Hope – Advent Devotional Week 1

Hope – Advent Devotional Week 1

“God is the only one who can make the valley of trouble a door of hope.” – Catherine Marshall

As the advent of our Savior coming to earth is remembered and celebrated, the hope we profess is often tested and tried. The pains of life – Illness, loss, loneliness and wounded relationships, etc. can be magnified as the season ensues.

The hustle of preparations can distract us from pain until we stop and silence ourselves. Christmas music, decorations and family traditions may dull the pain of hopelessness…but our heavenly father sees and can disarm the power of this world’s pain with hope today as he did in many years past when the first Christmas was arriving.

What was young Mary thinking when she realized that she would bear the son of God? What would she say to her family as a young engaged girl who found herself pregnant? Mary had to wonder what would happen to her when the angel told her she would be with child. Surely anxious thoughts of embarrassment, fear and uncertainty crept into her mind… But hope prevailed. The hope that what the angel said was true, the hope that she indeed would bear a son and name him Jesus, the hope that her cousin Elizabeth would also be pregnant as the angel told her. By God’s grace the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt at Mary’s (Jesus’s) arrival! I can only imagine the comfort Mary felt as she was with Elizabeth.

Young Mary embraced her dilemma with grace and held to hope. Hope. Yes…Hope. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” 1 Cor. 13:13a

When we have hope we dare to love. When we have hope we step into situations that might be uncomfortable with a different perspective. When we have hope we can face fears head on and receive grace.

The first week of Advent is underway. Let’s usher in this sacred season knowing that we will likely need an intentional reminder of our true hope during the upcoming weeks.

My prayer today is that we have hearts that are ready to receive as we embrace our Savior coming to earth and that we have hearts that are determined to give. May we pray that we see the needs which God has called us and equipped us to meet and grasp the grace to humbly serve in them. Oh Father, show each of your plan for how we can give others hope this season. Help each of us to rest solidly with hope in you. Amen.

Below are a couple suggested verses for my scripture memory friends – if you haven’t joined us this year maybe you’ll consider memorizing some verses with us next year! It’s a powerful habit indeed!

He is the one we proclaim admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Col. 1:28-29

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful.” Heb. 10:23

Wise or Careful?

It is amazing how one verse can change the way we look at things! Recently, while reading and memorizing in Colossians I was struck:

Be wise in the way you act… Make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone“. Col. 4:5 NIV

This one little verse adjusted my thinking in a couple areas.

1. First, when I thought through the words, I mistakenly said, “Be careful in the way you act….” instead of “Be wise in the way you act…” I like careful – sometimes better than wise.

I’m tired of myself when it comes to this careful trait. I don’t want to be “careful”. I want to be “wise”. Careful has a sense of fear driven motivation. When wisdom calls for careful or cautious I will be all for it, but because my tendency is toward the side of caution I hereby commit to take appropriate wise risks.

2. Second, the verse says “so that you may know how to answer everyone” – I wanted to say “so that you may have an answer for everyone“. There is a big difference between these two phrases. We don’t need to have an answer, we just need to know how to answer. Maybe this tidbit sounds obvious, but I needed a reminder, and it sounds gracious and peaceful…and wise in my world.

Hope you are moving forward with your scripture memorization. It has the power to change the way we look at life!

Prayers that we favor wisdom over caution today…


It’s the Little Things Like Sherbet (scripture memory #11)

It was just a receipt…an old receipt that I dug out of my purse yesterday as I organized its contents. There were other crumpled receipts I quickly discarded at first glance, but this one gripped me.  I had to save the Walgreens receipt for a pint of orange sherbet.

I bought it after a hospice visit with Dad F. and his son John. John read Ephesians for an hour and we all talked about it…well John and I talked…Dad wrote on his board because he had a tracheotomy and couldn’t speak. I sat next to the hospital bed reading Dad’s comments about the scriptures and his comments about our comments as John sat in the cozy chair across the room loudly reading The Book for Dad’s hearing-impaired ears.

When we finished at 3:00 Dad used his small white board to tell us that he wanted some orange sherbet. Even with his new trach and feeding tube he said Teri his nurse thought it would be fine to try some sherbet. I talked to Teri and rolled across the street to the Walgreens…praying they’d have it so I wouldn’t need to make a trip to the grocery store. I was on a mission for orange sherbet.

The large freezer had what seemed like hundreds of varieties of ice cream. I looked and looked and finally spotted the ONLY sherbet in the freezer – and it was ‘Orange’! I rolled the cold treat to the hospice and gave it to Teri to give Dad later.

Little did I know that the few spoons of sherbet Teri gave him in tiny little pieces that night would be the last earthly taste to his tongue. Later she told me he enjoyed it as they visited that evening. Dad really liked Teri…she has a special ministry.

He was so vibrant that day and the next morning when he got up and shaved and enjoyed bible study and prayer with his best friend, Paul.  Then suddenly, he was in a comatose state for less than 24 hours before he passed.

Daily my prayers include Mom F. and the family as they live here on earth without him.  Since we were reading Ephesians I am sharing some favorite verses for potential scripture memory this time…

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (Ephesians 1:17 NIV)

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:17, 18 NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:14-17 NIV)

He was a father to so many, he knew how to make everyone feel loved and welcome.  I’ll never look at Ephesians or orange sherbet in quite the same way…


A Special Date of Remembrance for My Parents

Today is my dad’s birthday. He would be 82, and passed away when he was 62. This photo was taken when he was in his thirties. Handsome man!

This is my dad and birth mom, Joanne (aka. mom #1). She died when she was thirty-six from complications after a routine surgery. My dad had five children ranging in age from five to sixteen when she passed.

He took the family on a three week camping and sightseeing trip out west the summer after mom #1 passed away! A brave man.

A little over a year after my mom was gone I met the woman who would become mom #2. True love marries a handsome man with five children!

We lived near Washington D.C. Beautiful cherry blossoms every year!

Mom #2 took me to ladies lunches, taught me how to set the table, cook, sew and shop. I still don’t like shopping and miss her bargain hunting talents and fashion advice. The beautiful young woman sitting at the table is a dear friend of my mom’s, Jane. She continues to stand in as a mom and good friend for me!

Dad was the photographer. It seems like most of the photo’s we have of him also capture him holding a camera.

He taught us to garden. I hated pulling weeds, but loved gathering the squash, lettuce, greens, beans, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, melons, and especially digging up potatoes!

Dad taught us all to fish and hunt. I’ll spare you the deer hunting photographs. I could shoot a rifle or shotgun, but never could kill an animal. I just couldn’t pull the trigger if a deer was standing in front of me and I’d follow the dove as they flew across the sky, never daring to pull the trigger when birds were in sight.

Dad was a techie and true geek from a young age. My husband’s office reminds me of dad’s. My theory is if Brent had met my dad he might still be in his basement talking and tinkering with electronics.  What do you think? Look at this photo of Brent’s set up!

Brent and his Ham radio gear.

This is one of the last photos taken of mom #2 and dad together during a trip they took to Greece.

Mom #2 (aka Maxene) lived for seven years without my dad. At only fifty-nine years old, she passed on from breast cancer and its nasty complications on the day my dad would have turned sixty-nine. We think she wanted to be his birthday present in heaven.  My brother Brian, then boyfriend, now husband, Brent, and I had the sacred privilege of being at home with her when she left this earth. No matter how long we live it still seems life goes by so quickly.

I’m thankful for my life, my family, my friends, and today I am especially thankful for the three parents I was blessed to have raise me, and for the Father who continues to guide me each day!

Hope you are making memories today!  With love – Madge

As a father has compassion on his children,so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— (Psalm 103:13-17 NIV)