Friday, November 12, 2010
On Wednesday I spent the day helping my kids do a makeover in my grand daughter's bedroom while she was at school. My son-in-law had constructed the desk/bunk bed unit in the garage. My daughter and I painted the walls. My oldest daughter came and changed out the knobs on her dresser and put decals on the wall. We got the furniture back in, new curtains, rod, blinds in the window, and new rug on the floor just in time for the reveal.
When Faith walked into her room after school she was stunned. She had no idea that her room was being changed that day. She didn't jump up and down, scream, or get crazy as we might have expected. She literally could not take in the beautiful PINK place that was her new hangout! Taylor Swift CD from Gram was playing. Must have sounded like an angel choir to her. Hannah Montana is old stuff and she has a new favorite girl singer. She could scarcely take it in. When she finally could speak it was with gratitude that we all did this for her.
Jesus told his disciples that he was going to prepare a place for them. As well, I will have a place in heaven he has prepared just for me. I can't imagine how it will look. I will probably have a similar look on my face as did Faith. If it had to be translated, possibly would be, "For me? You love me THIS MUCH?"
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Catching the fabulous moon this morning was enough in itself. But the deal was sweetened with an amazing sunrise. I was enticed out by an announcement on early news television about a predawn meteor shower for the next few days. It got me outside to watch for streaks of light in the sky. Just to wrap one's mind around such an event is a stretch. But I was also treated to interesting clouds, a round moon, and a ring of light surrounding it. The feeling was sort of like watching an infomercial. I laughed and imagined God saying, "Stick around kid! The deal gets sweeter. Stay out here and spend some time with me before I sweeten the pot with a stunning sunrise!"
If I didn't have time to run in and tell friends about the sweet deal, at least I took pictures to pass it on. Great things are happening in the sky while I am still sleeping! The cool, quiet time this morning with God started my day out with a two-for-one. Thought I was getting moon shots and got sunrise as well. God is good!
Shout for joy, O heavens!
I woke up early this morning to be reminded that there would be a meteor shower from Haley's Comet today and tomorrow. I put on a robe and slippers and put my camera around my neck. I was greeted at the front door with an extraordinary moon and clouds. I used the moon to figure out where the southeast sky would be. I caught a few streaks in the sky, but returned to the moon. A beautiful golden ring had started to form around the moon. The clouds danced across the moon's face as the ring became solid for a few minutes before the moon disappeared behind thick cloud cover. I played with color with the red and blue versions.
This type of thing happens to me all the time. I think I have gone to photograph a particular thing and end up getting something completely different because I was 'set up' to be in place to receive something else incredible from God. This 'set up' factor delights me. I pay attention especially when I think I have a specific agenda. God has positioned me to see something spectacular by getting me on a path and then showing me something I was not expecting. It is like being surprised on Christmas morning with tons of prezzies. I get something wonderful and then something so surprises me because it goes way over the top and was something so grand that I hadn't even asked for! God gives abundantly. I have great expectancy for the 'set ups' to come!
I want to be like Jesus as Proverbs 8 reports...
I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizons on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above...then I was the craftsman at his side. I WAS FILLED WITH DELIGHT DAY AFTER DAY, REJOICING ALWAYS IN HIS PRESENCE. (emphasis mine)
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
This past Saturday a committee of friends organized a Celebration of Life for Jim Durkin. We arrived early to set up and decorate the room and halls provided for us at the church for the gathering. As things began to take shape I took my camera and walked into the garden that was right off our room. The words of IN THE GARDEN, or I COME TO THE GARDEN ALONE began to stir my soul.
I come to the garden alone
While the dew
Is still on the roses
And the voices I hear
Falling on my ear
The son of God discloses.
And he walks with me
And he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share
As we tarry there
None other has ever known.
And the sound
Of his voice
Is so sweet the birds
Hush their singin'
And the melody
That He gave to me
Within my hearts is ringing.
And he walks with me
And he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share
As we tarry there
None other has ever known.
And the joy we share
As we tarry there
None other has ever known...
As I walked through the doors to the prayer and meditation garden I was immediately struck with the reality of teeming life. Bees and butterflies were everywhere. The sun was bright and the garden was overgrown and full of hiding places for busy harvesters of nectar. I even spied a hummingbird moth as my eye caught the characteristic movement amid some blooms.
God was telling me that it was going to be an amazing afternoon of love and sharing. It was indeed, a celebration of life. At the end of the celebration we had a dove release that was also significant as the doves flew off from the garden. That story to be continued in the next blog entry.
In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion. Ps. 19:4-5
I love this verse from Psalms! It literally gives me shivers. I sometimes think a sunrise is so stunning that it must be the assigned day the chariot will come bursting through and He will be riding on the clouds.
I have turned my attention again to remembering a time to catch each day's sunrise and sunset. My friend Jim often called to remind me to look outside in the evening at a particularly stunning sunset. He would give it a rating and we would sometimes argue over the number given, as if we should be bold enough to judge God's painting of a sky. Pretty funny when I think of it that way!
I thought this morning that the jet flying through the sky was sort of a nuisance that broke up the pristine panorama. But God reminded me that He put the intelligence in us to create a jet plane that could carry us through the firmaments and look at the earth below. Those times during a flight when I have been able to see a mountain range from above or a large body of water meandering through hundreds of miles of forest or canyon only increase my amazement, love for, and belief in our mighty Creator.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
One of the hard things I have learned (to some degree) is that if you want something you have to be willing to work for it. If you want to get to the hidden lake you must be in condition to walk the long trail. If you want to ski down the mountain you might have to take some lessons and train before going on a ski trip. If you want to fit into those ski pants you must change some eating and exercise habits.
Each of these vistas I could not have seen from the road. I had to walk quite a distance on trails to see them. Each site was a thrill, and its own reward for not giving up. The beauty of such panoramas was enhanced by knowing that so few people get to see them; that I could share them, because of my perseverance, with folks that might never get to view them otherwise. I have these places in my memory, accessible for visits to remember smells, flowers, mountains, and special time with my husband. I treasure them, especially because I worked so hard to get to a place to see them.
I encourage you to persevere, run the race before you, and don't give up!
Do not be one of those who, rather than risk failure, never attempt anything.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
When we were hiking trails down to the beaches on the Olympic Peninsula it was a little disconcerting because it was different from what I am used to seeing. The rain forests were full of moss, mushrooms, lichen, slugs, and decaying trees. The beaches were windy and cold, overcast, and filled with gulls that flew way too close. It took a little deep breathing to let myself just be in the space of immense rocks and expanse of waves. The transformation was quite incredible.
I found myself thanking God for the mysteries and things He leads me to that are not clear. The enormity of what I do not understand is overwhelming in the face of oceans and huge cliffs. It amazes me when I look at a huge sky or mountain as well, and know that God made them for us to enjoy. Life is manifesting on misty beaches, glacial meadows, rain forests, and deserts. We truly serve an amazing Creator!
By wisdom the Lord laid the earth's foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
by his knowledge the deeps were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us...
Do we really believe this? Do we let our imaginations fly and our dreams go wild when we ask? We limit ourselves so much, often believing that we will not get what we ask for. We know, if we are honest with ourselves, we do not want to work for those things we dream. We stop short of the leaps of faith that engage us in courageous and outlandish pursuits and astonishing victories. We settle for the mundane because we do not ask for and work for something bigger.
To be sure, I don't get everything I ask for. I wanted to see moose and bears in the North Cascades of Washington State last week. Didn't. Saw incredible turquoise lakes, beautiful waterfalls, bountiful vineyards and orchards. My basket was full of harvest even without the bears.
Then came Mt. Rainier. We were on a 7 1/2 mile hike up Mt. Rainier. As the trail grew in elevation and difficulty, and the temperature dropped, I sent my husband on to finish and turned at an intersection to take a different trail through wildflowers down to the Paradise Inn. I could catch my breath and take pictures of the wildflowers at my leisure. To be sure, it was still quite a trek to go as far as I did.
We had heard earlier that there were bears sighted at a different trail. It was not the one I was on. Nonetheless, I prayed, "Jesus, you know my heart. I SO want to see a bear here. I am so thrilled to be here in this glorious place. Thank you for making all things come together for us to be able to come see this place. I love you..."
As I neared the Inn, I saw a small crowd. Since I had seen a deer in the parking lot that morning I assumed they were seeing deer. When I got closer I could see that they were watching a black bear and her cub. WOW! I was invigorated and decided not to go inside. I turned around and started down a small .3 mile hike to Myrtle Falls. The autumn colors were fantastic, and I knew Eric would not be in for awhile from his continued hike higher up the mountain. As I neared the Falls there was a brown black bear up on the hillside. As I followed him with my lens he ran in and out of view. Then he stopped and stood up. I have seen many bears in my travels, but only one other light-colored black bear. I have NEVER seen one stand up! I was giddy in thanking God for this gift.
I don't believe that prayers should be a shopping list of 'I wants'. However; I believe that we are to ask boldly and joyfully. God loves all his kids; but I think being a parent myself, that He delights in grateful kids. That attitude of gratitude keeps my heart pointed with great expectancy to joyful pursuits. I get to come home and offer praises back to God through my blog to encourage you all to ask big!
We drove into the south entrance of Mt. Rainier around 5:30 headed for our night's lodging at the Paradise Inn. The drive was quite ethereal through barely visible roads due to intense ground fog. We knew great mountains were all around us, but could not see a single rock. The outlines of trees were the only things to guide us safely on the roads. We finally made it to the Inn and got tucked in for the night.
As I opened the curtains the next morning I was pleased to see a deer in the parking lot and two grand peaks clearly visible. I knew neither one could be Mt. Rainier because they were equal in height and not covered with snow. I dressed quickly to run outside the Inn and see where the grande lady stood. I nearly fainted as I saw her rise above the fall-colored hillside. It was quite startling to realize how much she rose above the other towering peaks that in their own right were stunning.
I heard from several fellow travelers that they had been to the park several times and never saw her totally uncovered. In fact, only an hour later she was covered by clouds. After a quick breakfast and short hike we got in the car to see if we could get her reflection in the lakes down the road. Success!!! But later on a midday hike she showed her peak above a massive expanse of clouds. It was extremely shocking to see how far above the clouds she stood. The vision was mind-boggling because the amount of distance between the treed hillside and the peak above the clouds was almost impossible to connect to the fact of the rest of the mountain being hidden behind the screen.
Experiences like this help me to practice sensing the sacred. I cannot see God but can surely sense His love, direction, grace, compassion, invitations, sweetness, grandeur, and spirit. It is good to stop, be still, and KNOW that He is God. What a joy it is to know I am His child! He is so grand, but close enough to hold my hand, fill me with freedom, and dance with me through a joy-filled life!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
This year has been full of some long stretches; difficult pathways that would lead to very different endings. My mother has suffered excruciating disintegration of her spine. I went to help her with convalescing; a long drive by car of over 900 miles each way. Ten and twelve hours driving two days in a row is a new experience for me. I can report that mom is doing great, and feeling better than she has in 20 years.
The other long stretch is the final journey by our long-time friend, Jim, to his death on September 9th. He was noticeably declining for almost a year. As he lost more freedom, more friends found him and surrounded him with care in his last months. The meeting of these different groups of people has formed a harvest of some amazing new friends.
I was fortunate, along the roads through TX, OK, KA, NE, WY, CO to be blessed with wonderful fields shouting God's glory even when I could not. I felt a little lost at times; both physically and spiritually.I was inadequate in both journeys,(my friend and my mother), but believe that God gave me grace in words, actions, and courage to keep on the lighted path. When I was lost He would find me. The prizes, after tough races, are especially beautiful. Furrows in fields may mimic added furrows in my face, along with some gifts of understanding, maturity, and humility that have stretched my heart.
These fields along the way to and from my mother, spoke of harvest, sowing and reaping, planting seeds, and most of all the generosity of our God. Even in death there is life. As the seed falls to the ground, giving up its essence, there is new birth and new life to come in the next season.
Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
We have weathered some storms in close relationships and in nature lately. When there is 'stormy' weather it is always good to have encouragement from others. But I KNOW it is also necessary to encourage myself in the Lord. These are some thoughts that the Holy Spirit has been bringing to my mind:
I KNOW that all things work together for good for those that love the Lord.
I KNOW that God can quench my thirst and clean my heart.
I KNOW that He hedges me in before and behind every storm. He will not abandon me.
I KNOW that the joy of the Lord is my strength.
As I watched the storm approach today it was wonderful to feel the heat break from the triple digit Texas weather. It was also wonderful to see the grass and leaves enjoy the much-needed rain. The transitional sky helped me to realize that the storms do pass. I could see the streaks of rain in the distance, feel the quenching drops on my face, and enjoy a little 'kid' stomping in the accumulated rainfall in the street. We need to remember that joy is possible in the middle of the storm. We have a wonderful God!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
God uses His sunsets to draw me closer to Him. I keep a watch on the sky most days as the time nears. Tonight I went out and found myself on a different road at sunset than I have been before. It is easy and close, so what a gift I was given to find sillouettes of sunflowers and a windmill with a gorgeous backdrop of another stunner by God sunset.
Sunsets remind me that there is enough in each day, so stay in THAT day. God will give you provision for that day, His daily bread. We ask, according to His prayer, to give us EACH day, our DAILY bread. What we think we have stored for tomorrow may go away before the day is done. What we do not have today may be showered upon us tomorrow. Therefore...
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thansgiving let your requests be made known to God. Phil. 4:6
Monday, August 16, 2010
As one of our hikes took a turn down to the river, we came upon a section of the water that seemed stagnant and dead. In plain language, it was yucky. Just a step away from taking a picture of a black bee on a dead head of grass, we turned our eyes downstream to see a much different ethereal river, lush and green; teeming with life. It was gorgeous and rich with light, though it had a covering of limbs and shade. The reflections and smells were magnificent. I don't know if it will translate to you in this picture, but I know it will be a place I go visit in my dreams or perhaps the dentist's chair. Beautiful to revisit and know that I was there. The Garden of Eden came to mind. It seemed to transport us out of time into that place of peace. It was hard for me to leave it. I am glad God gave us memory so I can revisit it.
After returning from a trip I wade through my pictures, listening for messages to match each photo. This one, with the contrast in water only a foot apart, seemed to scream of a full and good life that God has for us. I know the good shepherd led me to see this place, one of our divine appointments, to demonstrate his parable:
The person that enters through me will be saved. That person will be able to come in and go out. He will find everything he needs. A thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But I came to give life~~life that is full and good. Jn. 10:9-10
Easy-to-Read Version, World Holy Bible
I grew up in western Nebraska. Things were pretty plain and simple. I find the words, 'full and good' right down my alley. Abundant life? Don't know that I would wear that t-shirt. But a life that is 'full and good'? I 'get' that, and I got that, and continue to be given an incredible life that is full and good. God is Good, and has been good to me.