It is now the very end of November and most of the trees are bare, but here and there, beautiful things are still blooming, like these trees in the parking lot behind our library.

I have no idea what they are, but I love the splash of color they add to the wintery backdrop. Sort of like an artist might use to accentuate sections of a grey-toned photo.

And check out this amazing rose my daughter found blooming in her front yard on Thanksgiving.

Is God's creation awesome, or what?"



This is a copy of a post I recently read on Marie's blog, and which she so graciously gave me permission to post on mine. It really did give me the goose bumps.


Once upon a time there was a man and his son who lived in a tiny village in a country named Japan. They didn't have much to call their own, except for a tiny plot of land that they farmed. Once or twice a year they would load up an old ox drawn cart with vegetables which they had grown and make the long journey into the nearest city to sell them.

With the exception of their last name, and this little plot of land they worked together, the father and son had very little in common. The old man was a 'stop and smell the roses' kind of guy, and the son, well he was more of a 'go-getter,' always in a hurry.

Bright and early one morning, they loaded up their cart, hitched up the ox and began the long journey to the city. The son had it in his mind that if they walked faster and kept going all day and all night, they'd make the market by early morning the next day. So he kept prodding the ox with a wooden stick, urging it to walk faster.

"Take it easy son," the old man remarked, "you'll last longer."

"IF we get to the market ahead of the others," argued the son, " we'll have a better chance of getting good prices."

There was no reply from the father. He simply pulled his hat down over his eyes and went to sleep on his seat next to his son.

Itchy and irritated, the young man kept goading the ox to walk faster and kept getting even more irritated when the ox refused to hasten it's pace.

Four hours and a few miles further down the road, they came to a small house. The father woke up and smiled at his son. "This is your uncle's place," he said. "Let's stop by and say hello."

"But we're running late already," complained the young man.

"Then a few more minutes won't hurt," was his father's reply. "My brother and I get to see each other so seldom."

And so the two older brothers were able to spend an hour together in each other's company, chatting away and laughing whilst the young man sat nearby fuming and grumbling.

Soon enough, they were back on the road again, continuing their journey. As they approached a fork in the road, the father led the ox to the right hand branch. "The left way is shorter," cried the son.

"I know," replied his father, "but this way is so much prettier."

"Have you no respect for time," his son shouted impatiently.

"Oh," his father slowly replied, "I respect it very much. That is why I like to look at beauty and enjoy each moment of my life to the fullest."

The winding road led them through graceful meadows filled with wild flowers and past rippling streams so very beautiful to look at, but all of which the son missed. He was too busy and preoccupied with his misery. He even failed to notice the beautiful sunset.

Twilight found them in what appeared to be a huge colourful garden. The old man stood by breathing in the scent of what seemed to be a million flowers. A babbling brook lay nearby and the gentle sound of it's trickling waters sounded in the air. "We will stay here for the night," said the father.

"This is the last time I am coming on this trip with you," fumed the son. "You waste far too much time smelling flowers and watching sunsets, when we could be in the city already making money."

"Why, that's the nicest thing you have ever said about me," replied the father, and within a few minutes he was snoring away as the son sat there and fumed up at the stars. The night dragged on slowly and the son was quite restless.

Before the sun even rose in the sky the son hurriedly shook his father awake, anxious as he was to get back on the road. Before they had gone too far, they came upon another farmer, a complete stranger, trying to pull his cart out of the ditch it had tumbled into. "We will stop and give him a hand," said the old man. The younger man exploded with rage.

"Relax, son. Don't forget that one day you may be the one in the ditch needing help," his father said. "We must always stop to help others that are in need." The boy looked away in anger.

It was almost eight o'clock in the morning by the time the other cart was on the road. Suddenly a great flash of light split the sky and what sounded like a huge clap of thunder followed. The very ground shook beneath their feet and the sky beyond the hills turned very dark.

"Looks like rain in the big city," said the father.

"If we had hurried," replied the son, grumbling as they went on their way, "we'd be almost sold out by now."

"Take it easy son," said the father. "You'll last a lot longer that way and you'll enjoy your life a whole lot more."

It was late in the afternoon by the time they got to the hill overlooking the city. Both of them stood still in their tracks and stared down at it for a very long time, neither of them speaking a word. Finally the younger man, turned to his father and, putting his hand on his shoulder, said, "I see what you mean father."

They turned their cart around and began to make the journey back to their home, rolling slowly away from what had once been the city of Hiroshima.


What a great reminder to go with the flow and , as Marie said, take time to smell the roses along the way. That unexpected delay or disruption to our plans could very well be God's way of diverting us from our path for our greater good. Think of the people who have missed a train or plane, and their tardiness wound up saving their lives when it crashed. Or the many folks whose lives were spared on 9/11 because something caused an unexpected change of plans in their usual routine.

So next time things seem to be going all wrong, instead of getting mad or frustrated, consider the fact that the God who is watching over you, and who is the only one who sees the whole picture, may have you exactly where He wants you to be.



Today I came across an awesome website with a list of the names of God, and even a video clip at the bottom with the names put to song. I wasn't sure if it was okay to put the video clip in my post, so if you are interested, you'll have to click on the link and go over there to hear it.

God has many names through which He reveals Himself to us, names that show different aspects of His character, His nature, and His care and concern for us. Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals; Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides; El Shaddai, the all sufficient one, and God Almighty; Jehovah Rohi, the Lord our shepherd. Those are just a few, and today I've come up with a new name, but let me not get ahead of myself.

I've been living in my apartment for just over two years now, and have been happy with how most of it looks, except for something about my living room I couldn't quite put my finger on. Was it the color of the sofa, or was it the insufficient lighting? Decorating is not my forte, and I have a hard time visualizing what something will look like until it's actually in my room and I start moving it around.

Well one thing was for sure. I did need to do something about the lighting. Although the room is bright and cheery during the day, the little lamps on the piano and bookshelf definitely did not cut it after dark.

As I was pondering all this, that still small voice within (which I wrote about in my last post) was prompting me to take the crook neck lamp off the piano and donate it to the thrift shop. So I did. But before leaving the store I decided to look around, and wound up buying another lamp that I thought might be a good substitute.

As I just said, I'm not too good at visualizing, and when I got home I could see there was no way that lamp would fit on the piano. So what to do? There was only one thing I could do. Put it on the card table next to the sofa where I have a bunch of plants. It was the only spot in the living room it could go. And guess what? It was perfect. That was the missing link. The room needed something to pull it together, and that did the trick. Now my living room has a look I really, really like.

So what is the new name I can use to praise my God? The God of Interior Design. It gives me goose bumps to think that the Lord God Almighty, Ruler of the Universe, cares enough about me to show me how to decorate my room in a way that is both pleasing and affordable. Nothing concerning me is too small or insignificant for Him. And nothing concerning you is either.



"Then He [the Lord] said, 'Go out and stand on
the mountain . . . And behold, the Lord passed
by, and a great and strong wind tore into the
mountains and broke the rocks in pieces . . .
but the Lord was not in the wind; and after
the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not
in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a
fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after
the fire a still small voice."
(1 Kings 19: 11-12)

The Lord has never spoken to me audibly. It's either a still small voice within, a sudden thought out of the blue, a gut feeling, a warning to change course, a forgotten scripture that suddenly pops into mind just when I need it, a gentle nudge to do something other than what I started out to do, an accident that turns out not to be an accident, but rather a way of diverting my attention to something else--like when I hit a wrong key on my computer and a screen or pop-up appears showing me an option to do something I had not been aware I could do before.

Many times the prompt has not made sense to my natural mind and I have questioned whether it really could be the Lord, but when I've let my intellect persuade me to ignore it, it has usually led to regret. I remember once heading out the door to run some errands and suddenly feeling I shouldn't go. I went anyway, and as a result, missed an impromptu visit from a friend I rarely see. Another time that happened, it was a phone call I could have kicked myself for missing. These days I am more prone to obey, figuring better safe than sorry.

This morning I went to my weekly prayer meeting and gave one of my favorite praise and worship CD's to a friend. It was a CD I had been listening to in my car for the last couple of weeks. One day as I was singing along, that friend's name popped into mind and I heard that still small voice within telling me to give it to her. At first I was fine with the idea, but then I started thinking, what if she doesn't like that kind of music? Why give up something I would really like to keep when I don't even know for sure that it would be appreciated? Maybe I could ask her to give it back if it's not her thing? But even while I was thinking these thoughts, I was already writing on a sticky--"For you. Enjoy!"

The meeting had already started when I got there, and so I just put the CD with the sticky on it in front of her as I walked toward my seat. When I sat down and looked across the room, I saw this huge beaming smile spread across her face that just warmed my heart.

As we were leaving, she told me how perfect the timing of the gift had been. That very morning she had been looking for something to play in her car and was exasperated that she couldn't find any music on the radio she liked. This CD absolutely was her favorite kind of music. Her excitement was contagious, but as overjoyed as she was, I think my joy was even greater. I'm so glad I listened and obeyed.



". . . love your enemies, bless those who curse
you, do good to those who hate you, and pray
for those who spitefully use you and persecute
you . . . For if you love those who love you,
what reward have you? Do not even the tax
collectors do the same? And if you greet
your brethren only, what do you do more
than others?" - (Matthew 5: 44-47)

Learning to love is so hard. Here I think of myself as an easygoing person with a thick skin, and yet this morning I started off my day by snapping at the tech service rep who told me she could not send out a technician to fix my computer until Thursday (four days from now).

I was angry because I depend on my computer to earn my living so I can pay my bills. I was angry because she told me that if I upgraded to a business account (which would cost a great deal more than what I am paying now) they would have sent someone out right away. I was angry because I couldn't reason with her that if they could send someone out right away for people with a business account, obviously there were techs available who could come out to see me sooner. I was angry because the reason she said I needed a tech to come out was because she couldn't find the problem over the phone. I was so angry, that before I hung up I even told her she didn't sound like she knew what she was doing, and even made some threats about switching to another Internet service provider.

Well, after I had stewed for a while and realized it wasn't helping, I grudgingly decided to do what the phone tech had initially said to do (disconnect the modem and reconnect), just so I could prove her wrong. And oh, did I forget to mention that when she had told me to do it, I hadn't actually done it because it didn't make sense to disconnect and reconnect something that I had only just turned on? Well, guess what? When I took that one step of obedience, the problem was instantly resolved, just like she had implied it would be.

I felt so ashamed of my outburst and rebelliousness. I thought of how I had recently asked the Lord to help me learn how to love like Jesus, and whenever I have prayed to learn anything--like patience, strength to stand against the enemy, whatever--the tests and trials start to come. The tech rep incident had just been a test, a test I failed, and a test that showed me how easily my buttons can still be pushed. Next time I need to be more alert to what is happening. And for sure there will be a next time, maybe even sevceral of them, until the lesson is learned.

After I repented and told the Lord I was ready for the next go round, the Scripture I quoted at the top of this post came to mind, in particular the line, "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?" Hmm. I hadn't thought much about that part.

The head property manager of my complex has been rude and unreasonable on several occasions, even to the point of acting unjustly, and since I have been powerless to do anything about it if I want to stay in my apartment (which I do), I have retaliated by ignoring her presence whenever I see her. Although I never consciously thought of it as retaliation, I now see that's exactly what it is. And so who is the one being hurt by this? Has it not just been a way to keep my grievances against her alive?

I thought of how rebellious I had been when the tech told me to disconnect the modem this morning. I was so sure I knew better and it would be a totally annoying and unnecessary step. And yet, when I relented and obeyed, the problem was resolved. So what does that tell me? It's a good idea to obey the instructions of a more knowledgeable person, no matter how petty or insignificant those instructions may seem, and surely the God of the universe who created me and even provided me with a "product manual" to help troubleshoot the problems I encounter in life, is the ultimate authority for fixing what ails me.

God's Word tells me that the best solution for anger is to "pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." And that does not mean pray for revenge, but pray for their good. That may hurt my pride a bit, but when I am willing to give in and just do it, it definitely has a way of softening my heart and taking the sting away like nothing else has been able to do.



"He is like a man building a house, who dug
deep and laid the foundation on the rock.
And when the flood arose, the stream beat
vehemently against that house, and could
not shake it, for it was founded on the rock."
(Luke 6:48)

The rains have come and some fierce winds have blown, and most of the magnificent trees in my neighborhood have shed their colorful foliage. There are a few though that still stand intact, so I went out in the morning drizzle to take pictures of this marvel. Amazingly, the colors are just as bright in the rain as when the sun was shining.