A Sign of a Change of Heart

The thuds were rhythmic and ground shaking. From the basement, it sounded like someone was trying to chop down my house! Who does construction on Saturday?

* * * * * * *

Derek left mid-morning to attend a wedding with Rachel. In 10 weeks it will be their turn!

Revelation 9:15, “…all prepared for the exact year, month, day, and even hour…” The Message

Last week was Rachel’s bridal shower. When I arrived home, I found David had cut down the bushes out front. They were a type of cedar that caused a rash when you brushed by them.

This week he attacked the stumps. He cut the roots with several blows from an ax. It took hours:

  • Digging the dirt out around them.
  • Cutting the smaller roots with a hatchet.
  • Attacking the tap-root with an ax.
  • Prying the stump up with a pry bar.
  • Disconnecting the stump from the tap-root.
  • Filling in the hole with dirt.

David wisely paced himself. He attacked the roots for several minutes and then took a break. He drank water and Powerade to replace fluids lost in the 80° weather.

He was persistent and determined. By suppertime, all three stumps were gone and the area was level and smooth.

Revelation 9:20-21, “The remaining men and women…went on their merry way – didn’t change their way of life, didn’t quit worshipping demons, didn’t quit centering their lives around lumps of gold… (21) There wasn’t a sign of a change of heart. They plunged right on in their murderous, occult, promiscuous, and thieving ways.” The Message

Changing our ways is never easy. Old habits have roots that go deep. It takes a lot of digging, chopping, and prying to remove them. We have to replace them with something else or they will grow back. It takes persistence and determination. We need sharp tools.

* * * * * * *

I spent the day sewing. I decorated my white jeans with ribbon and mended towels. We use large bath sheets for towels. I folded over frayed edges and hemmed them. Then I used a zigzag stitch on the areas that were starting to separate. (I know, who mends towels? Right?)

“Paul said, ‘Do your own work well…don’t compare yourself’ (Galatians 6:4 Contemporary English Version). …Avoid comparisons, resist exaggerations, and seek only God’s commendation.” “Find Contentment by Killing Comparisons” by Anne Peterson posted 1-31-11 in christianitytoday.com

When I finished mending, I moved to the couch and watched David work. (It’s not like I could go outside and help him.) Twice I handed him Powerade and twice I cringed when the ax hit the house!

Revelation 12:6, “The Woman herself escaped to the desert to a place of safety prepared by God, all comforts provided her for 1260 days.” The Message

Being stuck in the house is as appealing as a vacation in the desert! But God designed me to enjoy the view without experiencing nature. He provided all the comforts and I have everything I need.

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Stars Falling Out of the Sky

To get more exercise – I moved my library book!

“One big change takes many small changes. …Extremes don’t work. …Easing into change helps make it seem less overwhelming. …Small changes feed our need to succeed.” Brett Blumenthal in “52 Small Changes – 1 Year to a Happier, Healthier You”

Working my way through this book, I started drinking water every hour until 7:00 p.m. I made small changes for more restful sleep but got stuck on the chapter about walking.

I’m in my house 90% of the time. I leave a few times a week for 4 hours to play the keyboard. We live in a modest, ranch house.

Many suggestions are not an option for me:

  • Taking a walk before breakfast and after dinner.
  • Walking to work.
  • Walking the dog. (We don’t have pets.)
  • Walking or riding a bike on errands.
  • Parking far from the door.
  • Walking on my lunch hour.
  • Taking the stairs.

Wait! I could make more trips to the basement! I’m drinking more water and that means more trips to the bathroom. Using the basement bathroom would mean more trips up and down the stairs.

But I need an incentive or a reward. There are magazines in the girl’s bathroom upstairs. I’ll take my library book down to the boy’s bathroom. I can read a page every time I’m there.

I decided to record my trips up and down the stairs. I had several loads of laundry and ironing to do. The result?

21 trips!

As I brought the ironing board upstairs, I noticed it was darker outside. (I watch a movie while I iron.) A soft rain had started – a relief after several hot, sunny days! I opened the door to smell the clean air.

My plan was to sew after ironing. I finished and carried the ironing board downstairs. When I came back up, it was a lot darker outside. I had to turn on a light and it was only 3:00 p.m.

A storm rolling in can turn daytime into nightfall. I understand John saying “the sky snapped shut like a book.”

Revelation 6:12-14, “I watched while he ripped off the sixth seal: a bone-jarring earthquake, sun turned black as ink, moon all bloody, (13) stars falling out of the sky like figs shaken from a tree in a high wind, (14) sky snapped shut like a book, islands and mountains sliding this way and that.” The Message

Verse 13 really stuck out to me. Tornadoes are common in Iowa as are hail storms. “Stars falling like figs shaken from the tree” remind me of hail.

Hail can destroy a crop and severely damage a car or roof. I cannot imagine the damage falling stars will do! What an extreme meteor shower!

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Gem Hues – Amber, Flame, Emerald

In the ’80’s, our home had wall-to-wall gray carpet in all the rooms. (Gray and pink were trendy.) The bathroom and kitchen had the original white linoleum. We replaced the carpets in the living room and hall.

The carpet in my office has a basketball court, drawn on it in permanent marker. No, our daughter did not do that. But she left a golf ball sized hole in the center of the room.

We replaced the linoleum in the kitchen with laminate. And put linoleum squares in the bathroom. Later, some pieces popped up and cracked and mold developed.

I removed the damaged pieces and the nails in the sub-floor that worked loose. I glued them back down and spread grout over the entire floor.

The mold is back.

I don’t particularly care for my floors but I don’t compare them to magazines. As my chair rolls over that hole, I think of John and Jenny Maxwell.

The Maxwell’s attended Elim Bible Institute with my parents. They served in Kenya for over 40 years.

Many Christians in Africa do not have floors. One tribe mixes blood and urine to put on their dirt floors. It is the only way to keep the bugs away.

On Fridays, I pray over our personal requests and finances. I pray for wisdom, understanding, and revelation knowledge, (James 1:5). I ask Him to show us, lead us, and teach us, (Proverbs 25:45). Then I list my needs, wants, and desires. One item on my list is – hardwood floors!

I end the prayer like Priscilla Shirer does, “And if you have a better plan – do that.” I know I can trust God. Whatever he provides will be gorgeous!

Revelation 4:2-3, “A Throne set in Heaven with One seated on the Throne, (3) suffused in gem hues of amber and flame with a nimbus of emerald.” The Message

A nimbus is a luminous cloud or a halo surrounding a supernatural being. Artists paint a white halo around the head of Jesus. But this verse shows us God has yellows and reds with a green halo. He is not boring. He is Beauty.

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

God Sees Everything You’re Doing for Him

To celebrate his birthday, David rushed home after work and took a shower. We drove for a half hour and arrived at 6 pm. He entered the building and took his place on the throne – the drum throne!

We practiced for an hour and played for the service. Even on his birthday, David kept his commitment. Even when the senior pastor was out-of-town, he kept his commitment. Even on a Wednesday night, when the congregation is smaller, he kept his commitment.

Pastor Gary Van Nyhuis preached about heaven – “Home, Sweet Heaven.” He used one of the verses I wrote down today.

Revelation 2:10, “Fear nothing in the things you’re about to suffer – but stay on guard! Fear nothing! …a time of testing…won’t last forever. Don’t quit, even if it costs you your life. Stay there believing. I have a Life-Crown sized and ready for you.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“God will reward you for what you did in the ’70’s, ’80’s, and 90’s. He sees your service.” Pastor Gary Van Nyhuis, July 11, 2018

* * * * * * *

Revelation 2:2-3, “I see what you’ve done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can’t stomach evil, that you weed out apostolic pretenders. (3) I know your persistence, your courage in my cause, that you never wear out.” The Message

* * * * * * *

Revelation 2:19, “I see everything you’re doing for Me. Impressive! The love and the faith, the service and persistence. Yes, very impressive! You get better at it every day.” The Message

Pastor Gary had an altar call to pray for “attitudes” and those who lost their joy. Members of the worship team were quick to respond. People see our works. God sees our motives and attitudes.

Revelation 2:23, “…Then every church will know that appearances don’t impress Me. I x-ray every motive and make sure you get what’s coming to you.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“The devil will let you go backwards all day long and never fight you. In fact, he’ll pop pills so you don’t even feel the pain of your lack of progress…” “The devil will let you go backwards all day long” 1 Min Motivation, Steven Furtick

* * * * * * *

“God will often extricate us from the mess we have made, because ‘His love endures forever’ (1 Chronicles 16:34). Yet if we had only been patient and waited to see the unfolding of His plan, we would never have found ourselves in such an impossible maze, seeing no way out. We would also never have had to turn back and retrace our way, with wasted steps and so many tears of shame.” F. B. Meyer, “Streams in the Desert,” July 11

* * * * * * *

Revelation 2:24, “…be assured I’ll not make life any harder for you than it already is. Hold on to the truth you have until I get there.” The Message

* * * * * * *

Revelation 1:3, “…Time is just about up.” The Message

* * * * * * *

Revelation 1:12-16, “I turned and saw the voice. I saw a gold menorah with seven branches, (13) and in the center, the Son of Man, in a robe and gold breastplate, (14) hair a blizzard of white, eyes pouring fire-blaze, (15) both feet furnace-fired bronze, His voice a cataract, (16) right hand holding Seven Stars. His mouth a sharp-biting sword, His face a perigee sun.” The Message

A cataract is a large waterfall. Perigee is the point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite at which it is nearest the earth.

When Jesus returns, no one will miss it. His voice makes Niagara Falls sound like a whisper. His face is brighter than the sun when it is nearest to the earth.

“We will be caught up together with the Lord, (1 Thessalonians 4:17). He will give us a home in heaven, an eternal body, and new clothes (2 Corinthians 5:1-5). There will be no more death, sorrow, tears, or pain (Revelation 21:4), and no more curse, bondage, darkness or night (Revelation 22:3, 5).” Pastor Gary Van Nyhuis, July 11, 2018

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

I wasn’t deliberately deceiving my husband. I just enjoyed the way his eyes lit up as he ate each bite. Across the table, Derek was ready to burst because he knew the truth.

“You really made this ice cream cake?”

“Yes, it took all afternoon.” (Okay, that was a lie.)

“It’s really good. How did you make the chocolate cookies?”

My conscience finally got the best of me and I admitted…

“It’s ice cream sandwiches covered in cool whip. Derek picked them up on his lunch hour.”

Yes, I put the cake together but I didn’t make the ingredients. It looked good, tasted great, but was not what I implied.

1 John 4:1, “My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.” The Message

There are a million different versions of faith and spirituality. They look good, taste great, and are oh so easy. But some of them are deadly.

Everything we read and hear has to line up with what the Bible says. My favorite example is this…

“A Christian doesn’t have to go to church.”

Hebrews 10:25, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.” New Living Translation

You don’t have to go to the grocery store either. But eventually, your food reserves will run out.

We feed our spirits at church. We encourage one another and help carry each other’s burdens. We pray for the sick, comfort the grieving, rejoice with each wedding and baby born. That makes our faith visible.

3 John 1:5-6, “Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, (6) you make the faith visible.” The Message

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Shut Down Debilitating Self-Criticism

“Hey, Mom, are we having a birthday dinner for Dad tomorrow?” Derek asked.

“I thought we would wait for this weekend.”

“We have a wedding this weekend.”

“Okay, let’s do it tomorrow.”

I sent a text to Laura because she never answers her phone! Then I called our oldest son.

“Luke, we are going to get pizza for David’s birthday tomorrow. I’m sorry it is such short notice. It snuck up on me.”

“How could it sneak up on you? It’s the same date every year.”

* * * * * * *

“The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves! …the heart of effective personal management…deals with things like building relationships, long-term planning, exercising, preparation – all things we know we need to do but somehow seldom get around to actually doing, because they don’t feel urgent.” “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey

Enter guilt! I decided to make some changes. First, I exercised. It’s not my favorite thing to do. I wrapped David’s gift and spent the evening watching a rerun with him. (I never watch a movie twice.) I’m building a relationship here.

1 John 3:18-21, “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. (19) This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. (20) It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. (21) And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God.” The Message

At least I got David's gift wrapped… #happybirthday

A post shared by Pamela Cary Fishel (@frugalfishorg) on

(The man on the gift bag is bowling.)

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

The Intervention of Jesus Christ – Grace

In the movie, “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone,” he was an actor in trouble. He trashed a motel and was given 200 hours community service in a church.

They were casting for their big Easter production and he tried out. Claiming Christianity to participate, they gave him the role of Jesus Christ. While rehearsing the scene of the woman caught in adultery, he asked a question…

“What did Jesus write in the sand?”

“The Bible doesn’t say,” the director replied.

He spent a lot of time with three of the men playing “his disciples.” And even helped repair a car that was given to a single mother. He stopped shouting his lines dramatically and started saying them kindly.

He finally understood on opening night. During the scene of the woman caught in adultery, he wrote in the sand…


“Letting go of every single dream, I lay each one down at your feet. Every moment of my wandering never changes what you see.” “How Can It Be” Lauren Daigle

* * * * * * *

2 Peter 1:1-2, “…I write this to you whose experience with God is as life-changing as ours, all due to our God’s straight dealing and the intervention of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. (2) Grace and peace to you many times over as you deepen in your experience with God and Jesus, our Master.” The Message

* * * * * * *

2 Peter 1:12-13, “Because the stakes are so high, even though you’re up-to-date on all this truth and practice it inside and out, I’m not going to let up for a minute in calling you to attention before it. (13) This is the post to which I’ve been assigned – keeping you alert with frequent reminders – and I’m sticking to it as long as I live.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“The letter is written out of pastoral concern to counter false teachings and their influence on the lives of early Christians. Certain teachers, for their own personal gain, were promising that people could be Christians and still live immoral lives. …concerned that there be a check against this false teaching and immoral living even after he is gone (1:12-15).” Chronological Study Bible Introduction to 2 Peter

* * * * * * *

“When we focus on our perceived value and worthiness, we lose our sense of awe and wonder at just how magnificent Jesus is. …the first century believers in Colossae,… wanted to be right with God, and there was no shortage of people willing to tell them exactly how they could do that. Some argued for religious observances like circumcision, holy days and rules about food. Others suggested angel worship and secret rituals, plus other mystical practices. …Paul speaks firmly against these checklist teachings, explaining that those who promote such ideas are not holding on to Jesus. It’s Jesus alone…and He is enough.” “You are Not Enough, and That’s OK” Asheritah Ciuciu, on Proverbs 31 Ministries email

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

There are Difficult Times Ahead

My plan was to arrive early at the bridal shower.

  • My daughter called asking me to turn on the iron.
  • I told David I was going to Wal-Mart afterward for watch batteries. (My fitness tracker gives me a rash in the summer.) He asked for a battery for his desk clock. We tried the ones I had on hand and the minutes slipped away. I taped the battery he needed to the back of the package I had. Then I put it and my watches in my purse.
  • As I parked, I received a text that my sister was running late.

I hurried into the shower feeling like the worst mother-of-the-groom ever! The mother-of-the-bride met me at the door and gave me a hug. She just laughed when I apologized for not coming early. The bride-to-be was gracious, too. She said she arrived later than planned.

The food was amazing: “Build-your-own-parfaits,” mini Quiches, coffee cake, bruschetta with tomatoes and parsley, and bruschetta with strawberries, blueberries, and mint leaves. I took a big bite of a fruit bruschetta and heard Rachel say, “There are some people I would like you to meet.” I chewed furiously and prayed there were no mint leaves stuck to my teeth!

Her mother gave her a silver spoon from her grandmother’s collection…(She lost her grandmother when she was 5)…and the baby bonnet that she wore home from the hospital. Her aunt made it out of a handkerchief. You clip the stitches and have something old to carry in your wedding. She cried and everyone teared up with her.

I gave her the same glasses as my sister-in-law and another guest. I really felt like crying! (No, we did not plan it.)

Instead, I put my foot in my mouth. Not just once, but at least 3 times. I dug a hole, and when I tried to fix it, the deeper I went!

After the shower, I went to Wal-Mart. My favorite watch wouldn’t work – even with a new battery. I still have a white watch for summer and a black watch for winter. It’s funny; I thought I needed that fitness tracker.

I consoled myself with a trip to the library. I checked out as many books as I could carry.

“Sometimes you have to give up things you thought you wanted before you reap the rewards of the things you least expected.” Wanda E. Brunstetter in “The Discovery Saga Collection”

Finally, the verse I read this morning made sense.

2 Timothy 3:1, “Don’t be naïve. There are difficult times ahead. …” The Message

* * * * * * *

“Pebble Beach, on the California Coast, has become quite famous for the beautiful pebbles found there. The raging white surf continually roars, thundering and pounding against the rocks on the shore. These stones are trapped in the arms of the merciless waves. They are tossed, rolled, rubbed together, and ground against the sharp edges of the cliffs. Both day and night, this process of grinding continues relentlessly. And what is the result?

Tourists from around the world flock there to collect the beautiful stones. They display them in cabinets and use them to decorate their homes. Yet a little farther up the coast, just around the point of the cliff, is a quiet cove. Protected from the face of the ocean, sheltered from the storms, and always in the sun, the sands are covered with an abundance of pebbles never sought by the travelers.

So why have these stones been left untouched through all the years? Simply because they have escaped all the turmoil and the grinding of the waves. The quietness and peace have left them as they have always been – rough, unpolished, and devoid of beauty – for polish is the result of difficulties.

Since God knows what niche we are to fill, let us trust Him to shape us to it. And since He knows what work we are to do, let us trust Him to grind us so we will be properly prepared.” “Streams in the Desert” –  July 7

* * * * * * *

“We often assume we’ll only have peace when our situation changes. Then like Gideon we learn that inward peace doesn’t depend on altering our outward circumstances; it depends on believing God is with you and experiencing His inner peace.” The Word for You Today

* * * * * * *

“There must be an assignment on your life and so He doesn’t take you up out of it, He gets in the fire with you. …I’m not gonna take you out of the storm, I’m gonna see you through the storm!” “How I Know You’re Important,” 1 Min Motivation, Steven Furtick

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Refuse Inane Discussions

My dad was a character. He loved giving his friends and family a hard time. A battle of wits was a favorite pastime.

We all inherited his wit. He found in his children a worthy opponent. As adults, we sometimes got the best of him. He always ended those discussions with 1 word…


Stifle could mean several things:

  • I’m losing the battle and want to end the war.
  • You’re talking too much.
  • I don’t want to discuss that subject.
  • Your voice is too loud.
  • Don’t talk in here, (the car, church, etc).

If Dad were alive and had a Facebook page, I’m sure that would be his comment on many posts – “Stifle!”

2 Timothy 2:23-24, “Refuse to get involved in inane discussions; they always end up in fights. (24) God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“If we as Christians are going to be a witness in this culture, we must change the way we speak – not only about one another, but also about the world around us.” “The Timeless Voice: Civility is more than manners, it’s the gospel in action” Greg Baker, The Family Leader

* * * * * * *

Proverbs 11:12, “Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.” New International Version

* * * * * * *

“You’re to stand – not fight. …Our human methods get in God’s way.” The Word for You Today 7-6-2018

* * * * * * *

“Living a life of faith often requires us to leave things alone. If we have completely entrusted something to God, we must keep our hands off it. He can guard it better than we can, and He does not need our help.” A. B. Simpson, in “Streams in the Desert” July 6

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Frittering Away Their Days

Turning the page on my DayTimer, I found it was the last one. Yeah, I planned to print off the pages for July last Thursday.

A food journal is on one side and a regular journal on the other. It’s more of a diary than a planner now. I have a line down the middle of the 2nd page. It is easier to record activities and reads like a newspaper.

My task list is long but I have no energy. After 2 loads of laundry and writing 2 posts, I shopped online. David’s birthday is next Wednesday. No luck.

Derek came home for lunch and turned on the TV. I decided to play computer games until he went back to work. That turned into playing until I won. The afternoon slipped away and guilt moved in. I’m as bad as the young widows Paul warned Timothy about.

1 Timothy 5:13, “…frittering away their days on…trivialities…” The Message

* * * * * * *

2 Chronicles 20:15, ‘For the battle is not yours, but God’s…’ …Why then do you discourage yourself into defeat, trying to win the battle in your own strength? You engage in a fruitless cycle of repentance, resolutions, struggles, defeat, and discouragement, which leads to more repenting. The only sort of spiritual conflict that’s ever successfully won, is the one God fights for you.” The Word for You Today

I’m adjusting to a new normal. In 2009, we lost our first parent. Since then, we lost 2 more. Burying our parents became our new normal.

This week, we buried our niece’s father. I thought it would be years before that happened. Yet, we’ve lost many classmates. Burying our peers is becoming a new normal.

“As you and I follow Jesus in our new normal, we’ll continually climb out of the familiar because that’s life. We may not always know what’s ahead, but we can be assured we’re on good ground if we’re following Jesus.” “Adjusting to a New Normal” Suzie Eller, Proverbs 31 Ministries

In 11 weeks, Derek will come home for lunch for the last time. An empty nest will be my new normal. I’m sad and excited all at once. I’ll miss him, but I already have plans for his room.

Dad would have been 86 today. I still miss him. Happy Birthday in heaven, Dad.

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.