Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Flutist

She and the conductor emerged from a velvet drape and he led her to her chair. The flute she carried caught the stage lights and held them like diamonds against the black of her dress. She, a frail wisp of an angel sitting straight-backed and poised, and me, only wishing I possessed as much grace and determination.

my FLUTEphoto © 2005 Ken FUNAKOSHI | more info (via: Wylio)

flutephoto © 2005 Angela Thomas | more info (via: Wylio)

Sheet music.photo © 2008 Jon Bragg | more info (via: Wylio)
In an auditorium filled with attentive parents, she sat in a darkened world alone living life by ear and intuition - and grace of a loving God.

Though she possessed a gift very much her own, her voice, her dedication, her heart this night would be shared on the stage using a borrowed flute, as her beloved instruments had been recently stolen when her home was broken into. Thieves may have taken the tools by which to give voice to the song of her heart, but they failed to steal the true gift given of the Lord; a dedication to share a piece of herself, a bit of her world with the rest of it.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

(John 10:10) NIV

A woman, 75 years old and living several miles away, received news of the young girl and headed to the High School. She spoke with the principal there and informed him of God’s perfect timing; how she’d recently come across her own beloved flute given to her by her mother in 1949, and how she’d be honored if the sweet girl would take it, use it to once again share her voice, her dedication, her heart with others.

That’s how my God works! He plants the seed of dedication, sets the heart aflame with unwavering ambition and walks with us hand in hand through the twists and turns of the path. The many obstacles and challenges we face on the journey don’t change His plan for us - they only make us reach out to Him.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (1 Cor. 9:24-25) NIV

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let Me Pray for You

Friendsphoto © 2010 Hartwig HKD | more info (via: Wylio)
Heavenly Father, Creator of all and Giver of life,

I simply want to lift every reader of these words to you today. I pray for your precious child who woke up this morning still swimming in her desperate situation. I pray for those on their knees who’ve reached the end of their own strength who now pray to you as their first response…or as their last. I lift those who see no end in sight, no visible way of escaping the roof caving in on their hopes and dreams, crushing all they’ve worked and sacrificed for. I pray for those suffering unthinkable loss or hurt, enduring what seems an endless season of grief and pain.

I pray you’ll somehow reveal yourself, your love and your mercy to every hurting heart hungryBucket of Flowersphoto © 2008 Andy Gregorowicz | more info (via: Wylio)
for the comfort of your embrace. I pray for the momma fighting cold and sickness that she may find the healing she needs to be all you need her to be. Strengthen and encourage your children, I pray. Let each humble heart draw closer to you and may your precious love replace all feelings of doubt, emptiness, discouragement and sadness. And let us all find power in your precious name. Amen.

“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:23-25) NIV

Monday, March 21, 2011

No Limits!

He determines the number of the stars

And calls them each by name.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power;

His understanding has no limit.

The Lord sustains the humble

But casts the wicked to the ground.

(Psalm 147:4-6) NIV

The fire dances to the song of rain on the roof, and my soul settles. I welcome the peace and calm in knowing that “his understanding has no limit,” not just today – not just now, but forever.

Freesia in the Rainphoto © 2008 John Morgan | more info (via: Wylio)

The same One who numbered the stars and brings the rain knows all about what you’re going through. He knows the worry, the pain, the fear, even the contentment that fills your thoughts. He sees the road up ahead; all the sudden twists and turns, and he’s already figured out how to bless you. How to sustain you. How to be your comfort and strength.

He knows how your week is filling up one calendar square at a time, and He’s there ready to fill in the gaps, to stretch you and somehow make it all come together. Then, like all the other days, you’ll find rest. When your day of running against the clock and meeting demands and obligations comes to a close, He’s still there.

Laundry Dayphoto © 2008 Renee | more info (via: Wylio)
I try to remember that as I throw in one more load of laundry only to find yet another random sock hiding under the coffee table. There’s bread crumbs and smears of mustard on the counter, and a bathroom trash can heaping full, a couple hungry dogs and what’s that smell when I open the fridge? And there’s shoes blocking the stairway and I read the words “clean me” written across a dusty table…and I sigh...and smile. His understanding has no limit.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Narrow Path

Sometimes, the simple things speak the loudest.

Like the brand new baby snail I noticed yesterday morning schushing along the narrow strip of pond ledge in the back yard. Just one false move, a little slip up in either direction would prove catastrophic, I thought.

Snail_Macrophoto © 2009 David Stewart | more info (via: Wylio)

Honestly, snails never last long once discovered anywhere near my plants, but I took pity on the poor thing and stood watching the huge life analogy playing out before me.

We’re all on that ledge, don’t you think? We could either tumble to uncertain terrain below and take the bumps and bruises. OR, plunge in over our heads to the lonely depths of sin and darkness.

It’s walking that narrow ledge that takes perfecting. The space between the obstacles that always leads us onward and safely home - the narrow path of righteousness

I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst

of the paths of judgment (Proverbs 8:20) KJV

Lord Jesus,

I pray and ask that you set my feet on the path of Your perfect will. Be in my decisions and choices that affect my life and the lives of those around me, that I may glorify You in all I strive to do. Thank you for simply providing the path between the obstacles and for the times You’ve saved me from the fall.

Amen.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Provision

Bowl and sticksphoto © 2008 Simon Peckham | more info (via: Wylio)
Dinner sits on the stove…waiting. God’s provision handed over to bellies already full with life abundant while those a world away also wait…a different kind of hunger shadows the face of the suffering.

How often do I take for granted the offering? Blind eyes always searching above the gifts seeking something more. Something different in the many folds and layers of grace.

Why do I complicate the blessing – take what is given only to second guess and question both myself and the Giver; yet still He blesses me.


"Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea..."

Psalm 46:2 (NIV)

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

(James 4:13-15) NIV





Monday, March 14, 2011

My Prayer for You Today

For each precious child of God reading this right now:

You are precious, you knowMagnolia Tree (250+ years old)photo © 2009 Jody McNary | more info (via: Wylio)

And as you begin this new week

May you step out in unexplainable faith

Let He who knows you best

Be your confidence

Be your strength

The positive force at work within

Let negative thoughts and apprehensions

Fall on deaf ears, and silence the enemy

May you live your faith out loud

That His love for you might witness to a dark and hurting world

Magnolia Warblerphoto © 2007 Dave Fletcher | more info (via: Wylio)
May you find strength in your Creator

And may He alone lift you up and draw you forward in life

Toward fulfilling dreams, goals…His purposes for you

Stand firm on the confidence and promise

That the burden – the control – is His to bare

Not yours

And may you keep your eyes to the Heavens

And a heart full of love for Him

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

(Isaiah 41:1) NIV

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.

(1 Corinthians 16:13) NIV

Friday, March 11, 2011

Running TO or FROM (re-post)

Drowning in sunlightphoto © 2008 David Masters | more info (via: Wylio)
Streaks of dappled light spilled like warm honey across the seat cushions luring me to enjoy a moment or two at my favorite spot on the back patio. I sat drinking in the warmth of sunlight watching my goldfish in the little patio “pond” darting in and out of leaf shadows.

I closed my eyes truly thankful, savoring the moment; this very moment, a pause in the rush, a wonderful break in the hurry of things to enjoy the gift of true peace.

It seems, for so many of us, life easily becomes all about the running. The hurry up, let’s go. Running late. Running behind. Running here and there.

Have you ever wondered….

I mean really considered….

Just what you’re running TO….or FROM?

Reading In The Sunlightphoto © 2008 Garry Knight | more info (via: Wylio)

Are we really pursuing God’s heart if we tangle up our days with so many commitments and burdens? Could we be adding to the chaos sometimes, maybe purposely running from the quiet, because when it all stops spinning and we’re left with our own sin staring us in the face…the silence of it all would be too much to bear?

Or, can we honestly say we’re running to the throne of grace; to the Father ready to embrace our past, present and future - the One who wants us to stop the running and find true rest in Him?

What are you running from or to today?

-*-

Slow me down, Lord!
Ease the pounding of my heart
By the quieting of my mind.
Steady my harried pace
With a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Give me, dmidst the confusions of my day,
The calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of my nerves
With the soothing music of the sighing streams
That live in my memory.
Help me to know
The magical restoring power of sleep.

Teach me the art
Of taking minute vacations of slowing down to look at a flower;
To chat with an old friend or to make a new one;
To pat a stray dog,
To watch a spider build a web;
To smile at a child;
Or to read a few lines from a good book.

Remind me each day
That the race is not always to the swift;
That there is more to life than increasing its speed.
Let me look upward
Into the branches of the towering oak
And know that it grew slowly and well.

Slow me down, Lord,
And inspire me to send my roots deep
Into the soil of life’s enduring values
That I may grow toward the stars
Of my great destiny.

—– prayer by Wilferd A. Peterson

Thank you for allowing me to share this once again. Seems so fitting for many of us these days.

God Bless!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Humble Praise

Window and Flowersphoto © 2007 Sukanto Debnath | more info (via: Wylio)
Such a good kind of tired as the day comes to a close and night rains down. The words struggle to find their place; there are so many, merging down a single-lane road, yet it’s “humble” that takes the lead.

Yes, humble praise flows from my lips, from tears when I think of all the glorious ways He’s blessed me. My praises, whispered and joy-cried out, well up from within and bubble into “Why me, God? Why are You so good to me?”

Then, just when my words run out, I read the thoughts of Ann Voskamp at “A Holy Experience.” She sums it up beautifully. May her beautiful words bless you today:

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2011/03/and-whatever-you-do/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+HolyExperience+(Holy+Experience)

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'd Like You to Meet "Keeper of the Past"

I’m taking a minute to share another tiny little “stepping stone” with you.

My first attempts at assembling the little batch of characters in my head into book form began over 20 years ago. It’s evolved over time, over marriage, children, and the stuff of life. It turns out, the main character in my story is much younger than when I first “met” her, and the plot is nothing like I first imagined.

It’s now become a real story with a beginning, middle and end (I think it wants to be a series, but that’s going to take a bit more prayer). AND, the good news??? I’ve published it in ebook form (a PDF available for download - check out the box on the left).

KEEPER OF THE PAST

Rock Gardensphoto © 2008 Neil | more info (via: Wylio)
There’s an elusive widow woman “with wiry gray hair all askew this way and that…” who has the townspeople of Faith’s Corner on edge. Who can she be? 12-year-old CAYLYN WEATHERBY and her best friend, MARGO STATHAM, are determined to find out.

“Keeper of the Past” is set in 1940s Vermont where Caylyn and her parents are recent inheritors of the family business, the Weatherby Family Inn. When items begin disappearing from local merchants, the town gossip, ALMA GUNTHER, spreads her suspicions about an old woman who allegedly lives in the woods behind the inn. It doesn’t take long after Caylyn receives a mysterious empty envelope and finds someone lurking in the woods that she and Margo brave the dark and eerie forest in search of answers…only to end up with more questions. You’ll be just as surprised as Caylyn to find out who’s really living in the forest! As she tries to solve the mystery, it becomes quite clear that “the mystery” is pursuing her!

-*-

It’s in a very basic form; no frills and no images, as it’s my very first ebook project. But, my main goal is to get wholesome, happy, Christian material in the hands of middle-grade readers who crave something other than the oftentimes less-than-holy assortment in the market today.

So, I'm praising God today for the dreams He ignites within me and for the daily strength I find in Him to step out in that faith. Once again, He humbles me.

“Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.” (Psalm 105:1-2) NIV

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rejoice With Me!

Sand Dollars and Shellsphoto © 2007 Scot Campbell | more info (via: Wylio)
We crossed the border into Mexico beneath a bright summer sun - seems so long ago now. My wedding ring still felt new around my finger, and I was just getting the hang of writing my brand new name on checks. But life was good. Time was on our side back then; nothing but the wide future ahead of us as we strolled barefoot, care-free and in love along the beaches of San Felipe and beyond.

We spent the weekend eating fish tacos and collecting little treasures of the sea and surrounding culture.

We took refuge from the heat in relaxing whicker chairs beneath the lazy ceiling fans; the perfect spot to sit and enjoy the view of the sea lapping the shoreline as ocean breezes fluttered across the shiny, tiled floor.

That’s when I remembered the little bag I’d packed for such a moment; the one brimming with various books, magazines, paper and pen. It was there on the veranda, so far from home and anything familiar, that I first discovered the allure of Victoria Magazine.

I melted into each beautifully-written article, captivated by the amazing photography and illustrations; the inviting way it managed to capture the elegance and charm of the romantic era. I was an instant fan and immediately ordered a subscription when we returned home.

With all the issues since, never did I once even venture to imagine my own random thoughts, words sometimes pieced together and strung like an awkward paper chain, would ever find their way among its pages.

Yet somehow, by the strength and grace of my loving God, (and encouragement from Dawn Edmonson of “The Feathered Nest” http://the-feathered-nest.blogspot.com/ ), I took that deep breath, composed and submitted a brand new "paper chain,” of sorts…..

And prayed.

And prayed some more.

Then, just when the Lord got tired of hearing me whine/beg for an acceptance of my article, He answered my prayers in a big way!

I’m so happy, excited, blessed, honored, humbled, bouncing off the ceiling with joy to share with you, my sweet friends, that the wonderful people of Victoria Magazine have agreed to publish my article/essay in a future issue!!!!

I’m praising God today for allowing us to dream, and for being our strength when we dare to step out on that narrow ledge. He is SO good ALL the time, even in our waiting, our longing, our dreaming of “what if…?”

Thank you for allowing me to share my praises with you. Thank you even more for sharing in the journey.


For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD,

my confidence since my youth. (Psalm 71:5) NIV


I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;

therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:24) NIV

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Striving to Bloom

Rain drops on Alchemilla Mollisphoto © 2009 jillyspoon | more info (via: Wylio)
The garden blooms blue-gray, the color of rain. Foliage bubbles with tears of joy savoring, drinking in morning showers clear to the roots.

As a sweet friend shared recently, it seems as though my garden reflects my state of mind – state of my heart and well being. And she’s right. An extension of my soul, it lies beyond the gate struggling through soil and weeds, standing defiant against tossing winds and determined to bloom, to bring glory...God-pleasing glory.

Aren’t we all just striving to bloom?

To grow and flourish where we're planted...despite the elements, the disappointments and dry spells?

The praises are there, breathing shallow these days, buried beneath the rubble of my mind and tangled upAfter the rain, drops on a backlit Rhodiephoto © 2010 Christine | more info (via: Wylio)
in the forcing of round words through square holes. The dishes in the sink, the dinner yet to be, dirty socks tossed by the door, the guilt and self-inflicted pressures of clearing the hurdles one at a time. Yet, once again, I'm shown His strength in my weakness:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) NIV



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