Monday, October 29, 2012

Mountains High and Valleys Low

It comes softly.  
       Stealing up on me like the best of moments.

This peace.  Not because everything is 'right' or 'good', but because 

He is here. 

And I feel the Peace settle around me.  A calm.  Though a storm may rage outside, within       I am still.

And I feel so thankful 

                             as I grow with the knowing

                                                        that life comes and goes, marked by seasons. 

As it ebbs and flows...

                   I come to know that few things remain constant, except the Love of a Savior.

Finally coming out from under a long night of winters, I feel the warmth of change. 

Unexpected new blooms in late October

And I know now, with a certainty I didn't have before the dark, 
                 that joy really does come in the morning. 

That the hard times, the valleys of this life, 
when walked with the Friend who sticks closer than a brother,
 they enlarge us as nothing else can. 

And when the journey takes us upwards again,  to scale the heights ~ we are so much more aware 

of all the beauty in this life. 

Our eyes are clearer, our hearing more acute. 

Our hearts, they have become fuller and yet emptier, too. 
We find more room to take in

                                 All the gifts...
                                                  we are given from His hand.

Every day. 
Every moment
New gifts to be oh-so-grateful for.

For this I am thankful.

Counting 1000 gifts today with Ann :

#109  Peace within

#110  Our first public Preview Service - a success! Thanks be to You, Lord! (and to the amazing team you continue to gather)

#111  New friends joining the journey as we plant

#112  Old friends joining, too :)

#113  Family movie night that actually entertained the WHOLE family (teenagers included)

#114  A generous family

#115  Elsa gifting her time and love each week to help me with the books.

#116  Silly girls playing dress up at Goodwill as we search for costumes

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever."

Growing Home

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Enjoying Life

I caught a beautiful sunrise this morning. Sitting on my back porch with a steaming cup of coffee and my Bible open wide, I read these words,

" Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.  Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—         this is the gift of God.  For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart." Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
How had I never seen this before?   I heard the call to enjoy this life God has given me.

This messy, imperfect, beautiful life he has gifted me with.
I'm taking God up on His promise to keep me 'occupied with joy in my heart'.

I figure if I'm going to start enjoying my life to the fullest, why not start now? This morning? And so I put aside all the pressing, to do something I'd enjoy. I must do this before the moments all pass me by.

I decided I would bake a recipe I'd been wanting to try.

Cinnamon Sugar Bread

You can find it here if you want to try it. I pinned it on pinterest with the intent of trying it 'one of those days' and here we are.

I had a helper with my task, making it even more enjoyable. Meet 2 year old Kate, complete with bed-head hair:

Around the time my assistant and I were measuring in the 3rd ingredient I began to realize that in my zest for enjoying my life  I had forgotten to check if I even had all the ingredients on hand needed to make this recipe...

Sugar? Uhmm. No.
Milk? I was out.
Cinnamon? Just a smidge.

So, you may be wondering how one makes Sugar Cinnamon Bread with no sugar or cinnamon...

We turn it into Hazelnut Pumpkin Spice Bread!  'Cuz that's how we roll.

I substituted the white sugar for the brown I did have, used pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon, and the milk? Well, mix up some water and Hazelnut Coffee-Mate and hello! You have a cup of white liquid that actually looks just like milk! Go figure. My baking assistant proclaimed it "tastes good", so there you have it folks.

Five minutes later, this bad boy is ready for the oven...


 I'm pretty sure that batter was finger-lickin' good, and Katie was happy to help clean the dishes...

And, are you ready?

Kate and I have eaten 5 slices between us, delicious. I'll save the remainder for the rest of the troops when they come home from school.

Wishing you a day of joy, rejoicing and enjoying the life God has blessed you with. It may not always have all the ingredients you are hoping for... but you have what you need to make something wonderful...

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

Standing at the kitchen sink, elbow deep in suds, I was surprised at my calm.

I could hear the hum of conversation behind the closed door beyond the hall. I knew the voice on the other end of the line was giving the news we'd expected but wern't looking forward to hearing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

He is at Work

"God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey." Philippians 2:13

Have you ever thought you could change someone else?

If you just tried hard enough... wanted it bad enough for them, somehow it would come about eventually.
I have. It's exhausting.    Mostly because it doesn't work, and all it does is leave us frustrated, resentful and ridden with anxiety. That alone should be a sure sign that we aren't doing it God's way.

Didn't Jesus tell us that if we took His yoke upon ourselves it would be an easy yolk... a light burden
But trying to change those around us is not easy, it's hard. And the burden of doing so is a heavy one.

             That's because it's not our job.

The process of transformation in each person is always, only the job of Jesus.  He is the Author of each person's faith, He alone is the perfecter. He alone is the one who began the good work in them, He alone will be the one faithful to complete it.

When we stand before him one day, it will be to answer for that which we ourselves have been given. Our life. Our days. Each will give an account for themselves.

Sometimes in our love for those around us we can mistake our anxiety for their spiritual growth as a mark of our spirituality, or our depth of caring. This is a wrong thinking. When the disciples were surrounded by stormy seas, they accused the Lord Jesus of not caring if they drowned. As if him being in a place of rest about the situation showed a lack of compassion or concern.   Jesus? Not caring, really?      He rebuked them for their fear and lack of faith. (Mark 4)

True spirituality is marked by our ability to entrust the care and growth of those we love into the loving hands of God. Our God, and theirs. 

Pray for them, in faith. Speak words of encouragement and life. Yes.
But let us not resort to 'helpful hints', manipulation by guilt, or any other fleshly means to accomplish the holy work of transformation in another soul. It is God's work.

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight."   Philippians 2:13 Amplified Version 

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What I'm Not

What defines you? Here are some things that do NOT define me:

I am not defined by....
        what kind of car I drive
         how much money is in my bank account
         or what people who don't really know me think about me

I am not defined by....
         how big or well decorated my home is
         how amazing of birthday parties I throw my children
         or what stores I shop at

I am not defined by....
         being the team mom for my kid's sport
         the size and shape of my body
         or what brand my jeans are, or purse is

No, these things do not define me.

(And sometimes I have to say it just like that. Big and Bold.  If only to myself. Regularly.)

And I try and remember then,  what DOES define me, according to God's measuring stick...

          How well I love others (John 13:35)
          How well I care for the widow and the orphan (James 1:27)
          How well I serve the least of my brethren (Matt 25:40)

Some people think that they are defined by how much knowledge that they have acquired, spiritual or otherwise.

 But it seems it really all comes down to how well you love.

Jesus commended those who loved with abandon. The woman who poured out the ointment on his feet, all of her best lavished on him with love.

Or the one whom they called sinner, who washed his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair, of whom Jesus said, "Her many sins have been forgiven - as her great love has shown."

Paul knew how easy it would be for the Christ-follower to get sidetracked, majoring on the minors,  forsaking the one command Jesus gave us:   Love. And love well.
He wrote in his letter to the church at Corinth:

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." 1 Corinthians 13

Can we say, like good ole' Forrest,  "I'm not a smart man. But I know what love is."

If we were to strive for this one thing only, to know what love is and do it well, we will have lived a very worthy life indeed.

Defined by love. His love for us. Our love for Him. Our love for others. Period.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Kiss

Relaxing in bed on a Sunday afternoon, half way between sleep and alertness... Too comfortable to even  open my eyes though I heard him come in and lie down beside me. His spontaneous kiss came as a surprise. Cool lips that met mine in a unexpected moment of affection. He promptly rolled over and went into his own slumber, the hours of his work week and the emptying of self this morning at the worship service finally catching up and culminating in the glorious Sunday afternoon nap.

I lay there awhile reflecting on that kiss. And the thought came:
    God likes it when we love Him like that.

Those unplanned moments of sheer affection.

Sure, He appreciates the methodical, daily devotions (I think, maybe not as much as we think He does?)
And the planned times of prayer.
But oh, how sweet are the times when out of a heart simply filled with love and joy, we attempt in our feeble human ways to show Him how much He means to us.

Sometimes I try too hard. Forgetting I was His Beloved long before I even knew His name, much less how to praise it's glory.
And He loves me still. As much as ever.
                       A love that runs like a powerful locomotive, a crazy furious storm over me.
                                    Again and again.

It's okay to enjoy this a bit. To take this truth in and hold it and be with it awhile and let it fill me.
To feel the joy of His love for me.
     It's like water to all the thirsty places inside me, longing to be filled again.
I find the most life-giving revelations I get are not the new ones,  it's the old ones that I've somehow managed to forget.

I'll never grow so old
That I won't need Your touch
I'll never be so strong
That it would ever be enough
I'll never be so sure
Or wise in my own eyes
That I won't humbly come and say,
"I will always need You here with me,
Every new day, each breath I breath.
There is never going to be
Anyone else for me.
Show me how to rest within Your arms
A peaceful place within the storm.
For every moment that I am with You
Feels like coming Home."

Beloved:  Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— for your love is more delightful than wine. Song of Songs 1:2

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