Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Devotion March 4, 2020

Greetings!
Computers - ya gotta love them.  Except maybe today.  Today computers are not at the top of my favorite thing list….   
Now I have to admit that computers have made my life tremendously easier.  I remember typewriters and I was not the most careful of typist which meant I spent a lot of time typing things over because I made a mistake. Those who have never had to type on typewriters don’t know the joys of typing, making a mistake, typing over, making a mistake, typing over……. 
Then came along those typewriters that had a correction ribbon that worked sort of.  The correction ribbon did alleviate some of that  typing, making a mistake, typing over, making a mistake, typing over……. 
Computers did away with all of that.  Make a mistake, just move over to the mistake, correct it and carry on.  Eureka!  It is a joy!!  The other way computers help me out is the saving and then using that document over. No retyping!  Or the saving and just changing the things that have to be changed.  When you do weekly bulletins which are pretty much the same except for Bible readings and hymns and sermon topics the computer is a magic tool.  
The other magnificent feature of computers is the option of sharing documents between computers.  I often work in my office on my office computer and then send what I’m working on to my laptop and go home and finish up there while I am watching my favorite shows such as American Idol or Masked Singer!  Can’t miss those great experiences!!!  Watch and work both!  Perfect!
So all that is great until which time your computers decide they don’t really like to work quite so efficiently any more and your life takes a turn down the tubes.  Such as it was the last couple days.
I was working really hard to get things done - those routine things such as bulletins and sermons and children’s church and inserts and all of that plus we have started Lent and programs for our Lenten dinners needed to be done and I wanted to have everything ready to go so I could go to my granddaughter’s Karate Tournament on Saturday (I have never been to a Karate tournament before so this will be a brand new experience!)
This is of course is the moment my computers decide they need to not work as they should…….
I sit down on my comfy couch to watch my program and at the same time to translate the bulletin I emailed to myself from my office computer into the Power Point we use on Sunday mornings and my computer emphatically told me it could no longer open documents from emails - insert that emoji where someone is showing the shocked face….. 
So instead of the evening I had planned I spent the time trying to get my computer to do what I wanted it to instead of what it wanted - or in this case - didn’t want to do……. There were phone calls to the sainted husband who is pretty computer savvy to no avail; there were chats with online help places to no avail.  There was great gnashing of teeth.
Only to find out the next morning when I went into my office the office computer had spent the evening talking to my other computer and they entered into a conspiracy to refuse to do any work what so ever…. Eeeeeek!  
Well this precipitated a call to the daughter who uses the same kind of computer I use and she was able to shed some light into the computer work strike….. but the healing hadn’t completely happened yet and I watched my valiant desire to complete the days work begin to seep away.  Sad face emoji.
After the daughter’s direction, I began to look for updates and see how many of those were lurking behind in those recesses of computerdom found somewhere inside this computer box…. I admit there was an additional moment of panic when the notice popped up on the screen that said “This update will take 30 hours”.  I checked it several time to make sure it really said hours instead of minutes - Oh dear………
It was then that I realized I could work on the computer while it was experiencing these 30 hours of reconstruction (which by the way only took about 45 min - confused emoji).  So some hope for the work completion returned…
After spending most of the morning with both computers updating and logging in and out and in and out and turning off and back on and they turning themselves off and on I think that maybe they may be back to 90% working which I can live with……
There is a message here for us.  We need to update and reboot as well.  God is a great supporter of rest and renewal.  God often talks about the need to renew and refresh.  Jesus often went off to spend some down time.
Don’t you sometimes feel yourself slipping away from the closeness you feel to God or the church or the people in the church?  Don’t you sometimes just feel yourself unsettled and not just functioning as you should?  
God says:  Stop!  Relax!  Rest!  Renew! Update your operating your systems!  Take a day and a devotional and sit by the river, or a lake or on your front porch.  Read, pray, just sit quietly.  
Don’t fall into that trap of thinking that if you are not busy and doing something you are failing in your mission as a productive adult…….  Just like computers, there is down time needed.  
And you know, if God says it is OK to just not do anything for a little while, who can refute that?  
You will be amazed at what you can accomplish if you are willing to take the time to just update, refresh, renew in the presence of God!

Devotion - February 5, 2020

Greetings!
We bought our retirement home which is a little over an hour from where we live.  It is an old farmhouse that requires work to get it ‘up to snuff’ (wonder where that phrase came from?).  Anyway, it is livable the way it is but in order to make it look like a place someone would want to really live full time it requires some work.  There is some land and a pond with this retirement home as well and there is lots we want to do with that.  
Of course the original idea was to buy the place and then when I eventually retire we would go and begin the work while we were living there.  But we are just like little kids with a quarter outside the dime candy store, we were anxious to get busy and begin the work!  
So our plan became for us to leave when I got off work Thursdays, drive over, work Fridays, which is my day off, and come back Saturdays.  The plan is working well, although my already retired husband makes some extra trips - well because he can!
Thursday afternoons we pack the car as full as we can - we are moving a car load at a time with an occasional piece of furniture in our cart - and the trip commences.  
What has become an interesting aspect of this weekly journey is we begin to get a good grasp on everything along the road on the way! Especially when something is changed or missing.
When we started the traipsing back and forth we noticed an ice cream truck for sale sitting on the side of a hill. You know the kind which has the cute little song playing and the types of ice cream delights painted all over it.   (Which I thought would be a great purchase because I think it would be a whole lot of fun to drive around neighborhoods and give ice cream to little kids).  Every time we went by there was a 5-minute conversation about this ice cream truck and why I wanted it and why my husband didn't - until one trip when it was gone.  I was quite sad and now we have a 5-minute conversation every time we drive by  where the ice cream truck was parked considering what happened to this ice cream truck - did someone buy it so they could deliver ice cream to neighborhood children or did they just give up trying to sell it or…….
We also noticed along the road a stand which had a porch swing hanging from it with a big ‘For Sale’ sign.  Each time we drove by I said, “I would really like a porch swing’ even though currently we really don’t have any where for it and my husband reminds me every single time I got a porch swing  where we were living we ended up having to move……
But what was really funny about this porch swing was I didn’t realize until many trips this guy was selling porch swings and this was just the current one he was selling…. cause I kept wondering why no one was buying the one hanging out there and I thought I maybe was going a little crazy since the porch swing looked a bit different each time we drove by…
Then there is the guy who either is an RV salesman, and RV renter or and RV repairer or just likes multiple RV’s sitting in front of his house.  Not the little ones, but those ones where you could live if you had a mind to.  The kind we kept threatening our kids we were going to buy and just spend a month in front of each of their houses when we retired…..  Sometimes there are 3 RV’s, sometimes there are 1 or 2, sometimes there are none…..  Hmmmm…..
We also drive by a house we thought about buying which is almost the same situation we have now - acreage, a pond, porch.  But it is right on the main road and there is no fence so this house got axed pretty quickly from our consideration list…. but it is a good source of conversation as we drive by looking at what the people who bought are doing with it!
I’m sure you do not want to hear every moment of our itinerary and all of the things we observe during our frequent trips back and forth, cause there is much more and I can always keep typing and describing and ruminating over the observations….
Our trips and our observations remind us of the importance of paying attention to the journey of faith we are all on as we live each day as God’s people.  It is important that we observe and discuss and notice and even discuss where we see God and what we see God doing and the changes we see in ourselves and even in others as we and they too grow ‘more Christlike’ in the journey of faith.
Because isn’t that why God sets us on our journeys?  Aren’t we on these journeys so we can grow closer to God and to better align our lives with the great example we have been given in Jesus Christ?  
Sometimes we see it in the changes in ourselves and sometimes we see it in the changes of those around us - and both observations help us better see the greatness and love and power and grace of our God!
Amen!

Devotion

Greetings!
If you are going to drive, then you are going to need gas in your vehicle.  Although  in this new age I guess you might need electricity for whatever you are driving  but I admit I haven’t gotten there yet and this is when I start feeling my age ‘cause I have thoughts like “I’m not sure about those new fangled things” like electric cars…..
When I think of gasoline and cars and driving I always think back to when I first started driving as a teenager.  I grew up in a very small town and if I remember right there were only 3 gas stations in the town and they had names - there was Bud’s (that was the Exxon dealer) and Whitakers (I can’t remember what kind of gas they had) and then there was Carl’s (The Pure Oil station).  My dad did books for the Pure Oil station and I use to impress my friends who were riding with me by pulling up my Ford Falcon to the gas pumps at the Pure Oil station where someone would come out and pump the gas and clean the windshield and check the oil (remember those “Full Service” days!) and without saying a word I would drive off…… And whoever happened to be in the car with me would look aghast and incredulously wonder how I was getting away with ‘stealing’ gas since I didn’t pay and they didn’t ask! It really increased my 'cred since I obviously was a person with great power and importance.....Of course whoever pumped the gas just went inside wrote it down somewhere and when my Dad would come to do their books he would pay - what a deal!
Which made me think about the getting gas experience in this day and age which is quite different…….  It really hit me the other day when I stopped to get gas.  In today's gas getting procedure, you have to pull up to the gas pump, punch a button to open up the little door where the gas tank is…..
Now I have one of those cars where you don’t need to put your keys into the ignition to start the car, your keys just have to be in the car which has its up and down sides but that is a discussion for a later date.  How this is relevant to my gas getting is the whole police thing I sat through one time about making sure you take your keys out of the car because the police told us about how easy it is for car thieves to just jump in your car and take off while you are getting your gas since the start your car keys are in the car and you are not.... 
So you punch your button and open the gas tank and remember to get your keys and stick them in your pocket or hold them or whatever is convenient.  You get your credit card so that you can purchase your gas - although I guess if there is no credit card you park, lock your car, walk to the  building, pay cash for the gas and walk back to your car, and begin again.
Now here is where the getting the gas experience has really become complicated….. I look at the screen on the gas pump while trying to think because not only is the screen on the gas pump flashing commercials at me there are also commercials blaring over the loud speaker. 
It is now that I feel like I am having to take an exam before I can get my gas.  Do you want a car wash Y/N?  Do you have a special for this gas station card? Y/N and the questions continue until I am finally granted the privilege of inserting my credit card…. where I am again asked several questions before the gas buying process can begin.
When I am finally granted the opportunity to pump my own gas, I am still inundated with on screen commercials and loud speaker commercials and when the gas pump finally clicks announcing my gas filling is complete, I hang up the pump handle and am again quizzed with multiple questions before I am ‘allowed’ to finally leave the gas station (I don’t think they are called gas stations any more  but I’m old…..).  
I don’t know which was harder, the getting in and out of the car and pumping my own gas or the questionnaire I had to complete in order to buy my gas….
Now I know us preacher types are always trying to get the people in our realm of existence to learn Bible things.  I often in the middle of my sermon will look at the congregation and say something like, “Now who was Jacob’s father?” and wait until some brave soul shouts out an answer.  I’m always saying things like, “Memorize this verse” or be sure you remember whatever….. 
And it is important that we learn Bible facts and stories and people, but one thing is for sure - the pearly gates are not going to be like a gas pump.  We are not going to get to St Peter’s little stand at the entrance to heaven and be confronted with a quiz - In order to enter paradise you need to list 10 of the 12 disciples, answer the following 4 questions about the wilderness journey and say from memory Psalm 23……
God wants us to read and know the words given to us in scripture, but it is not because we are going to have to pass an exam, it is so these words can inspire us and correct us and guide us and give us comfort.
So don’t worry, the gas pumping experience is far more difficult than being with your Lord forever!  
Amen!

Devotion January 15, 2020

Greetings All!

Happy New Year!  How many of you stayed up and brought in the new year?  Or like my husband, who went to bed way before the ball dropped!  But that is nothing unusual because he never stays up to bring in the New Year... 
There was one year however when he actually stayed up for New Years - remember the year 2000?  We lived in a very rural area that year with essentially one town in the whole county and that small little town decided the year 2000 was worth a big celebration.  For the evening they closed down the streets of the town, set up tables filled with sparkling grape juice and the year 2000 hats and noise makers and all kinds of food and the best thing ever was the crane in the middle of town which held a big disco ball that dropped at the stroke of 12.  
I also remember we were told the whole world was going to self destruct when it turned 2000 and thankfully that didn't happen!
Anyway my husband and the whole family went to this celebration which was a great time - and the husband stayed up till midnight when they dropped the ball from the crane and everyone shook their noise makers and drank their sparkling grape juice!
Now we are at the beginning of a new year and what I noticed as I stayed up to watch the New Years Rockin’ Eve is that the 2020 jokes were rampant.  
If you haven’t heard the 2020 jokes I’m surprised.  Right before the Times square ball dropped there was about a ten minute montage of Barbara Walters saying “Good evening.  I am Barbara Walters and this is 2020”.  Then the next day as the Rose Parade was broadcast, there again was a different montage of Barbara Walters saying “Good evening.  I am Barbara Walters and this is 2020” and I figured we were in for a few weeks of hearing Barbara Walters say “Good evening.  I am Barbara Walters and this is 2020”.  
And I was right. I’m really hoping we aren’t in for a whole year of “Good evening.  I am Barbara Walters and this is 2020”.  
But then came the series of vignettes where people were using the “We can see 20/20 this year” phrases over and over as they showed eye charts and those metal things the eye doctor has you look through when the doctor is measuring your eyes along with various other types of eye pictures to support the 20/20 illusion. “We can see 20/20 this year” I predict is going to show up in a lot of places over the next 11 months!
The first few times of this 2020 funny fest was pretty amusing with all this Barbara Walters talk and the 20/20 vision quip and then after a couple of weeks of hearing it over and over it became pretty annoying. To the point where when these punch lines appeared there was a quick channel change or radio station change and an audible 'ugg'….. And maybe even a wish for a quick coming of 2021 which doesn’t hold the obvious material for playing with words - or playing with number words!
While over saturation of anything can make our lives miserable and cause multiple eye rolls and audible ‘uggs’, we can never  be over exposed to the word of God.  We should never be annoyed when we hear once again “For God so loved the world…” or “In the beginning….” In fact unlike “Good evening.  I am Barbara Walters and this is 2020”, we should crave hearing God’s word as much as we can for it is in God’s word that we find our identity; our special place in God’s eyes; our goals and our purpose; our comfort and strength….
I admit I am tired of “Will you see with 20/20 vision this year?” but each day I enjoy hearing the words of God over and over.
And that is how it should be!
                                                         

Devotion Jen 8, 2020

Greetings!
I started thinking about these Midweek Devotions and when they started - 2006. And then I remember this is 2020 and think - Wow - that was a long time ago!  I sat for a moment trying to remember exactly what was going on in my life during that time that made me begin these devotions and then in bits and pieces it began to come to me……  cause I'm getting old and that is how things come to me anymore!
I was working in a job I was really good at and had received a lot of accolades and atta-boys or I guess atta-girls or perhaps atta-persons would be best.  I worked hard at my job as my family can attest ….. and I was also serving 2 churches which were over an hour from my house which ate up a lot of time just in travel along with the other things you have to do.  I guess now would be the appropriate time to say the standard joke of ‘Preachers only work one hour on Sundays’ or I guess I can legitimately say I worked 2 hours on Sunday since I had two churches - chuckle, chuckle!
At any rate, here I was in this time consuming job that I was good at and I enjoyed but I had a boss who was the micro-manager of all time and but at the same time knew very little about what I actually did or how I actually did it or the content of the work or what it entailed or even what it was all about….. but she was one of those bottom line people and one of those what was in it for herself people and at the same time was trying to impress her bosses which made  the job a wee bit stressful - well maybe more than a wee bit but I try and look at the bright side!
I could tell, my family could tell, my friends could tell that the stress of the work was starting to take its toll.  I began to have health problems; I had a surgery that required a much longer recovery time than it should have; and there were some people hired to work in my department who were totally inadequate and frankly not suited for the jobs at all but who held some credentials that could be used for publicity purposes and who began to pretty much undermine this great program I had established and so with some great soul searching and some great faith in the “God will take care of you” I quit my job.  Insert that little emoji with the shocked look on its face.
This was quite the trauma.  My husband was working in another state; my kids were gone and it was just me and the dog.  What was I going to do? I had worked literally all the time. I of course did the Wow!  Now I can clean my house but that lasted about 3 days since it was just me and the dog living in the house.  Now what?
I did have the 2 churches I was serving at the time but since I had been squeezing that in with the full time job the prep work for that was pretty organized and fell together quickly……
The dog and I developed this routine.  Get up, eat breakfast, get coffee and walk up to my office on the top floor of the house. Surely there was something I could do in my office since this before the days of Facebook where I could have easily twittered away my time scrolling through everyone else’s lives.
Something in me remembered my days in college where every day I would put a pithy saying on my door - imagine if you can it was before computers and so I actually would hand write it!  Insert again that little emoji with the shocked look on its face! 
So I thought - maybe I can start thinking up pithy sayings again but make it about faith and then I can send it to my church members who have email - this wasn’t the stone age like my college years and there were computers and email in 2006…… 
And that is when it started…… I have often thought about trying to look back through emails because I never delete anything and seeing if I can find that inaugural devotion but then there is real stuff I need to do.
Reflection is a great way to begin a new year.  Not making resolutions that we jokingly will laugh about in a couple months - but reflection on the last year and where God has been in our lives.  You will be amazed how you begin to see how very involved in your life God actually is….. moments where at the time you thought things were falling apart but God allowed you to see the good in what was happening around you or how God was working and things could have been a whole lot worse than they were.  
Bad things happen to us all - there are moments of turmoil and inconvenience and concern - but if you look back you will see how in the disorder God is there! And then you can start off the New Year a little bit closer and a little bit more willing to step out in faith and hear God’s call on your life!
Amen!