Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Beauty of the Little Things

How do you feel about the ordinary, the little, the sometimes overlooked and underrated?
Aren't those gossamer wings gorgeous?


I have been unusually aware of and interested in the above mentioned categories lately. Take these pictures for example. They aren't earth-shattering, and some you might not find attractive at all. That's OK. Truthfully, as I look at some, I am not sure that what I saw when I clicked the pic, is properly conveyed by the time the photo is posted. But I am going to attempt to share some thoughts anyway...

As my Honey and I wandered around during his first week at home, (have I mentioned he is just a bit stir-crazy?) taking pictures of just about everything...we were inspired to take pictures of the "little things". Things that were actually little, and tiny and would usually be walked over, on or past without notice. Also, little in the sense that they may seem ordinary. It was on our minds to find the beauty through the lens if we could. It was very theraputic. It's the the little, the simple that have been especially noticed by me of late, and have moved me to giving thanks. Thanks for crazy things like my hubby's joy at text messaging (now he's sending all sorts of romantic and silly texts), blue skies, living in a beach town, a teen who can loves a foot rub and turns all chatty when he gets one, a little pooch who just inexplicably adores me and follows me around EVERYWHERE! A Mom who still gets up at 3, 4, 5 and all other hours of what I call "0 dark thirty" and prays for me and for all the rest of her kids, and the world at large, coffee, my church, and silly little weeds, and mushrooms that made pretty photos and the fact that God answers our prayer in all sorts of wonderful, zany ways!

Yup! This really is a weed. Don't ask where it grows, just appreciate the blooms with me! :)


I needed some activity and fresh air, so I said "I'm going for a walk, be back in a few". Honey decided he would come along, too. He brought the camera of course! It was amazing the way the little weed flowers down the side of the road begged for their picture to be taken! You could almost hear them "Oooh! Oooh! Pick me!" So we did!

More little weeds that usually are nothing to be excited to see growing. But when they bloom, who can resist? Apparently not me! ;)



Now this really is a weed to not be thrilled to have growing, but when you see these little blooms they start to put out, there's just something about them that says "Notice me". And this will sound weird, but I was telling my husband that when I see some of these tiny plants and flowers, every since I was a child, I always think it looks like a little minitarure world suitable for fairy creatures. You can't really appreciate that from this picture, but I am hoping maybe you can imagine from ones you have seen.


Extremely small mushrooms, in a bed of pine needles. Love them! I can't explain it, but I really do!

Roxy, my oldest's German Shepherd. She is a mixed blessing. At this moment she is surveying her domain.


This is a group of trees next door at my bil and sil's place. They are wonderful people I am daily grateful for. This group of trees grew in this perfectly symmetric way through no human interference. I have been finding many, many examples like this recently which speaks to me about God's order. He's sovreign and as my husband likes to say "Large and in charge", that's something to hold onto when the present looks a little chaotic. We are His, we are made in His image, and He makes beauty and He does things in order and for a purpose. That means we can not only expect Him to be at work in such a fashion, but that we should expect to be doing a little of that ourselves! Making beauty where ever we go, and living with purpose!
I hope you never look at weeds and mushrooms the same way again! Thanks, Ya'll!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Silence of Friends, Desire of God, Opportunity Knocks

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Have you had a time in your life, when you look around you, and there is no one you can call on the phone, no one you can go meet with? No. One. At. All.


No one that is, who could understand the season you are in. Not the thoughts, not the cares, not the worries, not the hurts, not the trials. No. One.

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It's so very important that we not abandon what we know to be true in these times. If you have not had this time in your life, in your faith, don't be naive. Don't believe it won't ever happen to you. Because it happened to Jesus, He's our example. It'll happen to us. I had a period in my life like this a few years ago. It was during a very difficult and challenging time, in just about every way. It was almost comical the lengths the Lord would go to, to keep me from going to my normal sources of comfort. He is a jealous God! He knew best what I needed during this period in my life. He knew that if I did not seek Him for comfort and counsel, if I went to any other source for these things, the stake were too high. The risk was too great that I would be headed off in the wrong direction. I have looked back at that period with thoughtful eyes and humor many times over the last 6 years or so. It's funny the clear perspective you gain with time and distance. I am now grateful beyond measure for the things I learned during this time, and the comfort I have been able to offer many because of what I walked through during that time.

It's good that I can appreciate that time, as I am about 6 months into another such time! As I have walked out a new version of a similar experience, I find that once again my flesh longs for human counsel and comfort more than what the loving hand of God permits or recommends. Recently on a drive home, by myself (from *&&*mart or something like that) I told God sorry for ducking and hiding from Him, because I feel like a little bit I have done so. Have I ever stopped praying? No. Studying His Word? Nope. Still pray, still have quiet time, still read His Word. etc. It's more like the most tender area is held back, not too closely examined. Did I mention He is a jealous God? For our own good. Some areas need His wisdom, His light, His perspective more than anything or anyone else's. He wants to protect us from what would feel good to our flesh for a season, but ultimately rob us from His best refinement, best teaching, and most bountiful blessing for our life both here and eternally. Human counsel and comfort is good in its season and God does meet our needs this way during much of our life.

However, when we are in our Gethsemane period(s) (which I would think, and would dare to hope are few and far between in our lives, but I am young yet, only 42! This is probably my 2nd in my adult life, and I can look back and certainly see at least one in my teenage years.) God is doing a work in us, letting life pose us an opportunity to come near Him and be transformed a little more into the image of His precious son Jesus, than we could become with our friends, patting us on the back, egging us on, and giving us well intentioned advice, that would unintentionaly rob us. Think of Peter telling Jesus - Oh No, Lord, be it not so!
Think of it. Jesus tried to talk to His buddies. They. Did. NOT. Get. It. What He said to them sounded weird to them. It was outside their experience, too foreign to comprehend. During these times, a good sign you are in Gesthemane is when what you are going through - just wouldn't make sense to anyone else. Every once in a while, when you bypass the prompting of the Holy Spirit, (like I have done on occasion) you will find that your very loyal friend, looks at you and tries to grasp it, but can't quite. It is truly frustrating. Frustrating really doesn't quite do it justice. But, we will leave it at that for now.

It can be tempting to think people who you should be able to count on, are leaving you high and dry. Be very, VERY cautious here. It is a trap. What IF Jesus had gotten that attitude in the Garden? Remember, He was tempted but, without sin. I DOOOOO sincerely believe that was one of His temptations, to have a wrong attitude about His closest friends abandoning Him in His most precious and dire hours of need. We must take these opportunities in life to draw near God, as Jesus did in Gethsemane. Love our friends, and look forward to being able to minister to them, in way we never could before when we have "graduated' from this season in life.

I'd like to save some of this for another post. Where we talk about the questions posed in the Garden. And what the name Gethsemane means! Until then, if you ARE in Gethsemane - Pray, Pray, Pray!

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Here Comes The Sun!


Sheryl Crow sings ths song at the end of the Bee Movie (which is great).
But I just LOVED this song.
Apparently it is an old George Harrison song (Beatles) and it was a special song to him personally.

Here Comes the Sun
by George Harrison


Here comes the sun,
here comes the sun, and I say it's all right
Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right
It's all right

Here's the video.





Friday, April 25, 2008

Big Bubbles - No Troubles!

Pressure, pressure, pressure. Relationship issues (children, spouse, parents, siblings, co-workers, neighbors, business associates, fellow church members), sickness, financial issues, unforgivenss (sometimes even of ourselves), even unresolved sin, - these things and more bring PRESSURE!

During Easter season, I was really keeping an eye out for the Lord to teach me something. I was not disappointed.

Remember these bombshells Jesus gave to His disciples to ponder? These are scriptures from John 14 and John 16 where Jesus tried to communicate to the disciples what a treasure He would be sending them, (and thereby us), when He once got back to the Father. It was too much at the time for them to comprehend. It made more sense in retrospect:
"16And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;...18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you....23Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him...7Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you...13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you."
So, The Holy Spirit living within us, comforting us, teaching us the truth of God, once we believe on Jesus for our salvation, is the wonderful, wonderful gift Jesus promised us!


artesian well
My MOST favorite scripture from Jesus about the Holy Spirit is this one -
"...Jesus stood, and He cried in a loud voice,
If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink!
He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me]
as the Scripture has said,
From his innermost being shall flow [continuously]
springs and rivers of living water.
...He was speaking here of the Spirit,
Whom those who believed (trusted, had faith) in Him were afterward to receive.
For the [Holy] Spirit had not yet been given,
because Jesus was not yet glorified (raised to honor)."
John 7:37-39.

My point is, if you are feeling the pressure of life - be encouraged. That pressure is necessary to make your well flow! You know how the scriptures tell us in
James 1 to
"Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials...Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing."

I found the plaque above when we visited Washington Oaks State Park. And immediately I KNEW it was a treasure. It seems that the secret to artesian wells is the pressure the water is under. That is what makes the water defy gravity and flow upward. Hallelujah! The treasure within us, Christ within us, the hope of glory, flows out of us more freely, when we are forced by the pressure to tap into the rivers of continuosly flowing living water, which Jesus said would flow from our "inmost being".

I'm saying, some of the best stuff He has put inside of us, won't show up, unless we go through some pressure. This gives me great hope. I DO desire the Holy Spirit to flow through me, causing love, mercy, faith, kindness and other "fruit of the Spirit" to show up in my life. But being the fallen creature I am, if I do not experience some trials, I will become self-righteous and self-sufficient and completely unfit for the Kingdom of God.

Though the pressures of life make me want to whine and cry (just every once in a while!), and sometimes even make me think about why I do what I do, and what do I really believe, in the long run here are some of the benefits of that pressure of trials mentioned in James 1:

  • My faith becomes stronger.
  • I more firmly know what I know about the faithfullness of God.
  • I understand more about my weaknesses, which is a good thing to know, it humbles me and causes me to open up to God, and depend on Him to fill me.
  • And through the pressure I become forced to tap into the power of God within me, to teach me, sustain me, comfort me.
  • Whereas without the pressure, I could just keep having pretend faith in my own power. Our human nature assures us, that without pressure, we naturally regress to our own stength instead of tapping into the rivers of continuosly flowing living water - Christ in us, the Hope of Glory!

I researched a little about artesian wells to make sure I understood properly. Dig this: "Deep wells drilled into rock to intersect the water table and reaching far below it are often called artesian wells in ordinary conversation, but this is not necessarily a correct use of the term. Such deep wells may be just like ordinary, shallower wells; great depth alone does not automatically make them artesian wells. The word artesian, properly used, refers to situations where the water is confined under pressure below layers of relatively impermeable rock...as the picture...(below)shows, artesian pressure can be very strong!" This is from a Georgia educational site which you can find here.


aresian well 2


See how powerful the flow is which they are trying to cap, to control it? I can't explain how grateful I am that He speaks to us in parables through nature. He gives us illustrations of Biblical truths. Because a picture is worth a 1,000 words!

I want Him to flow through me; clear, free, clean and crytal!

Happy Saturday, Ya'll!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

To The Enemy of My Soul

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I was inspired to do this in service Sunday morning.
I hesitated even still though...just call me a little bit chicken! I became more concerned about what you (my friends and visitors) might say, versus what what God might say... silly me!
The last 12 months have been very challenging. The last 6 months even more so. Don't be alarmed. We really are all doing very well. Everyday life brings each of us, every inidivudal it's own challenges. Sometimes it begins to be wearisome. WHEN that happens - you MUST stand strong - DIG in, Praise Loud, Pray Hard and Love MORE!

Enemy, you are here by put on notice:
You have no place in my family. (we were bought with a price - we are not our own)
No place, not in my life, my husband's or my children's.
For every bad thing you can accuse me of, God has a more powerful truth in answer.
When you come against me with discouragement and fearful thoughts, just so you know, you simply drive me further into God's Word, His sweet presence and you become even more doomed to fail.
When you say I can't sing the words to that praise song, because things look pretty bad right now, that would be hypocrisy - I say, I will sing even louder, I will praise from the bottom of my heart, I will worship from the depths of my soul.
When you say that we have been unsuccessful in passing our faith on to our children, I say, that wasn't what we were ever doing. In case you didn't know this, we have trained them each in the ways of the Lord, who is the author and finisher of their faith (yup! They get their very own! Each person has their OWN faith). He is faithful to complete the good work He began in them...I think I can trust Him. Yeah. Once again, you loose!
There is nothing you can come against us with that is greater than the power of God which is at work on our behalf. There is nothing you have to offer in the way of opposition which can counteract the presence of the Greater One Who lives within me! Within my husband, within our sons! The more pressure you bring, the sweeter the fruit He will produce from our lives...bring it! I ain't skeered of you! I'm too thrilled with My Lord, too thrilled to be able to say that my sons, my husband, myself - we all have our names written in The Lamb's Book of Life. Too grateful to know that since God be for me, for us, who can be against us? No One! Surely not you!
When you use someone to gossip about me or my family, all you do is cause that person to be prayed for. As a result they end up better off than they were before the incident. So do I. I do not have to explain myself or my family. God is our vindicator.
Conflict that you bring - is my friend - God works out greatness in our lives when you attempt it.
Everytime you push us to be quiet, to backdown, to blend in - God reminds us to cry aloud, to stand firm, to stand out!
May I remind you what happened to Job? May I remind you of Paul & Silas? May I remind you of Gesthamene? How about that empty tomb? That wonderful Sweet Savior who stormed the gates of hell - you know the same one who took the sting of death away? The One who reigns on high, Who reigns in my heart...
I'm sorry - did you say something? I can't hear you -I am listening to my Father, I'm singing to Him, and He is encouraging me.
SING, O barren one, you who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who did not travail with child!
For the [spiritual] children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of the married wife, says the Lord
Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
spare not; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes,
For you will spread abroad to the right hand and to the left; and your offspring will possess the nations and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.
Fear not, for you shall not be ashamed; neither be confounded and depressed, for you shall not be put to shame.
For you shall forget the shame of your youth, and you shall not [seriously] remember the reproach of your widowhood any more.
For your Maker is your Husband--the Lord of hosts is His name--and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; the God of the whole earth He is called.
For the Lord has called you like a woman forsaken, grieved in spirit, and heartsore--even a wife [wooed and won] in youth, when she is [later] refused and scorned, says your God.
For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion and mercy I will gather you [to Me] again.
In a little burst of wrath I hid My face from you for a moment, but with age-enduring love and kindness I will have compassion and mercy on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer.
For this is like the days of Noah to Me; as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I will not be angry with you or rebuke you.
For though the mountains should depart and the hills be shaken or removed, yet My love and kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace and completeness be removed, says the Lord, Who has compassion on you.
O you afflicted [city], storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in fair colors [in antimony to enhance their brilliance] and lay your foundations with sapphires.
And I will make your windows and pinnacles of [sparkling] agates or rubies, and your gates of [shining] carbuncles, and all your walls [of your enclosures] of precious stones.
And all your [spiritual] children shall be disciples [taught by the Lord and obedient to His will], and great shall be the peace and undisturbed composure of your children.
You shall establish yourself in righteousness (rightness, in conformity with God's will and order): you shall be far from even the thought of oppression or destruction, for you shall not fear, and from terror, for it shall not come near you.
Behold, they may gather together and stir up strife, but it is not from Me. Whoever stirs up strife against you shall fall and surrender to you.
Behold, I have created the smith who blows on the fire of coals and who produces a weapon for its purpose; and I have created the devastator to destroy.
But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord.
Isaiah 54 (Amplified Bible)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Movies, Baseball, The Beach & and Outrage!


This is going to be the most randomest of posts to date.
And yes, I DO know that is NOT a real word. But, that's never bothered me before!

Lots going on inside my head and heart. Not postworthy yet, and if it were, I wouldn't be able to post it right now. The men of my household are taking much of my time...particularly my hubby! :)
Braves
I recently was commenting over at Thoughts From My Head, that growing up, I knew nothing about most sports, except that only nerds watched them on TV. Or so I thought. Then I met my hubby. It took much time, and much maturity (ha!), but by 1991 I was an AVID Braves fan. Since we live about 6 hours away from their home games, this required us to watch them TV!
Now, 'lo these many years later, I am also an avid NFL fan and I enjoy watching golf (some players more than others) with my hubby. I know. Many of you out there are like "do these people ever mow their lawn? Clean their house?" I promise we manage to do our chores, and have real life conversations...during commericals...kidding!
Anywho, all that was background to say Go Braves! They have just finished winning 4 games in a row. They swept the LA Dodgers (finished up that 3 game set yesterday). I just love this team! Love Bobby Cox, John Smoltz, Tom Galvine, Chipper Jones! Woot!
Movies
During the past few days, we saw two movies which I really enjoyed. I thought they were worth mentioning.
"An Unfinished Life" - this movie was a great movie that really spoke to the ability we have, even late in life, to change old patterns, break the mold and start anew in our lives. It was a great illustration of forgiveness. It stars Morgan Freeman (who I always enjoy) Robert Redford (he really shines in this role, though I am not particularly a fan of his), and Jennifer Lopez.
And
"The Shootist"! We just love John Wayne movies. The Shootist is his last movie. If you ever have enjoyed him, and haven't seen this movie, I really encourage you to rent it. Jimmy Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Henry Morgan, Richard Boone, and Ron Howard! What a cast!
The Beach
Today is the first day of our Spring Break. We went to the beach sans child, as he was entertaining friends and one of them doesn't like the beach (odd, I know, but he's a real sweet kid). It was absolutley a beautiful day! Yup! Hubby grabbed the chairs and bottled water (with his one good arm!) and asked me to simply bring our books, and the camera, and his binoculars. I did. Once we settled in at the beach, after a while he decided to take some pictures, he goes to the truck, comes back and laughing, he kisses me, "I love you!" he says through much laughter.
Suspiciously, I noted there was no camera in his hand "Where's the camera?" I asked.
"You brought the wrong one!" (the 35 mm w/out film)
I surrender! I am a ditz! :) I admit it!
And last, but not least by far.
Outrage!
Yesterday evening my youngest was telling me he saw a young person we both know, (actually it is an extended family member, known for their desire to "party" through life). He said they were "all excited because it was 4 20."
"4 20? What on earth is that?" I wondered.
"4 20 - the National Marijuana Day", says my 15 year old.
I can't explain how angry and frustrated this made me. Some of the reasons why (if you care)First - it bothered me, because come on, a National Day for marijuana? Puh-Leez! How about National Balance your Check Book day ? How about National Work in a Soup Kitchen day. How about National Teach a Young Person how to do ANYTHING (let them pick)!
Second - It worried me for this young person, who I love, their parents love, etc.
Thirdly - This will sound weird, but, hopefully you will know my heart. Our church celebrated their 23 anniversary yesterday. We always have a big picnic at a local park. It bothered the stew out of me, to consider that while we were having fun (not that it's wrong, Rather - its good to celebrate the great thing the Lord has done), part of our community was doing the best they could to desensitize themselves to what was going on around them. It just seemed like a horrible paradox. Life, abundant life, in one corner of the county, and death, rampant, slow death in another corner of the county.
Fourthly - (Yes, I know this is a long list, but, I'm done after this! Thanks for sticking with me!) How out of touch can a person be? How did I not know this existed?
Seriously, it just was a wake up call to me. It reminded me, that we have a great life. Not without challenges, but, a great life just the same, (and what would life be without its challenges? That's what makes the sweetness ultimately!). But while we are living our lives, there is a whole large honking part of the world that is lost, hurting, confused. ignored and deceived. Can I change that? No, I guess not, though that still bugs me! But, prayer matters. And living every day doing MY part to make sure my God given portion is done, through His grace and strength, and looking for every opportunity to show love, live honorably, extend grace, maybe somehow that sum total will make a difference one day.

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
and prudent and shrewd in their own sight!
Woe to those who are mighty heroes at drinking wine
and men of strength in mixing alcoholic drinks!"
Isaiah 5:20-22 (Amplified Bible)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Six Word Memoir! Thanks, Sharon!

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Sharon, at Sit With me Awhile, was kind enough to tag me for a unique and fun meme.
The object is to summarize your life's message or memoir, in six words, and chose a photo if you want to accompany it.

For my six words
, I felt this would be the best fit. Believe it or not, they are new to me. And they are not meant only for me, but for all of you as well! Monday morning, as I was admiring the blue skies and green pine trees from my back deck, I was thinking about God and these words popped in my mind "You are blessed and highly favored!" These words being a paraphrase of the angel's words to Mary, in Luke 1:28. Like so: "And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Immediately the thought was that for Mary this was a first. She would carry the Christ child. But, because of what she did. Because even further, of what Christ accomplished, HE now makes His home in us! How great a privlege and strength this is we don't yet fully grasp! Christ in me the hope of glory! Christ in YOU - the hope of glory!
I knew as soon as this thought exploded within me, that it was not for me alone, but for me to share with all of you. I have been letting it "steep" in me through out this week. I hope you will seek God for yourselves and see the power of the glory of what God intends for you!
Here are the rules for the meme. I will obey and tag 5 others (who I don't think have been tagged already) but, feel no pressure to participate, merely an invitation to play if you feel like! Life doesn't always lend itself to allow us such time!
The Rules:
1. Write your own Six-Word Memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want.
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.
4. Tag at least five more blogs with links.
5. Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.
My 5 to tag:
1. Carole at Fractured Thoughts
2. Stacey at Keep Going
3. Melissa at Mel's World
5. Karolee at Knit-Wit Coffeehouse
Have a blessed & highly favored weekend! Christ in YOU the hope of glory!
Love, Maria

The Year of Romance - April



Good morning, everybody!

I hope you are seeking to be a blessing to your husband today, and every day. If this is your first time here, you have come on a good day. This is April's edition of a look at keeping the Romance alive within our marriages.

Here is the foundational scripture that is on my heart for this year long series of posts:

"Two are better than one,
because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor;
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls
and has not another to lift him up!"
Ecclesiastes 4:8-10

Today we will be looking at committment, and the need to prefer one another. In other words to put your other half first. In so doing God blesses you, your union and you do not end up last.

If you and I are already blogging buddies, (and if you are new here WELCOME! I hope you will feel welcome and at home here!) well then you know my Honey fell recently and broke his arm, gave himself a black eye, and a scraped-up leg...But, he is doing very well now.

What an illustration of the scripture above, "for if they fall the other will lift up His fellow"! It also made me think of our culture's traditional wedding vows, "For rich or for poor, in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part". It reminded me of who my Honey and I were when we married at 18 and 20 years of age.
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We married in 1983
. We married in spite of reservations about people being able to do what it takes to have a successful marriage. By that time (1983) divorce, and adultery were already starting to take a toll on those around us. We were both of the mind that what our generation lacked was an understanding of and a willingness to commit. We felt that if we were committed, and divorce was not an option, then though hard times would come, we could come out on the other side together. God was a distant entity in our lives at this time, but we knew enough to know that marriage was pleasing to Him, so there must be a way to make it work. It was a very humanistic effort on our part, though neither of us even knew what the word humanistic meant at that stage of our lives. (it just gives me great hope to look back and see how God protected and guided us, when we didn't know any better. I know my mother's prayers, and probably his mother's prayers were honored, just like God honors our prayers for our sons). Yes, commitment is critical and right. Divorce is not God's best, though man sometimes requires it. But none of it works like intended by God without what I call the triangle.


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Christ at the top, man and wife on equal sides underneath Christ. I still remember when I was inspired with this picture during night-time devotions with my very young sons. I was so exhilerated by this epiphany. As time wore on I discovered many had this 'epiphany' before and after me! :) But, that doesn't take away from the truth of it, instead it merely illustrates God's ability to teach a seeking heart! Which gives me, and should give you, great hope!

My Honey being injured and needing assistance, and how off balance he and I both felt for the first few days, got me to pondering the whole "in sickness and in health" factor of marriage. How he has been there for me in my sickness, and how I have been there for him. How sacred the act of serving another in time of need is. How it does require that we put ourself aside and either allow someone to serve us, or to take the opportunity to serve them. Both parts require humilty, and the kind of love that Jesus meant, when He said "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23.


In our case, each of the times he has been injured (really, only twice seriously, counting this time), and during my pregnancies and when I was sick a few years ago for a short period, we had opportunities to experience this aspect of love; the give and take of serving and being served. Our marriage was blessed and strengthened each time. If you have not experienced health issues yet in your marriage, I encourage you to not think of them as only a dire circumstance. Rather, I encourage you to consider the circumstance as an opportunity to experience God's healing power, and to use the time to slow down and get to know each other again.


There is nothing like coming out of time of trial, with a smile on your face, and the sure knowledge that you have weathered the storm together, and the storm did not get the best of you, rather together, you both got the best of it!


For us, during this time of his recuperation, we have taken this as an opportunity to spend time together, which we would not normally have had. Enjoying the outdoors, and taking photographs. Finding new ways to flirt and joke, along with lots of 1 armed man jokes! When everything is over and he and I go back to our normal routines, we will now have new memories of the time we spent together, and how well we work together.


Thanks for coming by today and thinking about your marriage, and what it means to keep the romance going. For this month I want to leave you with this scripture, because though it talks of a brotherly love, I submit to you, that true romance can't occur, unless you will put your "self" aside, in order to serve and honor your spouse.


"Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another. " Romans 12:10


Over the next few months some of the topics I will cover are: praying for each other and together, bringing out the best in each other, and the ghosts of the past. If you are interested in particpating here is where you will find the guidelines for The Year of Romance, and below you will see other wonderful women who have joined to contribute their experiences and thoughts on keeping the romance alive!





Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Day In The Garden


It is just impossible to enjoy the outdoors and NOT experience the wonder of how majestic our God is, and how good He is to us!
"For ever since the creation of the world
His invisible nature and attributes, that is,
His eternal power and divinity,
have been made intelligible and clearly discernible
in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks).
So [men] are without excuse
[altogether without any defense or justification],"
Romans 1:20
Sorry I haven't been around to visit. I have a stir crazy husband.
So we have been spending some time together,
Yesterday we went to Washington Oaks State Park.

We had a great time and everything looked like a fresh opportunity to take a picture!



I thought this plaque perfectly expressed what I was feeling in the middle of God's handiwork.
In a world full of the results of the fall...it is thrilling to see signs of the goodness and the beauty to remind us there is lots of wonderful stuff to look forward to.

Everything is not all bad news!



I probably won't be around until Saturday. But I will catch up!



Until then have a beautiful week!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Striving and Shriveled OR Abiding and Juicy?

Do you ever, sort of notice people when you are waiting in line? Friday before last, while my Honey was gone fishing for the evening with his brother, I went to the local huge *&*&*Mart. It's NOT my favorite store, but I confess, economy often lures me. I was exchanging one size of shorts for another size of the same shorts, for Honey.

It had been a very good, and very busy day. I was recovering from the flu. Truthfully, I wasn't looking or feeling too perky. However, I was by no means miserable. As I stood there awaiting my turn, I noticed everyone all around me. Since the line was fairly long, I had all the many people staggered in line ahead of me, and several workers at the counter ahead, taking care of us as we each took our turns. So there were plenty of different people to see.

I hope that as you read this, you won't consider my thoughts here as condescending, because I was moved in my heart by what I saw. To see what I saw really made me sad. No One, absolutely No One, seemed to have any joy, At. All. One was out right angry and frantic (worker). Others seemed everything from resigned to their circumstances, to despondent, hopeless, and some just aimless. I thought to myself, how some years ago, the Lord had dealt with me about my demeanor, that I should care that I looked approachable, and willing to smile, and or engage people in conversation. How can I be the fragrance of Christ among the lost, or how can I be ready to give an answer for the hope I have, if I look too miserable or anxious to have anything good to offer? You have to know that because I am such an internal sort of person, I didn't always think about how I looked, and on a busy day, that could mean I looked a little off-putting. When in reality, I may have been perfectly willing to strike up a conversation...my face just would not always give that message. Now days, I generally seem more approachable, and will always start the conversation with the cashiers. But, at this moment of observation I had to ask myself, what did I look like? I think it wasn't too bad. When I got to the counter I actually got the harried and angry clerk. It was good, because just a smile and a couple of soft comments and a sincere thank you, and she was actually able to smile herself, albeit a bit reluctantly, but a smile is a SMILE!

I thought while I was waiting,
of the Jesus is the vine illustration, we are the branches, His Father as the vinedresser, from John 15. Because, at least to the obvious look, there was no abiding going on at that moment. I thought, "Lord, they look so dry, so empty, so without hope, so full of burdens and woe. Lord, if you came right now, what would they think? What would their reaction be? What would mine be?" I just don't believe that life is supposed to be like that for people. Yet, I fear many do not know that their faith is supposed to be the REASON we have hope, not just their ticket to Heaven one day. He sustains us, He wants to be our strength, carry our burdens for us, so that we can go about being His emissaries of mercy, joy, hope, love.

Just before Easter, I read a short devotional that gave me pause. It brought out the point that to abide is to dwell in, to rest in, to lean against. We often understand the part, that we are to do that in Jesus, but what captivated me this time, was the "Whooosh" of the realization that when we do that, when we rest in Him, dwell in Him, lean against Him, then HE dwells in US! He does the same thing in us, He asks us to do in Him. How amazing! How joyous, and how humbling!

I do not want to be a shriveled up branch that He is not free to flow through. I want to be attached vitally to Him, with Him flowing through me, plumping out and nourishing my fruit!

Those people were striving
. There was NO rest. I want to see more people connected to the vine. More people that have wisdom to go with their smile, because they know what they know what they know!

"I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser.
Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing]
He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit,
to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.
You are cleansed and pruned already,
because of the word which I have given you
[the teachings I have discussed with you].
Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.
I am the Vine; you are the branches.
Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit.
However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing...
You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], He may give it to you.
This is what I command you: that you love one another."
John 15:1-5, 16-17

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Need for Graceful Change and Valiance!

Thursday night mid-week service was so good. It's got me thinking,
and I needed it on many levels.
Two things which I will share are these:
1) He mentioned that sometimes people say they
"just want everything to stay just like it is, don't change",
as pertains to say; a church family, a person, a business environment.
Unfortunately, if taken literally, it's a death sentence. In this fallen earth, things must continually grow, or they decay. This pertains to people in every sense, not just physical, but in relationships, intellect, organizations (business, educational, churches, etc).

When he spoke about this, I knew God was talking to me, He has been recently about changes, being willing to let go, and moving on. I'm just having a hard time knowing how, what and when. You know, basically EVERYTHING! ;) I just keep telling Him, "I'm willing, show me, teach me, make it clear to me.

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I came home that night, and in case I had ANY doubt about my need to shed some things in order to continue on into the next stages of life, my poor dial-up system was having the dickens of a time getting this one e-mail. Well, it was so completely worth the wait. It was a beautiful PowerPoint slide show about eagles. Eagles are a favorite of mine. Immediately it had my attention. It was about how eagles successfully make it past their 40s (HELLO!). My hubby watched it with me, and we really enjoyed it. I will be thinking about that for a while! I know it went hand in hand with whatever changes God is drawing me, drawing us to.

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2)The second thing that I wanted to share, I just hope I can properly convey. Some background first - Our church family considers itself to be similar to David's Mighty Men. We even have a song we wrote by that name. The deal with David's Mighty Men is the fact that they are messed up people with problems, yet, in spite of that, there is something valiant in them and they are drawn to righteousness. Doesn't that cry out to everyone? We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, yet, we are drawn to Him, and He puts the hunger for righteousness inside of us. Because of this theme in our fellowship our Pastor occasionally will read over the scriptures about David's Mighty Men, in his personal studies. Recently he saw one of the men listed in a new light.
"These are the names of the mighty men whom David had...And Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many notable acts, slew two lionlike men of Moab. He went down also and slew a lion in a pit on a snowy day."
2 Samuel 23:8, 20

He actually talked about this for a little while, before I actually could comprehend the point that lions usually chase their prey, prey doesn't chase them! Benaiah went to the lion, he went into a pit, on a snowy day and killed a lion!

God saves us, and then lets us continue on in our life here. To learn, to grow, and to finish our "to-do list". He puts greatness in our hearts. Our great thing can be founding a family business, raising a family of responsible citizens who love Christ, discovering a cure for cancer or how to harness cold fusion energy. It might be to be a great Broadway producer, who writes and produces witty, thought provoking plays, which change the way people think in a GOOD way. It might be to be the spouse of a Pastor, and love and support that person as they together serve the Lord in ministering to many, many people, over many years.

The question we need to ask ourselves is - what is my pit to go into?? What is your pit? Where is your lion and my lion to tame?

Benaiah went where he didn't have to go, and did what he didn't have to do. I believe he was drawn, compelled. As I thought about this, I asked "Lord, why would anyone do that? Why go into that pit, on a snowy day, and kill a lion that is not bothering you?" The only thing I came up with is to rescue someone, or save the people nearby who were in danger. Think about it. Valiant man. Travels a lot. Comes across a village, the people feed him, they tell him of a lion which troubles them. He decides take out the lion before he moves on. Because he IS That kind of Man!


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As a touch of irony or I dunno, added frustration? At the whole 40something mish-mash of change, growth, transition, we are big golf fans. My husband doesn't get to play much these days. But, in the future I believe he will able able to play regularly. Its important that he be able to do that. For those of you who follow golf this weekend is the Master's. It's like the Superbowl of golf. Freddie Couples is someone we have watched as long as we have been married. We just think he is such a neat guy and a fun golfer to watch. This would have been his 24th Masters and he would have broken the record he is currently tied with Gary Player with for 23 consecutive Masters (without missing a cut). We watched him come within about 1 inch (literally) of making the cut. He didn't make it. Prior to playing he was interviewd, and he was very gracious and comfortable and said that if he didn't make it, well afterall he is "48 and he should miss some cuts!" I just have to say, Ya'll, I was BESIDE myself when he didn't make it. It is possible I was more upset than he was. Likely, as a matter of fact.

What does all this mean? I'm not gonna try to dress it up. I really don't know! Ha! I'm just trying to figure it out! I guess, transition, the changing of the guard, and making sure we take out whatever lion is troubling the people near us, is VERY important! Being flexible in the Hand of God, yielded,willing, gracious and valiant is very important.
Thanks for hanging out with me while I babble!
Hope you have a fabulous Sunday! Start praying now for a life changing encounter with God TOMORROW!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Signs of Spring

I thought I'd show a little of my hubby's busy work.
As he is recuperating from his broken arm, he is feeling much better.
Which means he is spending lots of time outside, and me with him quite a bit.
He's snapping photos of everything.
Just little signs of Spring, here and there!


There were lots more...

But these are a few!


Hope you all have a fantastic Friday!


We are going to get more x-rays, and his full cast today!

Happy Friday, Ya'll!

P.S. Here is a Great song for all everyone has been going through - "Never Let Go" by Dave Crowder Band!


Thursday, April 10, 2008

When You Have Cast Your Cares, Then What Do You Do?

What do you do when the chips are down?
When you are in one of those many, many places life brings us to where you have an care, a pressing need, some THING that could easily move from a stand of faith to a WORRY. What have you done that worked for YOU?

Often times, once we have made known our need to the Lord and stood on faith, if we don't take a healthy course of action, before we know it we have succumbed to the temptation to over-analyze, reason, reason, reason, and before we know it full fledged WORRY. Which, as you are well aware, fellow worriers, or try-not-to-worriers, is taking the thing, that care, back from God, and KEEPING it for ourselves. Where it can NOT move forward, it can't get resolved.

So, what are some healthy actions to take, which will aid us in keeping off the well worn path of giving our cares to God, and then sneaking back and taking the care to our self again and getting our fingerprints all over it?!

In my life, at various turning points I can look back and see several patterns which have been successful for me. I would love for you to share what has worked for you or at least think about it. We can learn lots from 20-20 hind sight!

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I have several things that I turn to. Both involve acts of service. It's just how I am wired. Another thing which never fails to influence my outlook, is music, music, and music. I generally love to get the house as much to myself as possible and play music I enjoy and clean, clean, clean. For me, this is an action I can take, which lets face it, is going to improve my surroundings, and is something I can exert my influence on in a positive manner (instead of trying to influence the outcome of said care). It is also an act of love for my family.

Something else that is very cathartic, is to prayerfully consider someone in your orbit who needs help. Maybe they are working on a project and need someone who is just happy to help, and be in the background. Not for accolades or recognition, just to help out. Maybe they simply need someone to listen to them, as they talk. You would be surprised at how much this is needed and is a blessing to others. Or they would love to be invited over for coffee and company.

I appreciate you all letting me bounce this off of you. I have been thinking at odd times about the influence music has over me to bring out of the pit, and into the palace. The palace of the presence of God. Sometimes I can also have a great time enjoying some great old school music or country music. Then there is always my Nickleback! Another thing I have been thinking of is how very, very blessed I have been when the Lord has allowed me to come along side someone and just give them a hand, be it ever so simple a task. I always end up with a bit more of a friend. And LOTS more satisfaction, and contentment. It truly is MORE blessed to give than receive.

I hope this will at least get you all thinking!

God bless you in your pursuit to
LEAVE YOUR CARES WITH HIM!

"Therefore humble yourselves
[demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation]
under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you,
Casting the whole of your care
[all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all]
on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. "
1 Peter 5:6-7

What Does it Mean Anyway? "Free to Fly"...

Well, it's like this: Here are some of the Webster's Dictionary definitions of Free: a : having the legal and political rights of a citizen b : enjoying civil and political liberty c : enjoying political independence or freedom from outside domination d : enjoying personal freedom : not subject to the control or domination of another2 a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself...having a scope not restricted by qualification 7 a : not obstructed, restricted, or impeded ...Now, here are some of the Webster's Dictionary definitions of Fly:1 a : to move in or pass through the air with wings b : to move through the air or before the wind or through outer space c : to float, wave, or soar in the air ... a : to take flight ...6 : to work successfully ...Examples which apply from Websters: fly high : to be elated - fly in the face of or fly in the teeth of : to stand or act forthrightly or brazenly in defiance or contradiction of

What does this mean in my life? This means that in life we are meant to be free. While historically mankind has not always enjoyed the opportunity to fully appreciate what that means, we are so indescribably fortunate as to live in a time of the greatest spiritual, physical, financial and political freedom ever known. Freedom doesn't come cheap, nor does it come easy. But the best things in life don't come that way do they? As I write this I am struck by how this sounds like a political statement, and for me this is much more of a spiritual thing, but, same goes for that (political that is). Freedom doesn't come easy. And it's worth whatever fight you have to make to overcome in your life in order to live a life that succeeds. Now the questions is - what is success for you? What is your standard? In my mind what is needed is a definite target - because you can't hit and maintain a moving target. A stable, rock-solid, anchor with no variable, yet multi-faceted. Something pure, just and worthy. If you look at any web page of news you can see that our society is certainly lacking in this area. What a great time to live as a rebel! Nowadays to be a rebel, all you have to do is be willing to engage in the battle of life, while anchored to Christ!