Peaceful Pasture

 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:26-27

What a month.

We had to cut a visit with family short so we could return to a broken refrigerator full of rotten food and water pooling on the floor as said fridge defrosted.

A green swimming pool…been battling that for over 2 weeks now.

Dad’s cancer is back…and firmly placed in God’s hands…and Mom has a blood clot in her legs. (What a pair, right?)

Camping in 107 degree weather and returning to find our daughter polka-dotted. What I thought may have been poison ivy turned out to be chickenpox. Chickenpox?! Yep, less than 2% of the population who are vaccinated for chickenpox actually get it. Lucky us. We are special!

We applied for a little financial help with school and they were not able to scholarship as much as we had hoped.

Oh, and did I mention that I am trying my skill at couponing? No, I am not quite to the point where I have a binder and spend 3 hours in the store pouring over the pages. But, I do have apps and clippings and…what was I thinking?

Hubby traveling, preparing for back to school, engaged in 2 Bible studies, an ant invasion, and the pounds are creeping up because I just can’t focus on me right now…and the train keeps rolling.

I was laying in bed with my daughter at 3am two nights ago and she started crying. As she realized that her chickenpox were spreading to some uncomfortable areas, she said she was afraid. The “what-if” crept into her tired little mind. My comment to her was something like this. “Crying won’t make it better, but prayer will.” And we did. A LOT. I was sharing this with a friend yesterday and I told her, “I KNOW that I will need that talk myself one day soon. I just know.”

Sure. It’s been interesting. Some months are like that. But, my focus has not been on all that is going wrong so much as what the blessings are in each situation. For example, we have a freezer in the garage and a garden in the backyard. We were able to eat well for the week we were without a refrigerator and certainly appreciate that modern convenience all the more now. My father had cancer before and they do regular checks as a result- so that was discovered early on. While my mom has other issues in her legs, she was paying attention and knew that something was wrong. God’s prompting. My daughter got chickenpox before school started so that will be out of the way…and at a time when we had very little planned so we were able to get some movies, chill and watch the Olympics this week. What a nice slow pace before the school year begins. As for school, any amount they were able to scholarship was a gift and blessing. When I went into school to drop off some forms, they asked me for my resume just in case something comes up. THEY. Asked. ME! (WOW! THANKS GOD!)  I  saved $68 on my first grocery trip as a couponer…hubby made it home safely…I finished back-to-school shopping in one day…and the two studies I am engaged in are showing me where I have staked out territory that I have not given God (or maybe give-up and take back).

Praise upon praise upon praise.

My peace I leave with you.

Y’all…this was NOT me several years back. Sure, I might need that talk soon when I allow the whirlwind to toss me about. But, right now? He’s got this and I KNOW it. That’s just it, isn’t it? I KNOW IT. God is always in control. I just have to know it, believe it and rest in Him.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Provider, Leader, Protector.

He maketh me…He leadeth…He restoreth…He comforts…He preparest…He annointest.

It’s all Him. All I have to do is trust and follow.

Lord, I know that I will need to come back to this place and read this again…as a reminder. Thank you for these moments.

 

Tattoos- Love Ran Red

There has been a story circulating on the local and national news stations this week about a man named Bayzle Morgan. You may have seen it, too. He’s a young man who is going on trial for robbery and will be facing a separate murder trial at some point as well. This man is a “Neo-Nazi” and wears that identification (as well as other identifying marks) loud and proud…on his face, head, neck, hands and body.

It seems that the obvious has become a major obstacle when it comes to justice and a fair trial.  To quote from the Las Vegas Review Journal’s July24th story directly:

A month ago, a different group of possible jurors was summoned to decide on the robbery case against Morgan. But one by one, they saw his tattoos and his bald head and said they could not be fair and impartial.

You can read the story here (http://www.reviewjournal.com/crime/homicides/neo-nazi-gets-makeover-hide-tattoos-jury)

The interesting part of this story to me is the judge’s response. The judge in this case has ordered that this man’s tattoos be covered up by a professional make-up artist so there will be no bias based on his appearance. When you read the story, you will see the before and after pictures. What a difference!

A few years back I had a conversation with someone who felt intimidated when she entered a certain store because it was in an area where heavy tattooing is pervasive. The appearance of these folks left her feeling unsafe and vulnerable.(Which is funny because she has tattoos of her own.) While those tattoos are superficial marks, they often do reflect something about the person’s personality and the issues, people or things that may be important to them; both beautiful and sinister. Is it unreasonable to feel uncomfortable based on appearance? Yes. But, let’s entertain another thought. What if- after those marks were made- there was a change. What if those marks no longer reflected who that person is on the inside? My question to her was…

What if we had to wear our sins, past and present, as tattoos on our bodies?

How scary would I be? How intimidating would you be? Would those scary, shameful, intimidating and humiliating marks reflect who I am today? Would they cause people to just make wide circles around me?  Would I get a fair trial?

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1Samuel 16:7

I am SO THANKFUL that the Lord doesn’t look at my sin marks. I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ and now I am clean. He doesn’t see those sins anymore and I am not to defile myself with new marks either. Yes, if you are saved you still sin…I still sin. When Christ takes the stand for me He will present me as the judge did this young man…only it won’t be a temporary covering painted on by a make-up artist. It will be genuine. Washed clean in the blood of the spotless Lamb and presented in white robes.

 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:11

When you are washed clean, walk victoriously in Christ. When you encounter others who are unsaved or saved and in bondage, remember that you were there. Not to say “look at where I am now”, but to proclaim that you have been transformed by the blood of Christ. “Look what HE has done!”  Show compassion and share His love.

Man. I am overwhelmed.

I have a little tidbit to share with you. As I was looking into this story, I began to research the process of covering a tattoo with makeup because of something curious I saw. In one of the pictures in the article, the make-up artist was using something red to cover his tats. I looked up some videos online and sure enough…the best way to cover a tattoo is with a red base (lipstick or powder shadow) followed by concealer, foundation and powder and hairspray. Interesting and cool.

Your love ran red, and my sin washed white…

 

You’re INVITED

I have always felt like I live outside the circle, lonely, overlooked, used and discounted. Well…maybe more like Emmet from the Lego Movie. He’s the guy who wakes up happy and goes about life doing for others, saying “hello”, surrounded by people…but known by no one. When he disappears, the people around him are interviewed and Emmet is discouraged and saddened by the responses.

(The following clip was found on YouTube…I didn’t create this and have no rights to it.)

It’s not that I want to be known, because trust me– that is not my thing either. I just want to love and be loved. I want to feel connected. I don’t want to be like that person in Ecclesiastes 4 who is alone, overpowered, and cold. I think Emmet wanted that, too. I know I have shared this before and I promise that I am not in a place where I am rolling in this like a pig in mud.

In fact, I know who God says I am…

That I am precious and chosen (1Peter2:9)

Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)

His workmanship created in Christ for good works (Ephesians2:10)

Valuable and bought with a price (1Corinthians 6:20)

I am seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6)

And I cling to these truths and so much more. I cling to Christ.

proverbs31

No, I don’t find my value in other people- nor do I want to. But, I will admit that when these feelings bubble up, they do still hinder me in a tremendous way…if I focus me and not God. When I look around, I see so many other women who are disconnected and probably feeling the same way I do. So imagine my surprise when Lysa Terkheurst announced her book called Uninvited! WOW! This is not just something that I feel…c’mon, Lysa Terkheurst!?

I pre-ordered the book last week and look forward to reading it.

I don’t get onto Proverbs31.org daily, but there are some days when I can feel the Lord pointing there instead of the places He has me studying. Today was one of those days. I wanted to share her blog post/devotion with you today and offer some encouragement to those who are not “in”, but feel rather “un”.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND YOU ARE LOVED.

God has a purpose for YOU! (And me, too!)

Please read Lysa’s post: When Rejection Steals the Best of Who I Am

Cut and paste this URL…I was unable to attach as a link today …  http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/when-rejection-steals-the-best-of-who-i-am/

 

And here’s the INVITATION…On August 9th there is a webcast kicking off this new book and study. I signed up for it. If you see me around, but don’t know me and want to watch it with me- let me know. If you want to read this book with me, study God’s Word or just walk and talk. Find me.

It’s easy to misread people. In this day of technology and social media, it’s way too easy to feel connected and yet never make eye contact with a living soul. It’s time to put down the phone, step out from behind the tablet…lift up those eyes and see people. REAL LIVE PEOPLE who need a friend…who need encouragement… and who need Jesus.

Let’s knock down some walls…because Jesus invited us. Now, we need to reach out and invite others!

 

Consider the Birds of the Air: A Testimony

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ?

Matthew 6:25-27

I shared last week about our new friend, Fabrizio. He is the brilliant, blue tree swallow who has selected our birdhouse as his new home. Earlier this week our area was plagued by a string of storms. We were able to prepare in advance by pulling in the deck furniture, lowering the umbrellas on the deck, and securing any loose items in the yard.  The winds were incredible and resulted in downed trees and power lines throughout our area. After one of the storms had passed, our daughter walked out onto the deck and shouted, “Hey! Where is the red house?”. We went outside to confirm her observation…the little birdhouse was gone.

Some things you cannot prepare for.

My husband went to the garden to get a closer look and found the little red birdhouse lying on the ground. He gently picked it up and noticed that the egg inside had been crushed. We noticed our two little bird friends (also surveying the damage) flying in a bit of a frenzy. I suspect that they were a bit concerned by our presence and possibly shaken from the fall. Fabrizio perched himself on the top of the patio umbrella so he could keep a close eye on us. We went to the garage search for a stronger bungee to fasten the birdhouse back onto the post until we can purchase a different bracket. After the house was secured in place, we began to wonder …will our friends stick around? Do we need to clean the nest out of the house? Will this tragedy force them to move on to a new nest? To search for a new home?

My heart was broken.

What we learned next was a lesson straight from the Lord Himself; another example that He has placed in nature that illustrates and amplifies scripture and truth.

I came inside and did what any concerned bird-hostess would do…I Googled! I did a search on what these tree swallows do when a broken egg is in their nest. I was surprised to learn that tree swallows do NOT abandon their nest. As a matter of fact, they work diligently to remove the broken pieces of egg and tattered remains of the nest and they rebuild. I was encouraged and excited and also hopeful when I read this. The next day, I walked out to the garden and found a bunch of feathers on the ground. They were too large to be tree swallow feathers, therefore I determined that they were the feathers that they had used in the construction of that prior nest. The cleaning had begun. Now- a few days later- they have rebuilt and moved back in. They have moved beyond the initial frenzy of a fallen home and crushed egg; they have cleaned up and are back to the business of being a bird.

God has really been working on me in the areas of worry and “control”  (as if I had any control, right?) over the past several years. There has been significant financial stress, school changes, and yes…our house even fell as a result of the crumbling foundation that we haphazardly constructed. With each challenge, I have learned (and am still learning) to lean into the Lord. Our needs have always been met, He led us to a wonderful school and He not only rebuilt our foundation, but He rebuilt our marriage on THE SOLID ROCK. Hallelujah and Praise the LORD!

This week, as I watched Fabrizio rebuild his house- I was waiting for medical test results. Through this whole ordeal I have been wondering if I was under-reacting. I have not been afraid at all and have been very confident of two things.

I am NOT in control….and God IS 100% IN CONTROL.

As I was waiting for the results of the biopsy, I called upon my family and close friends for prayer. God even placed a beautiful woman who had recently gone through breast cancer treatments in my immediate circle. Every morning, before school begins,  the teachers at school gather for prayer and this dear woman and the teachers prayed for the Lord’s hand in my situation. The Lord even put me in the waiting room with a very anxious Christian woman who was waiting for the results of her mammogram. As I shared Isaiah 26:3 with her, she exhaled and shared her heart with me. What a blessing.

He will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3

It wasn’t until yesterday that the “what if” crept into my consciousness. But, it wasn’t fear that I was facing- It was God Himself. As I prayed, He asked me if I would be this calm and peaceful if the results came back positive. Would my response change? My answer to that question was honest…I hope that my response doesn’t change. I want to remain in perfect peace as I trust in Him. Believe me…in all of my years of worry and attempting control things THIS was not a peace that I could ever manufacture. And I didn’t want that to leave. I am not capable of this- It’s ALL GOD.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I was thinking about that bird as he cleaned up the pieces of shattered shell and removed a tattered nest. He didn’t retreat. He didn’t give up. He just did what birds do. He rebuilt and relied on God’s provision.

I went today and received the good news in the form of a diagnosis. NOT cancer. The next appointment will be with dermatology.

In the meantime, I am thankful.

I am thankful for a family and friends who pray.

I am thankful for a praying school.

I am thankful for time in the waiting room and the ability to extend God’s peace to someone in need.

I am thankful for a negative result and a positive outlook.

I am thankful for the “what’s next?” that is on the tip of my tongue. I know that there is more to this testimony and am excited to see what that is.

Tonight, I am considering the birds…what a fine example of trust, sustenance, and perseverance. Thank you, Lord for your mighty hand. 

 

Spring has Sprung

 

It’s that time again! The garden is in the ground and the veggies are starting to grow. It was a tough start because of the fluctuating temperatures. Some of our seedlings didn’t make it. But, in that was a FANTASTIC discussion with our kids about our responsibility and  charge as parents.  The Lord has commissioned us to train them up in the way they should go…to grow them and guide them and make sure that their roots are strong before we plant them in this ever-fluctuating world. The visual example in our garden brought a certain simplicity and clarity to that word picture. They got it!

I want to keep it simple today and just share some pictures. You will see my new friend- who we have named “Fabrizio”. He is a brilliant blue tree swallow who has chosen our new birdhouse as the home for he and his camera-shy mate. When I work in the garden, he comes out of his house and perches himself on the fence post closest to me. He pivots his little head around to keep an eye on me at all times and he also talks to me…and I talk back. I am so happy to have him as a guest in our mini-home. After all, part of his God-given job is to eat various bugs and pests that will attempt to thwart the growth of our little plants. THAT makes me love him even more.

wp-1464708374998.jpg

A beautiful gift from a beautiful friend and Titus 2 woman. I am blessed!

Simply Scripture:Praise!

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Proverbs 31:25

 

I will extol the Lord at all times;  his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;  let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
 Glorify the Lord with me;  let us exalt his name together.

Psalm 34:1-3

There is so much to be thankful for. Let there ALWAYS be a testimony of praise on my lips.