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90-Second Devotions


By Tandy Balson

TABLE OF CONTENTS

From the Outdoors

Do Your Roots Show?

Hiding in Plain View

Garbage to Gems

Who Can Hear Me?

Lessons from a Nature Walk

Just Look Up

Deadheading in the Garden of Life

Pocket Full of Rocks

Not Ready to Let Go

Zap Them

While Traveling

Caught in the Haze

Band-Aid Repairs

Is This Your Baggage?

Windshield Washer Thinking

Successful Merging

Emergency Scene

Out and About

Free Samples

Rescued

Quotes and Misquotes

Doors of Life

My Hourglass Life

Line Ups

What Language Do You Play In?

Take a Risk or Stay in the Dark?

Know the Words by Heart

Home

What I Learned from my Christmas Cactus

Breakfast Entertainment

A Clean Sweep

Do You Need More Spice in Your Life?

Frayed Around the Edges

Thank You

What People Are Saying

About the Author

Copyright

From the Outdoors


From the ODo Your Roots Show?

There are many variations of roots. Some are exposed; while others are well-hidden.

Near the end of a walk, I encountered an area where several trees had exposed roots. These roots seemed to reach from one to the next as if providing stepping stones. My husband was not surprised when I asked him to stop so I could take a picture.

I wondered if these roots had a greater meaning to impart. I carried on, knowing the message would be revealed as I prayed for clarity.

Thoughts that came to mind were of my life being rooted in Jesus. When my roots run deep, I can stand strong and tall.

As well as reaching deep, some evidence of my roots needs to be exposed for all to see. The visible portion will form the stepping stones to lead others to Jesus. This will happen more readily when I allow myself to be open and vulnerable. I can tell of my reliance on Him and what He has done in my life.

Reflecting on this, I believe it is a good thing to let my roots show.

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, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19 NIV)

Hiding in Plain View

My husband and I were walking along the beach when he suddenly stopped and looked at the sand behind him. He pointed to a small crab. It was not moving and blended well with the surroundings, making it difficult to see.

I commented on his good vision. He said his foot had brushed the crab and he’d felt the scurry. He had stopped to see what had caused this sensation.

For the crab, being able to hide in plain view is a method of protection. This ability helps keep it safe from predators.

I thought of how I have used this method of protection in my life. This has happened when I’ve been in uncomfortable situations or ones in which I feel threatened. At these times I tend to withdraw and do my best to blend into the background. In effect, I attempt to make myself invisible to those around me.

The result is a feeling of isolation. This is not what I want and is definitely not comfortable.

When I remember that my value does not come from others but from God, I am much happier. I turn my focus to the fact that God knows me intimately and still loves me unconditionally. From him there is no hiding nor does there ever need to be.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25 NIV)

Garbage Turned into Gems

While on a tropical vacation, I was fascinated by sea glass and the jewelry made with it.

Once back home I did a little research on this previously unknown stone.

Traditional gems are made by nature and refined by man. Sea glass is a reverse gem. Originally made by man, in the form of bottles and jars, it has become refined by nature to become the smooth, frosty gems found on many beaches.

I was amazed to think of garbage thrown carelessly into the ocean being changed so dramatically. The broken shards of glass spend years being tumbled by the waves and tossed against the sand until their edges are rounded off and the slickness of the glass has been worn into a frosted appearance. The characteristic texture and shape it takes on does not happen overnight.

This gives me new insight into my life. God has done exactly the same thing with me. He has taken my life and made something beautiful out of the broken shards I once presented him with. Through time and experiences, I have been tumbled until my rough edges are worn down. God can use all of my experiences to accomplish his good, pleasing, and perfect will for my life. I am excited to see what he has in store for me next.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Who Can Hear Me?

While walking along the shore, we heard the thump, thump of the hull of a small boat coming in contact with the water. Both my husband and I scanned the area in search of the boat. We were amazed when we finally saw it far from the shore, blending in with the horizon line.

The sound waves obviously carried much farther than we’d realized. We joked that we’d better keep our voices down or people in nearby houses would hear every word we said.

The thought of being overheard is only uncomfortable if I’m saying something I shouldn’t.

Also brought to mind was the fact that God always hears my words. He hears much more than the prayers directed to him. It gives a different perspective when I realize God hears me even when I’m not on my best behaviour. Every word that

comes from my mouth and the thoughts that precede them are known by my Heavenly Father. When my thoughts are positive and loving, my words will be as well.

The closer I stay to God, the easier this becomes. When my words are directed by God, there is no worry about who hears them.

May the words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 NIV)

Lessons from a Nature Walk

Walks are wonderful exercise and relaxation, but sometimes I gain much more than that from them.

My husband and I set out for a walk on a hot summer afternoon. First, we strolled along a peaceful path by a lake. Then, we crossed through a field of clover where the only sound was the buzzing of the bees as they gathered the sweet nectar.

The scorching sun beat down on us relentlessly and we looked forward to the shade of the treed path ahead.

We soon reached the trees and were refreshed by the light breeze. Suddenly, there was a swarm of tiny insects around us. I kept my gaze on the ground, afraid if I looked up, these insects would be inhaled. Although we passed through the swarm quickly, we would encounter several more as we continued.

One of the things I learned from this experience was that things are not always as idyllic as they appear from a distance. Many situations look perfect until I experience them firsthand.

Another lesson for me was to focus on the positive. There were some minor inconveniences on my walk, but they didn’t dampen my appreciation for spending time in nature on a glorious summer day.

I need to remember the Lord faithfully provides for me every day. His mercies are never-ending and my gratitude to him should reflect that.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)

Just Look Up

I was being careful of my footing that morning. The tide was in, forcing us higher up the beach than normal. I carefully picked my way over rocks, shells, and sandbags.

Moments later, I looked up to see why my husband had stopped. An imposing shadow made me duck. My head narrowly missed the base of an overhanging deck. I had been aware of the wall beside me but not the danger looming overhead.

This was a vivid reminder of what can happen when I focus only on my next step. I become so self-absorbed that I am unaware of dangers that are right in front of me.

By starting each day in prayer, asking for God to lead me, I am looking up for direction. He knows the difficulties I will encounter and will guide me accordingly.

Sometimes he will enable me to avoid them and, in other situations, will walk with me through them. In either case, my life improves when I practice looking up to the One who has promised to take hold of my hand and help me.

I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand and say to you, “Don’t be afraid; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13 GWT)

Deadheading in the Garden of Life

Some of the flowers in our planters were wilting and turning brown. There were still plants with healthy blooms and a few new buds forming. To extend the blooming period of these plants, I needed to deadhead them.

Deadheading is done by removing the flowers as they fade. Pruning and pinching keeps the plant from going to seed and then dying.

As I did this I pondered the process of removing what is no longer needed so new growth can occur. This is true in life as well as in gardening.

There have been times I’ve held onto thoughts and behaviours that were not productive. The only comfortable thing about them was their familiarity. Still, I clung to them as though they were something precious.

Jesus gave the example of God as a gardener who prunes so that we may be more fruitful. This biblical example was what I needed to focus on. Pruning in my life needed to be done before I could begin to live the productive life that had been planned for me.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:1-2 NIV)

Pockets Full of Rocks

My husband and I took a walk along a rocky lakeshore.

The variety of colours, sizes, and shapes of rocks fascinated me. Before long I was picking them up to admire. Initially, I had no intention of keeping any. I would just look at the stones, put them back, and carry on.

Something about these rocks called to me and soon some of them found their way into my jacket pocket. When I filled both pockets, I added some to my husband’s pocket as well. Although these stones weighed me down, I felt the need to carry them.

Why did these rocks hold such value that I would fill my pockets and struggle to carry the weight of them?

I remembered that, in the Bible, God is called rock of my salvation, my rock, and my fortress, rock of my strength, rock of refuge. As I thought of the many references to God as a rock, it also came to mind that we are all created in the image of God.

These rocks represented God’s people. We come in all sizes, shapes, and colours. No two are completely identical. Although we appear different, we are all created in the image of God, our Rock.

Jesus carried a heavy burden when he died so that we may have life abundant. Perhaps my pockets full of rocks were a reminder of the strength and love shown to mankind. Suddenly, the rocks didn’t seem so heavy.

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 NLT)

Not Ready to Let Go

Dry leaves blow across the yards and crunch underfoot as the trees release them during their preparation for winter. The majority of trees in our area now have bare branches. As if in protest of the season, the tree in our front yard is the exception.

After a strong wind during the night, I expected to find our lawn littered with leaves. Our tree, however, was still hanging onto most of them.

When I mentioned this to my husband, he said maybe it just wasn’t ready to let go of them yet.

Immediately, I thought of habits and behaviours I’ve hung onto because I wasn’t ready to let go of them. Although I knew the letting go was inevitable, I hung on as long as possible.

Change is not always comfortable, but it is necessary in order to grow.

As the seasons of my life fade from one to the next, I need to let go of the things that no longer serve me well. The new season has much to offer, but I can’t receive it if I’m still holding onto the last one.

When my roots go deep into the Word of God, he will sustain me through periods of growth and times of change. He is only able to do this when I am willing to let go of what I think I need and enter into the adventure he has in store for me.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1NLT)

Zap Them!

The deal was too good to resist. So we didn’t. End of season sales can yield some amazing bargains. That’s how we ended up with an electronic bug zapper.

The mosquitoes were no longer a bother, but we had more than our share of pesky flies. On a September weekend, my husband and I headed to our trailer and brought the zapper along to try it out.

We were able to sit outside and enjoy a meal with fewer disturbances than nor- mal from these annoying insects. The occasional crackle meant there was one less to bother us.

I thought about this device and wondered what was capable of zapping away my doubts and fears, all those pesky negative thoughts that swarm around in my mind. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to dispose of them this easily? Something that would eliminate them before they became a problem would be wonderful.

Actually, I don’t need a device to take care of this. All I need is Jesus. When I call on him, he is faithful to calm my mind and leave me with a peace that eliminates the worries of this world.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3 NIV)

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 NLT)

While Travelling


Caught in the Haze

My husband and I set out for a scenic drive through the mountains. When we left home, the sky was a deep blue with a few fluffy white clouds scattered about. We opened the windows and delighted in the warmth of the sun.

The weather conditions changed somewhat as our elevation increased. The temperature dropped and our once clear view turned hazy. A haze is a collection of very fine particles in the atmosphere that give the air an opalescent appearance that subdues colours. In other words, the view of our surroundings was no longer well-defined.

Far above us the sun still shone and the sky was blue. It was an unsettling feeling to be caught in the haze when we knew clear skies were so near to us.

This reminded me of times in my life when I seemed to be caught in a fog or haze. In my case this was either confusion or vagueness of thoughts and feelings. My direction was not clear and I felt like my life was out of focus. This was not comfortable and I longed for clarity once again.

When I put my trust in Jesus and let him direct my life, he restored my vision.

The new focus I was given allowed me to move forward into the bright future he had planned for me.

Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. (Mark 8:25 NLT)

Band-Aid Repairs

My husband put a new tube of toothpaste in his toiletries bag while packing for our vacation. Upon arrival, we found the tube had been punctured by nail scissors. I cleaned the mess in his bag while he did a quick repair on the tube by putting a Band-Aid on it.

Looking at the toothpaste tube, I found it amusing to see the words repair and protect on a tube that had a Band-Aid wrapped around it. We knew this was a temporary measure and might not last.

I related this to my life. There have been situations that resulted in emotional wounds. Repairing them properly was more than I wanted to deal with at the time. So I applied a temporary fix. This Band-Aid approach is quick and easy, and I didn’t have to examine the wound.

I have failed to realize that wounds not properly cleansed fester under the surface and flare up at unexpected moments.

When someone hurts me, I have a choice. I can turn my back on them, thus using the Band-Aid solution, or I can choose forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the tougher option but the only one that will enable me to be whole and healthy again. This is not a quick fix but something I may need to do over and over until the process is complete.

It is also a biblical principle. Jesus tells us to repeatedly forgive. He set the example and is the One who can guide me through this process.

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive some- one who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21-22 NLT)

Is This Your Baggage?

My husband and I have done some traveling lately. The airports we’ve visited have had many announcements concerning baggage.

We are warned not to leave our bags unattended. There are also cautions on arrival to make sure it’s your baggage you pick up. Many pieces of luggage are similar in appearance. So this can sometimes be a challenge.

This rule from the airport is also valid in life. Each of us carries our own baggage.

Sometimes it is small, like hand luggage. Other times the volume of hurts and regrets are too heavy to carry on our own. This oversized baggage needs to be checked.

When I see someone with excess baggage, I want to help them. Perhaps by lending a sympathetic ear, the burden can be lightened. Although I may want to help carry the baggage of others, I’ve learned that taking it on doesn’t help them or me. Similarly, no one else can carry the load that is dragging me down.

The most effective way I’ve found to deal with this is to give it to Jesus. Nothing is too big for him to handle. Spending time talking with him gives me the refreshment and perspective I need to live freely and lightly.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NLT)

Windshield Washer Thinking

The morning after a light snowfall, my husband and I were travelling on a major highway. The sand on the road combined with warming temperatures created a sloppy mess. We needed to constantly use our windshield washer to ensure visibility was not obstructed.

At one point I remarked, “I’m thankful for windshield washer fluid this morning.” Then I wondered if this was a life analogy.

Life is not always sunny skies and clear roads. Sometimes there is muck that flies up at us. A little here and there is easy to deal with and we carry on. . . unaware of any impediment to our vision.

If this is not dealt with, our view of things around us becomes so clouded that it is difficult to see what is right in front of us.

This is where prayer and reliance on God and the Holy Spirit come in. God always sees clearly the best direction for us. He hears when we call out to him in prayer. The problem comes when we forge ahead, thinking we can handle life on our own.

God sent his Son Jesus so we might have life and have it abundantly. Jesus gave his life for us. When he died he promised to leave us a helper, the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit can clear our vision. In my analogy, he is the washer fluid for our windshield. When I seek and rely on his guidance, I am led safely along the road that has been planned for me.

However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. He will remind you of everything that I have ever told you. (John 14:26 GWT)

Successful Merging

While driving along the highway I saw many signs warning motorists their lane would end. This notice was to give time to merge with the lane beside them.

Usually this was done smoothly, but I did observe occasional problems. Some- times the person merging didn’t consider the other vehicles and cut someone off. Other times they held back, staying in their lane until there was no other option but to merge. It seemed they would rather come to a standstill than join with the rest of the traffic.

To me this had a far greater significance than highway traffic. A visual reminder about reacting to the changes in life was being played out before me.

My life path seldom has completely unexpected endings. If I’ve been paying attention, there have usually been some warning signs. Knowing that change is imminent, it’s up to me how I will continue. At some point I will need to merge with others going the same direction as I am. This is the only way to keep moving forward.

If I approach the change with hesitancy, I run the risk of coming to a standstill. I need to be prepared for the new challenge ahead of me. Conversely, I may rush in without evaluating the timing. This can cause problems with those I cut off in my rush to get ahead.

There is an alternative. I need to pray and ask God for guidance. He is the one who knows where I need to go and the best way to get there. Spending time with God ensures my journey will be much smoother.

Call to me and I will answer you. I will tell you great and mysterious things that you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3 GWT)

Emergency Scene

My husband and I were driving on a major highway when the traffic started to back up. We merged into one lane and were expecting roadwork to be the cause of the delay. Before long we came upon a large sign that said, “Emergency Scene Ahead.” The delay was obviously caused by something more serious than we first thought.

Up ahead, in the median, we saw a trailer truck with the roof crushed and windows shattered on the cab. The trailer was being loaded onto a flat deck, while another tow truck worked on the cab. The warning signs had given us time to slow down and move over in order for the emergency crews to have space to work.

Thinking about the warning signs, I wondered what signs I have in my life to warn me of emergency situations ahead. The biggest one is my conscience. The Holy Spirit speaks to me, warning of things that will cause problems. When I heed these warnings, life goes smoothly. When I ignore the warning and forge ahead, I put myself in danger.

In order to live securely, I need to spend time in prayer and pay attention to the leading of the Holy Spirit. By doing this there will be fewer emergency scenes to deal with in my life.

The Lord’s beloved people will live securely with him. The Lord will shelter them all day long. (Deuteronomy 33:12B GWT)


Out and About

Free Samples

My husband and I attended a gluten free expo in our city. The majority of the booths had samples of products for us to try. This gave us the opportunity to taste items before we made a decision to purchase them.

Some things, like portobello mushroom jerky, were interesting, but one bite was enough for me. Others, like the cinnamon sugar donuts, were treats I could have eaten many more of.

The booths with the longest lineups were the ones giving away sample packages to take home. We added pasta, crackers, chips, popcorn, and bars to our tote bags. We also appreciated discount coupons for some of our favourite products.

Attending this expo reminded me of life. Each day I am presented with new experiences to try. Some are sweet, some are nutty, and others leave a bitter taste in my mouth. My task is to sample the experiences that are presented to me and find value in all of them.

The gifts God has given me are far more valuable than a box of pasta. They are freely given and I don’t need to stand in line to receive them. The investment needed is unlike the money I have to spend in order to use coupons. All I need to do is to invest my faith in God. This not only pleases him but also produces benefits far greater than I deserve.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)

Rescued

On the outside of the patio door stood a cat that seemed to be pleading to be taken in and loved. It was mid-January and extremely cold in Northern Alberta. A young family was visiting aging relatives when they saw this pathetic creature.

It was obviously malnourished and the long hair was dirty and matted. The older couple said the cat had adopted them and they fed it when they could. Recent icy conditions had made it too slippery for either of them to venture outdoors and they wouldn’t allow the cat inside.

The young son of the family was enthralled with the animal. He spent as much time as possible bundled up, sitting on the deck stroking it.

His dad knew the cat wouldn’t survive if left there. Compassion took over and the parents decided to rescue it. The children were thrilled.

With proper nutrition and a loving home, the cat flourished.

Hearing of this reminded me of the rescue mission Jesus performed on my life. I was lost and seeking the love and acceptance only he could give. Jesus adopted me into the family of God and gave me the spiritual nourishment I needed.

He rescued me and ensured that I would be with him forevermore. I will be eternally grateful that Jesus brought me into his loving care.

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:5 NLT)

Quotes and Misquotes

My daughter and I overheard her six-year-old singing a popular nursery rhyme. She belted out, “Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her courage away.”

We had a good laugh over her misunderstanding of the words.

I wondered how someone could eat their courage away. I pictured a big bowl of alphabet pasta and the words courage and brave being scooped up on the spoon, ready to be consumed.

When I thought about it, I realized I had probably eaten my courage away. Every time I have the opportunity to be brave and don’t take it, I eat away at my courage. Small bites over time can leave me with very little remaining.

Being brave doesn’t need to involve big actions. It just requires a simple step in faith and trust. The willingness to take chances is courageous. Even what I perceive as failures can be stepping stones to future success.

There are many times in the Bible when God has done great things through those who relied on the assurance that he would see them through. When I trust Him to work all things for good, my courage will once again grow. If I have any doubts, I need only look at these quotes from the Bible:

Be strong, all who wait with hope for the Lord, and let your heart be courageous. (Psalm 31:24 GWT)

Don’t be afraid, because I am with you. Don’t be intimidated; I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will support you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 GWT)

Doors of Life

One of my volunteer roles at a seminar was to open the doors at the start of each session to allow trainees to enter.

There were two main sets of doors to enter the training room. Lineups formed at the closest set, while very few people used the other set just steps away. I saw the majority of people follow the crowd. The ones who bypassed the lineup and walked to the other doors shook their heads in disbelief that so few thought to do this.

The metaphor was not lost on me. I wondered how often I have waited in line, following the crowd, when I could have moved ahead quickly if I’d taken the time to look for another open door.

I also realized there is usually a reason for closed doors. In this case it was because preparations for the next session were going on behind those doors. That’s why participants were asked not to enter until the doors were opened.

Many times in life I’ve been frustrated because the door I wanted to walk through was closed. Perhaps the closed doors were there because I had more to learn before I would be ready to go through them. Maybe I was trying to do too much in my own strength rather than waiting for guidance from God.

The future is unknown. My role is to be aware of the doors before me and learn from both the open and closed ones. God will open the right doors for me as I walk closely with him and pay attention to his leading.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NLT)

My Hourglass Life

During a dental checkup, the hygienist asked if I was brushing my teeth for a full two minutes. After telling her I really didn’t know, she gave me a cute little timer. It has a smiling tooth on each end and sand that takes two minutes to flow from the top to the bottom.

This got me thinking of an hourglass and how it relates to my life.

When I was much younger, my only thoughts of the word hourglass were related to the ideal body shape I wanted to achieve. Knowing that wasn’t realistic, this word had been filed in the recesses of my mind.

Now that I’m older, and hopefully a little wiser, I view the hourglass in a totally different way. The sand is representative of the sands of time that are slipping away. I have no idea how much time is left, but I do know it is less today than yesterday.

For this reason I need to make the most of each day. Unlike the sand in the hourglass, I can’t turn my day over and get the time back again. I don’t want to watch passively as the time slips away.

No loving words should be left unspoken and no kindness left undone. God has given me a certain number of days and I don’t want to waste them. I need to consciously look for ways to use my time to reflect his light and love.

A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. (Job 14:5 NIV)

Lineups

I overheard a conversation about a new grocery store that had just opened in my area.

“Did you go to the grand opening?” one asked.

“No, I don’t like the crowds and lineups,” the other replied.

They carried on to say that there had been giveaways for the first 500 people through the door. This hadn’t been enough to get them to the store.

Although I’m sure the giveaways would have enticed many, the reward would need to be substantial before I’d be willing to spend my time waiting in line. Even if I didn’t have other commitments that day, I wouldn’t have joined the throng of shoppers.

There have been times I’ve lined up for something of little significance. In contrast, the greatest reward I’ve ever received is available to all who request it. It wasn’t for one day only or limited to the first 500 who arrived. No lineups were required.

Jesus accepts all who sincerely desire a personal relationship with him. I came asking forgiveness for my sins. He took away my guilt and shame. My doubts and sorrow were replaced with peace and joy.

The light and love of Jesus shines into my life and has secured my place in the kingdom of God. The day I invited Jesus into my life was the grand opening of my new life with him. No lineups required.

God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong. (1 John 1:9 GWT)

What Language Do You Play In?

I watched some children playing in the sand. Three were siblings and the other, someone they had just met. They were busy building an elaborate sandcastle.

What made this scene special was that three of the children spoke only English, while the fourth spoke only French. The fact that they could not communicate with words made little difference to them.

The language they shared was that of working together towards a common goal and having fun. That was all that mattered.

These children reinforced an important lesson for me. When we focus on a common goal, the differences we have are not a concern. When we allow ourselves to become distracted by things that aren’t important, we run into problems.

We don’t need to speak the same language as others in order to work, play, or get along together. All we need is respect and cooperation. In other words, we need to play nicely with others even though we may not fully understand them.

God has gifted each of us with different talents and abilities. I need to not only share my strengths but also to embrace those of others. In that way everyone will be a winner in the game of life.

To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. (Matthew 25:29 NLT)

Take a Risk or Stay in the Dark?

My friend was standing on the top rung of a step ladder, arms fully extended to re- place some burned out light bulbs. I was at the foot of the ladder, ready to exchange the old bulbs for new ones.

Personally, I’m not fond of climbing ladders. It feels too precarious to me. I commented that I’d be nervous, but she seemed confident. My friend said she didn’t like heights but learned a long time ago that there are things you need to do despite the fear. Replacing light bulbs happened to be one of them.

To emphasize her point I said, “So if you don’t take the risk, you’ll end up in the dark.” I quickly realized this had a deeper meaning.

There have been many risks I was afraid to take. I’ll never know the light of new discoveries if I don’t take the chance. Jesus came that I may have a rich and satisfying life. Part of that is embracing the new adventures he has for me.

When I have taken the risk and stepped out in faith, I’ve learned to keep my focus on Jesus. If I stumble, I know he is there to pick me up again. Other times he steps back to watch me soar. Either way, any risk he encourages me to take is more than worth it.

When I said, “My feet are slipping,” your mercy, O Lord, continued to hold me up. When I worried about many things, your assuring words soothed my soul. (Psalm 94:18-19 GWT)

Know the Words by Heart

It was a performance unlike any I’d ever seen. We had been invited to accompany friends to a presentation of A Christmas Carol. We were told the character of Charles Dickens would do a reading from his famous book.

Mr. Dickens explained it would take too many hours to read the entire book so he would give us the highlights. He assured us we wouldn’t notice it was a condensed version.

For the next two hours he retold the tale, with all of the expression and vocal characteristics of each person (and spirit) in the book. The audience was spellbound and the time passed quickly.

There was no reading during this presentation. No prompts or cue cards. I was amazed at the ability of this man to memorize two hours of monologue. After the show I learned the story had not been memorized. Instead, this gentleman had broken it down into smaller segments to thoroughly study it. When he was done, he knew the story. He told it as if it were his own life story rather than one needing to be recited word for word.

Knowing the words by heart does not always mean memorization. Instead, it is taking the meaning into my heart and understanding how these words relate to me. Only then can I apply it to my life.

God has a plan for my life but does not give me an automated script to follow.

I don’t have to worry about my role being perfect. He wants me to put my trust in him. God is writing the words of my life story. My job is to know them by heart and live accordingly.

The Lord will work out his plans for my life. (Psalm 138:8 NLT)

Home

What I Learned From My Christmas Cactus

Have you ever had low expectations for something but gone ahead with it anyway? That’s how I felt when I purchased a Christmas cactus in late May. It was blooming at the time and I was happy to pay the nominal asking price.

Prior experience with these plants had not been positive. They had either never bloomed or had done so only once. My hopes weren’t high as I cared for this plant over the next months.

In early December I noticed buds forming on a few of the leaves. Soon I was rewarded with one blossom and the promise of more to follow. This plant had appeared dormant for many months and was now showing its beauty again.

The showy magenta flower had just presented me with a good analogy for life.

After a period of productivity, I had fallen into what appeared to be a dormant stage. No matter how much I struggled, it seemed that my life had been put on hold. I wondered what I was doing wrong.

I had forgotten that God is always working in me. The periods that seemed like inactivity were his way of caring for me as he prepared me for the next phase of

my life. These periods of rest needed to be appreciated. There was more going on beneath the surface than I realized. When God is working in my life, the results will always be worth the wait.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14 NIV)

Breakfast Entertainment

I was thoroughly entertained as I looked outdoors while eating breakfast. A bird was feasting on the berries of our small mountain ash tree.

It should have been easy for this bird to sit on one branch and eat from a cluster of berries before moving on. Instead, it flitted from branch to branch, sampling berries from many areas of the tree.

After eating from a few spots, the bird flew into a neighbouring yard, only to return moments later. They had no trees with berries. So it was back to feast on ours once again. This pattern was repeated numerous times.

As I watched in fascination, I thought of how this scene related to my life. Many times what I need is within reach. Instead of appreciating what I have, I flit around, needing to sample everything there is to be had. If I stay in one spot, I may miss something better in another.

These are the times I need to remember to place my life in the care of the Lord. The Bible promises that when I ask God, he will give me wisdom to know what to do. He knows what is best for me and is always there to offer guidance.

If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them. (James 1:5 GWT)

A Clean Sweep

It was a floor I swept regularly. On this particular day, I decided to move a small piece of furniture to get to an often neglected area. What I found there surprised me.

A grasshopper must have come in when the door was open. It became trapped and now I was sweeping up its remains.

A shudder ran through me as I related this incident to my life.

When I leave the door open for undesirable things to enter my life, they often come in unnoticed. These little sins can hide in the corners of my heart and slowly accumulate. I may think they are not impacting me, but sooner or later they become evident. My thoughts and attitude start to reflect the garbage that has been piling up inside me.

On the surface my life appears fine. Inside I know, unless I remove any barriers and do a clean sweep, there will still be garbage lurking there. These barriers are of my own making.

What I need to do is confess and bring into the open what I think I’ve been hiding. Jesus sees it all along and is just waiting for my confession and repentance. Then he will do a complete cleanse of my heart. Once I’ve been swept clean, there is no longer any worry about what may be discovered in those hidden corners.

God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong. (1 John 1:9 GWT)

Do You Need More Spice in Your Life?

The conversation took an interesting turn. What started out as doom and gloom in the media turned into the enjoyment we have when watching cooking shows on television.

My friends and I talked about some of the interesting ingredients. While the chefs on these shows use fresh herbs and spices, many of us tend to use the more convenient dried ones. I’ve learned that blending a combination of herbs and spices gives the best results to eliminate boring meals.

Spices lose their strength over time. To preserve their quality, they need to be stored properly. Even so, there will come a time when the flavour diminishes and they are no longer useful.

This is also true in our lives. When we are not actively using our talents and abilities, they lose some of their flavour. In essence, we become stale.

This is not what God has in mind for us. The talents and abilities he has given us are gifts we are to use for him. We need to share them generously with those around us. When we work together, there is less chance of losing our strength. Together we can be the spice that’s needed to draw people to the life God has prepared for them.

You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, how will it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and tram- pled on by people. (Matthew 5:13 GWT)

Frayed Around the Edges

I was taking towels out of the dryer when I noticed that one of my favourite sets of hand towels was frayed around the edges. When did that happen? Although I hadn’t noticed it before, the rough edges indicated this wasn’t a new occurrence.

Thinking back to how long I’d had the towels and the fact they were used and laundered on a weekly basis, I knew I shouldn’t be surprised. The signs of wear and tear must have been so gradual that they could easily be ignored.

As I looked at them, I thought about times my life had become frayed around the edges as well. Just as with the towels, constant demands on my life have caused this. It doesn’t mean I am no longer needed or loved. Instead, it indicates the need to take a step back and think about how to mend those frayed edges before the damage becomes permanent.

Jesus offers me the perfect solution when the hectic pace of life wears me down. When he and his apostles were too busy to even take time to eat, he told them to come with him to a quiet place and rest. That advice is just as valid today. Spending quiet time with Jesus gives me the rest that binds my frayed edges.

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. (Mark 6:31 NLT)

Thank You

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What People are Saying

About 90-Second Devotions

In a world where being “triggered” has mostly negative connotations, Tandy Balson blesses us and glorifies God when something triggers an insight or emotion in her. Tandy has a rare gift for observation. Things in nature, social interactions, casual comments, everyday situations, are all subject to her attention and her exploration of their deeper spiritual significance. We all see the same things Tandy does, but few of us perceive what she sees. Her writing reveals that many commonplace things could easily be the still small whisperings of the Spirit communicating the depths of God’s revelation of Himself to us. - Ron Hughes, author of “Living at the End of the Rope” and program director of HopeStreamRadio.

Tandy has done it again. She looks around at the ordinary stuff of everyday life and sees the way to live a loving, caring life with God and with all those who cross her path. I love the way she quickly focuses my thoughts on the deep heart things – in ninety seconds! What a great start to the day. I guarantee you can’t stop at just one story. - Serenity McLean, Author of Christian Fiction including The Flawless Life and Rainswept.

In this book Tandy highlights poignant observations of daily life in a way that is relatable to our spiritual journey. This book will open your eyes to see what God is teaching you through everyday life. In our jam packed schedules we often miss the important things God wants to teach us. Take some time to rediscover those truths in this book. - Samuel Bernard, Youth pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Airdrie AB.

About Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake

Ideal for brief daily readings, Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake draws inspiration from the ordinary. If you’re facing change, new experiences or negative thoughts, or need a fresh perspective, Tandy Balson’s writing will encourage you to live in the moment and to enter into the adventure that life offers when we rely on God with each step. - Janet Sketchley, devotional blogger and author of the Redemption’s Edge novels

Canadian inspirational author Tandy Balson has put together a lovely collection of short devotionals about finding extraordinary blessings in everyday life. No matter where she is or what the circumstances are, she is able to find and shine a spotlight on the treasures the Lord has provided for us to discover even in the “ordinary” Each story is perfectly concluded by a scripture verse that leads us directly to God’s Word, and which never fails to give us hope and affirmation. This is a great gift book, but don’t stop there – make sure you bless yourself with a copy of your own. - Sally Meadows, six-time national/international award-nominated Christian singer/song- writer, Author of The Two Trees and Beneath the Star.

About Inspirations From the Everyday

Tandy Balson sees the world through loving eyes and shares the wonder and awe she sees through her words. In a clear, delicate voice she encourages every heart to open to the gifts in each moment, and to know, no matter how dark and dreary the skies; God is always loving. God is everywhere. In Inspirations from the Everyday,

Tandy shares her love and joy and inspires each of us to know and feel and see God’s miracles everywhere, everyday. - Louise Gallagher, Writer, Speaker, Author of The Dandelion Spirit.

Beautifully written! Tandy reveals lessons in life’s ordinary moments, in a way that is both inspirations and uplifting. A wonderful book to start each day with. - Rosemarie McGonigle, Owner/Facilitator of Healing Hearts Retreats

About the Author


Tandy Balson was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. She and her husband now live on the outskirts of Calgary, AB. They consider themselves blessed to have seven grandchildren (and their parents) living nearby.

Tandy’s greatest joys include spending time with family and friends, meaningful volunteer work, time in nature, reading and writing. She also gives a good foot rub. There’s a long line for this but you’re welcome to join it!

Tandy has been doing inspirational speaking in Western Canada since 2001. She is the author of two devotional books; Inspirations from the Everyday and Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake, which was a finalist for The 2016 Word Awards in the inspirational book category.

Tandy is also a contributor to several anthologies and has been published in National and International magazines. She posts inspirational messages twice a week on her website blog and can be heard weekly on Hope Stream Radio

www.hopestreamradio.com/program/time-with-tandy/

Learn more at www.timewithtandy.com

Copyright

Copyright © 2017 by Tandy Balson First Edition – November 2017

ISBN (eBook) 978-1-7751861-0-6

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information browsing, storage, or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (GWT) are taken from GOD’S WORD, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Published by Eildon Hills

Publishing Services by Dome Tree Publishing

Cover by barefoot blue


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