Writer.

“The reason one writes isn’t the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

Storyteller.

"But how could you live and have no story to tell?" ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Photographer.

"Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph" ~Matt Hardy

Mother.

“A mother keeps a garden of the heart, planting the seeds of faith and character that give her children hope and purpose for the years ahead.” ~Anonymous

Dreamer.

“If your story is never told, it becomes something else...forgotten.” ~Anonymous

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Reflection on Hope

 I am doing an on-line writing challenge and today's assignment was to write about hope.  After finishing, I remembered I wrote something on the same topic a while back. As I searched through my files, I found the following. I remember this particular season as we were beginning a new journey in our lives. For some unknown reason, I am challenged to post this today in the hopes that someone will identify and grab onto the hand of Faith and Hope.


HOPE

Having
Our
Perspective
Energized

When we face the death of something, any life that can inadvertently spring from it comes from God.  The death of a believer, of course, finds life with Jesus.  The death of our dreams, hopes, finances, etc. can be resurrected in trust as we allow Jesus to open our eyes to the hope.  Only Jesus can bring hope from death or ruin or seeming failure.   Everything else is striving.  

Each death is an interim.  Life is interim.  Preparing us for the next step in the journey.  Each season, each transition is just that….preparing for the next.  Hope is in the next step.  When we (and I) realize that God is with me in each step, each season, each transition, my perspective changes.  What can really go wrong when He is right there?  He has plans.  He has thoughts towards me.  He has plans and purposes for me.  Hope comes from rest.  Hope comes from trust.  I cannot crunch my eyes shut and strive for hope.  It comes from the revelation that He is by my side.  Sometimes when we are hanging on for dear life, we need to let go and rest.  That is scary, but what if He is right there?  

Each morning, each minute, I want to somehow consciously hold my hand out and say, “Jesus, Father, take my hand.  Walk with me.  Open my eyes to Your perspective.  Energize my perspective by making it Your perspective.”  

Like the servant of Elisha, “open my eyes, Lord, to see the warriors around me”.  

The warriors of God…fighting for my life.  Fighting for my hope.  Fighting for my children and their purposes.  Their faith.  Their spirit and soul.  Their futures.  Fighting in prayer and spiritual warfare for my family - both here in the US and Australia.  Contending in prayer for my husband and I, and Your plans for our lives.

Energize my perspective by opening my eyes.  


Energize my perspective by taking my hand and holding it on this journey.  Daily, Minute by minute, hour by hour….week by week.  I will not measure my energy level by the challenges ahead of me.  YOU will be everything I need.  


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Springtime: A New Season

I’ve been thinking about seasons lately.  Especially here in the Pacific Northwest when we wonder if springtime will ever show its lovely warm face and then STAY so we could actually become better acquainted!  We’ve had mostly days of rain and chilly weather, but then suddenly the sun will appear and you feel like life is beginning again!  Then five minutes later, here comes the rain.  I don’t think I fully appreciated the sight of blue sky like I do now.  

The pink cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom all over our city.  In some areas (like my neighborhood) blossoming is still slow in coming, but to drive around and see the freshness and beauty makes my heart sing. 
  


Whenever spring comes, I am happy.  I love daffodils and cherry blossoms.  I love the smell.  Beautiful blue sky and white fluffy clouds. The new baby lambs running around the field just down the road from us.  Life beginning to spring forth.  But at the same time, I realize the weeds must be pulled from the flower beds, the dead scraggly branches that have fallen from trees through the winter must be raked up and discarded.  Our yard needs a major makeover.  And it’s work.  Back-aching work.  I don’t enjoy it and I don’t look forward to it.  

A lot like our lives.  Springtime is a season of cleaning and where the blossoming and green and beauty begin to appear.  It’s not necessarily a time of bearing fruit, not a harvest time, but a time of readying for the season ahead.  Getting rid of the weeds, raking out the guilt and shame over actions and attitudes.  Paying attention to the condition of our hearts (our own private garden). In our lives, being intentional about getting rid of the stuff that easily distracts us from our intimacy with Him and His plans for us. 

It’s also a time of fresh vision and promise.  Believing for good things to grow and appear.  It’s a time to be connected to the Vine.  Spring is when I fertilize my flowers and bushes.  With the hope that blossoms will be vibrant and plenty.  In the same way, fertilizing my life with staying connected to the Vine.  Cultivating my life by establishing a priority of staying in the Word and prayer, being nourished daily by talking and walking with Him, as well as those around me who share the same faith and priorities.  Listening to hear God speak and establishing a pattern of obedience when I hear Him.  A result of the feeding into and habit patterns developed in springtime will yield a harvest in the coming season(s).  If I am too busy and distracted with things other than what God leads me to do in this season, there won’t be fruit in the next. 

Springtime always is an adventurous time, dreaming big for the future.  I think it has something to do with the sun reappearing and that Vitamin D kicking in.  I start thinking of summer bbq’s and warm days and new things. 

This season is also a time of training.  When I gently nudge that branch to grow a certain direction (tying it gently to a stick or post).  It is when I get rid of the “suckers”.  Those nasty growths that sprout at base of plant and draw energy away from the real growth and fruit. I have to cut them away. My lilac bush is a prime example.  For some reason, there are always suckers needing to be cut away.  A weak point I always have to be on the lookout for. As in our lives, a sucker is anything that distracts us away from intimacy with GOD.  It affects our fruit down the road.



Without discipline and training, there can be no growth.  Or fruitful beautiful growth anyway.  A bush can grow and grow with lots of suckers and look chaotic with no rhyme or reason.  Or it can be stunted and ugly because it received no water or fertilization.  Natural growth can be broken by training. When we are bent the “wrong” way we get angry, impatient and resist.  We want to do what we “feel” or “comes naturally”. It can be uncomfortable and painful as He begins to reveal to us our independence when we try to grow our own way.  

God takes our discipline seriously. It is not by tying us to poles like in a physical plant but by CALLING US TO OBEY HIS VOICE.  We align our lives up with His plan, not our own.  Forgiveness, sensitivity, patience, staying connected to Him.  Every act of obedience, one after another, and we are being trained towards fruitfulness.  The Lord’s discipline always trains us towards one goal….fruitfulness and intimacy with Him.

Intentional cultivating of our plants and gardens this spring will determine what they look like in the months ahead.  Good patterns of spiritual care in your life now will determine the quality of fruit ahead.

There are usually LONG days between promise, fulfillment and harvest and those are the days and seasons when transformation in our lives takes place, as we are developing habits for the future.  God has a plan and it is during these seasons that He is cultivating it in our lives.  Can we be patient and let Him do His work.  Let Him be the Gardener in charge? 

I love this season of springtime.  It is a lot of hard work.  Requires attention.  Requires patience.  Requires discipline and training.  But springtime doesn’t last forever.  God always has another season ahead for us.  Might be tough, but good.  It will always be good.





Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Winter And Waiting

I woke this morning to bright almost blinding sunshine pouring in through the windows.  It lit up the entire room.  An absolutely glorious scene filling me with a sense of “wow, spring is almost here”.  Then, I realized how COLD I was.  The house was cold.  My feet were cold and I needed coffee.  I also needed to build a fire to heat up the room.  And I knew, springtime was at least another 2 months away.   My heart keeps wishing - we’ve had an unusual cold, snowy, icy winter here in the Northwest and we are winter-fatigued.  We don’t get this type of weather often, so even though other parts of the country are worse off than us, we are tired of it because it is not our norm.



As I sat holding the coffee cup to warm my hands and relish in the heat of the newly built fire, it was calming as I looked out the windows to our deck.  The glass enclosing our deck was totally white, encrusted with ice.  I could only see above, the trees and blue sky.  The white iced glass prevented me from seeing my normal view.  It bothered me as I wanted to see more.  I thought, “I guess I will have to wait until it melts.”  I don’t do waiting well.  I busied myself getting my Bible to read, checking my emails and texting a friend about preparations for a Bible study we will be leading.  I read a wonderful article on “rest” and how we need to learn to stop and rest.  As I pondered the words, I glanced up and the sun had melted the ice on the glass.  I could see!  



I know I do not like to wait.  I do not like to sit still.  It makes me think I am wasting time.  So, as I busied myself, the ice melted.  Too often, I busy myself while waiting…waiting for God to come through with answered prayer.  Waiting to get what I want.  Sometimes, God wants me to wait in expectation, but doing His tasks while I wait.  Other times, it would do my heart and soul well, to stop.  And wait.  

I remember one time a few winters back, my car was covered with frost and ice when I went to leave in the morning.  I could have started the car ahead of time and let the heater defrost the windows. But that would have required patience….instead I grabbed a small piece of wood to scrape the windows (I didn’t have an ice scraper).  In doing so, I scratched the window.  We’d only had this car a month.  Once the ice melted, my window had a permanent scratch.  I was not happy and lived with that scratch for years.  

This morning I was reminded in my waiting, if I jump ahead of God in my impatience, I can damage the today.  When the ice melts (which it always will - just takes some time), I can have some scratches or repercussions of my impatience that I may have to live with for some time.  If I stop and patiently wait for God to do His work in and around me, the view will be clear in time.  

The last 3 months have been filled with aches and pains.  I had excruciating back pain in October, shoulder pain in November and in December during the holidays, I had the flu, which developed into bronchitis, which I have since suffered with twice.  I had no choice but to stop.  Stop and rest.  Something I don’t do well.  I’ve tried not to scrape away in impatience.  I’ve tried to rest for my health and be in touch with God in daily quiet moments.  It has been rewarding.  And it has been difficult.  And at times lonely. I've cried and I've laughed.  But God has been meeting me, in odd moments and with gentle revelation.  I don’t think I am done with the waiting period, but the ice is beginning to melt and I am beginning to see.  

A dear and special friend gave this Scripture to me in a birthday card in December.  How applicable it is for my life right now…”Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.  See!  The winter is past, the rain is over and gone.  The flowers have already appeared in the land.”  (Song of Solomon 2:11,12)



In the dark, cold, icy months, God has been building something in me.  And around me.  This might be true for so many of us.  If we can be patient, waiting, listening, stopping, doing only what He tells us to do (that may be tasks of serving, or it may be stopping), if we can wait, the ice will melt and the rains will stop and the flowers will once again appear.  And we will have a view….hopefully, without any scratches!


Monday, January 16, 2017

My Spiritual Hearing Aid

Two weeks into the new year....wow!  I am not sure exactly "when" 2016 ended and 2017 began.  I began the Christmas holidays with good cheer and ended it with bronchitis.  The flu virus hit me head on and knocked me off my feet (literally).  So, the last 3 weeks have gone by in a bit of a blur.   But as my head cleared, so did my thinking.  Welcome New Year!  Let's hope the next eleven months are better than the first!!

Lately I’ve been pondering listening and hearing.  With my congestion and bronchitis, it is a bit more difficult to hear.  I have had to ask those around me to talk louder at me or yell, if need be :)  I can listen, but I have to be able to hear.  

For the last few years, it has been suggested by those close to me that I probably should have my hearing checked and even go so far as to get a hearing aid, it is something to consider.  But lately my thoughts have turned to the spiritual side of this.  Hearing God’s voice is one of the most important things in my life.  Many years ago when I first realized that God actually speaks to us and I can hear Him, it revolutionized my life.  I thrive on hearing God.  I need to hear Him.  It is breath of life to me.  As I have grown deeper in relationship with God over the years and learned to hear Him, I listen more.  I test what I hear to be sure it is Him.  Just like recognizing the voice of your child or your husband, I have come to more easily know when it is God speaking.  I recognize His voice.  Sometimes, when there is a lot of noise or our emotions are so deeply affected by something life has thrown at us, it can be difficult to hear….or recognize.  But as the years have gone by, I am more spiritually sensitive and confident when it is Him.

As is often the case, my physical condition has caused me to look spiritually.  I feel like I need to “turn up my hearing aid” so I can hear.  Turn up my spiritual hearing aid.  I want to hear God, but there is either too much other noise or the sound is muted.  I am asking God to turn up my spiritual hearing aid.  It may be “easier” to hear Him as I get older and know Him deeper, but it seems like I need to turn the volume up so I can clearly hear it is Him.  Circumstances dictate that I readjust so I can hear.

I also need to “lean in” to hear.  The volume may be up, but I need to lean in….stop and listen.  Because if I don’t, it just magnifies whatever noise is out there.  I want His voice to be magnified, not the noise around me. Clean out whatever wax or dust is keeping my ear from doing what it was created to do.  Hear.  Listen.    Fine tune my hearing aid, Lord.   

It’s expensive to have hearing aids.  They cost something.  It costs something to be able to hear clearly.  It will cost me something to be able to hear God clearly these days.  Time.  Obedience.   My heart.  My attention.  


I want to HEAR.  I want to HEAR clearly.  Turn up the volume, Lord.  Clean out the dust.  Speak, Lord, for your servant is leaning in to listen.  My hope and prayer for all of us that as we march headlong into 2017 or approach it with caution....we will lean in to listen and hear what the King of the universe is saying to His people.  And we will obey.  


Monday, November 14, 2016

Hope, Heart & Miqweh

Wow!  What a week!  My thoughts, emotions and hope are at a much different place than they were this time last week (Monday, November 7th).  For the Americans reading this…you will totally get what I mean.  How things can change so quickly!

As we each individually process what is taking place around us, as well as we enter into the holidays before us, my mind keeps going to one word.  HOPE.  We need it.  We cannot live without it.  Our soul shrivels up if we don’t have it.  Regardless of how you voted, what you believe or what your journey with God looks like, we all need HOPE. One thing we can all agree on.  But where do we find it?



Today, I read a Scripture that renewed my heart….

”May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing (through the experience of your faith) that by the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.”  Romans 15:13 Amplified Version

Hope means a feeling of expectation or desire for something to happen. 

** helps us stay on course regardless of the circumstances.
** Biblical hope finds its roots in God.  His goodness, His mercy, His love, His power.
** enables us to endure patiently.
** our hope is nurtured as we read His Word and trust in His character.

As believers, it cannot be just “wishing” for something to happen.  Our hope lies in the Word of God that says He is trustworthy and cannot lie. (Hebrews 6:18)  And it is staying so connected in relationship with God that we know He knows us…..He loves us….He desires His best for us…..a concrete solid hope.  There is life beyond our current circumstances.

Hope leads us into faith…a faith that cannot be moved by circumstances or what the eyes see because…. an unseen God is seen in His faithfulness.  Today, tomorrow, next year, regardless of what our circumstances are, we cannot lose hope.  I may not be able to see it....or hold it in my hand....but in my heart and mind, I have to nurture the hope that only comes by faith.

I’ve been a bit somber, sad and lagging in my hope recently due to some prayers not being answered, or at least they are taking a long time in being answered.  The way I want them to be answered.  I’ve literally sat with open hands to God releasing my hopes, desires and wants…..that no matter what it looks like, I know Him and I know He knows exactly where I am at.  What my hopes are. (And they are good hopes, good prayers, not selfish but good for others).   And He knows best how to feed that hope and how in His timing He will answer.  Patience as hope waters my soul.  Patience as joy begins to seep in and take over.  Hope urges me to wait confidently for Him to act. Faith leading to hope….leading to LOVE - which is the one word that describes God to a “T”.  This ancient hope....still lives NOW and in the very center of our lives, if we make room for Him.




Today, this week, this coming holiday season - have HOPE; we have an eternal future.   (interruption...side note....as I am typing this....just now.....I received a phone call with some disappointing news.   A prayer answer is "no".  Or at least not now.)  My heart is a bit heavy to be honest.  BUT I stand by everything I've just written.  He is HOPE and I will continue to TRUST and HOPE.  (I may have a little cry, but mixed amongst  the tears is hope.)  

"No one has ever experienced unfaithfulness on God's part!"  (Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God)

"Lord, no eye has seen, no ear has heard what you have prepared for those who love you.  Thank you for being a Loving Father and for all your faithfulness in our lives.  Help us to wait and to watch.  Help us to trust and believe.  YOU are our HOPE and our Strength!  As the disciple Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  YOU ALONE HAVE THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE."  AMEN.



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New Gifts

I have had the privilege of sharing in DTS’s (Youth With A Mission’s Discipleship Training Schools) over the last several years about the “mothering love of God”.  It has been wonderful to see a light dawn in eyes of students and they begin to comprehend God loves them like a Father and a Mother.  He intended us to have both.  It is healthy to have both…..physically, emotionally and spiritually.  When one is lacking, we lack.  We don’t get “enough” in our childhood (due to dysfunction, divorce, wounding, etc.) and it can carry through into adulthood if God Himself has not been given the space to come in and fill the need.




Psalm 131:2

Several months ago as I looked out my window at a breathtaking dawn breaking, I felt peaceful, satisfied.  Weaning means to be satisfied, your needs met.  I have enough.  

This year  I took on my “word”  RELEASE for 2016.   I began 2016 with a sense of God releasing new things into our lives, mainly with how we give out in our ministry and serving others,   New adventures, new stories of sharing.  But way back in January, I began to also sense “release” meant ME releasing some things into God’s hands so He could then “release” into my life.

One area I seem to always be letting go has been the releasing of the lives of my children into His hands.  He carries them.  He will lead them.  He knows them better than I do.  Really?  Can that be??  Yes, releasing our loved ones into His care is the best thing I can do.  But releasing is not always easy.  Even the releasing of comfortable, daily, life can and will bring freshness and new adventure if we are willing to release what is normal for us or things we hide behind.  In prayer, speaking out and giving over to God those things that are good.....really good.....(maybe some not so good)....but by releasing them to God, He sets us free to receive new gifts from Him.  Don't we always want a new present to open?

One thing I love (and can be unsettling and challenging at times) in our relationship with God is we are never to old to grow and learn.  As I gaze at a rising dawn, and read my devotional for the day….it reminds me that God always goes before me.  Never leads me into situations that He is not fully aware of the needs of what I will be facing.  He is before me.  Beside me.  Next to me.  Behind me.  AND He gives PEACE.  It was His first words to His disciples after the resurrection.  Peace I give you.  Do not be afraid.  He knew we needed to hear that.  He said it a lot!  Even sent angels to tell us.

As I wait in the presence of my Father, He impresses on my mind that weaning can be something that takes place even in the oldest of us.  I am 60.  I have walked with the Lord for 42 years.  And today, I continue to be “weaned”.  I think I have enough…but He wants to give me more. Continually moving away from the “bottle” and into deeper, richer, real food.  Even after all these years, He wants to wean me from the comfortable.  The familiar.  He wants to give me “flavored milk”, beyond the white.  I have enough, but He wants to give me more.  Will I trust Him to continually wean me….trust Him as I release, He gives back more than I could imagine?  Will I trust Him?   Can I love someone or something possibly so much that He would want me to “release it into His hands” so He can turn around and give me so much more?


Psalm 34:8
Genesis 16: 13-14 (Amplified Version)
John 20:19
Colossians 3:15
Psalm 139:7-12




Monday, October 17, 2016

By Myself....But Not Alone

Yes, I took a break.  Far too long of a break, but a needed one.  Without a long explanation of so much life lived in the last year, I am returning to blogging.  Expressing my thoughts on paper (or computer as the case may be) is very therapeutic for me, however, I realized I do not want my blog to be a diary of daily happenings, which are really of no interest to anyone but me :)  Nor do I want it to be a medium where I share the deepest innermost thoughts of my heart for all the world to read.  But I do want it to be life - for myself and others who may just need a nugget of encouragement or perhaps a new lens by which to view this complex life and world we live in.  So much noise surrounding us and so many words being thrown in our face.  Sometimes, we need to remove ourselves, just to be quiet.

My husband left recently for an extended ministry trip.  I prayed and chose to stay behind.  We have traveled so much this past year and I needed to stay put for a time, dealing with some health issues and catching up on so many things. As I put him on a plane, my mind is filled with the “to-do” list.  However, whether it was God wanting to slow me down or my body telling me to stop, I ended up having no choice.

In the last 3 years, I have pulled a ligament in my back 3 different times.  Yes, I did it again.  If you’ve never done this, let me tell you it is excruciatingly painful.  I can barely walk and the only position whereby I can relieve the pain is to be lying flat.  So that is where I have spent the last 9 days.  Usually it takes me 5 days of lying down, putting heat or ice on my back and carefully doing the exercises of stretching the doctor prescribed.  However, three days into my recuperation, I aggravated it and the recovery has lasted much longer than anticipated.  I won’t bore you with details, but something happened I do want to share.

I was alone.  Husband thousands of miles away.  Three of my grown children live within an hour, but not close when you need help fairly quickly. A daughter lives in Los Angeles.  We have a family living downstairs.  We don’t have a land-line phone down there.  I didn’t have a cell # for them.  I couldn’t get up to tell them I needed help.  I have a circle of really close girlfriends that would drop everything and come in a second if I needed them.  But I knew they had jobs, commitments and possibly one of them out of town.  To even reach the phone to call was a pain.  I was alone.  I had absolutely no control over my body or the pain. I lay crying and telling God how utterly alone I was.  I was even mad.  Why did this happen when literally everyone that could normally help me was not nearby?  What was I going to do?  I cried.  I felt really sorry for myself.  And I needed to get up and go to the bathroom!  (I knew that could take a fair amount of time just rolling myself off the couch and crawling down the hall).  I was mad.  I cried.  And I felt utterly out of control and alone.  SO OUT OF CONTROL AND ALONE.  

In those difficult and tearful moments and so very clear…..I heard a still small voice in my mind and to my heart, “You are never alone.”  So clear.  So simple. So precise.  And so incredibly calming in that moment.  I knew.  God speaking to me.  God reaching out to me.  Those four words met me in a way that no friend, husband or help could even come close.  A peace came over me and I relaxed.  That was a turning point for me on day four.  I knew before this that He was with me, but a deeper understanding came…..I knew He WAS WITH ME.  Can’t explain it, I just knew.

In the days following, a couple of my close girlfriends came over to visit, my son came by (even with flowers from my husband!) but for the most part, I was housebound and alone.  No, not alone. Just by myself.  Crazily enough, during this time, our weather forecast was we were expecting a storm with so much rain and wind that it was dangerous.  Again, "feeling" alone…..we are surrounded by trees that could very easily come down and have in past storms.  What would I do?  I collected water if the power went out (we have a well that needs electricity to pump).  I had food, firewood and charged my cell phone.  But….what would I do if a tree crashed into our house? I can barely lift a piece of firewood, let alone deal with a fallen tree.   Again…why this storm and why when my husband (who fixes EVERYTHING) is away.  As I prayed for the winds to not come near (praying Psalm 91 over my home and the Pacific Northwest), I was reminded, “I am never alone.”  



Short but wonderful sideline….at one point in the afternoon of the storm I realized everything was calm.  I looked out the window and the neighbor’s trees were swaying heavily in the wind.  I thought “Wow, that wind is wild.”  Then I looked out the other window at our trees.  Not a leaf was moving.  Now, I had prayed for my neighbor’s homes as well, and thankfully, no trees came down.  But in that moment, I knew God was showing me…..He was with me.  Our trees were calm in that moment, while those next door were being tossed with the wind.  

(Photo courtesy of a weather website)

The storm passed.  My storm passed.  And I was not alone.  

I realized this morning that yes, physically I was and still am “by myself”.  But I was not unloved.  I have a family and many who love me - who would come running at the drop of a hat if I needed them.  If they physically could. (I have since been lovingly exhorted by friends and family....I am to pick up that phone and call them....no matter what.) 

But above all, I have a Father in heaven, whose love and faithfulness never leave me (Psalm 117).  



I am never alone.  I am loved.  In the storms.  In the quiet moments.  In life.

You are never alone.  You are loved.  In the storms of life.  In the quiet and in the noisy.  In life.  Do you realize this?  Do you believe this?  If you struggle with this, can I lovingly suggest you take some quiet…..ask God to reveal to you His closeness in a way you will understand.  Ask Him to show you His love and His faithfulness.  Ask Him.  

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.  YOU ARE LOVED.