Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Devotion January 25, 2017

Greetings!!

I grew up in a valley - a valley that regardless of where you went from the town I was in (which was quite small - maybe stretching the town to all the surround farms you may have had a thousand or so people - I lived in the middle of town and there was a cow pasture right behind my house and my neighbors had a horse in their back yard that we would ride around the field that was beside my house - in the middle of town….)so from our town you would have to go up or down a hill - a WV hill which in many states would probably be called a mountain - to get anywhere, even to the next town.  
I rarely ventured anywhere west of where I lived so mountainous terrain was pretty much all I knew.  I went to New York City once but I didn’t even consider the concrete as terrain and to the beach a couple times but that wasn’t really anything comparable…..
So my world view was where you lived in a place in which you always saw mountains somewhere and you always went up and down mountains… that is until I got married.
My husband and I were married and for our honeymoon (this is a rather sore subject so I am surprised I am even mentioning it but it does rather support my story) my husband wanted to go visit some friends in Iowa and I was young and in love and wanted to do whatever made him happy because making him happy was what made me happy.  Plus I had never been west of West Virginia and that sounded like quite an adventure to me - just me and my man heading out to parts unknown our west.
And the trip was quite the shock for me.  We got into my husband’s father’s truck - we planned to save money by sleeping in the back of the truck which was well fitted with mattresses and it was still fairly warm in September - at least in WV but not in Iowa I learned.
Once we were across the Ohio River was I in for a shock!  The land was flat - really flat, not even hilly flat and as we began to travel through other midwestern states on our way to Iowa the flat land became even flatter… How is that possible you ask - but it did.  
My new husband whose family was from Colorado and had made this trip quite often and who had lived in Iowa for a couple of years kept making fun of me as I was just agog at the flat land.  The fact that on the farm after farm after farm that we passed along the straight road had the corn growing right up to the house on all four sides with just a skinny strip of land surrounding the house and a small road running up to the front of the house and the rest was corn…. corn and more corn and flat land.  
I remembered the Byrds song “You can see for miles and miles and miles” and now I knew what they were talking about….. It was just utter amazement for me.
Years later after we had been married for a while and now had two children (and I was pregnant with the 3rd) we decided to drive to Colorado and see my husband’s family.  
My children were not amazed by the flat land and the corn - they just wanted the trip to be over - or to stop at a hotel with a pool - but I once again was astounded by the straight road up ahead.  Straight road so straight that you couldn’t see the end of it, not because it went up a hill and you couldn’t see past that but because you just couldn't see straight any farther….  Just amazing.
And now 31 years later, here I am once again in Colorado.  We flew out here this time but looking out the plane window you still get that awesome view of flat fields laid out in perfect squares (or now circles because that is how the irrigation system is designed).  From up in a plane it is even a more spectacular visual because you realize how high you are and even though the squares and circles look rather small you know that they cover large expanses of land….
Once we landed here we got into a car to go to visit the ‘old home place’ of my husband’s father.  It was three hours away - and it was so straight and flat that i can actually tell you that there were 2 curves between here and where we were going; otherwise it was straight - just straight.  I kept wondering how one could stay awake because there was nothing to do as you drove three hours of straight road…..  and there would be 40 - 45 minutes of time when we wouldn’t even see any other traffic and on both sides of the road were just miles and miles of flat land - the expanse of it is just mind boggling….. especially from a girl who grew up in the valleys of WV with hills all around.  
But it just reminded me of what a big God we have.  We tend to box God into the little world that surrounds us.  God tends to be what God is in just our little frame of reference - but the God who made the hills and valleys also made the regions of flat land and corn and straight roads.  Looking at all this land around me that you can see (our sight is rather limited in WV since you can only see what is from you to the base of the next hill!) for such a long way makes you really better understand how truly big our God is.  And as far as the eye can see out here in the flatland… God is even huger than that!
It helps us remember that we can never limit God.  God who makes the hills and the valleys and God who makes the plains and the God who makes the vast sea and God who makes the sky and God who makes every one of us and knows every hair on our head…..
Praise the God who is so big and so great and so wonderful he can never be limited to our scope of understanding - and that is a good thing!

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 January 18, 2017

Greetings all!

Weather is such a strange thing.  Weather is 70 degrees where I am today and a mere 50 miles away it is 35.  It is sunny here today (it is a great day in other words!!) 50 miles away where it is 35 there are gray skies and snow flakes flying around in the air.  
So when you go to the weather channel on your TV and they start talking about the weather across the country, you can virtually find almost every type of weather that there is.  Pretty much you can find sunny places and rainy places and snowy places and cold places and warm places and places where there are experiencing one type of weather and have a ‘chance’ of another type of weather.
And you know what we do - we obsess on watching the weather forecasts so we will know what the weather is going to be and then we don’t trust what we watch because we figure it is all just a guess anyway!  Right???
Packing for a trip is another strange thing.  What do you pack?  Especially when you are thinking about going to a totally different part of the country where you know that the weather is not going to be what you are experiencing in the place you are residing when you pack and in the back of your mind you don’t really trust those long range weather forecasts (granted we have experience with not trusting those long range weather forecasts since there have been numerous times in our lives when we have been told to prepare for the storm of the century and we wake up to sunny skies!).
This is where I am as I stand in front of my empty suitcase wondering what to pack.  After all, I am going to be a thousand miles from home and certainly in a whole different weather pattern than I am experiencing where I live.  I watch the weather forecast for the area to which I am going and there are a lot of words like ‘possible’ and ‘if the front moves this way’ and ‘chance of’…. Huh?
I think “How am I suppose to know what to do!!!”  There are voices in my head at this point that said, “Oh, just wait til you get out there and buy clothes that match the weather…..”  This is tempting.  I do like clothes…..
But the responsible part of me says this is probably a bad idea…
So I am still standing over an empty suitcase worrying that when I get out there I will not have what I need….. And even knowing it will be colder than it is here, I  wonder “How much colder?”  Do I pack heavy sweaters or light sweaters and do I pack for the evenings when we have to go out to eat or do I pack for the temperature of the rooms where I will be sitting in meetings or I guess I should pack layers but I really don’t like to have to carry things when I have to start removing those layers because it becomes warm…
And then you are under the restrictions of your suitcase can only weigh so much or you have to pay exorbitant fees (and once I flew and my suitcase was overweight and they wouldn’t even let me pay the overweight fee I had to get rid of stuff or I couldn’t get my suitcase on the plane….  I had to go by a backpack, sit in the floor of the airline terminal, unpack heavy stuff and put it in the backpack before I could get my suitcase on the plane!!)
And yes, I am still standing here looking at the empty suitcase with the weather channel on….
Sometimes we think that God is just as confusing as the weather and trying to figure out what to pack.  We stand before God like he is an empty suitcase and say, “I don’t have a clue as to what you want me to do.”  We look for a TV channel that will give us a forecast of what God sees ahead of us and what will happen if we do (or don’t do) what he has in mind for us.  
And we forget that the answers are right there in front of us. God gives us plenty of information - we just don’t use the tools he gives us….. We have his word in scripture; we have his word in worship; we have his word in Bible Study opportunities……  Its all there.  
But it takes an open mind and a willingness to listen and have patience  - and an attitude that realizes that God is not always going to tell  us what we want to hear.
My suitcase still isn’t packed - but it will happen…..  Just like God will be there for you if you will just open yourself up to him.  

Amen!

Devotion January 11, 2017

Greetings!
What a glorious morning!

My husband and I have been watching our young granddaughter since last week - which by the way explains why this devotion is so late… 
I realized I raised three children but that seems like eons ago.  I am not sure what the disconnect is between the 30 years ago when our youngest was born and we had two other children already and it seems like things went along pretty smoothly most of the time and I was, I guess, pretty organized because there came a time when the children were still relatively young and I went back to work.  And my husband was working and we were involved in various activities that were not work related and very involved in our church and the older kids were dancing and swimming and playing soccer - and somehow everything got done; my house was even relatively clean and I think we also had several pets…
And now the two of us have one grandchild and we seem to be completely overwhelmed with the task of caring for her.  Not that she is hard to take care of or that she is really a problem - it just seems like our whole day now is consumed with taking care of the granddaughter and there doesn't seem to be time for anything else!  
From the first thing in the morning until well into the evening hours, the granddaughter is the focus of what we do.
One of the habits we have begun, which one could argue was not the smartest move we could have made, was to go each day to the children’s playground at the mall.  It is really cold outside so our previous habit of going to a playground each day was not possible (we can tell you every playground in our area as we have been to them all!) and so to the indoor one at the mall was the only option of which we were knowledgeable and it was there we would always be at some point in the day.  
The first day we went we made the error of going in the mall door by the Merry-Go-Round so guess what our first stop was on the way to the playground…..  We previously had made the error of going in the door by the little train that runs around the mall so that day we had to ride the train.
Well we finally learned which door to enter the mall that landed us right by the playground and we weren’t caught by the cost you money entertainment features of the mall and allowed us to go to the not only free but the use up lots of energy attraction at the mall.
It is a very nice little playground and our granddaughter really enjoys it there and even better she uses up a large amount of energy running and climbing and just playing…..
So here is the point in the story where the fact that there is a train that kids ride that runs around the mall comes back into being an important part of the story.  The driver of the little train has the passengers in the train (and the driver guy does it himself) give people a high five as they go by.  So as the train is going through the mall, the driver and the passengers are reaching out their hands and high fiving as many people as they can which brings laughter and shrieks of delight by many of the younger children on the train!
And - the train driver makes sure the train goes around the playground where the children are (this is probably a great marketing move because I’m sure there are many children on the playground who end up going to ride the train after they get done playing!). 
The children on the playground are well trained because as soon as they hear the bell of the train as it comes toward the playground the children jump up on the bench that surrounds the playground, lean over and immediately ready themselves to high five all the people on the train!  
So you hear the bell, the children run to the bench, reach over the edge, high five everyone on the train and then as the train continues around the playground, the bell dings again and all the children run to the other side of the playground, climb up on the bench, reach their hands over the edge and high five everyone again!  
Occasionally the train driver will drive around the playground and second time and the same activity is repeated - the bell dings, the children run, and everyone gets high fived and repeat!
As I sat and watched this activity - more than once because we took the granddaughter to the mall playground a lot - I had this bit of a winsome feeling because I thought about the dinging of the bell and the running of the children which reminded me of Sunday mornings in my life which always included hearing the church bell ring as people entered into the sanctuary to worship God.  I guess the winsome feeling came from thinking about how wonderful it would be if Sunday mornings were like these children rushing to be able to respond to the train bell - what if when the church bells rang people would rush to the church so that they could have an opportunity to worship….. not coming because they had to or because they knew they should or because it was the thing to do or because they wanted others to see them there….. but to rush because you have an opportunity be with others who desire to worship God as well.
What if when the church bells rang we got as excited as children wanting to run and greet the train; if we got as giggly as children getting to high five because we were able to gather with others to worship a great and loving God….. 

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.