Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Taking a Break

Hello Friends,
For those of you who have been following this blog and reading my post, you may have noticed lately that I've had to re-post old pieces, or skip days that I normally blog.

Over the past year, I've been on a journey of putting all I have into my writing. As the year is coming full circle, I've become rather busy trying to make ideas come to life and earning a living at the same time.

Also during this year, I've had to learn discipline and how to manage my time. Some things simply have to be set aside for a season, and this is one of the things I've decided to set down. For now. At least for the summer while I build a new project and work toward making freelancing my main source of income.

I'll keep the blog up and running. Please feel free to revisit old post, I think the lessons are universal and never grow old.

I'd also love for you to visit my writing blog: Scribbles where I'll continue posting at least once a week on this years writing journey and what I'm learning along the way.

My new project can be found at In A Castle Faraway. My goal is to encourage a love of reading by offering parents and teachers ideas on how to make books come alive. I'll be introducing new children's books as I come across them, including an occasional novel and mid-level reader, and providing discussion questions, activities for free and for sale and author/illustrator information.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for visiting here, for reading and sharing with me. I appreciate you all. And I do hope to return to In Still Places sometime in the future.

God bless,
Jackie C.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday - John 10

A shepherd enters through the gate.

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him and the sheep hear his voice and come to him.

He calls hiw own sheep by name and leads them out.

After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice.

They won't follow a stranger;
they will run from him because
they don't recognize his voice.

John 10:2-5 (NLT)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday - Deuteronomy 32

He found him in the wilderness,
in an empty, windswept wasteland.

He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him,
guarding him as the apple of his eye.

He was like an eagle hovering over its nest,
overshadowing its young,

Then spreading its wings, lifting them into the air,
teaching them to fly.

God alone led him;
(Deuteronomy 32:10-11 MSG)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Still Reflections: Pruning


My fault, completely. I'd waited for the perfect weather. Waited for the spare time. Waited...for what I should have simply made time for.
Now one plant had completely dried up and withered away. The young basil would be next if I didn't intervene...and soon.

Leaves hung limp. Brown spots covered the yellowing ones. Dirt, hardened and caked, became unmanageable around the thinning stem.

This would be painful.


First I soaked the earthen pot in water to get the dirt loosened and workable again. Then, ever so slowly and carefully, I plucked off each damaged leaf, knowing to leave them would sap the plants limited strength. It would need all it had to disperse its roots into the ground I'd put it in.
Sweet basil scent tickled my nose, enticing taste-buds of delicious meals it would one day flavor. But not yet... Not these diseased, damaged leaves. Gloved hand opened, as crushed, pieces of possibilities fluttered into the trash bin.

Once done, it looked about as pathetic as my dogs on bath day, all scrawny and trembling in the breeze.

Exposed. Bare. Weak.
Finally, I set the fledgling plant into it's home in my garden, conditioning the dirt around it, readying the ground to receive its new occupant.

Then I hoped for the best.

It seemed a harsh way to treat a plant. And as I worked, thoughts struck me as they often do while gardening....

How many times have I neglected my spirit?
How many times have I put off tending to it?
How many times had God needed to come in and prune off the dead, ignored growth in my heart?
Doesn't my spirit need good, fertile ground to take root in? Doesn't it need frequent drinks of His holy presence to quench thirst? Doesn't it require a strong Light presence to build up strength?
How many times have I found God plucking away the damaged parts of me?
I've been left feeling exposed, bare, weak...

Yet, despite how harsh it feels at the time, His loving hands work diligently to set me back in firm ground so I can grow strong again and produce what I've been created to produce.

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers...Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

Monday, May 16, 2011

When We Hurt Eachother

Does anyone really mean to hurt another?

I suppose, when we hurt, sometimes we lash out at others in our hurt and anger.
But purposefully? With intention? Not when it's someone we love.

Yet, it's the ones we love the most that we tend to hurt the most.
Like angry words at a child when they break something valuable.
Perhaps its a spouse who's not measuring up.
Maybe it's simply taking advantage of someone, forgetting they have feelings, or that they have their own issues they are dealing with.
Or it could simply be letting someone down who put their trust in you.
I don't know why this happens. But the more we love someone, the worse it feels when the hurt comes.

We forget our own humanness. We forget that people are fallible. And the only thing or person of perfection is God himself.

How can we avoid being hurt?

I don't think we can. We are human, and as we've been given the gift of love, so much comes within the pretty package: hurt, guilt, joy, fulfillment, failure, and so much more. We hurt because we love, actually. I just don't think there's any getting around it.

C.S. Lewis wrote:
"To love at all is to be venerable. To love anything and your heart will be
wronged and possibly broken. If you want to make sure to keep it in tact, then
you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with
hobbies, attachments and little luxuries, and avoid all entanglements. Lock your
heart up in a safe place like a casket or a coffin of selfishness. But in that
casket, safe and dark and motionless and airless, your heart will change. And it
will not be broken. Instead, it will become ungrateful... impenetrable...
irredeemable.... The only place outside of heaven where you can be perfectly
safe from all the dangers of love, is hell."

I hurt a friend's heart. And mine is broken as well. I cried many tears when it happened, and I'm sure they did as well in one way or another.

God gave me that friend and trusted me with a precious heart and I got careless. And it would be easy to blow it off, to say "Well, I apologized and they need to forgive and get over it." But it's not that easy. Sometimes we forget what a priceless gift friends are. We forget the price Jesus paid for us. As humans, we forget each other's value.

I never meant any harm. I made a very bad choice. Unwise. I had thought a lot about it, but I don't think I prayed it through enough. Or perhaps at all. That's so important. Involving God in all we do, especially when it concerns others. It's easy to run ahead and forget to not take a step until you have a tight grip on His hand.

Then your left with a thousand broken pieces and you wonder if it's possible to clean up such a mess. A mess I myself have created. And I don't suppose all the brooms and dustpans, all the superglue in the world can fix it. So I turn to God and ask for His intervention.

Father, I've made a big mess and I need your help to clean it up!

I sit and think of all the things I could have done differently. It's strange how much clearer all the should have dones are in hindsight.

I pray that time will heal what's been broken. That God will step in and repair the damage I've so carelessly caused. I pray  for given another chance. And with that second chance, I'll take better care and remember what a gift friendship is. Something that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Father, teach us how to be good, solid friends. Help us remember to never forget what a precious treasure people are. We are all your children, and you love each and every one of us as if we were the only one on the face of the earth. Help us to value each other in that same way. Amen.


A repost from the archives, because some things are worth repeating.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Grime and Beauty

The price tag on the beat up old chair read $5. It had no seat. The wood was scratched, dirty, and banged up from misuse. 

I thought...
I can fix this. It just needs some sandpaper, stain, polish. A seat! 

Well, I thought I could. 

About half way through sanding, then adding new stain, I stopped. The wood now felt smooth to my touch. The grain... oh, the beauty!

And I wondered...
When we come to God, do we look like the worthless chair? Probably. 
Something the world has cast aside for trash. Yet He takes us and lovingly smooths down the rough places, cleans away the dirt and gives us a new finish. Or a new life. A new look. A new outlook. Soon, everything changes. 

Value. Appreciation. Appearance. Functionality. 

The chair did nothing. I did all the work. So does God. It's not by us cleaning ourselves up, but His skilled hand working in us. 

The chair...? Well, look for yourselves. 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Eph. 2:8-10 (NIV)

Monday, May 2, 2011

When Kindness Tumbles Out...

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Matt. 22:37-40

So much hangs on that word... Love. Love God with all you've got. Love your neighbor ...

I was reading in my Bible this morning. It's raining and I'm dragging about gettting out of bed. (Don't judge- lol).

As I flipped through the pages, a bookmark tumbled out, one I'd printed a few years back. The header read:

10 Ideas for Kindness

The bookmark came from a site http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/. It's still there, I just checked. Can't find the bookmarks, but there's lots of good stories and suggestions on ways to be kind. For instance, this week's suggestion is to be kind to someone you don't like. Humm... sounds like advice from the same person who said love God and love your neighbor. Didn't later he say, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you?"

Hummm... I think so.

So, the 10 Ideas, let me share them with you...

#1: Say hello
How hard is this sometimes? I'm a real introvert. It's hard, let me tell you. Yet, a simple smile and hello goes a long way when you're brave enough to do it. Such as calling or texting that friend or family member instead of waiting for them to text you. Yes? Yes.

#2: Visit a friend
This one isn't as hard. I enjoy hanging out with friends. Not real keen on visiting when they are sick, or down. Let's be honest here. Then it's kind of a drag. Or, how about visiting when you don't need something; like to pour out your frustrations, or to borrow something.
Like saying "hello" why is it so hard just to make the first move to appreciate someone? I don't know. I'd pull out my introvert card, but that excuse is getting kind of weak.

#3: Let another go first.
Yes, even on the highway when they cut infront of you. Instead of making rude gestures and shouting words only you and God can hear, will it really make us that much later to just let a few in? Yes, what they are doing is rude. Doesn't mean we need to sink to their level. And what about letting someone go in front of you that had a buggy full of groceries, instead of a few items? Wow, now thats a big one, J. That's asking too much. Yeah, maybe so. I'd be hard pressed to do it, too. But maybe, just once, you know? Just to see?

#4: Forgive mistakes
Ugh. Yet, aren't we commanded? Forgive to infintiy and beyond... basically. Forgive if we want to be forgiven. Ouch. Ugh. Drat.

#5: Share a smile
Easy peasy... unless I'm having a bad day. Better watch out then. My smile might look more like the Grinch's evil sneer as he planned to steal Whoville's Christmas. Just scary, people. But did you know, smiles, laughter and yawns are infectious? Try it sometime.

#6: Say hello
Hey, didn't we already cover this? Oh wait, maybe there's a reason it's posted twice. Think?

#7: Lend a hand
I'm hearing the song, "I'll be there, yah, yah, yah, you've got a friend..."  Okay, corney, I know. These things just pop in my head. I have no control.
This one... sometimes it's real easy. But when I'm pressed for time... well, that's another story. Or when you feel like you're being taken advantage of. Or when you're dry and have nothing left to give. Need to involve God, ask for help and wisdom. I do, anyways. Jesus didn't heal everyone he passed, only the one's God told him to. We need to be the same.

#8: Be tolerant
There's that push-button "T" word. Fact is, folks, everyone deserves a chance to get to heaven. We are all sinners, and have been seperated from God. And God has done everything possible to close the gap of that seperation. He's done it for everyone of his children. Every one. Love the way He loves. It's the only way.

#9: Offer a hug
Can I wear a sign, "Need a hug, here!!" I suppose to get hugs, you need to give them. When you give them, more often than not, you'll be hugged back, right? Right?

And the last one...
#10: Do an act of kindness every day.
Oh, if only we would. All of us. Everyday. Every day. One thing. Just one. It certainly won't make the world a worse place, right? Right?

Yeah, I don't think so.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Cor. 1:3-4

Father, help me to be a comfort, to show kindness, to have a giving heart in all things, every day, in many ways. Amen.

Be blessed,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday - Psalms 46

God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

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

though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake at their surging

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God
the holy place where the Most High dwells

God is within her, she will not fall
God will help her at break of day.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
He lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us
The God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see the works of the Lord.
Psalms 46:1-8

Monday, April 25, 2011

Keeping Balance in a Crazily Tilting World

"But I am afraid that just as Eve was decieved by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." 2 Cor. 11:3

Typical day. Get out of bed, spend a few quiet moments journaling, thinking - usually about what I'm going to do that day, along with the standard prayer "God, where do I need to be going?" Follow this by jumping into the shower, getting dressed, the kids off to school, then rolling up my sleeves to tackle that To Do list I diligently wrote out the night before.

Typical next day? Get out of bed. A few moments of quiet time. Thinking. Asking... "Where do I need to be going." Followed by the standard shower, shove the kids off and schedule tackling. Back to a "New and Improved" To Do list.

I keep asking the same question. Sometimes, I wonder, am I asking the right question, though.

Rushing from one task to another, do I miss what's really important? Do I miss out on hearing God in my haste? Do I miss out on gifts He drops during the day? Like the bird's morning songs? The beauty of sunlight beaming across the dining table? The smile of one of my kids as they head off to school?

I'm trying so hard to stay balanced in this crazy, tiltling world.

But am I simply living for the now? Here in This Moment? Stopping to listen? Stopping to see? Waiting to hear?

Or do I keep rushing ahead, searching, yearning, wanting.
Wanting when right here. Right now....

"Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro.

He bustles about, but only in vain,
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.

But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you."
Psalm 39:6-7 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wonderment Wednesdays

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Monday, April 18, 2011

When You're Eye to Eye With a Tuna

Be joyful always;
1 Thess. 5:16

When I got out of bed this morning, I wasn't too joyful. More like, overwhelmed and discouraged. As if I'd stepped out of bed into deep waters, I felt submerged in a sea of Way-To-Much-To-Do. My list of things I needed to accomplish flooded my heart, and as I walked around the house and saw how behind I was in taking care of things, I sank deeper into confusion and lack of direction. 

How do I let myself get to where I'm eye to eye with a tuna? 

pray continually;
1 Thess. 5:17

That's exactly what I began doing... praying. "Lord, how do I get all of this done? How do I focus my time, take care of my responsibilities, yet continue to do the task I need to do? 

When you ask, a way out begins to reveal itself. 
Normally, I look at my list and dive into it, then about mid-day, I wear down and it takes awhile to get myself going again. As I thought about my rhythm, I realized I'd do better working with myself, than against myself. Since I'm more creative in the morning, I should set that time aside for writing work. In the afternoon, when my mind gets groggy, its a prime time to get outside and work in the yard, or do some housework. Anything physical. 

This made so much sense, and I tried it today, finding it really did work. 

He doesn't leave us submerged for long. A hand always reaches down into the depths and pulls us back up. 

give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thess. 5:18

Soon as the doom and gloom hit me, I fought back. I grabbed my Gratitude journal and began to think of the gifts I'd seen lately. It's amazing, how once your eyes are focused on the good, everything else falls into focus as well. Joy returned. So did an eagerness to figure a way to get everything done. 

I wrote down all the things I've started, every project I want to do, every job that needs to be done and every writing piece I need to work on. It's like putting all your ducks in a row, so to speak. Now I know what I have. Now I can begin to break down how I will get it done. 

He pulled me out, spitting and sputtering, but I feel my breaths again. I'm back on solid ground. I can see a path, a way through. Of course it's there. It's always been there. 

No matter what you are faced with, start with counting the blessings. It clears your mind like a fresh wind clears away the clouds. Don't let discouragement keep you submerged in hopelessness. 

He loves you. He has good plans for you. If He is for you, none can stand against you. He will make a way. There is always a way through. 

Go ahead. Throw back your head and smile big. Let praises rise up with reckless abandon. He is good and worth to be praised. 

Be blessed, 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday: Habakkuk 3

Though the cherry trees don't blossom
and the strawberries don't ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
and the wheat fields stunted.

Though the sheep pens are sheepless
and the cattle barns empty,

I am singing joyful praises to God.

I am turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.

Counting on God's Rule to prevail,
I take heart and gain strength.

I run like a deer.

I feel like I'm king of the mountain!
Habakkuk 3:17-19 MSG

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday: Psalm 16

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places,

surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.

I have set the Lord always before me.

Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
 Psalm 16:5-8 (NIV)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Still Reflections- On The Road Again

(A re-post from the archives. One of my favorites!)

Staring out the backseat window of my friend Patty's Silverado truck, I half-listened to the conversation between her and our other friend, Dawn, about the need for first-hand research.

Dawn: "It would be fun to visit Connecticut, Patty, but we can't right now. We've just come from Minnesota. We need to go home."

Patty: "But in the Writing Authentic Historicals class, they said research is a very important. What better way to get the details right than to take a road trip over that way?"

I watched the white highway lines zoom past, ready to get home to my every day comfort, as well. The trip up to the conference and back had been such fun, but home beckoned.

Dawn (determination now steeling her voice)- "Maybe so, but we can't just head off to Connecticut. It's not anywhere near Texas."

At this point Patty turns to face Dawn, an eerie glint in her eyes like a toddler set on getting the last cookie from the jar placed on a high shelf. Then she says something I don't think I'll ever forget. With both hands firmly gripping the steering wheel, she stares transfixed at the winding road ahead and replies,
"I have four wheels and a tank of gas, what do you mean I can't go to Con-nec-ti-cut?"

Dawn's mouth drops, as well as my own. I swear that Patty meant it with all the sincerity of a boyscout . As long as she had a car, a tank of fuel and four inflated tires, what's to stop her?

Oh, but I wish I had such tenacity about plowing forward with my life.

We weren't meant to stand still. If we were, we'd sprout roots from our feet and grow leaves. No, God created us for the journey. He created us to run and not grow weary.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith... (Heb. 12:1-2)

Everybody is going somewhere...

Sometimes, the path is smooth and open. My feet meet the pavement like soft butter on warm toast. Everything is great. My joy explodes with each step. I have a song in my heart and a wave for every passing stranger.

Life couldn't be better!

Then other times, I stop dead in my tracks... breath, heart and stomach caught in my throat over what lays ahead.

In places like this I find myself gasping out fervent prayers for help, assistance, rescue. Yet, I venture on, steps cautious like a tight-rope walker. I see the road, though it's a bit unstable, perhaps flooded with worry and concerns.

And like David in Psalms, a cry escapes my lips, "For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you tossed me aside?" (Ps.43:2 NLT)

That's kind of how it feels when the road gets rough and I become unsure of where to go next.
Still, other times, I stare up in disbelief at the mountain ahead, wondering how will I ever make it over this obstacle. Faith needed to cast the mountain aside, has been cast aside at the sight of such insurmountable opposition.

But once I really look, and sometimes you have to look really, really hard...there it is...
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came
down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has
heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on
of those who wait for him. Isa. 64:3-4
There, my eyes locate a small narrow path winding its way past tight turns and steep uphill climbs. But it's there; a way over and to the other side. It's always been there. It will always be there.
Eyes must learn to focus on the small steps, not the giant leaps.
We are called to travel, to move forward, to continue the race set before us.
Despite how the path looks, how low, how obstructed, how high- He will not abandon.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Psalm 23:3-4

Father God, help me to walk boldly along the paths you have set before me. Help me to not look in trepidation at the obstacles that get in the way, but to always, always, always, keep my eyes focused on you. For you walk at my side. You hold my hand securely. You guide with gentle nudges. Keep me near. Keep me close. Amen.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday- Romans 5

Romans 5:1-5

Justified by FAITH
PEACE with God
Walking in GRACE
firm standing
Rejoice, Sing Praises, Dance with JoY
of the glory of GOD

Rejoice in Suffering
Suffering = Perseverance
Perseverance = Character
Character = HOPE

- does not disappoint
by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us....
(A repost)

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Candy Drawer

I don't know how many times I passed that drawer. Unaware.

And honestly, I didn't even care what was inside. Until I found out... what was inside.

My friend has a heart for giving. And she loves to host dinners and gatherings in her home. It's a modest home, but very comfortable. Big, plush chairs fill the living area. There are two dining tables. An open kitchen. Like I said, she has a heart for welcoming people in and making sure they enjoy their time there.

So one day, we had a church dinner at her house. Several of the guys were gathered around this drawer. At first I didn't think anything of it and went to sit in the living room. But then I heard it... that sound... that distinct sound a person makes when they've found something good.

First I heard the riiippp, crinkle, crinkle, crinkle... followed by mmmmmmm....

Intrigued, I had to go investigate. I'd never dreamed there was something good inside. Yet, it was there, all the same. When I rounded to corner to where the guys were gathered I found my husband there, his hands full of the goodness that drawer offered to anyone who would venture to open it up and reach inside.


And since that first discovery of this treat drawer, hardly a time has passed when I've seen it empty. It's almost always full with some delightful sweet.

This got me to thinking:
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11

How many blessings do we miss because we don't keep our eyes open to God's grace which abounds all around us? How many gifts do we walk past because we have our eyes on our lack? How many delights do we ignore because our eyes are focused on our own needs and not on the abundance God has provided?

It's there, just like the candy. But that candy doesn't hurl itself out of the drawer and smack me upside the head to get my attention. I have to look for it, open the drawer, reach in, riiipppp... crinkle, crinkle, crinkle... mmmmmm....

Oh yeah, it's there. Since I've began counting things I'm grateful for, my eyes have started to refocus, to see things they didn't see before. And the bounty is more mind-boggling than that candy drawer. Sometimes, the candy drawer is running low, or once, I believe, I actually did see it empty. But God's blessings... they never seem to end.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt. 6:33
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. 2 Peter 1:3
Everything I need can be found in Him. The gifts are there if you'll only look.

Be blessed,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday

God is King, robed and ruling, God is robed and surging with strength.

And yes, the world is firm, immovable, Your throne ever firm--you're Eternal!

Sea storms are up, God,
Sea storms wild and roaring,
Sea storms with thunderous breakers.

Stronger than wild sea storms,
Mightier than the sea-storm breakers
Mighty God rules from High Heaven.

What you say goes--it always has
"Beauty" and "Holy" mark your palace rule,
God to the very end of time.

Psalms 93
Photos from stormy Texas skies.
A repost from the archives. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

When Enough is Enough

I close the book and run my finger over the picture of hands holding a bird's nest. For the past three years I've been following Ann Voscamp's blog, A Holy Experience. For three years, her beautiful words have encouraged and inspired me to be thankful for the small things.

Then I got a copy of her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully. Since I began reading it, the word of giving thanks, even in the pain, has resounded all around me.

I heard it while on Retreat last week.

"Attitude is behind every action and reaction." said one speaker as she talked about how our attitude will make our break our lives. She gave three ways to have an attitude like Jesus had:
1. Having an attitude of gratitude- giving thanks in all circumstances.
2. Having an attitude of latitude- understanding that God loves us right where we are.
3. Having an attitude of fortitude- being courageous even in adversity.

2 Peter 1:3
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Everything we need...

The other day I got really angry with one of my kids. I mean furiously angry. First came the outburst, then the guilt. Why do I let myself get so bent out of shape? Not that my anger wasn't justified, but the outburst wasn't.

As I sat at my desk, seething with anger, I heard in my spirit, "Think of what you are grateful about this child."

I'll be honest, it was hard at first.
But I grabbed my little moleskin book, the one I've begun writing down gratitude gifts in, and found three great qualities about this (at the moment) very annoying child.

With each one I wrote out, the anger ebbed away like water into a parched ground. I began to breath again. My muscles relaxed. The only thing left was the guilt over having let my anger get the best of me.

Mistakes happen, right? But his grace is enough. Sufficient.

His love covers a multitude of sins.

He died that I might live. And learn. And move on.

First I had to forgive myself. He'd forgiven. It happened at the cross.

Jesus said "It's finished."

It was enough.

I have enough. The more I write down the gratitude gifts found around me, the more I realize just how much I have. Often, more than enough.

Be Blessed,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday: Zephaniah 3

Be glad and rejoice with all your heart....

The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save

He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.
Zeph. 3:14&17

How can we not fall utterly and completely in love with such a God as this?

Monday, March 14, 2011

When God Seems Small...

God starts with the small, the seemingly insignificant--

A garden and two people
     A boat and eight people
          An old guy and a barren women
               A shepherd boy
                    A babe born in a stable

And yet... God may start small... but he finishes BIG!!

The world is populated with those two people.
Then re-populated with those eight people.
A nation numbering the amount of the stars comes from the old guy and barren women.
A shepherd boy grows up to be a mighty king and unites a people.
A babe born in a manger grows up to save the world.

"Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby. Fill the air with song, you who've never experienced childbirth! You're ending up with far more children than all those childbearing women."

God says so!

Clear lots of ground for your tents!
Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big! Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep.

You're going to take over whole nations,
you're going to resettle abandoned cities.

Don't be afraid--you're not going to be embarrassed.

Don't hold back--you're not going to come up short.
Isaiah 54:1-4 MSG

Don't despise the day of small beginnings, the word says. How do you see yourself? As a tiny seed, hidden the the dark earth? That's all right. In time, you have the potential to be a mighty oak, strong against the winds and storms. Shelter. Food. Life!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday: Psalm 136

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever!

Give thanks to the God of gods,
His love endures forever!

Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
His love endures forever!

to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever

who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever

who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever,

who made the great lights--
His love endures forever

the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever

the moon and stars to govern the night
His love endures forever

with a mighty hand and outstretched arm
His love endures forever

to the One who remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever
and freed us from our enemies,
His love endures forever
and who give food to every creature,
His love endures forever

Give thanks to the God of Heaven,
His love endures forever

Psalm 136 (NIV)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday: Philippians 4:11-13

I have learned...
to be content...                  
whatever the circumstance.

I know what it is to be in need,
I know what is to have plenty.

I have learned the secret
of being content
 in any

whether well fed
or hungry,

whether living in plenty
or in want

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)

Monday, February 28, 2011

When life seems parched

The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
I will make rivers flow on barren heigths,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
the the parched ground into springs.
I will put in the desert
the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set pines in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,
so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
Isaiah 41:17-20

I woke up feeling down and discouraged. I get out of bed and go out to find chaos slung across my house. Grabbing a cup of coffee, I retreat to my quiet spot and pour out my heart to Him.
He is faithful to answer. As I pour out my hurts, and fear, His presence is right there beside me, dabbing up every last tear. Then his encouragement follows, pouring into the empty vessel I'd become. Showing me things I'd not seen. The beauty of a sunbeam even as it hits a dirty counter. The glorious colors of a sunrise as I look across my unkept yard. The wag of a tail and eyes full of love of the very dog who messed on the carpet. Yet it's there. Those things that cause smiles despite it all.

I’ve found God right here. Even in all this mess. And I’m going to choose to glorify him today. And I’m going to pour myself out into this home, my family, friends, and into the words I write.  I’m going to keep trying not to worry. He has my days. My hours. My minutes. I have no need to worry. I just need to keep pouring. Like the widow woman. She was down to her last bit of oil and flour, and she kept pouring out until she fed the whole town. That’s God. That’s what he does for us. We just have to keep pouring.

Be blessed,
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