"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead..." Romans 1:20

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Greenhouse

A few weeks ago I got the idea that I'd like to have a greenhouse.  My first thought was to have it be a standalone unit but there really wasn't a good place near the house to put it for electric and water to reach.  Somehow it suddenly dawned on me there was a space along side the garage to build a lean-to unit.  This is what the area looks like:

We'd have to dig out a 7 foot by 12 foot area in order for it to fit under the bay window bump out.  The house would form the 4th wall.  There is a faucet right there and the window at ground level leads into the garage where we could access electricity.  To top it off it has a southern exposure.  It's as though that spot has been just waiting for me to get the idea to put a greenhouse there!


Because I'm a recycler big-time I scan the newspaper and second-hand shops for used items whenever I looking to purchase something.   And this morning I hit the jackpot.  Free bricks for the flooring of my greenhouse--500 free bricks.  It took two trips with the mini-van but here they are:

I'd seen the ad before and remarked that I wished I'd needed bricks then, so you can imagine my delight to have another chance at them.  I called at 8:30 this morning.  The fellow wasn't at his home but gave me directions and said help myself.


I've had this sort of thing happen to me before and I'm beginning to see a pattern.  The gifts God has for us are already there waiting for us to see our need for them and then open our eyes and hearts to find them.  Those free bricks weren't given to me especially--they were there for anyone to have--but I got to them first!  Thankfully, God's free gift of salvation is endless.  You don't have to be first in line or anything else to get it.  You just have to know you need it and then ask for it with an open heart to receive it.


Father, thank You for providing me with all that I need.  May I never forget that Your gifts are free for the taking when I seek You first.  Now, please point me to the cinderblocks and windows that we need!☺


Link to Scripture:http://niv.scripturetext.com/matthew/6-25.htm

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Duel


Fencing is an exhilarating sport not only for the hand-to-eye coordination but the fancy footwork.  In the game of foil fencing you must touch your opponent with the balled tip of your foil somewhere on his torso.  It is a beautiful sport to watch because of its fluent moves. You can learn more about the game here: Fencing

In centuries past sword fighting was a means of defense.  It was also used to settle disputes between two men.  This was the duel.  Duels are no longer accepted as the honorable way to settle a dispute as it has been in the past.  Here is a fencing scene from an old movie that will make you laugh:  The Court Jester 1955

Now, I want to get serious.....Today we seem to think a war of words is the way to go.  As the political rhetoric heats up in this election year the mudslinging, innuendo, and out-and-out lies are being thrown about.  This is not an honorable way to settle our disputes with one another.  How much more productive it would be to attack the issues at hand where meaningful dialogue might arrive at solutions.  It's not a matter of them vs. us, but rather problems vs. solutions.

Father, may I see past the rhetoric and seek to love even those who do not agree with me. 


Link to scripture:http://niv.scripturetext.com/matthew/5-43.htm

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Neighborliness

When my boys were young I took them up to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for the day to show them the way the Amish lived.  Here is the middle son in Amish garb in a museum school room:




I've been greatly attracted to the Amish ever since I learned of their way of life that connects them so closely to God.  The way I came to learn of them was when I told my husband I wished we lived as the family in the children's book "Ox-Cart Man" where the family worked together to meet the needs of life.  Every member had a purpose within the family for their survival.*  


He told me the Amish still lived that way today.  As I read about the Amish I learned that all they do is meant to keep them dependent on a gracious God and to keep their eyes off man.  Their way of dress for instance is meant to put them all on an equal plane as well as to set them apart from the world.  I've read a great deal about them, visited several Amish communities in my travels, and have even subscribed to their various newsletter-like magazines which are full of short stories.  Because they have so few diversions they've honed their writing skills and are excellent communicators.  What I find most appealing, however, is their sense of community--how they will come together to help their neighbor in need, even if they are not Amish.  Here is an example:  Barn Raising

All too often we English, as the Amish call us, retreat into our small cliques where we become isolated.  We don't reach out to help those outside our group because in truth, many times we don't have anything to offer.  We may contribute our money to needy causes, but if we're honest we'll admit that does not totally satisfy.  It is in us to want to give of ourselves, but our modern life does not lend itself to that.  We're too busy making money, so that is what we give.  The Amish give what they have and that is themselves.  The men build the barn and the women prepare the food for the workers.  The older children may see to the horses or care for the younger children.  All contribute.  All feel a part of their community.


Father, may I be open to reaching out and giving of myself in ways I have not before.


Link to scripture:http://niv.scripturetext.com/luke/10-25.htm


*If you want to know more about "Ox-Cart Man" there is a Reading Rainbow program featuring this book.  The book is read at the 3:30 mark, but the whole program is worth watching if you enjoy seeing how we lived in the past:  Ox-Cart Man

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Scream

Ever feel the only way to express what you're feeling is to scream like in  Evard Munch's painting, "The Scream"?




I apparently do.....because this is how I woke myself and my husband this morning--a blood curdling scream!  I will spare you the sound effects to go along with the painting.


In the dream I was having at the time I was asking someone to explain why they'd done what they'd done and this person wasn't answering me.  I asked at least three times, each time saying "tell me quickly".  When this did not illicit a response, I screamed--for real.  My first thought upon waking was that the dream was about the other person's lack of response, but then I realized the reason the other person didn't answer is because I didn't have the words--it was my dream after all--I was supplying the dialogue for both parties.  It was clear to me then that I was expressing something I did not have words for and a scream would have to suffice.  Then I began to laugh.


All of my devotional readings this morning, interestingly, touched on this subject.  One talked of being satisfied, another silence, the third was on being preoccupied with analyzing the problem rather than just accepting the solution which brought more laughter since I could see myself so clearly in it. The last one was on living our lives more carefully and embracing the moments that really count. 


I don't want to be guilty of the third devotional's admonishment and analyze this too deeply, but I do need to make a point here.  Sometimes when we become uncomfortable with the Silence--when our questions and requests aren't answered--and we are feeling highly unsatisfied because of this--a scream, of sorts, is necessary.  But rather than a throat tightening sound (I had a sore throat afterwards) I suggest a throat opening sound instead--laughter.  The laughter I experienced right afterwards and then again later was much more cleansing and....satisfying.  Laughter is a way to embrace the moments that really count because its in those moments that we have let go and let live.  


Here's something to get you started:  Baby Laughing


Father, You are the author of laughter.  May I be open to You so that I will rejoice in times of silence.


Link to scripture:http://bible.cc/luke/6-21.htm

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Joy

I had another topic in mind for today's post, but then I saw this in today's morning paper:



I did not know this young lady or her family, but I was touched by what I read.  She was just 15 when she died last Saturday.  I noted she'd been named Hannah Joy and that she probably had her physical limitations at birth.  But when I read "unable to communicate" I found tears welling up in my eyes--the kind that make you feel like you're choking.  As I read on I knew I had to share this amazing young lady's life with others.  


Hannah Joy's brief life puts mine into perspective and I feel ashamed that I don't wake up with this realization every morning just by way of breathing and being able to turn over and speak to my husband....to be able to sit here and communicate my thoughts and feelings on this page....to be able to enJOY life and show it on my face with the perpetual smile Hannah Joy had despite the restrictions she was born with.  With all the advantages I've been given and all the accomplishments I can list my only hope is when the time comes to write my obituary my family will be able to say "She showed us how to love....."


Father, I still have much to learn when it comes to loving as You love.  May all that I do be motivated by Love.


Link to scripture:http://niv.scripturetext.com/1_john/4-11.htm

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter Beauty

We've hardly had any snow this winter so I've had to reach into my archives to get these photos from my winter garden:


 When the snow outlines the branches it highlights the intricacy of trees and bushes.  You begin to notice things you'd normally look past.


And then you notice the tracks in the snow.  I'm amazed at the traffic in our yard--a veritable crossroads for all manner of critters!


 The shadows from tall, leafless trees are more pronounced.


 And when we have an ice storm....well, my breath is taken away by the sheer beauty of it!


Father, there is so much beauty to behold if I will just take the time to notice.  May I keep my eyes and heart open to all that You are.  


Link to scripture:http://bible.cc/psalms/27-4.htm

Monday, January 23, 2012

Finding Rest in God

Working in the garden can be very tiring:




God encourages us to rest.  The Sabbath was given for man to rest.  The darkness that comes at the end of each day is meant for us to leave off work until we discovered a way to work around it with artificial light.  And winter was given so certain plants could rest deep in the ground preparing for the next season's growth.  Sometimes illness befalls us because our body is telling us it needs more rest than we're giving it.  But it is not only our bodies that need rest, but also our minds.  Do you ever take a mental vacation? It's hard to these days with so many ways to get input.  What would a mental vacation look like anyway?!  Then there's spiritual rest--not as in a vacation from, but as a relaxing into.  For me a way to achieve both a mental vacation and spiritual relaxation is to observe nature.  Whether it's a beautiful sunset off in the distance or a butterfly flitting close-by amongst the flowers I can find rest for any weariness I may be feeling.  Here's a video to get you started:


The Lord is My Shepherd

Father, thank you for the rest You provide in all circumstances.


Link to scripture:http://mlbible.com/matthew/11-28.htm

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Earthen Vessels

I have a collection of Williamsburg Pottery that I love because of the cobalt blue design.  I use the mugs for my morning coffee, 


the pitchers for iced tea and water, 


the vases for flowers in season, 


the jars to hold utensils, 


and the candlestick holder for candlelight. 



It occurred to me that God not only uses His earthen vessels--us--to provide nourishment and refreshment (the mugs and pitchers) to his creation but also to embody such things as beauty (the vase for flowers), skills (the jar for utensils), and truth (the candleholder for light).  We each have a purpose for our lives.  Some of us may have more than one purpose.  I use my pitchers to hold flowers sometimes.  The smaller jars have held sugar or butter when needed.   The candleholder, however, has only one purpose--to provide light.  It could be merely decorative like the flower vase, if I never choose to light the candle,  but it won't have fulfilled its real purpose.  


Whatever type of vessel God has made us to be or shown us what other ways in which we can serve Him, we must be as clay in His Hands so that His glory may be seen.  We mustn't refuse to be all He has designed us to be.


Father, may I lay aside the fears that keep me from realizing all that You mean for me to be.


Link to scripture:http://mlbible.com/2_corinthians/4-7.htm 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Daily Living Part II

"Let everything be a dance in which we create poise and grace."--Alan Cohen




My son, Matthew, took the above award-winning photo of Street Tango dancers while studying in Argentina during college several years ago.  The Tango, like many dances, draws people's attention.  


You can see why here: Street Tango - Buenos Aires

Wikipedia describes Tango in this way:  Tango dance is essentially walking with a partner and the music....  In tango canyengue the dancers share one axis, dance in a closed embrace, and with the legs relaxed and slightly bent. Tango canyengue uses body dissociation for the leading, walking with firm ground contact, and a permanent combination of on- and off-beat rhythm. Its main characteristics are its musicality and playfulness.... Dancing appropriately to the emotion and speed of a tango is extremely important to dancing tango. A good dancer is one who transmits a feeling of the music to the partner. Also, dancers generally keep their feet close to the floor as they walk, the ankles and knees brushing as one leg passes the other.

Argentine tango dancing relies heavily on improvisation; although certain patterns of movement have been codified by instructors over the years as a device to instruct dancers, there is no "basic step." One of the few constants across all Argentine tango dance styles is that the follower will usually be led to alternate feet. Another is that the follower rarely has his or her weight on both feet at the same time.

I think this is what Alan Cohen is trying to convey when he speaks of letting life be a dance.  We are to walk with God as our partner, in a close embrace, to the music of Love.  Our emotions play a big part in our enjoyment of the dance and adds to the playfulness God intends for us.  Our feet should remain close to the floor--grounded in God's word--so we can maintain our balance.  There are times we'll have to improvise along the way in order to keep up with the change in tempo and other little surprises.  And a good dancer transmits the feeling of the music to the people he/she partners on the dance floor.  "Although certain patterns of movement have been codified by instructors....as a device to instruct dancers, there is no 'basic step'" correlates to how God uses His Word to instruct us, but then does not want us to be legalistic--there is no "basic step" we must follow once we learn to do all things to the music of Love.  

Father, I love to dance!  Help me to relax into Your arms as You lead me around the dance floor.  

Link to scripture:http://bible.cc/psalms/149-3.htm    


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Daily Living

Karla Dornacher's book, "Savor This Moment" is packed full of lovely illustrations, scriptures, and thoughtful words on living in the moment.  Ms. Dornacher's clock, which graces the cover of her book, says it all:


This is what I hope this Blog will be--a place where people can come to receive uplifting reminders of what Alan Cohen ("Deep Breath of Life") calls, "...[making] our life a work of art by paying attention to the details of daily living."  He goes on to say, "Let everything be a dance in which we create poise and grace."


This is Karla's website:  Karla Dornacher


Her book is no longer available through her website but can still found here:  Amazon

Father, may I live each day that You give me with grace, joy, peace, and above all love.


Link to scripture:  http://bible.cc/philippians/4-8.htm

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gratitude

This is lovely praise song:  There is None Like You


There is a verse, however, that might cause some to take exception...."Suffering children are safe in Your arms." Whenever I encounter so seemingly blatant contradictions I feel a part of my heart shuttering.  We know there are children suffering everywhere and not safe at all!  So how can we sing a praise song to God that declares, "Your mercy flows like a river wide."  We might be able to justify the suffering of adults, but children.....?  Never!  


I have three sons that I tried to protect quite diligently....




....perhaps a little too much at times if you asked them.  It broke my heart whenever they were sick or hurt physically or emotionally.  I have to believe God weeps, too, whenever any of His children--especially the little ones--suffer.


When scripture speaks of being protected from all evil, it does not refer to acts of evil, but rather the Evil one.  God desires that none are lost to the Evil one and He moves Heaven and Earth to bring us to Him so that we will be protected for all eternity in His loving care.  We will all suffer in some way or another--some more than others--here on earth.  And just like my children learned lessons from some of their hurts (don't stand on arms of couches or you'll break your arm!) God uses our suffering to teach us the consequences of our actions.  But more than any of that He shows us our need of Him.  And once we realize this, gratitude will spring up from our hearts and we will be able to declare, "There is None Like You!"


Father, may I never forget that you are working all things for good.


Link to scripture:http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/17.htm

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Trust

Ever feel like you've been hung up by your ankles and left to fend for yourself?


If you're four, hanging upside down for a moment or two can be quite fun as evidenced by the photo.  (Note:  No children harmed in the making of this photo!)  But as we get older it doesn't feel much like fun anymore.  I think this is because somewhere along the way we've lost the sense of trust this little boy obviously has in his father.  It's understandable when it comes to people, because people don't always know what's best for us and they can make mistakes.....but our Father, God, does know what's best and He never makes a mistake.

Father, may I never forget Who's holding onto me when I feel my world's been turned upside down.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Childhood Fantasies

Do you remember trying to walk around in your father's or mother's shoes when you were a child?




Or be the mommy or the daddy when you played house?  Did you get into your mother's jewelry box, as I did, or sniff her perfume bottle?  Or did you play with your father's tools when he wasn't looking?  


My grandmother had a huge oak tree out at the road whose roots had grown up out of the ground around the base, creating little spaces that we kids imagined as rooms of a house.  And nearby there were bushes she'd trimmed to look like a chair and couch.  All these things helped us create our little fantasy world.  




Why do we try to emulate others anyway?  I think it's because they have something we desire.  As a child I desired to be my own person and not have to answer to anyone.  I wanted to grow up so I could be in charge of my life like adults seemed to be since they all had control over me.  Every adult reading this is smiling to themselves right now--we know better don't we.  We reached adulthood and found there are others to take our parents' place--employers, social groups we wished to belong to, spouses, and yes, even our children in some ways.  It's called Responsibility with a capital R.   Sometimes the roles we take on require us to answer to others.


But I've finally learned there's a way to do this without being pulled in every direction.  It's in abandoning yourSelf to/for God that you will maintain your integrity.  We only have to answer to One Person.  It's there we will be affirmed, or chastised for our benefit, if necessary.  It's there we'll receive the guidance we seek to navigate all the unchartered waters and unmarked trails.  It's the only Source we can truly trust so why seek elsewhere?


Father, open my heart so that I will keep to the Path you've prepared for me.


Link to scripture:http://bible.cc/psalms/119-105.htm

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hope

On this colorless January day I thought it would be nice to show what my garden looks like in the month of May.  



May is such a lovely month in my garden.  It's before the summer heat and lack of rain shrivel it and before the humidity brings out all the bugs to decimate what's left.  It's before the bold irises stop blooming and before the roses have finished their dazzling display.  Yet, despite what looms ahead, we gardeners will eagerly get on our hands and knees each Spring to clear out winter's debris and uncover signs of life poking through the cool soil.  We'll fertilize and water, then stand back and revel in the beauty we know will soon appear.  That is what Hope is for me.  It's getting on my hands and knees and doing the work needed long before I see any results.  It's trusting that something good will come forth...eventually.  And knowing that even if it's a bad summer and all my work seems for naught, I can trust that the perennials will come back next year and try again.


Father, may I always be about Your business of preparing the soil for the seed You provide.


Link to scripture:http://bible.cc/romans/12-12.htm

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Imagine Part II

Alan Cohen tells about the time he asked the waitress if he could have the garlic toast like the people at the next table.  She explained that it came with their dinner.  He asked if he could have it as a side order.  She said she didn't think it'd ever been done before.  I love his reply:  "Then perhaps this is our opportunity to change history and create a new destiny."  He got his garlic toast.


What I love about his reply is that it stands up to every argument made that starts with "But we've never done it that way".  I'm forever looking for new and different ways to arrange my house.  This is my dining room at the moment:




But it has also looked like this:




Yes, that is an entirely different room!  Sometimes I switch the living room with the dining room and I'm constantly rearranging furniture within a room.  This satisfies my need to see things in a new and fresh way.  Even as a child I remember lying on the floor looking up at the ceiling and imagining the room upside down where in my imagination I walked on the ceiling and saw things from that perspective.  I always felt there had to be more to life than I was able to see at any given moment.


God has given us our imaginations in order to move us along.  Too often we become stagnate in our thinking which presents itself as non-action which in itself is an action--the choosing not to change the way things are done even if we know things aren't the way they should be.  


Father, help me to see that when things are rearranged in my life You are showing me there is a better way.


Link to scripture:http://niv.scripturetext.com/james/1-2.htm

Friday, January 13, 2012

Imagine

Imagine:  form a mental image or concept of; believe (something unreal or untrue) to exist or be so.  This is the first definition in my on-line dictionary.  The original Latin meant "form an image of".  The fact that the definition now includes believing something unreal or untrue speaks to our cynicism I believe.  It seems we use our imagination to escape as much as we use it as the first step in bringing things into being.  And it doesn't help that scripture was translated to use it in a negative way--our imaginations can lead us astray!


John Lennon wrote a song called "Imagine" about his hope for world peace.  When we were in New York in June 2001 I took this photo in Central Park of the memorial to him:




John Lennon's lifestyle might be criticized and he was even considered an atheist, yet people still gravitate to his message of peace.  Why?  Because we have this God-shaped hole in our hearts that needs to be filled with the only kind of peace that can be obtained--Jesus Christ.   If we have His Holy Spirit, our imaginations have been redeemed and can be used in a positive way.  Imagining peace and love can go a long way in bringing them about because God works through our thoughts, for this is where our actions take root.  Scripture tells us how the world here on earth will end--it will not be in peace--but that doesn't mean we can't make a difference in someone's life right here right now so they will realize their need for Jesus, and they, too, can have the hole in their hearts filled.




Father, in surrendering my heart to You I can trust that my imagination will be used for good and not for escape.


Link to scripture:http://bible.cc/psalms/26-2.htm

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fear vs. Love Part II

I keep coming back to the theme of love vs. fear--you do what you do either from a place of fear or from a place of love.  Scripture says "Love casts out fear".  We all know how it feels to be fearful.  We can't escape it!  But we can choose not to live there.  Some do it by escaping reality altogether, or at least temporarily, by keeping overly busy or other society-approved ways.  But in doing so we're just prolonging the inevitable and in the process make it worse when we have to open the door to the fear that's camped out on our doorstep.   We find the thing has grown inordinately large, blocking our exit.  We feel as though we're standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon.  Even if you aren't afraid of heights it can be quite daunting!






This video (watch at your own risk!) shows the new Skywalk built 4,000 feet above the floor of the Canyon:


Grand Canyon Skywalk

I have to admit that just watching the video caused a tightness in my chest!

But if you've ever been to the Grand Canyon you also have seen it's beauty!  Breath-taking kind of beauty.  You experience an awe you may never have experienced before because of it's vastness.  


Grand Canyon Beauty

Father, may I quit looking down at my fears and instead look up into Your Love.


Link to scripture:http://bible.cc/1_john/4-18.htm

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

All God's Creatures Part II

Poetry and Gabriel were entertained again yesterday by Mr. Squirrel.  They were mesmerized by him.  I thought Gabriel would be jumping up and down barking, but he just stared.  




After awhile Poetry reached up to touch the glass when the squirrel turned.  




It's interesting to me because these three different species of animals who were merely separated by a thin sheet of glass were in seemingly peaceful accord.  


It makes me think about love and fear and how people interact.  When we have proper boundaries in place we can live amongst people different from ourselves.  The sheet of glass represents proper boundaries.  It isn't a wall that we can't see over or through where the other people are hidden from us.  When we can't see people we are more likely to imagine all sorts of threats.  But we need personal boundaries otherwise we begin to think they are us and we are them which can lead to forcing our beliefs and preferences onto each other.  Instead we need to be able to see people--really see them in an understanding way--yet maintain our own integrity.  We can only do this if we are secure in who we are--accepting and loving of ourselves--otherwise, we'll feel threatened. The wall we throw up will be made of bricks instead of glass.  Taking the analogy a step further, the glass is fragile and capable of being shattered.  This is the risk we take.  But it's not really a risk if we know we are in God's care.


Father, may I never doubt Your Love.


Link to scripture:http://kingjbible.com/ephesians/3-14.htm

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chickens

I love chickens!  There is a neighbor back behind us that has three that visit our yard from time to time.  Here they are in our front yard.




The brown one, I recently discovered, is named Henrietta.  She is the friendliest of the three.  When we were tearing up the lawn to put in the pea gravel the threesome would visit every day hoping to find bugs in the newly-turned earth.  When I'd find one as we sifted the rocks out of the dirt for the flower beds I'd call "Here, chick, chick, chick."  Henrietta would come running over to claim the grub I'd found.  Once she was down in the driveway which required her to run up several steps to get her treat.


I think I must love chickens because my grandmother kept chickens.  When I was a child in the 1950's we'd visit there often.  One of my favorite chores was collecting the eggs.  Here is a wonderful story about a rooster named Chickahominy: 
http://www.tashatudorandfamily.com/OdetoChickahominy.html


Another neighbor has a rooster.  I can attest to the fact that roosters do not confine their crowing to early morning hours.  They will find something to crow about any time of day.  But it does not disturb me.  I love it because I can imagine I'm back on Mamaw and Papaw's farm, and I am just a child enjoying the freedom of running about the farm, collecting eggs, romping with the kittens, or playing in the hayloft with my cousins.  


There's something to being "just a child".  God calls us to come to Him as a child---trusting and open to learning, fully embracing life without the weight of the world on our shoulders because His yoke is easy and his burden light.  


Father, thank you for the reminder that I am Your Child.


Link to scripture:http://bible.cc/matthew/18-3.htm

Monday, January 9, 2012

Be Still

I love this photo of my youngest son because it captures his essence:  Contemplative




It reminds me of one of my favorite songs by Evie Karlsson:


"Be Still"

Caroline Stephen, a 19th century Quaker, writes, "True inward quietness is...a state of stable equilibrium....the steadfastness of a single purpose....Perturbations and excitements belong to the comparatively superficial part of our nature.  In cleaving to the Centre (God) we cannot but be still; to be inwardly still is to be aware of the Centre.  The Centre means whatever is most unchangeable, most real, most truly important."  

In this morning's "Deep Breath of Life" Alan Cohen talks about the formula he uses to help him determine if the next step is the right one when he's trying to make a decision.  He says he has to feel both excited and scared about it.  He says, "If you're just excited and not afraid, there is no challenge, no stretching, no initiation; you are still in your safe zone, and growth is unavailable.  If you're just afraid, there is no positive motivation.  Why walk through a fear unless there is something you are walking toward?"  He says it's where excitement and fear intersect that you'll find your point of power.  He applied this to relationships, too.  It's at this point something clicked for me.


I realized that when we are first attracted to another person we have all the ingredients for growth--we're "designing" a relationship with someone new.  That's exciting.  The scary part is wanting to do the right thing to keep this person attracted to you.  Once you marry him/her, the scary part seems to go away--the unknown part.  Is it because we become too predictable to each other?  Do we not play a part in that when we put expectations on the other person?  Do we try to make them into little gods in our lives so that we can feel safe.  I think it's because we can't sustain scary for too long.  The thing is we will always fail each other because only God can be God--the Centre where we find our security--the only One Who is unchangeable.  The only One who is truly dependable.  There is much we can do to keep our people relationships fresh and exciting by allowing these relationships to be a place of growth rather than a "safe place" where nothing happens.  With God as our Centre we are freed to take risks with our heart.  This is where excitement and scary intersect!


Father, may only You be the One in my life whom I seek to be unchangeable.  May I allow/seek all others to be agents of change in my life as I am in theirs.


Link to scripture:http://bible.cc/mark/4-39.htm

Sunday, January 8, 2012

All God's Creatures

I put this bird feeder in the window next to my bed so that my cat, Poetry, could see it and be entertained.




As you can see it has her full attention!  Unfortunately, the squirrels have discovered it and that has captured my dog, Gabriel's, attention as well.




Being a terrier he's tenacious about wanting to get at that squirrel.  But that's not the only problem the squirrels create.  They knock a lot of the bird seed out of the feeder to the point I wonder if the birds get very much for themselves.  But then I discovered that it wasn't going to waste.  This is the view from the basement window just below the bedroom window.  




The neighbor's chickens have discovered this feast.  And Poetry has discovered another entertainment.




This whole sequence of events has made me think about how God uses everything in our lives--nothing goes to waste for those who love Him.  I may think my efforts aren't bearing fruit, but because I can't see what's happening just below the surface in someone's life doesn't mean something isn't happening.  That's not my business anyway.  God just calls me to be faithful in loving and doing good.  I'm to leave the outcome to Him.  Additionally, I must never be exclusive to whom I show love.  Squirrels are God's creatures, too!  


Father, may I never forget that You are working all things for good.


Link to scripture:http://scripturetext.com/romans/8-28.htm 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fear vs. Love

Have you ever noticed that you do what you do either out of fear or out of love?  If you pay attention you'll realize you can substitute the words fear/afraid for such words as upset, angry, distrust, hopeless, or sad.  Likewise, you can substitute the word love for words/thoughts such as hope, wonderful, happy.  Alan Cohen in "Deep Breath of Life" points out that, "Fear tells us that we are small, powerless, and separate.  Love affirms that we are great, creative, and connected."  In the photo below all three guys got on that water plume roller coaster because they loved the thrill of the ride.  But notice the two younger guys' faces when the ride became a little less predictable.


I don't think they stopped loving being on the ride, but they were caught unaware and suddenly it felt threatening.  They were restrained in their seats and so came through it unscathed.  In life, however, we are free to move about and that is when we get into trouble.  We say and do things that can be hurtful not only to ourselves but others as we try to defend/protect ourselves.  Love, on the other hand, that is rooted and grounded in God's love, gives us everything we need.  God does not restrain us (free will), but His love does constrain us to trust Him.  We are freed to be creative and giving rather than restricted and clutching.  Life will become an adventure where even when on the roller coaster of life we can let go and enjoy the thrill of just being alive.  Cohen asks, "Which voice do you choose to be your guide?"

Father, may I, in all things, put my trust in You.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wishy Washy

This is how I felt when I woke up this morning:




Believe me.  It wasn't a pretty sight.  That's why I'm letting my cat, Poetry, illustrate the point for me.  As I settled back into bed with my cup of coffee to read my daily devotionals one especially struck home to me and spoke to the mood I was in.  Alan Cohen in "Deep Breath of Life"  states, "Make a stand for your truth and your truth will take a stand for you."  It got me to thinking about all the things I'm wishy washy about.  That got me to thinking about my washing machine.....




.....how mine will tangle everything up.   After they go through the agitator the sheets will be long twists of rope which actually tie themselves into a knot!  Shirts will come out turned inside out.  Pants will be threaded through the legs of underwear.  In other words--wishy-washy--as in "limp, spiritless and indecisive"--in the sense the clothes no longer maintain some semblance of order!


I realized I need to take a stand for truth if I wanted the support I craved.  No one else can do that for me.  Too often I wait for affirmation or in some way depend on others to confirm for me that I'm doing the right thing.  I really must look only to God using all the resources He's given me--scripture, prayer, and His Holy Spirit.   He is my source, if I've given Him my whole heart, and just like the different cycles of my washer--wash, rinse, spin--He washes me from all sin, rinses away the residue (my guilt-ridden conscience), and squeezes out all the excess water (the things I depended on instead of Him) so that I can then dry in the warm sun and gentle breeze as He prepares me to be of use to Him.


video


Father, may Your Spirit be the wind beneath my wings.


Link to scripture:http://bible.cc/isaiah/40-31.htm

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Waiting for Me

This is Gabriel, my West Highland Terrier, waiting for me to come home.  As soon as he hears my car he comes to the front window to verify it's me.




Then he runs to the basement door and sticks his head through the cat door to wait for me to come up the stairs from the garage. 



This is why we love dogs, isn't it!  Their loyalty.  Their enthusiastic greeting.  Gabriel will follow me around the house and plop himself nearby.  If he awakens to find me gone, he'll go in search of me, usually holding one of his toys in his mouth as an offering--perhaps to apologize for falling asleep while on-guard?  If my feet are bare, he'll lick my toes.  And when I bend down to greet him, he always snuffles my ears and licks my face.  Such devotion!


I can't help but get a picture of how God must desire that kind of devotion from us.  Yes, I can see now why Gabriel came into my life.  He's my reminder that God is always seeking to have all of me.


Father, may I never forget that You desire my whole heart.


Link to scripture:http://bible.cc/matthew/22-37.htm

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sunrise





Another perfect day
As the Sun peeks over the hill
When life and love coincide
To broaden my heart
Where thoughts of Him abide


Father, may Your Love be shed abroad in my heart.


Link to scripture:http://bible.cc/romans/5-5.htm

Monday, January 2, 2012

Clean Slate



Do you have any of the above on your "slate" to worry about?  Perhaps you can even add to the list.  I found myself worrying over something rather insignificant yesterday.  I've just bought a used sofa that will need to be reupholstered, and I've never embarked on such an endeavor before.  I'm hoping it won't cost more than buying a used sofa that has already been reupholstered.  I'd found such a sofa last week, but it wasn't quite what I wanted.  I figured if I could find one cheap enough that fit the style I was looking for, I'd have the budget to choose my own fabric.  So I paid the $72 for a sofa at the Habitat for Humanity Restore store and left it there until I could arrange to have it delivered to an upholsterer.  But then I began to worry that maybe an upholsterer would cost more than I realized, and maybe I couldn't find a fabric I loved at the price I could afford.  When I realized I was beginning to fret about my decision to pay out the money before I had these questions answered, and  since it was a holiday weekend and I wouldn't be able to contact an upholsterer for a couple days....well, I had to make a decision.  Do I let this destroy my peace or do I let the matter go?  It was then I realized the worst-case scenario would be I re-donate the sofa to Habitat for Humanity.   There's always a solution waiting for every problem once we put it in perspective and the only perspective that matters is God's.  So I wiped my slate clean.




Alan Cohen in "Deep Breath of Life" says nothing in the past has any power over who we are now because we are not the same people we were because of each new experience we have.  He talks about wiping our slates clean proclaiming, "You are setting sail on a great adventure determined only by how grand you are willing to think.  This year think big thoughts to create miraculous results."


Father, may I remember to seek You first in all things.


Link to scripture:http://scripturetext.com/matthew/6-25.htm

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Prepare to Meet Thy God



I was just reading this morning these words by a renown preacher, "If we really believe that this might be the year of His return, we will be more ready to forgive, to seek forgiveness, and to share God's unconditional love with others."  But I see His return as right now.  Moment-by-moment Christ has returned in us.  The moment we receive the Holy Spirit, for us, He has already returned.  Today is the Day of the Lord.  But He has not been made visible to this world because too many of us have not "turned on" our lights.  The world is still groping about in the dark waiting for each of us to shine.  


I came across this YouTube video yesterday that is a perfect metaphor.  I love the snappy tune and the beautiful pictures.  Click on the "Bella Luna" link and it'll open up in a separate window so you can continue reading.


Bella Luna

Our earth's moon gives off no light of its own.  It is merely a reflection of the Sun's light, yet it is so highly regarded that songs are written about it, photographs are taken of it, and we speak of it with romantic language.  We are to the Son as the moon is to the Sun.  But too often our light is hidden behind clouds and like the moon we wax and wane according to our "moods"--those times that we forget who we are--reflections of God's love--His Son.   We're not our particular talents, our looks, our possessions.  Those things are like when people once believed the moon gave off its own light.  Those things are merely illusions, smoke screens, to our true selves.  


Father, may I never forget who I really am.


Link to scripture:http://scripturetext.com/matthew/5-14.htm