Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Cup of Blessing...

Bottlebrush - genus Callistemon

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting…
Welcome it in every fair face,
in every fair sky,
in every fair flower,
and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


86. a walk in the cool morning, reading His handwriting

87. a breakfast of english muffin with honey

88. plucking fresh blueberries

How Can I Keep From Singing?

Cypress Tree branch


“I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.” Psalm 146:2



My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?
What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smoothes
Since first I learned to love it:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing:
All things are mine since I am His—
How can I keep from singing?

-Robert Lowry, 1860


more for the 1000 Gifts List:
82. email from a teen across the ocean
83. husband sharing tender, hidden thoughts
84. teaching materials to sort through for the journey
85. books to create a library far away

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Walk In His Footsteps





Teach me your way, O LORD,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.

Psalm 86:11

Clumps of dirt match the soles of his boots, leaving a trace, evidence where he walked on the clean wood floor. Barefoot, I step in the grainy piles, hesitant to complain.

Recognizing what he has done, son retrieves broom, sweeps away the earth, the dust of the ground.

What kind of footprints am I leaving behind? Do my footprints leave a mark? Do they match my soul? Unclean. Soiled. Grimy. Would anyone want to follow the path I lay out?

This is the kind of life you've been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you're named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.
I Peter 2:21 (The Message)

I John 2:6 says, Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where'er they go.
Mary Bridges Canedy Slade
1826-1882

Monday, April 28, 2008

And be thankful.

76. discovering a lady bug on a leaf

77. the comforting smell of stew beef and rice cooking

78. sunshine after the rain

79. a letter, an update from a college student

80. new plants to put in the ground

81. holding my great-niece, 3-week old Alexis

He Will Come To Us Like The Rain


So let us know,
let us press on to know the Lord.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn.
And he will come to us like the rain.
Like the spring rain, watering the earth.

Hosea 6:3


=====================================
The rain came
And it lingers
Pitter pattering
On fresh, green foilage
The earth drinks it in
Refreshed
Renewed
Let me drink, Lord
I come to you
Thirsty
Only you can quench
My parched soul
I need You
Your Holy refreshment

=============================================

During my quiet time this morning, I got still, just waiting, listening, watching. I looked out the window and saw the rain gently falling on the surface of the pond. Graceful, dancing, dropping life from heaven. Rain on me, Lord. Fill me up. I need your grace. Dance on my heart. Water my soul.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gratitude

"No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night." -Elie Wiesel

73. blueberries, ripening in the sun

74. a son listening to advice, thanking parents

75. laughter among brothers

Trinidad Again: July 25-August 6, 2008

Sara, praising God in Trinidad - July 2006
===================================================================
For there is no difference
between the Jew and the Greek:
for the same Lord over all is rich
unto all that call upon him.For whosoever shall call
upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on him
in whom they have not believed?
and how shall they believe in him
of whom they have not heard?
and how shall they hear
without a preacher?
And how shall they preach,
except they be sent?
as it is written,
How beautiful are the feet of them
that preach the gospel of peace,
and bring glad tidings of good things!
Romans10:12-15
====================================================================

Eyes wide,

Ears open,

Listening

As never before

To gripping tales

One person sharing hope

With the lost,

The broken,

The captive,

Downtrodden soul

This child wonders

Can I make a difference?

Could God use me?

The prospect,

The offer,

Faraway in India

Fearful,

Hesitant,

An opportunity lost

A marriage,

Three children,

A mission of its own

Praying,

Nurturing,

Guiding,

And more Praying

Lost ties

Reconnected

Excitement,

Eagerness,

Opportunity found

The prospect,

The offer,

Faraway in Trinidad

A husband,

Three children

On a mission together

Eyes wide,

Ears open,

Listening

As never before

To His voice

Here I am. Send me Lord.

===================================================

From Isaiah chapter forty-nine,
"Listen to me, you islands; hear this you distant nations" (vs. 1).
The servant declared that even before he was born the Lord knew him and called him (vs. 1).
The Lord formed and shaped the servant's mouth to accomplish the divine purposes (vs. 2).
The servant owes his very existence to the Lord (vs. 5).
The Lord proclaimed: "I will make you a light for the Gentiles" (vs. 6)
and then performed the deed.
The Lord is the faithful one who chooses His servants and sends them forth to do His bidding (vs. 7).


As I prepare my heart for another trip to Trinidad, realizing God's hand orchestrated this long before I gave it a thought, I consider the word, missions. One dictionary defines missions as "a sending or being sent for some duty or purpose."

If we are true believers then each of us is on a mission. We are to go forth with a purpose of telling the Good News...everywhere. Whether we minister in our home, out in the community, or abroad we must allow our hearts to be broken with the things that break God's heart.


Some thought-provoking quotes...


"If the Great Commission is true, our plans are not too big; they are too small." -- Pat Morley

"To stay here and disobey God -- I can't afford to take the consequence. I would rather go and obey God than to stay here and know that I disobeyed." -- Amanda Berry Smith

"To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map." -- William Carey, pioneer missionary to India

"What's your dream and to what corner of the missions world will it take you?"
-- Eleanor Roat, missions mobilizer

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Grateful Thoughts for the 1000 List

The idea and inspiration to begin a list of 1000 Gifts- things I am thankful for came from a fellow blogger, Ann Voskamp. She invites everyone to consider thankfulness and gratitude as "a fixture of your soul." Begin your list today by counting the blessings, with your own 1000 Gifts List.

A simple grateful thought turned heavenwards is the most perfect prayer. -Doris Lessing

69. fresh, broiled shrimp

70. celebrating a special teen's birthday

71. a hug from my daughter

72. hubby's homemade ice cream and my coconut cake

Blueberries

Freshly picked blueberries - April 24, 2008

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit,
while every branch that does bear fruit
he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
You are already clean because of the word
I have spoken to you.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself;
it must remain in the vine.
Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches.
If a man remains in me and I in him,
he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.
If anyone does not remain in me,
he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers;
such branches are picked up,
thrown into the fire and burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
This is to my Father's glory,
that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me,

so have I loved you.
Now remain in my love.
If you obey my commands,
you will remain in my love,
just as I have obeyed my Father's commands
and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete.
John 15



Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!
Blueberries - Robert Frost

He proudly displayed the first handful of ripened blueberries late yesterday. The branches weighted down heavily, he excitedly plucked the first fruit of the season. Husband's attention to soil pH, drainage, irrigation, sun/shade, fertilization, mulch, weed control, and pruning proved successful in yielding a delicious, sweet crop.
I realize only my Heavenly Father can produce good fruit in my life as I, just a branch, abide in the Vine, Jesus Christ. Apart from Him I am nothing. He is my source.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Directions



God is fair and just;
He corrects the misdirected,
Sends them in the right direction.

Psalm 25:8


My day started out giving directions to my oldest son. Not the usual directions...take out the trash, put up these clothes, take Max out, etc. but, directions he was actually interested in...how to get to a specific location in Jacksonville. He took his precious girlfriend shopping for her birthday. Now that is true love.

Anyway, I was confident that my directions were solid, clear, and completely accurate.

However, just now I received a frantic call from my son,

"Mom you gave me the wrong directions! You told me not to get on I-95 and that is exactly what I should have done."

Without going into too much detail, I was attempting to direct him to 9A, but he really was supposed to get on I-95 which turns into 9A South. It's a little confusing, that road.

Thankfully he had the sense to stop and ask for help.

Although I probably could have driven to that particular destination blindfolded, I had difficulty telling him how to do it.

Made me think....how many times do I rely on others for direction and guidance when I really need to refer to the greatest map ever...The Holy Word of God. There are no errors or misguided advice in the Bible. "And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times." (Psalm 12:6) The Bible says that you will "make your way prosperous if you read it and think about what it says everyday and start repeating it" (Joshua 1:8)

Update

I am happy to announce, Taylor just called me back. He has arrived safely at his destination. He said they plan to go to eat at the Cheesecake Factory later this afternoon.


I said, "Oh, let me tell you the best way to get there from where you are."
Strange, but for some reason there was a lot of static in his phone and he said he couldn't hear me. Funny, but I could hear him just fine as he said, "Thanks Mom, don't worry, we'll ask someone else."


Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. (Psalm 25:4-5)

I have already received all there is to have...

All other human efforts to infuse life with meaning and purpose start from the perspective of getting something we don't already have, whereas Christianity starts with the understanding that we have already received all there is to have. -Robert Hansel

66. a sound and peaceful night's sleep

67. telephone conversation with 'my Barnabus'

68. a vase filled with flowers from my yard

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

adding to the 1000 Gifts List...

My newest cousin, Jada Elizabeth Tanner

63. another new baby, a cousin, Jada Elizabeth Tanner

64. cooking Italian food with Dominica

65. sharing prayers, hopes, dreams with fellow believers

Griff ...

Griff, 7 days old in NICU- September 9, 1989

But when Jesus perceived their thoughts,
he answering said unto them,
What reason ye in your hearts?
And Jesus answering said unto them,
They that are whole need not a physician;
but they that are sick.
Luke 5: 22, 31


My son, Griff had senior pictures made today. Traditionally this is done at the beginning of a senior's final year of high school. I guess I am a non-traditionalist. I had my oldest son's senior pictures done in April of his senior year, as well.
The photographer and his wife were careful to capture Griff's personality, uniqueness, and, of course, handsome looks all at the same time. They took some indoor shots then came to the house to shoot some in our yard. I can't wait to see the proofs. I am a proud mom after all!
Watching the photographer from a distance, careful not to intrude on his art, I thought about how he focused in on Griff...his subject, careful to get the lighting just right, making adjustments when necessary. God is also focusing in on us. Except he doesn't look on the outside, He looks on the inside...the heart. He wants to see if the precious, cleansing blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ is covering us.
As I peered through the den window to the outside, watching Griff pose, I couldn't help but recall those early days of his life where he struggled just to survive. While his organs shut down, I had to completely trust God, relenting my control, my anxiety, and resting in His perfect way. Miraculously, Griff was healed.
Things aren't any different today as I continue to trust the same God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow for His best. He loves Griff more than I do. He wants better things for him than I can dream up. I can trust Griff in His hands.
Jeremiah 29:11 says I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (The Message)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Still Thankful...



If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got,

he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get.

-Frank A. Clark


59. lunch with my husband ... just the two of us

60. cooking a meal for someone dear to me

61. neatly folded towels

62. freshly pressed cotton shirts

Precious Life

Baby Alexis in the arms of her cousin, Savannah-Jane
- photo courtesy of Krista


my great-neice Alexis' foot
- photo courtesy of Krista


precious one,
so small,
so sweet
dancing in on angel feet
straight from Heaven's brightest star
what a miracle you are!


"I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.” “O Sovereign Lord,’ I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” “Don’t say that,” the Lord replied, “for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord touched my mouth and said, “See, I have put my words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. You are to uproot some and tear them down, to destroy and overthrow them. You are to build others up and plant them.” Jeremiah 1:5-10

I remember when we first got married my husband and I talked about and planned when we would have children. I remember consulting all the well-known child development authorities' opinions about the best age gap between children. Some of the advice was, If they were close in age they would enjoy each other more and have more in common; If children are separated by more than three years or more, they can grow up not feeling like siblings. Then there was the advice not to have them close together because of sibling rivalry. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that parents should wait 18 to 23 months after a full-term birth before conceiving again.
Seeking advice in planning a family is not a bad thing, but we do need to realize that God decides when a life should be created. He is God and we are not. His plans are bigger and much better than ours.

After being married exactly a year and one month, my husband and I announced to friends and family that our first little one was on the way. Taylor was born October 2, 1987. When Taylor was fourteen months old I got pregnant again.. Griff was born a month before his due date on September 2, 1989. Handling two vivacious toddlers was an exhausting job, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt like I was doing what I was called to do. Such fulfillment. Then on Father's Day of 1991, I announced to my husband that we were expecting our third child. A complete surprise, unplanned by us, but we were definitely excited…yet a little concerned about having three children so close together. Taylor would barely be four years old and Griff would be only two years old when they new baby arrived. Savannah-Jane arrived February 17, 1992 and completed our family. We had three healthy, beautiful children. I was so thankful for the blessing. A wonderful husband and three precious children.

However, I wouldn't be honest if I told you it was all wonderful. I suffered from serious post-partum after the birth of Savannah-Jane and had to be hospitalized. My hormones raged. A dark depression set in. The task of motherhood completely overwhelmed me. I had to ask for help. Something I wasn't comfortable doing.
As time went on, it got easier. I learned to prioritize and let things go. God began teaching me a lot about myself… how I needed to yield to Him…give Him the reigns… let Him be in control. He is still teaching me. Life is good. My children have turned out to be great kids in spite of me!

Psalm 139:13-17 says For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!

Couples may have "accidents", or "make mistakes", but God does not. If we believe in the sovereignty of God, we must conclude that there are no unplanned pregnancies. When a woman is pregnant, God Himself is forming a child within her. By this work God reveals His glory. -anonymous

I am learning to be grateful for life. Even the unplanned, unscheduled life happenings. God is good all the time. All the time God is good.

Isaiah 55:8 says For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Praise

To praise God fully we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God, drowned in, dissolved by that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression. Our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds.
- (Clive Staples) C. S. Lewis -

1000 Gifts continues...

Praising God for:

54. safe travel, north and south

55. perfect, unblemished clear sky

56. a choir of birds singing at dawn

57. an orchestra of frogs croaking in the pond late at night

58. his patience

Cleansed and Seasoned

I bought a Chinese wok today. Little did I know the lengthy process of cleansing and seasoning that my wok would require before it could be used.

The directions stated....

To cleanse the wok, it must be filled with water and boiled for 5-7 minutes to remove the protective film. After the boiling water is poured out, the pan has to be immediately scrubbed vigourously with soapy water and a scouring pad. Next, rinse and wipe dry.

To season the wok, 2 TBSP of cooking oil should be rubbed over the entire surface of the pan. Next it must be placed over medium heat for 10 minutes. Using a paper towel, the oil needs to be distributed over the inside of the pan while it is heating. Remove the pan from the heat and cool. Repeat 3 or 4 times. This ensures a non stick surface.

After this process the pan is now seasoned and ready for use.

My life if a lot like that wok. Before I can be used, I need to first allow God to cleanse me, removing all the impurities, stripping off the protective coating that I put on.
1 John 1:9 says,

If we confess our sins He is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins and
cleanse
us from all unrighteousness.

The oil that I used to season my wok reminds me that I need to be seasoned in the Word of God. Colossians 4:6 says,

Let your conversation be always full of grace,
seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Giving Thanks Because You Are Near

52. a meal with a dear friend

53. a stranger's kindness poured out

Pack Lightly



Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. Hebrews 12:1

In 2006 we packed nine suitcases filled with VBS supplies and toys for an orphanage to take along on our family mission trip to Trinidad, West Indies. Careful consideration went into every item placed in the suitcases. We wanted to make sure each article was necessary and useful for our journey, and we certainly didn't want to pay extra for exceeding the airline's baggage weight limit. I recall at check-in we were elated to find that we only had to pay extra on one bag that exceeded the weight limit.
As I read this verse today, God spoke to me very clearly about the extra baggage that I tend to carry around. The baggage that weighs me down in my spirit. I should get rid of those things that I was never meant to carry.
So today I will unpack
anger,
disappointment,
weakness,
distractions,
hurt,
busy-ness,
rebellion,
fear
Thank you, Father for showing me that this extra baggage slows me down and is not essential for the journey.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Giving Thanks and Praise

flower on roadside in Bermuda - October 2007

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:11-13

the 1000 Gifts list continues...

47. a son awarded for hard work and dedication

48. cooking a home cooked meal for a college student

49. listening to college students talk about their daily walk with Christ

50. the sound of voices singing, lifted in praise to God

51. hearing the sincere prayers of a young person

Remove The Vines

Tangled vines, Twisting, Choking, Scarring



"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord." (Ephesians 6:10)


I really enjoy being outside this time of year, experiencing the beautiful sight of fresh green growth. Sometimes, however that new growth sprouts up in places unwelcome.
Late yesterday I convinced my son and my husband to remove some damaged and lifeless limbs from a Chinese Elm that had become entangled with suffocating vines.

Patrice Jastrzembski wote an article about vines. She writes, "Trees are constantly fighting a battle with the elements for survival. Winter's wind and summer's droughts alternately test trees through the seasons. Besides contending with the natural elements, a tree's health is often threatened by disease, fungi, insects, and aggressive vines. Many species of climbing vines are capable of suppressing growth, and even killing trees. Vines can cause damage in several ways.Vines compete with trees for water and sunlight. Many vines send out many runners into the soil to seek any available water. When vines grow atop a tree, they cause shade, which may suppress photosynthesis, weakening and killing the tree. Vines growing along the ground often inhibit new plants from sprouting, affecting normal plant succession.The weight of a vine can cause twigs and branches to twist and break, deforming the tree's shape. This affects the tree's wind resistance. Vine-covered branches are in the greatest danger of snapping off in strong winds or heavy snows. Stems and tendrils of some vines grow in tight coils around twigs and small trunks, causing deformity and constriction as the tree grows."

Strange, I don't remember the Chinese Elm tree in my yard having any vines last summer before the frost and cold caused it to slumber. The seige, the overtaking, the capture of these trappings so subtle and gradual that I didn't notice. The vine intermingled and blended in with the foliage on the tree. Now the limbs of the tree have permanent indentions, marks causing damage, even death to parts of the tree.

Isn't that a lot like our enemy, Satan?
Subtle, clever, we ignore his attack.
Then we are surprised when we find ourselves choking, gasping for a breath from God.

Second Corinthians 2:11 tells us, "We are not to be ignorant of Satan's strategies, of the devil's devices." (paraphrase) We are not to be unaware of the way the devil does things. In fact, 1 Peter 5:8-9, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him."

And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Ephesians 6:10-12 (The Message)

Giving Thanks...


"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed,
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
GIVING THANKS
to God and the Father by him." Colossians 3:17

44. sunlight, dawn of a new day

45. aching muscles, proof I am being stretched

46. sharing scripture with another mom and friend, reaffirming my faith

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Intimately Acquainted With Him

Whale Bay Beach - Bermuda, October 2007

"[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly]." (Philippians 3:10 AMP)


A.B. Simpson says: "God is preparing his heroes. And when the opportunity comes he can fit them into their place in a moment. And the world will wonder where they came from."

I confess, very early in my walk with the Lord I believed if I played by the rules, did everything right then life would (and should) go smoothly for me. Lately I have thought about that shallow, one-dimensional, superficial thinking I once had.

Relying on my ability, not God's.

So religious.

Not unlike the Pharisees.

If I want God to have the victory, I must continually come to terms with my own inadequacy. The trials I have experienced lately have caused me to dig even deeper into the Word, cling more closely to God, and rely on Him completely. I really doubt that I would spend as much time at His feet if I hadn't experienced some difficult times. Although very painful, I am finding that surrendering...releasing my control...sacrificing everything in all areas of my life is becoming easier. The joy of the Lord is my strength! Joy is not a feeling. It's not about my circumstances. It is a realization that God is in control.

D. Martyn Lloyd Jones writes, "Every believer knows that the deepest moments of spiritual fellowship with the living Christ are the direct result of intense suffering. Suffering drives us to Christ, because in Christ we find the sympathetic merciful High Priest Who cares, Who comforts, Who feels our pain and Who was tempted in every way just as we are. This is God's divine formula for fellowship to succor every suffering saint..."

For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. (Hebrews 4:15)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gratitude is the best attitude.

My heart is filled with gratitiude for ...

41. the old rugged cross where HE bore my sins


42. the sweet, flowing grace HE freely gives

43. time, precious time to sit at HIS feet

Hide Me Behind The Cross

Heydon Chapel, Sandys Parrish- Bermuda - October 2007

But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don't take yourself too seriously— take God seriously. Micah 6:8 (The Message)

The picture above is a view of Heydon Chapel in Sandys Parrish, Bermuda. Notice how the chapel sits behind the simple, unadorned cross. With the cross in the forefront, it reminds me that I need to hide behind the Cross of Jesus Christ. Anything good that I attempt is done through Christ because without Christ I am nothing. I must cling to the 'Old Rugged Cross.' Without Him living in and through me, I am nothing. Hide me behind the cross so that others will see You, Lord and You will receive all the Praise, Honor and Glory!

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
George Bennard

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul. ~Henry Ward Beecher

37. sleeping late on a Saturday morning

38. the taste of a chocolate dipped ice cream cone

39. children who tell me 'I love you, Mom.'

40. the Bible, God's word for my weary soul

Unity

Bermuda's smallest church - Heydon Chapel, built in early 1600s

May the God who gives
endurance and encouragement
give you a spirit of
unity
among yourselves
as you follow Christ Jesus,
so that with one heart and mouth
you may glorify the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 15:5-6
I was the winner of a week long trip to Bermuda through BACK TO THE BIBLE last October. While there I was able to do a lot of sight-seeing on the beautiful island and participated in Bible Study with Woodrow Kroll at Willowbank, a Christian resort.
The last full day of the trip I disovered Heydon Chapel. This chapel is Bermuda's smallest church. It holds non-denominatinal services which feature Gregorian chants in the single-room sanctuary. In the Chapel three nuns sing Gregorian chant, in Latin, every morning at about 7:30 am and afternoons at 3 pm. They are not Roman Catholic as the chant implies but members of the ecumenical Community of Jesus based in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Their local Community comprises persons from many locally represented Christian churches from Roman Catholic to Pentecostal. They support each other in their common beliefs while maintaining their individual religions.
A. W. Tozer said, “Has it ever occured to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”

Friday, April 11, 2008

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. (Jean Baptiste Massieu)

33. new growth on a re-potted fern
34. prayer and a bubble bath
35. smile from a stranger
36. a visit from my niece and my sister, sharing laughs and good food

Waiting

–for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
2 Corinthians 10: 4


I am really exhausted.
Today was filled with chores, those much too long neglected.
I want to rest, but I can't relax yet.
It's a Friday night. Waiting for my children to come home keeps me alert and awake.
Waiting.
The house is quiet.
Still.
Silent.

My Father speaks to my heart saying,
I wait, too.

God waits every day for me to surrender to Him. Yes, He waits for me.

Funny how many times I think my arsenal, my strength can accomplish the work of the Lord. Surely the Lord needs me....
my help,
my ideas and,
I really need to get people together that believe in the same cause.
NOT!

He is waiting for me to surrender!

Remember Gideon?
He assembled 32,000 men to defeat Midian. The Lord showed him how to decrease the number to 300. The weapons were trumpets and pitchers with torches inside!

I must remember and surrender!

I am only a vessel.
Holy Spirit, illuminate me!

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness.
We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us. As it is, there's not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at. We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus' sake, which makes Jesus' life all the more evident in us. While we're going through the worst, you're getting in on the best! 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 ( The Message)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Adding To The List Of 1000 Gifts...


30. new friendships

31. soft breeze, warm sun on my face

32. conversation with a Holy God

Disappointment

I am up late again. In the quiet, in the calm with just the hum of the dryer in the background. Everyone else slumbers…my sweet hubby, my three children, and even my favorite canine companion, Max.

Although it seems like insanity, this is the time of day when God sums up the past 24 hours and speaks to my heart, hushing my soul from the busy-ness of the day. When I come to the end of the day, God punctuates it. Sometimes He does it with an exclamation mark, a question mark, a comma, or a period. It is His finishing touch, wrapping all the events into one box, tying them up with an elaborate bow, and then preparing my heart for the gift of another day.

I overheard someone say they were going to WILD ADVENTURES this weekend. I am not a number one fan of amusement parks. They have lots of rides. If you know anything about me, you know that to get me on a roller coaster or anything of the sort is a major feat. I can still remember my sister riding those crazy concoctions at the fair…the spider, hangman, the monster. I can also remember trying to ride with her. As much as she loved it, I hated it. My body was not meant to be jerked, yanked, wrenched, pulled and tugged like that.
I recall once when I was about 7 years old I got so sick on a fair ride she actually had the ride stopped for me. What sacrifice! Such a great big sis!

The past seven months have been a spiritual roller coaster ride for me. There have been serious family issues, life threatening accidents, financial woes, and even death.

Now, in this spiritual roller coaster ride that I often unwillingly participate in
I can get so frustrated and disappointed.
My expectations, my hopes, my plans often fail, leaving me empty.
I work so hard; commit time, energy, blood, sweat and tears to something, giving it my all, only to have it fall apart. I can relate to King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2:11, "As I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless…like chasing the wind."

Tonight this thought came to my mind….


Our disappointments can be God's appointments.


Romans 5:3-4 says it like this: "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character . . . " Inner spiritual strength, the kind resulting from sincere faith in God, helps cultivate that attitude.

When I get to the end, that's when God does His work. I am not to receive glory. He is. God always works in my disappointments to bring me to a better place with Him. A place where I rely less on my abilities and more on His.


He said, "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you" ( Hebrews 13:5).

"God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God" (Romans 8:28).

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" ( 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

God's plans are always grander than we can imagine.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Listening -
Thanks be to God
for his indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15
27. listening to music - a cd of Josh Groban
28. listening to His voice - prayer time on the porch
29. listening to a precious teen - God driven dreams, desires

His Purpose

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands. Psalm 138:8

I talked to a teen girl today who is trying to figure out what degree to pursue in college.
What an exciting time in her life! To be youthful, just beginning, so many opportunities. After I listened to her share, I was most impressed that this young girl understands her purpose. She truly believes seeking a career/lifestyle where she serves God and others will be most fulfilling. I tell you it was refreshing to hear this coming from a young person.

I reminded her (and myself) that God is truly concerned about what concerns us and He has a plan for each of us. The world tells us we can only be happy if our earthly desires are fulfilled. What a lie! To have a relationship with Jesus Christ, focusing on what God desires for our lives is the only way to peace and contentment. Philippians 1:6 says He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. He will accomplish His purpose! He will not give up on us! His love endures forever!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Yet Another Gift...


26. a talk and walk with my big sister

From the Psalms...

Slowing down,
meditating,
taking time to recognize
it is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD...
21. the smell of spring early this morning: showing me that the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him is in every place

22. the sound of the voice of a friend over the telephone: reminding me that Jesus cares for me

23. the sight of flowing, gentle ripples in the pond: teaching me that He doesn't want me to be stagnant

24. the touch of a baby chick: speaking to me that God will bring healing in His wings, hiding me under the shadow of His wings

25. the taste of fresh fruit: revealing to me that He is good and He is my substance

Under His Wings

"…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!"
Luke 13:34 (NIV)
We have a new family pet....temporarily. Late yesterday afternoon, practically at dark, a mother hen and her baby chicks wandered into our yard. As soon as the mother hen sensed we were around she gathered her brood and scurried into the brush, leaving one baby chick behind. We tried to help it along, placing it near the thicket where the rest of the family was, but its clumsy, weak legs couldn't catch up. Against my better judgment, I allowed my children to bring the frail little chick indoors where they began to nurse the poor fellow back to health.

His weak peeping noise indicated he was frightened and hungry. They put water in a bottle cap and the chick gradually began to take nourishment. They even made a mush of oatmeal for the hatchling, which he heartily devoured. Before long they had christened the baby chick with a fitting name, Lil Peep and even created a home for him from a box, complete with central heat, a heating pad placed under the box.

As they went off to bed, leaving the minute fowl within earshot of my bedroom, knowing it would be peeping loudly most of the night, the Queen of the Coop instructed its caretakers that Lil Peep must be returned to his mother in the morning. Although they had tried to care for the little bird, the best place for him would be with mother hen, I contended, under her protective wing. Hopefully the Lil Peep will 'fly the coop,' return to mother hen, and be accepted back into the brood.
In Luke 13:34 Jesus shows His strong desire to draw together His people unto him, like a mother hen gathers her chicks protectively under her wing. Then He grieves that His people were not willing to be gathered. We should not hesitate, but rush to Him…His sheltering wing. There is no safer place. We don't have to worry about whether or not He will accept us.
image of hen and chicks found at google images.com

Monday, April 7, 2008

He Keeps Giving....

18. fresh strawberries
19. sound of 4-year olds laughing
20. a back rub from hubby

Wait, Watch, Expectantly


cocoon in Japanese Maple - 4/6/08

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Romans 5:3-4 (The Message)

I discovered a cocoon in a Japanese maple yesterday. This silken construction has always fascinated me. I decided to carefully break the branch that the cocoon was clinging to and take it inside. I then found a container to place it on so I could observe it up close. I wait, I watch, expectantly.

When I first laid eyes on the cocoon, memories of times almost forgotten flooded my mind. I was transported back in time to a spring afternoon spent at my Mema and Papa Tanner's when I was nine years old. A carefree warm day spent outdoors with a few cousins…what pleasure.

I don't remember exactly where I found it. It wasn't anything special to look upon, but I knew from pictures in books and lessons from Moma that within that delicate wrap was an amazing butterfly. I carefully held it in my hand for some time then later proudly displayed it on my Mema's countertop in a Mason jar, after getting someone to punch air holes in the metal lid. There it sat for what seemed like an eternity...in reality just a few hours.

I imagined that I saw the cocoon move, perhaps it actually did. I impulsively twisted the lid off the jar and reached inside to hold the cocoon. Then I saw a small tear, probably damage I had done by holding it too much, not letting it rest. I waited, watched, expectantly.

Then it happened. The butterfly began to thrash about to force his body through that small slit. Without hesitation, I decided to gently cut the cocoon with a pair of manicure scissors and help release him. Indeed I released the butterfly, but its body was inflated and it had miniature, withered, useless wings. Although I wanted that butterfly to take flight it didn't happen. It only crawled.

In my impatience and ignorance I deprived the butterfly of the struggle. The struggle would have forced the fluid from the body into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Am I still like that nine-year old? Impatient, wanting, annoyed, intolerant of God's timing? Father, forgive me. Strengthen me as I wait, watch, expectantly for You.


Psalm 27:14 (NIV) says Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14 (The Message) says I'm sure now I'll see God's goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart. Don't quit. I'll say it again: Stay with God.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Purify Me

Drinking from a Travelers Palm in Trinidad, West Indies - 2006

Since we have these promises, dear friends,
let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
2 Corinthians 7:1
I remember seeing the Travelers Palm in Trinidad. The name for this plant derives from the fact that a stem can be cut and the water inside can be drunk, hence good for thirsty travelers who need refreshment.
There is nothing better than a cold drink of water to quench my thirst. I prefer drinking bottled water to tap water and although I am probably deceiving myself, it seems like it just has to purer and cleaner than regular tap water.
My oldest son says we should purchase a water purifier. That way, he reasons, we will save on the cost of purchasing bottled water and at the same time cut down on environmental waste. I didn't raise any dummies, so I am considering his suggestion.
I have decided to read up on water purifiers. They say that even if your water tastes bad, it can be changed into great tasting water after going through the water purifier. The purifier removes harmful minerals and chemicals and provides water in its purest form.
The scripture from 2 Corinthians 7:1 calls us to strip away everything in our lives that contaminates our body and spirit so we can honor and glorify God.
What are the impurities that tend to contaminate your life? I confess I have many. One of them is the toxic contaminate of insecurity that tends to cloud my life and float to the top unless I seek God daily. If I neglect time in His Word I tend to rely on my feelings, leaving me parched and dehydrated. When I choose to seek the pure truth in His Word, I am reminded that He is the only one that can satisfy and quench my thirst. In John 4:13-14 Jesus said, Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 7:38 says, "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."
James 1:7 says, every good and perfect gift is from above.
More gifts to add to the list....
14. tears and hugs of reconciliation

15. a lunch of leftovers, God's provision

16. affirming words from a friend to me

17. ministering to a precious, hurting soul

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Seek His Face

more gifts ...

10. fluffy, warm towels straight out of the dryer

11. laughter

12. a visit from a friend on a rainy day

13. watching geese swim in the pond


Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.

Psalm 105:1-4


A friend of mine sent this picture of Jesus today. Look at the lines the artist used to draw this picture. There are scenes from Christ's life. Isn't this amazing?
What an awesome reminder that I must make an effort to look upon His face daily through praise, giving thanks to Him, rejoicing because He is who He says He is, and I am His child.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Clothed With Joy

butterfly resting on blueberry bush - March 2008

The One Thousand Gifts list continues...

6. the beauty of a butterfly resting on blueberry bush

7. tassles draping from a river birch

8. a sit-down homemade meal with four teenagers and a husband

9. a phone call from a son

You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever. Psalm 30:11

With continual battles of sickness, loneliness, fear, anxiety, and grief raging around me and touching those I deeply care about, and yet another call last night causing me to drop to me knees in prayer, I am reminded once again of how precious and fragile life is.

The only constant, the only security I have is that which is found in Jesus. I am reminded nothing stays the same in this world. Just as the seasons change, so do circumstances. Spending time outdoors this morning, absorbing the freshness and newness of spring, once dormant winter life, God spoke to me and said,


See how I clothe the earth with joy? I will clothe you with joy as you praise me.

As I looked to the Word this morning, I read Psalm 30 and found it teaching me again that every area of my life is completely reliant upon my relationship with my Savior. God's grace, mercy, and love are always present, never changing, and giving me reason to be joyful. How can I be silent about the hope I have?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Rejoice Always


Rejoice always,

Pray without ceasing,

give thanks in all circumstances;

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


I love this quote by Elisabeth Elliot: Here is my heart, Lord God, thankful for a thousand mercies...Sweep out the discontent. Give me a merry, humble, ever thankful heart that honors You.

I have always been a list-maker. I have an on-going, never-ending list of projects that I hope to accomplish one day, a list for the grocery store, a list for chores for each day of
the week, a list for gifts that need to be purchased for birthdays, new brides, and babies yet to be born. I can be quite neurotic at times about the whole thing.

I recently discovered that I need to start a new list. I realize more each day how little I know about God, how limited my scope is of who God truly is. And sadly, how I fail to thank Him.

So as I take His hand today, walking through the refining fires, through the valley of the shadow of death, in green pastures, beside the still waters, and in the paths of righteousness for His name sake, I choose to open my eyes to recognize His blessings, His gifts. Today I will begin a new list entitled ONE THOUSAND GIFTS. I will journal this list in a simple dollar store spiral notebook and on my blog, as well.


Here are my first offerings:

1. A walk in the cool spring morning

2. Wet leaves and grass from rain last night

3. A peck on the cheek from my son

4. Rolling daughter's hair

5. A phone call from my sweet husband

Ann, is the inspiration for starting my own gift list. For an explanation of reasons for keeping a gift list refer to her writings.

"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world." - John Milton

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Harden Me Against Myself...

He must become greater; I must become less.
John 3:30

In this dog-eat-dog world it seems like everyone strives to make a name for themselves...to be somebody. Our lifestyles are centered on being successful. This verse jumped out at me today and reminded me that I can not measure success as the world measures it. One of my favorite quotes is 'In God's economy, the way up is down.'
We are strengthened when we are weak. Amy Carmichael said it beautifully:
God, harden me against myself, the coward with pathetic voice who craves for ease and rest and joy.