Friday, November 10, 2017

How Green Thou Art

I love road trips! There, I said it! I have a longing to see every square inch of Gods big, beautiful creation that I can before He calls me home. On a humorous note, my dad used to tell my sister that he thought she must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle because she loved to talk, well, I think I was vaccinated with an automobile speedometer needle because I love to travel in the car. Now, I know in my relatively short life on this planet that I will never be able to come close to seeing even half of the wonders of God's creation but when I can, I love to jump spontaneously into the car and take off for unseen destinations. My husband has a bit of the adventurer in him too as he is almost always my traveling companion or "co-pilot" on my flights out of town! Wherever we go we almost always have an "adventure" that has imprinted itself on our hearts and minds each time.
On my most recent adventure/business trip we traveled to the Pocono Mountain area of my home state of Pennsylvania. We had an auction to hunt treasures at and the weather was a cool 58 degrees in the middle of the summer. Well, around my neck of the woods that kind of weather was unheard of and we were usually seeking shelter inside somewhere in the air conditioning, but not this day! I had a sweater on and sat outside with the breeze blowing and the sun having only enough warmth to make it absolutely "perfect". Business was good and the day proved to be very profitable and we drove away with our van filled with new inventory. The trip home was approximately 3 hours long and about an hour and a half into the journey I spied an exit sign for a State Park and I couldn't resist. We drove 6 miles off of the main interstate into an area that was heavily forested. As we entered the State Park there were so many trees that it appeared to be getting a little dark but it was only 3:00 in the afternoon. I pulled my van over to a quiet picnic area that was in the middle of the woods and while my husband rested his eyes I walked over to the weathered picnic table and sat down. It was so quiet and still that the only sound was my husbands heavy breathing in the car behind me where I had parked. It was such a beautiful scene that the only way that I could describe it was " something from a woodland fairy tale"! The woods appeared sort of dark because the trees were so close together that they allowed very little sunlight to penetrate the area. All over the forest floor were lush green fern that looked so feathery soft that they almost beckeoned me to walk on them, but I resisted. I couldn't take my eyes off of that scene because something didn't seem quite right! As I sat staring at the lush green forest floor it dawned on me what was puzzling me. How could so much lush, green growth exist with so very little sunlight to aid its growth? The ground was literally carpeted with fern in every direction for as far as I could see. As I sat there and pondered the wonderment of it all, I asked the Lord how it could possibly be so green and lush without the necessary amounts of sunlight that most plants need for healthy growth. Well, silly me. . . . . . What was I asking the Lord of the Universe? You know He always has the best answers! Here's what He asked me. . . . . "Jean, how much of my light needs to shine on something for you to see how it's affected?" What? He continued, "How soon after you asked me into your own life were others able to see me in you?" Good question Lord! I hoped that others could see the change in me right away! I saw the change, not just in my heart but in the attitude of my heart, especially when it came to other people! The Holy Spirit of God whispered to me at every turn and my heart was changed! My dark, hardened, lost in the woods heart had changed. The light of truth and love had shown down on me as I was in my darkness and that light caused new, green lushness to spring forth in me. It didn't take years and years before the evidence of His effects on me were seen. It happened in a relatively short period of time!  "So, how long do YOU think it took for me to grow these fern that carpet my woods?" I wondered no more! He can do whatever He wants and the mystery of how He does it, well, I think I'll talk to Him a lot more about those things when I see Him face to face! In the meantime, I'll keep "road tripping" and discovering everything that I need to know!

Insight Insert: Do you know Jesus as your personal Savior? If your answer is "yes" then the light has already shone down through your heavily forested life of darkness! Is there evidence of green growth in your life? If you have been truly changed by the light of salvation and love then there can't help but be change in your life! If you don't think so then my challenge for you this week is to dive into the Word of God and fill yourself with its truth. Go and be Jesus to someone who needs some love, understanding or care in their life. You are sure to notice just how "green" you will become with just a small amount of His light shining on you and through you.

Scripture:  Psalms 1: 1-3.  Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and it's leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Access Key

I clearly remember the day that I was given the keys to the first house that we ever purchased. It was a feeling that I won't ever forget. It spoke to my heart and said, " you have access to your hearts desire". I will also remember the day that my friend gave me the key to her house and told me that I was "family" and I could come over whenever I liked and have a way to get in if I needed anything. I likewise remember the keys to my first car. What a feeling of freedom! Daily the keys on this computer give me the freedom to tell my stories and the access to the World Wide Web of knowledge. The keys on my daughters piano allow me in to the glorious sounds and world of music which makes my soul sing. It accesses the deepest parts of me allowing me to worship and sing about what stirs my heart. Keys. . . . . .  They are everywhere and constant reminders of the access we have been given to places yet to be discovered. Gifts. . . . . . Keys are gifts to us to allow us in, into places that would otherwise be restricted. The most important key that I have ever been given though came on a dark day and there was an earthquake, it was about 3:00 in the afternoon and when Jesus took his last breath. . . . . ..that's when I was handed the key. The most important key anyone will ever have. The temple curtain was torn from top to bottom and access was made into the very holiest place. The key that I now have, that we all have gives us access to the very holiest of places. The very presence of God, the feet of Jesus. You see until that veil was torn I was unfit to be in the presence of God. But now, because of Jesus and what he did on the cross for me and all of us, we have opportunity to have access to Gods presence to open the door and dwell with him. Best key ever! Access to the freedom, the hearts desire and blessings, all the knowledge and wisdom that He can give, and the key to the place where worship and music permeate the atmosphere always. A key to our "family" dwelling and access to come inside if we ever need ANYTHING,  I repeat, " best key ever!". How do you get this key you ask? The answer is in the question. . . . . . . you ask!  "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12)  Ask and he will forgive you of all the things that have kept you from being in His presence, ask and He will change your life forever and give you access to a freedom that you have never known. Ask. . . . . . .He will give you the key, the key to it all! Once more. . .. .. .BEST KEY EVER!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Morning Goal

There have been many days, too many for me to admit, that I have awoken from my nights sleep
with the thoughts of "what do you have for me today Lord?" All in all that is a natural sort of thought

but I began to examine what was at the root of my thought process. It seems that because we live in a sinful and self-centered world that we can way too often find ourselves caught up in the 'what is there for ME' mentality. It's not always selfish, so please hear this kindly I pray. But take time to examine your deepest motives and see where they lead. Are your thoughts towards, "what can I ask of God today so that he can meet my greeds? OR What can I ask of you God that will bring you glory?" Now, He already said that He would take care of our needs so walk in the trust that He will do what He says He will do but change up your hearts question perhaps to point it away from you and towards the one who made you. That goes for our attitudes towards others as well. "What can I do for others today to represent you well my God?" I so loved what I heard another wise woman of God say about thinking of others before yourself. . . . .  " it is the cure for the disease of self-centeredness and the antidote for pride"! So, may we all begin to wake up and make the prayer on our lips each day to be "What can I do for you today Lord that will bring you glory?" Psalm 115:1 "Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Islands In The Stream

I love nature walks! I really do. I find that it's the one thing that will definitely slow me down and force me to stop and inhale all of the beautiful things that made my God very happy to make. They were, of course, made for His pleasure but I too take much pleasure in standing in the middle of it all. Today, while on the path with a friend I walked past a patch of honeysuckle in its glory and had to stop to allow my other senses to catch up to the distraction that my nose was in the middle of. No honeysuckle candle, air freshner or perfume can come close to capturing the real thing. While stuck in that moment I noticed that there was a small, fast running stream just over the bank. We walked a little further to get a closer look and there right smack dab in the middle of the stream was a large rock. Oddly, there was a bit of moss with a wildflower growing quite nicely on top of the rock. Now, I'm sure there wasn't much, if any, soil on top of that rock to support that plant but it was thriving there nonetheless. It made me wonder how something could be doing so well without what I had always believed was essential for plant growth. Silly me cause what do I know in the big scheme of things! How does a bumble bee fly? According to physics, it's weight and its wing size, it's impossible for it to fly but nobody told the bumblebee, so it just flies. And then there's the beautiful Monarch butterfly. All of them migrate south to one certain valley in Mexico for the winter. How do they all know how to get there and when to leave from their different locations all over North America? My simplistic answer would most probably be "God gave them all the best GPS systems out there"! But in reality, I just don't know. I don't know how that plant was thriving on a rock right in the middle of the stream but it was! There are many many things that we may never understand fully but the lesson of the day, at least for me, was to "trust". Trust in the one who made that rock and put that plant upon it to live. Trust him to take care of its life and survival and to allow it to get everything that it needs to thrive. It certainly had the water it needed and even when the rains took the water levels up and over its leaves, I'm certain its creator took care of it. Lots to be found in my little observation of a plant on a rock. Trust! He will take care of me. Should my troubles rise up all around and even when I feel that I just don't have enough to sustain my life, he will give me everything I need to carry on in my stream of life. And the moral of my nature walk story is . . . . Be planted on the "Rock, He's all you need"!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My Way

Have you ever encountered a stubborn, set in their ways, unbending, haughty and all knowing  negative grumbler? What a brick wall huh! If I could say there was one type of person that was the most difficult for me to communicate with it would be a stubborn grumbler. I'm very sure it was one of the most disdainful attitudes that even the Lord God had to deal with. Oh, and he dealt with them and it wasn't always pretty. When the children of Israel were grumbling and complaining in Numbers chapter 14, the Lord looked at their grumbling and complaining as contemptuous. They had forgotten all the wondrous miracles that the Lord had performed bringing them out of the land of Egypt such as the cloud in the daytime and the pillar of fire at night, the parting of the Red Sea, the raining of manna down from the sky and the striking of the rock that gave them water to drink. Still they grumbled and complained. Their sorry selves wanted to go back to Egypt where they said they 'Had it better'! So quickly we forget where we came from and what we are brought out of!   It's hard to imagine given so much again and again, in a very miraculous manner I might add, that they would still be so unhappy and ungrateful. You may think to yourself, " I would never complain if I saw the miraculous hand of God move like that on my behalf"! Really! Well. Let's just think about it for a minute, but just a minute because I don't want this to seem like a condemning rant to those of you reading this because it is not. You see, people are people the world around and we are all born with a sin nature and a perpensity to grumble and complain. But it's where the close walk with Our creator comes in and changes everything. You see when the Israelites grumbled and complained and the Lord was ready to strike them all dead, it was Moses who came to their defense. He pled for mercy for them and begged the Lord God to pardon them. They had an advocate, someone who stood up for them. I believe it was someone like Moses who had stood in the very presence of God and had himself been forgiven much, that showed his love and mercy towards the Israelites. Did they deserve to be pardoned? No! But God ended up pardoning them anyway ( Num 14:20)  but they still suffered the consequences of their stubborn grumbling actions. They were not allowed to enter the land of promise. Their children would after 40 years but none of the grumblers would get that beautiful promise. Here's an interesting side note for those who like a bit deeper thought process. In that particular chapter when it talks about "complaining" the Hebrew word for complaining means "lodging or to lodge". When they were grumbling and complaining they were in essence saying "I have reached my destination, I'm lodging here and I have no plans to go any further. This is as far as I wanna go"! Isn't that so true of the nature of grumblers and complainers. They sit down in their spots and take residence in their own opinions and self will and refuse to move from it. Hence the "stubborn" attitude. I have been met with people like that and I don't have to tell you that they can be unmovable in their own way. It does bring that song by 'ole blue eyes" himself, Frank Sinatra to mind, 'MY WAY'. A couple of verses go like this: " I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway, and more, much more than this, I did it MY WAY. . . . . To think I did all that and may I say, not in a shy way, oh no, oh no not me, I did it MY WAY".  What a thing to proclaim! Our way is never gonna work nearly as wonderfully as Gods way. When we get in close fellowship with our creator, like Moses, and sit and spend time in his presence, it can change us, it can turn our hearts of stubborn stone into hearts of flesh that are filled with mercy and love beyond our comprehension. And, when our stubborn hard and unchanging hearts take over, well, we have an advocate, his name is Jesus. He stood up for us and pled, bled and died so that we could see the promise, the promise and the hope of something far better than OUR WAY! So if you find yourself sitting down hard on the ground or in your dirty little mud puddle and taking residence there saying, "this is as far as I'm going", you may want to remember the Israelites. They didn't get struck down but they certainly didn't get all that was good and promised to them either. Have it your way if you like but I'm thinking that there's a whole lot of "wonderful" to see if you pick yourself up and move on and forward into some other way besides your own. And if not, well, the words of Dr. Phil might apply here. . . . "So how's that workin for ya?"

Friday, October 13, 2017

Mist In The Morning

I made a trek today with my  friend to a trail in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. The trail was approximately 2.5 miles one way up to a beautiful waterfall called Grotto Falls. Now, my friend is an avid walker but I was not nearly as prepared physically for what would end up as an almost 5 mile hike! As we began our walk, It began to rain, just slowly; a nice quiet rain. As we hiked, it was hard not to notice the beautiful things that God had created in nature. Lichen covered logs with wild  mushrooms peeking from underneath; trickling streams flowing over moss covered rocks; deer berries growing in quiet corners of boulders. All of this beauty then accented by the glistening of rain upon the surfaces. We arrived at the top of the trail, after much clicking of the camera I must add, to the Grotto Falls. Words can't express the beauty that was right there at that small waterfall. "Breathtaking" maybe would be an understatement! The path that we were on even allowed us to walk right up to the waterfall. As I stood there and allowed the mist to fall on my face it reminded me of those summer rains that I love so much, you know, the ones that come with a cool breeze in the midst of a stifling hot day. I usually love to stand on my front porch with my face in that refreshing breeze and just allow the coolness to sweep over me and soothe the heat filled day. The mist from the waterfall at that moment soothed all the stress filled, anxiety ridden moments of my recent days and washed them totally away. Just a minute of soaking in the beauty of the moment refreshed me as only Jesus refreshes. Needless to say, my hike back down the mountain was easier and I had hardly blinked when I realized that we were back at the car. Just a little time spent in the high places had been exactly the medicine that Dr. Jesus had scripted to me! I must go there every chance I get!

Insight Insert: Sometimes when we allow ourselves a little time to slip out into a simpler more quiet environment we can see and hear much more acutely. The noise, stress, confusion and clutter of our daily lives seems to drift away for a time and the medicine that the moment can bring can be very healing. We should go there every chance that we get! This week take the time to find a place where the noise and clutter can't reach and tarry there for at least an hour and allow the Lord to refresh you as only he can. If its in a park, along a stream, in the woods or even in the front seat of your car gazing at the stars, allow him to show you some of his wonders. There is no calming, relaxing drug known to man that can do what He can to quiet your spirit! Let him reach down from the heavens and give you a hand up to where he sits for just a while. You know He's got the best seat in the house.

Scripture: Matthew 11:28  Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and over-burdened, and I will cause you to rest. ( I will ease and relieve and refresh your  souls) AMP                                  Proverbs 11:25.   He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Highlighted Life

Today I was coloring some cardboard signs for an upcoming yard sale. I used many different colored markers that i was sure were washable just in case I accidentally got some on my skin. One sad fact, however, that I had not realized was that the black marker that I had inadvertently picked up was quite the opposite of "washable" but quite permanent. When I went to wash my hands, the black marker remained on my wrists where I had been leaning on the sign. The edges of my hands were beautifully streaked a dark gray even after multiple scrubbings. I was quickly having to resign myself to the fact that I was probably going to have to answer a barrage of questions from well meaning people on the colorful state of my hands. Thankfully the day was saved when an angel named Martha Stewart recommended hand sanitizer or hair spray to clean up my act. Yay! Like magic my skin was back to normal. My life no longer "highlighted" by the error of my ways which, if you know me, caused me to once again 
go down the path in my mind that seemed very littered with road signs. Signs which read: "Realization Road ⬆️" "Exposure Expressway  ⤵️", "Highlighted Life Highway ➡️ " and "Apathy Way "🔄. What??? Then like a jet leaving a vapor trail in the sky the question  appeared; "What do the highlighted areas of your life reveal?" ( Long pause for extensive thought inserted here)

Hummmm, were the highlighted areas of my life, the things that others saw first about me, good or bad things? What did my life say about me? What parts of my heart stood out when others heard me speak? And, here's the big one. . . . . drum roll please. . . . "When I dropped a heavy object on one of my toes, what words come flying out of my mouth first?" Aha! Realization Road or perhaps Exposure Expressway!  There are always going to be moments in our lives when we just do not get it right. That's called being human but those moments can get to the point where they are VERY FEW and VERY FAR between. As we expose our lives and our hearts to the Word of God and strive to walk in it and in His ways, we begin to take on a "highlighted God-life". When others look at us they will see His reflection in our faces, they will also be able to say "he/she knows and follows after God", and the best one, "bless the Lord O my soul" easily flows from your lips when a heavy object falls on your toe. So, what highlights your life? Is your life colored with permanent black marks of ugliness and sin or is your life like the peaks of the mountains in autumn that first reveal that they've been touched by the "son" and are glorious to behold? Look up in your sky and see if you can also see that vapor trail question for your life. It can be as beautiful as that mountaintop I believe.