For your weekend…

Before you settle in to watch the game…or get busy getting ready for next week…

GET OUTSIDE and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation this weekend!

Cut the grass, plant something beautiful for fall, rake the leaves, take a drive, or just take a photo of someone else doing all those things!! (grin)

 

No matter what else you do this weekend, take some time to enjoy the blessings of nature and remember to tell God, “THANK YOU!”

Grace & Peace!

 

Blueberry leaves

Blueberry leaves

maple leaves

maple leaves

acorn feast

acorn feast

Mexiacan Sage Blooms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What if you knew?

Everyone has questions.  Everyone.  I’ve had multiple discussions over the past few weeks centered around the future and what it holds.  In each of these discussions, much has been made about how many of us would like to know what is in our futures, but I question that.  What if we did know everything that was going to happen to us before it actually happened? If we could, would we really want to know the details? I’ve been spending some time on the topic and I wonder:

  • What possible good could come from knowing the difficulties we would face ahead of time?  While there are certainly things that could be given additional prep time, the majority of those difficulties would simply be enlarged by giving us time to dred them.
  • What joys of the present (both small and large!) would be swallowed up or ignored?
  • Would our foreknowledge of the good things that are to come minimize our joy and excitement upon their actual arrival?
  • Living life without a sense of anticipation?  I vote no!

I believe it is enough that GOD knows what will happen.  In fact, I’m grateful that His knowledge of all my days is complete.  The Psalmist knew the truth of this and he wrote the following:

“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.”  Psalm 139:16 (NKJV)

I’ve also made a few decisions for myself:

  • I’m going to give thanks today for all the things that I DO NOT know.
  • I’m going to give praise to the One who knows it all for allowing me the peace of mind that can only come from facing one day at a time.
  • I’m going to choose to rest in Him today, trusting that He’s provided all I need to tackle what He’s placed in front of me at the moment.
  • I’m choosing to rest.
  • I’m choosing to enjoy today and look forward to tomorrow…no matter what it holds.
  • I’m choosing to believe that the days already written for me are filled with joy and goodness…and God. And if I am wrong?  I will face that day when it comes…and I will face it with Him at my side and on my side.

Although there’s nothing we can do to change the actual circumstances that we will face, we are in control of the attitudes with which we face them.  Anyone can do this!  We just have to put our trust in the One who knows it all and loves us best.  What will you choose today?

“Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34 (HCSB)

Aloof?

I have three cats.  Three wonderful, funny, furry “children” who do not require funds for higher education.  That’s a good thing.

People have the idea that cats are aloof creatures…disdainful of human company and finicky.  Apparently my cats didn’t get the memo.

They are crazy creatures who think I exist to pet and treat and provide a comfortable place to nap.  In fact, I’m hard pressed to sit for more than a few moments before my lap is covered up in furry love.  When there isn’t room for all of them–and there never is!–one usually moves to the back of my chair and puts a paw out on my shoulder…just to keep me in place, you know.

I have one who believes I bought the ottoman for his own personal throne, one who thinks I can’t take a Sunday afternoon nap or change the sheets without company and one who is quite certain that I’m incapable of doing laundry without his assistance.  As I go through my day, I have constant company.  They seem to work on a rotation schedule…just in case I might feel the beginnings of loneliness or need assistance drawing my next breath.

I’ve learned a lot from my cats:

  • I’ve learned about how I need to draw close to God through every single detail of my life.A very relaxed cat named Jack
  • I’ve learned that although He doesn’t need me to accomplish His tasks, He really does enjoy it when I participate in them.
  • I’ve learned that He is my Provider…of all things…including treats and the occasionally needed correction. (grin)
  • I’ve learned that I am at my best when I am nearest to Him.
  • I’ve learned that being aloof in my relationship with Him is never in my best interest…and that people who choose that path are missing more than they can possibly imagine.
  • I’ve also learned not to take myself so seriously…and to take time out to relax every now and then.

I could do worse, I guess.  In the meantime, although I’ve got a list of chores that need doing, I think I’ll go take a cat nap! (and no, I couldn’t resist that one!  haha)

 

 

For your weekend…

On Sunday morning my teacher read 1 Thessalonians 4:11 out loud and asked the following question:  “What does it mean to live a quiet life?” and I, the one who has a blog based on this verse and a life goal of this verse–the one who thinks and writes about it almost every day (even if you don’t always get to read it)–remained silent.

I sat and listened.

I sat quietly and I smiled inside and I thought about how I once would have rushed in to answer that question and taken up all the words and how no one else would have been able to participate.  I sat there listening to good answers and being grateful for a God who doesn’t give up on us…a God who has the patience to out-wait us in all of our wrong-ness even in the pursuit of goodness.

Today, I opened up my email and found Tonia Peckover’s comments strangely familiar.  Among other gems, she wrote, “Perfectionism has a way of blinding the soul. I am terribly impatient with my humanity.”

(Read the rest of it over here?   http://www.studyinbrown.com/writing/2013/9/16/consider.html )

I can SO identify with this posting…this other sister blogger and child of God who is searching just like I am for a quieter life.  There are many things that we do not have in common, but the soul…the soul searching for God in the details is a much larger bond than many.

This brings me to the challenge for the weekend. (Yes, I know.  It’s a day early, but I have a very full schedule this week!  grin)  It’s an attitude check.  How’s your attitude these days?  What are you pursuing and what is your attitude while doing so?  Are you so focused on your goal that you can’t see the blessings on the way?  Are you missing out on people in search of things or are you so occupied with people and their opinions that you’ve become unable to proceed toward your goal?  There is a balance, you know.  Take some time out to find yours today.

We need you at your best because you’re the only you there is!

Grace & Peace!

“Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it.” ~Marianne Williamson (via Tonia Peckover)

Surprise?

Several years ago I was talking with friends and sharing some of the details of my life.  Apparently, I made the following statement as I did so:  “You can’t surprise God.”

Several weeks later, I received a call from one of the friends.  She told me that she’d been thinking about something I’d shared and she had a really big problem with it.  I asked her to continue.  Her response:  “You said that we can’t surprise God!  I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that!  I like the idea that I am free to make up my own mind and my own decisions on the spur of the moment.  I’m not sure I like the idea of a God who already knows how I’m going to think/decide/respond to things that I haven’t even had happen yet.”

I laughed.  (Yes, I know.  It probably wasn’t really nice of me to do that.)

I laughed because I knew just how she felt, but it didn’t change anything—and I told her that.  God DOES know…and frankly, that’s one of the things I find most comforting about Him.

I don’t serve a God who has to run through multiple options to help me choose the right thing at any given time.  I have a God who KNOWS.  I have a God who is already prepared for me and my questions, my concerns and my mis-steps.  Since He already knows the back story details and all of the future options I will face in addition to the current jumble of questions running through my mind, He doesn’t have to be delayed in His responses to me.  He can guide me in the way that He has chosen as best for me.

Oh, trust me, I’ve taken the other road often enough to know that He didn’t create automatons who are here to simply follow Him blindly.  I’ve also taken the right ones…even the uncomfortable right ones…enough to trust that He always has my best interest at heart.

As we talked I was reminded of all the times God had allowed me the time to process things that He already knew so that I would become more adept at reading His will.  I was reminded of all the ways I could see Him more clearly because I’ve had experience recognizing His fingerprints in my world and the almost neon-like road posts He places to guide us in the right directions.

I find that I am especially grateful for that today.  I need His answers and I love that He not only knows that, but that He’s prepared the very questions that I’m asking!  He’s molding my thought processes and He’s working to make me more like His Son.  He’s in control…and the best part of it all:  He does all of this because He loves me!

No, we can’t surprise God, but He’s in the business of surprising us all the time.  The next time you’re unsure of what you should do, ask Him to open your eyes to see all the ways He’s already prepared the right path ahead of you in order to make it easier in your future.  You just might be surprised at what YOU see!

Let me tell you a story…(part 1)

Dear Friends,

Once upon a time there were two people who lived a pretty good life together.  They had a plan…and more blessings than they could count.  They knew that they were graced to have good jobs and each other, as well.  God gave them a beautiful home…and then He said, “Move.”

They moved.  God gave them a beautiful place in the middle of nowhere and one of them got a new job, too. They lived pretty well in this beautiful new place.  It took both of them working to do so, but they were able to afford the life they lived and God was abundantly good to them.  They still had a plan…and it was good.

Through a series of strange events, the man was diagnosed with cancer.  The odds weren’t good.  God was.  The man survived and they lived to tell the tale of a God who lovingly provides for his people in amazing ways.

With cancer gone, the plan was resumed.  After all, it was a good plan.  Still, they weren’t completely satisfied.  They had issues…at work.  Knowing that they served a God of grace and answers, they prayed regularly and asked God for the following:  Please change the situation, the person in it, the situation around the person, etc…any variable they could think of, they included.

God listened and He responded.

One of the people lost their job.

Both of the people went into an immediate celebration mode.  Other people were stunned.  They couldn’t believe the response!  This was supposed to be taken more seriously!  One salary couldn’t possibly support the life they had!  How could these people be not only calm, but overjoyed?!

That’s an easy one:  because the people could see God’s hand at work!  It didn’t matter if it came packaged in an uncomfortable way.  GOD had answered their prayer…He was changing things!  In the process, He was changing THEM.

And then, God said, “Move.”  One of the people balked a bit.  It wasn’t part of their plan.  It took some time for her to get on board with the new plan, but they moved.  This time, there was only one job.  The people had lots of questions:  “One salary instead of two?  We’ve never done this before!  Are you absolutely sure, God?!  How can we possibly live on just half?!”  God smiled and said, “Yes.  I’m sure.  Now, move.”

God was good.  He was patient and kind…and firm.  He had other plans for them.

He had led them out of the fire into a different one.  Then He led them out of that fire into another one…but He never left them.  They lost count of the fires, but they never lost sight of God.  He stayed with them and walked with them and He held their hands and when they cried, He collected their tears in a bottle and He gave them laughter and He worked on them—because there was a LOT of work to do!  The people realized that their plan wasn’t God’s plan—after all, it was pretty evident that their plan wasn’t working.  It was equally evident that God had a different plan and that His was the best of all.

The people still have days when they look back at their plan and sometimes they’re still a little sad that it didn’t come true, but they are very aware that God’s ways are always best and that His very best is still yet to come…

And they lived happily ever after. (That’s fairy-tale for “God is always with them and that’s the best way to live.”)

“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze….

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:2, 18-19

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”  ~Robert Browning

For your weekend…

Gratitude has been a major theme for me this week. Perhaps it is because I’m facilitating another class on Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts or perhaps it is because I’ve yet to have a day when I haven’t received at least one email on the subject…or been swamped by  countless gifts of grace I’m aware of each and every day whether they make it to a list or not.

The attitude of gratitude is a wonderful gift all on by itself. Think about it: when was the last time you had a major conflict with a grateful person?!

As we’ve commemorated another anniversary of 9/11, we’ve all seen the footage of those brave first responders who ran into the danger instead of turning away and remaining safe. Lives are changed…saved…by that kind of heroism…every day.  We’re blessed to have those with such dedication and we should remember to express our appreciation whenever possible.

Actually, “Thank you!” isn’t a bad idea for more than just our brave men and women in uniform, our dedicated first responders or any number of other public servants. When was the last time you said “Thank you!” to your parents, a teacher, the person at the checkout line, the person who collects your money after you filled your tank with gas or brings your mail?

Well, the time has come! Take a moment or two this weekend and express your gratitude to someone who blesses your life by performing a usually unappreciated service…or by simply being! So many people have no idea how they have influenced us for good! Wouldn’t this be a great time to start letting them know? Who knows–you might find that you’ve done a bit of influencing of your own.

Just for fun, here are a few examples to get you started:

http://www.dailygood.org/story/178/11-amazing-thank-you-notes-from-famous-people-adrienne-crezo/

and if you’re still having a hard time being grateful, check out this:

http://www.dailygood.org/story/532/how-gratitude-can-help-you-through-hard-times-robert-emmons/

One of the many profound truths to be found in Voskamp’s book is the statement, “Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle.” She’s right. Gratitude opens doors…the doors of friendship, the doors of greater influence…doors that will lead us closer to who we were created to be.  It also opens the door to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God.  Yes, even HE likes to be told “Thank You!” once in awhile! (grin)

Who are you grateful for today? Write a note, bake some cookies, send some flowers, buy a balloon, perform a service in return–whatever!–but do it now. It is a fabulous day to be grateful!

Grace & Peace! (and lots and lots of gratitude!!)