Lessons from my Granddaughter

(Written November, 2011)

In early November I got out the Thanksgiving decorations box. I carefully unwrapped a ceramic pilgrim man and put him on the buffet. Our three year-old granddaughter, Arianna, gasped with wonder and said,… “Jesus!”

I had to tell her, “No, it’s a pilgrim.”

I unwrapped the matching pilgrim lady and again Arianna whispered, …”Jesus.”

“No,” I responded, “Another pilgrim.”

We hadn’t been talking about Jesus. We don’t have statues of him standing around our house and yet when something new and wonderful was taken out to be displayed she just assumed it had to be Jesus.

When the first snow came in November she squealed and said, “God sent the snow.”

“Yes, Arianna, God sent the snow.”

I smile at her simple happiness and wish I could rewind my life to a simpler time. My grown-up heart is cynical. I have lived in this broken world too long to be optimistic. The reality is, life is hard. It isn’t how God intended. We have each royally messed up.

…And so we have Christmas. Not to distract us from what is bad in our lives. Not to have a month of gift giving and parties. We have Christmas because God promised he would send a redeemer all those years ago when our first parents sinned.

Just as Adam and Eve chose sin over God, we have chosen our own selfish ways. Instead of turning our face to God we turn our faces inward. We turn them anywhere but toward God. And yet…

“God so loved the world… (God so loved me, you) that He gave…” He gave his son, not only to be born, but eventually to die for my lost condition. What a marvelous hope!

So I stay close to Arianna. As she delights in Christmas and wants to learn all about the baby and what God did, I feel my own heart melting. It is becoming a little more childlike. As I tell her about the great God who loves her, I am reminded of just how great He is.

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:76-79

My Grandmother’s Chair

I have two chairs that my grandparents received on their wedding day. They are tiny by today’s standards. I used them as thrones when I was a little girl. There was a matching loveseat that I spent hours sprawled out in reading the World Book Encyclopedia. The loveseat met an unfortunate end when it got in the way of a semi-truck, but that is another story.

The chairs came to me before my mother died. About 10 years ago one of the chairs was damaged while being used in a drama production. The front leg and part of the frame was shattered. I couldn’t bear to throw it away. How do you discard something that you have lived with all your life? It was the only thing I owned that had belonged to my grandmother…so it sat in my basement. The chair that wasn’t damaged sat with it. It seemed they should be together. I looked at it every once in a while and tried to see if I could fix it. It seemed impossible. There were just too many pieces. Still, I couldn’t throw it away.

A couple years ago I decided to buy some fabric and recover the good one. I bought enough for two chairs just in case. I started on the broken one first. I took out the old tacks, peeled back the old fabric, took out the stuffing and removed the webbing from the bottom. There it was looking worse than ever. The springs had come loose. The leg and frame looked hopeless. I carefully took the leg apart where it met the frame. I cleaned out the old glue. I fit the pieces back together with new glue in the joints. I added wood filler where the wood was damaged and splintered. I bound it up tight while the glue dried. I also put some braces up inside where they wouldn’t show. I sanded and covered up the scratches with stain.

Next I started putting new webbing on the bottom, retying the springs, layering the burlap, stuffing, cotton cloth, more stuffing, more cotton cloth and finally the finish fabric. The braid went on last to cover all the edges. I stepped back and looked it over. I was amazed. It was beautiful. It was also strong…stronger than it had ever been. I recovered the good chair too. I had to redo some of the stuffing, but I didn’t have to touch the springs or webbing. They were a matched set again. They looked the same, but one was much stronger. The one that had been broken, seemingly beyond usefulness, was now the stronger of the two.

My thoughts turned to people. Many are broken and shattered. As broken people we have two choices. We can hide in the basement and expect other people to stay there with us or we can give our broken and shattered pieces to the one who made us. It will hurt. He will have to take things apart, scrape off things that shouldn’t be there and dig out some rotten bits. But as we trust Him to work with our life He will make us beautiful and strong…stronger than we would have been if we had never been broken.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Karen Pickering

(Originally published July 18, 2013)

But God remembered Noah

Photo by Sourav Mishra on Pexels.com

Noah was 500 years old when God told him to build an ark. God saw that …

“the wickedness of man was great.” “Every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. Genesis 6:5

(So much for thinking that following your heart is a good idea.)

“the LORD regretted that he had made man…and it grieved him to his heart.” vs. 6

God decides to destroy man, animals, every creeping thing, and birds, but in that cesspool of humanity…

“Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” vs. 8

Imagine Noah and his sons building the ark while the rest of mankind looked on and mocked. To preach for 100 years without any converts must have been devastating. Noah simply obeyed. Once they were all safely on board with the animals, God shut the door, and they waited.

They waited 7 days before the rains came.

Then the floodgates of the deep and the windows of heaven were opened. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. There was so much water that even the mountains were covered up. Every living thing died that wasn’t on the ark. The flood waters surged for 150 days or 5 months.

“But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark.” Genesis 8:1

They had not been forgotten. God stopped the rain and closed the floodgates. A little over two months later the water receded and the mountain tops could be seen again. Just over a year after the flood had begun it was finally dry enough for Noah and his passengers to leave the ark.

Sometimes when I struggle with a situation that never seems to end I think of Noah. He was given an overwhelming job while the rest of the world was being destroyed. There was no escape from his daily duties. Imagine being the only living island in a world of water. Yet, his faithful obedience saved his life and the life of his family.

Oh, that I would have such faith. To believe that God is doing something I am unable to understand.

Father, help me to trust you with my impossible situations, knowing that you have not forgotten me.

For further study:

Genesis 6:5 – 8:22

Matthew 24: 36-44

Hebrews 11:7

II Peter 2:5

Marbles & Paperweights

My son loved marbles. There is something fascinating about them, the color, the design… The thrill of sending them down the hall in quick succession.

My husband collects glass paperweights, which he keeps in a display case. Most of them were his grandmother’s. He has added a few to the collection over the years. Most of them are round. 

One day, to my horror, I found our son rolling the beloved paperweights down the hall in quick succession. I yelled, “That’s not what those are for! Those are paperweights!”

He knew they were paperweights. He had looked at them several times under our watchful eye with our explanations of what they were for. But he had a passion for marbles so he didn’t care what their intended purpose was. He wanted to use them as marbles. His wants outweighed what was best for the paperweights. His wants outweighed what the certain punishment for damaging them would be.

Sad to say, they didn’t roll well. They weren’t made for rolling. After being hurled down the hallway most of them had nicks and chips.

When something isn’t used for its intended purpose it doesn’t end well.

A hand painted silk scarf used to mop up the floor.

A Monet used as a dartboard.

An ancient tapestry used as a doormat.

A priceless violin used as a cricket bat.

A crystal vase used as a garbage can.

Each thing is demeaned as it is misused. The creator of each would be saddened to see the intended purpose being ignored for a baser one.

Our society is good at renaming or redefining things. I think of the phrase, “love is all you need”. Love is defined by the feelings of the people experiencing it.

Our bodies can be misused in the same way. God created each of us with a design and purpose. To use our bodies as he designed them is to honor Him. He has made it plain from creation. It wasn’t good for Adam to be alone, so He created a helper for him. This helper was made from his own rib. He was to love and care for her as his own body. God made them to fit perfectly together.

The laws that followed were very specific as to what was not allowed. It was because God knew what would bring the most happiness. What would be best for the people He had created. God created love (or sex) to be between one man and one woman in a committed marital relationship. It was a good gift. 

We have corrupted that gift to include: Sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, sex with multiple partners, sex with prostitutes, sex with same sex partners, sex with children, sex with animals, sex with ourselves. The list is endless.

Now we even rename what gender we are to suit our own feelings. Men claim to be women. Women claim to be men. Some claim they are fluid, unwilling to pick a gender. Our very DNA tells us what gender we are, but in this case we are not willing to follow the science. We would rather turn our back on the creator God and follow our own passions.

None of us are sinless. We all need forgiveness and grace. But that comes at a cost. The cost is repentance of known sin and a turning back to God. Our society tells us to “follow our heart”. “Be your own person.” But our worth is not found in our deceitful heart or in our sinful person, but in belonging to God, to be used by Him.  Our only fulfillment and joy can be found in following Him.

For Further Study:

Genesis 1:27-31; 2:18-25 (Creation)

Genesis 19:1-15 (Soddom)

Leviticus 18:19-23 (Law)

Jeremiah 17:9 (deceitful heart)

Romans 1:21-27 (God gave them over)

I Corinthians 6:9-11 (danger)

I Timothy 1:8-11 (purpose of the law)

Romans 10:9-13; 12:1-2 (good news)

Jude 7 (final warning)

The Missing Paintings

“They have got to be here somewhere!”

I had carefully done the samples for my art class weeks ago.

When I went to hang them up for display I couldn’t find them. I had searched every room in the house, some of them twice. They were nowhere to be found.

Now with 24 kids coming in a few hours I was desperate.

I finally sat down on the much traveled steps and prayed.

“God you know where they are. Help me find them.”

As soon as the prayer was on my lips I regretted how desperate I was to find something so trivial. If only I was as anxious to find God as I was to find my paintings.

I knelt and prayed a second prayer.

“Help me to search for You like I am searching for the samples.” Remind me that nothing is as valuable as my time with You. Help me to be desperate for You. Thank you for pursuing me, when I was not paying attention. Thank you for loving me.”

Prayer finished,

search continued,

paintings found,

lesson learned. (If only…if only. “Father, help me remember”)

For Further Study:

“The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand who seek after God.”

Isaiah 14:2

“Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near.”

Isaiah 55:6

“I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek for Me. I said, “Here I am, here I am.” to a nation which did not call on My name. I have spread out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts.”

Isaiah 65:1-2

“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:13

“that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him, and find Him though He is not far from each one of us.”

Acts 17:27

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Luke 19:10

There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy

This was written by Frederick William Faber in 1862.

The music below is a new tune by High Street Hymns.

(Try as I might I couldn’t find the actual name of the composer.)

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea.

There’s a kindness in His justice which is more than liberty.

There’s a welcome for the sinner and more graces for the good.

There is mercy with the Savior, there is healing in His blood.

There’s no place where earthen sorrow is felt more than in heaven.

There’s no place where earthly failings have forgiveness freely giv’n.

There is plentiful redemption in the blood that has been shed.

There is joy for all the members and the sorrows of a Head.

For the love of God is broader than the measure of our mind.

And the heart of the eternal is most wonderfully kind.

If our love were but more faithful we should take Him at His word.

And our lives would be thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord…

For the goodness of the Lord.

We Wait for God

And the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;

A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine.

And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,

Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.

He will swallow up death for all time,

And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces,

And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;

For the LORD has spoken.

And it will be said in that day,

“Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.

This is the LORD for whom we have waited;

Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

Isaiah 25:6-9 (NASB)

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face;

now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.

I Corinthians 13:12 (NASB)

Ladies R & R & R…

Ladies R & R & R …

Reconnect, rejoice, renew, refresh, revive, recharge

…But God…Finding Hope Through the Ages    –    Karen Pickering

Saturday, October 9, 2001 – 9:30 to 2:00

Lima Town Hall

N3689 CTY – I, Sheboygan Falls, WI

9:30 Registration/Welcome

9:45 – 1st Session “But God Uses Ordinary People”

10:45 – 2nd Session “But God Gives us a Song”    

11:45 – Break

12:00 – Lunch (provided at no cost)

1:00 – 3rd Session “But God Loves Even Me”

 Bring a Bible, pen and a friend. Please register by October 1st so we know how many to prepare for.

Contact: Karen Pickering bkpickering@gmail.com

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8


Giving Honor

They lined both sides of the road. Old, young, families…carrying flags, but no signs that we could see.

We had passed the small local airport a few miles out of town with more than usual security near the entrance.

There was a group of brass musicians near a museum waiting expectantly.

Law enforcement was everywhere, even mounted police, and firefighters with their trucks from many different towns.

Scores of motorcycles were congregating many carrying flags, but no signs.

They were getting ready for someone, but who?

We searched our phones as we slowly made our way out of town.

Marine LCpl Rylee McCollum was coming home today. My sister, Nancy’s voice broke as she explained to my granddaughter that he had been killed in Afghanistan and was receiving a hero’s welcome home. The date was 9-10-21.

This isn’t how he expected to come home to his wife and soon to be born baby.

“No one has greater love than this; to lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

The Man on the Middle Cross

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I ran across a 4 minute video clip of Alistair Begg on Youtube this week. There is a link to it below. I urge you to take the time to listen to it. It is a powerful message that we all need to hear.

The Man on the Middle Cross Said I Can Come | Alistair Begg – YouTube

For further study: Matthew 27:38-44; Luke 23:40-43