Sunday, June 30, 2013

Five Minute Friday: In Between

The word gentleness keeps coming into my thoughts. I think of fuzzy teddy bears, like the one on the Snuggle commercials. I think of my husband and his sweet spirit that is gentleness to my soul. I think of the sweet hugs and touches I give my daughter displaying a gentleness only a mommy can give her child. I think of my Savior, and His gentleness toward me and His drawing me into the arms of His love, where I rest in between His shoulders like the sweet apostle whom Jesus loved.

I'm not sure why this word keeps rounding itself in my mind because the day outside has a sort of loud clanging and drudgery that comes with a thunderstorm. But if I listen in between the noise of thunder, I hear the soft breeze that lightens the mood of the storm. It's there in the stillness and intermittent sunshine that I recognize my life has a similar rhythm of gentleness in between the storms of life.

Brasov, Romania (February 2006)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Guide Thine Heart in the Way

“...Guide thine heart in the way.”—Proverbs 23:19b

Dear Savior,

You gave me this verse yesterday and it prompted me to consider writing a devotion about it. I prayed to You and asked how can I tie the hearts of my readers to this truth about guiding our hearts?

Then, like a fog lifting, my understanding came into view that I ought to share a prayer of my heart to You with others on this theme. So, here it is.

Lord, You know me perfectly. You know my joys, my sins, and my desire to know You better and to walk closer to You. I ask, Jesus, that you heal my vision. Provide eye salve so that I may see the rudiments of this world better. Help me to acknowledge their deceitfulness and guide me into the truth. Help me look past my stresses and my worries and instead grasp the eternal perspective. Your perspective.

Lord, lately, I have been feeling a bit hum-drum about my life. I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter, a great work situation, a family that loves me, good friends, etc., but I feel like there is something missing. So, what I see and appreciate before me is not satisfying my heart's need for a touch of closeness with You. I want to seek Your face and behold it like a child does her father. I want You to draw me closer to You in such a way that Your presence and guidance are very real and visible to my spirit. I want the Holy Spirit to brush up against me like a gentle breeze on a hot day, giving me the sweet relief of knowing that You are near me.

I ask that You guide my heart in the way You have for me. I know I can compare my way with others' ways and doubt the very road you paved for me. Let me not compare though. Let me have the sweet confidence of knowing that the life I have is the One You intended. Help me to be content in my days and to trust my future to Your Hands. Help my cares diminish and my hope flourish.

Help me to know You and to serve You in the hum-drum and the excitement of my days, as well as everything in between. Help my flesh be surrendered to Your will and encourage my lips to praise You for all that You have done, are doing and will do in my life.

Help me love you and draw near to You. Grant me the sweet fellowship of Your Spirit as I minister to my husband and daughter, as I assist my co-workers in their needs and as I love my friends and family as You guide me.

You know I am but flesh and that I am anything but perfect. But because of the sweet salvation I received many years ago, I have access to Your throne, and I have You praying for me. Most importantly, I have the knowledge that You love me, completely, and because of that love, You want to guide me in the way.

As you guide me, Lord, help me to also guide my heart in the way to stay fixed on You.

Your Child

“I designed you to enjoy Me above all else. 
You find the deepest fulfillment of your heart in Me alone.”
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (From the June 24 Devotion)

Luang Prabang, Laos (Spring 2000)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Something to Eat

“... and [He] commanded that something should be given her to eat.”Mark 5:43b

God's word never ceases to surprise and amaze me especially when a small little passage in the midst of glorious miracles stands out and feeds my soul.

This passage of Scripture follows two tremendous miracles—the raising of Jarius’ daughter from the dead and the healing of a woman’s blood disease by just the touching of Jesus’ garment. After these miracles, Jesus commands those around Him, to meet Jarius’ daughter’s physical need of nourishment.

I think this has many applications today, but only a couple of which I will explore here.

First, God is the only One Who has the power to heal miraculously. It is His work alone that has the power to raise up and make whole, not only our physical bodies but, more importantly, our spiritual conditions. Despite that truth, though, we also play a role in His healing of others. We can help provide for physical, earthly needs, such as clothing, housing, and in this case food. It is interesting to note in this portion of Scripture, He had to command others to feed her. One reason could have been the people around the young girl were so astonished at the miracle(s) before them, they forgot the very present physical need of the young girl—her nourishment.

The second application I see is that God is not only in the details of our miraculous healings—whether they are spiritual, emotional and/or physical in nature—He is also concerned with our bodies' very real and basic human needs while we are here on earth. But while He could have given her miraculous nourishment, He chose in this instance to use the rudiments of this world to nourish her and, as mentioned above, to invite those around her to have a part in that.

Let us continue to trust God to do the miraculous in others’ lives today, and let us obey Him and compliment His work on earth by providing for their physical needs, as we are called to do.

Perhaps you glean another spiritual truth here that I didn't touch on. If you feel led, I invite you to share it in the comments section of my blog.

Taken in the Gypsy Village of Conti
Near Onesti, Romania (2005)

Five Minute Friday: Rhythm

Quiet has its own rhythm. The silence of the house. The soundless look of love your baby passes your way. The way spaghetti boils on the stove and the casserole cooks in the oven.

Trees grow and flowers grow and to my husband's dismay, grass grows all too quickly. Sun shines and rain sprinkles. Even children playing far off in the distance on their favorite playground swing has a silent rhythm. A quiet joy that tickles your heart and brings a smile to your face. To your soul.

Silence is a priceless sound that many do not take note of. Jesus often wanted to leave the multitude to catch “His breath,” if you will. He needed a quiet reprieve with His heavenly Father in between His compassionate healings of all mankind.

His hugs to us come in silence. He directs His still small voice as He points us to the “hug” our heart's needed in that very moment. A beautiful thought. A gorgeous picture. A view from up above. All that whisper to our heart the sweet sound of His love.

Stehekin, WA (2010)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Listen

Where to begin. Where to start, on the word, listen. I think of flowers growing and my daughter learning. Is it possible to listen in between the inches and the words? I think of my Savior and what He hears in my own life and growth, and I know He can listen to the yesterday, today and tomorrow of my life in perfect clarity. I wonder what He hears?

And do I listen well? Do I listen to His calling, His gentle nudges and still small voice? I think of Elijah and listening to the thunder outside and wondering if God's voice was there … not until God told him it was in the still small voice in which He speaks to us, could Elijah hear the voice of God and in what direction he was supposed to walk.

And I listen. To the voice of my Savior and the new sounds my daughter makes. I listen to the quiet language of my husband and the sounds of life outside.

I listen. I trust.

Spokane, WA (2013)

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Early in the Morning

“And Abraham rose up early in the morning …”Genesis 22:3

“And Jacob rose up early in the morning …”Genesis 28:18

“And Moses … rose up early in the morning …”Exodus 24:4

And Cassy rose up early in the morning. Yes, she did rise up early in the morning, but she didn’t want to. She wanted to stay under the covers, coddling her flesh in the warmth of the sheets and the cushy comfort of her pillow. But baby called. She was not in her usual playful mood in the morning, either, full of the sounds of finding her voice.

No, this morning was different. There was an insistence to her mommy, a "please-feed-me" whimper. So, she got up, reluctantly, with a demand to her husband under her breath, yet loud enough for him to hear, that she gets a “sleep-in” morning soon. That’s how her day started.

Not the prettiest of morning pictures, she knows. But then, as she opens the pages of Scripture, eating her breakfast and drinking her coffee, while her little girl resigns herself to yet one more tummy time, she begins reading verses on the Devotional Life. She loves devotions, she thinks to her Lord. This topic sings to her this morning. And the first verse she reads is, “And Abraham rose up early in the morning.” The next verse, and the verses after that, also dealt with waking up early in the morning. Okay. Point taken, Lord, she thinks. Much like her daughter resigns herself to tummy time, she resigns herself to the fact many spiritual people rose up early in the morning. She doesn’t like it, but she knows God is telling her to also rise up in the morning and spend time with Him.

These mornings of early wake ups are to be spent with Him in prayer and meditation before the day begins. These mornings when she “puts on the Lord”* equip her to be emptied of self and full of the Holy Ghost for all the tasks ahead of her … the most important being to care and love her husband and her daughter. The other circumstances of the day are in God’s hands to be dealt with one at a time, leaning upon His grace and wisdom to guide her.

She loves these mornings. She wishes they came later, but she’s thankful they come at all and that she can spend some time with Him. As coffee is to her flesh, she knows these Scriptural meditations in the morning are necessary for her soul.

So her day begins, at first, with the resignation of her flesh, and then with renewed devotion and thankfulness that she rose up early in the morning to spend time with Jesus.

*Melinda Doolittle, an American Idol contestant from several years ago, said in one of her interviews that she “put on Jesus” in the morning, in the same spirit of getting ready for her day. That thought has been with me ever since, and I wanted to give credit to where it was due. 

 Prague, Czech Republic (2005)

Friday, June 07, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Fall

Thinking about the word compassion this morning has led me to read a handful of passages on it in the Bible, and what I realize is just how much I need to learn and live this subject. I am usually so quick to judge, to put people on the stand in my own little box I've made for them and to condemn them on where they are at in their lives and where they are not. And despite my knowing that this is totally not my place, I find myself doing it over and over and over again.

I fall. A lot.

And then Jesus takes my fallen self, and lifts me back up. He tells me that a just man falls seven times and rises up again. Surely, you can allow people in your life to do the same. Am I being like Jesus when I perform a trial in my heart for someone? Wouldn't it be better to stop before I take them to the stand, and ask Jesus, Lord, how can you use me to keep them from falling? How can I be a help, even in the quiet of my heart where only God and I see the trials I put on for people.

Lord, please keep me from falling.

Sullivan Lake (Near Ione, WA)
Fall 2007
This was today's Five Minute Friday writing. For more information about this writing exercise many bloggers across the Web participate in, click here or on the button below.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”Proverbs 25:11

Somewhere in the pages of journals past, I know I have written about this verse before. It seems every time I read it in my Bible readings, God highlights it in my soul. It always shines through the pages of Scripture. 

This time, it reminds me that my heart's desire since giving my life to the Lord has been to posses His wisdom, sometimes even to my own vanity. However, it is mostly so I can know Him and understand His ways better, applying what He shows me to my life.

I think this is why I love Scripture because it is a well of God's precious wisdom and a solid foundation of truth. I have experienced His precious wisdom over and over by reading His Holy Word. I know there are many out there that stumble upon parts of Scripture—and you should know, so do I. The book of Judges, for example, has to be one of the hardest books of the Bible for me to read. The depravity of man and just how far we entertain our sinfulness is a fact that I have a hard time dealing with. But when I take a step back and gaze at the awful stories in that book and search for God's understanding or what He wants me to understand about such passages, I am pointed to the cross and the purpose of the Bible—that it points us to a merciful and loving Savior, Who took upon Himself the form of a man and sacrificed His life on our behalf to reconcile us to God.

And yet, some of His judgments can be hard to read too. Again, gazing at these parts of the Bible through the lens of God's whole counsel, we understand that if we turn to Him, He doesn't reward us according to our works and that His long-suffering leads us to a godly sorrow that brings about our repentance. He knows we are but flesh, and His mercies are new every morning.

The Bible taken as a whole is a magnificent treasure especially for those of us who are born-again because we have the guidance of the Holy Spirit in us and with us teaching us the mind of God as we read Scripture.

O friend, have you experienced this? So many “lonely” moments of my single years, for example, were spent in this Scriptural communion with God, sometimes with a pen in hand and blank pages in front of me on which I discussed with praise the treasure of truth God had settled upon my heart.

And do you want to know something I realize as I write this? God molded me where I was. He was the Master Potter directing my thinking one thought at a time. He was and is so patient with me because some truths He gave me were tainted by my sinfulness. My “disposition” toward others as I tried to communicate these truths has often been less than perfect. God didn't stop there with me though. In time and with experience He showed me a better way, a more Biblical way of handling the truths He graciously gave me. He taught me and continues to teach me how to communicate in love.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank You for all the words You have fitly spoken to me and for all the words You will fitly speak to me, so that I, too, may be an apple of gold in a picture of silver for someone else. 

Angkor Wat, Cambodia (2000)
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