Sunday, April 29, 2012

You were here all along!

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Surely the Lord is in this place
and I was not aware of it!
Genesis 28:16

Have you ever struggled through something hard only to find out later that God was working things out in a way you never could have imagined?

Ever been overwhelmed by the hopelessness of a situation, not for the life of you been able to imagine how anything good could come of it?

Are you right now in a difficult place and you can't see God anywhere?

This exclamation of wonder, uttered by Jacob after waking up from a nap (with a rock for a pillow!), has been in my mind over and over lately.  Whether we sense God's presence or we don't, it doesn't change the fact that He is here.  Right in the midst of our situation.  He's working in a million ways that we can't see. 
He goes behind us into our past and before us out into our futures.

He has plans for us that nothing can stop and He's always working on them to be sure they are accomplished.

He is somehow able to make every single thing in our lives be a part of the good plan He has in place.  This present thing that we face is not the one thing He can't bring good out of.

Is there anywhere we can go that He's not already there?  Where could we flee from His presence?

If we only had eyes that could see the spiritual activity that goes on around us!  We would see Him arranging circumstances and people to be sure that His purposes are accomplished.  Always.  Every time.

So I love this little verse.  I don't have to wait until I can see how God is working.  I can know that He is.

How about you?  God is at work in your situation RIGHT NOW.


This is a repost from May 2010.
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Meditate

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I always like to hear about the ways people spend time in God’s Word.  There are so many different methods – read the bible in a year, read the NT in a year, inductive study, S.O.A.P. journals, even the often used L.Y.B.F.O. method - 'letting your bible fall open' to a random page and hoping God gives you direction about some important decision.  I’ve used that one more than I want to admit.

I don’t seem to be able to get too much out of it if I’m trying to read a big chunk in one sitting.  I know that reading through the bible like that gives you context that you don’t get in one section only.  But I am much too task-oriented and anal about lists.  Instead of enriching my historical perspective and gaining valuable insight into the prophetic thread that runs through scripture, I’m completely focused on the boxes next to the readings for the day and ‘conquering’ the assignment – which tends to make you miss a lot of personal application.  Ya think?

Many years ago, I heard a pastor speak on the importance of meditating on God’s word and he  described it this way:
“…pondering the words of a verse or verses of Scripture, with a receptive heart, allowing the Holy Spirit to take the written Word and apply it as the living word to the inner being.”
                                              
Campbell McAlpine - "Alone With God"

That really appealed to me.  Then he went on to show how many times in Scripture we’re told to meditate on God’s word – it’s a command! 

Webster defines meditation this way:

meditate:  to reflect on, contemplate, focus one’s thoughts on, ponder over, think in a calm and deliberate manner

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So more than 30 years ago, I began to take time in the morning to meditate, usually on just one or two verses.  I’ve asked God to show me a book of the bible to go through, verse by verse, in this way.  Here are some of the ways I meditate: 
  • read the verse slowly several times, sometimes out loud
  • try to quiet my heart and thoughts so that the Holy Spirit can speak to me through the passage 
  • think about what God might intend to say to me
  • ask questions about anything I don’t understand
  • look up related passages/words using a concordance or chain reference
  • write the verse out in my journal
  • write it again in my own words
  • write out a prayer about the verse

I wish I could tell you how wonderful this practice has been for me.

Have I done this every day for 30 years?  NO.  Self-discipline has never been something I could brag about.  I remember so many times when the girls were little and got up before me or when life has just seemed to squeeze me or when I've been flat-out lazy that I didn’t make it a priority. 

But when I have, it has been the single most fruitful and life-giving thing in my life. 

God has met me every single time I’ve meditated on His word.  Sometimes I’ve told Him – “Now I understand that verse in Hebrews 4 that says Your word is alive and active!” 

He’s directed, prodded and convicted me.
Encouraged, enlightened and energized me when I needed it so.
Reminded, rewarded and renewed my sinking spirit.

This command to meditate on God’s word is so that we are filled with TRUTH, God’s perspective instead of our own and faith in who He is.  What better way to know God’s character, His faithfulness and His promises?

Maybe you are needing a fresh way to spend time in God’s word.  I hope you find some of God’s best gifts as He speaks to you through meditating on His word!

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

I love you

coffee ILY

I don’t know if anyone has told you this today but your God has said…

I have loved you, My child, with an everlasting love. 
With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself and continued My faithfulness to you. 
Jeremiah 31:3  Amplified

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

On my nightstand



I can’t recommend any of these yet because I haven’t read them but they came home from the library yesterday. 

You’ll see two here by Madeleine L’Engle – did you read A Wrinkle In Time when you were growing up?  She is a wonderful author and I’m looking forward to reading her adult writing.  A Circle of Quiet is her exploration of her own life’s meaning as a wife, mother, Christian and author.  Bright Evening Star is the story of her spiritual journey to Christ.

Kisses from Katie is one I’ve had on reserve for a while but I was way down the list until this week.  Here’s a brief synopsis:  What would cause an eighteen-year-old old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because the rest of them think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person but didn’t know any of the language? A passion to make a difference.  I read Katie’s blog and love her ministry, Amazima

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a children’s book (grades 3-6 it says on Amazon’s site – ha!) about the adventures of a china rabbit who belongs to a little girl who dearly loves him.  He falls overboard from a boat and is lost.  He meets many on his journey back to his owner and learns much along the way about love and loss and loving again.  I love to have a children’s book in the mix and I hope it’s a good one!

The Peach Keeper is one I may or may not read – it’s written by a New York Times best-selling author and is a fictional tale of a southern woman trying to live outside the shadow of her family’s legacy.  Maybe I’ll love it – I don’t know.  I am trying to be a bit more discerning in my reading.  Whereas in the past I would likely finish a book I started just because I felt obligated (to who, I don’t know), now I will stop mid-chapter if it’s either not at all edifying or just plain uninteresting.  I am trying to think on things that are true, noble, right and praiseworthy.  That goes for my reading as well as my other input, I think.

Jeff has been enjoying several books on tape by Timothy Keller so I thought I’d see what The Meaning of Marriage is like.  I like the subtitle – Facing the complexities of commitment with the wisdom of God.  Not sure if I’m up for anything too heavy – I’ve been leaning toward fiction lately so I hope it is “compelling, wide-reaching and conversational” as the reviewers have claimed.

A book I can recommend is called Still Alice



I loved this book.  It was written in the voice of a woman in her late 40’s who is an accomplished psychology professor at Harvard but who begins experiencing symptoms of early-onset Alzhheimer’s disease.  Reading it was like being inside the body of someone as she has to reluctantly accept the inevitable.  Written from this perspective the story was so real.  I’ve rarely thought about what it must be like to experience the ‘diminishing’ this disease brings.  I have to tell you, I thought about it for days after reading it.  And had to shake off some anxiety about not remembering whether it was garbage day or what I did with the Costco receipt. 

Now, what are you reading?

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

It’s a smörgåsbord!



It would be nice of me to categorize the links I share – you know,
Funny, Inspiring, Bizarre, Helpful…



But today you get the whole box of crayons! In no particular order.


April tulips



@The Power of Moms
There’s this crazy phenomenon going on right now. Good, devoted mothers get on Pint*rest… and blogs… and Facebook… and Twitter… and then they flip through parenting magazines and TV channels (full of advertisements and media hype)… and they’re convinced they’re not enough.



@The Guardian
What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?
I think about this kind of thing more than I ever thought I would.  Now - to live intentionally!



@maddieonthings
This is… a coonhound placed on a whole variety of things and photographed. She appears cooperative but not always happy. 



@Chiselseason.com
One of the biggest keys to a strong and grace-filled relationship with Jesus is constantly swimming in all the privileges we have in Christ. We must remind ourselves of these truths daily, before even getting out of bed. Because, what usually happens is within seconds of me waking up I have a ton of voices, thoughts, and lies telling me who I am. Why shouldn’t I let the Word of God tell me who I am over all those other things that are not true?
Did you print this? – I did.



@obtampons
I don’t know what to say about this except it is so cool – you have to try it! I have no idea what it means or how they do it. (Be sure to wait patiently for it to load once you enter your name.) 



Dear Picnik,
I have used you faithfully for many years for free online photo editing and I am in mourning that you are closing this month. But I do thank you for the suggesting PicMonkey and I think I am in love.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Coffee Art à la Van Gogh

While I love the spring-y close-ups in my blog header above, they aren’t really about coffee or about having a cup of anything are they?   I’ve been in a months-long quest to find inspiration for a blog header. 

A close-up of two really cool coffee cups? 

A silhouette of two people at a café table in France?  

A picture of me begging strangers to join me at St*rbucks?

So yesterday I met a friend for coffee (it’s my spiritual gift) at a place I’d never been and my mocha was served in a real coffee cup – not paper – with a gorgeous design in the foam. 

There are actually contests for this skill and my drink would totally be in the running for a ribbon.  Here's a peek into some more beautiful coffee art.

I told the barista that he was an artist and that I wanted to take a picture for my blog.  I carefully carried the cup over to a table by the window and set up the shot.


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Just look at that detail! Wouldn’t it have made a cool banner if it weren’t a bit blurry?  Because I only had my phone, I didn’t get a picture that I can use for the header.  My camera phone doesn’t take high-def pictures.

I feel quite sure the barista was feeling very proud that a famous blogger was taking professional snapshots of his artistry.


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And then I dropped my phone into the cup.


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Oh yes I did.
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Monday, April 2, 2012

What 60¢ gets you

geraniums2

Today it was time to make my annual trek to Freddies for geranium starts – 60¢ each!    These will take a couple of months to start blooming but they’ll grow to about 2’ tall and bloom until the first freeze in October or November. There are 60 plants on that cart!

I see you doing the math in your head.


ivy

Look closely and you’ll see some ivy geraniums for my two hanging baskets.  If you’ve priced those gorgeous hanging baskets in nursery centers every spring, you know how expensive they are.  These little ‘seedlings’ will fill out a hand-planted hanging pot beautifully!  I’ll probably add in a few contrasting plants but these will make up the bulk of the planter.  The pots will look pitiful for quite a while but it will be worth the wait!

I get so excited about scoring a deal on plants!

There are lots of great tutorials on the web with hanging planter tips.  I wish I’d studied one last year before I planted mine.

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I splurged last year and bought two of these plastic hanging pots but I didn’t take the time to watch the video on how to actually fill them.  I am completely embarrassed to tell you that I stuffed the plants in from the outside, roots first.  It never even occurred to me to set the plants inside and gently pull the green part through the holes.  I had dirt everywhere, broken root balls and a few plants broken off at the base.  Yeah, it was pretty pitiful.  So please pretend you too would have crammed your plants in from the outside and consider this a helpful garden hint!

I’m thinking of inserting a pvc pipe (with holes drilled in it) down the center of the dirt to try to distribute water to the bottom of the pot.  Mine is actually about twice as deep as the one pictured above and last year I had to flood the pots to get water to the roots at the bottom.  I think I’ll do some research on this before I take a stab in the dark again, though, just in case someone has thought of a better way!

*Believe me when I tell you that I hesitate to write posts like this.  I ask myself – Who really cares, Becky, about your purchases at Fr*d M*yer or your gardening gaffs?  But while I’m working on the post that changes your life, you can go read Teresa’s blog for some truly inspiring garden photos and ideas. 

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