Joyce Long

Faith in the Journey

Author: joycelong (page 2 of 2)

My Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me like down in green pastures, he leads me besides still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his namesake.  (Psalm 23:1-3)

On the morning of my 63rd birthday, my husband Al and I took a walk around the area where our daughter and her family live in Cyprus. In the days before, we had become fascinated with the goat farm located just minutes from their house. There didn’t seem to be enough grass or water for any animal to survive or thrive.

Even though the living conditions were dusty, barren and stifling hot, their shepherd still cared for the flock. Note in the photo how the goats gathered in the shade, seeking relief from the piercing sun.

I couldn’t help but think of how our loving Father God wants us to thrive. He makes us lie down in green pastures because we need our physical rest. Note that his pastures are  green.

He wants us to walk with him besides still waters, to be quiet in His presence and refresh ourselves spiritually and emotionally. During those times the reflections of our lives become clear.

Finally, God wants to refresh us so we can pursue paths of righteousness for His name’s sake–to live that purpose-driven life Saddleback Church’s Pastor Rick Warren described so well a few years back.  Father God sent us a loving Shepherd to guide us through far-from-perfect trails.

Thank you, Jesus, for being our willing and sacrificial guide and shepherd sent from our loving Father.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me–just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

  • John 10:14-16

My Friend Becky

Sometimes you meet a person who changes your life. That was my friend Becky Neuman.

We met about 16 years ago when I taught a women’s class at Mount Pleasant Christian Church. Actually I was subbing for Lorraine Richardson, who was taking a break due to an auto accident. Since Lorraine had been teaching Portraits of Jesus, on my first Sunday, I suggested we do something different so Lorraine could continue her favorite study when she returned. The ladies unanimously wanted a Bible study about women. I suggested one that featured biblical mothers since I had two teenagers at the time.

Becky raised her hand. “Why don’t you write one, Joyce? You’re a teacher.” And so I did, each Saturday night before the next morning’s lesson. Yes, Real Mothers: a Bible study about mothers for mothers, began with my cramming under a weekly deadline. If not for Becky, I would not be a published author today.

About four years ago when Becky didn’t get out as much, our friends Bill and Melody Cragen suggested we bring in carryout Chick-fil-A for her dinner once or twice a month. My contribution was a homemade pie, often pumpkin, sometimes cherry, and for her 97th birthday, peach. Those evenings sitting around Becky’s kitchen table, we laughed and listened to Becky share her childhood stories from small town southern Indiana, a heritage Al and I shared with her.

But she didn’t park in the past. Becky was a prolific reader, staying current with news and issues. We shared books and magazines. I would take her my latest article like a school girl in show and tell.  Becky always encouraged me to write, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Becky was my husband Al’s and my last link to our parents’ generation. She was much like my father with her incredible memory, directness, and quick wit. Like my mother, she hopped on a bus to Indianapolis after high school graduation and came to Indy to attend business college. Ironically, she passed away February 8, 2017, the day before the seventh anniversary of my father’s passing.

I miss Becky and look forward to our heavenly reunion. With Becky, I could laugh, be challenged, ask questions, share my heart, and count on her seasoned and savvy advice. What more could I ask for in a friend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Glow

Blog #1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Genesis 1:1-3, ESV

If you know me well, you know I love anything to do with water—oceans, rivers, waterfalls, swimming pools, and lots of ice cold drinking water. I also love this photo, which was taken November 2010 with our flip phone as Al and I were walking away from the Ft. Myers Beach pier after dinner. The waves morphed into a murky, chocolate flavor as the sun began to set, but where the rays still shone, the water glistened.

A fresh thought awakened me (Thank you, Holy Spirit) when reading Genesis’ first three verses. God’s Spirit hovered over the waters. And light soon followed. No more waves thrashing in total darkness.

Since many of us may be dreaming of a beach vacation this winter, let’s not overlook the fact that God hovered over the face of the waters. Perhaps if we look closely, we can even see His light there. Even an antique Nokia flip phone caught the glow. So should we.

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