Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last Minute


This image taken via satellite shows the split minute difference as night falls upon our earth. There is a distinct difference between where the light is and the darkness falls. A matter of minutes between night and day.
I had several clerks ask me yesterday, " O are you just picking up some last minute gifts?"......."Ummmmm no", I replied, " I am picking out all my gifts". I am usually really on top of my shopping, get everything done bit by bit stretched out over time, and take my time for each gift I purchase. This year has been different in that I have had to do it in a rush, due to my father's passing on Thanksgiving day. I have also felt like I was spending money I did not actually have and did not have the luxury of time to search for each perfect gift. I felt like I have been grasping for straws. Luckily my family is easy to please and did not really ask for anything I should have gotten six months ago. I don't know how people who wait to the last minute do it.
I know one thing I have not waited til the last minute to do and that is believe the gift that was given to me and you in the birth of Jesus. Sitting in traffic, walking the heavily piped in caroled music mall, waiting in lines, doing the parking lot square dance, and getting a redo manicure cause they messed up the first one gave me lots of time to think in a world that would tell me I am running out of time. A world that puts us on this time clock to get everything done before a certain day. Now deadlines are a must, in some cases, but to embrace and accept the pressure of this season and miss the opportunity to embrace our Savior is missing out on time well spent with the most precious gift we could ever receive. Can we walk around with our eternal eyes, our heavenly ears and our servants hands remembering the reality of a little town, a God baby, a teenaged mother, and a genuine King that became clear so long ago? Can that moment of long ago become reality right now? Jesus quietly slipped into humanity, born to die, so I can live. Not just for life eternal, but for life right here and now in my car, walking the malls, shopping for gifts, cooking for family, wrapping presents, checking our lists, helping others and remembering those who have gone on before us. We have a choice of death or life, chaos or peace, tragedy or hope, and win or lose. If His birth isn't significant for us right here and now, then it isn't significant at all. Bold you might say, but truth, real truth can sting at first, but the healing balm that comes to the incision that cuts to the marrow brings new life, new birth and new hope.
I pray this Christmas we can all realize we can have new birth everyday when we have Jesus living within our hearts. Have you asked for the greatest gift you could ever receive? Don't wait til the last minute.
Merry Christmas yall.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gratitude is a Decision


All through the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons we hear it, we see it, and we even believe it. Then how do we live it? Gratitude is a gift as well as a decision and as we choose to have an attitude of gratitude it multiplies and spreads to all those around us. Being with family is sometimes tough. As college age kids come home after being away and on their own, who are suddenly thrown into the family living unit can cause tension between independence and a longing parent who just wants to spend time with them. Perhaps unspoken tension with family members requires tremendous grace just to sit through the Thanksgiving meal is part of “what’s on the menu”. Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one or the inability of being with all of our families because of distance, illness or military that creates a feeling of loneliness. So how do we do it and get through it?
We follow Jesus as our model who gave thanks before eating the few loaves and fishes as He fed the multitudes, who gave thanks as He passed the cup to His sin filled disciples, who gave thanks when He appeared to the two men on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection, who gave thanks to His Father above for every good and perfect gift. I believe He is referring to us as that perfect gift. He does not come or see with an attitude of anything other than gratitude because He sees us as a gift from God. Are we able, in season and out of season, to focus on His gift? Are we able to perceive that which was given and embrace with an attitude of gratitude? When we acknowledge that all things come from Him and that He is the source of every truth then our focus is on Him and nothing else. As we come with thankful hearts we bring God’s glory to our tables. We offer up to God our sacrifices of praise and thanks, remembering God’s provision and grace for us. Thanksgiving is to always be a part of our prayers. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for it is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. 1 Thes. 5:16-18
Of all God’s gifts, the greatest one He has given is the gift of His son, Jesus Christ. On the cross, Jesus paid our sin, so a holy and just Judge could forgive us our sins and give us eternal life as a free gift. This gift is available to those who will call on Christ to save them from their sin, in simple, but sincere faith. Like the Pilgrims long ago who sat at the first Thanksgiving table, with problems, eating with people they did not know or understand, having lost 44 out of 102 of their family members, we too have a choice. In life there will always be those things to complain about, storms that come or distractions that take our focus away from Him, but there will always be Jesus that gives us a reason to say, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Cor.9:15 Thanksgiving is sometimes overlooked in our secular world which leaves only the feasting. I pray He finds us grateful every day for all His gifts. May He finds us to be His grateful children who have made a choice to rejoice in the Lord. I feel an overflowing fullness of gratitude for each day our Lord gives before I even take a bite of turkey......or lobster.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Change of Scenery


You know sometimes it just takes a change of scenery to gain a whole new perspective. Last week William and I traveled to Austin for the day to pick up some jewelry I had there for a trunk show. We also needed to run a long run so decided to run Town Lake. Now if you are not familiar with Town Lake in Austin, TX then you are missing out. It was a gorgeous day and lots of people and their dogs were out and about. It was exciting, it was exhilarating and motivating. Running in Kerrville is hard sometimes cause the routes we pick usually involve hills and they just kill us. This is nice and flat pretty much and there is so much to look at, it makes your run go by so much faster. I ran/walked 6 miles and felt so great decided to go for another 3. Along with seeing a man sitting on a rock with a squirrel perched on the neck of his guitar, an old roomate, a woman walking her dog who was in a baby carriage, the frat rats chasing the sorority sweethearts, all the dogs and Lance Armstrong, there was the beauty of the lake. The light sparkled yes like diamonds, the breeze hit as you came into a clearing and the birds sang as you plodded along. I really was not paying much attention to how far I was going or if I was uncomfortable. Isn't that the way our walk with God should be? Where it becomes so natural and easy that we are not having to pay attention to what we are doing and we only pay attention to what He is doing. When we keep our eyes on the prize, nothing else seems to matter. 2 Chron. 16:9 "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him". I had my praise music on, I was thinking about Him, my week, my children, praising Him as I went along even when it hurt. He strengthened me as I went on, pressed on and pushed through the pain. Having my eyes on Him helped me not think about what my body was going through..... "But my eyes are fixed on You, O Sovereign Lord; in You I take my refuge." Ps. 141:8 I was able to look around which distracted me and kept me occupied yet my mind was fixed on Him. My worship music helped me do that. Prov. 4:25 "Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you". Well there was so much to look at right in front of me it made it much easier. He made it easier for me. When I fix my eyes on the Lord He makes my path much lighter and the road under my feet feel like it has been less traveled. "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal". 2Cor. 4:18. If all those people and things had not been there to distract me it would have been harder no doubt. So God is asking me to fix my eyes on Him when times get tough, when the road gets rugged and He will direct my path and shine His light upon my feet. The challenge for us as Christians is to be able to stay focused on Him when we have the distractions, and/or for some of us who create distractions that take our focus off of Him. Finding Him is easy cause He is always there, keeping our eyes on Him is what He is calling us to do. As we see in this photo how empty this path looks without all the people, so the run for some would have been more difficult, but when I look to Him, He makes it a lot easier. Let Jesus be our distraction, so to speak, that helps us get through. He is watching us and looking for, throughout the earth, those who seek Him in every aspect of our walk/run with Him. Amen!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Good Shepherd


A great deal has happened this week. As I ponder the news of babies, news of hardships, news of death and the joy of rebirth my mind turns to the Shepherd. Only He can make sense of it all. This week I had a dear friend's husband pass away expectedly, but never prepared for such a shortened life to end. The very thing we are all after, we are all chasing suddenly knocking at the door brings a whole new reality, perspective and readiness to our lives. There are threats of earthquakes and tsunami's as well as threatening phone calls to someone I love. Talks of jobs lost, illnesses undefined, marriages lost and started, hitting a raccoon in my car making me feel sick to my stomach, flu-like symptoms as epidemic panic sets in, economic melt down, and gosh........ should I go on? The good news, God is faithful in our little lives in these tough times and then when we realize how big our lives are to God, we are blessed.
It is 4H time here in the hill country. We see lots of trailers driving around packed with sheep and goats, but mostly sheep. Don't know where they are being hauled off to, but don't want to know either. Packed in like sardines, scared to death of what in the world are they doing zipping down a highway at 70 miles an hour, looking out from between the bars with stressed red eyes and open mouths. Not a site I like to pull up next to at a stop light. But I think to myself this seems like how the world offers to usher us off, but God ushers us off so differently. He uses silence, peace, grace as His method of leading, never separating Himself from us. Reassuring our steps cause He has called us by name. So that we never have to know or feel what it feels like to be flying down the highway or packed in like sardines. It's just us and God. He gives us such glimpses of who He is, and how deeply He cares for us by placing us in His hands. We are SO in His hands.
I have had the privilege to be by someone's bedside as they pass as well as being close with another to have the story shared that as we go God takes over. So much of life we think we are in control and yet these two experiences I have witnessed let me know how little we know of control. When Jesus was led in before Pontious Pilot he did not speak. When he was given the opportunity to defend himself before the crowd he did not speak. He did not have to because He knew God was in control.
Is. 53:7, "Yet He opened not His mouth. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth". We don't have to open our mouth because God does all the talking for us, He does the work for us, He leads us by the hand into the promise land and to His side without us having to say A word or having to say THE word. He does it in such a sweet way, in His perfect timing, but also timing it perfectly for us. The events leading up to someone's passing can be looked upon as timely and succinct with His perfect will and design for our lives. Even the mysterious sudden deaths have a way of working all things for His purpose and plan. Ps. 44:22 Paul compares believers as sheep for the slaughter consoling them with truth that although many die and are killed none are ever separated from God and His love. 2 Cor.5:6-8 "So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord". What more could any of us want or ask for except to live a little longer with our loved ones maybe, but the alternative is so far better than we even can imagine. It may look like this road these sheep are on in this picture where we can't see what is up ahead and look like a dark forest, but when we know God we are not afraid, it is not a scary thing, we can trust God for everything knowing He is with us where we are as well as just around the bend. God is in charge and He shuts our mouth so that His voice can be heard. Christ's love conquered death and because of His love, we are too, more than conquerers. Rom. 8:38 "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord".
Unlike those sheep I see in the trailers that are being separated from everything they understand about life, separated from their kids, separated from the grassy fields, separated from their shepherd who takes care of them and knows each one by name, nothing can EVER separate us from God, our Good Shepherd.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Trash Run


You can tell a lot about people from their trash. Trash is sort of personal. It comes from within your house and what you chose to put in your trash is sometimes leftover personal stuff. I love the old saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure". How true is that for us scavengers who comb the garage and estate sales every week as if it were therapy. Searching for that one nugget at a reasonable price that someone doesn't want anymore, but you can put it to good use or find a home for it and bring it back to life. It almost feels like a rescue mission that obsesses the mind until the one item that is calling you finally reaches its resting place in your hands. This picture is of an old doctors cabinet I rescued from a estate sale that was priced at $1. It was in someone's garage and they actually ran into it with a car. The door was dented and did not open and the drawer was rusted shut. I brought it home not knowing what I would do with it and it sat in my yard for ooooo about 3 years. I would use it for parties and throw a table cloth over it and whala instant table for ice and drinks. I had also a section of our countertop where the cooktop was cut out reserved and it too had been sitting in my yard for 8 years. I then realized I could marry the two, so I faux painted the cabinet to look sort of leathery/patina and put the granite piece on it. I turned it around so you could not see the door and it looks great out there and is perfect for setting stuff on we are grilling. Recently, with economics the way they have been, I have cut way back on my junking. I have found that my mind wonders about what I am missing out on at those sales. Now that I have missed about 6 months worth I don't obsess as much about them. it is a favorite past time even if I don't find anything the hunt is what is exciting, the competetive nature in me to get there first, and the quandry of will I find something.
I have been running and training for this half marathon in Dec. so when I run I can not run past trash on the side of the road. It is like it jumps up from the ground saying pick me up, pick me up please. I run along with cups, smashed beer cans and paper and find a nice neighbor who will allow me to deposit my finds into their recepticle. I then start over until my hands can hold no more. I will not pick up glass for obvious reasons. This sort of trash calls out to me almost as much as the trash I find at sales. I do it cause it bugs me that people can throw their biggy sized styrofoam cups out their windows without even a thought, but I think there is another reason. There is a commercial on television that shows people helping one another and how it is passed on just by people seeing the other person doing the good deed until it comes full circle back to the original person who started the good deeds. I think I am hoping someone will see me picking up the trash and want to follow suit. I am not looking for the recongnition just wanting them to see me do it. Weird, but true. It shouldn't matter, but performance based gratification sometimes gets the best of me. I want to do it cause I want cleaner streets. I need to do it cause it satisfies this urge in me like a calling.
I reckon God is like that. It says in John 4:23 "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks". He is looking for me like I look for trash. He is looking to and fro to seek out the true worshipers, who call Him by name, who seek Him in all they do, who worship Him and no other. This is my heart. That in everything I do it would come from a place of worship. It would come from a sense of urgency to complete, stay on task and fulfill. He tells us He will complete the work He has begun in us so I am standing on His promise and waiting in wonder for His next move. Isn't it just like God to bring us together with Him, just like my table and countertop, in His perfect timing. Even when we have know idea what God may be doing in our lives we trust Him anyway. Just like I bought the cabinet not really knowing what I would do with it, but then bam figured it out.....sometimes it takes us a while, but God never leaves us or forsakes us. EVER. I pray I would be so compelled I would stop at nothing to help, to pray, to sing, to serve, to worship, to give and edify. My eyes are not always fixed on the Lord and often times they are fixed on the trash. God is so wonderful that even though we are broken, even though we must look like trash to Him we are His treasure. I am so thankful He sees me as His treasure even when I have felt like trash. So unworthy to call out His name, but by His grace He has given me access into the throne room of mercy, leading me out of the miry pit, rescuing me from the biggest dumpster of circumstances and loving me in my biggy syrofoam self. Thank you Jesus that you call me out from the pile of trash and crown me with righteousness though I am covered in filth.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What in the World


I am bewildered at the moment. I stood in my backyard looking up at the starry sky wondering.......just wondering as I was having to water my 2 acre yard by hand. It made me think about the days before sprinkler systems, before cell phones, before automated anything, before cable, before instant message, before tevo, before health reform, before swine flu and before the formation of the world. I stood there with my super powered nozzle on my hose wondering if all this chaos is what God had in mind. The chaos in the world has suddenly become like background noise. Hard to focus on just one item and straining to pick out the tune and words of life's song. What is my life's song? What is your life song? Is it a joyful noise to the Lord or is it a clashing cymbal? 2Cor. 10:3 "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does". Whoa. It does and can feel like a war zone out there sometimes. Even so I know my God is with me walking with me through every turn.
I hear sirens in the night, I strain to sleep and my head has little time to rest. Is that what God intended for me? I don't think so. What I love is when I am in my element being creative, out of the norm of real life (on vacation) and when I am alone. I feel like I can focus more on Him when I shut out the rest. Not cut off, just tune it out for a bit. I know enough to get by and that is enough. Real life seems to be noisy to me adding pressures and circumstances that distract away from a life God intends. The circumstances can be brash and subtle, cunning and unkind. I don't focus on it too much and try to live in my element most of the time not watching the news that often, or reading the papers and only the headlines on my homepage or the occasional smut tv on Inside Edition. How pitiful is that? To be honest..... I like it this way. I stay in my world and cocoon and let God take care of the rest. Maybe that is the wrong way to live, apathetic to some, hermit to others and uninformed to those intellectuals that criticize my uninformed life. Ask anyone....I am usually the last to find out about everything. I am trying not to allow what others are doing, wearing, saying or prescribing as the next best thing to inject me with temptation. I am trying to conserve, not only water, but my thinking, unclouding my thoughts, and discarding the wasteful energy it takes to decipher through the muttle. I don't like to participate in gossip, so don't know the latest scoop. I get few requests for lunch dates, no phone calls from friends just to chat or invitations to do anything, fund raisers not included. And you know what? I think I am ok with it. I used to let it hurt my feelings, but am becoming more and more comfortable being my own person. What in the world is wrong with this picture? I thought it would be a little different, but different is becoming not such a bad thing. Do I really want all that other in my life? Is there anything wrong with my picture looking the way God painted it? My picture is exactly the way God intended for it to look. My picture totally depends on the brush strokes He places on my life canvas. The colors He chooses compare to no color described here on earth. The relationships He forms to cross my path are divinely placed at just the right time for me to smash into them. Help me Lord to see this picture in front of me as You unfold each page of discovery.
O the drought may be here in Texas, but God's river of living water continues to flow even in the desert places, in the bewilderment, and in the chaos. A little sip of His replenishing water can go a long way with God. I will branch out when He nudges me too, I will carry on my daily doings to bless my family, others and Him. In our different seasons we prune, we hibernate and we grow. I must say the social media has given me a boost and another branch upon which to blossom His fruit for others to pick and be nurtured as it also feeds me. Mark 16:15 says," Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation". I faithfully and eagerly remain His to use and work through in this world of what's. This world is not my home. A poster was taped on the inside of my pantry for ten years. When we moved it got all messed up and torn, but here is what it said. "This world is not my home though it appears to be. My home is with my God, who's waiting there for me. the time is coming very soon, the signs are very clear. So when the trumpet sounds, I'll be outta here!" Hallelujah!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Belief


Recently, while reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, I discovered a really great chapter on belief. What do I say I believe? I believe in many things. That the sky will stay where it is, that I will wake up to a new day each day filled with wonders beyond my control, that my husband loves me no matter what stupid things I do, and I know where I am going when I die because of my belief in God who loves me. God is everywhere and He shows me that everyday all day in many ways. This photo taken over the sky in NOLA had a heart cloud, like a valentine from God just for me to see, as if to say, "Hey there, I love you, do you see?" I need Him to open my eyes to see to encourage my belief in Him. Why I need that don't ask me. Wouldn't it just be easier just to believe without proof? Why do we think we need proof? Isn't just us being alive and the wonder of our existence enough? What a miracle in itself that is, but o no we need more proof. The bible really is so simple we almost need instructions on how to misunderstand it.
Miller says this in his book, " when a relationship is right, it is no more possible to wake up and want out of it than it is to wake up and stop believing in God. What is, is what is." He goes on to say, "I have come to think that belief is something that happens to us." He compares it to " Love is both something that happens to you and something you decide upon. A deep conviction that life is about this thing, and it really isn't an option for it to be about something else."
What we believe goes down into our souls and forms a foundation that takes root deep down that all the jack hammers in the world can not penetrate. When you have that kind of belief where there is no option and nothing will change your heart or mind. When you believe in something, maybe a cause, maybe a person, maybe yourself there is usually a cost involved. A cost of time, money and commitment. God believes in us so much He paid for us at the expense of His Son Jesus. His Word is a lamp unto my feet that solidifies my belief in Him as the words come to life in His pages. He feeds me with spiritual food that further entrenches me into believing He is who He says He is, can do what He says He can do and will take care of me as if I was the only person on earth.
What do you believe? Why do you believe? What are your stories of how God strengthens your belief in Him? Please let me know and I will share them on Madre Minutes this next Monday. Thanks yall and have a blessed week.
b†

Thursday, August 6, 2009

How Old Are You Really?


Timeless, age defying, fountain of youth and reverse the signs are all buzz words in the fashion industry that seems to be the driving force for many. Magazine sales, department stores, tailors, jewelry designers, make up artists all depend and value what the fashion industry arrives at each year as their latest trend, color, style and appeal to the masses. I think you will always have the classic looks of an Ann Taylor, Ralph Lauren and James Avery or Tiffany designs, but there is always that new thing that drives the sales, that drives the marketing for each year and that the industry depends on. I don't remember the last time I paid attention to it and hardly ever go shopping for myself, as my wardrobe probably reflects. I am hopelessly a candidate for TLC's "What Not to Wear" with Stacy and Clinton, but I manage to get one or two new things each year that suffice to add just a touch of update to my look. Or at least I think so, this could be up for debate.
Speaking of looks, I have started running again in hopes of making it to the Dec. 5th 1/2 marathon my family is participating in and I feel reeeeeeeally old. I am headed to Austin next week with the family to get some new shoes, so I am thinking that has something to do with my hobbling in the morning. Or does it really? Here I am with my husband standing on the finishers podium as finishers in Chicago.....I know I am capable of this, its just can I? Could it be that when I ran my last two marathons I was about 15 years younger......ug. Then for my birthday one of my friends gave me this neat book called "How Not to Look Old" by Charla Krupp. It has some really great tips and practical hints on what to do and not to do as you age. However, I keep finding my 12 year old reading it for she is very fashion conscious and loves that sort of stuff. All in all I think you are as old as you think you are. I know in my head I feel much younger than my body is telling me and I have to find out the hard way that I can't do certain things anymore. I pay for it later. It is frustrating for the body to be going the opposite direction your mind wants it to sometimes. I think of people like Jack Lalanne who have made it their business and lifestyle to staying healthy and fit. Gosh, can I just be like him then all will be well? I used to see him on television when I was young. Is it ever too late to start? He has been doing this always, it is what drives him up and out of the bed each day. It is his passion and in his heart. They say you can't reverse time, but you can certainly do some things about it to help slow it down. I am sure there are a million things I could and should be doing differently. Where to begin.
For me I have to start in my heart. If my heart is not interested then it will not convince my mind to stick with the program. I have to be 100% on board. Knowing myself well enough I will find every excuse in the book to weasel out of what I know is better for me. Interesting how that works. Why is it I do the very thing I know I hate? Why can't I just go for it and do it? Well God talks about that very thing in His Word. Romans 7:15 NAS " For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do , but I am doing the very thing I hate." The fault is not with the Law of God, which is spiritual, but the fault is with the law of sin, the "indwelling depravity of human nature, which rebels against God's laws". Paul declares here that he is carnal, a creature of the flesh, sold under sin, in captivity to sin. Throughout our life conflict goes on between the new nature and the old, but there is a way to victory: Christ frees us to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. Why do I fight it so? Is is that I think "I know best"? HELLO? As a believer we delight in our hearts and inward man in God's commandments, His precepts and Word, why then can we not delight all the time? It is our sinful nature to take the easier route and path. We are incapable of doing anything good without God. Everything that is good comes from God. It is God in us that gives us our sense of good in order to perform it, share it with others, but without Him living in us and through us we are more likely to allow and practice the sinful nature that dwells within each one of us. We can not discipline ourselves to behave as if we love Jesus. We can not love Jesus in a militant way either where the lack of Love, His love, gets lost somewhere in the unbending rules. I think Jesus flew by the seat of His pants more times than not, never knowing what He would encounter around the next corner, but always knowing He was prepared for anything. This is why it is so important to have His Love, His Word and Jesus in our hearts, written on our hearts so that we are prepared with whatever we encounter around the next corner. Whether or not we understand ourselves fully or not, what He desires for us is to know and come to an understanding of Him. As we come to know Him He reveals things about ourselves that help us come to a greater understanding of ourselves. Some are not so fun to look at, but He already sees them and still loves us. How often do we see things in others that keeps us from loving them? He wants us to love Him because He first loved us. He wants us to obey Him because we love Him. If we cannot accept God's Love, it is more difficult to love Him in return and I certainly cannot obey Him if I am not loving Him.
This goes back to my original statement about how if my heart is not on board about something I have a difficult time convincing my mind that is what I need to do. If my heart is on board then it is effortless and no struggle even enters in my thought process. The world will present itself, press in and attempt to cause me to give way to my sinful nature. Am I in pride to receive this free gift of grace from God? He wants nothing in return, and knows ahead of time that "there will be days like these" filled with doubt, anger, anguish, fear, but waits patiently with His Love. Our minds are incapable of communicating this to our hearts. With God it is always a heart issue, so pay attention to your hearts. I am in pride if I am unable to receive the free gift of grace from God. I don't have to feel guilty or like I have earned His grace. I am not above the charity of God even when I don't feel worth it. I am this way with receiving help from others......"no no I can do it". How many of us have said that? I say it too many times. Even though we know that God's way is the easier way we think it isn't. Matt. 11:30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light". In the New Translation this verse reads "My yoke is easy to bear and the burden I give you is light". This for me gives me tremendous confidence in my God, my Lord who not only tells me that following Him, carrying His yoke, His statutes, His precepts will be easy to bear, but also that He is with me while I am carrying them, why? Because He bears them with and for us. The burden He gives us is light doesn't mean here not heavy. I believe it is His light we are carrying. This world would tells us otherwise and that His Light is a burden if we follow. Burden here to me is not a hardship, but what God is asking of us to concentrate on, to work on, to carry out for Him while we are here to get His message to others.
In Don Millers Blue Like Jazz he speaks of his pastor who teaches,"Self-discipline will never make us feel righteous or clean; accepting God's Love will. The ability to accept God's unconditional grace and ferocious love is all the fuel we need to obey Him in return. Accepting God's kindness and free love is something the devil does not want us to do. If we hear, in our inner ear, a voice saying we are failures, we are losers, we will never amount to anything, this is the voice of Satan trying to convince the bride that the groom does not love her. This is not the voice of God. God woos us with kindness, He changes our character with the passion of His Love".
I know God's Love is so different from any knowledge I may know of love. I am so thankful to grow older in the knowledge of His Love as it strengthens my ability to grow old gracefully.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Off and Running


Well I have been walking now for three days and today I started running for the first time in ages.  It actually was pretty great.  I was putting it off, but now I am on board with the family who is running a 1/2 marathon in Dec..  I desperately want to join in with them to run this but have been lacking motivation.  Yesterday I did the eliptical machine while watching the food channel.....there is something seriously wrong with that picture.  Ironically it was all about New Orleans style food and we were leaving for NOLA the very next day.  I did not get to exercise today unless you count loading and unloading a loveseat, twin bed mattress and box springs and a kitchen table.  We were sweating like pigs, if in fact pigs really do sweat, in the Houston and NOLA humidity.  I could not stop sweating even in the air conditioning.   It was awful.  But we managed to get where we needed to be and the furniture will be a blessing to our daughter for where she will be living next year.  Tomorrow I will run walk down St. Charles with the trolly cars wizzing by, the students running and walking  their dogs and dodging the bikers who are dodging the cars.  It is very balmy here.  I have heard it is suppose to rain all day tomorrow so we will see.  
My husband and I stay at the same b&b in the same room, so it is familiar now to us to come and visit.  I like staying in this place for it is close to everything and everywhere we want to be. That is how I want to be with God, close to him.  Close enough that He is familiar to me like two partners who know each others next moves.  I want to be where He is and I want Him to abide in me wherever I am.  I know when I am close to Him He is familiar and comfortable to be with like your old bedroom or your favorite pair of shoes.  There is something that is so right when I am close to Him and peaceful.  There are many things that are not so right and really not too peaceful when I ignore His calling.  There is no way now that I can not hear Him, but it is my choosing to negotiate or ignore the intensity level I care to participate.  Who however would not want to hang out with God, the Creator of the Universe and Master of all things?  Somewhere in my kingdom world and self absorption I waste precious time I could be spending with my Maker.  The very Maker who knows me so well and loves me so much....that He waits for me.  Then like a dawns early light I am back in His presence, back in His arms and in His adventure; off and running as the day breaks open into a new song.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jen Hinton Give Away

Chicks Who Chat and Keep it Classy Jen are giving away a JVC video camera and you have to sing a song using different words etc so here is my contribution....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Brb2IFZU_DE
Go to JenHinton.com to see more details.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Old Glory


My thoughts on this holiday for the red white and blue lean toward those who have gone before us, those who are securing freedom for now and what waving this piece of colored cloth really means to each one of us individually. The flag is referred to as Old Glory. Why is that? I don't know many who know the story of a brave Captain William Driver who was given the flag to fly on one of his many voyages. As the flag unfolded in the sea breeze he exclaimed,"Old Glory". The phrase became that particular flags' nickname. He retired in Nashville and when it seceded from the union rebel soldiers searched high and low for the famous 24 star flag to destroy it. They could not find it. Later when union soldiers captured Nashville and raised an American flag many asked the Captain if the flag still existed. Happy to have soldiers by his side he began to rip open his bedcover at the seams revealing the signs of Old Glory in between the top and the batting. Sixty years in hiding the flag was enthusiastically flown over the capital with the Captain's embroidered anchor that graced the corner. Later the flag would be willed to his neice/granddaughter who would later give it to the Smithsonian. It is one of the most illustrious and noted flags.
I recently asked my son in law, Kyle a US Marine, 10 questions mostly about respect for the flag, apathy about honoring our flag and what bothers him when people don't respect the flag. He gave me really great answers, but the one answer when I asked, "What do you think the glory of our flag represents?". His simple answer said it all. Freedom. I was so taken back by the simplicity of this answer for its honesty and truth it made me think about the freedom God's glory brings.
Our flags glory is the freedom it represents, the freedom those who have braved life and death for us, the freedom of risks taken to save others, the freedom of pledging allegiance to that glory for liberty and justice for all. Do we consider what the glory means? Kyle said most Marines aren't Marines for the reasons everyone thinks or likes to think. There may have been some patriotic sentiment behind us joining, but when it comes down to it, "most of us love the lifestyle and just being able to call yourself a Marine". He said he felt differently about the flag when he was 18 when he joined and now in that now he has seen some of his buddies draped in the flag. "That tends to make things more poignant". There are many regulations that go along with displaying the flag, folding the flag and hanging the flag. The one reg. I learned that I did not realize is this, if the flag is displayed 24/7 then it should be illuminated during hours of darkness. I always see these giant flags lit up at night, so now I know. He feels that most of the disrespect done to the flag is out of ignorance. I asked him if he thought young adults understand the significance and importance of patriotism. He thought that was too general of a question. He said there are great patriots in every generation. He just thinks the percentages are getting smaller. Good answer.
His answers were honest, straight forward and true. He is always to the point with most things he does. A no nonsense kind of guy. I really love that about him. His answer about freedom really hit home for me when I think about the glory of God. What is the glory of God? Can we see God's glory? No, not in the way we can see the flag. Just like we can not see the glory related to the flag, even though we know its there. We see the glory when we know the attributes of the flag. God's glory is not a material glory that can crown man, but more of a glory that fills the earth. It is the beauty of His Spirit emulating from His character from all that He is. It is seen within man and in the earth, but it is not of them, it is of God. It's not something we can manifest within ourselves or even things we do it is God given. The glory of man is the beauty of man's spirit which is imperfect and eventually passes away, but the glory of God, manifested in all His attributes, together never passes away. It is eternal. Hallelujah. Ps. 19:1-4 says,"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is not speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth. Their words to the end of the world". There is a song whose words say, "Ascribe to the Lord of sons of the Mighty, ascribe to the Lord, glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory that's due Him, worship the Lord in reverence and strength. The heavens declare the glory of God and declare his handiwork (straight from this verse). The nations shout and the rocks cry out to redeem the God of the earth". Are we worshipping in reverence and strength His glory, His attributes? This word ascribe means assign to, lay at the door of ( this is my favorite), connect with, associate with. Are we ascribing to our Lord with all our strength?
What are His attributes? Trying to explain what His attributes are like and not like without using the Bible would be no better than someone's opinion. We have to search His Word to understand the essence of His character. In Job and Exodus God explains how important it is to understand God. Only what God Himself has chosen to reveal of Himself can be known. I am so thankful many times that God only reveals certain things when He knows I can receive them, understand them better and apply them to my life. Just as His word says to be careful not to throw pearls to swine, I think He is careful when He reveals Himself to us as He knows when we are ready to receive Him. Light, Knowledge, Creator are just three attributes I consider when I think of God's character. Reading through some of the names of God also reflects His character such as:
Eloheim: strength
Adonai: Lord-Master
El Elyon: Most High the strongest One
El Roi: the strong One who sees
El Shaddai: Almighty God
El Olam: Everlasting God
Yahweh: Lord the "I Am" meaning eternal self existent God
He is eternal, amen! Infinite, immortal, trustworthy, reliable, unchanging, incomparable, unequaled, perfect, unfathomable,unsearchable and past finding out as far as understanding Him completely. No respecter of persons, no favorites, omnipotent, all powerful and can do anything He pleases yet it will always be in keeping with His other character. Righteous, sovereign, supreme, Trinity 3 in 1, Holy, separated from mortal defilement, gracious including all fruits of His spirit. If it were not for His grace, His holiness would exclude us from His presence. Through His Word we understand a great deal about who God is and what He is like. I pray I will wholeheartedly seek Him, His character, His attributes and His Glory. I have to stop trying to put mortal, human like characters on Him when clearly He is so far above all those. This idea of His glory that we also relate to our flag has everything to do with His freedom He brings to our lives when we embrace His glory, His character, His attributes. His glory and the character of God gives us the freedom to live as Christ....free from sin. When we rely and call on the character of God to infiltrate our own more and more His glory will shine in our lives. We can't trust in earthy things, earthly relationships or our own powers, talents, beauty or the goodness we see in others as our source. They will fade and are only temporary carriers of the greater Glory. His glory is constant. As I journey here and there I see it manifest in this person, in that forest, in a story of love or heroism fiction and non and in my own personal life. But, it all goes back to God in the end. The only way to God is through His son Jesus Christ. We will find the very source of all beauty in Him, in heaven when we are in Christ and Christ in us. All things that fade in life will be found again in Him. So when I struggle within myself I have His glory as my example. I set my sights, anchor my sail and raise His banner high as Old Glory takes on new meaning.


Monday, June 22, 2009

MomTV

Here is the debut of my first show.  It was a good test run.  I had a lot of fun.  Learned a great deal and saw things I will do differently next week.  I hope you will curl up to replay it with a good cup of coffee, your bible and your heart ready for God's Word.  Thanks for tuning in.  Come join me via webcam or instant message.  I would love for you to join in the discussions.  Take care and I will see you in a minute.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

If At First You Don't Succeed


We all know the saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try try again".  I got to know this saying really well this last week.  With lots of encouragement from new friends I have made on MomTv I will try again.  Last Monday I was suppose to start my new MomTv show called Monday Morning Madre Minutes.  I guess I did not understand or get the memo about a new login procedure.  I did receive a message about the new instructions to login for live stream, and read through them, but somewhere missed a step.  To make a long story short I was not logging in right or under the right name or password. Reading instructions has never been my forte' then translating them into action is hard for me.  I am a much more hands on, click here, do this, go here kind of person.  I was so embarrassed.   My heart was pounding, I got all sweaty and could not even begin to think what I was doing wrong.  I am not a techy and get so lost in the language of the technology world.  Of course I always tell other techy's that I do get lost, so they don't get lost trying to help me find my way.  I am very fundamental and sometimes need step by step, click by click instructions on what to do.  I tried for almost 45 minutes to figure it out and even when I thought I was recording I wasn't linked to MomTv, but was recording to another link to some really yukky guys that immediately picked me up.  It was astonishing how fast they found my live feed.  I later found out this doesn't happen on MomTv.  We are protected there.   There were other feeds going on and this was early in the morning.  I looked at my notes and everything went to bluuuuurrrrr.
What I did realize in the process was that I was not as organized as I thought, my notes need to be like a news persons with one page for each subject, and practice maybe does not make perfect but it helps.  I felt like a big fat failure.  I was so excited about it, everyone was so encouraging and I let everyone know about it........then nothing.  My husband even became a member of MomTv just so he could watch, which I found out later you don't have to be a member to do so.
As I cried sitting outside the doctor's office to get my stitches removed hearing the lies and the arrows being shot at me from the enemy telling me, "Who do you think you are thinking you could host a show on the internet?  You don't know enough about computer's to do a show like this" and then the killer, "you really think God approves of you doing this show, nobody is going to watch or listen?"  My sweet husband reminded me on the phone those were just lies from the enemy to discourage me from getting whatever message the Lord would have me deliver to the masses. I really believe He has given us this tool for such a time as this to help others come to know Him better.  If I can be a messenger and this computer a vehicle and MomTv is in agreement then I am excited about what God will do with all of it.  
God's Word says, "If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success".  Even though I thought I was ready to do a show the little test run that I did showed me I needed to walk through login with someone, I needed to arrange my notes where one thing is one page so it doesn't all run together, and that in my weakness He is made strong. Out of my failure He succeeds.   His word also says that the enemy comes to "see whom he may devour like a roaring lion walking to and fro".  It did not surprise me that it happened, and now in hindsight I am glad it did.  God is always about promoting blessing and teaching, success and excellence, beauty and grace and I am not sure I was ready or relaxed enough with the process to deliver that message.  I hope and pray I will be on Monday and I am planning on it.  I walked through with the tech guy at MomTv and he was so patient and great to work with.  So nice and I feel more confident now.  God is good all the time.  His plans He has for us are to prosper and to give us a future and hope.  I know it took Thomas Edison 800 tries to get the light bulb right so only 799 more shows to go.  Not sure I will ever get it right, but God will see to it that His Word makes it all right.  Hope to see yall there.  If not, I'll see you in a minute.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fabulous Fifty

Well, last Friday I received my honorary imaginary badge for making it over whatever hill everyone keeps talking about. Here I am blowing out my candles in my wonderfully stacked creme brule that formed my cake at Rails.   I couldn't be more excited about turning 50.  I have always heard your 50's were some of your greatest years.  I can see more light at the end of the tunnel with regards to having to cater to my families schedules.  Not that all those schedules were terrible, I loved them.  In fact one time William and I put all the girls schedules out on our kitchen table.  He was standing on one side and I the other and the table was covered with school, basketball, soccer, cross country and lifes calenders.  Our eyes slowly emerged from the table into each others and I asked, "What have we done to ourselves?"  I can only say it has been a lifetime ride I wouldn't trade for a million dollars.  However,  I am beginning to be able to create my own schedule of things I can make time for or not.  I am enjoying the time I am getting to spend with family and treasuring every moment I get with them.  I am expecting grandkids in my 50's (no this is not an announcement) so that is something to look forward to. I will be able to spend more time and focus on fun ventures that I like to dabble in.  People seem to talk to you differently when you are 50.  I think it is all a matter of perspective really which is only created by the many perspectives I admire and aspire to come to know.  There is this vast melting pot of ideas, images, sounds and blessings that I think I have only scratched the surface in, revealing more of what God is doing in my life, blessing my life with and guiding me through this life.  I feel I am discovering new things everyday.  More of the infinite depth of the Lord that shows me how deep, how high and how wide His love is for me.  New adventures of processing forward into areas of learning, task building and forward thinking.  God has given us a tool, many tools.  So many times I can be complacent with those tools that really are gifts. Tapping into those gifts and tools, pulling them out of the box, daring to use them in a different way, or in a new way has me excited for this next phase in life.  I could just be status quo, staying put and never moving, so rigid that I forget to live.  I love the ending of Ever After, a modern version of Cinderella.  The story-teller says,"And they lived happily ever after.  The point here gentlemen is...... that they LIVED!".  Fifty for me seems to be a new leash and collar you get for your dog when the old one is really smelly, its one or two new pieces of clothing that makes your current wardrobe come alive, its an old song sung in a new way, its sitting out on a porch watching the moon rise enjoying dinner with old friends in the cool night air, its savoring life's spices that give us a flavorful world, its knowing that I am a much loved CHILD of God, even at the age of 50.  Hallelujah!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Declutterized


The past week and the week ahead will call for major declutterizing of our house.  We geared up for Prom, more graduation parties, a quick visit with my dad, Senior Sunday at church.  Now we are gearing up for Bekah's graduation party here at the house, arrival of family and finally graduation on Friday.  As I took down some memorabilia from Bekah's room I remembered her youth, laughed at her wonderful personality reflected in her room decor and relished in the beautiful young woman she has become.  One filled with compassion, wit, determination and creativity.  A very well rounded woman of God getting ready to take on a new life in the mountains of Montana.  She is driven to excel in the passion of film and photography.  A love we share together.  I am anxious and excited to see what God will do with her once she gets even more instruction and even better tools in her belt.  It can only get better from this point forward.
As the world and life seems to be moving at a rapid and fast pace I am wanting to "stop this train, I want to get off".  I noticed a woman yesterday when I was at a stop light in Fredericksburg who was waiting impatiently for the light to change so she could walk across. She seemed like she was in a hurry and genuinely put out by the slower pace the lights were keeping her in.  Then when it was her turn she started across and must of realized how silly it was for her to be moving so fast and caught herself to slow down.  I chuckled at the thought of being on a weekend vacation and being in a hurry.  Last night Bekah was TeVoing Star Wars so when we sat back down to watch it she was fast forwarding through the commercials.  As the familiar commercials raced across the screen my head began to hurt, so I just closed my eyes til the movie came back on.  These modern conveniences are wonderful tools, but once again pushing us at that faster paced life we desperately would like to slow down.  This thought of fast took me to the Word and this is what I discovered.  I am thankful for the opportunity to fast on His Word today as I move fast to get ready for the week.
In this declutterizing of our house, it has made me aware of the things I hold "fast" to.  I did a word study on the word fast and it is interesting that when God talks about fast it is usually paired with holding.  Basically being still and has more to do with diligence than speed.  It does take diligence and strength to move in a fast pace and keep it up.  Other words that are paired with fast are bind, abide, keep, proclaim, cleave, stand, stick, held, and stuck.  None of these reflect any mention of moving fast.  There is also the fast of abstaining, but even then I feel as though that is a form to remain steadfast at something whether it be a fast with food or something else.  My point is that even though our world may be moving fast our God tells us to hold fast, to be sure we act quickly to His calling, to respond immediately to the things of God and not let go.  Be diligent in our pursuit of Him and the calling He has placed on our lives. Stand fast in it, not necessarily move fast through it.
As I wish this week would go in slow motion I am blessed to get my house in order, to watch a young woman step into her next phase in life and have my house full of the ones I love dearly.  I do not wish to hold fast to "things" too tightly.  I became lazy living with clutter that seems so irrelevant now.  William is so great about clutter patrol, as he calls it, cause he makes me laugh all the way through it.  Yesterday he asked me if this copper ladle that had been sitting outside for goodness knows how long was one that Davey Crocket used to sup water at the Alamo?  I was laughing so hard I was speechless.   I get my house in order, one cause we are planning on putting our house on the market soon, two we are having a party (always a good reason), and three cause one is leaving the nest and its time to purge the stuff.  God instructs me to keep my house in order and I don't mean just my physical house,  I mean my spiritual house as well. The word order means to get set, make ready, prepare and direct.  I must hold fast to the order God has placed in me, on me and through me.   Time is fast approaching as my desires remain to hold fast God the Creator.  So, I remember to stand fast steadfastly so that when life moves too fast I stand.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Taking the Initiative


I could not have asked for a more perfect Mother's Day.  It was perfect in the sense that I truly felt honored by my family.  I was missing two of my six children for they could not be with us, but relished my time with the other four in their absence.  I am finding as time goes on, the changes that life brings, our times together need to be savored.  
I helped a friend who owns a flower shop deliver all over town for Mother's Day is one of her biggest days.  She had us going all over the place.  I learned more about the layout of our streets than ever before.  Delivering flowers is a wonderful thing cause everyone greets you with a smile.  Not like a bill collector, doctor or home repair professional who I would guess is greeted with uncertain and fearful faces.  No the pleasure is all in the deliverer who gets to see how loved and blessed others are by the gift.  So true of our Savior.  I imagine His Glory is His grin.  He takes great pleasure in being the deliverer as well when we rejoice knowing how loved we are and blessed by the gift of Himself. The feeling we get when we receive flowers we should feel everyday knowing we are a much loved child of God.  This is how I felt on Mother's Day.  More loved by the gift of my children that God has loaned to me than anything else.  He loves me so much to have given me six gifts. Well actually seven, cause my husband was my first gift.  So my seven gifts from the Lord bless me seven times over.  
They make me want to take the initiative to take  better care of myself.  I read recently in Oswald Chambers: May 10th: "God will not give us good habits, He will not give us character, He will not make us walk alright.  We have to do all that ourselves. We have to work out the salvation God has worked in us.  We must get in the habit of doing things, and in the initial stages it is difficult to instruct yourself in the way you should go".  
For this very reason I must lean not on my understanding, but on God's understanding.  I must train, get in the habit of the way I should go and there is where God meets us. He meets us initially, along the way,  and see us through, all the way to the end. We know the way and really don't need to ask when we know perfectly well.  I have to take the first step in taking the initiative without hesitation especially when He tells me to do something.  If I am calling out to God when a crisis hits then the habit is formed.  "We have to take the initiative where we are, not where we are not".  I read all this on Mother's Day and have paraphrased some of it. That day I had taken my first step, my initiative and determination to listen to God, to take better care of myself, and to heed His Word even more. How many first steps do we all take in a lifetime?  Each first step, I believe, is a step toward everything.  This day I went on a 5 mile hike with my family as part of my Mother's Day celebration and it was marvelous.  It gave me confidence and I am not alone in the process.  My family is behind me and so is God.  Then on May 12th I read, "The right thing to do with habits is to lose them in the life of the Lord, until every habit is so practiced that there is no conscious habit at all.  Our spiritual life continually resolves into introspection because there are some qualities we have not added as yet. Ultimately the relationship is to be a completely simple one.  Your god may be your little Christian habit of prayer at stated times( that was a hard one to read), or the habit of Bible reading.  Watch how your Father will upset those times if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes. 'I can't do that just now, I am praying; it is my hour with God'.  No, it is your hour with your habit.  Love means that the habit is not visible, you have come to the place where the habit is lost, and by practice you do the thing unconsciously.  If you are consciously holy, there are certain things you imagine you cannot do, certain relationships in which you are far from simple; that means there is something to be added.  The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere".  
I am hopeful the initiative taken draws me closer to God that leads me to a simpler way away from my habitual reservations and into full throttle adventure with Him.  I have taken the first step and I know He is right here beside me.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Beauty Treatment


I sit before my computer unable to sleep or lay these weary bones to rest as the thoughts whirl around in my head of all that I would like to say.  As women who agree and disagree sometimes avoiding conflict sometimes not, we abide in God in a world filled with differences, yet we are all the same to God.  We say we crave to be a slave for God yet we enslave ourselves to the very things God detests in our own lives.  We congregate and congegate professing the latest news that has captured our attention long enough to grab the latest news of our sisters demise or rise.  Holding our breath as we enter a room wondering if they see you, do you dare look.  Filing into a room filled with women who are weak and who are strong, who are brave and who are scared, women who love and women who hate, those who are filled with passion and those who are fried and used up.  Together we gather young and old silently filling our pots with treasure and our stomachs  with pleasure. Pushing our food around with our forks, sipping on our tea and coffee sometimes wishing we were somewhere else.  Engraved on our hearts however, is the obedience of Christ that teaches us the sacrifices of grace. Whispering and wondering, laughing and crying, rejoicing and groaning all for a cause to further this deluge of joining together in one accord as the Father would want for us. Romans 15:5-7 "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of  our Lord Jesus  Christ.  Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepts you, in order to bring praise to God".  Nowhere does this happen that something huge doesn't happen.  When this force of commitment to One and to one another comes together the air is suddenly fuller.  An unequally matched component never to be duplicated.  O we try year after year, but it is always different as we gather much in the same way.  A tweek here and a pinch there tightening up the finishing touches of a never ending masterpiece.
A woman of noble character, who fears the Lord, who prays to God, who learns, who is blessed among women, who remains silent and dresses modestly and teaches the younger women how to be women of the past.  She teaches us how to die, how to live, how to grow and persevere. Long suffering for the betterment of others, for the faithfulness to God and of God that sees us through.  1 Peter 3:5 "For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful".  O that we all would strive for such a beauty treatment.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Paradise Awaits


Sydney has been sick for a few days, so we have logged in the hours watching Top Ten Beaches in Caribbean, a Baby Story, Jon and Kate plus 8 and the Food Network.  The beaches on the one show were exclusive, secluded, indulgent and what I would consider a personal paradise.  Our version of Paradise is at best only an inkling of what I imagine God created for us.  Fruit at our finger tips, fresh water never filtered, soft ground to walk on so no need for shoes, cool ponds for dipping, and a perfection that only He could conduct.  And the best part, His glory shining through us, a constant walk with Him and the ability to talk to Him for as long as it took.  No time restraints.  And no reservation required.   A place of paradise where work, self, suffering, pain or oppression were not part of the mix. His grace was sufficient to live on and with, in the garden.  We were graced to be a part of God's domain in paradise.  This picture from a few years ago is when our family was blessed to go on a family trip to what William and I would consider a slice of paradise.  The same place we spent our honeymoon, only this time 25 years later and with all six kids. We knew we were coming to a place in our lives and our children's lives, where all of us being together like that was, yes, Paradise indeed.  We sat on this porch every evening looking out, watching the waves, quiet, contemplating and enjoying being side by side.  Our little paradise moment forever etched in my mind.  
I recently spent a few hours with a close friend.  I was helping her with a computer site, me?, and we got to talking about the Lord.  Then some of the others who work with her came in and joined in.  Two hours go by and we are still talking about God.  I told one of them this is what I pictured it to be like in paradise and will be again one day.  No bother with what time it is and you can just talk to the Lord all you want.  If we all could/would only spend all of our days in paradise conversing, co-laboring and mingling with God what a world this would be.  We have been given the burden however because of our consequence to "till the  land" and work.  Which would indicate to me the work, jobs or duties we were given in paradise were not considered work, but joy.  Perhaps this is what God means when He says My joy is your strength.  When we walk, work and serve in His joy it is His strength that sustains us in our fallen world.
As I was walking today in the balmy cool morning I noticed the new growth on the trees, the green grass that is emerging through the brown, people out working on their homes, squirrels hunting for food and all was well in our neck of paradise.  "Livin the dream" as some folks say. One of the trees had these pollen like streamers hanging from each end of its branches that looked like bright green chandeliers.  They were long and clustered together like the crystals on an ornate crystal light fixture.  Then I passed under a type of pine where the  branches grew only on the top of the main branch coming from the trunk and nothing pointed down.  Everything pointed to the heavens so it was flat on the underside of each branch like a canopy and ceiling.  It was really sort of like something out of a storybook.  I thought about how hard we all are working to get back to paradise.  How hard we are all working to make our own paradise within our dwelling places.  Paradisaical notions that WE can create an idealized place where we live positive, harmonious and timeless lives are all only temporary appeals to our senses.  One hurricane away from wreckage.   We have confused a place of contentment with a land of luxury and idleness twisting human descriptives into the meaning of Paradise.  Are we able to grasp the concept of paradise within?  In Luke 23:43 Jesus says to the thief while nailed to the cross," Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise".  Here the commentary says this "garden place" refers to the state of blessedness from death to resurrection.  In 2 Cor. 12:4 Paradise is identified with the place of blissful fellowship with God.  And in Rev. 2:7  John reveals more of Jesus when Jesus says,"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."  There is a lot going on in this verse, but I think it ties in with this idea of paradise within rather than lost.  Jesus is asking us to develop our spiritual ear when he says "He who has an ear".  Well we all have ears, but what He is revealing is that He will talk to us. Just like He did in the garden.  He is asking us to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.  And the church is us folks.   When forced to choose, obey God, not man!  A wise believer takes the time to listen with his spiritual hearing to what the Spirit is saying to him. Someone who hears and follows the voice of the Holy Spirit does not need to fear the deception that leads to abandoning God.  He who hears will walk where Jesus requires and asks and will grow in the things of God.  He who overcomes, gives us hope that we can overcome, and is also a military term suggesting combat against forces of the evil one.  All believers are overcomers, and those who remain faithful in the midst of persecution gives proof to their faith.  The tree of life symbolizes spiritual sustenance to maintain eternal life.  Paradise, a Persian word for garden, designates the heavenly garden of God where the perfect fellowship that God and humankind enjoyed before the Fall.  I am coming to a greater understanding of what true paradise is and how we can achieve it.  Listen, trust and obey.  I spin an endless web of words that only end up entangling me in my own web of misconceptions or unbelief.  When all I have to do is listen, trust and obey.  The product of those three ingredients is paradise within.  I listen closely to His Word, His prayers and His Voice.  I trust that He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do.  Then I, with His help and to the best of my ability, obey. Obedience for me is multilayered.  It has to do with obeying as much as it has to do with submitting, relinquishing control, submerging to His hand, emerging within His grip, stepping aside, allowing Him access,  spiritual agreement, covenant making, subjecting to His Will, adhering to His plan, correlating to His mindset, deciphering His message, accepting, embracing, complimenting our established relationship with Him and I am beginning to think this list could go on forever.  I think you get the picture.  
Paradise may be lost according to Milton, but for brief moments or for long extended times our relationship with God is what connects us back to Paradise.  He gives us those glimpses of paradise within us in Him.  I am finding it more and more satisfying and important to journal these times of paradise in my life.  It can be as simple as talking to a friend for two hours, noticing something about a tree on a walk, or as grand as hearing His voice, His call.  He tells us we only see in part, and what He reveals is so beautiful so, "I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by His side".  I can only imagine when all I'll see is forever staring back at me. Don't just continue to exist without being a light in the darkness.  Let your paradise shine for all to see His Glory that is within thee.  Your Paradise awaits.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reign Down


Another rain came this week threatening outdoor weddings, low water crossings and a general inconvenience from the norm of dryness.  I think I speak for most in the Hill Country and across Central Texas when I say none would dare complain about rain.  It was enough to bring lightening and thunder, enough to wash the pollen down from the trees and enough to raise water levels.  There were breaks in the rain when the light was diffused and I took this photo of a tree where the water was just hanging there forming grape like drops that caught my eye. What caught my eye most was the light within each drop.  They look as if they will burst at any moment either from the tension the water brings or from the light they are holding inside each drop.  Rain washes away dirt, dust and leaves left scattered when they get picked up and carried off as the water rises.  Leaves look greener, dirt looks richer, flowers look brighter and streets look cleaner.  We are so grateful for the rain.  We are blessed at the fullness it brings to so many things.  
Each one of these drops brought to mind that God is our source and we are like these drops of water.  Once we receive Him we are full of His nourishment, full of His glory and full of His light.  So full in fact, we might appear ready to burst, but His strength holds us together like the surface tension in these drops.  His strength guides us, protects us and teaches us when it's time to water and when it's time to harvest.  With the rain comes new growth and also with His reign there can only come new growth.  I can see in my own life where I need Him to reign and each of these drops represents for me all the areas that need watering.   I love to stand in the rain, lift my face to the sky and thank Him for His reign.  That all those drops are pooling together to wash over me like a flood before the dryness comes again.  He is sending those rain drops. Each one will specifically hit the ground to touch something to effect change, to effect growth, to effect newness in life shining His glory from within.  Each molecule contains potential.  I don't see a drop, I see a river.  I don't see a seed, I see a forest.  
There is a funny story, joke, whatever you want to call it that I like to tell sometimes........there was a terrible flood.  So bad that the National Guard, Coast Guard and local officials has to use every measure for search and rescue. The waters were rising in this one man's neighborhood.  A National Guard member came by in a tank early in the flooding and offered to help the man to safety.  His reply, "No thanks I know my God will save me".  And he refused help.  Next an air boat came by with a Coast Guard official as the water had forced the man to his roof.  His reply, "No thanks I know my God will save me".  And he refused help.  Next a helicopter hovered over the man's house with a ladder dropped for him to grab.  His reply, "No thanks I know my God will save me".  And he refused help.  Well the man drowned.  When he gets to heaven he asks God," Lord why didn't you save me?  I told everyone about you and that you would come and save me. I trusted you God to save me.  Why did you let me drown?"  God's reply," I sent three people".
What does this have to do with raindrops? Well not much really except for me it is an example of when God is reigning in our lives we are more sensitive, more available, more teachable and more likely to allow Him access to do what we know and believe He can do rather than do what WE think He will do or should be doing in our lives.  Just as this man had faith God would save him he missed the fact that he was already saved by grace.   He just needed rescuing.  
Notice in the picture how the light in each drop is in the same place at the bottom of the droplet.  That light is reflecting the light from above though it appears at the bottom of the droplet.  Jesus is the light of the world whose light comes from God above giving us a firm foundation of His glory to stand upon and shine through us.  As we come in contact with others our surface tension may burst open spilling out all His glory, all His light to all we might meet along this journey.  "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine".  Our drops of His reign, drops of light, drops full of His Glory are waiting to smash into something, spreading His love, His message, His peace wherever we may go.  Step into His reign, feel His goodness wash over you, filling you up to potential reflecting His Glory effecting change and growth.  1 Thess. 2:13 "For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the Word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe".   
A welcome rain recommending that we welcome His reign even when it's not raining.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter People



Our pastor today mentioned that we are and should be Easter people.  I have thought about what that means to me.  By definition it is the most important and oldest festival for the Christian Church celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  By my definition of it is the most important reason I can celebrate the freedom Jesus has brought in my life.  His resurrected life that lives in me every day.  I think about the struggles the Jews had that led up to His crucifixion.  The Seder dinner with all its parts and traditions has special meanings.  I am probably not getting them all right, but what I can remember from Good Shepherd is this.  The bitter herbs that remind us of the hyssop they used to cover the doors with blood to protect their children.  The salty water for the many tears that were shed while they were in slavery.  The egg that symbolizes new birth that comes with Jesus' resurrection life in us.  The lamb shank reminding us of the perfect sacrificial lamb and His blood that was shed for us.  The sweet apple mash giving us the hope of the promised land and freedom that comes from knowing and loving God.  So many symbols, so many traditions, so many things to be thankful for.  The word Eucharist comes from the Greek meaning grateful referring to the body and the blood of Christ, but for me it is so much more than that.  My mindset is eucharistic as I celebrate God's hidden passion in me molding me into an Easter person.  Walking in celebration as the new life in me is discovered and rediscovered daily as I look to Him.  
One of our family traditions is to have a bunny cake on Easter.  William's mom has made a bunny cake for years.  Complete with ears, feet and jelly beans.  I took to heart when she pulled us aside before she went home to be with Jesus and told us we were now stepping into a new role.  I realize she meant it means more that just a bunny cake, but what I didn't realize was how meaningful a little cake could be to a family.  I thought it's just a cake.  We can make another cake or have some other kind of dessert.  The look on my girls faces told me I had to step up to the plate and keep that flame alive.  It was the first thing they would look for when they went to her house for Easter.  I had no idea how to form a bunny out of round cakes, not that hard really and never was around her when she made it.  I thought, well  it will not be exactly like hers, but it will be my rendition of hers.  I got my sisters incredible wedding cake recipe, took the Barefoot Contessa's cream cheese icing to ice the cake and then made the rest up as I remembered her version.  These two pictures represent both versions.  Hers is the one with William in the picture, and my version is the other one. You can see the cascarones on the counter she and her kids made that she pulled out every year after packing them safely away.  My sister told me of some of the traditions she is beginning with her grandchildren with egg hunts, games and food she prepared for Easter.  Traditions are fun and the only way they are carried on is if we carry them on.  What I love about this example of the bunny cake is that it is and was made with so much love.  We too were made with so much love to have, to give and to share with others.  God created us to love Him so that we could know and learn how to love others.  He teaches us all about love in His living example in Christ.  We don't place too much emphasis on the Easter bunny around our house, just as we don't place too much emphasis on Santa.  My children have known from the get go, they are not real, but pretending about them has always been fun.  The thing is they know its pretend.  Some kids are devastated when they find out the truth about the Easter Bunny and Santa.  I guess I just never wanted them to have to find out that truth and wanted them to know the REAL TRUTH.  The real truth that is Jesus. He is the real deal. Isn't it great that we never will find out that Jesus isn't real?  He is REAL!   He is alive and living through and in us everyday.  Setting ourselves up with truth and the real deal with Jesus is what makes us Easter people every day.  Keep His love alive by renewing our minds, fixing our eyes on Him and preparing our hearts in season and out.  Let those bunny cake moments and traditions take root as a reminder of the love He poured out for us as we get to share with others the character and spirit of Easter all the time.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Filling the Empty Space


Last weekend I had the opportunity to go out to camp for one night and hang out with William while he was on duty. Sydney and I took a couple of hikes both days we were there and it was so great to get out and walk around.  It was gorgeous, mild days, cold nights with a wind that would suddenly sweep in as a reminder of winter that is leaving as spring is taking over.  The flood of sunshine over the canyon made the lime green tress pop and the water sparkle.  It was like a blanket had been lifted making you aware of all the new life taking place out there.  The birds were discussing and scoping out new places to live.  Deer were hanging close to waters edge, protected by trees shadows.  Vultchers were paling around relocating to a different spot in the trees.  Two perched high on a dead tree seemed iconic considering the image we have been given of them in most stories, movies and photos.  I had my camera and was just taking all kinds of pictures.  Mostly looking for Valentines and found about 30.  I have one posted here on this sight, but you can see more if you click on my link listed in Links.
As I was taking pictures I was thinking about the shape of a heart and searching high and low for them.  I found them in the water, in the mud, in trees, on rock walls and splashing water.  It was amazing as I asked my eyes to be open, so that I could see them.  Every time I found one I thanked God and said to myself, "I am loved by God".  What a sweet reminder for me when maybe somedays I need that reminding.  I need that nudge that I am much loved by God, and I am my Beloved's and He is mine.  As I walked around seeing the Valentines it suddenly hit me that He fills the empty places.  As I thought about the shape of  hearts I would draw it is just the outline, but as I looked for them around camp they were usually filled in or a solid object. Only He can fill our hearts to their fullest, only He can make us solid and whole.  It was a silly lesson, but seemed like a huge revelation at the time.  It was one of those ah ha rheama moments and the light goes on in my head.  I have to empty myself of me, so that God has room to fill me up.  Eph. 4:10 says,"He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things".  He came down so that He could fill our lives with Himself.  The key word here for me is "might".  It's our choice and He has given us that freedom of free will, but it is our choice to move out of the way and allow Him to operate. Otherwise, we stand in the way filling ourselves with self.  "And blessed be His glorious name forever!  And let the whole earth be filled with His glory".  Ps.72:19  He desires for us to be filled with His glory, so what are we waiting for?  Why are we not receiving all of that? HELLO?  In the book I am reading Searching for God Knows What by Don Miller he talks about how before the fall Adam and Eve had His Glory shining through them.  They knew no self.  We have been trying to get back to His glory ever since.  The war began in a sense at the fall, but what we must remember is Jesus took that battle on for us at the cross so that His glory could shine once again through us. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled".  Matt. 5:16
What are we waiting for?  Hungering and thirsting after the things of God are my hearts desire and when we do, He promises I WILL be filled.  What fills me is I AM.  I can see myself as I am through I AM.  I trust God to keep His promises.  I know He is for me and not against me.  All I have to do is daily ask for the infilling of His Holy Spirit, move self out of the way so that His glory can come and fill my empty places.  A friend once told me, "Where Jesus lives there is no room for fear, anger, doubt, envy, lust, and only room for the fruits of the Holy Spirit which are love, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, longsuffering, self-control and joy". Gal. 5:22.   When you look up the word fruit in your bible you may find many verses. Some of the leads go like this......"fruit is better than gold, I create the fruit,  fruit is found in Me, and a good tree bears good fruit", just to name a few.  This Easter week lets hope we can get His fruit bearing Spirit in us as our revelation moments of His sacrifice nourishes our souls as it fills our empty spaces with good fruit.  Amen.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Are You Ready?

I like to think that I stay in a perpetual state of preparedness, but I am not always as prepared as I would like to be. My son in law, who is a US Marine, is trained to be prepared.  I love that about him. He is trained to be prepared for the unexpected as well as the expected.  The thing about being prepared is that it takes training. j He will fly his cross country flight this weekend and he would not be going unless he was fully prepared for the basic flight to Tuscaloosa.  
There was a friend in Colorado who was the epitome of preparedness.  If you invited Bill Perrault on a trip you could rest assure that if you forgot something he had it, in different sizes, colors and enough to outfit an entire group of 12.  We love that about him.  It may not be your size, but when you are standing on the side of a 14,000 foot mountain and a sudden blizzard blew through, you are not looking for fashion statements.  I would want him to be my partner on the Amazing Race.  
God prepares the way for us.  He is so wonderful to show us the way, to go before us and make a way where there seems to be no way.  This week I posted a vlog on YouTube call Isaiah Sanchez.  It is all about how God makes a way, prepares the way and guides the way so that His glory can shine in us.  
While I was in Houston this past week I was given an opportunity to pray for someone but not in the usual way.  My sister and I were having dinner at Carrabas with a friend of hers we both have known for years.  We were discussing the Lord, her lecture she was preparing to give the next day to her bible study and what God was doing in all our lives.  I went to the restroom during the course of dinner and something that doesn't usually take place in a restroom happened to me.  As I came out to wash my hands, a woman was standing there digging in her purse and greeted me not with hello, not with how are you doing, not with any kind of greeting, but with a question.  She asked, " Will you please pray for me"? As I began to wash my hands I said "of course I would be happy to, what do you need me to pray for"?  She said, "please pray that I would not choke on my food".  She repeated it over and over and over.  I said ok as I took her hand in mine and asked her her name.  I said, "Let's pray right now, right here".  She pulled her hand a little as if to pull it back, and I wasn't letting go, so she retreated back into my hand and said, "ok".  So I prayed for her.  Then when we were done she asked if I would ask my family to pray for her not to choke on her food.  I said I would.  Considering I think of you all as family I ask that whenever you think of her, Mary B, that you would lift her up.  I left with an excitement that God would use me to help her in some way.
Are we ready?  Are we ready to "give an answer in season and out of season" as God asks us to be?  2 Timothy 4:1-5 says," In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry".  How are we living up to this charge? How do we prepare ourselves daily to meet, greet and receive the gifts He has placed in each one of us to preach, to minister, to rebuke, and to encourage?  We get prepared when we fall on our knees everyday, claiming His glory, His righteousness and His mercy to shine in us.  I won't deny this is a daily, sometimes minute by minute thing I ask the Lord to work on in me.  Christ in me, Christ for me, Christ through me every step of the way.  I must prepare myself the way of the Lord and the way for the Lord to use me in manners that are not my own.  Eph. 4:12  "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ".  Do we notice that verse is telling us we are a work in progress?  As we progress and press on toward the fullness of God in the knowledge of Christ as He prepares us in season and out of season to give an answer to a fallen world.  Get ready, fall on your knees and receive His love as He prepares our heart.