Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Becoming Real

Discovering little treasures throughout my day has become a grand adventure.

The more I look...

           The more I find....

                       The more grateful I become.....

                                   The more I look....

You get the idea.

Instead of being overlooked and left dormant (in a sense), the sweet gifts from Papa seem to come to life.
Or maybe by stopping and taking them in, I am discovering how vibrant with life they are?

The veneer of ice across a pond....
Shadows cast across the yard by bright sunlight....
That sunlight filtering through the trees....
Light reflecting off a glass heart in one of my desk's cubbies....

So much beauty, so much He is saying through each one.

Besides all the little sweet love notes that Papa has scattered throughout my days He has seen fit to use some new material to draw me even closer to His heart.

Last week a friend passed me a devotional booklet written by Selwyn Hughes.
I had never read anything by him, but am so very glad to have been introduced to his material now!

Each daily devotion is just one page, yet so rich and deep.
He stays on one topic for two months at a time.
This particular one is entitled
            "Reality - The Road Less Traveled"
Mr. Hughes explores what reality is and concludes that the Living God is true reality.
We seek all kinds of things, but until we find Him, we do not really find what is real.

He argues that, not only is Jesus the living reality, but apart from Him we are not truly real ourselves.
Here's how he put it,
"We cannot be real people until we come in contact with the ultimate reality-God."
This made me think of The Velveteen Rabbit.  The stuffed animal became real because of his boy's love.

I know that the day I encountered my LORD is the day that I truly began to live.

The world around us can bog us down at times, but there is Papa always seeking to draw us back into real living.

At the beginning of this month I believe I shared the Scripture that Papa gave me for this year.
Romans, chapter Twelve, verse twelve.
"Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer."
For this to mark my life I must be alive in Him.

Seeking Him and watching for all His treasures stirs up His life in me.

Today I came across that verse quoted from another Bible translation that uses the word instant instead of devoted so it reads,
"instant in prayer."
I picture it this way: I am alive in Him, aware of His Presence and blessings then prayer will be like breathing in and out. 
No hesitation in communicating with my Papa!

In His Presence we discover more fully how much He loves us and as we receive that love we become really real.

Discovering His gifts and enjoying them relieves us of the concerns over the stuff in our lives and allows us to experience freedom of living in Him.  His gifts are so much more valuable than any of the other things we seek to collect.
All His gifts come from His love and are meant to express that love.
Nothing else comes close.
Cause nothing else is really real!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gratefully Held Together By Grace

Papa continues to bring up the subject of gratitude.

The Attitude of Gratitude is very attractive.

A number of years ago I met a woman and was instantly drawn to her.

We would run into each other now and again, usually at a mutual friend's home.
When Ray and I would get an invite from our friend, I always hoped that the lady, who I'll call TS, would be there and was truly disappointed when she wasn't.
Recently, I have had the privilege of beginning a friendship with this lovely lady.
It is a gift from my Papa that answers my heart's desire for just such a friend.

As we visited yesterday TS shared how she had begun a gratitude list many years ago.
This attitude is ingrained in her character now and draws many to her.

It is Our God's desire for His children to be attractive, really stunning.

According to Second Corinthians we may be earthen vessels, but He has filled our hearts with His Light.
In the passage from the second chapter that happens to head up this blog, we learn that we are the fragrance of Christ.

Gratitude is one evidence that we are in touch with that Light and allowing the fragrance to waft from us.

It is not something we can do on our own.  We are dependent upon the Living God to grow us up in Him  and to help us be yielded vessels.
Remember Jesus said that apart from Him, we can do nothing!

Another Jill Caratinni commentary caught my attention.
In this one she quoted from a a book by Anne Lamott.  I had read a book by this author last year, I believe.  I had even commented on it right here.
The book was "Bird By Bird" and I was not overly enamored with it.  The biggest problem was that I thought I was reading material by a Christian author, which set me up with expectations that were not met.

The truth is that Ms Lamott was and is on a journey to and with God, as we all are.

The material that was lifted from her more recent books related how, even growing up in a household that celebrated its disbelief in God and then out on her own, she found herself seeking someone to thank for all the little things that she enjoyed in her life.
Ms Caratinni put it this way:
"She describes darkness in a broken world and an unpredictable childhood, the dimming affects of self-loathing, addiction, fear, guilt, and grief. And she somehow describes the presence of one to thank regardless, one whose light gradually appeared through a world that slowly cracked into a thousand pieces—maybe even cracking mercifully? "
She journeyed from her childhood home of dysfunction carrying, all the baggage with her, into her own form of darkness.  Yet, there was that need to find the One to thank anyway.

One comment by Anne Lamott spoke volumes,

"Man is born broken, he lives by mending.  The grace of God is the glue."
We spend our lives seeking to be whole, to find ourselves and it is when we find God that our longings are met.

How can we but be grateful?!

Yes, grateful to Him for extending His grace to us, broken vessels in need of much glue.....

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Little Things

"He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much."
The address in the Bible for this verse is the Sixteenth chapter of Luke, the Tenth verse.

Papa has been speaking to me about little things.

If I don't let the little things rile me, if I don't skip over the small stuff on my quest for the bigger and better, well then I will learn faithfulness.
And when the big stuff comes I'll be ready!
Ready to face it or embrace it.
Face the tough things and embrace the good.

Frances J. Roberts writes in her book "Progress on Another Pilgrim,"
"Build inner faith from the lesser challenges, and it will be your delivering angel in the most challenging moment."
Inner faith is built not just by the hard things, but in discovering the loving faithfulness of our gracious God in every moment of our lives.

Jesus lived what He taught.
He made every moment count.
He didn't miss a thing.
Just read the Gospels and you'll agree.

So I have a living example!

Another example has been found in the book I am reading "One Thousand Gifts."

This morning Papa made it clear that He would like me to more than admire Ann Voskamp's words.
I opened another book this morning, as part of my devotional time.  It is a book I have mentioned before, "When I am in His Presence."

I am working my way through the book one entry at a time.  The entries are short ones, but enough to get me thinking.
Today's reading was a short prayer of thanks to the LORD; thanks for the beautiful music He fills her life with. 
Music of loving voices and beautiful creatures.

So I started my list.
Here is what I have thus far for today:

A hot cup of deep, dark tea...
The first hint of the light of morning...
Signs of new, healthy growth on a houseplant...
Three bulbs in a pot that have burst forth with flowers whose petals are so numerous it would be a challenge to count them....
The colors of the bulbs refreshing my sight, so delicate and fresh....
Two white-tailed deer dancing together in a field...

Thank You, Papa for the lovely gifts!

Stopping to discover and acknowledge these little gifts has refreshed my spirit already!
Each one piles up within me, layer upon layer, filling me, strengthening me, causing me to rejoice!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Gift of Prayer

The Bible study group that I am part of has been doing a study on prayer.
The material we have been using is authored by Jim Cymbala.

Pastor Cymbala knows the value of prayer.
It has been a great joy to be privy to his thoughts on the topic.
That last sentence is misleading, because it isn't his own thoughts that he shares, but what he has learned from walking with the Living God.

Many might view prayer as a place to pull out their laundry list of concerns; that is part of it, but a very small part.
The primary function of prayer is to draw nearer to God and recognize Him for Who He is.
When we get a glimpse of our God, our response will be to worship Him.
In that position what we then pray for comes from a heart that has been fixed on the Living God.  These prayers come from a desire to honor our God; they are purer.

A couple of passages of Scripture have leaped out at me recently.

In Exodus, the Nineteenth chapter, the LORD God instructs Moses to prepare the people of Israel to meet Him.
They are going to meet God?!

Beginning with verse sixteen we are given a picture of what they encountered.
"So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.  And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.  Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked (trembled) violently.  When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder (literally, a sound)."
Now is that a God that we should casually wave our list before??

Obviously, the Israelites didn't think so either.

He is Holy!

Because of His Son, Jesus Christ, we have the privilege to be able to approach His Throne at all times.
In Old Testament times only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies and then just once a year!

Such a gift and privilege we have!

Unfortunately, it is easy for us mere humans to take such a privilege for granted.
Then we come as  spoiled children looking for an over-indulgent Father.

This Father has bestowed so many blessings upon us.
It is time to stop and thank Him and give Him the glory He is due!

The Book of Ezra relates the beginning of the Temple's restoration.

Persia is now ruling over Israel and has allowed some of the people to return and to begin to rebuild the Temple.
Those who return had prayed for such an answer.

In the Third chapter, we read of the people's response when the Temple's foundation has been laid.
"Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD according to the directions of King David of Israel.  and they sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, saying, "For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever."  And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.  Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy; so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the shout was heard far away."
There was a whole lot of emotion going on that day, wouldn't you say?!

When I approach my God in reverence, focusing on Who He is then my prayers are from my heart.
For His Holy Spirit leads my prayers.
There is a great satisfaction at those times.

When the answer comes, I cannot contain myself!
Well, I do a little bit or I would be heard far away too!

I want this to be the norm in my life, not the exception!

A while ago I mentioned hearing part of an interview of an author who wrote a book on blessings.
I now own the book, thanks to a very thoughtful friend!

It is entitled, "One Thousand Gifts" and the author is Ann Voskamp.
She believes that the remedy for many of our struggles is a thankful heart.

Mrs. Voskamp was challenged by a friend to begin to make a list of one thousand gifts from God.  She begins to discover them scattered through her every day.

In the act of listing each one she has to stop and recognize the gift and the Giver.  The act itself is a gift.

I had begun a blessing journal a few months ago.  Each day I list all the blessings I find in Scripture and then what blessings fill my day.
There is always something.

Something occurred to me last night.
I look for the big stuff contrary to Mrs. Voskamp who takes notice of the simplest things....

Morning shadows across the old floors...
Cry of a blue jay from high in the spruce...
Moonlight on pillows....

The author speaks of being grateful in plenty or in need....

That reminds me of what Paul said in the letter to the Philippians, Chapter Four, verse Eleven.
"Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am."
To delight in the simple, little things one must pay attention and that means being in the moment!
Ah.... I still am working on that, Papa!

I do not want to miss all those little gifts.  They are there from Papa's Hand for my heart...

Just like the Monarch butterfly that flew right up to my windshield yesterday!
Imagine that Papa had one stick around this winter just to surprise me!!

Oh, let us praise the Holy One Who delights in blessing His children with so many gifts!
The greatest gift being prayer!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Beyond the Baggage

"For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again."
Righteous because of and through Jesus alone!

Fall I will, over and over.
The number seven means just that in the Scriptures.
It is the number of completion.
On and on until the end....

Yet, notice that those who are in Christ never stay down!
"I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up..."
Yes, by His Hand I rise over and over....

And as He takes my hand and lifts me up He doesn't let go, but sweeps me into His Arms....

And we dance!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Appearances and Baggage

"....for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
God spoke those words to Samuel when he thought that God's choice of a king for Israel was standing before him. 
Samuel was wrong. 
The man looked like a leader, but Papa was looking past the outward appearance and saw his heart.

Papa brought His words home to me this past week.

I often have shared with others that we dare not judge one another. 
We all carry some baggage around with us and we really have no idea what is in another's bags. 

All that those bags contain is not bad. 
It is simply an accumulation of what has filled our lives up to the present.
It is up to our God alone to judge the contents.

A few years ago a dear friend directed a woman to group that I lead.
The lady came faithfully for a number of months.
I found myself challenged to help her allow others time to share.

This woman was not unknown to me before this, as in a few prayer circles her name had come up as in need of prayer.
I formed my opinion of her, as I thought that I had enough information from which to do so.
My judgment was that this person was one of the very needy ones who is generally on the receiving end.

I was wrong.

As I gathered with a few in prayer this past week, this lady joined us.
Her behavior did nothing to change my opinion.  However, someone else, who spoke up at the end of our time together, did.
The speaker grew up with this woman as his neighbor.
She had welcomed many into her home and ministered to many a heart and soul.  It was through her influence that quite a few people met Jesus.
I didn't know she had it in her!

What do I know, huh?!

She has Jesus, so she has all she needs to touch lives. 
Yes, her life had taken some challenging turns, which had put her in a much more dependent position, but that does not take away from the influence she has had in other lives.

Just when I was feeling so confident of my ability to read people....

In First Corinthians the Apostle Paul put it this way:
"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
The writer of the eighteenth chapter of Proverbs said it this way:
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling."
Well, I wasn't destroyed, but I did stumble.  I fell flat on my face before my God.
Only He and I knew what was in my heart, but that is all that matters!
We got it all straightened out between us.

Beforehand though one more piece fell into place to humble this haughty woman.

As I arrived for the prayer time I was met by this woman who loves Jesus.  She handed me an envelope, which I put in my purse to open later. This I did once I was back in my car.

The envelope contained a lovely note telling me how special I was.  !
It also contained a check to help wherever needed. !!
Papa and I knew that I had just handed out the last Recovery Bible and would need to order more.

Once again Papa was working through this servant of His.  He has brought her through some of the trials that she had been facing and has allowed her to be able to bless others afresh.

On Friday you can imagine what message I had to share with my friends at the rehab.

I asked them what it means to Fear the LORD.
The answers all reflected the belief that how good (really perfect) we are is most important to God.

I could tell them with conviction that God is looking at our hearts. 
Though we will fail and fall short it is our hearts' attitudes and motives that He sees.

How gracious and kind Papa is.
He lovingly helps us to recognize our failings, our sin and then gives us the desire and strength to bring it all to Him!

First John, One, verse Nine says,
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Though this has now been added to my baggage, it is already stored in a way to bless my heart and others!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Warmth of His Love

"Are you cold?"
"No, I am fine."
Shortly the nurse returned with a warmed blanket.
"I really felt that I was suppose to cover you with this."
Suddenly I felt enveloped in a gentle warmth and I knew Who was behind her action.


So I thanked her and told her why she had such an urging.  :)

Yesterday I spent preparing for today's procedure.  It was just a routine one recommended by my doctor because of my family history. 
No big deal.

Actually, the fasting part of yesterday's prep was welcome, as fasting always heightens my awareness of Papa's Presence.
Though not necessarily right away!

I spent my preparation day at home, of course, and had the opportunity to do some baking, as well as a few other domestic chores, which often get overlooked in the flurry of daily activities.

It was my intention to spend an extended time focused solely on my precious LORD.

I found it difficult to do so.
Mindless tasks were about all this lady could give herself to.
When I did sit with my Bible and Papa, I found it too tiring to concentrate.
I didn't force it, yet a small voice chastised me for my lack of effort.

It wasn't Papa's voice.

After a much interrupted sleep I got up to have a little one-on-one with Papa before heading off for the medical procedure.
Our time together was rich.

As I read a brief devotional thought out of Anita Corrine Donihue's book When I'm in His Presence, my Savior spoke to me.

His call on my life is not defined by what I like to do, nor by what I imagine He would have me do.
At times I can chafe at the things that come my way which I do not enjoy doing and then at other times I can put expectations on myself that are solely out of my own head!

Last Saturday my friend told me that I need to lighten up.  Those words have come back to me numerous times this past week.
I think Papa is the One bringing them up over and over again.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.
We don't allow ourselves to breathe.
We are too introspective.
Well, I know I can be!

As I thought about this I got the picture of a whole meal laid out before me.
A meal from soup to nuts, as they say!
He wants me (us) to enjoy the whole spread.
Yes, there are veggies, which some might balk at, but there are also the savory sauces and desserts.
He does not restrict our diets to just what appears to be "good for us."
No, He knows that a variety makes for a satisfying meal.

He calls us to obedience, but it isn't only to follow the rules, but to savour the life He has spread out before us.
Papa especially desires us to drink in His love for us.

Over and over I find myself amazed by His grace....
By His tender touch....

That blanket this morning was His reminder to me of His tender love; the warmth of His love.

What better way to lighten up than to......
"Keep yourselves in the love of God...."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Over the years I have heard much talk about love languages.
Whether it all originated with him or not, Gary Chapman wrote a book on the topic.
There are supposedly five languages in total:
Acts of Service
Physical Touch
Quality Time
Words of Attention
The idea is that one of these best affirms our sense of being loved and valued.
When asked to identify my love language, it is words of attention that I claim as having the most meaning for me. 
Close on their heels, though, would follow the rest of the list with gifts taking the last place in the order of priority.
Who doesn't appreciate an act of service or quality time and I know I would shrivel up without a generous helping of hugs!
However, words carry a lot of weight for me.
Spoken or written, I take them to heart.
Words found in a note from a friend seem to embrace me.
A few brief words from a loved one enrich my day.
Then, of course, there are Papa's Words, which can give me a sense of deep peace and joy.
Papa has gifted some with the ability to use words like a fine artist uses his brush and palette of paint.
It is a joy to find a good book. 
What a gift to come across one where an author uses words to bring to life a story one scene at a time.
Though it is not my intention to focus upon any books I have read, at this time, I must briefly mention my latest read!
My book club's selection for this month has been Abraham Verghese's Cutting For Stone.
It is one of those books that I hated to finish.
I wanted to read on and on.
Mr. Verghese is a master story-weaver!
I must admit that I have a touch of envy regarding his way with words!
When I finished the book I was so moved that I held the book to myself, as I sighed...
Yes, words move me.
Sometimes they cause pain and at other times great joy.
Our Mighty God lends many of His Words to the subject of the use of words.
The Book of Proverbs has much to say on the topic.
Many of the chapters of the book contrast the upright and the wicked.
In the Fifteenth chapter the comparison focuses on the use of words.
It opens with these words,
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
We could spend a lot of time right there, couldn't we?
It isn't all about the words that are spoken to us, but even more importantly the ones we speak to others.
Papa has used the above verse many times over the years in my life.
The chapter goes on to speak of what choices are ours to make regarding how we use words.
Either choosing...
Wisdom or folly.
To soothe or crush some one's spirit.
Spread knowledge or not.
Delight our Heavenly Father or be seen as an abomination.
Stir up strife or pacify contention.
Speaking is not the only choice.
We can choose..
To listen..
      to counsel
      to reproof
To consider before answering.
Those are just a few examples of the nuggets that are found in the rich Word of God.
What do I learn from this?
I need to be just as careful with my words, as I would have others be with theirs.
If I am going to consider that list of love languages, it is very important to remember that they are not just for me.  Though words are most important for me, they may not hold the same priority for someone else.  Yet, the right word is always a gift.
I need the Spirit's guidance and discernment to, as the Twenty-third verse says,
"A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!"
Whether the words that come my way bring joy or pain, I will run to Papa to either rejoice with Him or to climb up into His lap and receive His Words of comfort to soothe the pain.
The joy and the comfort will be that much greater if I have first been careful with my own words.
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Refreshed, Renewed Soul!

"Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what He has done for my soul."
"Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayers, nor His loving kindness from me."
Those are a couple of verses from Psalm Sixty-Six.
I am not certain who God had moved to write these words, but I could have penned them myself.

It is my joy to proclaim God's merciful faithfulness to me.
I am amazed that He inclines His ear to hear the cries of my heart.
But He does!

Mark this day as one of the days where He breaks through my dullness to my aching heart and answers me.
His answer is delivered enveloped in a love that just blows me away!
Just like it does every single time!

This morning I read the following, which is found in First Kings, chapter Eight, the Twenty-third verse.
"And he said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like Thee in heaven above or on earth beneath, who art keeping covenant and showing loving kindness to Thy servants who walk before Thee with all their heart."
The one addressing God is King Solomon.  It is the beginning of his prayer of dedication for the temple.

When I read the words I cried to my God out of a desire to be one who walks before Him with all my heart.
I meant it and still do.

He heard me and was moved.
Because I meant it.

Matthew Twenty-one, verse Twenty-two says,
"And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive."
Confident of Who you are addressing and confident that what you ask is what He desires you to ask....
It is yours...
In His time.

According to Luke Eighteen, verse One, Jesus tells us not be discouraged with praying.
Paul encourages us in Colossians Four to not only be devoted to prayer, but to do so with an attitude of thanksgiving. 
Then in the Fifth chapter of First Thessalonians he urges us to pray without ceasing.
Why should we continue to bring our requests before God, be encouraged and even thank Him before He answers?
Because we know He is faithful and He is good.
He is a promise-keeping God.
He keeps His Word.

Often I have found that Papa slowly shapes my prayers, by helping me to recognize my heart's desire.
Then, in His perfect timing, He releases the answer!

Remember Hillary Clinton's mantra that "It takes a village to raise a child'?
Well, it takes the body to raise a believer!

We need one another.

James Five, verse Sixteen reads,
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.  The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."
Today, for the first time in along time I was able to do just that.

Know what I discovered?
I discovered that some of what I was holding against myself was foolish and that the rest was covered by the blood!

I came away from that precious, intimate time with the one, who Papa has given me, refreshed and renewed.

Know what Papa and I did?

We danced!

It was so freeing to be back on the dance floor with my God!

It is my prayer that Papa draws my dear friend onto the dance floor too!

He, indeed, has done wondrous things for my soul!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ordinary Days

It has been a roller coaster kind of week.

Some high points that lent a beautiful view...
Of loving hearts...

Hearing from a dear friend in Thailand thanks to Skype...
Tim insisting on preparing dinner on my actual birth day...
Calls from each of my sons on my special day...
Birthday cards with very sweet messages from very dear people...
Breakfast with a friend, whose love for those she serves in the far away country of Cambodia so blessed mine...
Gathering with a few friends at ACTS4 for prayer, who share Papa's love for this wonderful ministry...
Lunch with a dear friend who insisted I eat the whole eclair(!)...
Early morning worship and prayer with my prayer partner...
Prayer with a precious friend struggling over his daughter's lifestyle choices, yet savouring the closer walk he is enjoying with his LORD....
A doctor taking time to assuage our (my) concerns over Ray's new health issue...

After all of that could there have been time for any lows?

A few...
Using a gift certificate at a spa, where I felt like a duck out of water; where the facial gave me the sensation of fire ants on my face (!) and it ending up costing quite a bit more than the gift(!)...
No writing happening this entire week...
Unkind words that caused me to feel unlovely...
Finding that our home phone was turned off because the cable people have no idea what they are doing...
The very helpful repair man discovering that Matt and Mindy's new business number for their place was connected to their former line at our house which meant no calls went through that day ...
A consuming concern for a son who is destroying his body primarily via the bottle...

That last one, of course, trumps all the rest...

I was reading Jill Carrantini's commentary this morning.  Her topic was "ordinary days", as delineated by the church calendar.
This calendar marks the time of year we are in now as ordinary. 
Not a special time such as Christmas or Easter.

We might consider many of our days as ordinary.
You might think that what I described above would not fall in that category, but, trust me, it is pretty typical of my life!

What would I consider an extraordinary day?
Actually, every day would qualify!
How could a day be anything but extraordinary if the Living God is in it?

Every single day should be extraordinary.
It is up to us.
If we don't look beyond the ups and downs of life, we will settle for the ordinary.

We must be diligent in watching for Him in the moments of our day.
I love how Proverbs Thirteen, verse four puts it,
"The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat."
I want a fat soul!
And I do not need to eat eclairs to get one!

According to that Proverb the diligent one:
Accepts discipline...
      Okay Papa I will let go of the unkind thoughts and choose to overlook and forgive his words...
Guards her mouth...
      I will not retaliate....
      I will rejoice, in confidence, that You only allow that which will You intend to turn into a blessing....
      And that You are more concerned for my loved ones than I ever could be....
Receives counsel....
       I will trust Your Word and obey...
Is righteous..
       All because of Jesus!

With Him everything is extraordinary..
       Including each one of us!!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Walking with Papa

"I come to the garden alone
      While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
      The Son of God discloses"
"He speaks, and the sound of His voice
      Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
      Within my heart is ringing."
"I'd stay in the garden with Him
      Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
      His voice to me is calling."
"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."
C Austin Miles wrote that hymn in Nineteen Hundred and Thirteen.

When I first encountered this song, as a brand new friend of Jesus, I wanted to say amen at the end of each line! 
The picture that was drawn by the words was one that was very real to me. 
I had begun to experience just such an intimate relationship with the One it spoke of.

Communion with the Living God is one filled with beauty and fragrance.
When He speaks all fall silent in a desire to both honor Him and savor the sound of His voice and the meaning of His words.

It is a privilege for anyone to hear Him speak.

With His words He loves to assure our hearts of His love and Presence.

Today I was feeling just a touch overwhelmed.
I had awoken at five in the morning and there was no going back to sleep though I could have used another hour or so.

Yesterday was full and though it was filled with my sweet family, as they had gathered to help me celebrate my birthday, I did not get much rest.   Because of every one's schedule I had to drive to Bridgeport to pick up our Jon and then return him there so he could catch the ferry home.  It was either that or one more son would have been missing.  It is enough that our oldest is too far away to make a day trip.  I wasn't about to miss out on seeing this one too!

Feeling flustered as I  prepared for this day, which promised to be busy, I couldn't seem to get out of my own way.
Opening the jar of homemade jam, the lid separated and the flat center flipped over to slide a smear of jam across the counter...
Being distracted I forgot the bowl of farina I was cooking in the microwave, thus it exploded all over the interior....
Pouring milk on Ray's bowl of cold cereal, the milk hit a bran flake and splatted onto the floor....

I was about to voice my certainty that this was not going to be a very good day, but recalled in time my own rule about setting myself up that way!

Instead of making the bed I just wanted to crawl back into it!

As I stood looking into my closet, not even feeling up to making a decision about what to wear, I heard His voice.
"Trust Me."
Just two words, but behind them was the assurance of His Presence.
He would be walking with me through my day.

Papa is such a comfort. 
I relaxed a little.

I dropped my husband off at the gym and proceeded to the store to begin my weekly errands.
I forgot my list.

After recalling and purchasing most of what I needed from this particular store I headed home.
I needed the list.
My memory is not that good!
This was not in the original plan for the day.

As I drove I once again heard the same two words.
"Trust Me."
Returning home meant that I would be doing my route in reverse.
It also meant that I did not get to everything on the list before I had to pick my honey up and get him to his doctor's appointment.

I figured that he would have to tag along after we finished at the doctor's, so I could complete my errands.

I figured wrong.

From the doctor's office we had to head to the hospital for blood work and an emergency MRI.

Ray's left foot is having circulation problems. 
His toes were blue.
Not good.

But very good that we were at the doctor's.
And very good that tests could be done this very day to help find the cause.

Papa knew.

We got home shortly before supper time.
No more errands were done this day.

As I look back, I realize that all the essentials got taken care of today.
One of the most essential was caring for my man.
Papa took care of that.

What tops the list of essentials though is that walk with Papa.
A walk that fills one's very soul will the sweetest fragrance...

Excuse me while I go take one of those walks....
Papa is waiting......

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Matter of Trust

Here I sit gathering my thoughts, when I realize that my journal is not within reach. 
Well, I guess I will just have to proceed without it.

Why am I not willing to move the three feet it would take to retrieve said journal?
Because I have the sweetest kitty curled up on my lap and her motor is going.

Rue needs a little extra TLC right now. 
She is missing her mommy and daddy.
Penny misses them too, but her way of coping is by hiding in the downstairs bed's box spring. 
She is skittish on a good day.
In her opinion it is not a good day so she does not dare to let anyone come near her.

Matt and Mindy are still in the process of moving all their stuff into the new place and it makes it simpler not to move their kitty-children yet.
They want everything settled so that it won't be any more traumatic for Penny than necessary.
Rue will adjust, but she loves to explore and too many opening doors would prove far to tempting for her!

When our furry grand-kitties leave we will begin our search for our own four-footed friend.

It seems like there is too much change going on these days!

I don't think I am ready for this empty-nest, retirement living!

My friend assures me that she and her husband do not talk over their dinner, as they have nothing left to say after spending the whole day together.
Well, my honey has little to say throughout the whole day so dinner just underscores his silence.

I decided to try something to liven things up a little.
Into the game closet I went and out I came with my first attempt: Mancala.

When Ray and I sat down for dinner it was with that game between us.
After thanking Papa and asking His blessing over our meal we began to play.
As the game proceeded it occurred to me that there could be a side benefit to this tact.

My honey has to strategize.
Not so easy for him these days. 
In years gone by he always gave me a run for my money, but not so this time.

I think we will stick with this game for a while. 
At least for now.

Yes, just for now...
Just for today...
One day at a time....
Hm mm I have heard that somewhere....

It is a matter of trust.

Last night my phone rang and it was one of my dearest friends calling. 
The hour told me that it wasn't good news.
Her precious thirty year old daughter, who is a mother of two little ones, was just rushed to the hospital.
Allison had a severe headache that would not quit.

The prognosis did not look promising.

As I prayed with my friend, a thought came whose originator, I believe, was Papa.

We say we trust our God, but often there is a fear lurking behind the scenes.

What if His will is to allow the pain and the sorrow?
What if He chooses to heal our loved one on the other side of glory and leave us bereft?

In my heart of hearts I know that He is trustworthy...
I know that He truly works all things out for good...
I have experienced it for myself.
Yet, I too seem to hold my breath in face of the what could-bes.

None of us want to face the pain or loss that comes with life, but it is inevitable.

I have some thoughts on why we struggle in fear when facing the hard things..
Why we grieve so deeply the loss of a loved one..
Even when we are confident that they are in a most glorious place.

We were not created to experience pain, nor death.
Before the fall there was no death nor any pain.

The fall changed all of that.

We may now be fallen, broken creatures, but deep down we still have the memory of how life was intended to be.
So death is not natural, pain is foreign.

The good news is that it is temporary!
The One who created us for paradise has made the may back for us!

It is simply a matter of trust.

Oh, by the way, Rue moved somewhere along the way, but by then I was headed in a whole different direction than my journal would have taken me.
That entry will be for another day.
At least I trust it will!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pay Close Attention!

Surprised to find another posting?
Me too, but I find I have something to share and actually have a few minutes to myself to do so!

Today is the fourth of January so you know what chapter of Proverbs I read this morning.

The very first word of this Proverb is Hear
The word fairly leapt off the page at me!
Papa's Spirit was shouting to my spirit.

To really hear you have to pay close attention.
So I did.

The message, once again, was to value wisdom and understanding above whatever the world tries to entice you with in an effort to distract you from your pursuit.
The contrast between the righteous and the wicked is made.

It culminated with the verse that has encouraged me over the past thirty years or so.
Papa wanted to draw my focus to it afresh.
It was verse eighteen.
"But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day."
What a glorious picture!
I love the comparison with the dawning of a new day...

The sun gradually rises and with it a greater degree of light.
For it to be fully day the sun must be up and shining.
Oh there might be clouds, but above those clouds the sun is shining.
Anyway, the day that is referred to in this verse is a cloudless one!

As we walk with Jesus and seek His way..
The way of wisdom and understanding..
Motivated by the fear of the LORD...

You receive more light along the path...
And then when the time comes that you are face-to-face with Papa...
Oh Glory!  It will be all light!

The following verse speaks of the wicked.
Those who choose not to fear God and pursue wisdom.

It is a sad picture.
"The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble."
We've all stumbled in the darkness, literally and figuratively.
We wander around in that darkness unable to tell what is tripping us up.
Because we do not have the light needed to see clearly.

The Living God longs for each one of us to walk in the Light.
He sent His Light, whose Name is Jesus.

this is the One who said,
"I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life."
Earlier in the gospel of John Jesus said that there are those who hate the light because they love to do evil deeds.  Selfish deeds.  Deeds that do not reflect a reverence for the LORD.

Papa was reminding me today of not only the importance of paying close attention, but the benefits that come with this pursuit.

Psalm Thirty-Four, verse eight calls to us,
"O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!"
Though the path is not often an easy one the beauty and goodness of the LORD makes it the best and most glorious.
It is the only path with a happy ending.
And what a Light filled, glorious one it will be!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

I have never been one to get too excited about helping to usher in the new year. 
It is fun to gather with friends, which we usually do, but I definitely do not need to extend the celebration to midnight!
The best time I had commemorating the date was when the church we attended held a dinner and then ended the evening with an extended time of prayer.
It was a beautiful way to spend the last hour or so of the year!
And the perfect way to begin the next!
I was glad to usher in the year that time!

This year there was no gathering with friends in a home or a church.  I had not returned from West Virginia until the afternoon of the thirty-first.  Even if something had been going on, I would have been too tired to take part!
We all retired early and that included Matt and Mindy too!  So it wasn't just the older folks!

As the new year dawned, a few changes came with it for this lady and her family.
Matt and Mindy are in the process of moving into their own place. 
Yesterday I spent the day helping Mindy shop for many of the essentials needed to set up a home.
Until the other day all they possessed was a bed and a pizza stone!

Last night the young couple slept in their own place.
Tonight it was dinner for two.

The house is very quiet.
It feels empty.
Their cats are still with us and that means that we have Rue to entertain us.  Penny spends most of her time hiding. 
Both cats sense something is amiss.
Penny has gone deeper into hiding.  Sweet Rue seems unsettled and confused.
I know how she feels.

However, being that it is the first week of January, I am too busy for it to completely register yet!
Today was un-decorating day.
I know I will be finding decorations for a while still.  I always do.
At this time of year I always wonder whatever possessed me to decorate to the extent that I do.
It is much more fun to do the decorating than to undo it!

The rest of this week is marked for extended time with Papa.
We will be putting together my schedule.
I am intent upon writing the rest of my book this year and I believe Papa is too.
It has to happen, because I have ideas for four more books!

Before my honey's accident my time was my own and Papa and I had a grand time filling it.
Now the time that I can call my own is limited.
Today I was thinking how my time feels all chopped up.  I cannot give extended time to any one thing.
Papa will know how I should handle it.  I just need time to sit with Him and listen, which I am bound and determined to do this week!!

Well, He hasn't waited for me to get that extended time. 
When the Almighty wants to get a message across He has no problem repeating Himself.
Papa wants me to be blessed.

The word blessed, as found in scripture, is translated as happy in some versions of the Bible. That can be misleading though, in truth, it is a good word choice for those who understand the meaning of true happiness.

My Bible's notes define Blessed as those who are the objects of God's favor.
Ah, to experience the favor of God, now that is true happiness.

Psalm One Hundred and Twenty-Eight's first verse says:
"How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways."
I keep coming across the phrase The fear of the LORD.
It seems that Papa has chosen it for the opening theme for my new year.

At the beginning of each year I seek my God's direction regarding what my personal studies and devotions will comprise.
There are study guides, devotional books, and the like.   Papa draws my attention to a book here and few thoughts there, as the year winds down. 
All in preparation for January first.
Of course, the first and foremost source is my Bible itself!

A couple of months ago I felt impressed that reading through the book of Proverbs each month was on the list.
So that meant on the first day of January I opened my Bible to the first chapter of Proverbs.

It is so interesting to me that reading a familiar passage of scripture can bring fresh insight.
I know that I had memorized this chapter many years ago and to do so is to become very familiar with each and every word.
However, Papa had something to say to me and though not for the first time, His words grabbed my attention anew.

The theme of the book of Proverbs is wisdom.
We read of the characteristics of wisdom and the benefits of wisdom.
It is examined from many different angles.
Chapter after chapter.

There is a key verse in chapter One, which, I believe, sums up the whole book.
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."
To fear the LORD is to revere Him.
To revere is to deeply respect and love, with awe and esteem.

After reading this chapter I opened Moody's Today in the Word.
In the introduction I read,
"A deep abiding reverence for the LORD can orient our hearts in the right direction."
The scripture for January first's devotional was Psalm One Hundred and Twelve.  It opens with this;
"Praise the LORD!  How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments."
The following day, of course, had me reading Proverbs Two, which urged me to seek out wisdom which will result in the fear of the LORD!

A devotional journal by Frances J. Roberts had found its way into my hands.   Her devotional Come Away My Beloved is one I have used many a year.  It is a treasure, so I was eager to get into this book, which draws from a number of her devotional writings.

Day two spoke of Noah's obedience being due to reverence for his LORD.
The same scripture reference regarding Noah was quoted in Today in the Word's offering for the day.

The message I have been getting is that trust and obedience are clear reflections of fearing my LORD.

Yes, fear Him, revere and hold Him in awe because He is worthy!
The passages that I referenced do not end with the exhortation to fear the LORD.
No, they are filled with promises of what will follow.
Read them for yourself!

I seek His guidance with a desire to obey Him, because I know He is good and wise. 
As I face changes and challenges I want to trust Him, because I know He is trustworthy and faithful to keep His Word.

There is an old hymn that says if we trust and obey then we will find happiness in Jesus.
There is no other way.