Resting on one leg……

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say:
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?”
I took a photo of this little duck as we were walking past the marina in San Diego. It struck me as precious…..here she was, seemingly unconcerned about all the people walking by……all the noise that may have caused her to be frightened or uneasy. But no…..she was perfectly at peace. Napping with her little head tucked under her wing…….and on one leg, no less.
If only I could be like that little duck. Perfectly calm and at peace, knowing my Father has me in His sights and that anything that happens to me will have to go through Him first. Sometimes it seems like God comes back to us, but really, it’s us who leave. Never Him. He is always there standing in the wings like a concerned parent just off stage at their child’s first performance….first play…..all the way to the final scene of our lives.
This life is hard, no mistake. Things happen that are just not fair at all. At times like that it’s easy to think God has His eyes closed, but He never does. We look around and see evil prospering right and left. Like the Israelites of old, we say…..”How long Oh Lord?”
And all summer it seems there were disasters everywhere we turned. The terrible forest fires, and the Texas flooding and now Irma bearing down on the poor folks in its path. It seems we can’t catch a breath before the next thing hits. Every day I have prayed for everyone affected, thanked God that I am warm and dry.
I complain from time to time that all the stuff that used to be so tastefully arranged between the walls of the home I loved are now sitting in storage collecting dust, nevertheless I am safe, we are all safe.
And what about those Hurricanes of life? In any situation we have a choice to evacuate the scene, get the heck out of dodge or hunker down and ride it out. Whatever your disaster today, there is only One choice that will make a difference.
Pray to the One who commands the wind and the waves for peace. The One who can calm your turbulent mind, body and soul. He may not remove the situation, but I can attest to the fact that He will come and meet your need.
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me. Jonah 2:2
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Psalm 40:2
Today, my prayer is that he will rest like that little duck in God’s promises that will never be broken. May we all rest in Him and have true peace…….Thankful today for peace…..the kind that passes all understanding, guards our hearts, keeps our minds and hearts on Jesus.
Thankful for a day in the future when true justice will be done…….the calm assurances in Scripture, that book that has the power….to mend hearts…..lives……thankful for God giving me that little duck, I will try to think of her my brain runs rampant with worry.
May it be well with your soul today, friends.

Coming Home to Gratitude

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“God reveals Himself in rear view mirrors. And I’ve an inkling that there are times when we need to drive a long, long distance, before we look back and see God’s back in the rearview mirror. Maybe sometimes about as far as Heaven–that kind of distance.” Ann Voskamp

This afternoon, I remembered something I used to do back in Arizona. It was a wonderful habit of counting out my blessings along with the community that Ann Voskamp started with her wonderful book, One Thousand Gifts. Oh, I remember those Monday posts, sitting there in my cozy home counting out my “thankfuls”fondly.

I have been struggling, really struggling to get words out. Before they used to pour out like an offering……..liquid words splashing like a drink offering on my altar to God. The well seems to have dried up but I have learned as a writer that these times are often as valuable as when words flow freely.

The move we wrestled with for so long is behind us. The stress of me starting a brand new job that I almost drove myself into despair over, behind us. I have arrived at a kind of comfort zone where the blackness now is a gray with a tinge of hope at the edges. We are settled in a beautiful spot by a river where we hear trains often, always a favorite of mine. I missed those in Arizona.

So I wondered. Why can’t I write? Where did the words go? Why, with all this beauty around me does my soul feel dampened? Where is that deep peace I had in the desert?

Could part of it be that I have brought too many other things to the foot of the cross and forgotten my gratitude? Could it be that simple?

So here in this place, on this Veteran’s Day, I will forget all about the craziness going on in the world and concentrate on counting my gifts again, for they are many: 

Little leaves floating down from Heaven, resting circles on the water.

The owl I heard the other morning

The three river otters I saw playing, mouth agape as I tried to run for my camera on Saturday morning

Cherished time spend with a dear friend and laughter that went along with it, and Kayaking on the river. 

My health…..my health…..my health. 

This new job that I wrestled with and at last come to a place of a somewhat uneasy comfort zone. 

A best friend who never stops finding ways to make living in an RV better and more comfortable, and thankful that it didn’t sell so we could live here in this incredible beauty. 

Family who is close, who I can drive or bike to see. 

Friends who have expressed joy and gladness that we are here now. 

God, who has never left me, and never will.

Thank you Ann, for starting this with your wonderful book, One Thousand Gifts. I pray that the Lord continue to bless and keep you and your family.

Gratitude as a way of thinking

 

“The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.” Psalm 121:8

As I went about from window to window the other night closing the house up, my heart was seized with gratitude…..of having a home to come to, a warm place and a refuge from the noisy world. “Why me?” I thought, “when so many others have no home, no place to go?” Safety for them is a far-off dream, something other people have.

I could have been born any place at all but I was born here in America. The land of blessing.

It’s so easy to be Thankful when things are going well, but how thankful am I when things aren’t?

Gratitude, as I have learned, is more than simply feeling grateful, it’s a way of thinking. That no matter what happens, there is a reason for it because when we have God, we still have everything.

And it doesn’t mean you are doing a happy dance when things are falling apart around you. It means that you know deep inside who is ultimately in control and that you trust in His love because He has already saved your life, past present and future.

And when that terrible thing happened He wasn’t looking the other way.

And if you want to hear the best answer to a question I have heard so many people ask when prayers don’t go their way? You really need to go here and read this gem, by Duane Scott.

The thing that causes hearts to go darker than anything else is Lack of gratitude……..”For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21<sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”>

And today, I am also linking up with Ann at Holy Experience because she is the one that actually got me started with writing my gratitude down on paper and teaching me a new way to see.

Grateful for my home each and every day…….and that I have a job so I can help others…..for laughter in church…..friends at work who are like lights in the darkness……fixed cars that run like tops……thankful the driver behind me the other night was paying attention when the whole freeway stopped……formerly unknown people who I now count as dear friends thanks to FB, yes, FB…..pumpkin pie for breakfast……steaming cups of comfort to wrap hands around….being totally lazy on a day off…..a great day yesterday. #945-956

And for a great way you can build hope for children in Haiti, click on the Help One Now button on my sidebar, where just a little can go a long way. Blessings my friends, Lori

When Church Happens

He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:14

I went to church but I didn’t go all the way in. To be honest, I just didn’t feel like hearing another sermon. I have heard it all before. I have sat and filled in the blanks dutifully, like one more task I have to check off. Done. On to the next thing.

I miss the interaction. I miss how at my old church they would ask if anyone had a burden, a need. And then others standing by would surround them, touch them, hands like gentle doves lighting on shoulders, backs…….. and the Pastor would pray. Sometimes they would cry and we would want to cry too. There is something powerful about the laying on of hands…..passing the Spirit from one to another.

It unifies us all.

Somehow I can’t escape the feeling that we are leaving with our burdens intact. There might be a burning need right next to me, and I would never know it. An inner cry for help like a dial tone unanswered.

We leave as the islands we are. Untouched. Still carrying the heavy load.

I wonder and not for the first time if the Spirit is not quenched with all our organization. Just one Sunday I wish the Pastor would stop and say, “Now everyone turn to your neighbor, not the one you came with, the one you don’t know, and pray for each other for 15 minutes.”

And I miss the altar call. Some say it’s just not needed anymore. It makes people feel embarrassed, singled out. But I disagree. I feel like it’s what draws us all in, and holds us together. Makes us remember when we were the one propelled out of our seat, and how that aisle looked impossibly long.

And when it was just you and the Lord, and no one else. And somehow, you know that this one thing, this one moment will change the course of your eternal destiny. What in the world matters more than that? I believe churches are robbing their congregations when they take this Holy moment away.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the church more than ever. When I miss it, something is wrong. But I also think that church happens more often than not after we leave the building.

As we sat yesterday with old friends, listening to all they have been through since we had last seen them I felt church happen with the exchange of tears. When she said she was finally getting help in dealing with the death of their little boy. That little boy who was their whole world and in some ways still is.

I can see how that little boy is so alive to them still. And how if he knew what a shadow his death made on their marriage, how sad he would be. I wish I would have told her that if he knew his Mommy was finally getting help, that he would smile from Heaven.

We talked of how it will never go away, he will never go away. But you learn to make some kind of peace with it. And go on for others who still need you.

Church happens when love happens, and not just on Sunday. But over coffee, in between classes, in parking lots, in school buses, everywhere God is.

It happens when we remember the Cross and what was done on it, for us. And that every single thing we bear in this life, He already dealt with.

It was nailed to the cross when He was.

In light of that, we stand at the edge of eternity every day. And with each day, no matter what we have to handle, our gratitude can’t help but grow.

We just can’t stop counting the gifts. Join me today? And Ann at Holy Experience here.



The Bee Lesson

After morning prayer I went out into the garden, hoping to catch a small breeze. It is August in Arizona, truly the dog days of summer. Eighty degrees this morning at 6 a.m. I sat and noticed that the bees were up early too. Doing their best to pollinate every last Okra bloom. I sat and watched them going about their business, doing what bees do.

Really it was a form of meditation, watching them…..and there is one thing I thought about as I kept watching.

They don’t have to set an alarm to get up.
 
They don’t decide they aren’t going to work a certain day.
 
They just rise with the light and go, without question or thought.

And do.

What a lesson I can learn from them about residing in Christ. I tend to wrestle and war with my emotions with every decision. Everything becomes big. Stress rises within me. I lose the peace.

Jesus was kind of like those bees the garden. He got up at first light, and went about doing good. He did what His Father had created Him to do, and He did it perfectly. And my own lesson here, the one Jesus tries everyday to teach me, is that I can do the same.

I can get up and just rest in Jesus, knowing that He is willing and able to carry out the work He would have me do. And perfectly. All I have to do is take the first step, and keep walking along the path He wants me to walk that day.

And instead of striving……….I can just be.

Like the bees…..and Jesus.

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” Psalms 46:10

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.” Matthew 11:29

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Counting the gifts once again……Thankful for the bee lesson today……a great day yesterday……moments where I forget to strive and live instead…..new shoes……physical health……a connection made once again with old friends……technology that makes spreading the Word into all the earth possible……froth on my steaming cup of coffee……fresh batch of library books coming…..#933-944

Change a comin……

The relentless heat has tired us all out, even the birds. The desert is waiting for change, waiting to be relieved from the oppressive grip of summer which will surely come, it always does. Just not when we’re ready. In the desert, you live by its rules, not your own. But there are ever so slight whispers of it nonetheless.

This morning I sat outside and there was a breeze and it was bearable. Enjoyable. I sat there thanking the Lord for moments of peace and time off after a challenging work week. The garden yielded a beautiful watermelon yesterday. When I think that this patch of green was a patch of dirt not too long ago, I think of what God does with our lives, that is when we let Him.

Elaine is off to Texas for a few days for a cherished and much anticipated visit with her Aunt Billie Ruth and her cousin Sandra. Billie Ruth is 88 years young, still active doing tours for local historical buildings and spending hours in the library doing genealogy research for others.

I have been alone with Elaine’s Mom and it has been interesting. She keeps asking where Elaine is, and I keep giving the same answer. We are both learning steps to a new dance, neither one is us sure of the steps. But so far, so good. The hygiene issue is ongoing though, and I never thought I would be thankful for the absence of the sense of smell, but at times like this it does come in handy.

Work is stressful right now, and though I have a few days off now, work looms large on Thursday. The biggest challenge? How can I glorify the Lord in a place where I am fearful and anxious?

I feel it sapping my emotional, mental, and creative strength, nipping at my heels even when I am not there. And even though I am so very thankful for this time off that replenishes, Thursday feels like a steamroller and each day brings me closer to its flattening shadow.

Yet, when I think of all that the Lord has brought me through there from my very first day until now, and how He has been with me with every step, it humbles me greatly.

This will be my seventeenth year there, and while there have been countless anxiety ridden moments and nights where I have tossed and turned with worry, there have also been countless victories, and God has brought me some wonderful friends I would never have met otherwise. Friends who I know will be with me for life.

All along, each worry and fear has been calmed and tempered by His gracious Spirit who has been with me every moment, and with me still. Somehow He always keeps the wave from engulfing me totally and until such time as I am able to walk out the door for good, I want to be faithful with what He has given me.

The only possible way is by leaning on Him. Totally.

And to keep a count of all the good, and there is much that is……….cool morning breezes, whispers of rain that hit my window, fresh melon from the garden, Elaine being able to make this trip, that my niece loves her new school, a wonderful Birthday, telephone conversations with friends and family that always lift spirits, fresh batch of books via Amazon, His daily grace raining down even when I don’t deserve it, words that somehow come together, time off……..always grateful for that. #922-932

Home…….

Please enjoy this beautiful video and song by David Nevue…..the theme at church yesterday was “Homecoming,” and how God is always watching and waiting for us to come home to Him. Oh how He longs to welcome us with open arms, just as the father of that long lost son. I can just imagine how he went to that window every day and night, hoping to see a lone figure walking up the road, hoping that it was his lost son, and the joy when that day finally came…..Luke 15:11-32

And always, as you listen to this song, give a prayer of gratitude in your minds…..count the thanks along with me and Ann Voskamp, here……..