Saturday, June 30, 2012

In Appreciation of Fire

"While I was musing, the fire burned"
Psalm 39:3

My family went camping last month.  Are you a camper?  Tent or trailer?  Or does your idea of "roughing it" mean a hotel that doesn't have a restaurant?

We tent camp.  My parents are campers, so I did a lot of camping growing up, especially in my teen years, and we always stayed in a tent.  A lot of our friends use trailers now, but for me, it's just not the same.  Don't get me wrong ~ I'm sure those people are getting a better night's sleep than I am...  But since I've grown up tent camping, there are aspects of that I just can't imagine giving up.  Little things, like the sound of the zipper on the tent, or the rustling sound of the sleeping bags.

Every night, after sitting around the campfire for the evening, we brush our teeth, and then go in the tent for the night.  That's a sweet time for me.  Reading a little by lantern light, then snuggling down into my sleeping bag and listening to the river in the distance.  Being in a trailer wouldn't be quite the same.

Another wonderful thing about sleeping in a tent is the opportunity to do my waking up in the great outdoors.  I mean sure, I wake up in the tent, but then I go outside to do my "waking up".  You know ~ that blinking thing your eyes and your brain have to do before you fully reach consciousness.  Well the best place to do that ~ the best ~ is in front of a campfire.  The sights and sounds and smells of campers and nature waking up are unlike anything else.  The sight, sound and smell of a campfire is even better.  When we camped with my folks, my dad was the first one awake.  He would get up and build a fire, and one by one we would emerge from the tent, blinking, to sit around the fire.  Now the Apple of my Eye does the honors. 

I love fire.  I mean, in a good way.  Nothing else can be used to benefit our lives in the same way.  It cooks and warms and lights and comforts and protects.  And there's just something about looking at a fire.  The way it dances and moves; the way the colors change and rearrange.  Fire is mysterious, powerful, beautiful, and hard to describe.   I think that's why it's so hypnotic to look at.  It's so forceful, and yet so elusive and intangible at the same time.  And I like that it makes me think of Him.  It's like Him, and of Him and used by Him.   Powerful and beautiful and awe-inspiring.


"the Angel of the Lord appeared to him 
in a flame of fire"
Exodus 3:2

"the Lord went before them... by night 
in a pillar of fire to give them light"
Exodus 13:21

"the sight of the glory of the Lord 
will be like a consuming fire"
Exodus 24:17

"the Lord your God is a consuming fire"
Deuteronomy 4:24

"His eyes were like a flame of fire, 
and on His head were many crowns"
Revelation 19:12

"So the Light of Israel will be for a fire, 
and his Holy One for a flame"
Isaiah 10:17

Friday, June 29, 2012

No news is good news

"Be anxious for nothing...
let your prayer be known to God"
Philippians 4:6

I made a big mistake this morning.

I watched the news.

I rarely watch the news.  I turn on the TV, or check online when I get up, just to make sure there are no terrorists slamming airplanes into buildings or monuments of national importance.  And I make sure I'm up on political current events.  But other than that, I generally don't need ~ or want ~ to know much of what's going on. 

Not because it's not important.  And not because I want to live in a self-imposed, self-involved bubble.  But because of what I saw on the news today.

You see, there was big news today in the U.S.  Important political news.  With far-reaching implications that neither the politicians nor the media can fully predict.

But boy, did they try.

And that's what I wished I hadn't watched.  The news itself didn't worry or bother me.  Politicians will do what they will do, but I'm in God's hand, regardless.  But the analysts and pundits spoke of all the permutations of ripples from today's news, on health care, employment, the economy, the upcoming election, etc.  And by the time I'd listened for a while, I was pretty sure the sky was falling.

It wasn't.

But I was starting to get anxious just from the wondering.

Do you know the story of Chicken Little?   Chicken Little gets hit in the head with a falling acorn, and thinks the end of the world is imminent, so he hurries to inform the king, meeting up with myriad other animals on the way.  And every time he meets up with a new animal (like Ducky Lucky or Foxy Woxy), he repeats the phrase, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!  I must tell the king!"

And so I did.  I told the King.  And peace returned to my heart. 

The media has a tendency to exaggerate.  So do politicians, for that matter.  Both groups have an agenda.  But God's plan ~ is peace.

The sky is not falling.  But if you feel like it is, you must tell the King.

"What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, 
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer."
{Joseph M. Scriven, 1855}

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Float like a butterfly

"He commanded them
to take nothing for the journey"
Mark 6:8

Okay, we're going for a journey today.  You ready?  We're going to go camping, then follow the migration path of monarch butterflies, and then learn a little about the American Civil War general George McClellan.

My family went camping a few weeks ago.  We used to camp every year, but we took a several-year break, so I was really having to put my thinking cap on when I packed.  Packing for a camping vacation is unlike packing for any other vacation, because you really need everything.  You're not just packing clothes and toiletries, but your bedroom, your kitchen and your family room.  And yet, you don't want to go overboard, because you don't want to lug any more than you have to, and everything's liable to get dirty.  So it's a careful process of choosing what you (think) you can't live without, adding those things to make it fun and deleting anything unnecessary.  It really forces you to analyze what's important.

that's not our trailer; we're tent campers!  :)

And while I was doing all this thoughtful packing, I was thinking about monarch butterflies.  A couple of years ago I read a book about monarchs, and was fascinated by much of what I learned.  Monarchs are famous for their long-distance migration, from northern South America to southern Canada, and back again.  It's a trip that takes so long, no butterfly makes the entire round trip.  Eggs are deposited by the females, and when those eggs become butterflies, they instinctively make the trip back from whence their ancestors started.  One of the many amazing mysteries of this wonderful planet God created. 

Now, monarchs need food, obviously.  They need sustenance for the energy to fly for very long distances, and to survive cold weather along the way.  So you might think they prepare as a bear might prepare for hibernation ~ by eating a lot in preparation for the journey.  

But if you think about it, the more a butterfly weighs, the harder it's going to have to work to fly.  It's going to be heavier, and less aerodynamic.  So rather than bulk up before the flight, monarchs fill up along the way.  They don't fret before they leave, wondering where they are going to put all the milkweed they need for the flight; they just fly.  And sure enough, God guides them to food they need, as they need it.

photo credit: Britannica Online Encyclopedia

And the knowledge of the fact that butterflies don't worry about future provisions made me then think of General McClellan.  George McClellan was a Union general, and not President Lincoln's favorite, to put it nicely.   He felt McClellan was too slow to move, and too slow to act when it came to engaging the Confederates.  And part of the reason for that, was all the supplies McClellan insisted on.  Lincoln felt that McClellan ~ and other Union commanders ~ would move faster if they had fewer supplies.  "You would be better off," he said, "for not having a thousand wagons, doing nothing but hauling forage to feed the animals that draw them, and taking at least two thousand men to care for the wagons and the animals, who otherwise might be two thousand good soldiers."

To Lincoln, having too much in the way of provisions was not a good use of their men and materiel.  He felt it was wiser to travel lighter, allowing the army to travel faster.

photo credit: history.com

So.... how lightly are you traveling? What's important to you in your life?  How much does it take for you to feel secure... provided for...  And who are you trusting for what you will need?

The truth is, we generally feel we need a whole lot more than we actually need.  Physically, we think we need more in the way of material goods, than we actually do.  Emotionally and physically, we are carrying around anxieties, guilt and other burdens that are weighing us down. 

We need to trust Him more, I think, to give us what we need when we need it.   That's what it means to recognize Him as provider.  Knowing He'll give us what we need, without giving us what we don't need.

So don't decide for Him that you need more than you need.  You're just weighing your life down.  And the journey is hard enough!

~ "Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; 
as it is written, 
'He gave them bread from heaven to eat' " ~
John 6:31

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A little touch here...

"beautiful in its time"
Ecclesiastes 3:11

So, remember the wonderful artist I told you about?  The one who's been giving my Awesome Girl art lessons?  Hannah!  Right!  I knew you'd remember!

All of her working time has been spent preparing for an upcoming Art Festival.  She hopes to sell a great deal of her work there, so the more paintings she has done, the more she can sell.  But she's running out of time.  So she's working hard, finishing up projects and getting them ready to show.

And every time I go in to pick up my Awesome Girl,  I'm eager to see how Hannah's work is coming.  She's got three paintings she's almost done with, and I look forward to seeing what details she has added since the last time I saw them.

But for the past few weeks, every time I walk into the studio, I think the paintings are done.  They are hanging on the wall, looking beautiful and inspirational and wonderful.

But then Hannah shakes her head...  "Oh no, they're far from finished.  I still have to touch up over there, and add this here and add some highlights there..."

It's always such a surprise to me, because they look perfect.  And if they look done to me, they'd probably look done to a lot of people ~ I'm just an average art viewer, after all.

But Hannah's practiced eye knows better.  She sees what's not yet there, and knows that what's good, could be better.

God's like that.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 says "He has made everything beautiful in its time."  He has planned for flowers to bloom on their own schedule, trees to produce fruit in their season, and for us to grow to completion at the pace that He guides. 

Is there someone in your life that you admire?  Someone with wisdom, gentleness and inner peace?  Maybe you can't imagine any way that person could be better, but He can.

Do you know someone that you think, um... needs work?  Well, they do.  But so do you.

I think maybe this is why He tells us not to judge.  We just don't know what to look for.  We criticize someone for not being finished, when we should realize that no one is.

But know, that when He looks at you, He is so pleased with what He sees so far!

~ "He who has begun a good work in you
will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" ~
Philippians 1:6

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Houston, this is not a problem

"which of you, by worrying,
can add a single hour to his life?"
Matthew 6:27

Did you ever see the movie "Apollo 13"?  I love that movie.  I love anything non-fiction, and I love the space program.  So it's one of my favorites.  It's well-acted and well-directed, so it's a movie I could watch over and over again. 

Just in case you don't know the facts, I'll summarize for you.  In April of 1970, Apollo 13 was to land on the moon, but a couple of days into the mission, there was an explosion on board.   None of the men were injured, but it was a harrowing three days while they returned to earth, as their oxygen supply was threatened.  It took the efforts of the three astronauts ~ Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert ~ and of the members of NASA, to figure out how to make their supplies last, and bring their ship to a safe splashdown.  It's an exciting story, because of the danger involved, but also because of the happy ending.  Then men landed safely.  It was a triumph of courage and intelligence for everyone involved. 

Now, because it was a true story, I knew the facts before I saw the movie.  I knew there was going to be a problem, and I knew they were going to live through it.  But I don't know much about space travel, or spacecraft, or how they work.  So anytime anything happened regarding the craft, I didn't know if that was the "problem" I was expecting.  If the camera focused on a screw, I was thinking, "was that it?  was that important?  was that bad?"  And then there'd be a scene change, and we'd be looking at a different piece of equipment, and I'd think, "is this it?  is the explosion going to happen now?"

It was exhausting.  And after a few instances of being worried when it wasn't necessary, I decided to just assume everything was fine and dandy, until proven otherwise.  When the characters told me that what was happening was bad, then I'd worry.  Until then, I'd just relax and enjoy.

I was remembering that the other day, because it was kind of a crazy day.  My Amazing Boy and Awesome Girl were both gone ~ out with friends.  She was going to be gone all day, and I was having to trust her (which I totally do) and the people she was with (which I mostly do).  There was potential for things to go wrong, or for her to get hurt.  He was gone for a shorter time, but I had no idea he and his friends would be done, so I didn't know when he'd be home.  There was a parent with the boys, whom I completely trust, but being a homeschooling mom, I don't have much experience with my kids being out of my control. 

But I had to relax.  I had to go back home after dropping them off, and do my thing.  Get stuff done around the house, make a few phone calls, send a few emails, run a few errands.  All without worrying, unless I had some reason to worry.  Which I didn't.

It's a good credo, isn't it?  Life gives plenty of reasons to be anxious.  Kids, health, money, future... But until the Director indicates I should be worried, I can relax.  And let's be honest:  He's never gonna indicate I should be worried...  In fact, His word indicates quite the opposite more than once.   Go ahead ~ look up the word "peace" in a concordance.  Find all the times it's used in the Bible, and then take your pick. 

And don't worry about worrying.  You've got nothing to worry about.

~ "You will keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on You,
because he trusts in You" ~
Isaiah 26:3

Monday, June 25, 2012

Shiny clean with no streaks

"If You are willing, You can make me clean"
Mark 1:40

I washed my car today.  Which I hardly ever do.  Maybe once a year.  Maybe twice.

Hardly ever.

I just never think it's that important for my car to be perfectly clean.  It stays in the garage when I'm not driving it, so it gets some protection that way.  But if it gets dusty or whatever, I'll generally just clean the windows.  Don't get me wrong; I love my car.  It's cute and comfortable and fun to drive.  But what's important to me is that it gets me where I want to go, and it will do that whether it's dirty or clean.

So I was washing it, and thinking how beautiful it will look in the sunlight tomorrow, and then I thought, "well, it will look beautiful for a few days, anyway...."  Because it just doesn't take long for a car to stop looking clean.   Keeping it clean requires frequent attention.  Which I'm just not going to give it.  Because it's only going to get dirty again. 

But then I thought, that's the same argument my Amazing Boy used to use when he didn't want to take a bath.   And it's why some people don't make their beds. 

But really, is it a good argument?  Because all of a sudden, I thought, why does God bother forgiving me?  I'm just going to sin again.  What's the point in washing me white as snow, for what might only be a matter of minutes?

But yes, I choose clean.  Confession leads to forgiveness, and I want that, even though I know ~ and He knows ~ it's not going to last. 

But think about this:  Deuteronomy 13:18.  Whoops!  No, it's Deuteronomy 18:13.  Sorry.  I'm sure Deuteronomy 13:18 is good too.  Check it out.  But for purposes of this post, let's look at 18:13 ~ "You shall be blameless before the Lord you God."  That word "blameless" is tamiym and it means "complete, whole or healthy".  But it also conveys the idea of continual.  Anyone in Scripture who is described as "blameless" was not perfect, but they did not stay long in a position of sinfulness.  Being blameless means being frequently forgiven.  Which means frequent confession. 

Life is messy.  Clean gets dirty.  Get clean anyway. 

~ "Though your sins are as scarlet
they shall be as white as snow" ~
Psalm 51:7

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Totally worth it. He promises.

"the sufferings of this present time"
Romans 8:18

So.  Suffering.  Can I get you some?

Oh, you've got some already.

Yeah, I figured.  'most everybody does.

As a matter of fact, I think the only people who don't have some suffering are the ones who simply refuse to see it as suffering.

Those people just call it "life".

Here is a sampling, from the past week, of the struggles being experienced by people around me, either spoken about directly to me, or someone else happened to mention it:

• A friend whose luxury car was not performing, in one area, the way it was advertised it would.

• A friend who underwent 6-hour breast cancer surgery.

• A friend who sat at the hospital while her mother underwent 6-hour breast cancer surgery.

• A friend who wishes her job were more interesting.

• A friend who got a haircut and didn't like the result.

• A friend complaining about her husband.

• A friend who had to wait in a long line, in the sun, for something she wanted.

• A friend being told she could not do something she felt she was entitled to do.

• A friend who felt he deserved better.

• A friend who wanted more than he had.

These circumstances brought varying degrees of misery or discomfort to the people who were experiencing them.  And not all of these people were complaining about their circumstances.  Some of them were, though.

The friend with the luxury car figured out the problem and fixed it himself.

The friend who underwent the 6-hour surgery didn't complain, either before or after the surgery.  She didn't complain during the operation either, but then, she was unconscious...

It's all about perspective, really.  What is the suffering for?  Did you sign up for it?  Is it better than the alternative?

Is it worth it?

That's the difference.  Is it worth it. 

Owning a luxury car that inconveniences you once in awhile?  Probably worth it.

Standing in the sun for something you really want?  Most likely worth it.

Six hours of surgery to rid yourself of cancer?   Worth it.

Someone once said, "We can stand anything as long as we know it isn't permanent."   I read that when I was a child, and I've often thought how true it is.  I have a friend who was a U.S. Marine, and he once told me that often they had to go on long runs, and the worst of those runs was when they didn't know the duration beforehand. 

And no one appreciates the temporary nature of earth more than Christians.  'Cause we're just passing through.  We are citizens of heaven.  And He has promised that any suffering we endure will pale in comparison to the glory that awaits us. 

So whatever it is we're suffering through, big or small, we have to remember it's only temporary ~ even if it's lifelong.  There's something better waiting for you.

And it's totally worth it.

~ "the sufferings of this present time
are not worthy to be compared
with the glory which shall be revealed in us" ~
Romans 8:18

Saturday, June 23, 2012

May I please see some ID?

"a servant of Christ Jesus,
called to be an apostle, 
and set apart for the gospel of God"
Romans 1:1

The book of Romans begins with Paul, writing to the church in Rome, introducing himself.  And I find his introduction interesting.

If I were writing a letter to introduce myself, I doubt I would begin this way.  Think about how we begin letters to people we have never met:

Hello, 
     You don't know me, but....

or

Dear Sir: 
     I recently purchased your product...

or

To Whom It May Concern:
     I am writing to inform you...

The opening sentence would be fairly formal.  I would tell information that pertains to the body of the letter; that introduces my reason for writing; or something about me that implies why they should care what I have to say.

Paul's introduction here was to a church.  So his Christianity was a pertinent opening to this letter.  So how would I begin a letter introducing myself to a fellow Christian?  Maybe something about how long I've been a Christian, or where I go to church.  But however I described myself, whatever pertinent information I gave, I don't think it would convey the same passion that Paul's opening statement does here.  There is very definite passion in Paul's description of himself.

For a long time, when I read Paul's epistles, I would practically skim the opening sentence, and even the closing sentence: "the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus be with you..." blah blah blah...  I'd be thinking, "get to the point of the letter!"

I can be pretty impatient...

But every word of the Bible is there for a reason.  So I decided to take a closer look at how Paul describes himself:   "A servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God"

It's not bragging about his exalted position in the kingdom; this is not about Paul's resume.  It is a humble offering of himself, and an honest realization of all that God has for him on earth. 

I, too, am all of these things.  I am a servant of Christ Jesus, repeatedly renewing my desire to serve Him.   I am called to be an apostle, a devoted and loyal follower of the Lord.  Some may be better at it, but none are more loyal!  And I am set apart for the gospel of God ~ consecrated for His use, for the furtherance of His kingdom.

I am both His servant and His heir; His daughter and His bride.  Who are you?

~ "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ 
be with you.
My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.
Amen." ~
1 Corinthians 16:23

Friday, June 22, 2012

Do you know what's important to Him?

"golden bowls full of incense,
which are the prayers of the saints"
Revelation 5:8

Revelation 5:8 is one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture.  Now, I could say that about several verses.  At least one per book, I would guess.  But this verse holds a special place in my heart, because it was an important verse, at one time, for someone very important to me.
And he's probably gonna hate this story...

But I'm gonna tell it anyway...

It's about my Amazing Boy.

He was six years old, and going through kind of a rough time.  We had a foreign exchange student living with us, and I think he wasn't used to having a long-term guest in the house.  And because she was the same age as my Awesome Girl, they spent almost all day together.  And I think that because felt he'd lost his sister ~ his constant companion ~ he was afraid of losing me, too.  He became very clingy, and went through a time of separation anxiety.

He had not had a problem being separated from me since he was very young, but during this time, he didn't want to leave me for Sunday School, or to join his class for Bible Study, or even to visit his grandparents unless I was in the room with him.

So during this time, he and I prayed a lot.  I reminded him frequently to ask God for help, and to pray for strength.  I talked to him about a wall made of stones, and putting on one stone doesn't seem like much, but every stone makes the wall bigger.  So every time he was brave, and went away from me, he was building a wall of stone; he was getting stronger and stronger, and it would get easier and easier.   

He was so brave, in his fear.  As hard as it was for him, he kept trying.  Sometimes he'd cry, and make it hard for me to leave.  Other times he'd hold back the tears.  It was a hard time for both of us.

Now, about this same time, I was reading Revelation to my kids.  I think it's such a great book for kids.  There are battles and a dragon, and amazing creatures with a multitude of wings and eyes.  They may not get all the symbolism, but it's never too young to start, right?  And I had shared with my kids how much I love this verse.  That our prayers are so precious to God, He places them in golden bowls. 

So one morning, we were driving to Bible Study, after dropping Awesome Girl and our guest, Chelsea, off at school.  He knew what was coming and that as soon as we arrived at the church, he'd have to go into his classroom.  And he was starting to get anxious.  So I reminded him of all the sweet wonderful women at Bible Study who loved him.  Not just his teachers, but all the women who were my friends.  They all knew his struggles, and they'd been praying for him.  And I hoped that would give him strength, to know that people he loved were praying for him.

But when I told him, there was silence from the back seat.  And then a minute later, his trembling voice said, "Are those prayers in the golden bowls too, Momma?"

I know, right??  So sweet.

To this day, when I see that verse, I remember that.  The fact that people were praying for my sweet, scared little boy was so precious to me.  Those prayers were valuable to me.

But even more so to God.

Nothing we say to Him is wasted.  He treasured my Amazing Boy's prayers for strength and courage, and He treasured the unselfish prayers of others, for my boy. 

Prayers are gifts, and He treasures them as such.


~ "And the smoke of the incense,
with the prayers of the saints,
ascended before God from the angel's hand" ~
Revelation 8:4

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Being restless

"rest yourselves"
Genesis 18:4

I'm thinking about rest again.  Seems that topic is on my mind every few weeks.  I guess life is busy sometimes...

But now I'm thinking about rest because I have a friend who needs it.  She's been walking something difficult for awhile now, and she said something about rest the other day.  And it got me to thinking about all the different things that might have us needing rest... the kind of rest only He can give.

I always think about needing rest when it comes to physical exhaustion.  As in, needing sleep.  A busy body (and I don't mean a "busybody", just that running around doing activities, or working, makes a body tired), or a busy mind {anybody else out there who sometimes can't make their mind stop going?} can make you feel desperate for sleep, or even just a few minutes slumped in a chair.  That's the kind of rest I find myself wanting most often.

But sometimes what we need rest from is a trial we're going through.  That's spiritual rest.  And it can be tricky to get, especially if our only definition for rest is:  an end to the trial.  We forget ~ or maybe don't even realize ~ that we can have rest even in the midst of a trial, if we just acknowledge that it's possible.   I have a friend who was complaining a few weeks ago about a trial that seemed never-ending, but sometimes I think what we believe is a very long trial, is just life.  If something goes wrong today, and then something goes wrong tomorrow, are those things related?  Is that one long trial, or two short ones?  Perspective makes a difference.  He warned us there would be tribulation in life.  But He also promised us that we could have peace, in Him.  So whether it's a long trial, or a bunch of short ones too close together, rest is needed.

The other thing that can cause need for rest, is attacks from others.  Criticism, judgement, someone else's sins or mistakes... they  might be aimed at you, or you might just be caught in the "crossfire".  Either way, it can feel never-ending.  And this is a dangerous, because without rest; without time to center ourselves in Him; without a chance to remember that we are in His hands, we can become bitter, judgmental, or unforgiving. 

Opportunities for rest don't always present themselves.  Sometimes ~ most of the time, I think ~ we have to claim them.  Call it refocusing, call it taking a break.  It's a gift from Him, and it's yours for the taking.

Prayer is a good way, but I think, even better than that, is reading the Bible.  I don't know about you, but my mind is a little too prone to wandering if I just pray without Scripture to keep me on track.

The other danger with prayer alone is that it can be very self-focused.  Think about it:  when you come to Him to unburden your heart, then it's gonna be about you ~ how you feel; what you need, etc.

But Scripture is about Him.  So it puts our minds on Him.  Even in times of trouble or weariness, the focus needs to be not that I need refuge, but that He is my refuge.

Rest is found in Him.  So if you're looking for rest, look to Him.

~ "And He said, 
'My Presence will go with you,
     and I will give you rest' " ~
Exodus 33:14

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dark chocolate is a good thing

"the Lord has promised good things"
Numbers 10:29

Oh my goodness, I'm doing it...  just like my mother always did.  And I used to make fun of her for it...

Does that happen to you?  Do you find that you do, or say, what your parents did?  Some of their decisions make more sense as we mature.  Go figure.  What's that saying of Mark Twain... "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."  And even more so in when Twain got to his 40s, I would guess.

So what am I doing?  Hoarding chocolates.  Sees Candy, to be specific.  When I was growing up, any time my mother received a box, she'd put them up high in a cupboard, and save them for a "rainy day".   But we used to tease her, because she would often forget they were there, and long after that rainy day had passed, someone would find those chocolates back in the cupboard, and they'd be far past their prime.  Of course, we'd generally eat them anyway...

I know she was being thrifty.  Oftentimes, those chocolates were a gift at Christmas, or a birthday, and there's always plenty of sweets around then, right?  So she'd set them aside for a time when they could be thoroughly enjoyed, and not just part of the parade of goodies.  It was a good thought on her part, and I know there have been times when she pulled out and shared what she'd been saving, it was a wonderful, unexpected treat.  But more than once, it ended up such that the chocolate was not as enjoyable as it would have been.

And I realized I've started doing this, too.  I realized the other day that I still have some of the chocolates I got for my birthday, three months ago.  My intention is to make the special things in my life last a little longer, but I think there's a little bit of hoarding going on.  And I mean that, in the sense of not trusting Him.  I feel like I have to make sure there's something good in my future, instead of just enjoying what He has provided, and knowing that when that's gone, He'll have something else that's good waiting for me.

Is it treasuring and savoring the good things, or is it feeling that the good things are elusive?  He is the giver of good things.  He always has more to give.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to enjoy a piece of chocolate!

~ "Therefore may God give you
of the dew of heaven
of the plenty of the earth" ~
Genesis 27:28

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lessons from my dog

"be anxious for nothing"
Philippians 4:6

We're moving furniture at our house.  My Awesome Girl got an itch to rearrange her room and repaint, so we're switching a couple pieces of her bedroom furniture, with that of my Amazing Boy.  She's had to take everything off her bookshelves and out of her drawers to move those two pieces.  They both have furniture in the middle of their rooms, while we reposition, and vacuum, and see what works better where.

And to be honest, I think it's making the dog a little anxious.

It doesn't help that we just got back from vacation.  I know it's hard for her when we're gone.  So we're back, but our routine around the house is not quite "normal".  So she spent the whole day following me, and snuggling up to my feet when I sat down.  And when I was backing out of Awesome Girl's room, dragging a dresser with me, she kept trying to get in front of me, begging for attention.

Which, of course, I happily gave her.  'Cause she's furry and sweet and her eyes are so sincere.


Her instincts are good.  Where do you turn for comfort when your life is feeling unsettled?  What do you do to make yourself feel better?  Truth be told, I often turn on the TV.  I think my goal is to take my mind off of whatever's troubling me.  But that's not really what I should be doing.  Instead of trying not to think about my problem, I should think about it from His perspective.  I should find some Scripture to remind me that He's in control, and that I have no reason to be anxious.   I should get as near to Him as I can.  I should pray ~ not to try to keep myself in front of Him, but to keep Him in front of me.

Everything's better when we're with Him.

~ "you will find Him if you seek Him
with all your heart and with all your soul" ~
Deuteronomy 4:29

Monday, June 18, 2012

Building a wall

"the work goes on diligently
and prospers"
Ezra 5:8

Men of God rose up to build a house for Him, despite those who wished to prevent it.  This verse is part of a letter sent to King Darius, letting him know that the temple was indeed being built, with heavy stones, and timber being laid in the walls.

It was hard work:  laborious, grueling, and slow-going.  But diligently they worked.  Steadily, earnestly, and with energy.

And here's the best part:  the work was successful.  They were doing the work God had called them to do, and the work prospered in their hands.

One stone, one piece of timber, does not make a wall.  But every piece, combining its strength with others, does its part to make a wall.

It might be hard to see the end, but if the work goes on diligently, it will prosper.

One stone at a time.

~ "You have persevered and have patience,
and have labored for My name's sake,
and have not become weary" ~
Revelation 2:3

Sunday, June 17, 2012

To ask, or not to ask... that is the question

"you will receive"
John 16:24

My Amazing Boy said something profound to me the other day.  He was making a joke, but he was also speaking truth.   It was a joke because he was quoting a Bible verse, but changing it slightly, so that his statement was the exact opposite of the Bible.  So in a way, he was contradicting the Bible.  But at the same time, he was exactly right.

Hang in there; I'll explain...

Seems Homeboy got himself a Snickers bar.  And in my heart, I wished to partake of said Snickers.  I know he would gladly have shared with me, but I decided not to ask.  Sometimes you just want to enjoy something without sharing, you know?  So I decided to let him have it all to himself. 

But then, when the time came for him to eat it, he came up to me and said, “Do you want some of my Snickers, Momma?”  I said I’d love it, and I thanked him for being so thoughtful.  And I got a knife and cut myself off a smidgen ~ I didn’t want to take advantage of his generosity.

And then as we ate, I told him how I’d wanted some, but decided not to ask for it.  And isn’t it ironic, that I got some anyway!  And he replied, “Do not ask, and you shall receive.”

We both laughed a little, because as you probably know, the actual verse is “Ask, and you shall receive.”  It’s in several places in Scripture and it's an important underscoring of the importance of prayer, and acknowledging that God is the giver of all things.

But even though it's true that God said, "Ask, and you shall receive" the reverse is also true.  God is so good, He gives us things we have not asked for ~ simply because He knows we need them, and because He loves us.

What do you have, that's so important to you, that you asked Him for it?  Health?  Your spouse?  Children?  And what do you have that's important to you, that you didn't ask for?  Your home?  Your career?  Your ministry?  Certainly, His death on the cross, for our sins, was not something any of us asked for, but something that we all needed.

I'm grateful, yet again, that He doesn't always give us what we ask for; and that He often gives us what we don't ask for.

~ "For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son" ~
John 3:16

Saturday, June 16, 2012

And a throw pillow for a touch of color!

"for glory and for beauty"
Exodus 28:2

I went to visit a friend last week, and she gave me a tour of her house.  She has a beautiful knack for decorating; I just kept thinking, I want to go home and do this in my house…. The color combinations are just lovely and relaxing.  But there were a few things that stood out to me as I looked at the personal touches in her home.  Things that you could not possibly miss about her and her family.

First ~ she and her husband are grandparents.  Now, you need to know that this is not readily apparent about her.  Sure, if you sit down and chat with her, you'll find out about her two grandsons {and the grandbaby on the way}.   But she's young for a grandmother, and quite a striking woman.  She really doesn't look old enough to have grandchildren, so I'm sure there are people who are surprised to learn that about her.

But in her home, you can't miss it.  Pictures of her grandkids are everywhere.  On the walls and on tabletops and shelves.  In frames of wood and ceramic and silver and gold.  Sometimes the grandsons are pictured with my friend and her husband; sometimes with their own parents, and sometimes it's just a cute candid of the child alone.  These children, along with her own kids, are her pride and joy.  And it's evident in every room of her home.

The other thing you would learn about my friend if you were to visit her, is that her husband is a firefighter.  There are myriad decorations ~ photos, plaques, awards, certificates and general tzotchkes that make it impossible to come away ignorant of his profession, and his pride in what he does.

And of course, there are symbols of her faith.  A decorative cross here, a plaque with a Scripture verse there, and her Bible right on the table.

Our homes are a reflection of what's important to us ~ what does yours say?  That you're an artist?  A musician?  A lover of books or sports or antiques?

My home says all of that, really.  'Cause there are four of us living here, so there's a little bit of each of us in every room.  And there's a little bit of Him, too.  The things that remind us of Him aren't there to announce to the world that we love Him;  they're there for us; to keep our focus on Him.

But if they tell the world that we love Him, all the better!  ;)

~ "Grace and peace from God our Father 
and the Lord Jesus Christ
to you and the church in your house" ~
Philemon 1:2,3

Friday, June 15, 2012

Just one foot in front of the other

"you shall teach them"
Exodus 18:20

Saw something cute out my window today.   A father teaching his two kids to roller skate.  They both looked to be in the 4-5 year old range; a boy and a girl.  The father had his skates on, too, and he would skate with one of them between his legs, with him bending down around them so that they were almost completely enveloped by him.  And he was doing all the skating, all they had to do was have skates on their feet, and have them pointed in the right direction. 

And while he was working with one, the other one would be trying to “solo”.  They weren’t so much skating as that walking/rolling thing one does when unsure of themselves.  But they made a little progress while dad worked with their sibling.  Then, in a few minutes, they’d switch.  Each one got some time with dad, then some time to see if they could improve on what they’d accomplished already. 

It’s hard for a dad in that situation sometimes.  Bending over can be tiring.  Improvement can be minimal or at the very least, hard to see.  Patience can be elusive when skills take time to learn.  That’s why it’s got to be someone you love, doing the teaching.  Who better than a dad?

The other thing I thought about was the fact that the kids were wearing helmets.  A helmet, on a small body, can seem huge.  It’s simply a larger percentage of a child’s body weight than it is an adult’s.  It can be uncomfortable, and hot, and even distracting as they try to learn.  And I wondered if those children fought it when their dad told them they had to wear helmets for roller skating.  Were they willing, or did they balk?  Did he have to say to them, “If you don’t wear the helmet, you’re not going skating with me.”  With my kids, that would have been enough.  Time with dad was ~ and still is ~ worth it. 

A good dad ~ as in this case ~ is a wonderful earthly example of God.  Loving, teaching, protecting.  Exciting things happen when Dad says “let’s go!”  I love that about God.  When I step out into adventure with Him, it’s exciting.  I’m going to learn, I’m going to laugh, I’m going to experience something new…. I might fall down and skin my knee, but if I’ve been obedient, I won’t be hurt badly, because I’ll have had my helmet ~ my armor ~ on.  Because He knows what can happen if I don’t. 

And He never asks me to step out of His reach.  Sometimes I’m wrapped up in Him, completely protected, and feeling that.  Other times He asks me to feel as if I’m stepping out on my own ~ courageously, if a little fearfully.  But I’m never out of sight, and I’m never out of reach.  

~ "In the fear of the Lord
 there is strong confidence,
and His children will have a place of refuge" ~
Proverbs 14:26

Thursday, June 14, 2012

God the Creator created creators!

"The Lord who created you"
Isaiah 43:1

My Awesome Girl, who is also an Awesome Artist (takes after her dad!) has been getting some art lessons of late.  A sweet and talented young lady from our church takes time out of her busy life to teach my girl every week.  I'm simply stunned by Hannah's talent, every time I walk into her studio, and I know how blessed we are for my girl to be tutored and mentored by someone with a gift, and a desire to share that.

Hannah is the youngest of three girls, all grown and accomplishing great things for God.  And it's not surprising, if you know their parents.  Both are smart, creative and giving of their time and talent.

The art lesson is at Hannah's home, and they have a very long driveway that is a steep incline.   So when I drop my girl off, it's at the very end of the driveway; but when I pick her up, I park at the end of the driveway, then walk the length of it, to get to the studio.  And every week, I'm eager to make that walk, because the front and side yards of the house are never the same thing twice.  They are adding a patio/barbeque area to the side yard, and doing landscaping and hardscaping in the front yard.  A fountain and stream, new pavers on the front porch.  And just for added color and whimsy, I sometimes have to step around dog toys, and grandchild-toys.

And I love it every week.

It's a home where life is happening.  There's evidence of painting, building, creating and growing in every direction.  I find that it stimulates me to want to accomplish something in my home, too.  Sometimes I come home and start a project, sometimes I just come home and make cleaning or organizing my project for the day.  Other times, I come home, see the family's clutter in my kitchen or living room, and remember that there's living and growing and creating going on here, too!  :)

It's good to remember that messes aren't all bad.  Good things cause messes ~ like organizing closets, moving to a bigger home, home improvement and art projects.

So don't think of it as:  your life is a mess; think of it as:  you're a work in progress!  And He's creating something amazing!


~ "Behold, I have created the blacksmith
who blows the coals in the fire,
who brings forth an instrument for his work" ~
Isaiah 54:16

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lessons from an Awesome Girl

"do not exasperate your children"
Ephesians 6:4

I made a mistake the other day, as a mom.  I scolded my Awesome Girl for not doing something that I had asked her to do.

Why was that a mistake?  Because in retrospect, what I had asked her to do was not something she should have been expected to do.

I think I expected her to, because I was able to when I was her age.

At least, I think I was.  

Maybe it's just something I can do now, and when I look back at my young self, I think I was capable of more than I really was capable of. 

But it occurred to me after I expressed my disappointment to her, that I had asked her to do something that was difficult for her.  Even if I was able to do it when I was her age, she's not the same person I am.  She has different strengths and weaknesses.  I need to see better what she's good at, and what are her weak points, and work with her to strengthen those.  You can't force these things.  It's just gonna frustrate her, and make me angry. 

God is better at this ~ go figure.  He knows us so well.  He knows how to work with who we are, and who we can be.  He knows when to push us; when to stretch us.  And He knows when we can't handle any more stretching, and need to rest.  

No one knows my kids better than I do.  Well, no one but God, of course.  That knowledge of them is a privilege and a blessing.  I'm truly grateful to God for giving me eyes to see them ~ not just physically, but intimately.  But I need to use that knowledge to their benefit.  He's chosen me to help them grow, not hold them back. 

And I am one lucky mom.


~ "Many daughters have done well,
but you excel them all" ~
Proverbs 31:29

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

And no caffeine!

What if we described God the way a certain Ubiquitous Coffee House describes their coffees...

He is Lord
infused with might
and sweetened with kindness...

He is our God
a specialty blend of Father, Son and Spirit
marked with authority
with a splash of empathy
 and topped off with guidance...

He is All in All
sweet and spicy
bold and merciful
a soothing balance that never fails to refresh...

His work in our lives is handcrafted
customized
and artfully flavored
with nuances of salt and light
resulting in a floral aroma 
that delights Him...

He is Love
the essence of sacrifice
with a hint of joy
and a finish of glory...


Amen.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Revelation 22:20

Monday, June 11, 2012

But I'm sorry that there's no trophy

"character produces hope"
Romans 5:4

Winning isn't everything.

I know, but it's really not.

Have you ever heard the expression "nice guys finish last"?  That was Leo Durocher, the Los Angeles Dodgers manager from 1939-1946, that said that.  Only that's not really what he said.  He was summing up the 1946 New York Giants and their chances for that season.  And what he said was, "Nice guys.  Finish last."  He never meant that the two were connected.  But somewhere along the line that expression changed to "nice guys finish last" and has been echoed by fans and coaches to state the belief that you can only win by being tough, and you can only be tough if you're mean.

Both my kids' sports have now ended for the summer, and while I'm pleased with how my kids both did, they had seasons where they lost a lot of games they shouldn't have.

They were both on good teams, but with enough mistakes, and enough lucky breaks for the other teams, we lost games we should have won.  Which is frustrating.

The girls on the volleyball team, and the boys on the baseball team knew they were good teams, which made it even more frustrating for them.

But ~ and here's why I know it's true that winning isn't everything ~ I saw both my kids shine during these discouraging times.  I saw hugs and words of encouragement.  I saw perseverance and courage and obedience to coaches.  

I saw growth of character.  I know my kids hate that.  They hate it when I remind them that anything that doesn't kill us makes us stronger.  But they can't argue with me, because it's biblical:

We glory in tribulations, 
knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, 
and perseverance, character, 
and character hope.  
(Romans 5:3-5)

It also produces a Momma's pride.

~ "I have no greater joy 
  than to hear that my children walk in truth" ~
3 John 1:4

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nowhere to run to, baby?

"Therefore you shall flee!"
Isaiah 30:16

Our family all got new cell phones a few weeks ago.  The one that the kids use when they're away from home was so old it needed to be replaced, and my Hubby's would never work from home, so he's been wanting to switch to a different company, to get better coverage.  My phone was fine, and I loved it, but we all gotta be on the same plan, so....

So I'm still learning the in's and out's of my new phone.  How to do all the stuff I do ~ which is really just receive calls, and text my kids and hubby ~ and learning any features that are new to me, that I might want to make use of.

So the other day I asked my Awesome Girl to see if I have any games on my phone.  I really am not one to play electronic games, but I thought if they were there, I might make use of it once in awhile when I'm having to wait someplace. 

But it turns out, the only thing my phone came with is a demo version of Pac-Man.

I hate Pac-Man. 

While I don't play a lot of computer games, the ones I do play are things like Solitaire, and Mahjong.  Games where I can relax, take my time, maybe use a little strategy.  And if it's something that's timed, that's fine, as long as it's just me trying to beat my best time. 

And I hate games where I have to rush to avoid losing, or worse ~ games where I'm being pursued.  Those make me crazy; panicky.  And I hate that in a game like Pac-Man, I'm being chased, and I have nowhere to run to.  No "safe" place. 

I need a safe place.  Fortunately, it's only a concern for me in video games.  I think about that sometimes, when something is worrying me, or when I don't know what to do with an upcoming decision.  I can always rely on the knowledge that even if I make a mistake, He'll take care of me.  That if something is wrong in my life, I can flee to Him through prayer, or in His Word.  He promises peace in trials (Philippians 4:6-7); wisdom in confusion (James 1:5); and courage in fear (Isaiah 41:10).

If you gotta flee, He's the place to be.

"Indeed we do come to You,
 for You are the Lord our God"
Jeremiah 3:22

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Living in paradise

"all things are lawful"
1 Corinthians 10:23

I love bird of paradise.  My parents had some growing in our backyard when I was little, so it's sort of a plant of happy memories for me.  And I love that it's a plant, but it's called a bird; I guess because it sort of looks like one.   And there are several varieties, in different colors.  All beautiful and exotic-looking.

from Wikipedia
And I remember when I learned that there are also birds called birds-of-paradise.  They live mostly on the island of New Guinea, and there are many species of these unbelievably colorful, and elaborately decorated birds.  I mean to tell you, God had fun when He was creating these!

from a beautiful website called worldbirders.com

Look at the colors!

from worldbirders.com ~ Check 'em out!
Makes you want to travel to New Guinea, doesn't it?

 also from worldbirders.com
Okay, now you see those long feathers coming from the head?  Impressive, yes?

would you believe? worldbirders.com!
... and the tail-feathers on that one?  I'll tell you an interesting story about the feathers...

I was reading an article recently about birds-of-paradise.  They are not only beautiful, but they have elaborate mating rituals; dances, really.  And these dances can have a lot to do with those long feathers, sometimes with more than one male competing for the attention of a female.  It must be quite a sight to behold!

This article also talked about the people that live on the island of New Guinea.  The birds ~ as I'm sure you can imagine ~ were, at one time, hunted in great numbers, but are now protected from hunters or "souvenir" gatherers.  The exception is the native tribes of New Guinea.  Because the feathers are used in their traditional costume and ceremonies, they are legally allowed to have them.  The feathers adorn headdresses and costumes, and are even worn in the nose during tribal dances. 

Tribes are allowed to hunt the birds, but very few do.  Ceremonial feathers are handed down from generation to generation.  And I was so impressed with how much these people care about these birds.  And the fact that though they are allowed to hunt them, they don't.  It's just not what is best, certainly for the birds, but also for the environment, for the ecosystem. 

It made me think of this verse in 1 Corinthians:  "all things are lawful for me, BUT..."  It's actually twice in 1 Corinthians.  The first time is in chapter 6, verse 12, and has to do with ourselves.  "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful."  The point is that it may not be sinful for you to eat chocolate, or drink wine, but that doesn't mean it's good for you. 

The other instance is in 1 Corinthians 10, verse 23.  This one, I think, is even more beautiful in its sentiment:  "All things are lawful for me, but not all things edify."  It goes on to say, "Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being."  In this one, the focus is on others.  Though it may not be sinful for you to drink wine, doing so in front of a struggling alcoholic is certainly not loving thy neighbor.

The responsible thoughtfulness of the native tribes of New Guinea is a beautiful example of not taking for granted the freedoms we are given ~ and not taking advantage of them, either.

~ "the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness" ~
1 Corinthians 10:26

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fixin' what's broke

"your problems, 
and your burdens and your complaints"
Deuteronomy 1:12

Are you a problem-solver?  The first time I ever head the word tenacious, was when someone called me that.  I had to look it up to decide if I was insulted or flattered... {not easily dispelled or discouraged; persistent}

And what I was doing, when I was called tenacious, was solving a problem.  And I realized then that I often have trouble letting go when I'm trying to find what's wrong in a situation.  I sometimes even find myself eager for the challenge. 

Such is the case with Algebra.  The first thing that happens when my Awesome Girl and I sit down to do her schooling, is that I grade her math, and then if she got any wrong, we go over those problems to find out where her misstep was.  Because that's so often what it is with math, isn't it?  One missed negative, one number lost in a long line of operations, and the answer is off by millions.  Well, maybe not millions, but you get my point...

So when I find a mistake in her math, I am often eager to go over it with her, because I'm confident that I'll be able to tell where the mistake was, and help her to not make that mistake again.

But I'm not good at everything in Algebra.  There's a few lessons that still stump me, so then the two of us have to hunker down and go over it together, little by little, until one of us realizes what went wrong in the solving.  Those problems, I am not so eager to tackle.  I just don't have as much confidence. 

And I was thinking the other day, that that never happens to God.  Everything is easy for Him.  He's eager to tackle our problems.  But sometimes we don't ask.  Other times we ask, and He's happy to help, but unfortunately, the process of solving it is not what we'd like it to be.  We just have to trust He's getting us to the solution that's best.

So ask.  And then have faith.  He wrote the book, and He knows the answers. 

~ "bring the difficulties to God" ~
Exodus 18:19

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I can't trust my shampoo, either...

"Everlasting God"
Genesis 21:33

I've been lied to.  A promise has been made, and not kept.

I'm devastated.

Not really.

I'm also not surprised...

The culprit?  My shower gel.

It's a scent called Everlasting Sunshine.  It was new, so I thought I'd give it a try.

And while we're on the subject, is anyone else's shower starting to look like a smoothie bar?  The products in my shower include tropical coconut, juicy green apple, mango, mandarin orange, vanilla, cucumber, melon, lavender, wild cherry, peach, grape and avocado.  No wonder I'm starving every morning when I come out of there...  :)

So we bought a new "flavor" of shower gel.  Everlasting Sunshine.  It says it has the fragrances of passion flower and vanilla.  But not so much.  I guess, truth be told, I really don't know what passion flower smells like, but it's not very strong, I guess.  And I can't smell any vanilla at all.  I mean, it's pleasant smelling, but not like I'd hoped.  It's barely sunshine, much less everlasting

So why did they give it such a lofty name?  Maybe just marketing.  Or maybe the manufacturers really thought it was that good.

But it's not. 

Just a reminder that the only promises we can really count on, are God's.  Scripture's full of them.  Sometimes they look like this:  "I, even I, am He who blots our your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins." (Isaiah 43:25)

And sometimes they look like this:  "the armies in heaven... followed Him on white horses... and He Himself will rule with a rod of iron." (Revelation 19:14,15)

What He says He will do, He will do.

"just as He promised"
Exodus 12:25

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Big God, Big Love

"who am I?"
2 Samuel 7:18

When's the last time you thanked God for all He has done for you?  When's the last time you thanked Him for all He is?  Or for all He's going to do? 

Without knowing when was the last time for you, I submit to you that it's time.  You need to praise Him.

Now, there are times when we're face-to-face with the stuff of life:  laundry, bills, a demanding boss, a feeling of listlessness... it can be hard to genuinely feel thanks for Him. 

But then there are times, we're just too busy thinking about ourselves to think about Him.

So I think maybe we gotta make it happen.  We have to get ourselves to a place of appreciation, to a state of mind when we can honestly praise Him.

2 Samuel 7 has a beautiful example for us, from the Bible's most famous psalmist.  David's humble, overflowing, over-the-top, yet entirely appropriate praise to God. 

"Who am I?  What is my house that You have brought me thus far?  And yet, what You have done for me is nothing, compared to what You will do.  What can I say to You?  Because of Your heart, you have done these things."

"Therefore ~ because of this ~ because I know what I know," David was saying, "I know that You are great, Lord God.  There is none like You, nor any god beside You."

"And who are we, Your people, that You have made us Yours, and You have become ours..."

When is the last time you felt like that?  Awed and overwhelmed and almost frightened by the force of His love for you? 

If you can't remember, then I suggest you go someplace and think about His love for you for as long as it takes.



Go someplace where the trees tower above you, and draw your attention upward.












Go where the mountains remind you of a power you cannot comprehend.





Go where there's nothing between you and the immensity of the ocean He created with a word. 






Go someplace where you can see the sky stretching high above you, and as far as your eyes can see.





Go, and think about God until you feel small, or your heart starts to pound, or you feel like crying.  Then praise Him as David did.

"You are God, and Your words are true.
You have promised goodness to Your servant;
let it please You
to bless the house of Your servant
that it may continue before you forever,
for You, O Lord, have spoken it."
2 Samuel 7:28-29

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Under construction ~ but I'm not the architect!

"be perfect"
Matthew 5:48

Do you know any perfectionists?

I've got two in my family.  My Awesome Girl, is an awesome artist, but very critical of her own work.  She gets that from my husband, the Apple of my Eye, who has always been a harsh critic of his work. 

It's hard for me to hear their judgement of their work.  Not just because I love them, and don't want them unhappy, but because I have eyes.  I can see their work.  I can see how good it is.  The Apple of my Eye has done paintings and sketches that hang in our home.  He has also done a little bit of sculpting, designed clothing, takes amazing photos, and has to chance to show his creativity and skill in his job as a graphic designer.   My Awesome Girl has done watercolor and is learning to use oils.  She sketches (almost constantly!) and is a wonderful photographer.

In all of these avenues, I can see their talent.  I can see color and detail and creativity that I could never come up with.  And I see that they are gifted, because if I tried to draw that flower, it would look like a horse.  And if I tried to draw a horse, it would look like a flower.  It's sad, really...  But still, they see what my eyes don't see ~ some way in which their project could be better.  Closer to perfect.  And so they criticize.

So here's my wonderment for today:  Is God a perfectionist? 

Cuz on the one hand, He's perfect.  "your Father in heaven is perfect."  (Matthew 5:48)  And He calls us to be perfect.  "you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)

On the other hand, He loves us even though we're not perfect.   "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

And He loves it when we recognize that we're not perfect.  He can work with someone who knows they're not perfect.  "The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way." (Psalm 25:9)

The word perfectionist means someone who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection.  That sounds like God.   The word perfect means having all required or desirable elements, qualities or characteristics; free from flaw or defect.  That sounds like God. 

But here's what I love.  The word perfect comes from the Latin for completeThat's what I want to be.  That's what God is doing.  It's not for us to achieve.  He takes us from flawed to whole; from broken to healed; from incomplete to perfect.

... if we're willing to let Him.

Hannah Harris ~ Hannah Harris Fine Art

~ "God is my strength and power
  and He makes my way perfect" ~
2 Samuel 22:33

Monday, June 4, 2012

Celebrating

He is the Morning Star
~ "I am the Root and the Offspring of David, 
  and the bright Morning Star" ~
Revelation 22:16


He is the Father
~ "Is He not your Father, who bought you?  
    Has He not made you and established you?" ~
Deuteronomy 32:6


He is the Example
~ "Christ also suffered for us, 
    leaving us an example, 
     that we should follow His steps" ~
1 Peter 2:21


He is Victorious
~ "Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!  
For He has done marvelous things; 
His right hand and His holy arm 
    have gained Him the victory." ~
Psalm 98:1


He is Shade
~ "The Lord watches over you;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand" ~
Psalm 121:5


He is the Counselor
~ "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, 
        Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" ~
Isaiah 9:6


He is Awesome
~ "Who is like You ~ majestic in holiness, 
         awesome in glory, working wonders?" ~
Exodus 15:11