Thursday, August 28, 2008
We were on the road by seven, heading out of Stanley. The morning light was beautiful, and we had already seen a couple of deer. As we passed this huge grassy field, I thought I saw some movement. We turned around and spotted these two cranes. They were so big that I thought they might be emu or ostrich.
As we got closer I began to mimic their chatter. Let me tell you they were having some joyful conversation. I thought they might take flight and I would get a great wingspan picture, considering how big they were. Instead, they seemed to welcome my input into their conversation. I don't know what I was saying, but they seemed to be encouraged as we continued the responsive adoration to our Creator. I chattered with them for quite awhile, delighted that they included me in their morning praises. My husband looked at me after a few minutes of totally making a fool of myself, and asked me if I was done. I answered, "I guess not. They still have something to say!"
This particular morning in Idaho was a favorite because the birds drew me into their morning song. I heard them and wanted to sing along! They were some of the best Praise and Worship leaders I have ever witnessed!
The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him."
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I have been so blessed to be able to travel to many beautiful places. At times I have had a sort of immersion experience that is hard to explain. I would find myself in a place of 'knowing' that seemed almost out of this world as I photographed such beauty in front of me. It is as if God had overpowered my 'GO' button and drenched me with a loving command:
"BE STILL, AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD."
In each one of these places in Idaho, I could not move for a few minutes as I tried to take in the beauty in front of me. I thank Him for getting me to stop DOING so He can shower me with a moment of KNOWING. He opens my eyes to wonder, majesty, and splendor in a way that lets me know the Author of all I see. This communion with my Creator is a time when all my thoughts fade and I steal away into His love.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Well, I am back in Idaho in my mind's eye looking at the reflections of awesome majesty. I am humbled and impressed with the words of
2 Corinthians 3:18 that tell us we are constantly being transfigured into
HIS VERY OWN IMAGE in our INCREASING SPLENDOR and from
ONE DEGREE OF GLORY TO ANOTHER.
How do those words make you feel? Even increasing one degree of glory to look more like Christ just simply thrills me. That transfiguring is increasing splendor in us. Give you an idea of how God feels about us? Next time you see a reflection as in a mirror, remember to thank God that he is changing us to look like him. Look back at my first sentence...WE are reflections of awesome majesty. God says so in His word.
The kind of facelift I want? The glory of the Lord shining on an unveiled face.
And all of us, as with an unveiled face, continued to behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in our increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another.
2 Cor. 3:18
Friday, August 22, 2008
This formation my uncle calls "The Kissing Rock." He doesn't know if it is officially named as such; only that it looks like a kiss is being given. I thought so as well, and it was one of my favorites in the Superstition Mountains.
It brought to mind the empty place inside of me that can only be satisfied by seeking God's face. He is my Maker, and loved me into being. He loved me before I knew him. He gave life, and will hold me in his arms again as I leave this body. He is my first and last love.
Truly, how can we love another without first knowing a flicker of his love? After all, his two great commandments that cover all others are to love him and love one another. His banner over us is love and he delights in our seeking his face and listening for his voice.
My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hiding places on the mountainside,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
Song of Songs 2:14
Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you,
"Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I had the house to myself tonight and decided to try out one of my recipes from the Cast Iron Skillet cooking class I took a few weeks ago. I got everything put together and in the oven, then went to check e-mail. The computer screen is in front of the west sky and I became aware of the wonderful sunset beginning to form.
I grabbed the camera and ran down to some open space to get a look. The clouds were in wonderful, puffy layers and changing faster than my granddaughter does outfits! At times the sky looked like it was on fire. I was having so much fun looking at the quick changes in color and shape, when I remembered I had a cake in the oven and nobody home to take it out.
Well, sometimes you can have your sunset and your cake, too. Friend, Jim, called me about the sunset and I told him I nearly forgot the cake while I was out taking pictures. Well, he is no dummy...he is on the way over to try out the Pineapple Upside Down Cake cooked in the cast iron skillet and check out the pictures. Isn't God good!!!
The Mighty One, God, the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun
to the place where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
Our God comes
and will not be silent;
a fire devours before him,
and around him a tempest rages.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I remember the lesson from the lens as I focused on different things from the fence looking on to Mt. Evans. Any trip to Evergreen always includes some meditation on the peak as seen from the open space near my friends' cabin.
I recall first being drawn into the beauty of the grass as it gracefully waved in the breeze. Then the beauty of the fence itself deserved some notice. Of course, the hills covered with trees and the naked peak in the distance were so majestic that they demanded attention. Then being able to landscape a picture, to some respect, let me see it as one whole scene. All the elements were there in every picture, but what was the focus?
I remember giving a friend I was mentoring an assignment to call me every day and tell me something funny that happened. She didn't call me for several days. When she finally did, she confessed that she just couldn't find anything funny to report. Well, I laughed hysterically, and replied, "That is REALLY FUNNY!" We both broke into a wonderful fit of giggles. How seriously we take ourselves and life, when a little laughter would be much better for our health and relationship with others. My friend and I still laugh about that revelation.
I am convinced that if I wake up looking for opportunities and ways to be grateful, useful, and cheerful, I will have a pretty good day. If I wake up focusing on shortcomings, things that are unfair or wrong, or on a search for things to make me happy, I will rarely see the peace of God in the picture. It is all about focus. Even if nobody else reads this, it is a good reminder to myself.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable~~if anything is excellent or praiseworthy~~think about such things...and the God of peace will be with you.
Monday, August 18, 2008
As I am watching the Olympics, I have racing on my mind. Scripture often refers to each man's life as a 'race.'
This swinging bridge in Idaho looked quite treacherous as it crossed swirling water, with very small ropes to hold along the way. It was on private property, but not sure I would have tried to cross it anyway. The only possible way to get to the other side would be to focus on going one step at a time, looking to Jesus. Surely any other choice would have had me sinking into the stormy sea.
Sometimes our bridge over troubled water seems too small, to fragile, too long, too hard, too boring, too scary, too narrow, too (you fill in your own blank.) BUT GOD is the tiny wire at each side. Let us run with perseverance the race set before us (Ps. 12:1) being assured that he goes behind us and before us, hemming us in along the way.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I have recently been so inspired by two swimming girls. One happens to be my granddaughter, and the other an Olympic swimmer named Dara Torres. One is fairly young, just learning how to swim. The other is old, by Olympic standards.
Faith became so determined, as the days of summer dwindled and kindergarten approached, that she would know how to swim before starting school. In just a few short weeksI saw her go from being terrified to get her face in the water to doing flips into the pool. It was incredible to see the triumphant flipping into the pool and the relaxed, peaceful look on her face as she mastered floating. I was so proud to see her succeed at her goal.
Dara Torres was asked, after finishing silver in the relay tonight, what she would tell her two year old daughter about her Olympics medaling at age 41. She said , "Don't ever let age deter your dreams." These two young ladies inspire me to keep stretching myself; getting out of my comfort zone to follow my dreams and take new territory.
Trust in God that he has put into you a special recipe of gifting and desires. Hone your skills and GO FOR IT!
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you
the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this;
He will make your righteousness
shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause
like the noonday sun.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
We have been glued to the Olympic Games in the evenings. I have been so amazed at the talent and perseverance of many of the athletes. It is always wonderful to hear stories of someone like Michael Phelps who was teased growing up, to rise to the status of most gold medal winner of all time. He is an 'overcomer.' It never ceases to thrill me to see the American flag raised at the medals ceremony, and watch the pride of the recipients as they have the medal placed around their necks. I have seen Michael's reactions be of humility, tight lip to control emotions, to an all out joy-filled laugh. Awesome! I certainly wish I could eat like he does. But that takes five hours a day of Olympic speed swimming to work off. Eat, sleep, swim.
I grew up watching the controversial marks given by the Soviet judges. This year the controversy seems to be over the Chinese control of the media, the Soviet/Georgia outbreak during the spirit of the Olympics, and the real age of the tiny female Chinese gymnasts. There is always the standard to hold the Olympics to fairness, honor, clean athletes, and building world friendships. Often, the desire to win the medals fuels decisions that are unrighteous and erode the very foundation
of the Olympic Spirit.
I also found the sheer numbers of men beating drums during the opening ceremony to be a bit intimidating. It was mentioned that the drummers were told to smile because of that very fact. Just the unbelievable population of China and the power of the state to get them in line to be such an overwhelming projection of strength, is something to ponder. Let me not forget David and Goliath!!!
In that self encouragement I took my thoughts hostage and remembered the recent study of Psalms 33:
No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save...
We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.
Monday, August 11, 2008
I was captivated by the shapes and heights of the saguaro. It can reach 50 feet and weigh 9 tons, and may live more than 200 years. The saguaro is protected by the state of Arizona. You can begin to see the size potential in perspective with my mother standing next to one that by no means was the largest we encountered. Pretty amazing!
My uncle had the 'bones' of one hanging in his front hallway. The spine, or backbone, without the flesh, is quite beautiful.
I wondered what the hillside would look like if I could just see a valley of dry saguaro bones. What sculptures they would be!
The creativity of the master is more than skin deep.
An encouragement to another person is received more than skin deep, being savored by the soul perhaps to the very healing of the bones. I know first hand that two teachers in high school telling me that I could succeed and giving me chances to do so changed the path of my life.
Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul
and healing to the bones.
Even in the dry, parched land I was amazed at the varieties of cacti covering the hills. Here is a sampling of the prickly beauties of Arizona.
My soul thirsts for you.
My body longs for you
in a dry, parched land
where there is no water.
As I lie on my bed,
I remember you.
Through the long hours of the night,
I think about you.
You have been my help.
In the shadow of your wings,
I sing joyfully.
My soul clings to you.
Your right hand supports me.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
My pastor's message this morning reminded me of the posting I wanted to do concerning old barns and homesteads I saw in Idaho. As you can see, there were many literally falling down. Each one evoked in me a yearning to know the stories of the families who lived in them, even including the animals that were part of the barn and family life. Where did they come from? What did they eat? What games did they play when they could take a break from the hard work of survival? I could almost hear the games the children played and the simple clothing they wore as they ran outside. Certainly, each person had to do his part to stay alive in those terrains and weather systems.
Each weathered structure had seen much life under its roof. Yet, as the field flower, each was passing away at the end of its season. It reminded me:
You hem me in~~
behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Our lives are not unlike the span of the old homesteads and barns. Our frames become strong as we grow into adults. We are wonderfully made; each uniquely created. Some of us are beginning to look a little weathered and perhaps not so steady on our feet. Perhaps our days on earth are limited. But we do not need to be anxious...God is, was, and always will be in control. We cannot add one day to our lives by worry.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully
and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made
in the secret place.
When I was woven together
in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
A friend sent me a link to read stories about the Superstition Mountains. It seems there are legends and accounts galore concerning hidden gold and lost treasure. There are reports of hidden tunnels and caves, strange sightings, and many lost and presumed dead after going out to find gold and never returning. I found myself, looking over these vistas in the Superstition Mountains, being drawn to go off and wander through them to take pictures and see what I could find. But I must admit the prudent common sense of knowing I might find a rattlesnake kept me pretty close to the road and away from the underbrush.
Christ himself spoke of heaven as being a hidden treasure. It is worth more than any fortune of silver or gold, or earthly possessions.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."
Friday, August 8, 2008
Crying out to the LORD in our weakness is a habit, with we self-sufficient types, that is hard to establish. But many who accomplished great supernatural things did so because they realized they needed help and could not prevail without the gracious intervention of our precious LORD. He will collect our tears and strengthen us for the journey. He is the refuge and rock our soul yearns for through every kind of battle. Yes, he is our rock.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken"
Thursday, August 7, 2008
This is the view of Superstition Mountain at sunrise from my uncle's backyard. It brought to mind these wonderful words of promise from Isaiah:
The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
and your days of sorrow will end.
Arise, shine, for the light has come,
and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.