Category Archives: Spiritual

What’s next?

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Our pastor just started teaching on the book of Job.

It’s a  book full of meaning and for me it’s full of precious lessons.

Years ago when I was 13 my dad was very sick.

He kept going to the Veteran’s hospital because they couldn’t seem to find out what was wrong.

It was 1990 and we’d just moved from California to Oregon.

I can tell you that wasn’t an ideal time to be from the Sunny State.

At least not where we were because a lot of families were suffering from job loss due to the Spotted Owl.

Mom was working every evening at a new job with a nearby school. We often came home to a cold empty house.

Dad came home on the weekends and on one of those I remember he prayed for our meal.

I’d only seen my dad cry once before.

I remembered so clearly. He’d told me someone he loved had died.

Later, I’d learned it was his first wife.

They’d been divorced for many many years, but she’d committed suicide and, understandably, it had hit him hard.

Now he was crying, praying, and he mentioned Job.

I remember he talked about how Job couldn’t understand the trials he was walking through and neither could my dad, but he was telling the Lord he would trust Him.

Dad did eventually get out of the hospital and he didn’t pass away until 1999.

Yet that prayer of my father’s impacted me.

At the time I didn’t have a clue about the book but I determined to read it.

I did and struggled.

At 13 it didn’t make sense.

What was going on that God would allow one terrible thing after another?

Who were these friends of Job’s?

Were they right?

I mean doing wrong things leads to ugly consequences…

Yet the end of the book was clear.

God is so much bigger and better and more aware of the details of life than we can truly understand.

And we can trust Him, even in the midst of terrible tragedy, pain, loss.

I remember thinking that must be what my dad was talking about when he was praying.

I’ve read Job many times since then.

I’m always encouraged by Job’s response to his tragedy:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Job 2:21

I’ve been through a few trials since I was 13.

My dad’s death in a freak accident is one of them.

My own struggle with illness and the reality of my own mortality is another.

Recently I’ve been praying for a friend whose experienced one tragedy after another this year.

We were chatting about all she’s gone through.

“It’s like, what’s next?”

I am sure Job felt the same way.

The fact is I don’t know what is next, nor does my friend.

Job didn’t know either.

He trusted God that no matter what.

I’m praying that for my friend.

No matter what is next, we can trust the LORD.

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New

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They’d never been there before. 

Sis had seen San Francisco only on movies and they were there together, walking into a brand new memory.

They were picking up some friends from the airport.

I was praying for them while they were away.

I enjoyed listening to all they saw and experienced when they came back.

I was happy for them.

Since this is their first year of marriage everything they do is a new.

As I pondered this another perspective dawned on me.

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ causes us to be new.

” Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17

Every single day is an opportunity for those who walk in Christ to walk in the newness of Jesus’ salvation.

Each day I am given the gift of another day to live as a child of God Almighty, resting in the comfort of Jesus’ salvation, while called to redeem the time.

If I look at each day as an opportunity.

If I truly understand how present the Lord is in my life.

If I trust Him as He deserves.

What a wonderful gift each day is!

How lovely, every day is a new!

Hungry

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I know,

I’m not a food photographer.

However, I was hungry when I sat down to this: my supper.

I was more than physically hungry.

I was spiritually hungry as well.

So, I read my Bible while pacifying my tummy.

I read the gospel of John.

To be exact I reread the section beginning just after Christ is raised till the end of the book.

It struck me.

Mary was far more than hungry for a glimpse of Jesus that morning at the tomb.

She must have felt bewildered, frightened, and possibly even desperate.

Her sorrow at the loss of her Lord was made even worse by what she thought was the theft of His body.

-sigh-

She sees the angels in the tomb and then turns to see Jesus Himself.

She failed to recognize Him, mistaking Him for the gardener.

At this I closed my eyes and prayed:

Lord, how often have I missed You in my every day? How often do I allow the circumstances which cause me sorrow and pain to distort my vision to the point of being blind to Your face? How might I change so I never again miss seeing You?”

-sigh-

“Because you have been using your eyes to look for Me. Look with your heart instead.”

Hunger subsided.

I felt my spirit overflow with the beauty of God’s truth.

I can choose to look for Christ in ever piece and bit of each day.

I can continue to hide His word in my heart. As I walk with Him I learn ever more Who He is.

I can lean on the Lord to fill even my most basic need and trust Him that He’s working even in the bleakness of wretchedness.

How great is our God!

May His name endure forever!

Jesus Christ, of Nazareth.

Unwanted

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This is Rose, our Golden Retriever and Grace our cat.

For some reason the cat wanted to snuggle the dog,

to love on the dog,

to rub herself back and forth under the dog’s nose.

This is a never before witnessed occurrence.

(Our cat isn’t known as a snuggly, lovable pet to put it nicely.)

Yet, here she was trying very hard to love the dog.

It was decidedly UNWANTED.

Rose put up with it, but didn’t like it at all.

How interesting to see so clear a picture of life’s circumstances.

How often have I been unwilling to experience the love of God through circumstances simply because it didn’t come in the form I wanted?

Rose loves to be petted and played with and snuggled by our daughter, but the cat, NO.

How often have I missed a blessing because it wasn’t packaged according to my personal comforts?

Honestly, I don’t know.

I do know God doesn’t love only one way.

He isn’t a vending machine Who waits for the list and then pumps out my requests.

He is all powerful and all knowing and He’s always working.

As I explain to my kids that I’m not going to give them the answers to their school work, because learning and growing in knowledge is effort, I know it doesn’t feel like I’m loving them, but I am.

How willing am I to search, study, and learn who God is through His Word?

Or do I just want the answers given to me so I can go on to other things?

I admit that sometimes I just want the answers.

This morning was one of those moments.

I have a full schedule and I don’t want to do any of it.

I’m trying not to focus on myself, but I keep finding my attitude degrading.

So I stopped and opened my Bible.

I’m in Psalms just now and this is what I read:

“I LOVE the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications,  Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:1 NKJV

It’s TRUE.

I love God because He has heard me, over and over and over and over and…

Yes, there are things which are unwanted.

But my prayers today are that it never happens that I’m unwilling to feel the love and blessings of God no matter the package He sends them in.

Up close

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The details.

The beauty.

The focus.

All those things are easier when I’m up close.

It’s easier to focus on God when I’m as near as possible.

It’s easier to see His beauty in nature and in people when I’m dwelling in His shadow.

It’s easier to see the details of life and how He is constantly changing evil into good and preserving us from even worse when I’m leaning into Him each day.

You see I’ve been struggling.

Our year has been filled with change.

And to be frank I’ve been morning.

I miss my school and the staff and the kids.

Although I’m rejoicing at the hand of God and all the good I’ve seen come from the changes, I’m sad sometimes.

I miss my daughter.

I love our son-in-law and watching them love each other.

I love the new family which has sprouted and is taking root.

But it’s not easy to let go and simply say “good bye! “.

I’m heart broken over changes in personal relationships.

I can see God’s hand and He told me they were coming.

He made it clear that He was allowing this change and I needed to step away.

But I’m watching my dear friend be hurt and I’m powerless to stop it.

I love and encourage as much as I can, but it has nothing to do with me and I am unable to bridge the gap between those people involved.

Because sometimes people choose things which cause pain and brokenness.

I’m scared.

At least I was, until God broke through the lie.

I was cowering with fear from the weight of homeschooling our three.

Until Jesus reminded me of the truth.

Their future is His responsibility.

Mine is to do what He tells me each moment.

Until I drew near, up close to Him with my fears, failures,  pain ,and loss I was pretty depressed.

Life had become tasteless and futile.

But I heard Him calling my name.

I learned from Adam and Eve, don’t hide when called, run towards Him with all my junk.

He embraced my heart and brought peace to my mind.

He revealed His truth and shattered my fear.

He reminded me that sin hurts and people will sin, but He heals and shall always be there to comfort and guide.

He pointed out that He is working and I was failing only because I was trying to do it myself.

An ant wasn’t designed to be an accountant and I wasn’t designed to strive on my own.

He brought me comfort and hope to mend my sad and morning heart.

And He’s still working.

As I have been leaning towards Jesus, doing all in my ability to get up close He has been faithful.

He has listened to my hurting, He has comforted my sorrow, He has guided me in my prayers.

And I can see the beauty, the details and my focus is on Him.

Growth

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This is a pumpkin plant in our garden.

Jase is holding the ruler because we are charting several plant’s growth this summer.

Yet, the idea of growth prompts me to look deeper.

How am I growing?

Have I allowed the Lord to water me today with His Word?

Are there any weeds in my heart which seek to choke out the seeds God has planted?

How do I tell the difference between a baby seed and a baby weed?

In the garden it normally takes a little time.

The same it true for my heart.

I have learned when I’m unsure if something is of the Lord I need to wait and not commit myself to it.

Prayer and patience have saved me from poor choices more than once.

A few days ago I was feeling tired and sad.

The garden of my heart seemed to be wilted.

I had sought the Lord in prayer, yet something was lacking.

I felt led to read Psalms.

I read and read, yet had not found the key to my need.

Psalm 139 was it.

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me.  You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139: 1-6 NKJV

Softly the truth of God, His love, His care, His understanding, renewed my strength.

I’m still growing with the Lord each day, and at times it feels fruitful and others it just hurts.

Yet, as I tend the plants in our garden I look to Jesus.

Dear God,

   Please continue to grow me in Your word and Your plan. Help me to recognize weeds and to uproot them. Show me where I’m lacking and please guide me in growth. I want to be a fruitful vine, yet I know it can only happen through You. Thank You for Your faithfulness, love, patience, and so much more. Thank You for never giving up on me. I love You.

Amen

Wild beauty

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The sound was loud.

The air was crisp.

The moment awe inspiring.

We had stopped here, because of need.

Yet, I was surprised to hear the kids had no memory of the place.

So, I decided to take the time and walk them up to the falls.

(Actually, I watched them run up the trail, I walked!)

This photograph is one of the places we stopped.

The falls are huge, and I couldn’t get a really good picture with my phone.

As we walked back down and I listened to the thunder of the water and the comments of awe from the kids it struck me.

God did this.

The only man made thing was the trail and the bridge.

Man only saw the beauty and built a way to share it with others.

God created the wonder.

Man can only stand in awe of the power and admire He’s creation.

Our pastor taught on Psalm 8 yesterday and it is so fitting.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars,
which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?”
Psalm 8:3-4

What a great God!

He created so much beauty and majesty and yet He loves us even more.

No tree or bird or mountain can say that the very breath of God caused them to have life.

Only mankind.

What an amazing and awesome God!