Friday, February 25, 2011

Reclaiming My Joy

I’ve spun starry-eyed and squealing this week; heart pounding, racingRoses and petalsphoto © 2008 Josep Lamesa Andreu | more info (via: Wylio)

Brushing away tears of joy

Rejoicing in the mighty work of His hands

And praising Him out loud

For the dreams coming full circle…one by blessed one

And all the while, the lion prowls, waiting

It’s the praising of our God that calls him out

Ready to dig into my joy, chip away at the blessing and grip it firm

A relentless attack

His daggers pierce and stab away at God’s good work

Casting worry, fear and doubt in its place

And I want to shout, fist pounding, “This is my blessing! The Lord gave it to me, and you can’t have it! You’re not going to steal my joy today – it’s not yours to take.”

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us

rejoice and be glad in it”. (Psalm 118:24) NIV

He goes for the biggest, brightest blessings

Those too big for a box

The brightest light in the darkest night

But I’m bruised and swelling from the enemy’s negative jabs

And I raise my head against it

Claim it and claim it strong!

My God is greater! My God is greater! My God is greater!

“Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your

name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will

be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you:

when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned;

neither shall the flame kindle upon you. For I am the LORD

your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” – Isaiah 43:1-3

Triumphant, the words go beneath the skin and I return to what I know is real

That I am a child of God – the God who does not author such fear, worry or doubt

The One who fills my soul with a love that covers all

And the joy is mine.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Peace

Child's Hands Holding White Rose for Peace Free Creative Commonsphoto © 2007 D. Sharon Pruitt | more info (via: Wylio)

I sink into the couch with my “One Thousand Gifts” open and waiting to be read and savored. The intoxicating aroma of fresh focaccia baking teases from the kitchen and I wrap the moment snug around me. I smile grateful that the hum of family confines itself upstairs for awhile and I read words that reach out and embrace – words written from one heart to another…and I wonder.

Have I found it yet? I mean, really found it?

Peace.

Not simple peace rationed, held on the tongue only to melt away when the pleasure’s gone, but true washed-in-the-blood, new-creation type peace; the God-breathed peace that bridges the deepest gaps and safely carries you across the widest channels. Float-on-the-breath-of-God peace.

The peace that considers the cost.

Sign of the crossphoto © 2010 Johan Hansson | more info (via: Wylio)

I speak of walking in the light of His Word, and confess that God is in control and my faith is in Him – but He went to the cross for so much more than words! It’s the faith lived out and learned when the rocks give way to the valley below and the ground beneath crumbles. Faith is the branch I reach for…and peace, the reward for knowing I can.

Have you found it yet?

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

(Romans 14:17-19) NIV

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

(John 14:27) NIV

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Mornings

Estonian Embassy Fireplacephoto © 2010 Ted | more info (via: Wylio)
The squeaky stairs announce to the rest of the house that I’m up and awake, heading for the coffee pot and fireplace. It’s the early hours that I love best before the house comes to life and words and demands clutter the air; with steam of fresh coffee swirling, the comfort of the fire and the welcome silence to keep me company as I plan out my day.

But, how good are my plans if I've truly given them to God? My lips speak prayers in the earlyWoman in blue dress sitting near fireplacephoto © 2008 George Eastman House | more info (via: Wylio)
darkness and the flames dance, but are they really from the heart? I ask Him to be Lord over my day, over all I do and say. I know what I'd like to accomplish, but how much room does that leave for His work in me when my Saturdays are all about accomplishing and checking off my tasks one by one, and that sense of satisfaction of a job well done at the end of the day?

The chimney smoke floats past the window and the clouds shift beyond the garden. A break in the storm and I inhale the few last precious moments of quiet before I set out to accomplish and do...whatever He asks me to.

Praying you spend the day in the light of His will.

Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may obey your precepts.

(Psalm 119:132-134) NIV





Friday, February 18, 2011

Jewels of Encouragement

Sparkles!  215/365photo © 2009 Amy | more info (via: Wylio)
Can you feel it? The excitement in the air? Regardless of all the yesterdays past, you’ve been granted another day – a whole new day to live to the fullest, to bring joy to your heart and to give back to others. The other good news? There’s hope and promise of even brighter days ahead! Reach out and grasp it not only with your hands but with your heart…and simply Praise the Lord!

"But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love..." (Psalm 33:18) NIV

One of the things I’m excited about is the birth of a new web site, and I’m honored to be a part of it. I hope you'll join me over at "Jewels of Encouragement."

Jewels of Encouragement

It's a wonderful new site sparkling with gifted writers and authors...and then there's....me :) I'll be posting there once a month.

Be encouraged today and know that you are not alone in your struggles. I'm praying for you. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and may all the "rocks" littered across your path become "Jewels of Encouragement!"

"God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
3Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride...
The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our Stronghold." (Psalm 46:1-3,7) NIV

God Bless you!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Arbor

Passion and rustphoto © 2008 Marc Opperman | more info (via: Wylio)
Today has been such a mixed bag of emotions. The highs and lows have taken me for a ride and I’m spent.

So, I head to my quiet place – my one little spot void of questions, issues of acceptance or denial, or anything remotely contrary. I walk the little brick path and open the gate and I find the answer to my spinning day.

There, twining and weaving toward the sun without a care is my passion vine, appropriately named. She’s meandering, stretching her graceful tendrils and wrapping them around the sturdy iron arbor. Though a few of her weaker strands stray like fly-away hair and wave with every slight breeze, the more mature ones cling to the strength found at the arbor. Instinctively, they rely and trust on the gentle bend and curve of the iron following its lead and finding security in what it’s designed to do. It’s the support of the arbor that gives direction and purpose to the vine and brings forth God-glorifying beauty as it blooms.

Sadly, some branches refuse the strength made available to them choosing instead to lie fallow, clumped around the base with no clear direction or distinction – it’s difficult to bloom from down there, I suppose.

Lord Jesus,

Help me to always cling to your strength. Help me to remember that without you, I’m that weak tendril waving in the breeze, going about life at my own will. Be that strength and support to those who need it today, I pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Whitfill Nurseryphoto © 2008 Dyanna | more info (via: Wylio)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Reasons to Shine

Candles fractaliusphoto © 2008 Janie Jones | more info (via: Wylio)
It’s now, at the third chapter of Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts,” that I’m prompted to begin my own list of blessings.

My mental list quickly fills with the vast range of all that’s claimed little pieces of my heart along this journey.

This life gifted me.

I’m thankful for the prompting to record such a thing, evidencing and acknowledging all that makes my heart sing.

Already, I’ve found how difficult it is to write words of thanks without joy bubbling up from within.

I’ve found just this past week as the Lord has been growing me, working in me as I’ve been encouraged, hopeful only to let the enemy answer my faith with whispered words of negativity. He’s built road blocks in my thinking and tried to steal joy that wasn’t his – joy planted by the hands of God.

But I’ve reclaimed the joy repeating “My God is greater…my God is greater…my God is greater…” Over and over the words flowed with the smile getting bigger, louder and a heart swelling happier with the praise. The words breathe joy in the waiting.

I uncover the blessing in the hope itself.

It’s the hope that moves dreams forward and fills a heart with thanks for the ones already received like an open box with ribbons tossed.

Won’t you join me in sharing from your list of one thousand gifts - one thousand reasons to shine?

#13 – Home

#20 – Holding my husband’s hand

#21 – Seeing my children smile

#37 – The smell of the ocean

#38 – Candlelight

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Heart of Praise

My Praise is a Weaponphoto © 2009 Rachel Solito | more info (via: Wylio)

I call on the only One who can unscramble my anxious thoughts and make sense of the collage forming behind my tired eyes. There's blessings abundant but the words run scarce these days, playing hide-and-seek…and I’m “it.”

But I will praise Him

The laundry, the dishes, the shuttling of kids and backpacks and packing suit and clothes for husband’s business trips, and thoughts for dinner and fitting in a treadmill workout leave me scrambling for something that doesn’t move – something solid and steady.

So, I will praise Him

That dream won’t write itself and the garden thirsty for love, the unopened mail within view, the dog hair shed on the stairway and “Look Mommy, I can write my name in the dust!” – there aren’t enough hours in the day.

But, there’s time to praise Him

Me, sometimes broken and weeping, words of worry, fear and doubt shake from my lips as thepraise the lordphoto © 2008 Keith Riley-Whittingham | more info (via: Wylio)
world around rages and swells up over my shoulders and I reach with my whole heart and just in time…He takes me by the hand

Brings me to the light once again

And I praise Him

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

(1 Peter 2:9) NIV

Monday, February 7, 2011

Humbled :)

FLORES CARAMELIZADAS ( FLOWERS WITH CARAMEL)photo © 2009 Jônatas Cunha | more info (via: Wylio)
I'm so excited! Take a look over to your right...yep! My blogger buddy, sweet Melody-Mae (http://melody-mae.blogspot.com/), surprised me with this oh-so-stylish award! Thank you so much!

So...as a recipient of this acknowledgment, I'm supposed to tell you 7 (somewhat interesting) things about myself that you may not otherwise know. So, here goes:
  1. I was raised in the small cowboy town of Oakhurst, California. I had 5 horses, a wonderful barn and all 4 seasons. My heart is still there even though I've been transplanted to SoCal. My husband and I hope to retire in a similar location someday.
  2. My husband and I met on a blind date and married 2 years later.
  3. I sing in church on Sundays with our worship team and work as the church secretary 4 days a week.
  4. For our 20th anniversary, I flew BY MYSELF to Paris to meet my husband (who was already there) for a romantic 5-6 day visit, AND attended a cooking class from Chef Eric Fraudeau. An event I will NEVER forget.
  5. I'm just a teensy tad bit OCD....but I'm working on it.
  6. I have an 18-year-old son, a 16-year-old daughter, a yellow lab named Sammy, a mini-dachshund named Willy, a couple finches, and a nasty old buzzard (a yellow-headed Amazon parrot) who screams and sings like Ethel Merman on steroids! He drives me crazy!!!!
  7. My very first ever writing piece I published was an article in our local paper back in the late '80s called "The Cowboy and Me." It's about the precious man who wandered into our camp site on horseback early one Saturday morning when we were camping. He was actually instrumental in our moving to the mountains a few years later. With that little publication milestone, I was hooked, bitten by the publishing bug, and then quickly published 3 short fiction stories in a children's small press magazine called Hob Nob.
So, that's 7 things already. Well, if you're not completely bored to tears, then I invite you to check out my personal testimony over at "His Voice Alone" http://hisvoicealone.com/?page_id=94

In keeping with the rules, here are the wonderful blogs I nominate:

Heidi and Kelli at Mothers on Mission http://www.mothersonmission.blogspot.com/
Trailing After God http://melindatodd.com/
Dawn Edmonson at The Feathered Nest http://the-feathered-nest.blogspot.com/
Allison Morrison @ Beautiful in Him http://allisonjonmorrison.blogspot.com/

You sweet ladies are who make blogging fun by your support and encouragement. As the body of Christ, we're to lift each other up, and you've certainly lifted me when I've needed it most. God Bless you!





Saturday, February 5, 2011

Forgiven

Free Purple Lilac Flowers and Converse All Stars Creative Commonsphoto © 2007 D. Sharon Pruitt | more info (via: Wylio)

The sun melted in spills of pink and orange, a ball deflated and spent beyond the ridge casting shadows that stretched like long fingers across the back lawn, and I settled inside, at peace with the opened gift of another day.

Thank you, Lord, I sigh. Thank you for home, family, good days and bad. Thank you for all we were able to accomplish today; the cooking, the cleaning, the straightening up and attempts at organizing of our lives.

All day long, I think “progress”. It feels good to get so much done.

But the Lord keeps saying “forgiveness”.

Forgiveness? Why forgiveness? I wrestle with the term over and over – my day hasn’t been about forgiveness.

But, it has, He reminds me gently…quietly.

He takes me back - way back before ironing husband’s shirts and walking young children to school; back to those few flailing years, fighting and clawing my way through young adulthood like a cat dripping wet and angry to swim; back when I ignored His voice and walked along my tight-rope alone going about life in selfish tangents. Back to a time of which I’m not proud. The memories, they sting and I turn my face away in disgust.

That’s when He closes the book – closes it for good, and lifts me out, brings me back to my full heart and the shadows that stretch even longer still until evening darkness erases them for another day.

I’m not there anymore.

I’m not her anymore.

My breathing returns and I emerge from the moment wiping tears, content with where we’reFree Cup of Coffee and Flowers at Daybreak Creative Commonsphoto © 2007 D. Sharon Pruitt | more info (via: Wylio)
going, glad with this forward motion of things.

About this precious man I’ve vowed to share all my tomorrows with. The one who’s held my hand for the birth of every grey hair and fine line; every rise and fall of life.

There had to be forgiveness along the way to receive the fullness of heart today. A forgiveness that melts away the sting of those early years much like that sunset…deflated and spent.

Thank you, God for your gift of forgiveness.

Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

(Isaiah 1:18) NIV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

(2 Corinthians 5:17) NIV

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Promise in the Wind

As Free As The Windphoto © 2009 Jody McNary | more info (via: Wylio)

Little splatters of sunlight filter through a constant stirring outside my window; the brisk tossing of branches that coax young limbs to dance. Their leaves flutter awake, scatter from the vine, shimmering proof of a long, tumultuous night spent at the mercy of the wind.

I heard it in the early hours. How the house moaned and creaked while my family lie sleeping. And there, in the dark, I thought of how the Lord protects His children; keeps them safe when turmoil sometimes looms so close.

There’s promise in the wind, don’t you think? Promise of God’s sustaining power. Love everlasting. The promise that though the current may stir and we strain against it, His Word will remain.

He’s above the wild twisting. Far greater and mightier than the fiercest thrashing blowing through your life right now.

Yes, even now.

Even you – your storm.

Even when you think His face has turned from yours and your prayers are scattered by His very breath….

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters ... they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God" (Isaiah 43:1-3).

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