Tag Archive | strength

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.

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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.

Fallow fields

 

 

 

 

wpid-20150503_175433.jpgThis is our garden. Well, it will be our garden in the coming weeks.

This patch of land has been covered for a year under a thick, dark, heavy sheet of plastic…anchored by an assortment of large rocks. While covering the land up kills the growth of weeds, grass and pretty much anything else- it also provided some time for the ground to rest and recover from the prior planting seasons. Last year, we didn’t have the opportunity to have a garden because of a series of events that took priority- so, we decided to cover our patch of dirt and leave it fallow.

According to Webster’s 1828, “Fallow” can mean a few different things:

-Unsowed; not tilled; left to rest after a year or more of tillage; as fallow ground; a fallow field.

-Left unsowed after plowing. The word is applied to the land after plowing.

-Unplowed; uncultivated.

-Unoccupied; neglected. [Not in use.]

I haven’t been writing on this blog so much lately. I think maybe God was urging me to plow some fields and let it rest for a bit. Neither unoccupied or neglected…nor unplowed and uncultivated. God has been teaching me a lot about being quiet. Listening. Watching. I am hoping for some clarity of purpose as well.

Fallow fields result in soil enrichment, improved fertility and reduces the build-up of contaminants and pests.

Much like my garden, I am waiting for the protective covering to be removed so I can receive some of the seeds God has in store for me.

New growth. It’s exciting.

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A few weeks ago, the kids helped me place some seeds into the seed cups to prepare them for their growth outside. They seem to be thriving and I am looking forward to a bountiful summer harvest! Today, these young plants have been placed outside so they can acclimate to the great outdoors. I am praying for strong roots before they are transplanted into the garden and bear fruit (or vegetables, as the case may be).

I am looking forward to the time ahead of me…resting…and developing strong roots as I Bloom Where I am Planted.

Thank you for joining me on this adventure- even during fallow seasons.

 

 

Out in the Cold

We took the kids skiing for the first time on Monday and MAN it was cold. When we hit the slopes I think the temperature had risen to a whopping 3 degrees. I am so thankful that there was no wind because the cold was quite enough. When I could feel ice forming in my nostrils, I decided that it was time to cover my face. Brrrrrr. THAT was cold.

At least I thought so until today.

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This morning at 7:45am it was 2 degrees. Not far off from where it was on Monday. But, today the wind is a factor. If you notice the picture above…the “Real Feel” is -18 degrees.

Yep. 18 degrees BELOW 0.

And I believe it.

Last night as I was praying, I was asking God to protect all of those out there who do not have shelter or warmth. This is dangerous weather and it wouldn’t take long for disastrous consequences if one stayed outside too long. This morning, God reminded me that there are people who have shelter and physical warmth who may be freezing, too. He placed a familiar scripture on my tongue…

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them 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

I have to admit. I can be a bit anti-social. I tend to fluctuate between times of activity and being surrounded by people – and times when I need to be alone and quiet and to not have the influence of others. I think that’s natural…especially when you look at Jesus as the example. He got away alone after being surrounded by people quite often.

However, I get selfish. God gave me the ability to “feel”. I feel the emotions of others. It’s difficult to explain so I won’t bother, but when you feel for others it can become exhausting and draining. So, I need to spend a day alone. I have to tell you that the temptation to REMAIN alone is great. But, that reveals a selfishness in me. It would be easier and more comfortable to be on my own. I don’t like gossip, can’t wrap my head around the tornadic drama that seems to swirl around certain people, women have so many emotions and they are exhausting…and my four walls are so comfortable. Man, that sounds awful and judgmental when I speak it out loud- but, I am being honest. And selfish. So, God reminds me from time to time that He gave me that gift, and it’s no good unless I use it. When I feel…I have to respond.

There was a particular Wednesday night Bible study that occurred over this summer that I remember clearly. I even remember where I was sitting that night because it was not my normal “spot”. The Pastor said, “Don’t be a Lone Ranger Christian”. We need community. We need to build each other up, correct, steer, love, support, sharpen, nourish, supply for and cry on each other–all in Jesus’ name. We need these things ourselves and we need to provide for these needs in others.

Being alone and out in the cold is dangerous. Being a sheep away from the flock leaves us exposed to cold and to prowling wolves.

If you don’t have a group of people today, just pick one person.

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

Yes, we are all accountable to God directly- but, He wants us to have someone in the flesh here on this earth, too. Whether that person is your husband, wife, sister, Sunday School leader, adult child, neighbor or friend- remember this: there is One who binds us together in love.  When the cold times come, we need to have a friend to warm us with the Word and God’s truth. As we wrap around each other to strengthen each other, Jesus wraps around us so that we will not be easily broken.

 Today, God gave me that reminder and I wanted to share it with you.

Don’t get caught out in the cold alone.

Quiet

Happy New Year!

These past several weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and travel for our family.

Christmas programs at church and school…illness…Christmas…a drive to and from Florida to see family…hubby’s birthday…removal of a dead Christmas tree and our first Upward basketball games of the season upon our return…laundry…laundry…more laundry. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why I scheduled TWO appointments for myself today. TWO! There is no food in the pantry or fridge and it is not likely that I will be getting to the grocery store today either. I see Chinese food in our future.

Welcome to a new year. But, wait…a word from God.

Quiet.

11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (NIV)

11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.(KJV)

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

This is the scripture that God has been pressing on me for the past month. “QUIET”. But, how can I be quiet at a time when I feel that he is pushing me out the door…out of these four walls…and into serving others? I don’t get it.

The same day that God gave me that rhema, I received my Christmas gift in the mail. This year for Christmas, I got myself the Websters 1828 Dictionary.

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How timely! I opened the seal and looked up that word “quiet” and what I found illuminated this scripture for me and helped me understand how being quiet is really an active word.

QUI’ET, adjective [Latin quietus.]

1. Still; being in a state of rest; not moving. Judges 16:2.

2. Still; free from alarm or disturbance; unmolested; as a quiet life.

In his days the land was quiet ten years. 2 Chronicles 14:1.

3. Peaceable; not turbulent; not giving offense; not exciting controversy, disorder or trouble; mild; meek; contented.

The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. 1 Peter 3:4.

1 Thessalonians 4:11.

4. Calm; not agitated by wind; as a quiet sea or atmosphere.

5. Smooth; unruffled.

6. Undisturbed; unmolested; as the quiet possession or enjoyment of an estate.

7. Not crying; not restless; as a quiet child.

QUI’ET, noun [Latin quies.]

1. Rest; repose; stillness; the state of a thing not in motion.

2. Tranquility; freedom from disturbance or alarm; civil or political repose. Our country enjoys quiet

3. Peace; security. Judges 18:7.

QUI’ET, verb transitive

1. To stop motion; to still; to reduce to a state of rest; as, to quiet corporeal motion.

2. To calm; to appease; to pacify; to lull; to tranquilize; as, to quiet the soul when agitated; to quiet the passions; to quiet the clamors of a nation; toquiet the disorders of a city or town.

3. To allay; to suppress; as, to quiet pain or grief.

Wow.

A state of rest…as in resting in the Lord. To quiet disorders, pain or grief. Not crying or restless. Calm, not agitated. Peaceable, not exciting controversy. Meek and mild.

So it’s not just about shutting my mouth and minding my own business. It’s shutting my mouth, listening to God, seeking to follow His lead. “Minding my own business” is for me to tend to the business HE gives me…not in closing myself off and keeping to myself. In pulling me out of my comfy walls, God wants me to minister to others…pull up along side of them quietly and not be in the forefront.

Yesterday, after church, God expanded on this in the form of a slew of scripture. I was writing it all down in my prayer journal and could hardly keep up!

Do not do before men (Matthew 6:1-4), but use the gifts I have been given by God to serve others faithfully so that the praise and glory go to God (1 Peter 4:10). I must be humble and to DAILY cast my anxieties …especially the ones about getting outside of my little safe comfort zone…on the Lord because He cares for me (James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6-7). I need to continually pray- and ask you all to pray for me- that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given to me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19) and that no unwholesome talk will leave my lips…only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29). I must remember to commit my plans to the Lord daily. And anything I do or say must be for God, with strength given by God, giving thanks TO God though Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17). I need to be ready and willing and He will make me able. For if I am willing, the gift is acceptable according to what God has given me…not according to what I lack (2 Corinthians 8:12).

Quiet. Listening. Doing. Not overtly – but covertly. Out of the overflow of the Holy Spirit in me…Good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over (Luke 6).

It’s not to say that I haven’t been following God’s lead prior to today, but I have been resisting leaving my comfortable four walls.

“It’s OK. I’ve got this. Just be quiet and keep your nose down. Work diligently with what I have given you and on the things I have given you to do. Quiet. Shhhhh. Apply my healing balm to others around you…pacify their souls. Be faithful with a few things and I will charge you with many things and you will share in My happiness…lacking nothing.” That’s the rhema -the Word- that God has given me for this new year.

So…Now what?I guess only God knows. I just have to be quiet enough to hear.

 

These Four Walls

Sitting here in my “spiritual winter”…wrapped in the Word. It would be a lot more comfortable if God would stop knocking on the door.

Every time He knocks…I have to get up.

(Yes, you’re right in detecting a bit of sarcasm.)

I have been thinking a lot about these four walls: the walls of my room, my house, the walls that hedge up this family unit, the walls of my heart. These comfortable walls.

In the past month…while sitting comfortably in these four walls…God has been preparing me to be pushed out.

He is feeding me like a mommy bird would before she gives her baby a push. It’s a long way down…fall or fly?

I asked him if I could forgive a friend while sitting in these four walls and He said “No, you have to GO.”

I asked him if I could keep my opinion on a certain matter within these four walls…today I am heavy about it.

Today I am so heavy about the matter, that I had to leave these four walls and walk the undeveloped area around the church. Tall trees, fallen trees, dead trees and new trees, briars, bushes, and a rust colored blanket of leaves thick upon the ground. A clearing and cabin. Four more walls…but all doors are locked.

Blogging is great and has been for two years! I have been able to share with all of you about God’s interactions in my life -and I have been able to do so while in the safety and security of these four walls.

Safe and secluded.

God is dragging me out of these four walls kicking and screaming. I can feel it. He wants me to speak up—audibly. He wants me to speak out—humbly. He wants me to link up—in close proximity. Real people, real conversation, real community….real conflict. (sigh) I’d really feel better about it if He’d let me do all of this from the comfort of these four walls. Blogging and blending in…not intimate and adjoining. I feel vulnerable without these four walls.

No, I am not anti-social or phobic. I actually love  the company of other people. I am just really good about keeping my thoughts, feelings and opinions close to my chest and keeping others at an arms-length distance. God wants to change that. Out of these four walls. Refuge…in these four walls? Or in Him?

Then my hubby sent me a devotional that he had received in his email today. It was all about an “Audience of One”. While I am Mary at His feet in these four walls…I am the audience of one. He wants me to get out there and thrive for Him- without fear of man. He wants me to do for Him and be for Him and live out loud for Him. FOR HIM. HE is the audience of ONE. THE ONE.  It’s not about anyone else, and certainly not about me. It’s about God’s pleasure and not my own. It’s not all about my comfort in these four walls. It certainly wasn’t about Jesus’ comfort with those three nails.

I was looking around my home today at these four walls and something caught my eye. Check it out…

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Look closely….

 

 

Look closer….

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….right there!

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There it is…”Faith”. Hanging on a hook in the mudroom, right under the leash.

Ok, ok…I know that I am feeling a little more “poetic” than normal today…but, c’mon!  “Faith” and restraint hanging on the same hook? The word-picture shot straight through me. Restraint leaves this house far too often and faith stays on the hook just inside the door. He wants me to step out of these four walls…in full faith.

So, I flash back to my walk in the woods earlier today. My walking buddy was my mutt, Cooper. As I reflect on that trip outside of these four walls, I recall a distinct difference between Cooper and I (besides the obvious four legs and hair). He was led by his nose…pulling, moving forward, straining against the harness with a taut leash, following his nose, full speed ahead. He is a hound and he was doing what he was created to do. I, on the other hand,  was pulling back, cautious about footing, looking for obstacles, testing out bridges for stability, wondering about snakes- yikes. So I wonder, which one of us was really restrained.

God’s up to something here. And it’s going to take me outside of these four walls. Pray for me folks. I’m gonna need it…full faith in absence of fear.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

Simply Scripture: Hebrews 13:20-21

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May the God of peace,

who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus,

that great Shepherd of the sheep,

equip you with everything good for doing his will,

and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ,

to whom be the glory for ever and ever.

Amen.