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. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Folds Of His Robe

There are times in our lives when we all need to escape and get to a place of solace and peace, a place seemingly far away from the roar of daily life. Haven't you felt that way at times? I know it occurs to me a lot more frequently as I get older. You would think it might be quite the opposite but when I was a young mother it just may have occurred to me but it was a fleeting, silly thought that I believed then was not attainable! There were of course, babies to feed, dishes to wash, laundry to fold and meals to make. If I cried out for peace and quiet then, well, most often it didn't come unless it was by some strong twist of fate or my husband having a sympathetic moment on my behalf! Nothing against my husband but he was surrounded by his own "roar of daily life" so that was just the way it was. I find that now, as I am getting older and my children are all grown and gone, that I am ready to run and find that place of peace at every turn. I guess it's from all those years of weariness that I find myself trying to soak in all that I lost or all that I simply need right now! There is one thing that has genuinely helped me in the process and that is the ability to envision or see things in my spirit. On many occasions, predominately worship time, I see visions of The Lord or angelic hosts or a multitude of other things that The Lord would put in my mind. Last Sunday during our worship time at church I was overcome totally by one of the most awesome visions that I have had to date. As I was worshipping The Lord I saw in my spirit two very large and heavy looking gates. These gates were perhaps 30 stories high and very thick with a rough hewn wood surface and  huge iron strap hinges. The gates began to open slowly and a bright, almost blinding light came rushing out as they opened. I could see streams of thousands of people moving towards the gates and going inside as they opened. The people in comparison looked very much the size of ants. As I approached the opening gates I could see inside just barely past the blinding light that there was a huge cross. The cross itself was possibly  50 stories high and the light seemed to be coming from behind the cross. I immediately thought, "oh the people are headed to the foot of the cross to fall down before The Lord" but upon closer examination I could see that I was very wrong. As the people entered and came close to the cross they just made a wide arch around the cross going to what was behind it. I looked and then I could clearly see that standing behind the cross was a huge figure of a man in a long white robe. All that I could see was his figure up to the top of the cross but I knew he was much bigger because as far as I could see was to his waist area. I knew immediately in my mind that the figure was The Lord. The people continued to walk around the cross until they got to the Lords robes and they all began to just cling to it. There were thousands of people, maybe more, just clinging to the bottom of his robes. As He would move slightly some would seem to disappear inside the folds and still they clung to Him. I then heard the Spirit of The Lord say to me, " Daughter, won't you come and get lost in the folds of My robes too?". Wow! Yes, THAT was a "wow" moment. That's where He was calling me to. That's where my place of peace and rest was. That's where I wanted to get lost every time. I longed for the comfort and peace that was there in the very folds of His robes. As He moves, I become covered and protected inside of those folds. What an amazingly beautiful picture that was for me that day and now every day since. Remember when the woman with the issue of blood touched His garment for her healing and the bible said that The Lord felt the healing virtue leave him. Well, there's healing there in the folds of His robes. There is also rest, comfort, peace, and everything else that I had need of. So, shouldn't we all "get lost in the folds of His robes" and allow that same healing, restorative, comforting peace to flood over our hearts and minds? "Come, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest". (Matt 11:28

Insight Insert: Do you find yourself in that place that it talks about in Matthew 11? Are you at a place of extreme stress or pressure from work or family? Are you sick of being in pain and feeling like you will never experience Gods healing touch? Are you just plain overwhelmed and need a place of peace and quiet? Then, my challenge to you this week is to "get lost in the folds of His robes"! Take a little time out, maybe when everyone is in bed at night or before everyone gets up in the morning. Whenever you can, purpose to take a piece of your day then turn on some worship music and close your eyes to shut out all distractions and " get lost in his robes". This may take some practice of some self-discipline but persist! Allow God to restore and comfort in those moments. He will!!!

Scripture:  Read Matthew 11:28-30 also John 16:33 which reads," I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But, take heart, I have overcome the world"!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Presence Of His Displeasure: Letter To A Lost Love

My dearest and most treasured child,
     I write this letter to you with a heaviness in my heart for my heart so longs after you. I haven't had the supreme pleasure of talking with you now for a very long time. I remember well how we would sit and talk for hours of your hopes and dreams and how you so wanted to see others become as happy as you were. You told me of your devotion to me and that you wanted to be close to my heart always. I 
loved how you spoke to me of your confidence in me and trusted me with everything in you to not just care for you but guide you in all of your hardest decisions. Oh, and how my heart leapt while I watched you into the wee hours of the morning pouring over my love letters to you. My dear child, you read them over and over, you studied them and got so excited when you would discover something in them that you hadn't seen before. I watched your tears fall on the pages as you read how much I sacrificed to show my love for you. I miss you. I miss seeing your face at my house when the family gathers together. I long to watch you as you join in the singing. You would close your eyes so you wouldn't be distracted by anything or anyone. The look of joy on your face as you sang with your eyes closed made my heart smile. I have been calling you. . . . . .I have hoped that you would not continue to ignore my voice for you know it well. I saw you at your workplace as you requested to work extra hours, even on Sunday, so that you could afford a newer car, better clothing and expensive trips to far away places with your friends and family. I heard you curse my name out loud when your co-workers angered you. Why? Why have you chosen to leave me. I have loved you with an everlasting  love and always will. Oh, I see you periodically in my house some Sunday's but you never stay long. You make an appearance and then leave when the music ends. Has someone else stolen your affections for me. Have you given yourself wholly to them? Child, my heart weeps for you to know the true love and acceptance that I alone can give you. I was your first love! I feel I have lost you. I feel there is a great chasm between you and I and it grieves me deeply. It angers me that the things of this world like money, goods, cars, drink and intimate relationships have stolen your love away from me. My child, I'm still here! I so desire that you hear the longing for my lost love in my words.  I want you to know that I will never abandon you. I will not go anywhere but I want you to know how much my Fathers heart aches because of where you've gone when I have given you all that you would ever need for pure joy and happiness. Come back! Come back to me, your first love. Come back and do again the things that turned your heart towards me. Do not stay here in the presence of my displeasure for another moment. It is not necessary. Come, because I see how weary of heart that you have become. Come back to me and find your place of rest. Turn away from this drawing towards the things that will never satisfy. Turn away so you can come and forever eat at my table and taste of the presence of my pleasure. My love will never fail you my dear one, Never! Please come back,
                                                  Your Loving 

                                           Heavenly Father

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Autumn Squirrels

Well. It's my favorite time of the year once more! Autumn! The air is cool and crisp, the apples are stacked in pyramids on the market tables and pumpkins and mums line the market aisles and neighborhood front porches. I love everything about this season; the smell of pumpkin or cinnamon and spice candles, the smell of the bale of hay that usually sits on my front porch, the apples cooking on applesauce making day and the best. . . . . here it comes. . . .. . .watching the squirrels steal everything that they can get their greedy little hands on to store up for the winter months. A lot of times that includes my flower bulbs in the ground or the corn on my corn shocks that decorate my porch or front door. I know, they are just doing what comes naturally but sometimes it's at my expense and that bugs me. I have to admit, I have a sort of a love / hate relationship with the squirrels. They are truly industrious little creatures and they have the right idea. They are also truly "forward" thinkers, although it really is nothing more for them but "instinct". They instinctively think about the months to come and prepare for what they need to get through. How many of us prepare in every  way for the future ahead of us? Yes, there are those who have money saved in various ways just in case of an emergency or food and water stockpiled in case of a disaster and some have even taken steps to get themselves in good physical shape so that they would be around for the future. Well, what about our mental state? Have we done our best to prepare our hearts and minds for what is to come? Do you even have peace of mind about where you will go when you die? Some of us may be able to answer that question with a resounding "yes" but even for those of you who may have answered "yes", the question still remains, " have you adequately equipped yourselves mentally and spiritually"? If there was a hard winter or a disaster in your life, would you get through it with a positive Godly worry free attitudes or would you probably be living with the repercussions of stress, anger or anxiety? Preparing our hearts and minds for whatever comes is probably far more important than preparing physically or monetarily! Good healthy thinking and attitudes can get us through the worst of times. That rascal, the squirrel, might just be the one to watch and relate to. In every way it's best to be prepared but what you think and how you react are the things that truly test your mettle. The  Bible says. . . . . ." as a man thinks in his heart, so is he". So, store up some good words and thought processes for the winters in your life. Like the squirrel, you'll be glad you were prepared!

Insight insert:  What if per chance someone were to ask you what your secret to happiness was? What would be your response? I know my answer hands down would be "my personal relationship with Jesus". Well, what if that same person when given my answer asked how to have a personal relationship with Jesus? Would you be able to lead them into that relationship? Are you prepared with the knowledge of the basic scriptures that you need to share with them? No? Then maybe it's your autumn and your cue to get prepared! If you are like that squirrel you would know how crucial it is to make those preparations. People's lives and their eternal destinies could be on the line. If you profess to know and serve God then you should be well acquainted with the handbook! Check out your scriptures in the book of Romans and store up some of them for that season of need when it comes around.

Scripture:  II Timothy 2:15. Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth. KJV
I Peter 3:15. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and (be) ready always to (give) an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. KJV

Friday, September 8, 2017

Are You Ready?

The storm is on its way. Are you prepared? Are you one of the many who are scurrying around to get all of the things that you believe are necessary to survive? What provision have you made? The winds and the rain are upon us. The winds will carve a path in the sky to make way for the rain that will come relentlessly soaking the earth. Do you have your flashlights charged and ready for the inevitable power loss? Do you have food stored up that is non-perishable? Are you ready to face any situation that the storm may bring? We can't stop the winds, we can't stop the rain and we are at the very mercy of the impending storm. But, be of good courage, when you have done all that you know to do to prepare yourselves for the coming storm you can then be at rest. The winds will come as will the rain and you will be ready!
Deuteronomy 31:6
Psalm 34: 17-20
Psalm 91: 1-16
2 Corinthians 12:9
Philippians 4:19
Acts 27:20
Shall I go on?????  

Insight Insert:  If you are smack dab in the middle of a storm in your life, the hand of the Lord for you will shortly be revealed. Whether it be the death of a loved one, a battle with an addiction, a divorce or a literal storm coming your way, the God of the universe will be right there with you, holding you up, drying your tears, giving you unexplained strength and wrapping his arms of love and safety around you. Speak, "Peace Be Still" and wait and see what he will do. Call out for help because he places other people all around you for just that purpose. Cast stubborn pride aside and let God love on you even if it doesn't happen exactly like you imagine it to. Be still and know that he is God!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

There Is A Fountain

One of my favorite things to do whenever I visit my local garden center is to go to the section where they sell water features such as backyard pond kits, bird baths and garden fountains. There is just something sooooo soothing about listening to running water. It's probably the same calming effect that my own shower affords me. Just the sound of the running water blocks out all distractions and soothes the soul. On my most recent visit to one of my favorite garden centers, I walked past a small boy who was standing with his mom beside a trickling fountain just about the same size as he was. He stared and stared at the fountain trying his best to keep his hands in his pockets but temptation finally got the best of him and he blurted out his question quite rapidly to his mom.. . . . . . "Can I put my finger in it?"  His mom replied, " No you may not!" With that, he began to pout, but trying to be obedient, he followed his mother as she walked away. I couldn't help but snicker as I watched him walk away because as he did so he made his finger wave through the air as if he were running it through the water. Maybe that was his little way of "envisioning" what it may have been like. Funny thing is. . . . . I myself can never resist the temptation to put my finger in any trickling fountain or any cement ball that has water flowing out of the top hole and covering the ball! Nope! I just can't do it! The temptation to feel the cool soothing water is too great. It makes me smile! Do you resist it? If you do resist, well. . . . You should let the kid in you come out to play just once more. You won't be disappointed. When I see the fountains I always think of the line in the old hymn, There Is A River. It says, " Come to the fountain. . . . There is a vast supply. . . . There is a river that never shall run dry". That cooling, relaxing and soothing that is found in touching the water in the fountain can also be found in Jesus! HE is our fountain, and. . . . Aren't you glad that there won't be anyone standing beside you saying, "No, you may not!" So, touch him today. I know you'll be refreshed.

Insight Insert: There are lots of times I'm sure when the kid in us all would like to come out. So, what's holding you back? Are you afraid of looking or feeling foolish? Life is way too short to not be lived to its fullest. A good exercise in stretching those childlike wings is to go and serve some amazing ministry time in your local church nursery. If that's not possible, go somewhere where there are multiple families with children and just sit and observe! Watch what the children do with no inhabitions and then using them as a pattern, do something this week with the freedom of those children. Swing on the playground, take your shoes off and put your feet in that creek or sing a song as you walk through the store! Ha! That last one is amazing! I do that on occasion and have actually had people join in along with me. Jesus never did intend for the starch in our collars to get so stiff!

Scripture:  Isaiah 46:4.  Even to your old age and gray hair I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

                    Galations 5:1.  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. . . 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Dependence Day

One of my very favorite flowers is the morning glory. With the dawn of each summer morning comes I can count on my morning glories along my fence to be smiling at me when I open my back door. They always make me smile back! Their beauty speaks to my heart in many ways; the delicate way the vines twist and spiral up to find where the next area is to cling to; the lush leaves that give a beautiful backdrop to the blossoms; and last but certainly not least, the blooms of color that peek from each nook and cranny to bear witness of Gods wondrous hand in their creation. I tried once to pull a bloom off to take inside so that I could enjoy it for a while longer but sadly when the blooms are picked their delicate beauty fades very quickly. So, I never pick them, I just allow them to abide right there on the vine and enjoy them for the short part of the day  when they sing their song! Each blossom only sings its song once though. When it appears each morning and then fades by mid-day, that blossom has done what it was meant to do and then it withers. A whole new set of blooms will be in place the next morning. This certainly does give us a beautiful picture of the scripture that says, "His mercies are new every morning". Just like my morning glories, I cannot thrive long at all apart from my Jesus. I am not an independent woman! I am very dependent on Him! Apart from him I cannot exist, I fade and die. He is the vine and we are the branches. That is the way He designed it. If we abide in Him, He will cover us just like the morning glory vine and He will send tendrils of His care and protection to cover every nook and cranny of our lives. And, when our relationship with Him begins to mature, we will blossom. Like the flowers, little bits of color will dot our landscape and the glory of God will "sing" through us. How could anyone doubt the existence of our Creator when they look at something as beautiful as a morning glory. And, how can anyone doubt "whose" we are if we are covered by the vine? So, sing this morning and every morning of His infinite greatness to us "dependent" creatures! 
Insight insert:  There are many beautiful examples of how we are connected to the Father and how we connect with others around us in the faith. Take this week to thank God for those who he has "connected" you with in your walk of faith. Take the opportunity to thank them for any positive effects that they have had on your life and assure them that you will commit to being as faithful a friend in Christ as they have been to you. God knows exactly what he's doing when he intertwines our lives with others. Together, we draw strength from Him and strength from each other.

Scripture: I Thessalonians 5:14. And we urge you brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

I Thessalonians 5:11  Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.   

Friday, August 18, 2017

Heavenly Habit

Perhaps you used to pray when you were a small child or you started to pray as a young Christian but now  for whatever reason, whether it be frustration because of unanswered prayer or just prayerlessness, you may have ceased to pray altogether.
The one who is best qualified to teach us about prayer is Jesus himself. We've read of him often spending the night in prayer. Even on the night before his crucifixtion we find him praying. This may have been one of the reasons His disciples asked Him, "Lord, teach us to pray". His response was in the form of what we've come to know as the Lord's Prayer.
But Jesus also said in Luke18 that "Men always ought to pray and not to lose heart". Paul also wrote that we are to 'pray without ceasing, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you". ( I Thess 5:17-18)
Prayer simply defined is: a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an earnest hope or wish spoken to God.
I believe that when we come together to pray it is our solemn petitions and requests that are being placed at our Father Gods feet. He hears our cry for help and responds. Too often prayer warriors and their vital roles have been downplayed or thought to have been like the scribes or Pharisees, just having a form of godliness, trying to appear more Holy. Whatever falsehoods have been propagated in order to keep the body of Christ from falling on their knees in prayer need to be illuminated with the light of the truth. The truth comes from the very one who is truth and that is Jesus. Why would he give us exact instructions on how to do something if we were not intended to do it? 
Prayer is essential in our relationship with our Father God. Prayer was also never intended as something we use to bend the will of God to our will but it is so that we can get our will in line with His. 
Jesus also gave us an incredible promise concerning prayer. He said, " if you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you". (Jn 15:7)
So, don't lose heart if you've found that you've fallen into a lifestyle of prayerlessness, there is love, grace and another day to begin afresh. Always remember that " the earnest, fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much", which means your prayers and petitions sent up to God as requests mean so very much.
We have a so many beautiful opportunities to gather together to make a difference as we raise voices and petitions for help from our Father. We have his ear always. 

Insight Insert: I challenge you to call or communicate with another person this week and together spend a few minutes of time with your hearts and voices joined in prayer to your Heavenly Father. It may just be the beginning of a beautiful habit.

Scripture: I John 5:14 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." 

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Dirty Cup

There are days when it feels like I move in robotic fashion doing the mundane things that are mindless but necessary. Unloading the dishwasher is one of them. You see my morning routine as soon as my feet hit the floor seems to be this: use the bathroom, wash my hands, go to the kitchen, turn on the coffee pot, while it's warming up unload the dishwasher. I could do it with my eyes closed I think. And in unloading said dishwasher if there is one thing that makes me growl its finding a cup as I'm just about to put it in the cupboard, with "stuff" still hard and dirty inside. I know, the dishwasher is not perfect and I always pre- rinse so. . . . . Yeah!  I growl under my breath and say, (sometimes out loud to no one at all,)"is it too much to ask that the dirt, heaven forbid, actually gets washed off of the cups when I put them inside something called a DISHWASHER?" Ugh! Why do I allow life's little bits of grunge to spoil a perfectly good morning before my coffee is even dripped? Well, I think those little pieces of " dirt or grunge" matter! You see, I would not drink out of that cup with that stuff in there. Would you? Don't think so! Now, here's where my life's little moments of introspection start dripping as fast as my coffee that's  now running through my Kuerig does. Question arises: "Is there anything in me that's dirty God that would make others not want to be around me, ask me to help them or just wanna do life with me because of my grunge?" So, you ask, you get answers. Here's what I heard. The Lord quietly said to me, " you know Jean, I may just have allowed your dishwasher to miss that cup so that you would notice how often you grumble and growl under your breath when things aren't perfect in your eyes." Ok, not somethingI wanted to hear. What did it matter, no one was around to hear me? I try not to grumble in front of people so that they wouldn't think poorly of me. My husband is still asleep so he can't hear me. So, what's the big deal with that anyway Lord? " I hear you" he softly said. "I gave you a house with a dishwasher because you went most of your life NOT having one. I knew that you would be grateful and blessed by it. Now when you grumble it appears that my gift to you was not good enough and that you are not grateful or thankful". I felt very very sorry at that point and immediately asked the Lord of my life who is good and cares for me endlessly to forgive my grumbling and my ungrateful attitude. This little life moment brought up all kinds of moments of self examination for me. I began to see that my cup was not too clean exactly like the cup that I had just grumbled about. Im here to tell you that I am very very grateful that I have a good good heavenly Father who loves me and shows me lovingly where I am getting it wrong. He doesn't ever do it to be mean or uncaring or just to beat me over the head with my wrong doings but He does it in a loving way that fathers should do if they love their children. I'm reminded here of the verse in Proverbs 3:12 that says, " For whom the Lord LOVES He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom He delights". My Heavenly Father delights in me and wants the best for me and desires that I truly " get it right" because if He didn't care He would just let me go my "grungy way" and never say anything. Then, I'm here to tell you, not many people would want to drink from my cup if that were the case. So, this morning, I'm thankful for that dirty cup. Yes, a dirty cup that no one wants to drink from taught me a very important lesson straight from the heart of someone who cares. 

Insight Insert: Take some time this week or even today to ask the Lord what things that may be in your life that are causing you to be dirty or grungy and undesirable to be around. Ask Him to show you specifically and I know, if you're a good listener, that He will show you. Taking time to "rewash" ourselves whenever we can will always assure that we stay in a state of cleanliness and Godliness that will make others desire to drink from our cups. 

Scripture: I Peter 1:14-16 "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy". 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Golden Day

This morning was golden! As I opened my eyes from sleep I could see the golden yellow rays of the morning sun through my window shades. I smiled as I pulled myself up to greet my day. I knew in my heart that today was going to be a treasure filled with memorable moments like no other day. It was going to be another Saturday that would come and go, to be sure, but THIS day I looked forward to because I knew exactly what it held in store for me. You see, my love is art, gardening, creating and people! All of those things were going to flood my day and I looked forward to being caught in the wave! I have learned to embrace even the dreaded things that come along with the good but it certainly wasn't always that way. In days past I would allow the troubles, problems and glasses of spilled milk to block out the light of my golden moments so I would hardly notice the wonderful memories that were playing out right in front of me.  Whenever one of my children would drop something and break it for instance, I would get angry and fuss at them and send them to their room while grumbling under my breath and sweeping up the pieces. I had missed my golden moment to wrap my arms around them and flood their little hearts with forgiveness and love. I had allowed my golden moment to be lost in my own self-made world. Too many times i miss those moments because i have allowed people or circumstances to stand in my way, blocking out the light of the moment. I needed some light to be shed on my dark, pathetic state! That's when the "son" broke through my clouds! The "son", the "light of the world" ripped the veil of darkness from my heart and eyes and allowed me to see what I was missing. I am a bit sad to say that it took way too long for me to see the treasures that God had given to me in my children and now that I have grandchildren I can see just how many golden moments that I did miss. If I can leave you with any final thoughts of where you are and how you view your life challenges, I would say "stop", "look" and "listen"! In the middle of your stress filled moments, "stop" and take time to think about what The Lord would have you to do, "look" at the person or situation and try to see it through Gods eyes and finally "listen" to what God has to say to you about what's really important in that moment. Don't miss your "golden" moments when they come and they WILL come. They will be what defines you at the end of the day when the sun goes down. Will your sunsets be as golden as your sunrises? They can be! Let the "son" be the light that floods over your face in the morning and let him continue to shine in and through you for the remainder of your day! Your moments will be golden for it! 

Insight Insert: This week I challenge you to "make a golden moment happen"! If there is something that stands "looming" over you like a little black cloud then let's make a golden moment out of it where the light of God shines on it and God is glorified in you because of it! What does that look like you say? Well, if there has ever been a "spilled milk" moment in your life like I described above then take this week and make that moment into a golden one. Go to that person and say " I'm so sorry for my reaction, will you forgive me?" and then watch and see what The Lord will do. You may have been short with someone at work, angry at your spouse or best friend or wretched to your children because you had a stressful week. What ever the reason, take your dark moment and make it golden! The sun will come out and oh how glorious it will shine! 

Scripture: Romans 12:21. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good".

Friday, August 11, 2017

Making Change

Wow, there is a whole group of our populace out there who really don't like change! Change is never easy, especially if you've become a creature of habit. Most of us do plod along on the paths of our daily grinds and are perfectly content to have that path be the same day in and day out but the moment the path changes, look out world. It kind of reminds me of the scene in the movie, "A Bugs Life" when the seed fell in the path of the ant and he was totally lost! Remember that one? He absolutely freaked out because it was different and he didn't think that he could find his way. With a little coaxing he was finally able to take a different path for a bit, which led him right back to the old one and "voila" he was again right on his way. We just don't like any kind of disruption to our routine do we? But just think of that ant, if he hadn't taken the alternate path, he would have held up the whole works and the job at hand would never have been completed. Change is sometimes a distasteful thing in our mouths but it is ultimately what is needed in order for us to go further. Who among us parents absolutely "loved" potty training their children? If you answered, " oh I did!" then I really would be hard pressed to believe you because that particular phase was not fun at all. But, if you hadn't taught and trained them to independently use the facilities, well it is a ridiculously ugly thought to picture a 16 year old in diapers isn't it! Change is necessary and it always comes with a price! Our relationships with our spouses change over the years and they either get wonderful or seemingly irreparable! The process always comes with a cost that we usually don't love but for change to take place, change is necessary! I would never want to live my life in the same old "rut" day in and day out just because it was easy for me and didn't "inconvenience" me in any way. I would never grow! I for one want to learn and grow so that I can mature into the person that God desires me to become! I think a lot about Jesus as he was in the Garden of Gethsemane just before his crucifixion. He "knew" change was coming for us all, himself included, and he agonized over it to the point of sweating blood. But, if he had not gone forward and done what he did, then what hope would we have? The one who suffered the ultimate change for us had to change in order for us to get to the place that God has destined for us to go! Final note; I'm soooo glad that I'm not typing this note on my old manual typewriter without "auto correct"! We have progressed to the lovely little IPad and for that change, I am truly thankful! So the next time that something in our daily routine changes, take a deep breath and say to yourself, "change is good, I need change"! It will not be easy, but then, change usually never is!  

Insight Insert:  My challenge to you this week is to "shake up your routine" a bit! In your daily comings and goings try and make some changes. (Note to self. . . This will not be easy) Ex: If you get up at 7:00 am, then try and get up at 6:00 for just this week. Use your extra hour to do something like a load of wash etc. so that the extra time doing laundry later can be spent with family. If you use a bit too much sugar on a daily basis then try to cut sugar from your diet this week and see how you feel at the end of the week. See, I can already hear your thoughts!!! Change isn't easy but it always leads to growing experiences that may just be what the doctor ordered. 

Scripture:  Romans 12: 2.  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.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Paintbrush Of Prayer

A very good friend and elder at my church gave the sermon this Sunday in church. He spoke from Ephesians chapter 6 and verse 18 in particular. It reads: Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints. (Gods consecrated people). He spoke of having the whole armor of God on and of most particular importance in the body of Christ is PRAYER!  As we go into battle we must be prepared and ready but somehow a lot of us have seemingly forgotten. We may have adopted the impression that prayer is necessary but not such a vital thing. We were shown a picture on the overhead screen of a magnificent tree that was in black and white except for one end section that was in brilliant color. The tree in all of its glory was spectacular but the section that was in color went far beyond words. If only the whole tree was in color so we could get a full picture of the idea of what it's glory looked like. THAT was the point. Walking out the life that the Lord intends for us is in itself a spectacular thing but if "prayer" was our paintbrush then we would see this life in all of it's glorious color as it was meant to be seen. We can't minimize the power of what prayer can do! We must never look at it as just a small part of what it means to walk in Gods plans and purposes. The word says to pray at all times and stay alert and  persevere in your prayers. That doesn't sound like we should take prayer casually at all! At the end of his wonderful message he had the entire church come forward to the altar area and he prayed for our eyes to be opened to see more clearly the importance of prayer and he prayed that we would become warriors of prayer. As he was praying for all of us, God showed me a beautiful and moving picture in my spirit. I saw Jesus walking across the altar area during that prayer time and he was handing everyone a paintbrush. Most, gladly accepted it but some said as he handed them the brush, "oh Lord, but I'm not an artist and I don't know how to paint"! Jesus just smiled and spoke kindly and said, "I'm the creator of color and all you have to do is use this paintbrush as your tool (prayer) and I will give life to what you are painting!" "Just move your brush (prayer) and my glory will come"! What a beautiful picture that was for me. As a creative person I want to paint and paint and paint and never stop painting. I could envision all kinds of glorious pictures that my brush could give color to. Pray! What are you waiting for. The brush is in your hand! Paint often and persevere. . .  . Your picture will soon turn from black and white to glorious color.

Insight Insert:  Your Father is the Creator of the Universe and you are his child. I don't know about you but I do know that children tend to inherit the traits of their parents. So, if you will allow the Lord to use you and be obedient to what he asks of you then you will be able to "create" some amazing things because of him working through you. This week use your paintbrush, which is prayer, and begin to fashion your painting. Your studio (your prayer corner wherever that is) will soon fill with paintings that will be glorious to behold and ones that will make the heart of your Father proud. Pick up your brush and begin. . . .with just two strokes ( praise and petition) your masterpiece will take form!

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 7:15. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to prayer in this place. AMP

Friday, August 4, 2017

Be Expectant

There may have been times that you've experienced a long series of disappointing things and you've gotten into the very bad habit of just expecting more of what you've already had. Your troubles have been many and you've found yourself simply waiting for more to arrive on the scene. Many of us can relate to feeling like this but you need to know that it's not how God wants you to live.
Fear of troubles coming your way is NOT something we want to wait for and expect. It says in Proverbs 15:15 " all the days of the desponding (hopeless) and afflicted (troubled) are made evil (by anxious thoughts and forebodings), but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast".
Expecting troubles will affect you in a very negative way. They can open the 
windows of our hearts to the evil plans of the enemy. The truth is GOD is GOOD! Everything He does is good and wonderful and everything God offers is greater than what the enemy of our soul has to offer. God desires to do something amazing and wonderful in your life every moment of every day. We have to be ready and expecting it to happen. 
Isaiah 30:18 says, " Therefore the Lord (earnestly) waits (expecting, looking and longing) to be gracious to you, and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving kindness to you. Blessed (happy, fortunate) are all those who (earnestly) wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him". 

God is longing and looking for someone who's waiting for Him to be good to them. We have to be expecting Him to move in our lives. And, whether you see it or feel it or not, keep praying and expecting because He is longing to be gracious and good to you. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Make Me A Featherduster

Ok, ok, I have thought this thing through fully and I am convinced with everything in me that I want to be a Featherduster. Laugh if you must but it's true. I have given much thought to it and it's my final answer! When asked what I wanna be. . . . .i will reply, "A Featherduster"! Now, I shall explain. . . .you see a Featherduster is an instrument that you can always rely on to get the hardest dusting jobs done. It can, if made with a long handle, reach the dust in the places that nothing else can. A Featherduster has a sort of "natural magnetic attraction" quality to it that seemingly sucks the dust into itself and holds it there until you shake it out. Ahhhhh but when you take it outside and shake it, then you can see the amazing job that the Featherduster has done. It attracts, holds and at just the given time, releases the dust to the wind to do its work on something else. Yeah, I wanna be a Featherduster! 
You see my heart belongs to Christ and in saying that I tell you that my heart desires what Christ desires. You see in John 6 it says, "no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them". You see, when Christ is in us we are automatically given a sort of magnetic attraction to the Father and the things of God that are evident but hard to explain. It can, when used as a tool of Christ, draw men into and unto the things of God. I want my life, because of Christ, to draw people and attract them by modeling the love of Christ. I want to desperately hold onto them and be in relationship with them while mentoring them in the things of God. Then, at the appropriate and given time, I want to be like that mother bird who puts things in the nest that says to the babies, "it's time to fly!" Then I want to shake them to release them to fly out into the world to land where they were intended to land to once again start the process themselves. Yep, I wanna be a Featherduster, drawing, holding and then releasing. It says in Phillipians 3. . . . "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus".

Now THAT'S the magnetic and drawing and holding and sending out power that I want to have. Lord, make me a Featherduster!

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Today, while sipping my morning coffee, I watched a Dove as she fed at my bird feeder on my deck rail. My feeder is a sort of makeshift feeder if you will, one that isn't so pretty but it does the job. It consists of a birdhouse that I purchased at the flea market and on either side, two plastic food containers for holding the bird seed. Yeah, like I said, not pretty but utilitarian completely. As I watched the dove feasting on the seed I noticed that she must have been hungry because it seemed that she couldn't get it fast enough. Then I laughed out loud because she stepped over the edge of the container and sat down right in the middle of the seed and just ate around herself. I think one reason I laughed so hard is my complete relating to her situation. There have been days, I thought to myself, that I was lonely or depressed or just bored and I have spent the day surrounding myself with food to alleviate the problem. I felt like I was eating around myself being fully immersed in the middle of my stuff! This dove was a vivid reminder of just how "immersed" we can get in our issues. It's as though nothing else matters or we don't even notice how consumed we  can get while trying to alleviate our pain by eating around ourselves. It's a funny and ridiculous picture but I'm sure it happens to others as well. Honestly! Tell me I'm not alone in this! At any rate, if you can relate at all just ask yourself this question. . ."what is it that I feel that I've fully immersed myself in and I am mindlessly medicating myself with?" You may be so immersed in your work that you are sleeping all the time and you feel that life is passing you by. You may be suffering grief so badly over a loss of someone that you are self medicating with drugs or alcohol. Or maybe you are so caught up in the mundane things of life like house cleaning, wiping little noses and picking up endless toys or laundry that you feel like you are immersed and drowning in your own weariness. Whatever that looks like just know that the issue isn't in what you are immersed in but the problem or issue comes from our response to that immersion. We can sit in the middle of our stuff and mundanely eat around our pain or we can be like that dove who, just now I might add, stood up and stepped out of where she was and flew off to the rest of her day. We can respond by changing our responses. We can change our obsessive working hours of overtime to get more of the almighty dollar and spend more time with our families instead of sleeping the time away from fatigue. We can grieve for those lost loved ones but reach out to others for companionship and help in the midst of our grief instead of closing the door and sitting alone in our stuff. We can get some housework done, maybe not all of it and then allow those toys to lay there on the floor while we take time for ourselves and our children by getting outside or going to the park. That stuff will always be there to do but our children won't. So what are you immersing yourself in and what is your response to that immersion? The best answer I can give you is one that either you've heard many many times or one that you don't desire to hear at all. The truth of it, for me at least, has been to fully immerse my self in my relationship with God through worship, fellowship with him in prayer and by the reading of His word. This was the crucial key to my responses to problems and issues when they arose. I no longer want to "eat around myself" medicating my pain with food but what I have immersed myself in and fed upon has been the thing that has equipped me to step out of the seed bin and go on with my day in a victorious and purposeful manner. It has been the answer! You know that little term " you are what you eat?", well, it's true. When you immerse and eat upon the word of God and feast in His presence and worship Him and send up your prayers to Him He will fill you and guide you through your pain, problems and issues. The more deeply we are immersed in a relationship with God the more you love Him and the more you'll look to Him for help. It says in II Timothy 3:16-17 " All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be throughly equipped for every good work". So, your immersion question is answered! Immerse yourself in Christ, his word and a relationship with Him and He will be the only medication or remedy to your issues or pain. Praying for you today my friends that you will be free from "eating around yourself" and equipped with His bread of life for newness of life! 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Milk-ee Or Milk-er?


Oh man! I laughed straight out loud when I read this little note online the other day. I know people like that! Truly, don't ask them about their trouble if they just proclaimed it loudly for everyone to hear. You will most assuredly get an earful.. . . . over and over and over again. Each time they think they have someone's attention to their plight they revel in replaying the whole thing. Oh the agony but no ecstasy! If you happen to work in a large office you most probably have seen it played out many times. The "milk-ee" is totally at the mercy of the one who is replaying their story, the "milk-er"! How many times do you need a compassionate "awwww" or a "that was unfair to you" before you feel vindicated in your pain? And, like the note says, was your whole day bad or did you just become a "milk-er" for a problem that took place in 5 minutes? So sad isn't it, to think people are so starved for attention, accolades and affirmation (the AAA of worldly self esteem) that they have to drag others through their muck over and over and over again to make themselves feel better. Here we go again, the "me" pushes its way to the forefront shoving selflessness to the ground and stands center ring in a victory clasp! I pray that I've never been a "milk-er" but sadly I can almost say with assuredness that I probably have been. Let me take a moment to say that if you know me and I've done the milking, I apologize profoundly. It is never my heart to revel in my misery and pain and may I add, continue to do so many many times. It's not Gods heart either I believe. When we spend so much time focusing on the plight or problem we can be pushing ourselves further away from the solution. While we think the solution of milking it and sharing it with others will help us get through, we are sorely wrong. It's sort of like putting vinegar in an open wound. It hurts and stings continuously and we think the vinegar will heal it and make it better eventually. Wrong! "Cast all your cares on ME, for I care for you" says the Lord. NOT others, ME! "The Lord hears me when I call him. . . Search your hearts and be silent". We have such a boundless fountain of "how to get it right" and all of it is laid out in Gods Word. Run to him, pour out your complaint to him, be silent and search your heart and I can guarantee you that if you do that first you will be less likely to defile the eyes, ears and hearts of others with your problems. And yes, the Bible does say to bear ye one another's burdens and having a close friend to confide in and help process your solution can be good but beyond that where it involves many others, not so good. Ultimately when we get it right by running to the only one who can make it right, we will win the day! You can then maybe ask your self, "Was it a good day? Or was it a good 5 minutes talking to the Lord and giving him my problem?" When milking time is over it's time to rest awhile and isn't it a better feeling to know and rest in the one who cares for you better than anyone?

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Advertising Assault

Today I am sitting at a phenominal auction that is chock full of old advertising items. I Don't think I've ever seen so much of it in one place before. There are old drug store signs, old magazine pages with vintage Coke & Pepsi ads, old showcases from the old 5 & 10 cent stores and I could go on and on! I am experiencing a visual assault of epic preportions of paper, photos and company logos. It's amazing isn't it how much of what we purchase and partake of is driven by all this stuff! If I want my mouth to be "minty fresh" then I must buy some Wrigleys Spearmint Gum. If I want to have a "heavenly coffee" experience then the only coffee to drink is Chock Full O Nuts! And, if I want the whitest smile ever, I must "brush my teeth with Pepsodent"! Wow! How do we get by in life without all of this valuable guidance? How can we know??? How do we choose? It's too overwhelming! I know, I know, these companies are out to just make a living and it's called "free enterprise" but seriously, shouldn't it be called " assault in disguise"? What did people do before all this advertising came into play to "help us along"? Are we gullible enough to believe all of these super slogans? Hmmm. As I sit here and ponder whether I am going to Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds for my favorite coffee after this auction, I have no trouble at all making my decision because I've tried them all and my taste buds have already made their choice so the cool pink and brown sign nor the mermaid will sway this Golden Arches girl!

Insight Insert:   We are "assaulted" on a daily basis with things , opinions and pictures that tell us what we should do, buy and how we should live. Switch off the tv this week, disconnect from the Internet and pull away for a bit and talk to your creator! Ask him where you should go, what you should do when you get there and what you should say when you encounter that moment of destiny. Trust him fully to guide your steps and be surprised at how it feels to listen to one voice only and act upon that! Life as you know it could change just a bit!

Scripture:  Isaiah 30:21.  Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying "this is the way; walk in it."

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The "Breath" Of A Tree

I truly couldn't put my finger on "why" exactly but I can say most assuredly that I have a mysterious love of trees. Oh, there could be a myriad of reasons from green outstretched boughs full of life that render a shady and cool respite in the heat to the spectacular show of colors that take my breath in the autumn change. Many, many times I have stopped along the road as I travel to just marvel at a particular tree. I do see them as one of Gods wonderful and amazing creations. Trees are mentioned aproximately 56 times in scripture which speaks highly to me and tells me to do what I am drawn to do, 'stop and notice them'! Everything about his creation of trees has been intricately and meticulously thought out by our creator. He made them purposeful, with every part being useful to life, much like he made us. From the design of their expansive root system where their nourishment is obtained to the expanse of their boughs that gives shade to man and a nesting place for Gods creations. Their wood has been cut to fashion everything from an ark to a bowl to hold our food. Homes have been made, furniture to sit on in those homes and strangely enough, even a set of teeth was carved for President George Washington from the wood of a tree. The paper I write and sketch on
is available because of Gods gift of a tree! I could literally write all day and beyond on the innumerable wonders of the tree but I certainly would overwhelm your ability to absorb it all. One very interesting fact that I feel compelled to mention in the big scheme of the glory of God in trees is the balance that our creator designed in them of carbon and oxygen. In the lifetime of a single mature (98-100ft) tree, it can absorb 50 lbs. of carbon dioxide and that same tree can also produce 6,000 pounds of oxygen in a year, which is enough to support 2 people. Amazing! So, are trees breathing? Why, yes, I believe they are! They take in or absorb carbon dioxide and then in turn put out oxygen into the air. We, as human beings, take in the oxygen and then in turn breathe out or expel the carbon dioxide. What an amazing, supernatural and unsearchable thing that our creator has done here!
Recently, a sweet and gifted friend drew a prophetic picture and placed it online. I was immediately taken by its beauty because it looked so very much like a tree. But upon closer examination it clearly was not a tree but an intricately etched drawing of the lungs. In the picture of the lungs she had placed Gods creatures resting and residing. Under her drawing she had written the words to a familiar worship song. . . "It's your breath in our lungs. . So we pour out our praise. . . ". Those lungs were designed to be inside of our wonderfully made bodies and they held the same intricacies of the trees that were outside in nature! MY BREATH HAS BEEN TAKEN AWAY HERE! Oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out; life sustaining branches to allow life to flow and to protect us; He (God) is indeed the air we breathe, the air we take in. The air intake system that he has created had been mimicked so to speak through the trees. God you are unspeakably rich in your goodness to us. Today my prayer must be this:
"Turn my heart to you O Lord. Sow seeds of your Word in humble, open soil and send its roots down into my heart. Send more roots deep into my lungs so that your breath fills my lungs, bringing wisdom. As I breathe out, may songs of praise fill the air all around me. As my heart beats, sending blood to every vital part of my body, remind me of your blood that had given me newness of life and is vital to apply to every area of my life. Amen"
So, here, once again I am reminded why the poet in me holds one poem most dear to my heart. The first line goes like this, "I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree. . . . ".

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Got Cha Covered

Yesterday I came across one of the most beautiful pictures of a rock wall in the painted desert in Arizona. It's colors were breathtakingly beautiful beyond description. As I paused to enjoy the beauty of it I was quickly reminded how it looked exactly like a quilt that my daughter had covering her bed. The delicate lines of color mirrored her quilt in every way. It of course made me think of coverings and what they do. Sorry, but that's the kind of thing that kicks my brain into "wonderment" mode. So here's what I began to think. . . How comforting is the term "got ya covered"! In the hustle bustle of all that we do, to have someone step in on one of your busiest days and say "go, I've got ya covered" is a deep sigh of love and relief isn't it? When someone cares enough to see that you need help and they jump in with the biggest heart of a servant you've ever seen and make that declaration to you, well, there are few words to describe how grateful that would make anyone feel. Covering someone means taking care of their needs, protecting them from harm or weariness in this case. Covering means being the one who takes the reins of responsibility and guides the wagon when we are weak. It's taking the protective role at its most vulnerable moment to bring shelter and care. Covered! Hmmmm Well, you probably know where I'm going next so just come along for the ride and relax. Covered, isn't that what Jesus did for us when he stretched out his arms on that cross and cared for us in the single greatest act of love and protection ever made? We needed a Savior, He covered us. We needed protection from death, helll and the grave, He covered us. We, in our absolute lost and most weary and vulnerable states needed someone who would cover us, protect us and care for us by stepping into our world and saying, "Got Ya Covered"! By doing what He did, dying on that cross and caring for us when we certainly didn't deserve covering, shows us every second of every day how very beautiful his protective, loving, selfless and caring quilt of compassion is over us. The painted desert quilt. . . . . Well. . . . as beautiful as it is, it can't quite or ever will, hold a candle to our Jesus covering. We are covered with a love that can't be illustrated or even painted on desert rocks. His covering can only be accepted and embraced by those who are tired, weak, hungry and in need of a Savior and. . . . that includes us all!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Dusk To Dawn

Before dawn I sat and drank my coffee; all was dark except for a few twinkling stars and a home in the distance that obviously had left the porch light on. I was surrounded by quietness. It is said that its always darkest before the dawn, onimous for sure...but isnt that how it feels in our spirits sometimes? Our lives are so dark with sin before we can see the light of Jesus in our darkest hour. Oh, we can't see it at the time but that's how it always is and always will be. You see, the darkness of sin so blocks out most light of any kind, especially the light of the love of Christ. We get so buried deep in our sin that it is all encompassing. Yes, maybe in the distance we can see the glimmer of another light here and there but that's about it. We see the light of Jesus shining in others' lives but the dark shroud of sin is so thick over our own lives that it's hard to imagine walking in such light at all. It seems impossible to even dare hoping to walk in such light. It looks and probably feels like being caught up in a never ending nightmare of darkness. 
Ahhhh, but here is where the veil gets torn! The sun is creeping up to the edge of the horizon. The light of a new day sheds hope over the landscape and the dawn is here! Someone, probably with a familiar face, bumps into you in the supermarket, invites you to share lunch and the light is shed! Someone calls you on the phone perhaps, comes to your door as you felt the unction to invite them over and the light creeps into your house. Maybe, you stand at the bedside of a dying loved one and wonder if the pain will ever subside and a hand slips quietly into yours as a prayer is prayed. Whatever it looks like, your dawn is here. The sun will go down and the sun will rise and it ALWAYS rises and the hope of glory slips into that tear in your spirit, that wound, that gap where your vulnerability is exposed. The hope of glory dispels the darkness and the day is new, his mercies to you are new. Your old things, the shroud, the yoke, the burden and the weight of sin and darkness are gone. The light has come.

As I sat on my porch watching the darkness before the dawn I noticed in the distance another light from another farm come on and then another and then another until the darkness is hardly noticeable for the twinkling of the lights on the horizon. It's as if one light was triggering another to come on. It was as if a chain reaction of lights were whispering to each other, "wake up, it's time to wake up. It's a new day"! I smile as I think about how dark it had been and now here was the sun peeking over the horizon to bring the ultimate light to my day. The rooster crowed and I knew undeniably that my day would soon be filled with things like phone calls or prayers with a friend and maybe even a chance meeting or two. I rose from my porch swing and turned off my porch light for the light had indeed come. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I'm Gonna Make You Love Me. . . . Yes I Will, Yes I Will

Now the title of that old song by the Temptations came to my mind while I was doing my bible study today. I know, go figure!  I was reading in the book of Genesis the 29th chapter of the account of Rachel and Leah. Now why would that song come to mind? Well, let me explain. The story begins around the 14th verse. It tells of Jacob who went to work for Laban and the wages that he desired to work for were for the hand of Labans daughter Rachel in marriage. Laban agreed to let Jacob have Rachel's hand after he had worked for Him for seven years. Yes gentlemen, this was a woman worth waiting for as far as Jacob was concerned. But after the seven years had passed Laban deceived Jacob and on Jacobs wedding night he unknowingly had Rachel's sister Leah in his tent instead of Rachel because Laban said that their tradition was to have the oldest daughter married first. Jacob was of course furious because Rachel, the beautiful one, was the one that he desired and had worked for seven years to have. After Jacob protested Laban agreed to give him Rachel as well but only if Jacob would agree to work for Laban for another seven years. So Jacob took Rachel also as his wife and worked for Laban. At this point you may be thinking, "how sad for Leah", she knew her husband loved Rachel and she just wanted him to love her. Here's where I have to ask the question, " have you ever felt unloved by someone you wanted to love you?" For some it may be the very person you are married to or in a relationship with. For some it may be or have been a parent who didn't show love for whatever reason. I can't imagine the depth of what you are going through or have been through but I do know that God sees. I believe he saw Leah. Not as a replacement for love but as a blessing God gave Leah children. But instead of seeing the gift of children as a blessing, Leah viewed her children as a way to capture the heart of her husband. You see this was Leah's thinking, she desperately wanted to be chosen and loved and hoped that by having these children it would win the heart of her husband. Aren't we sometimes like Leah here? We, in an effort to be loved think that by being better, looking better, achieving more, doing more that it might attract attention. But here, for Leah, no amount of children or attention was going to change the fact that Jacob didn't really love her, he loved Rachel. Now it may seem like the moral to this story would be "those who are beautiful and desired by men are happy and those who are homely and unloved are miserable"! But let's take a look at the other woman, Rachel. Rachel was miserable too! Rachel had everything that her sister Leah wanted and was convinced would make her happy. She had Jacob who loved her exclusively, she was physically stunning but she could have  no children. If only, she thought, she could have a child then she would be truly complete and happy. So here's where we see that Rachel became jealous of her sister Leah because she had children and Leah was jealous of Rachel because Jacob didn't love her he loved Rachel. How sad! There had to be a better way! Well as the story progresses, Rachel cried out to God for a child and He heard her. She had a son. So here's the happily ever after part, right? Wrong! Rachel had the exclusive love of her husband and she was stunningly beautiful and now she had a child but she was not happy. She should have been satisfied, filled, content and had a heart that was at rest but we find Rachel near the end of her story lying and cramming idols into her bag on the way out! Where she should have been happy she was discontent and grabbing idols to try and fill her discontent.  So, here's another poignant question for you. "Have you ever gotten that thing or person that you so longed for and it didn't make you as happy as you thought it would?" I think that is the exact point! The answer seems to be that it doesn't matter if you have it all and get everything your heart desires or if you're left wanting and unloved. Neither works! You see even though Leah and Rachel had very different circumstances they both were left wanting. Why? Because God was not their ultimate thing. The "ultimate things" for them were, children, their husband, their beauty or social status and in the end that just wasn't enough. A better way does exist! All of the "ultimate things" that these sisters had set in place were simply NOT the ultimate thing. If you are one of these that are desperate for love and affection but your searching has led you down unimaginable paths of devastation then maybe your "ultimate thing"is not the "ultimate thing". If you find yourself feeling miserable in your lack like Leah or miserable in your fullness like Rachel then the question comes again. God has created each of us uniquely and specifically. God knows the longings of our hearts and sees our pain. He hears our cries. Your life does not need to end up like either of these women! It says in John 10:10 that Jesus came so you no longer have to strain for what you believe are the "ultimate things". "He has come that you may have life and have it to the fullest". So, here's my final thought. In this New Year when many people are making their new resolutions for the coming year, I would suggest maybe instead of making resolutions that you probably won't keep. . . .try this. . . Be "resolute" about loving God and making him the "ultimate object of your affection"! You are more likely to find the ultimate thing that Rachel or Leah never found! And that just might look like a "happily ever after" for you!

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Shadows Of Morning

I believe we all know what a shadow is don't we? Websters defines a shadow as a shape or dark area produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface. Simple enough I think. As a small child I can actually remember seeing my shadow and being afraid of it. I know, but I had no idea what it was or who that person was and why they were chasing me. I certainly didn't understand why I couldn't get away from them. That was a very scary memory for a little one but as I came to realize that the person following me was simply "me" then my shadow quickly became my playmate. The reality of shadows are that they cast nearly exact replicas of what the shape or the person is. Directionally observed sometimes they can look distorted but generally they are the exact shape and form. This morning as I was enjoying breakfast on my front porch the sun had come up, it was casting shadows of everything. I could see my figure as I sat in my chair and I could also see the shadows of my hanging pots, my wicker furniture and even the wind chimes that were hanging there. We were all exactly reproduced, reflecting dark images across the porch floor boards and clapboard siding. Another interesting fact to note is that shadows can also come in the form of shade. On a larger scale I must say as in the shade of my enormous oak tree in my yard. It's shadow casts shade to sit under bringing a much needed refreshment from the heat of the sun. Whichever the case I have to tell you that the visions of shadows, whichever of these forms they take, causes me to wonder if the shadows that I cast or impressions that I leave look exactly as they should. What I mean by that is simply, "do I leave impressions for others that look like someone I'm trying to be or do they look exactly like who I am?" I don't know about you but I don't ever want to be classified, or "identified, as the term is so quickly used these days, with anyone but who God is creating in me. I want to be the 'real deal' as they say, someone who speaks the truth in love, holds no secrets, says what she knows to be truth, and always genuine. If I'm around highly educated and intelligent people I don't want to pretend and say things that would make me sound and appear to be on their level. When I'm with those who are financially well off I don't want to do or say things to try and impress so they will take me on as their equal. When I am around those who may use offensive language often, I never want to morph into their verbal gutter speak. I just desire to show them love and kindness without cruel judgement. I guess I've said all of that just to say, "I want to be a shadow of the person that I've asked the Creator to shape in me and I do not want my shadow to ever shift from that position".  I never desire for my shadow to look distorted or mishapen from attempting to look a different way from what and who I am! I want others to come under my shadow as well and find a place of rest and encouragement when they are exposed to the heat of struggles in their lives. I want my shadow to look like Jesus. That's my heart! It says in James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows". In the King James Version of the Bible it doesn't say "shifting shadows" but it says "shadow of turning". "Turning" in the Greek in this passage is 'entropy' which means "shame". I believe that through all of the false pretenses that people can make that this passage is saying that if you remain steady, in Gods will and living and looking like God even in your reflection that there will never be a 'shadow of turning' there will never be any 'shame' because you will look and be an exact reflection of the one who matters the most. So this morning, and every morning, I pray that as often as the sun (son) is shining on me that my reflection, my shadow in the light of day will look EXACTLY like the image of my Creator. Shadows can be amazing!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Ebb and Flow

Have you ever gone out to sit on the beach for the day? You probably had everything with you so that you could enjoy the day uninterrupted. Your beach chair gets positioned in just the right place where you aren't too far from the water to walk on the hot sand. Your cooler is there with all the food delights and drinks for the day and your blanket and umbrella positioned just right as to lend the appropriate shade that you need. It's a peaceful little scene on that beach as you watch the waves break on the shoreline. Children laugh as they leap into each oncoming wave and dads build sandcastles with the toddlers who can't brave the waves yet. Your book is in your lap as you doze off with the warm sun shining on your face and a feeling of peace and calm that only the ocean air seems to bring to you. Then it happens. . . . . You are awakened suddenly to find the flow of the tide has reached not just your feet but your cooler, your blanket and umbrella which is now listing from the lack of sand to properly hold it up! You jump up and squeal as you start grabbing your items and retreating back to drier ground with all of your now drenched essentials. As you watch your sunscreen bottle gulped up by the newest wave and subsequently float out to sea you stand there wondering what has just happened. Well, I can tell you sheerly from this little scenario and maybe my own experience, you have just been privy to another of life's "ebb and flow" moments. Just when you think you are in the middle of the peace-filled "ebb" of things where tranquility is washing over you and your troubles are drifting away. . . . . the "flow" happens! The fast approaching tide of life events takes you by surprise and jolts you back to reality.
That seems to be what the painting looks like folks. The "ebb" and "flow" of life is a natural occurrence, a dance if you will that looks like we will have to learn how to move to. Carefree childhood days jumping in the puddles. . . . the scraped knees from falling off of that first two wheel bike ride; standing at the altar saying "I do" to the love of your life. . . . . .the overwhelming cries of babies, dirty dishes and laundry; watching your children graduate from school with such immense pride that you could burst . . . . . . having your electricity turned off because you are drowning in a mountain of debt. There it is. . . . . The ebb and flow of life. Sometimes wonderful, sometimes, not so wonderful. But nonetheless it's the way of life. What we must learn to do is to adjust our thinking and reaction to the flow part. The ebb is wonderful in all of the joyful memories that it seems to make but when the rush of the unexpected flow hits us, well, we don't always embrace it with as much gusto and happiness do we? In Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 it says, "For everything there is an appointed time, a time for every matter under heaven:a time to bear and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to root up what is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace." 

What will we do when the unexpected time,or flow, washes in quickly and unexpectedly to our lives leaving us drenched and wiped out like the waves of a fast moving tide? Here's what we will do.. ... . We will gather up our stuff, move to drier ground and regroup. We will make it regardless of what that wave seemingly did to us. We will dry out, reposition our umbrellas and at some point recline in our chairs again with that good book, take a deep breath and be grateful! We will "count it all joy" and be able to smile or even laugh at ourselves and know that maybe just maybe being caught in the flow isn't always a bad thing but sometimes a necessary thing. For there is certainly one thing I'm now sure of. . . . . and that is just how far to position my beach chair to the ocean in the future! For as surely as the sun comes up in the morning bringing the light, the sun will also go down in the evening bringing the darkness. The tides will ebb and the tides will flow. Just make sure you've equipped yourself with what ever you need to face the darkness of the flow. It will also help us to appreciate the peace filled days much more. 
II Timothy 3:17 ". . . So that the man of God,may be complete and proficient,outfitted and throughly equipped for,every good work".