Relinquishing Control: What I Learned At The Dentist

Going to the dentist is an exercise in relinquishing control. God has been teaching me a lot about that this year.

I had to go to the Dentist.

Need I say more? A crown came loose and I was counting on an easy fix. Instead, we may have to take out a second mortgage to pay for what needs to be done!

Going to the dentist is an exercise in relinquishing control. God has been teaching me a lot about that this year.

Everyone knows that a trip to the Dentist is stressful for most people. Look at the lengths a dentist goes to in order to make his patients relax. Many offices provide waiting rooms that look more like your living room than a doctor’s office. With their big overstuffed chairs, subdued lighting and large flat screen televisions they hope that before going into the ‘back’ you will relax and take a few deep breaths. At the Dentist’s, your stress starts before you even begin, you stress in anticipation of what is to come.  That’s why some dentists even provide televisions in the exam rooms. To keep you calm while you wait. After all, once they start working you cannot see the TV when laying back and you cannot hear it over the whirr of the equipment. However, no amount of distraction can transform the experience entirely. There simply is nothing pleasant about having to lay back with your mouth wide open while someone is digging around in there. And of course, if you need work done, there is the pain factor also.

Did I mention you have to relinquish control?

Once in that chair, you feel vulnerable and

what needs to be done,

how long it will take,

how much it will hurt and

how much it will cost

is all out of your control.

So what do many of us do? We avoid the dentist.

Our discomfort and fear of what he will find, and of what he will want to do, cause us to stay away.

Sadly, some of us avoid intimacy with Christ or the truth of His Word for the same reasons.

We are afraid of relinquishing control of our lives.

We are afraid of what He will find or what He will want to do.

We do not like feeling vulnerable.

We are unsure about what needs to be done, how long it will take, how much it will hurt and how much it will cost us.

Those are understandable concerns when you are at the dentist. My dentist’s office does everything they can to make my visit more comfortable. But they can only do so much to make an unpleasant experience bearable. The good news is that my time spent there, my willingness to relinquish control, does help me in the long run. Whether it is just a little cleaning and check- up or serious repair work.  And that is why I go back.

Do you want to live for God? Do you want to grow more like Christ? Do not avoid Him.

Keep going back to spend time with Him in prayer and in His Word. Growing in our walk as Christians requires time spent with Him where we make ourselves totally vulnerable and trust our hearts to His loving hands. We must lay back and open our hearts and minds. We must let Him do regular checkups and some deep cleaning. And know that sometimes we must give ourselves over to some serious repair. Rejoice if He sheds light on an area of your life that needs change. Remind yourself that being uncomfortable for a little while may be necessary for lasting change to happen.

I have some unpleasant work ahead with the oral surgeon and dentist. It is simply part of the maintenance needed on this decaying earthly body. At least I will end up with some beautiful new teeth.

The work that really interests me is the work that will last for eternity! I am ready to be all that God wants me to be.

How about you?

Are you ready to relinquish control to Him and see what new and beautiful things He can create in you?

Shellynne Wucher

Read more from Shellynne at: light4mysteps.wordpress.com

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Ready For Some Character Development?

Who is building my character?

Have you ever become interested in a television series after it has already aired for a season or two? And have you then gone back to see the earlier seasons and noticed how different some of the characters seem?

I recently stumbled on an old episode of the television series J.A.G. which originally introduced the NCIS character Abby.  I mention this because I was fascinated to see how much Abby has changed since this introductory episode.  Even if you are not a fan of the show, hang in here with me for a few minutes.

In this original episode she is almost normal, leaning towards Goth, fairly calm, happy, savvy, and sarcastic. She dresses in dark clothes, wears a large necklace, and listens to music while working in her lab. In current episodes of NCIS, Abby is Goth, hyperactive, happy, gullible, and trusts virtually no one outside the immediate team. She dresses primarily in black, wears a spiked dog collar and bracelet, and listens to extremely loud heavy metal music.

What happened? Character development. The scriptwriters wanted to more clearly define this character, so over time Abby changed. Episode by episode, season by season, the actress, the writers, and the directors built her character.

It makes me wonder –

Am I any different today than I was two years ago?

Who is building my character?

2 Peter 1:5-8  is all about character building. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   When I look back even a few months I can see the difference in myself.  Day by day, step by step, season by season, I am making every effort to allow the Lord to use His Word and the situations in my life to change and build my character.

Pauly Perrette, the actress playing Abby, could have resisted efforts to change her character and remained the cute but rather dull person in that original episode.  But instead she embraced the challenges of each new script and quickly became a pillar of the show.

I do not want to resist the work God is trying to do on my character. I don’t want to stay the same, I long to grow! I want to be more knowledgeable, more persevering, more loving today than I was yesterday. And it will take new situations and trials to bring that out in me. As well as time spent in His Word. So I choose to embrace the challenge.

What about you? Care to join me in some productive character development?

Shellynne Wucher

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Finding Romance… in the Little Things

Finding Romance in the Little Things

He left flowers on her windshield.

My oldest daughter had a long and arduous day. She told her boyfriend (now husband) that night that all she wanted was a good night’s sleep so she would be refreshed in the morning and ready for whatever God needed from her the next day. She awoke to a text, which led her out to her car, and there she found the lovely pink flowers. Romantic? Absolutely! It was one of those wonderful, sweet, blatantly romantic acts of young love.

I can almost hear my female readers saying “Awwwwww!” And the male readers saying either “nice move man” or “way to make the rest of us look bad!”. In our marriages, we women place a lot of emphasis on ‘romance’. We sometimes measure how much he loves us, or how content we are by the level of ‘romance’ in the relationship.

But what is romantic? Who decides what it means?  Google defines romance as “A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love” Too often we interpret that to mean fine dining by candlelight, soft music, exquisite jewelry, exotic vacations, flowers – definitely flowers, love notes and more. The entertainment industry reinforces this interpretation as do our own selective memories. We ‘girls’ remember the butterflies we felt when we were first in love and how he worked to woo us. And we disapprovingly define men as “not very romantic” if they do not find ways to directly express their love.

Many marriages experience a definite shift in the area of romance as years pass.  Husbands often forget how important it is to still pursue their wives, to reassure them of their love for them. For some reason, over time, most men become less direct and less verbal in expressing their love. And their women make the mistake of thinking the romance is gone. But is it? If you look closely you will see that men are still purposeful in ‘displaying’ their love. It just doesn’t look the same any more. I learned a long time ago that

romance is in the eye of the beholder.

 Think about it. What is the point of romance? To demonstrate love, right? So if you look for the ways love is demonstrated in a relationship, you will discover the romance! The man in your life may be more romantic than you think.

Every day I look for romance in the little things.

My husband knows I hate the hot weather, so my butterflies start fluttering when my precious husband picks up the floor fan and turns it so it blows on me. Or when, without comment, he puts another blanket on his side of the bed so I can have the fan on high. He loves me.

I melt when he gets in from work and comes to give me a kiss, then leans in to get one more. Or when we are walking and he tenderly takes my hand in his. He loves me.

He makes me smile when he treats a bowl of cereal as equally appealing as Sunday roast on nights when I am too weary to tackle cooking supper. Or when he happily joins me in watching a TV show when I know very well there is ‘game’ on. He loves me.

Do I still want to be surprised by an invitation to go out for a ‘romantic’ evening? Sure. Do I want to be wooed and pursued?  Absolutely! But in the meantime –

I am seeing romance all around me…in the little things!

Shellynne Wucher

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Grow Zone

2 Thessalonians 1:3 “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.” “GROW ZONE”. When I first saw these signs posted on the trees along the creek bed, it really caught my attention! When I first looked at these designated areas, I thought they looked unattractive and out of control. Of course, I did not have a clue as to the purpose of a grow zone. So I did what I always do, I looked it up! I found out that our District has established natural grow zones in many areas along the creek in our parks system. As I read through the website and the benefits of cultivating a ‘grow zone’, I could not help but consider the parallel to our lives as Christians. Do we cultivate ‘grow zones’ in our lives? Do we carefully plan them, clearly mark them and then steadfastly guard them? Do we protect time, energy and relationships so that growth in Christ can take place - resulting in a life that is lived fully for Him? The best place to start is to acknowledge that any and all growth will come from God. In 1 Corinthians 3:6 Paul stated “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” Second we should recognize that we do need to be growing! A grow zone has a number of characteristics. It acts as a filter, it stabilizes erosion, it lowers temperatures, it promotes healing, and it improves the natural function of the area. Can you see the parallels? FILTER - In nature, a grow zone results in a natural habitat that acts as a filter improving water quality. In our lives, as we grow in our knowledge of His Word we create a habitat in which His wisdom will act as a filter for our thoughts, decisions and behavior improving our walk with Christ. (Hebrews 4:12) STABILIZE - We can look around and see the impact of erosion in nature. And we have all experienced the power of this world’s influence to erode our commitments, and convictions; to wear us down with daily assaults on our attempts to love, be joyful, and stand strong. Just as a grow zone stabilizes or moderates erosion along a creek bed, establishing a gospel centered grow zone in your life is a way of stabilizing the erosion caused by the enemy’s attacks. LOWER YOUR TEMPERATURE - I learned that a grow zone shades and lowers temperatures. Our ‘temperature’ can get pretty hot! Situations can be difficult and people can be irritating. But remaining planted by the stream of living water will allow us to learn and be reassured by His truths thereby lowering our temperatures. (Psalm 1:3) PROMOTE HEALING - Did you know that a grow zone promotes plant recovery and health? Have you been hurt, betrayed, or experienced loss? If you have, you know the importance of an established grow zone. It is a safe place to recover and heal. WE NEED A GROW ZONE - And finally, a grow zone improves the natural and beneficial functions of the area. If we are to be imitators of Christ, to worship Him, to tell others of Him, in other words to function as God would have us function, we need a grow zone. What does a grow zone look like for a Christian? It is protecting that time in His Word, time talking with God, time with His people, time of instruction, and time of pure worship. It is a place to grow in all areas of our Christian experience. 2 Peter 1:5-8 says: “5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is a grow zone if ever there was one! Establish your grow zone, protect it, and make the changes you need to make to let God do His great work in you!

2 Thessalonians 1:3 “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.”

 

“GROW ZONE”. When I first saw these signs posted on the trees along the creek bed, it really caught my attention! When I first looked at these designated areas, I thought they looked unattractive and out of control. Of course, I did not have a clue as to the purpose of a grow zone. So I did what I always do, I looked it up! I found out that our District has established natural grow zones in many areas along the creek in our parks system.

As I read through the website and the benefits of cultivating a ‘grow zone’, I could not help but consider the parallel to our lives as Christians. Do we cultivate ‘grow zones’ in our lives? Do we carefully plan them, clearly mark them and then steadfastly guard them? Do we protect time, energy and relationships so that growth in Christ can take place – resulting in a life that is lived fully for Him?

The best place to start is to acknowledge that any and all growth will come from God. In 1 Corinthians 3:6 Paul stated “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” Second we should recognize that we do need to be growing!

A grow zone has a number of characteristics. It acts as a filter, it stabilizes erosion, it lowers temperatures, it promotes healing, and it improves the natural function of the area. Can you see the parallels?

FILTER – In nature, a grow zone results in a natural habitat that acts as a filter improving water quality. In our lives, as we grow in our knowledge of His Word we create a habitat in which His wisdom will act as a filter for our thoughts, decisions and behavior improving our walk with Christ. (Hebrews 4:12)

STABILIZE – We can look around and see the impact of erosion in nature. And we have all experienced the power of this world’s influence to erode our commitments, and convictions; to wear us down with daily assaults on our attempts to love, be joyful, and stand strong. Just as a grow zone stabilizes or moderates erosion along a creek bed, establishing a gospel centered grow zone in your life is a way of stabilizing the erosion caused by the enemy’s attacks.

LOWER YOUR TEMPERATURE – I learned that a grow zone shades and lowers temperatures. Our ‘temperature’ can get pretty hot! Situations can be difficult and people can be irritating. But remaining planted by the stream of living water will allow us to learn and be reassured by His truths thereby lowering our temperatures. (Psalm 1:3)

PROMOTE HEALING – Did you know that a grow zone promotes plant recovery and health? Have you been hurt, betrayed, or experienced loss? If you have, you know the importance of an established grow zone. It is a safe place to recover and heal.

WE NEED A GROW ZONE – And finally, a grow zone improves the natural and beneficial functions of the area. If we are to be imitators of Christ, to worship Him, to tell others of Him, in other words to function as God would have us function, we need a grow zone.

What does a grow zone look like for a Christian?

It is protecting that time in His Word, time talking with God, time with His people, time of instruction, and time of pure worship. It is a place to grow in all areas of our Christian experience.

 2 Peter 1:5-8 says: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

That is a grow zone if ever there was one! Establish your grow zone, protect it, and make the changes you need to make to let God do His great work in you!

Shellynne Wucher

Read more from Shellynne at: light4mysteps.wordpress.com

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A Stable Boy In An Unstable World

The young couple set out on their long journey.

There was an immediate task at hand even in the midst of their uncertain future. The government, indifferent to the inconvenience and hardship, required everyone to travel to their birthplace to register for the census.  The Roman Empire needed information which would help them determine their population growth and establish a basis for the tax structure. What the empire wanted, the empire got. So Joseph had to go to Bethlehem. And Mary, nine months pregnant had to go with him.

They lived in an unstable world. A greedy, often violent and corrupt, government ruled their lives. The government leaders were temperamental, paranoid, and untrustworthy. The religious leaders were often weak and wavering. The average God fearer found it best to follow the rules and mind their own business. But those like Joseph and Mary held tightly to the promise of the coming Messiah. A promise fulfilled through the young couple. For in Bethlehem that night the Savior was born.

A stable boy for an unstable world.

We are shaken today by our own unstable world. Corruption, wavering morality, inconsistent values, irrational behavior, ambiguous ‘truth’, a lack of courage, unpredictable and untrustworthy leadership all create instability and an uncertain future.  Not to mention the instability of our personal lives. Financial, relational, emotional uncertainty abounds.

How can we face such uncertainty?

Walk by faith not by sight

Remember that the God who orchestrated the incredible events that led to Christ’s birth, is the same God we serve today! Have confidence in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (ESV)

Relying on sight blinds us to God’s best. Many who saw the baby Jesus that first night did not see the GIFT they’d been given. There are treasures God reserves for those who lean completely on Him. It is easy when facing uncertainty to cling to the familiar, even when God is asking you to step out in faith.  Don’t forfeit unseen treasures to hold onto seen comforts.

Feelings are not trustworthy guides

The more importance you assign to an event – the more intensely you’ll feel its emotions. But our feelings don’t have to dictate our choices.  Joseph and Mary probably had intense emotions about making that long trip so late in her pregnancy. What if they had decided to risk not going out of fear for Mary and the baby? Fear keeps us from trusting. Fear is a feeling, trust is a choice. They can share the same heartbeat.

Psalm 56:3 says “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

Trust in God

Are we so different from Joseph and Mary? Is our world any more or less certain? Rise above your fear and any other feelings that keep you from seeing Him and the significance of His gift this season. Set out on your journey of obedience.

In your unstable world,

Trust in the One who is

unchangeable,

unwavering,

solid, sound,

anchored, steadfast and sure.

Shellynne Wucher

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Thanksgiving When Life is Difficult

Thanksgiving But Life Is So Difficult Right Now

Thanksgiving? But Life Is So Difficult Right Now!

Maybe life is really difficult for you right now. Maybe you are wondering how you can nurture a thankful heart while in the midst of such pain. Maybe when you remember the ‘Thanksgiving story’ you think of clean, neat pilgrims with smiling faces and a fat turkey.  Maybe you have forgotten the heartbreak, disease, death and devastation they faced their first months in the New World.

 Is your life difficult and uncomfortable and you wonder if this season of hardship will ever end?

In September 1620, 102 passengers crammed into a small ship called the Mayflower, left Plymouth England and headed to the New World. For 66 long days, they crossed treacherous waters encountering storms which slammed against their small ship.

Have you persevered only to find yourself in an unexpected place in your life? And even then your progress is further delayed?

The Mayflower dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. They had to wait another month before the captain could take the Mayflower across Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Are you battling health problems? Have you lost people you love?

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. Only half.

Even after such heartbreak, the Pilgrims worshiped God and in the midst of their darkest times God sent help! In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. He introduced them to Squanto who taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. In November 1621, after their first corn harvest, they held a three day long celebration.

Nothing would bring back those they had lost; nothing could take away the suffering, or make the winters warmer or life easier. But they understood the love of God and their eyes were open to the blessings He had given them. Their hearts were full of thanksgiving.

Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Day a national holiday in 1863 when our country was in the midst of the Civil War. What was there to be thankful for? You should read his proclamation to get the full impact, but he points out how amazing it was that the country continued to expand, grow and thrive in areas outside the theatre of military conflict. He acknowledged that this was only through the hand of God.

President Lincoln understood that even when our hearts are breaking, they can also give thanks to our Creator.

 

This Thanksgiving:

Let us look outside our ‘theatre’ of suffering and see where God has sustained us.

Let our hearts be full of thanksgiving even in the midst of our pain.

Let us bow in humble reverence to Almighty God.

Shellynne Wucher

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You Don’t Have To Do It Alone

You are not meant to do this alone.

IT was BIG, brown, and UGLY. And it was on my ceiling.

I recently came home from a doctor’s appointment to find my daughter sitting on our couch staring at the ceiling. The night before she had fallen asleep on the couch and when she awoke she saw an enormous roach on the ceiling above her. This is Texas and there is no way to totally prevent roaches getting into the house. And most of them are BIG. (Did I mention this is Texas?)

Needless to say, my daughter quickly moved to the other couch and awaited my return. When I saw where the roach was, I paused for a moment contemplating how we could get to it. We have vaulted ceilings and this fellow was sitting on the 20 foot high peak.

I quickly formed a battle plan. First, we grabbed hats off the rack. There was no way we were attacking him without some head gear! Next, I sent my daughter for a broom and a bowl while I snatched the Wasp Spray (15 foot range) and the Roach spray – one in each hand. Nervously climbing the step stool to decrease the distance, I aimed and fired. He dropped and hit the floor running but was no match for my daughter. She had the bowl on him before he reached me. Victory! Together we had conquered the big, brown, ugly roach. Teamwork! An exciting and laughable moment in our house.

Of course, we left the bowl weighted down with a sundry item until my brave husband got home from work to look under the bowl. Once he established it was dead, I willingly disposed of it. That day, there was a recognized need – this roach had to die. No one wanted to deal with it alone. So we worked together to accomplish the goal. And we all benefited from the result, except the roach.

There are, of course, other more serious needs we face each day that require us to work together. A friend who needs rides, a family member who needs medical care or companionship, someone moving, someone who needs childcare and the list goes on. We are not meant to meet every one of everyone’s needs. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it is important to work together to meet the needs of those around us.

But do you know what is the most important need we could ever meet? the most important teamwork we will ever participate in? The work that should take priority over all else?  The work that too often is bumped to the bottom of the list when, in fact, it is designed by God to be at the top of our list? It is the work of spreading the good news of Christ! We are designed and gifted to work together to do just that.

Apollos, in Acts 18:24-28, learned this lesson well in Ephesus. The scene is set in verses 24-26:

Meanwhile, a Jew name Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only of the baptism of John.”

Up to this point, as far as we know, he is working alone. And then something amazing happens. Read the next three verses and see if you can identify all the team players:

“He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”

So let’s see, Apollos spoke boldly, then Priscilla and Aquilla reached out to him to help expand his understanding of the gospel. Next, and here is the part that is easy to miss, when Apollos wanted to move on to Achaia, the brothers of Ephesus step up and encourage Apollos. Then they take time to write a letter to the disciples in Achaia. That letter apparently introduces Apollos and asks the brothers to welcome him. And when Apollos arrives in Achaia we are told he was a great help to them in return through his teaching and public stands. He was not working alone any more. A whole team of people worked together – for one purpose – spreading the word that Jesus is the Christ! Hallelujah!

If you know Christ, you are already part of a team that is working to spread the gospel.

 

So grab your hat off the rack and get to work.

Teach the truth about Christ,

Disciple others,

Encourage those who are in the midst of the work,

Help people connect with one another to accomplish the work,

Welcome those who want to do a new work in your community

You are not meant to do this alone.

Shellynne Wucher 

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A New View From the Middle

A New View From the Middle

Generally speaking I don’t like the middle seats – anywhere.

Not in a car

Not in a plane

Not even in a traffic lane

Not at a movie

or a show

Not even church.

And now you know.

But do you know one place I DO like being in the middle? When I am sandwiched between my two adult daughters and my husband.  We can be packed in tightly, hardly room to breathe, and all I feel is safe, secure and loved. We giggle (my husband gives a manly chuckle) and snuggle, and experience the joy of the moment. Suddenly, that sense of being ‘stuck’ in the middle transforms into the joy of the middle spot.

Maybe, like me, you experienced that as a child. Those times you were squeezed in between mom and dad. Safe,secure,loved,and joyful.

In those moments, there is no place I would rather be.

Did you ever stop to consider that we are living our lives ‘in the middle’?

We have an English expression “everything from A to Z” meaning A, Z and everything in between.  In the Greek alphabet, Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters. Jesus said:

 

 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,

the First and the Last,

the Beginning and the End.”

(Revelation 22:13)

Jewish rabbis often used Alpha and Omega to indicate the entirety, the whole from beginning to end. Jesus does not mean He is only the beginning and the end.

Yes, Christ was there at the beginning of creation. He is in the first verse of Genesis.

Yes, He will be there at the end of all things. He is in the last verse of Revelation. He always has and always will exist.

And that means He is here now, in the middle, where we live. Between the beginning and the end.

What is your view from the middle? It might be tempting to focus on the discomfort of your position. Are you wondering where to plant your feet today, like when you face that awkward hump in the middle of the back seat? Are you realizing you have no easy way out of a difficult situation, like when you need a quick exit from the middle of the row in a packed theater? I’m sure you are more aware of your discomfort in the middle on days filled with pain, hardship and discouragement.  It gives new meaning to the phrase “Hump day”!

Let’s encourage one another with this truth: Jesus is all that He says He is!

Find comfort in knowing Jesus is here with you in the middle.

Find hope in knowing He exists on both sides of these days.

Do you feel stuck in your spot in the middle? Just look at who you are sandwiched in between! The Alpha and the Omega! Feel Him squeeze in tightly next to you. Discover the pure joy of knowing you are:

Safe…secure…and loved

The middle is a wonderful place to be!

Shellynne Wucher 

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DANGER!! Who Protects You?

Who Protects You? By Shellynne Wucher

Do you read the warning signs around you?

You probably adhere to the signs you see that issue warnings of grave danger. Such as:

“Danger: Demolition in Progress – Keep Out”;

“Danger: Men Working Above – Watch Out for Falling Material”

Yet you may discount or test the warning signs that when ignored result in less severe consequences. Such as:

“Warning: Wet Paint”

“Danger: Men Working”

I am still trying to figure out the danger posed by men working!

How about the small warning labels that come on products we purchase? Do you read those? Do you ever wonder what led to the need for that particular warning? Some of my favorites:

  • the hair dryer with a warning “do not use while sleeping”
  • or the iron that cautions you “do not iron clothes on body”
  • or better yet, the cardboard sun shade for cars that warns “do not drive with sun shield in place”

Seriously?  Did someone actually do that?

Sometimes instead of signs, we try to educate one another on the dangers around us.  A recent article in my neighborhood newsletter discussed various safety issues for both drivers and pedestrians in the neighborhood. We have a wonderful hike and bike trail system and the trail periodically crosses the road. The article encouraged drivers to be aware of the many pedestrian crosswalks and the rules for giving the pedestrian the right of way.

What still has me laughing though is the warning which stated pedestrians should be aware that “the crosswalks do not protect you from oncoming cars.” I guess we needed to be reminded that there is NOT an invisible shield surrounding us when we step out onto the crosswalk. We may have the right of way, but that is no guarantee that the drivers will yield to us!

All of these warnings serve their purpose to educate us and make us aware of our surroundings and they are meant to empower and enable us to stay safe. However, not one of those signs can ultimately protect us. We cannot put our faith in the warnings. They only tell part of the story. The unexpected happens. All the time.

Who can protect you? Where should you put your faith?

In the letters of Matthew, Mark and Luke we are told a wonderful story of faith and protection.

One day Jesus tells his disciples “Let’s go to the other side of the lake.” (If this took place today there would have been a sign on the shore that read “DANGER: Sudden Storms Often Occur on the Lake”.) The men climbed into the boat and headed across. An unexpected and terrifying storm hit. The furious waves crashed against their boat threatening to take them under.

The disciples were frantic and hurried to wake Jesus (yes, He was asleep in the boat.) Over the roar of the storm they shouted “Lord save us, we’re going to drown!”

If you know the story, you know that Jesus rebuked both the storm and the disciples with His words. He calmed the storm with “Quiet. Be Still” and He challenged the disciples with “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”

Jesus connected their faith in Him, or lack thereof, to their fear. You want to live without fear? Increase your faith. Jesus expected that His presence with them would be enough to calm their fear, even though they were facing a life threatening storm.

Jesus is the one who encouraged them into the boat. He knew the storm was coming. He also knew He would be with them. Sometimes, even when we walk in total obedience to the Lord we find ourselves in the midst of a storm. Still, there is no reason to be afraid. Put your faith in Him. He is your shield and your Protector.

 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.”

Psalm 5:11-12 (ESV)

Shellynne Wucher 

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Butterfly Kisses; Up Close and Personal

butterfly

How precious is your steadfast love, O God.” Psalm 36:7

A wonderful thing happened in our front yard this April! Our large hedge bloomed as it has never bloomed before. There must have been something particularly sweet about the pollen this year too. The butterflies came by the dozens!

The hedge sits right at the corner of our house, at the edge of the front walk. In order to walk from the car to the front door, you have to walk through a swirl of butterflies. They take turns landing gently on a blossom, hungrily gathering the sweetness, then flying off to dance around above the walk, darting back and forth.

Some family members dashed through them as quickly as possible, never quite seeing the allure of the dance. But after the first shock from the sheer numbers, I quickly became accustomed to slowly walking through the butterflies, allowing them to swirl all around me on my way to and from the house. In fact, I often stopped in the middle of the throng and just marveled at this gentle scene of wonder.

And then it happened.

One day when I stopped, a single butterfly flew to me and ever so gently set down on my hand, repeatedly opening and shutting his wings and tickling my skin. And then just as suddenly, it returned to the hedge.

I could not stop smiling – warmed by this genuine kiss of a butterfly! I stood still for a long time hoping for another one to come to me.

My thoughts were transported back in time to when my mother tucked me in at night and I would ask for a ‘butterfly kiss.’ Grinning, she leaned down and just like butterfly wings, her eyelash would tickle my cheek. I loved those kisses. Years later, my own girls giggled at bedtime as I leaned in and tickled their cheek.

A butterfly kiss is an intimate gesture of love because it requires you to get up close and personal. Such a simple way to say “I love you, so-o-o-o much”.
I stand amazed that our God, the Creator of the Universe, expresses love to us individually – up close and personal.

I rejoice in the fact that His creation speaks His love to us every day.
More importantly, His creation declares who He is!

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

He whispers “hello” in the gentle breeze.
He warms us with the daily sunshine.
He protects us with shade of tall majestic trees.
He renews His promise with the rainbows.
He soothes with the music of a bird’s song.
He provides beauty in the waterfall,
power in the ocean waves,
serenity in the babbling brook.

Each one an example of His creative power.
Each one an example of His loving nature.

That day on my front walk, God, the Creator of the Universe, bent down and got up close and personal with a butterfly kiss!

Look for it.
Wait for it.
Be ready for it.
That unexpected moment in your day when God reveals Himself to you,
when God leans in and tells you “I love you so-o-o-o much!”
And then… respond in the only way a grateful heart can – with abundant praise for the One who is Worthy!

Shellynne Wucher

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