12/27/13

REDIRECTING


No, I'm not deleting this blog--at least, not yet--but I am putting it to rest for a season while I focus on two of my other blogs--At The Foot of the Cross, and The Splendor of God's Brushstrokes.  I hope you will come and visit me there.


11/29/13

AN ENCOURAGING WORD

This was my first blog.  I started it almost seven years ago with the hopes that sharing my experiences would brighten someone's day, or perhaps offer encouragement to someone who needed it.  I enjoyed making and following new friends.  Then along came Facebook, and I got so caught up in that, my blog posts became fewer and further apart. I increasingly found myself wondering why I was even keeping it alive, as a little voice in my head whispered, "What's so special about you that makes you feel you have something to offer?  What do you have to say that hasn't already been said by someone else, and said better?"

Today I decided to listen to that voice and delete this blog.  But first, a trip down memory lane.  As I scrolled down my list of posts I came across one I had written several years ago, entitled A REMINDER TO ME (AND YOU TOO IF YOU NEED IT).  I was curious to see what I had been reminding myself of, and opened it up.  Wow!  Talk about a Divine encounter.  

Apparently, I had been having some very similar thoughts back then, and the reminder was:  BEWARE OF FALLING INTO THE TRAP OF COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS.  

I won't copy the whole post, because you can read it by clicking on the link to it above, but the following story from the  Streams in the Desert devotional I had been reading at the time was an awesome reminder that I'm a Divine original (as are you) created for a special purpose that no one else can fulfill.

It's the story of a king who goes into his garden one morning and finds everything withered and dying.  He starts asking the plants what the problem is. The oak says it doesn't want to live any more because it's not tall and beautiful like the pine tree, the pine tree is upset because it can't bear grapes like the grapevine, the grapevine bemoans the fact that that it doesn't produce fruit as large as the peaches on the peach tree, the geranium is disheartened because it's not tall and fragrant like the lilac, and so on it goes throughout the garden until the king gets to the little violet and and comments on how happy he is to see at least one flower bright and perky.  To which the violet responds, "I know I'm small, yet I thought if you wanted an oak or a pine or a peach tree or even a lilac, you would have planted one.  Since I knew you wanted a violet, I'm determined to be the best little violet I can be."

I don't know if anyone else will read this post, or if I even have any followers left in Blogland who might be encouraged by it, but I do know it has convicted me to keep on keeping on, and that it's not time to throw the towel in yet.  

10/8/13

THE LOST RING

I hate shopping.  Maybe it's because more often than not, I'm disappointed with my purchases.  Nothing seems to look the way I thought it would once I get it home, and my latest experience was no exception.

I had gone shopping for some accessories to wear with a dress a friend helped me choose for a very special occasion.  A necklace and bracelet set caught my eye, as did a pretty ring.  I was excited to have so quickly found what I thought were the perfect pieces to wear with said dress.  Alas, they turned out not to be perfect at all.  Furthermore, to add to my chagrin, I discovered that the ring I had been wearing was no longer on my finger.  I must have left it at the store.

The next morning I went back to return my purchases and look for the ring.  I searched all the jewelry racks and checked the Lost and Found, but it wasn't anywhere.  I felt crushed.  It was only a cheap little ring, but it had sentimental value, and I really liked it.

When I got home, I called my friend and told her about my misadventures.  I asked her if she would be willing to help me pick out the jewelry I needed since I wasn't having much luck on my own.  Unlike me, she loves shopping, and was eager to comply.

We arranged to meet the next day, and while she happily rummaged through the racks, I went back to the Lost and Found.  My ring was not there.  Dejected, I returned to the jewelry department and asked her to keep an eye out for it.

Not five minutes later, she walked over to me with a big grin on her face and an outstretched palm.  There in the middle of it was my missing ring.  She had found it on a ledge near the floor.  Was that a miracle, or what?            

5/6/13

A Close Knit Family -- of Ravens, That Is

"Two are better than one, because ... if
either of them falls down, one can help 
the other up."  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)




Some time in February, a pair of ravens took up residence on our town’s water tower, right across from my balcony, and ever since I read about it in our local paper, I've been following them closely, taking a gazillion pictures, the best of which are posted on my photo blogIf you'd like to see them, click here for Ravens on the Water Tower, here for Ravens -- Part II, and here for Ravens -- Part III. 

Just to recap, though, their nest rests in a sheltered area behind some wires near the top of the structure. which doubles as a transmission tower for the local power company, and because ravens are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the birds cannot be disturbed without Federal permission.  Electric company maintenance workers were ordered to suspend all routine maintenance on the tower until the birds leave the nest.  

Well, due to a misunderstanding, the ordinance was not strictly followed, and some work was done at a crucial time when mama raven needed to be warming her eggs, and yet, despite this disturbance, a snow storm, and some heavy winds, the nest remained safe and secure on its perch, the eggs hatched, and four babies were born.

As I've watched them grow and learn how to fly, I've been impressed by the way they seem to watch out for one another, and communicate.  

They squawk when they leave the nest, and also when they return.  They also sometimes squawk to let each other know where they are.

When the fledglings started testing their wings, there was a great deal of very loud and frenzied squawking which seemed to be a combination of the parents instructing, exhorting, and guiding the little ones through the process, and the little ones excitedly responding as  they discovered they could fly. 




As they got better at it and could go greater distances, the squawking became more subdued.  

What I enjoy most is watching the whole family take off together, flying higher and higher until they're way above the treetops, almost out of sight.  Then they spread their wings and just soar around and around in slow circles, gliding on the wind. It is beautiful to behold, and I've been trying, so far in vain, to get a group shot.  It's much easier to capture just one.

Flying in the rain
Looks like a long way down there 












Sadly, one of the babies landed on the road and got run over by a car, so now there are only three. 

I thought of the Scripture verse at the top of this post when I saw one of the fledglings on the roof of a building in my complex call for help and get rescued by a sibling.

The little bird was hopping about with what appeared to be a limp.  Every now and then it would stop, ruffle its feathers, flap its wings as though getting ready to fly, then bring them back down and hop some more. 

  
I wondered if it was hurt, or had forgotten what to do next, or maybe both, but didn't have to wonder long because after repeating the process a few times, it just stood there squawking until one of its siblings flew over from the tree it had been sitting in, hopped up next to to it, and they flew off together.




  



Follow Me










11/15/12

IT MADE IT

In case anyone who read my previous post wants to know whether or not the second tomato followed suit, it most certainly did, and was even more delicious than the first one had been.  It didn't happen the way I had expected it to though.

After a couple of disappointing weeks when nothing seemed to be changing except the weather, which was now cold and windy, I grudgingly made my way to the balcony, trash bag in hand, all ready to dump the plant.  Imagine my surprise when I saw the tomato was no longer green.

Needless to say, it did not get dumped.  Instead, I started cheering it on, checking on it several times a day, taking pictures of its progress, which seemed to be taking place really fast.

Only a couple of days later, it looked almost ready to pick, but Hurricane Sandy was on the way, and I dared not leave it out there any longer.  It had to finish ripening on my window sill instead of on the vine.

As you can see, though, it made it just fine!




10/8/12

I'M GLAD I WAITED


On Mother's Day, my daughter gave me a seedling tomato plant that I nurtured on my windowsill for several weeks.

When it seemed big enough and strong enough, I transplanted it and moved it to my balcony, where it really took off.
 
By July, the leaves were looking thick and healthy, and there were many flowers on it, but none of the flowers turned into tomatoes. They just bloomed, and then dried up and died. 


However, in August, when I was about ready to write this plant off, one tomato started to grow, and by September, a second one had joined it, and I eagerly awaited some sign of ripening.

Summer turned to Autumn, the stink bugs attacked, and still they were green.  I was told they would never ripen now.  If the cold didn't kill them, the stink bugs would.  

I couldn't do anything about the weather, but I did go after the stink bugs with a vengeance, using my trusty vacuum cleaner as a weapon. 

And then a miracle!  At the beginning of October one tomato's appearance seemed to be changing.  Only a day later, the signs of ripening were clear.


By the end of the week I had a beautiful red, ripe tomato, ready to be picked.


Will the second one follow suit?


9/7/12

FAITH

I can't remember where I copied this from, but I love the imagery.


"Faith is putting all your eggs in God's basket and counting your blessings before they have hatched."

8/27/12

FROZEN IN TIME



Last night I was looking through my pictures and came across this one, which made me stop and think.

As I focused on it, I realized that this is how I still see myself and feel on the inside, even though, in realty, I can no longer do many of the things I could do back then.  And obviously, it's not how anyone else (including my mirror) perceives me.

I also realized that this is the age my children and I usually appear in my dreams, even though I am now a grandma and great-granny, and my children have children, most of whom are already older than they were in that captured moment of time.

Just saying.

8/7/12

THE CRAZIEST IDEA EVER

Here I go again, posting something I did not write, but it is so thought provoking (at least it was to me), that I wanted to share it.  And after it is done provoking your thoughts, I pray that you, like, me, will put it into practice.  It was written by my friend, Lara Love.
---------------

Tuesday, August 7, 2012DAILY INSPIRATION - AUG. 7 - The Craziest Idea Ever


Today's devotional is purposely unedited. You will soon understand why. I am sharing it with you raw, the exact way it was written. Straight from the heart.

How crazy is this? My dear friend suggets I write without looking. Yes, she actually suggested I write with my eyes closed. How crazy is this? Think about it? Years upon years of private school education, Ivy League education, a English degree, and now I'm supposed to write without looking?

Yes. I am even trying it now. It's woild. How can I edit as I go along? I can't. Not really. I have to write from the deepest place within and trust all will be well. But is it?

Isn't this what the walk of faith is all about? Walking without living according to our natural flesh. My. What a difference it is to shut my eyes when I'm walking through life - or writing.

I cannot rely on what I did before - like where the keys on the computer keyboard are. I have to rely on something else altogether. I have to write by faith.

I have to walk by faith. Or not. Certainly I can open my eyes and walk the way I have always walked.

Oops, I cheated. I wanted to make sure my fingters were where they belong.

So what about this faith walk? God doesn't want us to walk according to the ways of thew orld, or the ways of the flesh.

He wants us to make decisions not according to seeing the keys on the keyboard, and placing our fingers there. He wants us to put our feet on His pathway and follow Him by voice, by His Word, by HIs HOly Spirit within. And this, I can honestyly say, makes this journey so very craxy - at least in the eys of the world.

I have a smile on my face right now even as I type in the darkness of my eyes being closed.

Oddly, and how crazy is this, I feel more light behind my eyes, more light within my heart nad body, with my eyes closed. Why? I feel His presence more than ever, not distracted by the world without - around me. Smile, smile, smile.

If only I would live my life this way. Even with my eyes open, if only I would disregard the shouts and cries and voices and distractsions of other people, situaitons, circumstances - and walk with Him. Solely. Only. By faith - in the love of my life. My precious JEsus.

Come, follow me, He says. I take His hand. My friend who gave this crazy idea prays each day for Jesus to take her hand and wlak her through the day.

Alas, take my hand, Jesus. I cannot walk with my eyes closed. Hold me. Lead me. TAke me where you desire me to be.

I love you, JEsus. Eyes closed and all. I feel your presence so strongly this way. Thank you for filling me up with yuourself.

Craszy, crazy. I can't wait to open my eyes and go back to see if any of the words came out right. Perhaps my fingers landed on the wrong keys and garbleed everything. But what matter is this? What matters most is this. I love JEsus, and I choose today to follow Him - eyes closed, eyes open. Heart on fire, heart open to the Lord of my life! Amen.

Dear Lord, help me to do something crazy today. Help me to walk with you with my eyes closed. Help me to not rely on the world around me to show me the way to go. Help me to live the way you have called me. By faith. I love you! Amen.

Yes, I am opening my eyes now. I will look for the scriptuyre I know belongs here. For that, I will not mbe able to keep my eyes closed any longer. Yet I choose this day to do my best to walk by faith - eyes open or not. My eyes, I know, must be fised on HIM.

2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

Posted by Lara Love at 8:30 AM

7/21/12

SO YOU STILL THINK GOD IS A MERCIFUL GOD?!


This post was not written by me.  I copied it from Marie's blog--A MINIATURE CLAY POT--because I wish I had thought to write something like this, and because even if I had thought of it, I could not have worded it any better than she did.

 * * * * * * * * *

(Maybe, just maybe God spared my life because He loves YOU and wants you to hear this..He wants you to believe that He loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son that if you would believe in Him you would have eternal life.)

"So, you still believe in a merciful God?"  Some of the comments online are genuinely inquisitive, others are contemptuous in nature. Regardless of the motive behind the question, I will respond the same way.

Yes.

Yes, I do indeed.

Absolutely, positively, unequivocally.

Let’s get something straight: the theater shooting was an evil, horrendous act done by a man controlled by evil.  God did not take a gun and pull the trigger in a crowded theater. He didn’t even suggest it. A man did.

In His sovereignty, God made man in His image with the ability to choose good and evil.

Unfortunately, sometimes man chooses evil.

I was there in theater 9 at midnight, straining to make out the words and trying to figure out the story line as The Dark Night Rises began. I’m not a big movie-goer. The HH and I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of our own home…where I can use subtitles and get a foot rub. I don’t like action movies. And I don’t like midnight showings.  But, as I wrote in my last post, parents sometimes make sacrifices for their kiddos and I decided I would take my fourteen year old and sixteen year old daughters who were chomping at the bit to see this eagerly anticipated third movie in the Batman Trilogy. Twice I had the opportunity to back out and twice I was quite tempted. But something in me said just go with your girls. I did.

So I was there with them, fidgeting in my seat, some forty or  fifty feet away from the man with the gun. It’s still a bit surreal, but I do know that when the seemingly endless shooting started, as my girls were struggling from whatever gas or chemical had been released, and we figured out what was happening, we hit the floor. I threw myself on top of my fourteen year old who was on the end of the row, straight up the aisle from the shooter.  In that moment, as the rapid-fire shots continued, I truly thought I was going to die. And I realized that I was ready. I have put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the redeemer of my soul, and there wasn’t the slightest doubt that I would be received into heaven, not because of any good thing that I have done but because of His merciful nature and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Still, as I lay over my daughter, I began praying out loud. I don’t even remember what I prayed, but I don’t imagine it really matters. I’m sure it was for protection and peace. It drew me closer into the presence of God. When there was a pause in the shooting, people began to clamor for the exits. The girls and I jumped up and joined the masses. We had to step over a lifeless body, not knowing where the shooter was. We raced to our car and I dumped my purse, frantically searching for keys, looking all around, prepared to hit the ground. I yelled at Michelle to call Matthew and find out if he had made it out of the theater next door. She did. He did. We booked on out of there.

Why would you think such a tragedy would make me question the goodness of God? If anything, both of my girls said it made Him a much more real presence to them; the youngest shared this verse: Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being caught.

He is not the cause of evil, but He is the one who can bring comfort and peace in the midst of evil.  It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love from so many people after this unthinkable act.  Yes, there was one evil act, but it is being covered by thousands, possibly millions of acts of kindness.

We have not yet slept, so the girls and I are overtired and a bit emotional.  But overall, we are praising God and resting in His Goodness.   I love this word of wisdom and encouragement from a former pastor of mine:

Up to this point I haven’t had words to say that would matter. Of course we are all glad that you and the family are safe. Of course we would all state the obvious that this is horrific and senseless. But those words still don’t carry weight that remain in the midst of the questions. Then it hit me… Do you know what the difference was between Job and his wife in their response to the tragedy of losing everything… Job 1:20 Job was the only one that worshiped in the midst of it. Marie, I know your heart and I’ve seen your worship lived out before your family. Before the weight of this becomes unbearable… worship. Your profile pic was not coincidence, not by accident that you changed it on July 15th, but a beautiful foreshadowing of your need to hear the cry of your heart and give Him praise. 

Though we don’t have all the answers, we do indeed listen to the cry of our hearts: When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What  can mere man  do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

God is always good.

Man is not.

Don’t get the two confused.

We will continue to praise and worship our mighty God, anticipating that He will bring beauty from ashes, as only He can do.

If you want to know how to pray for us: first and foremost, we need sleep. Somehow our bodies seem too wired. We also want the life that God has graciously allowed us to continue to live to not be a gift given in vain, we want our lives to draw others closer to Him. We do not want fear to dominate, for God has not given us a spirit of fear. We want His joy to be seen and experienced in all that we do.

Pray for the families who lost loved ones, and for young people who witnessed such horror. Pray for this to be an opportunity for God to manifest Himself in mighty ways.

As for you…we will pray that YOU might know His goodness.

Still grateful for this wonderful life,

Marie