Tag Archive | hope

Simply Scripture: Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Flat Water

In May, I found a new hobby: Kayaking! My hubby hadn’t been since our oldest was born and I had never tried it. Since we are surrounded by water, it seemed like a good idea. We now have a whole family of kayaks and this has become an activity that we can do together. It has been a real blessing!

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Our daughter’s favorite part is seeing the cranes and turtles along the way. I have always liked being on or near the water so I feel like I have found “home”. My husband is eager for the day when we all become comfortable and confident enough to set out onto “bigger water” so he can catch some fish. And our son…well, he is getting a bit bored waiting for adventure outside of the little marsh we have been practicing in. But, he is also a little cautious and apprehensive to go out into unknown territory.

Until Tuesday….

This past Tuesday, we went out after hubby got home from work. We always go in the evenings and the water has always been choppy at our entry and then calmer as we enter the marsh. Tuesday, something was different.

FLAT WATER. It was like glass.

It was absolutely beautiful and calm and PERFECT! My hubby and six-year-old daughter put their boats in first and paddled out. This time, not into the marsh…but, into bigger water. My son was a little apprehensive to head into the “unknown”, but once we were off shore his sense of adventure kicked in and he was invigorated. “Mom, look at that! Do you see that dock? Can we paddle there?” And then my favorite…”Mom, is that the end of the world?!” HA! Mercy! While he knows that the earth is round, this made for some great discussion about the early explorers and the horizon line. Of all the times we have been kayaking this summer, this night was my absolute favorite.

A few weeks ago we got a life vest for our dog, Cooper. We decided that we need to start taking him with us more often because we have not done a good job making him feel like part of our pack. The first time, he jumped out of the boat thinking that he could just walk across to me…then he sank and had to swim. His eyes were huge as he hit the water! This was Cooper’s second trip out in the kayak and he is still uncertain. As I paddled up behind my hubby, Cooper was growling and barking at a tree limb that was poking through the surface of the glassy river. He is not quite sure what to make of all this just yet.

Mid way through our exciting adventure onto flat water, our daughter got a little tired. My hubby threw her a line and she tied on so he could pull her for a while and give her rest. Cooper, then, transferred into my boat. In an instant, my peaceful flat water paddle became very interesting. My kayak is a sit-on-top, which means that there are no sides. When Cooper sat down he wasn’t sure of his boundaries and occasionally his foot would slip off or he’d dip his tail into the water. He couldn’t just trust…sit…rest. I found myself getting a bit frustrated. It was perfectly calm water! Why couldn’t he just lay down and chill?!

Cooper was trying to see my husband so he’d lean to the left…and all of a sudden my boat would make a sharp turn left. He saw something in the water so he would lean right…and my boat would track hard right. As he leaned, I fought against him. Even though it was perfectly calm, glassy, flat water…I had to paddle twice as hard that night to counter Cooper’s every move.

This morning in my study time the Lord pressed on me hard. I am not trusting right now. He is still in control and I am leaning. In my morning study, there was a story of a backseat driver that the author labeled as a “panicky passenger”. I am studying in the Women of Faith study “Giving God Your All”. This morning took me to the chapter called “Putting it in God’s Hands”.

Panicky passengers “… are the ones who ride with a white-knuckle grip on their armrests. It doesn’t take much to evoke little gasps of fear from them-changing traffic lights, the sight of brake lights ahead, low-flying birds.” The author goes on to suggest that we often try to take God’s place in the driver’s seat or she says “maybe you’re more like the panicky passenger, not quite trusting the driver to get you safely to your destination.”

This is the scripture that the Lord brought to me this morning through that study:

 How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.  Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:19-21

 I have been enjoying some pretty flat water lately. This summer has been a blessing in so many ways. But, this week I have allowed anxiety to flair up and -like Cooper- I am not trusting…sitting…resting. I cannot see under the surface. There are changes coming in the near future and with change comes some uncertainty. Instead of becoming excited and invigorated by this new “big water” experience, I find myself behaving like Cooper. Leaning…looking…frantic.  It’s flat water and I feel like I am paddling twice as hard just to counter my own movement.

If I would just BE STILL.

Yesterday, I found myself crumbled into a pile on the shower floor crying out to the Lord. I could hardly breathe and I felt as if I might drown in those tears. But, I know that the Lord heard me. Now I just have to listen for that voice, “This is the way, walk in it.”

Pray for me in the coming days. Our kids are starting a new school and while they are fine…I am anxious. Do I need to go back to work? Or am I supposed to be still and trust the Lord to provide? I wish I knew what was just under that glassy surface. In the meantime, I need peace and to believe Isaiah 26:3.

You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.

Outgrowing small pots


My husband has found a new hobby! He has decided to try his hand at woodworking and building things. Don’t get me wrong…he’s a super handy guy and always has been and I have been blessed over the years by his knowledge, skills and talents. He has some training and familiarity in electrical work, he has flexed his muscle in remodeling and even built the deck on the back of our home. He maintains, sharpens the blades and changes the belts on our fleet of lawn equipment and he is an awesome chef in the kitchen, too! Yes, I married a multi-talented man. AMEN! Frankly, when I look around our home and see the extent of his work- there is little he can’t do! (And if you were to say that…”You can’t”…to him- he’d figure out how to do it just because HE CAN. ha ha)wpid-20150418_171353.jpg

Hubby’s latest conquest was a gift for me- this potting bench. Built out of scraps and pallet wood, he custom-built this piece so it would fit perfectly in it’s intended space in the shed. The addition of my daughter’s hand-painted terracotta pots were just what my potting bench needed. Perfection!

I love it.

I LOVE HIM!

I had mentioned in prior posts that we were preparing our garden for the season…and we have. The kids helped by placing seeds in the fiber pots…we added rich soil…and have kept them watered.

For a few weeks they occupied wpid-20150501_151654.jpgspace on our clothes dryer where they could soak in the afternoon sun, but remain safe from the cool nights and the warm days. When the risk of frost passed and their roots had developed, I placed them outside on the patio table so they could acclimate to the great outdoors. But, something happened….they wilted. After the second day, they looked positively peaked. Ailing. SICK!

Oh no! Did I put them out too soon? The mercury rose quickly and it seems like Spring gave way to Summer in only a matter of days. Maybe their roots weren’t strong enough. Should I bring them in?

No. I continued to water them. Moved them to the shade outside occasionally. And let them continue to grow in -what would soon be- their natural environment. Their intended place. They started to thrive and in a short while those plants began to outgrow their little pots. They were ready for more.

I find it awe-inspiring when God places simple examples like this in everyday life.

In Priscilla Shirer’s study, One in a Million,  I am learning about wilderness experiences in life and how God uses them for our good…to draw us closer…to grow us and push us to realize and truly experience God- and the potential God placed within us. It is true that the times of greatest adversity are the very times that strengthen our roots and draw us closer to the Lord. Reaching for the SON.

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

Exodus 13:17-18

Do you see that? God did NOT lead them on the easy, shorter road. HE CHOSE to lead them through the desert…and they left prepared and ready for battle.

Yes, just like my plants they were thrust into the wilderness. They walked out of Egypt ready to battle in the flesh. Yet, God chose to lead them on a wilderness path that would force them to rely on Him and not themselves. He used this experience to change bad habits, remove idols, cast off fear and doubt and establish true faith and trust. There is so much we can learn about our trials in life and God purpose for us in them by reading God’s Word. But, we see examples also in nature.

Back to my poor wilting plants. I was tempted to bring these plants back in to the easy, climate controlled environment they were accustomed to. But, what would that have accomplished? Those little plants would eventually outgrow their small pots and would never bear the fruit (or veggies) they were created to bear.

Maybe your current “wilderness” is a health trial, marital struggle or long period of unemployment. Hang in there and have faith. No, it’s not an easy journey as you follow the Lord through this struggle. You may wilt. But, He will bring the rain. Don’t turn back.

For others, I think many of us get comfortable in our little pots. That pot may be the comfort of your church…doing what church folk do…and maybe ignoring God’s voice as he calls you into unfamiliar territory. Maybe you’re a habitual Bible Study attendee, but ignore the call to lead a study with some new folks who are on the fringe. What if, in addition to teaching the kids class on Sunday morning, God asked you to use the same material to lead a backyard Bible club with the kids in your neighborhood this summer? Or what if He was leading you to start a ladies study in your own neighborhood? Would you be willing to leave the comfort of that little pot?

It’s time to get out of that small pot. Endure some heat and ask God to keep the water flowing as He leads. God used the Israelites’ experience in Egypt to keep them in a time of famine. He never intended for them to stay in that small pot. He had a much bigger purpose for them and He has a much bigger purpose for each of us, too. The plant’s roots can only grow as big as the pot. There is a choice to be made. Camp at the edge of the wilderness = stay in the small pot. Or follow the pillar = rely on the Lord for provision, have faith and be planted…and BLOOM, thrive, and bear fruit.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8

I feel a stirring.

I don’t know where or what just yet.

I have two little seedlings here in my home- a son and a daughter- who need nurturing and rich soil. I know that we must continue to water them in the Word while their roots develop.

But, for me personally-I am praying for a bigger pot today…or no pot at all.

Lord, lead me.

Adjust the Sails

I have been tired and stressed for a while now. I keep casting my anxieties and then picking them back up. So when my girlfriend reminded me that a weekend was long overdue, I jumped at the opportunity to escape the storms.

Perusing the nautically inspired wares while wandering a small bay side town- I found it.

A towel. Yup…a towel.

I looked at it and then walked away.

I came back to it and took a picture…and walked away.

I finally purchased it so I could take it home with me as a constant reminder.

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A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”

Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other,

“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Mark 4:37-41

No, I can’t control the wind. But, He can. When the storms come, I need to be quicker and more diligent about adjusting my sails while praying for God’s will.

Amen.

I feel like I should end this post here.

But, in my travels there were some other reminders of God’s presence that I want to share.

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. 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. Psalm 23

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Psalm 97:1-2

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Psalm 97:1-2

Red Sea Rules- the same God who led you in will lead you out

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

A dear friend of mine gave me a gift…and what a gift! She passed me a little book that she had been reading; it really is little; maybe about 6 inches by 5 inches. Wow, big things come in small packages.

I could write a full fledged book review here, but I am sure that there is another site out there for that. I will, however, summarize this little treasure and hopefully coax you into reading it, too.

I can imagine that you’re on the edge of your seat, with pen and paper in hand, waiting….What’s the name? Who wrote it?

The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-given strategies for difficult times by Robert J. Morgan.

I know that this isn’t a typical post from me- God willing, I will be back to writing soon. For now, enjoy these truths.

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A Multitude of Stars

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.”And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

Genesis 1:14-19

Lights in the sky…to guide us, mark sacred times and time itself. All placed, with purpose, by God himself.

I think that there was tremendous significance when God referenced Abraham’s offspring as stars.

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:5

Yes, they were as numerous as stars. But, it seems to me that if you look at the Bible through a wide lense, we can mark many sacred events, historically significant times and even the future by Abraham’s descendants- much like the stars in the sky.

Then, there’s THE star- the one we think about during the Christmas season.

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After they had heard the king, they went on their way,and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. Matthew 2:9-10

Yet another beacon from the line of Abraham and sign of things to come. And a star to mark the place…this particular star led the Magi to Jesus.

Stars: to offer light to the world and lead people to Jesus. As one of our pastors says sometimes, “Man just can’t write this stuff!”

I am going to shift gears a bit to look at stars in a different light.

When I look up “heavenly body” online, the most common definition is “a star, a planet or moon”.

When I think of being part of a body (one star in a multitude), I am drawn to 1 Corinthians.

But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

1 Corinthians 12:18-20

We all have different gifts, talents and functions within the body- but, none is more important than the next. And we are to use what we’ve been gifted.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:10-11

I was watching “The Great Christmas Light Fight” on T.V. Monday night. This show features INSANE Christmas lights displays and they are judged for a prize. These aren’t commercially done. They are planned and implemented by homeowners in their own front yards (…and backyards, roofs, driveways and anywhere else they can fit a light.) There are millions of lights involved and some even use computer programs to synchronize the lights with sound. It was something else to see! So I wonder. Would those light displays be as spectacular if there was only one single, but very bright light? I would venture to say that the single light would pale in comparison to the thousands of lights synchronized to work in unison. The impact wouldn’t be the same.

We are all stars – placed in the sky by God himself to “give light on the earth” (Gen 1). We are heavenly bodies placed as such to give light to this earth as one body: To be bright and bold for Christ in individually and unison.

Individually, we are to be like the Bethlehem Star so many years ago; providing light, and pointing directly to Christ so others can find him, too.

Is any one star more important than another? Could a single bright star light up the whole night sky? No. When you look at the star next to you, he/she may appear brighter, but that star does not hold more significance in the sky than the next. I think God put stars in the sky in multitude so they could work together in multitude to shine bright as a whole. Just as he placed us side by side to shine for Him as a whole. Synchronized by the Spirit, we cast more light as a body.

Let your light so shine!

Fill my cup

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6

My sister is going to get a real kick out of today’s post. She is always poking me a bit because I see God in my soup…tea…leaves…He’s everywhere! Today, sister, it’s not where I saw Him…it’s where I didn’t see Him.

 

At the bottom of my empty cup. wpid-20141118_080343.jpg

 

This is my morning coffee. When I got to the bottom, I noticed a curious sight. It was ME! Well, my reflection. Look closely and you can see my eyes and nose along with my disheveled morning hair-do. I still have my glasses on. What a powerful picture! No, not me in all of my morning splendor…but, the reflection as it pertains to our spiritual condition.

When my cup is full and overflowing, my spiritual cup reflects what is above…the Lord himself. When my cup is empty and I am lacking…I see me.

In the morning when I sit at the table to study the Word and pray, He is filling me. He gives me strength for each day, wisdom (if I am listening), direction and peace. More God…less me.

 

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make 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 keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 16:5-8

On the days when I become distracted and put other things first, I become quickly depleted and frustrated. More me…less Him.

I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint.

My heart has turned to wax;

it has melted within me. Psalm 22:14

Only a relationship with God through Jesus Christ can completely fill that cup and satisfy the soul.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:13-14

Friend, I cannot stress the importance of seeking the Lord early and often.

Don’t wait until you get to the bottom to refill.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1

You prepare a banquet for me,
    where all my enemies can see me;
you welcome me as an honored guest
    and fill my cup to the brim.
I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life;
    and your house will be my home as long as I live.

Psalm 23:5-6

Today, I pray that I will replace the contents of my cup to contain less of me and more of God. I pray that I will continually invite the Spirit to refresh that cup as I seek the Lord and his direction and wisdom and that the goodness of Christ will overflow onto those around me. I know that if that cup becomes empty it is because I am not seeking the Lord and the only thing I will find at the bottom is emptiness and self. I pray that God’s reflection will be clearly seen in me and my interactions with my husband, children and others today. 

Now…about that refill…