Saturday, August 31, 2019

Unwrapping God's Word for Ourselves

"Listen carefully, my dear child, to everything that I teach you,
and pay attention to all that I have to say.
Fill your thoughts with my words until they penetrate deep into your spirit.
Then, as you unwrap my words, 
they will impart true life and radiant health into the very core of your being.
So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are.
Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, 
for from there flows the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 4:20-23 TPT

I love to listen to inspirational podcasts. Just today as I went on my walk and did some chores I listened to some of my favorites. I also love to read good Bible based books. I have two large bookshelves filled with mostly non-fiction Christian books in my home office. I love good, biblical preaching, teaching and Bible study. Ephesians 4:11 says that God gave to the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to bring us as believers into maturity and equip us to do the work of the ministry. These gifts, operating through human servants, are essential gifts to us as part of Christ's church. But, even if we listen to God's Word in and through all of these ways, as good and even as essential as they may be, we will not have a renewed mind and a strong and healthy spirit until we learn to listen to God through His Word for ourselvesWhen was the last time you opened your Bible and said, "Here I am God, I'm listening. What do you want to teach me today?"  (Join me for the rest of this post on Sunday, September 1st at Woman to Woman Ministries, where each Sunday I share a bit of Sunday Soul Food!)

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Crabapple Bouquet

This time of year, I can't resist pruning a few branches from the crabapple tree in the vacant lot near our house. A bouquet of crabapple branches is a reminder to me that summer is quickly fading and autumn is on the horizon.

The crabapple bouquet is set atop the little cabinet that sits next to my cozy chair in our kitchen nook. Every morning I light the soy tealights in my glassybaby votive holders and have my morning quiet time in this spot.
A sweet IG friend who lives in the northern part of our state, (I live on the southern border), posted a photo of a cute little plant pot that she keeps her matches in. I loved her idea so much that I ordered one as well!
I enjoyed playing with my camera and my 40mm prime lens to capture these photos. It's been too long since I've played with my "big camera." 

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Flower Friday

Monday, August 26, 2019

Weekly Gratitude Journal

 I'll be posting two weeks of my gratitude journal posts today. We were out of town last week for our annual trip to the cabin with our grandkids. So that all seven grandkids could go, our youngest daughter came along with the two littlest grands. We had such a great time! 
Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks, 
piling up gratitude day by day in my journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

-the sun on my back as I pick ripe blackberries
-meeting my sister and her husband and my brother for dinner together
-oldest granddaughter facetiming me to chat 

-thanking God for my sister on her birthday
-some time with my grandson, picking and feasting on blackberries 
-a really good visit with a sweet young couple from church
-two huge yellow butterflies dancing in flight

-lunch outside in the sun celebrating both of our August birthdays with a friend 
-a drippy soft serve chocolate ice cream cone on a hot day
-our granddaughter popping by before youth group

-God's daily provision
-trusting God during this time of transition

-Papa taking the grandsons to Dave and Busters for lunch and video games, 
(I think he had as much fun as they did)
-the power of Legos to entertain our five year old grandson when I'm tuckered out
-the way my husband and I ALWAYS fall asleep halfway through an episode of a BBC series 
we've been watching and we have to rewatch the ending later 

-another situation to trust God about
-God's blessing on Hope City
-our oldest granddaughter is heading to the world championship for weight lifting!!!

-an amazing message this morning
-a safe drive to the cabin with the grandkids
-youngest grandson, who was already at the cabin with his mama, 
so very happy to see his cousins arrive
-all SEVEN grandkids together

-our oldest grandson catching a small mouth bass
-playing in the river most of the day

-homemade spaghetti devoured by all of the grands

-a few minutes of quiet with God before all the grands wake up
-youngest granddaughter started crawling
-a beautiful afternoon playing at the beach with the five youngest grands

and our ten year old granddaughter getting her heart desire for playing on some dunes 
-middle grandson safe after foolishly jumping off the attic ladder
-Papa and the two oldest grandkids safely home, (they had to go back early for sports)

-waking up at 4AM (!) but having a sweet time with Jesus while I was awake
-donuts eaten out on the deck
-ten year old granddaughter crawling into my bed and sleeping with me

-one last swim in the river before heading home
-singing and playing car games together on the car ride home
-all of the grands safely returned to their parents!

-a big hug and an "I love you, Nana" from our oldest granddaughter 
when she stopped by before church last night
-Friday date day with my guy
-lunch outside by the river

-the safe birth of a sweet baby boy in our church family
-and the safe birth of my great great nephew!
-three different words of encouragement today

-God's Spirit at work in us and our church
-a fun lunch out with family and friends 
-a new kayak carrier for my car

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

God Cares About the Desires of Your Heart

The enemy of our soul begins to whisper his vile lies and plot his wicked schemes against us when we are still young and vulnerable children. He'll take anything that makes us different from others and rub our face in it. He wants us to feel that our uniqueness is a liability, that we are a misfit, that no one gets us. As we grow and mature in Christ, we are more equipped to embrace the truth that we are fully seen, known and understood by God. We can, hopefully, look at our uniqueness as a gift. The enemy doesn't play fair, however, and will take the fact that a child learns differently, or is taller or shorter or fatter or skinnier than others and use it to beat them up with their "differentness." As a child enters the preteen and teen years, the awkwardness of all of the changes their body is going through can exacerbate these feelings of being a mis-fit.

"Nana, can we PLEASE go to the beach with the sand dunes," our ten year old granddaughter pleaded. We were on our annual grandkid trip to our youngest daughter's in-law's cabin on the Umpqua River. The beach she was referring to was a forty-five minute drive from the cabin. I told her that we were going to the beach that was much closer to the cabin and that I didn't think this beach had sand dunes. However, once we arrived at the nearby beach we noticed that right where the jetty juts out into the sea was a row of sand dunes, perfect for climbing and then running down, sliding down and rolling down. Later, I talked to her about the fact that God wanted her to know that He understands her, that He sees her and knows the desires of her heart. I wanted her to know that playing on the sand dunes with her cousins was God's gift especially for her.  (Join me for the rest of this post on Sunday, August 25th at Woman to Woman Ministries, where each Sunday I share a bit of Sunday Soul Food!)

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Handfuls on purpose

When we bought our "new to us" house four years ago, we purposefully bought a house in an older, more established neighborhood-one with more room between us and our neighbors than the newer housing developments in our area. Our home is on a corner lot so we only have a next-door neighbor on one side. Between us and that neighbor there is not a neat and tidy fence. There is, for want of a better description, an area I like to call "no man's land." While in the front, back and other side of our yard we've worked hard to remove and prune back the overgrown shrubs the previous owner left behind, neither we nor our next door neighbor are sure of where the property line lies in "no man's land".  There's a large tree of unknown species in the front of "no man's land" by the street. There's a HUGE walnut tree at the back of "no man's land" by the back fence. In between there is a wild tangle of assorted overgrown shrubs entwined with wild blackberry vines and aggressive, impossible to kill english ivy. While it wouldn't be hard to look up the plot plans of our two yards and figure who actually owns what, there are two factors that I think are contributing to neither one of us doing so. The first reason is - that wild jungle of overgrowth is it's own free privacy fence. Their puppies never come over into our yard and our grandchildren never venture over into theirs. Those blackberry vines are nature's barbed wire. The second reason is - neither of us wants to face the amount of work it will require to get "no man's land" into shape. Right now we can both use the excuse that we can't pull out bushes or cut down shrubs when we don't know who they belong to. 

Last week I noticed that the blackberry vines on our side of "no man's land" were heavy with ripe blackberries. I spent a good hour picking the ripe berries while the summer sun warmed my back. It was rewarding to put some blackberries from our own yard in the freezer for a future berry crisp. A thought popped into my mind as I did so, "handfuls on purpose."  (Join me for the rest of this post on Sunday, August 18th at Woman to Woman Ministries, where each Sunday I share a bit of Sunday Soul Food!)

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Monday, August 12, 2019

Weekly Gratitude Journal

I often think of life like a tapestry. God sees the complete vision of the tapestry of our life. We only catch glimpses of the tapestry in retrospect. For example, looking back we see how He wove that relationship into our life at just the right time or we see how He was working for our good in that time of testing and trial though we couldn't make sense of what He was up to when we were in the middle of it. Right now, someone deeply woven into the tapestry of our lives and our church is moving back to their home country. It's painful to let them go. But, God is weaving something beautiful in us and in them. We can't see what His plan and design is, but we have a lifetime of experiencing His faithfulness to look back on and we know that He will continue to be faithful as we move forward. Meanwhile, we continue to give Him the thanks He deserves. He is so very, very good to us.
Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks, 
piling up gratitude day by day in my journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

Thank You Father God for-
-the satisfaction of finally doing a chore I'm not fond of-weeding!
-the generosity of our daughter's in-laws in letting us schedule a getaway at their cabin
-a good talk with my middle daughter
-seeing God at work when we trust and pray

-a fresh haircut
-another chance to trust God in a hard situation
-a beautiful summer walk
-stopping by to see the grands for a few minutes on the way home from running errands

-a free bag of sweet, golden yellow plums
-a huge wild bunny hanging out in our backyard
-cooler temps - it feels like fall is on the way!

-having a little going away gathering for G. who's heading back to college
-love and encouragement and prayers from our church 
as we adjust to news of a beloved staff member moving away
-funny grandkid photos and videos via text

-God's provision for our needs and as well as for way more of our wants then we deserve
-a post birthday tea party with friends
-a good movie that made me laugh and cry

-a foggy, drizzly morning that makes me feel like I live at the beach instead of 80 miles inland
-youngest daughter and the two youngest grands coming over
-taking the youngest grands for a nice long walk in their double stroller
-stopping by the park to play on the swings

-the truth that saying goodbye to someone we love who is moving away
 is just temporary because the family of God is eternal
-God at work in His church, even as we say goodbye to a beloved staff member, 
God is working in His people to help cover their responsibilities 
-a 50th birthday celebration for a sweet friend

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Saturday, August 10, 2019

He Heals the Brokenhearted

Some years ago on our last night of vacation, I asked my husband if we could go to the beach one last time and stay long enough to catch the sunset. While he got settled in his beach chair and engrossed in a book, I decided to walk down the beach to the jetty. It was on my way back to where my husband was sitting that I saw a pelican standing there on the sand. I walked right up to snap his picture. He didn't fly away. He didn't run into the sea. It was then that I suspected something was wrong with it. I stayed awhile trying to shoo him and to see if I could tell what was wrong. He waddled closer to the water. Suddenly, a wave came and knocked the pelican onto its back. It flailed there in the surf, its neck stretched out, its wings flailing in the water, fighting but not able to turn upright. My stomach felt nauseous watching it. I thought it was going to drown right before my eyes. When the waves subsided it managed to get upright and to get back onto the sand. It just stood there, immobile. I finished walking back to my husband and told him about the pelican. He went to look for himself and came back reporting that he could see a fish hook in the pelican's head. I felt helpless, not knowing the 911 to call for birds that need emergency assistance. We watched the sunset and left the beach, leaving the poor pelican there in the sand. The next day we flew home.

On the following Sunday morning, the whole memory of the pelican came back. The Lord used the vivid picture of the struggling pelican to speak to my heart about hooks. Hooks in our lives can be  things such as unhealed hurts, unmet needs and unresolved issues. The things that have broken our heart can become hooks if they aren't dealt with and allowed to heal. These hooks can affect our ability to handle the storms in life that come our way, Even the smaller waves that we should be able to sail through seem to bowl us over and knock us down. We feel we will surely drown if we get hit by one more wave. We flail and we fight, but we just can't seem to get on our feet and we surely can't fly. We need Someone to help us.  (Join me for the rest of this post on Sunday, August 11th at Woman to Woman Ministries, where each Sunday I share a bit of Sunday Soul Food!)

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