Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Devotion for June 29, 2016

Greetings!!

As a little girl I had two dreams - I wanted to be a ballerina or a rock star.  Now I realize that these two future occupations have little to do with one another, but nevertheless they were my dreams.  
There wasn’t a lot of ballet in the small burg in which I grew up and I’m not sure where this dream came from.  I don’t know if I saw something on TV, read something in a book - who knows but the dream overwhelmed me sometimes and I would lay awake at night thinking about the grace and the skill of these beautiful ballerinas - of course maybe it was just the neat and fluffy tutus they wore……..
But as I grew a bit and realized that the body type that I was growing into may not make being a ballerina very practical - the dream was still there and I still held out hope that maybe some magic may transform me into ballerina material - but there was a bit of reality that made me think that being a ballerina was a long shot…..  Maybe I should even take some dance classes which is something I never did - but still perhaps a ballerina I could be!
Then rock ’n roll came into my life and while I never really gave up the idea of being a ballerina - I started thinking about that maybe my destiny in life was to be a rock star!
I jumped into buying 45s (you have to be old like me to remember 45s - the small records which played one song on each side with the big hole in the middle that you had to have a special adaptor in order to play on your turntable - another antique device that played the soundtrack of my youth!)  I would buy one 45 a week - just about.  I would get so excited and would take it to my room and shut the door and for hours and hours would pretend I was on stage singing the song.  I realize that this may be more of a glimpse into my youth than most people would like to know, but I promise this personal revelation is going somewhere…..
Now, while I pretty well knew somewhere deep down inside of me that the ballerina thing probably was a long shot - there was a really part of me that kept thinking that the Rock Star thing was going to happen.  Someone would swoop down into my little town and carry me away and I would automatically be a Rock Star.  I even had a little notebook where I would write short stories about my life as a famous Rock Star.  I really wasn’t interested in the big houses and the limousines and all the perks associated with being a rich and famous Rock Star - it just the allure of the stage and the lights and the screaming crowds and the music.  I enjoyed listening to music as a youth more than about anything else I could do and to me to create that music was something that would just be the best thing I could ever do…
But reality being what it is there were some necessary elements that needed to happen before I could realize this Rock Star mania that had taken over my life….. One was that to be a Rock Star I probably needed to be able to sing…. which wasn’t the case for there was no singing ability coming from my mouth (in my mind maybe but the people listening would’t be very impressed….) or perhaps I needed the ability to play a musical instrument - and however much I tried to practice and learn to play musical instruments - it must didn’t happen.  There was no amount of practice that was going to be able to make me good enough at any instrument to be a famous Rock Star…..
Of course there were many other obstacles quite as non-over-come-able but the desire was still there - and even still every now and then the dream happens…..
What precipitated this flash into the past was a sign I noticed as my husband and I stopped in a local establishment for some yogurt…..  “You can be anything you want to be if you just believe hard enough…..”  
Now on first glance that might seem like a harmless little friendly saying that is meant to inspire us to try our best - but I wonder how many read something like this or other similar pithy sayings and spend a life trying or wishing for something that can never be and end up disillusioned and bitter because the thing they dreamt of just never happened— usually because it was about as realistic as me being a ballerina….
If we look to God as the author and director of our lives; if we pay attention to the opportunities God puts in front of us; if we truly trust in the God who has a purpose set before us; if we understand the words of scripture which teach us that God will provide the abilities we need to do what God has led us to be or do - then we will find the peace with ourselves that only God can provide.  The frustration comes when we think it is all about us and what we want and what we want to be, when really all we need do is step back and allow God to lead us into what he knows is best for us and what will truly bring us the peace and happiness that only God can provide.
Oh yea - that Rock Star dream still surfaces once in a while but knowing that I am doing what God has led me and gifted me to do is so much more satisfying……

Amen                                                                            

Devotion for June 22, 2016

Greetings!!

I needed to go shopping for groceries.  I normally don’t mind shopping unless I’m in a hurry, or there is a huge crowd at the store, or I’m not really sure what I need, or I need something specific that I know may be hard to find and I’ll need to traverse the entire store….. guess I mind shopping more than I thought.  
But I really needed to go shopping.  Off to the store I went.  I parked - I always park by the cart corral so I have a chance of remembering where I parked….  Walked up to the store, through the sliding doors and proceed to accomplish the first task which was going to be to get a basket.  Well, this time I had a decision to make.  I didn’t need a huge number of things so do I get a hand basket to carry or a small buggy?  I was really glad when they developed those small buggies; often makes the trip to the store so much easier except for the times when I get a small buggy and then realize I needed more things than I thought I did and you have to get creative to get everything you need in that small buggy,,,,
This trip I decided I needed a small buggy instead of the hand basket - what I intended to get would all fit in the hand basket but a couple of the items were a little heavier so I decided the small basket would be better.
Of course, this was one of those days when the store was rather crowded and when I went to get the small buggy, they, alas, were all gone.  So there I was with the large buggy for my few items.  I knew that since I had the large buggy I would end up buying more than I needed because, well, there was room in the basket……
I went to get my buggy and all the buggies were pushed together in their normal nesting position with one buggy pushed into the front of another.  I pulled and I pushed and I rocked it back and forth and the buggy just wouldn’t release from its position and I admit I got a little violent trying to get my buggy so I could do my shopping….. and finally the buggy gave up and rocked loose and the buggy and I went into the store to shop.
After all that work of freeing that buggy from the other buggies, I ended up with a buggy that obviously had been well used or maybe well abused and perhaps even in an accident because the buggy had those wheels that have that grating sound as you push and to make matters even worse the wheels weren't quite aligned and so the buggy was quite hard to push and sometimes wouldn’t always automatically go the direction in which you needed to go.
But I was already too far into the store to return back to wrestle another buggy from the stack and I thought I wasn’t getting too much so I could do this.  Off I went into the aisles of the store.
Did I mention the store was crowded?  All of my strength went into keeping that buggy going straight own the aisles and not running into another person pushing their buggy (altho that little devil on my shoulder commented how easy it would be to take out someone so that I could get their small buggy) and also manhandling the buggy to avoid all those many displays that clog up the aisles.  Ever notice that these displays are always comprised of items that are highly breakable should they be run into and knocked over they would certainly crash in a loud sound of breaking things?
It was quite the struggle as I careened around corners holding tightly to my buggy to keep it from ramming into a shelf - the people around me could quickly take evasive action however because the wheels were making such a loud grating noise.  
Finally, after my shopping was complete and my buggy wrangling was over, I put my groceries into the car and put the buggy into the cart corral and I gave a sigh of relief that this particular experience was over.
Ever feel like your life is going along like a person trying to push a damaged shopping cart?  Sometimes our lives are like we are trying to push with all our might to get the buggy to keep  going; sometimes our life feels like a squeaky wheel as people notice as we limp along.  We wonder how our lives ended up this way.
Just like a buggy you end up with at the store, we generally don’t get to choose what is going to happen to us or around us.  Just like we somehow end up with that difficult buggy, life happens around us and we end up with what we get.  
We can either spend our time lamenting that we ended up with the damaged buggy life, or we can choose to just keep going, struggling along as we push through our life.  
The advantage we have is that we have God.  God is like a can of oil that can help make those non turning wheels move a little big better or squeak a little bit less.  The basket still has its issues as our life still has its issues - but with God the pushing gets a little bit easier and a whole lot smoother….

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 June 15, 2016

Greetings!!

Yard sale time!  You all know about yard sales.  Yard sales are those activities where you take everything you don’t want anymore and you put it out in your yard in hopes that someone else might want it.  After all you know the saying, “One’s man’s junk is another man’s treasure…”  Or at least you hope it will be another person’s treasure - because it if is then you are rid of it, and perhaps you have made a little money as well!
So it is yard sale time!  It was yard sale time for the church.  That means that not only are your no longer beloved items going to be sold, but a whole congregation of no longer beloved items are going to be accumulated together for a giant yard sale!!  
So everyone scours their homes and gathers up those long neglected or non used items and carries them to the church fellowship building where they are sorted and priced and placed on tables and arranged and picked through (cause before you even put the things out you may find the perfect treasure for yourself!)  The amount of donations were so great that the fellowship hall was filled to overflowing!!
The day of the yard sale comes and you carry all the tables of goodies out to the parking lot where you anticipate crowds of people showing up just waiting to take home all the wonderfully unique and important objects donated for this important event.  
You spend the day then watching as people stop by and peruse the stacks of clothing, and nic-nacs and kitchen items and toys and crafty articles.  You watch with baited breath hoping that the shopper will fill their bags with as much as they can - not only will you then make money but that there will be one more component of the yard sale gone!  
The day then ends and even though you know you have sold tons of stuff, there seems to be just as much or even more than you began.  There is a sneaky suspicion that someone has been secretly bringing more stuff and adding it to your already overly crowded tables of no longer cherished items…… 
So back the tables go into the fellowship hall, still covered in yard sale bargains; back into the church go the stand alone pieces of furniture; back into the building go the boxes and boxes of shoes and bags of clothes and hangers of clothes and whatever else may have been left behind by the maybe not so  eager shoppers…..
And now you must decide the destination of all the left overs…. What is going to happen to the mounds of clothing and shoes and nic-nacs and other pieces of this enormous yard sale?  
People come in and bag up and box up and maybe do a little more sorting through.  Social service agencies are called - some of them more willing than others to help with your problem of what to do with all this left over yard sale stuff.  Times are arranged, people come and get portions of the goods and even with all that there is still several piles of odds and ends that are still residents of the tables in the fellowship building.
Some of the yard sale remains will then end up in the dumpster; some will be shoved into a corner where it will stay until someone wonders why this is here and dispose of it one way or another…..  and once again the yard sale is over…….
We occasionally need to have a personal spiritual inventory yard sale.  We occasionally need to search through the corners of our minds and our hearts and see what left overs of our lives linger in us - because we all have residual spiritual baggage that weighs us down like stuffed full closets in our houses.  There comes a time when we need to carry out all the clutter that holds us back from a true relationship with God and with one another.  
But cleaning out ourselves, our hearts and minds, can be just as much work as putting together a yard sale; and is always just as much work as trying to figure out what to do with the left overs from the yard sale. 
What do you do with all those experiences from your past that clog you up and create barriers for you to be able to trust and obey a loving God? How do we have a personal yard sale to get rid of all that past 'stuff' that weighs us down and clogs us up?  So here perhaps it is a little easier than distributing yard sale remains - because all we have to do is ask God to take it away - give it to him and he will take it.  Gone.  
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.