I started tearing up the other day.They were on me so fast, I could barely stop them from coming.It was because of the rain.Now it typically rains during the fall/winter, but this was the first of the year. I may live in California, but here in the Central Valley, there is not a beach in sight.That’s OK though, because I do live just west of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and they are amazing!
There are good points and bad points to this area, but the worst is the air quality.It sucks to put it mildly.As the year goes on, the air quality deteriorates to the point where you can’t even see the mountains, that are with a short drive away.The funny thing is, at some point, I forget they are there.I drive east every morning, and eventually they fade into the haze.So with the first rains of the year, I knew the mountains would be making a comeback.I also knew that since it was raining, they would be obscured by clouds for now, but soon I would see them.And in the anticipation, I found hope. Continue reading “Advent: Hope”→
Friday was a hard day. I had been out of sorts for the last few days. Maybe it was hormones, a heavy heart, work, hate pouring through the tv screen or a combination of that and more. I was blue I guess, so yesterday morning I tried to do what would put me in a better frame of mind. I read my bible and sat in the backyard in the only cool part of the day. My yard is not any kind of oasis, but there is enough growth and color to bring me peace. So as I sat there, I chose not to open FaceBook. I typically do it, so it was kind of weird for me, but I went with and hoped that it would contribute to a more peaceful state of mind.
As I sat and drank coffee, I wondered if part of my feelings were due to what we have
just went through and what is coming up. God has been so good and showing me peace, provision and presence during Mike’s surgery and recovery, but I wasn’t sure if I was still feeling like that. So as I pondered, I felt like I wanted to go back to that time. No… not Mike going through pain. More like I wanted my trust to go back to God, in all things. To really live my life. I have felt fear creeping back in over things that don’t even matter, and I knew I was returning to an old way of reacting. My mind went to an upcoming trip we’ve planned and are so excited about. It’s not till the end of September, and I was thinking, “am I going to put living on hold till then?” No! That isn’t right!
I asked God to help me resolve to identify those things that are a step backwards for me, and to help me go forward. To LIVE fully! Every day! To work hard, play hard and most important…. LOVE hard.
It was encouraging and lifted me up. God set the bar a little higher for me, helping me to look up and seek to live a life that is full and honors Him. How better can life get?
My time in the yard ended, and I got ready for work. As I got in the car, I opened my phone to sinc my music and FaceBook was open. So without thinking, I started to scroll through the feed. It was then that I saw a post that caught my eye. It was a verse:Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of our souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9
Now I love the verse, but I couldn’t understand why a sad face with a tear? I don’t feel sad with that verse…. It gives me peace and brings joy of a life that comes to a full circle in faith. It really irritated me. I thought wait…. what kind of mixed message is that? Then I saw it again on another post and I realized why.
I had known her as a girl serving preschool kids with a knack for telling a story, my hubby knew her as a student athlete, and during her illness we met the young woman she had become. I will always remember the day she came to our house. Mike had set up his “photo studio” and Kay, who is a cancer survivor, came to offer encouragement to a young lady fighting her own battle. We all talked about her treatment, school, photography among other things. Faith and hope were sprinkled in the conversation, that included lots of smiling and laughter.
And as I sat in my car, I realized why I hadn’t looked at FaceBook that morning. God wanted to give me an example of what he was showing me. The right perspective before I heard the news. While she was so young, her life was well lived. She had used it to funnel love, grace, laughter and faith to those around her. And in that life, we see the truth of what God is encouraging us all to do. Live your best life through Him.
There is a song I’ve really liked since I was a teenager, “Only time will tell” by ASIA. It came out in my MTV years, and I must have watched the video a hundred times or more. I hadn’t heard it in years, but out of nowhere it popped into my head. Well not totally out of nowhere, as it seemed to sum up what I had been reading pretty nicely.
It’s something I started learning last year when I read about David. He was being run out of town, as his son was forcefully taking over. As he is leaving, he is heckled by a certain man who was a relative of the previous king. When David’s men wanted to kill the man for his words, David stops them. He tells his men that what this guy is saying may be true. God may even have told him to say it. So who am I, says David, to do anything about it?
I was really struck by David’s attitude. It was like he realized that God could have told this guy to say these things. That maybe this guy could be speaking truth, and until David knew if it was true or not, then he was going to leave this guy alone. We see later that when time had gone by, the man did get his comeuppance by David’s other son, Solomon.
It was like David understood that, “only time will tell.” And David’s life is a prime example. God says of David, “he is a man after my own heart.” Really? Looking at David’s story, there are plenty of times where he looked anything but that kind of man. We can only somewhat understand what God means when we look at David’s life as a whole.
So I had read that last year, and for some reason it really stuck with me. That sometimes you really have to wait to see the whole picture. Sometimes the real truth or even the real personality only comes out through time.
Only time will tell. I was glad to be pondering what God was saying to me. This seemed to be a lesson I needed to learn, although at the time I wasn’t sure why. It did give me hope that truth will eventually be made known. It made me think though, what will happen in the “only time will tell” portion of the story? How will that effect people? It made me nervous.
God is in control, but sometimes His work seems slow in coming. Really, that “slowness” is His mercy. Sometimes I am not obedient to what He is asking, and instead of dealing with it immediately, He gives me a little time to get my act together. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. When I do, it is pretty good. I learn, grow and get closer to God. If I don’t? Well, then typically God has to do a bit of work in my life to bring me around to His way of thinking. Many times it’s painful. If something shouldn’t be in my life, and if I don’t let it go, well then God has a way of taking it out of my hands. It is for my own good, but it hurts when that happens. Even more concerning, it has the potential of hurting others.
It is the potential harm to others that really made me wonder. How can that be averted? I have seen where God had to do this with people and depending on who it is and their position, it can be a confusing time. I know, I’ve lived it. By God’s grace, I was able to get through it by having someone whom I respected taking the time to walk through it with me. We would talk, bringing me wisdom when all I felt was confusion. I don’t even remember what she said, but her willingness to be a sounding board is what kept me on track. One thing I know we did not do, well that was get into a session where we just blamed people.
The funny thing was, I didn’t know the whole story back then and I don’t even know it now. One thing is for sure though, I made it through. I still love Jesus, go to church and even still serve. This did not make me turn sour on the church or the people involved or following God.
It really made me wonder why?
I am not sure, but I remember that it wasn’t long after this that I learned something very important to me. It was a comment that I took to heart. “Don’t be spoon fed the gospel.”
It really drove home to me that the responsibility for my spiritual growth, journey and beliefs was mine. Oh….and God’s of course! I wasn’t to sit back and let someone tell me what Jesus was saying, I needed to see for myself. I needed to use the brain that God had given me to read, listen, study and seek the Holy Spirits guidance. I can listen to others, but I was also to run what was said through the Holy Spirit to see if it made sense. To use scripture as a means to know this God I follow, so that I can make decisions that would honor Him.
Without realizing it, I just kept looking up. I started to learn things through God’s word. Not by someone else teaching them to me, but by the Holy Spirit making me see things. To hear truth in His word and see it reflected in His creation, people, and even in a song with a really bad music video.
While this post has been weeks in the making, I was not sure how to end. So it has sat for a bit. I was able to get a bit of perspective on this when I was reading on Thursday. It was just one line, but it gave me peace in the midst of questions. “Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread…” Acts 12:24a
There is such peace for me in the mornings, especially in the winter. The darkness closes in and envelops everything. It magnifies the feeling of quiet and alone. It’s different in summer and spring. The sun comes up early and gives you the opportunity to get your day started. You see all that needs to be done, and the light says “let’s get to work!” In winter, the darkness speaks to the world in inky blackness, “Sit and ponder,” she says.
It’s important to me to have this time. I got up and saw a twitter notification and read a couple of tweets. I tend to follow people who encourage, but then things are retweeted and it just gets stupid. I couldn’t think of a better word! So after that kind of reading, and my thoughts traveling down the rabbit hole, I needed the quiet. I feel like I needed an adjustment. Kind of like the chiropractor, you know? If your head is not aligned correctly there is pain, if all is lined up correctly, there is no pain. Funny thing is, once you are in alignment, your body is back to optimal working conditions.
I think of how easily this world knocks us out of alignment. It can be anything, from pain to pleasure, having too little or even too much. Fear, sadness and even a life of ease can throw us off. For me this morning, that “anything” was sin. What got me started was someone calling out someone else’s sin. Make sense?
You see the problem is, I know my sin, but you may not. I am pretty quiet about it. I mean really…. who wants people to know what they do that misses the mark? Most people I know don’t really want to confront their own sin, let alone have someone else confront it. So why do we feel the need to mention it on Twitter? If you know someone is dealing with something, talk to them about it. Study with them. Love them! If that sin is so grievous to you, meet people where they are. Jesus did! He met people where they were, not after the healing. And when He met them, He brought grace and love. He eventually showed them the sign, but it was after they felt His care for them.
So just a friendly reminder. Sometimes our shortcomings are less hidden than we thought. It is messy for all of us in the midst of our sin. And while you may not want to wade in to meet me in mine, don’t forget, someone could be debating whether it’s worth it to meet you in yours.
It is beautiful as the landscape changes from desert only, to mountains on either side. The Inyo’s were to the east, and on the west the Sierras. The eastern view of the Sierra’s is so much different than from the western view from the valley. They are snowcapped, ragged mountains that jut out of the landscape. They are shockingly beautiful, but after my initial awe, I thought about how foreboding they look at the same time.
So we have been doing some sprucing up of our home, and with each new task completed, we are more and more comfortable. (Really…we have only been here 13 years!) Our latest venture was bringing some interest to a kitchen wall, over the counter where we keep the coffee pot. (Or our coffee shrine as I call it)
I had seen a couple of different metal signs done with sayings, and I really liked them. So I set out to find someone local who made them and came across Vintage Metal Co. out of Visalia. (you can find them on Etsy) They could do a custom saying and the cost was pretty reasonable. Now the problem…what would I have it say?
It really didn’t take long, because I had seen it somewhere before. So I ordered our sign, and it came out perfectly. I have seen the Cuppa Joy done by lots of people, but for my husband and myself, it has meaning far beyond coffee. Continue reading “A cuppa JOY!”→
So the day finally came, and my first reaction was sadness, then I pondered and then I laughed. I was sad because I know that at the loss of Billy Graham, his family and friends will be going through a grieving process. The first moments of separation are the worst. I was also sad because it seems that these are the days that we need a Billy Graham.
So I am going to try and be concise….not too wordy. No promises though!
This year was kind of funny because Lent started on Valentine’s day. Not coming from a liturgical background, I have only started following this tradition. (In my own made up way) So a couple days ago, I was reading a blog written by a young Catholic woman, and she made the connection between Valentines day, the whole “love” thing, and Lent which prepares us for the remembrance of the greatest act of love ever. I thought that was kinda cool. Up to that point, the only connection I had made about the coincidence was to tease my friend that she may need to celebrate Valentines on Tuesday. Continue reading “To Love and Mourn…Together”→