Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bloom Anyway!

'red rose' photo (c) 2008, manuela marginean - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’ve written often from my gardener’s heart about the sad state of my little space, enduring yet another season of neglect. It seems distractions and obligations of life demand more of my time these days keeping me clear of the garden gate.

But this morning, as I survey the day from over the top of my coffee cup, through the haze of chimney smoke on the breeze, it’s the one lonely red rose that catches my eye. There, in the middle of disorder and struggle for life, it strikes me; the show of determination and unyielding to the environment of which the rose has no control. Like so many of us, the rose makes a choice and takes a stand; either fall victim to circumstances or rise above in strength and beautyall to the glory of the Creator of beauty itself.

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ (John 7:38) ESV

And the words whisper, but whisper strong - when everything around you is in disarray and your world screams chaos, bloom anyway! Tap into the one true source of living water – the well that never runs dry. Let it flow and nourish from within. Let it take over your own resources and complete you with unexplainable peace that you may be that one bright spot for Jesus.

My prayer for you today is that you’ll bloom for Jesus and bring the holy fragrance of His love to your world.

And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Rev. 21:6) ESV

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This Moment

'Still life' photo (c) 2011, Kajsa Hartig - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

You have something right now that you’ve never had before.

And you’ll never have it again…ever.

It’s this moment – this very moment in time.

How are you living it?

Are you talking your way through it? If so, what are you saying and to whom?

Are you even thinking about it…this gift of time? Are you praying it away? Considering how you’ll feel about it later? Are you using it for others? Who’s glorified by it?

Is worry stealing your moment?

Can you still be thankful for it?

Is your soul sleeping through it hoping to catch the next one?

Are you grumbling about it – another moment passing you by with no easy answers? Does it look like so many others before it with its jagged edges and sting of pain?

'Lanterns on deck.' photo (c) 2010, PV KS - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The moment owes you nothing.

Your happiness – true, God-breathed happiness is not up to this moment or the consequences surrounding it – it’s completely up to you; your choice, your decision.

Happiness.

The cards will tumble and foundations built on sand will slip out from beneath you. People will change, but God never will.

Jobs/careers will change, but God never will.

Your life, your home may change…

But how will all these things change you?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

(Hebrews 13:8) NIV

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

(Isaiah 26:3-4) ESV



Friday, October 21, 2011

Humble Beginnings

'Trumpet Vine' photo (c) 2010, norwichnuts - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I left work racing against the clock. So much to do and frustrated that the minutes seem to strap on their running shoes when my list is so full. Like a fresh horse straight out of the chute, I don my “Super-Mom” cape and head out.

  • Right away, a cell phone call from daughter.
  • Then off to the office supply store.
  • A quick stop in the sporting goods store.
  • Another phone call about an appointment for Monday.
  • Stop by and pick up a meal to bring to an elderly woman from our church. It was my assigned night and it was the least I could do. A quick thanks to God for providing hot soup, bread and fruit all under one roof.
  • Stop here.
  • Run in there.
  • Pick up daughter.
  • Drop off daughter.
  • Stop by the bank…

Stop by the bank - who knew a simple errand would stop me in the middle of my rush of things – slow my breathing to normal and shift my mind to more humble beginnings.

There, across the street from the bank parking lot, the same bank parking lot we’ve come in and out of for the past 23 years, stood our old apartment. I see it just about every week, but today, something clicked. The memories flip past like a slideshow and I breathe deep. I pass slowly by the meandering arbors smothered in masses of trumpet vine, their trunks gnarled and thick as they weave high above stone walkways.

I paused and stared pushing aside my to-do list for the moment just to absorb the feeling of true thankfulness.

'Rings' photo (c) 2007, Andrew Malone - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

We’d moved into the simple structure, my husband and I, only 3 months after we were pronounced husband and wife. We’d packed up our dreams for the future into a U-Haul truck and drove 4 hours away to our new home; away from family and all things familiar, to begin our new life together. It was there that we began laying the groundwork for today. It was there that our first marital spats pierced the heart, and there that the fine art of giving and receiving took place. We truly pinched pennies back then learning the limits of each dollar and each other. It was just the beginning of our “for better or for worse,” there where God chose to really knit our hearts together with a forever kind of love. It was there that our son was born and our lives were changed forever.

I paused again to look to the arbors remembering the cool breeze of fall mornings as a new mom with my son safely tucked in the stroller as we walked beneath the trumpet vine. The cherished memory of the day when we ventured down the street to the little shop where I bought him a blue hat.

I pulled out onto the street taking one more glance and I realized how God ordained this moment, too. I thought of how He wants me to revisit the early days and to never forget where I’ve been in order to be completely thankful for where I am.

I love how He uses the simple, ordinary moments to speak the loudest and reach the deepest parts of me.

I drive away humbled and thankful praising God for our very simple start – may He never let me forget.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

(Deuteronomy 8:2-3) NIV

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Living on Purpose (re-post)

'Coffee time' photo (c) 2007, Roger Price - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/There it is again; that voice, that finger wagging telling me I “can’t” do this, no matter how hard I try. Who am I to carry out such a task? Who do I think I am for dreaming so big – reaching for the highest star? Living my faith out loud? Negativity pushes hard sometimes, yells strong and wins me over all too often. I miss out on the blessings and sink in guilt instead. When God sets my feet on the track of His purpose, who am I to think He’ll make me walk it alone? Who am I to ever think I work towards anything… alone?

It is He…who plants the dream.

It is He…who strengthens me to accomplish it.

It is He…who gives me purpose.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

(Ephesians 4:11-13) NIV

Friday, October 14, 2011

When God Tells You to Jump

Sometimes I need to be reminded that only God can melt away the fear that so often inhibits me. It’s so much easier to stay stuck on all the reasons why I can’t do something rather than put myself, my ideas and my thoughts out there vulnerable and exposed to criticism.

Well, He’s certainly been faithful to melt away that fear these past weeks, which reminds me: I have a bit of an announcement to make!

I invite you to join me and our great group of contributors as we anticipate the release of

Christian Women’s Voice Magazine!

Watch our Facebook page for updates (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Christian-Womens-Voice/214000688666051) on the release date of our first issue. We're busy fitting all the pieces of the puzzle together to bring you, the reader, a great (print) magazine covering a variety of topics from frugal living to how we rely on God's presence throughout the many seasons of life. You'll find devotionals and straight-from-the-heart stories, treasures from the garden, recipes - even a fitness expert to help you tone and strengthen your spiritual health!

Join us and pray for us, if you would, as we strive to share the love of God by bringing encouragement and inspiration to His audience.

God's Blessings upon you today!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Matriarch

Definition of Matriarch: The mother and ruler of a family

or of her descendants; a ruler by maternal right.

'Forget-me-nots' photo (c) 2008, Elz - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I knew it would be the last time our eyes would meet. The last time I’d hold her hand, hear her speak my name. I wondered if all the years and the miles had somehow faded who I was to her. Did she remember all we shared…all she’d been to me?

But then her smile confirmed it; her wit and humor, even in her feeble frame with pink gown and rocking chair…the rise and fall of memories still breathing deep, still vivid and alive and my heart danced with her ice-blue eyes. The connection made – hearts embraced.

When the news came this week that she’d breathed her last and gone home to be with Jesus, the word “matriarch” chimed loud and strong, and I struggled with its meaning. The word, a sharp contrast to a beautiful, pure spirit lived out not in capital letters but with humble, simple words. A life without flourish – without pretense, yet in a sense, as a matriarch nonetheless. She held unspoken power, distinction, honor. A matriarch of a different nature, though Grandma would never own it.

'Backyard Butterfly' photo (c) 2009, diasparmrb - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

I have to believe that there are others like her; those who prefer the sidelines giving support to those on center stage. Those who aren’t about title, recognition or gain, living practically instead of radically.

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

(Titus 2:3-5) NIV

To me, “Matriarch” couldn’t be defined any better.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Memory of You

'Christmas Dinner Table Setting 01' photo (c) 2006, Barry Solow - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/


Three years later, and the memory of her still burns just as fresh today. Striking and poised, she sat alone with her silver-grey hair tucked beneath broad-rimmed hat and matching cape all in red sipping tea from a dainty, white cup. She occupied not a quiet corner table, but one in the middle of the candle-light and champagne glasses and bustling waiters in black.

It was our last night in Paris – our last night on the most romantic, whirl-wind trip that far exceeded even my dreams.

We’d come in out of the cold December rain and shook off coats and scarves at a quaint table in Angelina. My husband, handsome and ordering in rehearsed French, and I absorbing every finite detail of the moment. I sat breathing it all in; the flicker of candle-light through champagne glasses. The heady mingling of fragrances hanging heavy; French perfume, fine cuisine, romance and allure – a moment captured and savored on the tongue.

I want to be that for Jesus.

Someday, when I’ve gone home to be with Him, I want to be remembered as that woman sitting in the middle of the chaos, the noise and activity determined to be a light for Jesus. I want to shine for Him and to go about it confidently. While life is going on around me, I want others to see His light through me and know that it's meant for us all, not an exclusive few – and that His light pierces through the busiest, deepest, darkest places.

And it’s meant to shine through you.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

(Matthew 5:14-16) NIV

'Image026' photo (c) 2007, evilhayama - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Glory

'Through a glass darkly' photo (c) 2008, fotologic - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/


The rain started heavy this morning beating against the roof and filling the dark of early morning with sounds of renewal and rebirth – the glorious cleansing that makes all things new. The fresh scent, even before the light of day, drifted in through open window and dancing curtains; all proof of God’s power to summon the storm through darkness and light.

I thought about people who spend their lives much the same way; people who simply do, not looking for or needing the light to shine on their efforts.

A sharp contrast to those who compete for the light taking glory meant for the Lord to fulfill their empty pride.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

(Romans 8:28) NIV

We’re not competing if we’re truly for God. When our hearts are in line with His plan and purpose, we realize that ALL which is meant for His glory will indeed glorify HIM – it’s not FOR us to own. He’s already given so much – who am I to claim glory from the One who has already suffered and died for me?

The competition begins when we shift the focus FROM God to our own pride.

Still, the rain falls in both light and dark. It doesn’t need to be seen to have impact.

'350.365 Rain on Leaf' photo (c) 2011, Reilly Butler - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Courage to Fly – Part 6: “Share Your Journey with Others”

'Flowers' photo (c) 2010, Stuart Webster - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/


Final thoughts…

Sharing lessons learned along the way could be of great value to someone embarking on a similar journey. But what if after all the dreaming, planning, praying, researching, believing and sacrificing…you’re still on this side of the mountain? What if God’s timing has you frustrated and anxious about accomplishing all you’ve worked so hard for?

Remember that success is in the doing. It’s in the act of making that decision to move forward, and in the highs and lows of it all you learn more about yourself and more about the awesome power of the God who loves you like NO other. It’s in placing your complete trust in His plan, and finding rest in doing so.

Whatever knowledge you’ve gained along the way; whatever experiences have shaped you or your mindset, there’s bound to be someone standing at the starting gate of their dreams and goals who would benefit from your story. So, share the process. Share your prayers and share your praise for the giver of dreams!

If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God: (Deuteronomy 28:1-2) NIV


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