses us as he wills just as we are!  
We might feel like a worn out sweater but we can still do the work God needs us to do - might not be the same work as it was when we were younger, but we and our work is still important and necessary. 
And what is even more, with all those frayed edges we can even be of more use than the brand new sweater just home from the store. Those stretched out collars and hems were produced by a myriad of experiences that taught us an awful lot of helpful and useful and practical information.   
After all we don’t want to wear that brand new pristine sweater while we are sweeping the floors or wiping out the bathroom sinks - the old well worn already stained sweater is much better for that and we as worn as we are can be of much more use because of all those years of doing.  
So don’t ever feel that you are too old, or too damaged, or too full of holes to be an important part of the Kingdom of God.  You are special to God and just like my many stretched out sweaters that are full of good works and good memories and cozy, warmth and comfort, you are still necessary to continue the work God knows you can 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 February 10, 2016

Greetings!!

Use to be I would drive about 1000+ miles each month.  I pretty much lived in my car and as a result there was little time remaining to clean it.  Now ‘living’ in your car implies all of those things that ‘living’ entails such as eating and storing things and changes of clothes and - you get it - need to live type things. 
After a while of ‘living’ in your car there comes to be less and less space for people as all those things that have accumulated while you are driving for the work you do. Plus there is all of those eating in your car crumbs and shoe dirt and tracked in leaves and dust and such...
 Having moved to a new location the amount of driving that I have to do has drastically been reduced - drastically.  Now,  if I drive 50 miles a month for my work it is a traveled month so you would think that the amount of materials amassed in the car would have declined……
Well, they did for a while.  I actually had the car quite cleaned out and then I had a busy couple weeks where I had numerous places to go and had several trips back to the place I use to live and I transported a bunch more stuff back to my home and then I began to transport my granddaughter around and you know how many odds and ends there are involved with carting a one year old around. And how many crumbs and discarded goldfish that go with keeping her content... Well needless to say the ole car found itself pretty full once again…
Finally I reached the breaking point which was inspired by my need to help out a friend who needed a ride to a neighboring town and I really hated to transport her in a car that was chocked full of this and that and had accumulated those bits and pieces of leaves and dust and crumbs and other matter.  
I spend the day emptying all the articles out of the car so there would be room for my friend and a moderate amount of luggage and then the next step was to vacuum…
Easier said than done.  
I don’t own a vacuum that is suitable for cleaning out my car so I needed to find one of those places that has the big vacuum machines specifically designed for ridding my car of the extraneous matter.  I am new to the area and so I haven’t yet located this life necessity so I went off in search of the car vacuum cleaner business.  
I saw a “Free Car Vacuum” sign which looked promising but of course there was a catch - and a line 15 cars long.  Off I went to continue my quest when I saw another bank of hose bearing machines - all of which turned out to be broken.  All 7 of them!
I continued on - and 45 minutes of searching later went home in grave disappointment and still in my dirty car.
Until later that day I was lamenting about my negative vacuum experience and those who were the victims of my rant said, “There is one right over in the next neighborhood.”  Really?  I spent an hour of my life looking and the object of my search turned out to be 3 minutes from my house!  
Car cleaning accomplished…..
How often do we look for the sources of peace in our life and we look everywhere… we look for hobbies, and sports, and volunteer work and ‘real’ work and even families to bring a sense of peace and purpose to our lives.  We get lost and frustrated and even though we know about God and even though we may even be involved in the church, we just haven’t found the right combination of doing the right things and doing as many things as we can and coming to all the right activities.  There is still an unsettled feeling about ourselves.  The problem is we spend all the time searching when the answer is right there within us.  The only real source of peace and purpose is to stop looking for it and just accept the fact that in Jesus Christ we have had it all the time.  Stop the search and the struggle and all the things that we try and know that the secret to a peaceful life is simple and it is close and it is to just put your faith and trust and life in the hands of the one who created you.  
Sounds simple - but it appears to be pretty hard.  It is hard to give up on thinking you have the answers or that you can find them on your own (like trying to find the car vacuum on your own); that the answer is acknowledging you can’t provide the rest for your soul no matter how much you try - but Jesus can.
You can search all you want, but the answer is right there all the time - just like the car vacuum being one neighborhood away!
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 February 3, 2016

I don’t know what made me think about it, but as I was driving today I started thinking about when I was a young girl - older elementary, junior high - and the most important thing in my life was talking to my friends, the other girls in my class. We would talk all day at school and then as soon as I got home from school I would head for the phone and we would talk as long as I could get by with it….

I was on cloud nine when I think my parents were tired of my sitting under the kitchen table talking using the wall phone with the long cord and they gave me a phone in my room. That was like the height of the greatest thing that could happen to a junior high school age girl - her own phone. (Remember this was 40 years before the advent of cell phones or any kind of mobile phone!)

I admit as an adult I don’t really remember what we talked about all that time - I would assume that what consumed our conversation was the main topic of all adolescent girl - boys! Maybe with a few teacher complaints or some comment about what some of the ‘other’ girls were wearing that day but pretty much what dominated our chatting was that favorite topic of boys. Wayne looked at me today; Ted didn’t look at me today; Nick asked Susan out and what could he possibly see in her; I think Brad is really cute; All you girls probably understand this way to spend the pre-teen years and you guys are shaking your heads at the silliness of young girls.

But anyway back to the story. Back in those days of my young girl phone use was another ‘long ago’ anomaly - the existence of party lines. Now if you are not familiar with party lines - imagine having a ‘land line’ and when someone dialed your number it not only rang in your house but in someone else’s house in your town, someone you may or may not know. So both of you would answer and the caller had to sort out who they wanted to talk to!

Or, you picked up the phone to call someone and your ‘party line’ was already on the phone talking to someone else and you would have to wait until they were done to place your call…

Or, if you - or your party line - were feeling particularly devious you could pick up the phone and listen in to the other’s phone conversation. Needless to say in a small town there are few secrets since information travels pretty quickly when one overhears something on their party line! I have to admit that one became a little careful about what was said knowing that perhaps someone may overhear….

Have you ever thought of the church like an old time party line? Sometimes we worry about what we say around our brothers and sisters in Christ. Now I realize that our brothers and sisters in Christ are just people, but there is a relationship within our congregations that goes way beyond our casual knowledge of one another.

Because we are a people of God; because God has gathered us together in our churches, we come to realize that he has done so in order for us to have others who can be like a caring, understanding party line. God has given us one another as children of God so that we can have others who hear our needs, who listen to our struggles, who will pray with us and for us, who will help us with our problems and our needs.

But sometimes we forget the power of having a loving, concerned group of people whom God has given us so that we could be there for one another.
Don’t treat your brothers and sisters in the church like a party line you are worried might find something out about you. Don’t think that you are ‘bothering’ the church members with your needs. Celebrate the gift God has given you in those around you in the church who you can share your needs with and know that in Christ, they will be there for you!


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.