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".

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Midnight Weavers

There is a sort of magic that happens outside of my house in the wee hours. That's when the weavers come out. They can't be seen too many times during the day but they work their magic when all gets quiet and the darkness settles over the mountains. It's sort of a wondrous thing to behold. The sun comes up over the horizon and floods the nooks and crannies of my front porch and their handiwork becomes visible. At times their weaving is highlighted by little droplets of dew that make their amazing works of art sparkle when the sunlight hits them. I find it simply beautiful. Now, I haven't always found it beautiful. When I first moved into this house in the country I saw these striking works of art as "nuisance cobwebs". I would come out onto the porch and find them everywhere, every morning! I could go around with my broom and sweep them off of the chair rungs, the storm door and my plants on the rails grumbling as I swept away their industrious nights work. I soon realized that it was simply fruitless. As I sat down to drink my coffee with the sunrise one day, sighing that I had to brush yet another cobweb off of my rocker, I succumbed at last to the futility of my morning task. I sat rocking and noticing really how gifted and creatively talented that God had made these little midnight weavers. In my quest for web-free living, I had not stopped long enough to see the beauty of their work. Every fiber that they wove had to be attached to something. Every circle that they spun connected to every anchor strand as if a master architect had painstakingly designed it. They worked their weaving towards the center forming a beautiful tapestry of lines that are breathtaking when I took the opportunity to actually notice their form. Their little canvases were formed everywhere; they worked their magic between my porch rails. Their creative work could be seen on my wicker settee  and they even connected the branches of my potted jade tree on the post. There seemed to be no nook or corner that was left untouched. The morning light revealed their nighttime spinning and it was really quite glorious. Their soul task and focus was to weave their web, the tool that God instinctively designed in them so that they could capture their food. Small bugs and insects get caught in the web and the midnight weavers gather their sustenance from the prisoners of their handiwork. It all is wonderfully thought out and planned so they can be provided for as our Masters plan. The birds of the air do not toil or spin but they know that their Creator has provided food in nature to meet their needs. The deer find the streams when they are thirsty and the eagle has the sharpest of vision allowing him to soar and swoop down to find his provision. Our creator designed all of it and it's a perfect and beautiful dance. It allows us to see and be reassured that He will do the same for us when we need our provision. And just like my little midnight weavers, my life needs to have anchor points. I need my relationships and family to anchor me. I need fellowship with other believers to encourage me. I need to study and read Gods Word to truly anchor me in my faith. All of these things form the warp of my life's tapestry. God will then make a finished work of me with all of the other strands of life situations, struggles, tears, joys and triumphs to form the weave of my tapestry. It's alll a part of the Master Architects design you see. Purposeful and perfect. It's all, I'm totally convinced of, a part of the amazing plan that once more points us ever to Christ and His perfect work. Col. 2:2 says, "I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ." How beautiful and purposeful and perfect is his plan for us. It's intricately woven for us, for our benefit. Isn't that just like a good good father, always and ever thinking of his children. I love his plan, woven just for me! It makes my heart smile. Now, every time I come out with my coffee to sit I purpose to see the handiwork of my little midnight weavers and be reminded of my own tapestry of love that is still 'under construction'. I truly desire it to be as glorious with every mornings light as the spinnings on my front porch. Thank you God for allowing me to see that beauty through your little midnight weavers. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Black Faced Sheep

There is something beautiful about a black faced sheep. I can't quite put my finger on why but I know that when I look at them they always bring a sort of serenity and they always make me smile. We as Christians have been compared to them in the Bible. When Jesus was spoken of in the bible he was referred to as the shepherd and we as the sheep. Without the shepherd leading the sheep they would be scattered and lost. It was the duty of the shepherd to keep the sheep together because wolves would try to get in and harm the flock from time to time and try to separate them. His aim was to divide and conquer! Now shepherds would customarily create a sheepfold at night, an enclosure topped by thorns to keep the sheep in and the predators out. The shepherd would sleep across the entrance becoming virtually a "door" to the fold, effectively barring the entrance so nothing could creep up on the sheep as they slept. " Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me". (Psalm 23:4) There were also times when the sheep would wander into dangerous circumstances, getting caught in a thicket, passing near a predator, floating down a river, so the shepherd uses his tools, the rod and staff to defend and protect and to rescue and bring his sheep back into his protection. The crook of a typical shepherds' staff will many times be used to hook a sheep's neck or leg to redirect, hold or nudge them-- not to hurt them but rather to keep them safe. Sheep are the most precious and valuable asset a shepherd has; therefore a good shepherd treats them as a treasure. We likewise can find ourselves in bad situations. God will never abandon us to face those challenges alone. Sometimes when bad things happen to us we automatically want to blame the wolf (enemy) for the wrong that we are feeling. What if it was simply the shepherd trying to keep us from the path of harm? It's very conceivable to imagine that could happen that way with full intent for it being for our good! He will sometimes have to nudge us or redirect us back onto a path that is much better for us to be on. He is good and He loves us and he will support us and bring us through to the other side if we trust Him. If the shepherd couldn't be trusted then the sheep would be scattered and going each to their own way. There's always power and safety in numbers and the shepherd knows this well. Now, here's my little comparison to this black faced sheep that I love so much. The black face will always remind me of the sin that I have been forgiven of and the sin that will forever try to creep back over my face and into my life if I don't stay close to the shepherd. The full coat of wool that the sheep wears reminds me of the warmth and fullness of the love that I am covered with. His spindly little legs keep me ever mindful of how fragile I am and how quickly my feet can be found to fall and falter under the blackness of that same sin. I need my Shepherd to be there with me at every turn, every rocky cliff, every pothole, every valley that I find myself in and to protect me from every encounter with the wolves in my life. He will do all of that if I stay close and listen for his guidance and direction. "We are his people and the sheep of his pasture." (Psalm 100:3) We need Him! We desperately need Him to take care of us and watch over us. We need to allow Him to do his job though and not try to do it ourselves. We need the other sheep too. There is safety in numbers and if we stick together the wolves are less likely to try and charge right into the middle of the flock. There is something beautiful and genius about how all of this was set up isn't there! Like I said, "There is something beautiful about a black faced sheep"!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Thin Red Line

She sat for hours by her sewing machine, stitching and constructing small squares of fabric that would be pieced together for a quilt. She loved doing it but she did have to admit that there were times that the hours drug by so slowly and her back felt every minute of the aches and pains of it all. As she cut each tiny piece and measured and cut again her mind drifted to the days gone by where she used to watch her mother hand stitch all the tiny pieces together. Her mother would sit by a small lamp into the wee hours so that she could get her sewing done and still be able to get up early and make breakfast for her family. What dedication and love that she saw in those fleeting memories of her childhood. And now, here she was, well past midnight trying to secretly stitch the pieces for this quilt, a gift for her grand-daughter. As she top stitched the blocks with a contrasting red thread she looked back on her sewing lines and saw that the machine had skipped quite a few stitches,which was very evident because of the red thread. The thin broken red line was the straw that broke her. She growled under her breath as she knew that she would have to go back and tear all of those stitches out to rework them once more. As she pulled the fabric out from under the sewing needle of the machine she pricked her finger sharply on the needle and blood flowed down onto the fabric. She sighed and laid her head down on the machine and sighed heavily,not from the pain of the prick but sheerly from the weariness and frustration of it all. Why did she have to be so ridiculously finicky about each stitch being perfect? If only she had let it be she wouldn't have this blood stain to deal with now. Blood wasn't impossible to get out but it was troublesome because she knew that perhaps that block would fade a bit with the scrubbing. She had already put so much time and effort into it though that she couldn't bring herself to think of casting the whole block aside. " If not for the blood, if not for the blood" she thought wearily. Then, as quickly as it had slipped out of her mouth she caught herself. Again, she slumped over with her head on the machine and this time the tears flowed freely. She wept for a long time. After a few minutes she sat up, wiped her eyes and said, "Lord Jesus, I am so so sorry for my grumbling and my frustration. Please please forgive me." She knew that "if not for the blood" was the life tune of her heart! If not for the blood of the one who gave it all for her and everyone else that she wouldn't be living the joy filled life that she was living. If not for that thin red line of missing thread she wouldn't have pricked her finger and come to this place of realization and ultimate thanksgiving. She breathed in the moment, and as the tears were already beginning to dry on her cheeks she placed the quilt block back under the sewing needle and continued her task. She left that blood stain there on the fabric along with the missing threads of that thin red line. They would stay there as gentle reminders of all that she had gained from the moment and all that she'd gained because of the thin red line of the blood on the cross. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

When Trouble Came Knocking

You know, as of late I have been observing things in my life that for some odd reason never occurred to me until now. I don't know if you'd consider me a slow learner or just an eternal optimist with a denial for the obvious. Whichever the case, I am becoming wise to a few things. For instance, last night trouble came knocking at my door and it looked oddly like my husband. Upon arriving home late in the evening, we started arguing about something walking into the front door together. The argument carried itself all the way upstairs as I got ready for bed. He went into another room and I layed down in bed and cried for two hours thinking that he was the biggest jackass in the world. The next morning I was awakened to him asking if I wanted coffee and breakfast and I mumbled " sure" under my breath as I remembered the events of the night before. Hmmmmm, and did he remember the events of the night before? He sure did! It made me have a flashback of when I told my children if they were misbehaving in public that they would be receiving a spanking when we got home. They knew that I meant it so all the way home, they extolled my virtues."You're the best mommy" and "I love you soooooo much mommy" and the best one, "do you love me mommy?". Yeah, smoozing at its finest! That's sort of how I felt with my husband. The breakfast was to smooze me a little to settle me down so that the repercussions of his actions would not be met as severely! Have you ever noticed that in your lives before? Situations that were very troublesome being met with some kind of "peace offering" to make the pill go down easier? I am watching fully now and seem to observe it quite often. Now with children I do understand that it will happen as their little defense/ self preservation mechanisms kick in but adults? I also observed another instance when trouble came knocking with a close friend who for whatever reason misread a text that I had sent her and then continued by texting me back with very harsh words of rebuke and judgement. I felt debased! How could she think that I meant those things that she was saying and how could she not know my heart about the situation? Well, I did what I do best when I feel falsely accused. Yep, cried like a baby. It was not until the next day that she called me and told me that she had indeed read the text wrong and then began to smother me with words of kindness and encouragement and of course apology. The sting of it all was minimized but the pain still lingered a bit. We reconciled any differences and are once more the best of friends and have made a pact that texting is NOT the way to go when we are communicating important subjects. So, what's my "take away" from all these experiences? I have to tell you that I didn't quite frankly know the answer to that one but I did know I had to take it to the one who does have the answers. So, what do you suppose the Lord spoke to me when I asked him what to do when troubles come knocking? Once again it landed back in my lap as to be the one who was to make the changes. Ugh! So, The Lord told me this, that I was to give them a gift! ?????? Ok, so explain Lord. . . . . . Before you give them a piece of your mind, a good thrashing of words, or a mumbling under your breath or even hours of your heartfelt tears, you need to give them a gift simply because it's the way that I want you to react. Take the gift of mercy and tie it up with the most glorious bow of love that you can find and place it in their hands. Already you will have set the mood and the stage for the table of your trouble. It will be met with shock and surprise, maybe even taking them back a bit but it will give you more time at this point to set the rest of the table. In I Thessalonians 5:15 it says, "See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone". So, my table of troubles needs to be set with the tablecloth of love and dishes of goodness. It also says in Colossians 3:15 "and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body and be thankful". II Peter 3 says, ". . . . and count the patience of our Lord as salvation". Beside the dishes of goodness I should place utensils of peace along with serving spoons of thankfulness and then place glasses that will serve endless patience. If your table is set according to my Word the Lord instructed, then the meal that is served from this point on will be so very appetizing. It's all in the preparation of your heart you see. It's all about being ready and not still dressed in your pajamas when trouble comes knocking at your door. So, here we are! MY attitude is the one that has to reflect Christ no matter if I'm very falsely accused or if I'm very right! Doesn't seem "fair" does it? Sigh! But it's really not about fairness or unfairness it IS about right and wrong. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and sup with him and he with me".(Revelations 3) Also, " anyone who loves me will obey my teaching".(John 14) So, my takeaway is this, which just coincidently is my life scripture, (Prov 3: 5,6) " trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths". And when your troubles come knocking. . . . .well, you'll have your best dress and your pearls on and when you open the door that special guest of honor will walk in with your troubles and you will be ready! The meal will surely be delicious as well!

Saturday, May 27, 2017


While I was out walking one day I passed an older car that was obviously out of commission. It was propped up, suspended if you will, on two jacks and the entire front of the body was missing. Believe it or not that image spoke to me in so many ways that are difficult to explain but I will try. The very first thing that I saw was how very ugly it looked. It was old, had been abused and very worn down with the internal workings exposed and now very unable to do what it was made to do. 
This is the first thing that spoke to me. . . . . Our thought processes sometimes can keep us suspended, just like that car, unable to grow or even desiring an attempt to fix the things that are wrong in our lives. We hang there, exposed and suspended, remaining content to stay in the place where we are. As I looked at that old beaten up, worn down car being held up by two metal arms or jacks, it also reminded me of the beautiful responsibility that we have within the body of Christ to use our arms to hold one another up. It says in I Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing". Now that is a beautiful image and responsibility to have. It's also absolutely necessary within the kingdom of God. There are times that we are weak and can't seem to stand on our own but God has placed people in our paths, brothers and sisters in the faith, that will hold your arms up and give you added strength to stand during those weak times. We also may see others within the body, possibly young overwhelmed mothers who need a day out but have no one to call on for childcare. Or you may see lonely and hurting people sitting quietly alone on Sunday mornings who may just need a friendly smile and word of encouragement or possibly someone to invite them for a Sunday afternoon lunch. Our arms need to reach out to them. There also may be elderly people who just need a ride to the grocery store or Dr's. office but don't go because they have no one to take them. Arms reaching down to weed the grounds of our house of worship or reach out to say "yes" I can help clean or vacuum or paint! I could go on and on but I'm sure you get the idea and see the great need. Our arms are supposed to look like Jesus' arms. You remember those arms. . . . . . Exposed and suspended for every one of us. This is how we are to be the church in the flesh. If we desire to be a mirror image of the Lord then should we not try and do what He did? This seems to me to be the very core of relationship. Jesus was and always will be our ultimate example. He was around his people, his disciples, all the time. They ate together, they walked great distances traveling together. It's maybe a little more difficult to envision but they probably bathed together in the rivers and streams along the way. They were there for one another, learning together, ministering together, praying together and in relationship learning from the master teacher and in turn teaching others as well later on. This is where it all happened. This is one of the models of the ground work that shaped relationship. We are like those disciples, all students that will ultimately become the teachers. We have to get this thing called relationship! Being Christ to others, his arms extended holding one another up doesn't end outside of the four walls of the places of worship. The kingdom of God is now, forever and always needing to be like outstretched arms of Christ. 

I do realize some of us have large families, busy work schedules, schooling and so on. What if your ministry went beyond the schedules and so on? What if your ministry went beyond the schedules you have set for yourself? What if the gift inside of you was meant to minister to someone and that put you a little out of your comfort zone? Would we still be willing to use our arms to hold others up when they're worn down and defeated? What if the "jacks" in our lives, the things that keep us suspended, were knocked out from under us? What areas of our lives would be exposed? Lots of questions I know but really. . . . . . . What would that look like?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Unimposing Glory

I have this mild obsession with trees! There, I've said it! Some may think it a bit strange or quirky but in many many ways they speak to me. For instance, one day as I
sat looking out at the beauty of nature my eyes kept wondering back and forth but there was a particular tree that in itself was rather plain and looked out of place but I was constantly drawn back to it and couldn't keep my eyes off of it try tho I did, because it certainly wasn't attractive. Sure, it was one of the largest trees in the area with boughs spreading as wide as they were high but still there was nothing else that stood out that would make me desire to look at it. But here I sat fixated on this particular tree. It made me wonder what, in it's unimposing life, had it been privy to. I began to imagine a woman sitting on the ground leaning on its trunk and resting under the shade of its boughs. She had an urn of some type held tightly in her grip and tears streamed down her cheeks. She was speaking words that I couldn't hear and as she spoke she lifted the lid of the urn and poured out ashes of some type onto the ground all around the tree. She replaced the lid on the urn, wiped her eyes and then she was gone. What was she doing I thought? Were they the ashes of someone who was dear to her? As quickly as my thoughts were flooded with questions I again saw a very young couple laughing and dancing around the base of the tree. A few moments later the young man swept the girl up into his arms and sweetly but lovingly kissed her. She blushed as he let her down and together they carved their initials into the trunk of the tree, preserving their love for a lifetime there. Again, questions came and they disappeared. I then saw a tire swing hanging from one of the lowest branches and children were swinging and laughing as they played beneath the limbs. I couldn't take my eyes off of them and it drew me back to my own childhood memories of carefree days when we played under trees out side until darkness began to fall. As quickly as the children had come, they were gone. What was it about this tree that evoked so many visions? In a flash I could see a storm coming with loud bursts of thunder and instantaneously the sound was followed by a burst of lightning. The lightning hit the tree and I heard a loud cracking sound. The light temporarily blinded my sight but in a moment the storm was gone. The tree however was left  with what looked like a huge gash across the middle of its trunk. A direct hit like that would have ordinarily taken any other tree out but this one still stood. What was it about this tree? It had seen sorrow, it had been touched by love, it had seen joy and now it had felt pain if trees could indeed feel pain. It was seemingly just an ordinary tree but in my thoughts and eyes it had seen and lived through every conceivable experience good and bad. How long must it have endured the elements? How many seasons had it seen? Who planted it there? So many questions. . . . . . . . And then. . . . . "For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground;he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,and no beauty that we should desire him." (Isaiah 53)  This wonderful, and unimposing tree had surely reminded me of my Savior. It's majesty wasn't in its appearance it was in its life and what it had been through. It held a Glory that my eyes or anyone's eyes couldn't necessarily see but it's life spoke of anything but the ordinary. It's life had given so much to so many. Even scarred and marred by pain and suffering it's life resounded with joy and laughter. My eyes couldn't turn away from this plain, ordinary and unimposing tree because it was meant to stand as a reminder for me that day of an ordinary life that brought extraordinary love. Yes, I do indeed have this mild obsession with trees but in the case of this one tree, I'm particularly unapologetic about my obsession. You're welcome!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Seeing Glory In The Cracks

The sun is up and in its place after a night which brought to us a long soaking rain. I love hearing rain on the roof and knowing that it's Gods way of taking care of his garden. Lately, there has been such a hot and dry season and the rain brings much needed refreshing. When I walked out on the deck this morning to enjoy my morning coffee I noticed that a typically mischievous morning glory had poked it's head up through the crack of the deck boards. Usually this would have annoyed me but as I sat there looking at it I found it to be quite beautiful and of course the reason I am inspired in this writing. You see, we all have cracks that open up in our lives from time to time and to me they are not usually anything that you would desire but they still happen. They generally look like troubles or sadness or fatigue/exhaustion and nobody likes those things. But when the cracks come, what do you do? The usual response is an unwelcome one but I do have to admit that lately my vision of them or at least my response to cracks has changed. Cracks always remind me of a weakness; a crack in the foundation of a house or a crack in the driveway tells me that there is something going on underneath that needs attention and suring up. Cracks remind us that weak areas will get exposed and we need to be motivated to repair them so that more damage does not happen. Cracks aren't welcomed but maybe they happen so that things can be restored to the healthier state of being. If cracks look like depression, an argument with someone you love or even a death of someone you care for deeply, I'm here to tell you that you need to cry out to the only one who can give you what you need to overcome your adversity; to repair your crack. Psalm 3:4 says, "I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of his holy hill". God will respond to the cries of his children when they suffer! He hears us when we cry out to Him. Cracks may bring us to our knees and that's a good place to be believe it or not. Cracks or "the trying of your faith", work for your good if you can see it that way. We pray those trials of our faith, as Peter says, "might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ". They can help to purify us and to develop in us the very nature and likeness of Christ. So, if you are looking at a crack in your life today, count it all joy if you will and know that the God in heaven who loves you is indeed working all things for your good. And "that you may be (made) perfect and entire, wanting nothing". Watch and see if the glory of God won't poke it's head through your adversity (crack) and make you smile again! 

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Remains Of My Days

Many times I have found myself looking at an old photo of myself in the very prime of my life at age 16. Those were indeed days when I felt the best about myself. My weight had not skyrocketed, my hair was long and healthy and of course the wrinkles that now define my face were simply non-existent. That picture hangs on my fridge with many other friends and family loved ones. I see it every day and I have to admit that most of the time it draws me back to 1970 and I sharply feel the sting of those days gone by and what "isnt" anymore. You know it is impossible to return to those times and feelings and dwelling on them most of the time only brings anguish and a sense of loss. My journey has brought me a very long way from that place and there have been many many wonderful moments and memories made since then that would be worth lingering on however, lingering is the key word here. To linger means " to stay, remain, persist, endure or spend a long time over something. Having memories, good or bad is one thing, but lingering on them is quite another. It's not a place that is good for us to stay too long because we can easily get caught up in " what once was" or "what could have been" and that luggage is too heavy for us to carry around. All of us could most likely say that we have enough on our plates on a day to day basis that would keep our minds and bodies racing. Our lives are usually filled with a multitude of thoughts, choices and decisions to be made on a regular basis and there is simply no time to linger over what once was, at least not stay in that lingering state too long. Choices to keep drifting backwards in our minds will only hinder our journey. Two steps forward, one step back. . . . Can't make much progress that way. It doesn't simply slow us down in our daily walk it also hinders our mental capacity to work through our problems and issues. If we are always hauling around thoughts and memories and regrets of what could have been it greatly hampers what could be on the path of today's destination. I for one profess to be a new creation in Christ, old things have passed away and all things have become new. It is a new path that I am on. I have a very new destination and my luggage or old wardrobe will not work at all for where He is taking me now. I now am packing so light these days that I'm down to one bag of necessary items and here's the best part of all. . . . . . He even carries THAT bag for me! it says in Matthew 16:24 Jesus said,  "if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it". We must lay down those old burdens, those old pieces of luggage that weighed us down. It is very selfish and self indulgent to want to hold onto the old things that we thought made us feel complete or we cherished more than we cherished Christ. Those things were who we were, who we used to be. To hold onto them says that what Christ did on the cross for us was not enough, it says " I need Christ but I need these things too!" You can't have both! He is either all we need or his sacrifice of love means nothing. It is not the Fathers desire for us to carry anything. His son carried it all! In Gods word we are promised healing and restoration and through salvation our journeys' luggage has been loaded on the back of our Savior and he deposited it into the Sea of Forgetfulness. We are new creations and are now no longer required to carry the remains of who we once were. So, today I walked past my old photo on the fridge, smiled and thanked the Lord for giving me good days and thanked him as well for the better days that are coming. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Reflection Of A Robin

There are many things in this life that simply "catch my attention" on a day to day basis. Hardly a day goes by that something doesn't happen that causes me to pause and think about how much meaning there is in that moment. Today as I was standing looking out of my kitchen window a robin was hopping around the yard and I noticed that he kept hopping up and down on and off of the running board of my truck parked in the driveway. He was captured by his own reflection, it seemed, from the chrome plate on the side of my truck. He sat and watched the other bird in the reflection and seemed comforted to just be there beside it. At first a fleeting thought came of how vain that little fellow was that he had to sit and look at himself so long but upon further observation I don't think it was a case of vanity at all. I noticed that he still had the look of a very young bird who was possibly not long out of the nest. He sat on that running board and was simply comforted by the other bird being next to him. Well, I thought, that's just what he had in the nest as he was growing up. He was surrounded by a nest of siblings that were close to him doing the same thing he was, just doing life and growing, being fed and existing. The next thing he knew he was thrust into a world all on his own out of that place of relationship and comfort and here he was now sitting on my running board finding some comfort once more in the company of another who looked very much like him. That's the way it is in a robins' world.
     Well, that's the way it is in our world too I'm here to tell you. We were created for relationship. It brings us what we need in this life, each other. We were never meant to be alone. That companionship of others was ordained by God himself. It's the thing that makes us thrive! Haven't you ever noticed that when people are alone and shut off from others that it sometimes opens a wide door of loneliness and depression and purely a feeling of darkness. That's because we were never meant to be alone. When God created this world and saw that "it was good" and then created Adam, He also realized at that point that something was not good. So, He fixed it and did something really good and He created
Eve. A thought that came to me was that 'being alone is not a good thing for anyone', God made us in His image and that makes us relational beings. All of the loneliness and depression and anxiety and fear and darkness came into being in that perfect garden when sin entered in through Eves choice. She began to believe that to live for herself and her own gain was more important than living to love God and Adam. The other bad choice was made by Adam when he chose to join her. Here's the lesson I believe. . . . Living for what's "best for me" while ignoring everyone else and closing yourself off will always bring alienation and aloneness. We must choose to be with others, around others and most importantly in relationship with others doing life, growing and being fed just like that little robin. We cannot be content by being alone and shut off. Our reflections will NEVER be an answer to true relationship or companionship. We also have to go further and reach out to others that are around us. There is a term that is so full of truth and most often you may hear it from someone who is suffering with loneliness. It says ' I can feel so alone even in a crowded room'. That is so true and I'm here to tell you that happens all the time with people who are feeling the sting of loneliness. The answer lies in the reaching out to others. You can have acquaintances and not have relationship. Relationship is deeper, deeper than the robins reflection in the chrome. It is an actual "intimacy" with another person. Not in a husband/wife intimate way but in a way that you get to know the very deepest things about another person that goes beyond just recognizing their face and knowing their name. It's requires more of us, more of them and time invested. It's a VERY NECESSARY thing to have for us to thrive the way God intended us to thrive. 
     So, two hours later, my little robin is still hopping up and down on the running board trying to figure out why his companion isn't very hospitable. I wonder how long it will take him to figure out  that his new acquaintance is just him! I think I'll move my truck and allow him to find some real friends. 😊