May 2018

Spring Rain
By Mike Woolley

No one wants a drought, but here in Southern California it seems like we are always in need of more rain. We are having another subpar rainy season, but a little storm passed through our area this week just when we thought we were done. That moisture makes the hills green all around us, the flowers explode into living color, and the trees produce another gazillion leaves. This always reminds me how rain brings life and joy and beauty.

All this has me thinking. There is no spring without winter. It is the hardness of winter that makes me long for and appreciate spring. I wonder how many other areas of my life fit that pattern.

I remember when I was playing sports growing up. Coaches don’t believe in easy practices. As players, we were firm believers in fun and easy practices. We wanted to win a lot of games, we just wanted to win without the pain of hard practices. We wanted spring without winter.

In my life I find I seldom want rain. I want days full of laughter and goodness and ease. But I need some rain. I need some days where clouds of discomfort and struggle roll in and even storms cause tears to fall like rain.

Scripture reminds me that sorrow lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning. I’ve seen it in some of my favorite people. These are friends who have gone through storms, and there is an array of color that flows from their lives. If compassion and patience and joy had color, then these people are like flowers exploding in the midst of a glorious Spring.

Sometimes rain is the only way to get the hills and flowers to be at their best. Sometimes it’s the storms of life that bring out the very best in human beings. If you are in a storm then know that the rain that feels like it will never stop falling can lead to rich and wonderful beauty in you that can come no other way.

But I still find myself praying for good days instead of praying for God to give me the kind of days I need to become what he really wants me to become. Today I’m reminding myself as much as I’m reminding you that there isn’t a spring without a winter.

So, if you’re struggling in some area and life has just been hard for way too long, then look around right now. Look at the buds on the trees and the flowers pushing themselves out of the ground. The earth itself is vibrating with life and reminding all of us that winter never lasts forever for any of us. Darkness lasts for the night but joy comes in the morning.
By Taylor Roche

We as Christians have our own language for things. We use fancy theological words like propitiation, and transubstantiation.  And we say things like God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. This last sentence translates rather simply to, God is all powerful, all knowing, and all present. Which doesn’t sound quite as good, or quite as smart, but it’s ever bit as true. As I was reflecting on these three truths recently I realized that the first two, the God is all powerful and all-knowing statements have been well impressed upon me since I was a youth. The third however, God is all present, seems to have been mysteriously marginalized. I wonder if it’s the same for you? This revelation started me on a mission to increase my awareness of God’s presence in my life. I read some of the works of St. Ignatius (a monk who lived in the 1400’s), who made finding God in all things one of the chief aims of his life. The more I read and reflected the more I realized how easily I slip into compartmentalizing my life in such a way that I only see God in certain places and at certain times. For example, when I’m at church or when I’m reading my bible it’s rather easy to feel God’s presence. But by contrast when I’m at football practice or working out, it’s easy to forget that God is still just as present.
How might our lives look different if we began to find God not just in those obvious places but also in the places we often forget to look? How different might our perspective be? Would work seem more spiritual? Would school have a higher purpose? I think of the renowned Olympic runner Eric Liddell (think the movie Chariots of Fire) who said, “When I run, I feel His pleasure!” What an incredible statement! There is a man who saw the presence of God in everything he did. And it changed his perspective.
So, join me in seeking the presence of God. Even in places that it doesn’t seem obvious. Next time you begin to get upset with something, try reminding yourself “God is here.” And see if your attitude changes. See if your perspective changes. See if you find God in a place and in a way you never have before.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:19-20

Mother’s Day
By Brenda Woolley

When I was a little girl I loved to follow my momma around the house.  I loved her so much.  She was probably one of the sweetest souls I have ever known.  She was so smart, and she was funny!  She was the best cook ever!  She had an extraordinary love for those who were alone or were going through a hard time.  My mom worked for the County of Los Angeles as the supervisor for Social Services.  Talk about a tough job.  But she never lost her love for people…she never let her heart become hardened by the things she saw.  For many of our Thanksgivings and holidays, she would invite many people over for our dinners.  My sisters and my brother loved it as much as I did.  We met such an assortment of lively and interesting people.  My mom was a lovely lady.  I love to remember her as Mother’s Day approaches. 
What about your own mom?  What are your fondest memories of spending time with her?  I love that God gave us mothers.  God told mothers to “love their children” (Titus 2:4-5).  That always surprised me that He had to even say that.
God speaks specifically to mothers regarding how to take care of their children.  Some of my favorite scriptures regarding this, and the one principle I think has the most bearing on your children is to model with integrity.  Live what you say, live what you believe to be true about God in your daily life.  Being a model so that your child can learn by catching the essence of what it looks like to love God with your whole heart. 
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long you live.  Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”  (Deuteronomy 4:9)
          Moms are our best teachers when it comes to teaching what the bible says.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
That word to “impress” means to “prick, to pierce, to teach diligently, to whet…it implies that just as words are cut into a stone tablet with a sharp object, so the Law should be impressed on the hearts of the children of every generation.”
          I am thankful this day for my mom and all mothers out there who are loving and teaching their children to love God with all their heart.  Happy Mother’s day Moms!

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