She Waits

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It’s a glorious thing to watch the waking sky glow peach and fill up with birds. I saw that this morning, and thinking back, I remember a time when such a sight left me unmoved due to depression. I never forgot those times, for they make these times so appreciated. Maybe that’s what the the dark teaches us.

This morning my prayer began simply enough…….”Settle the flutter and static in my mind Lord, turn the world down and You up.”

It is still deep winter in the woods I imagine. I am thinking of snowbanks and quiet clearings even though here in the desert it is promised to warm to 70 today. I long to hear the whisper of falling snow as it covers the ground. Sometimes I ache for that deep quiet like no other.

Nature waits at the edges of our whole busy world yet why don’t we make enough effort to join it? To immerse ourselves in its magnificent beauty?

Winter draws her cloak around herself and stokes the fire and embers shoot up toward the morning star……..She settles in for the long wait. Part of the peace of Winter is in the wait. The world lies quiet under wraps waiting the grand rebirth of itself in the Spring–it mirrors a bigger action. A much bigger waiting.

One day the Grand Master will take up His brush one final time and the world will watch in stunned silence as the Earth and Heaven are reborn one final time, restored to its former glory when the morning stars sang together and the Angels joined all of creation in rejoicing.

That day, He will say “It is finished” for the last time.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons and daughters of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. Romans 8:18-22

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job 38:4-7

A Soul at Rest

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O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.

Psalm 131

It’s a wonderful thing to think about isn’t it? That our soul can be completely quieted by resting in the Lord, as rested as a weaned child. I love when I stumble on a verse I either haven’t read in a long time, or don’t remember reading at all. It’s like it opens up a brand new vista just when I need it most. This morning, I asked for a word because I had nothing and then after prayer the words flowed out without me even trying.

Jesus said,  Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?

Yes, indeed. This morning was a gift, as I sat outside in the breeze I quieted my soul by noticing little things……a dried leaf skittering across the ground. The sound of the little bee wind chime which has a delicate sound that the big clanging buoy bell tries its best to drown out. A hummingbird chirp was coming from somewhere but I never saw it. When the world is turned down and the soul is quieted, you can hear these things.

Last night I went out and gazed at the bright wedge of moon and thought that faith in God is very much like that moon without anything shining on it. We know it’s up there but only when the sun is shining on it do we see it. Every day I see faith living itself out in the land where the shadow of death hangs.

I see the man who comes preaching and singing to Joyce’s care home. What a tough crowd, half of them have their heads down on the table. But He is doing what God calls him to do, and I don’t know how he does it week after week but he does. And with joy too.

I see Elaine having to change her Mom’s clothes, a thing that horrifies them both but they do what they have to do. And I don’t know how she does it, but she does. Faith living itself out no matter what, because like that moon, we can’t see Him but we know He’s there and there is hope because He lives and He’s with us, every step we take however painful.

Right now I am reading a wonderful book I  found called “The Green Desert” a silent retreat. It’s written by Rita Winters. She quit her high stress advertising job and went on a 3 week retreat in the Sonoran desert. I highly recommend it. As I read her descriptions of the desert I know so well, I thought how blessed I have been to have lived here in this Hermitage I call my home for 8 years now.

The desert speaks to you if you let it. It teaches you what no other place can, it speaks of lonely sun-scorched places and turns the quiet up in your soul. The death in the landscape all around you, the severity of it all makes it that much more beautiful when it surprises you with life. Powerful resurrected life that has the power to take your breath away.

And it gives you the sense at night when you look up at all those stars amidst the shadow of those towering sentinels, the Saquaros, that they are bearing witness to something older and bigger than you.

You recognize there is another side to it all and you can sense it. Beyond the blackness, beyond space there is a ring of light so brilliant we aren’t prepared to see it yet. Our eyes are still too attuned to this world, but just the same they are there. The crowd of witnesses the Bible talks about is there. And just today I realized I didn’t have to question if they can see us, because a witness sees who and what it’s witnessing.

And like the moon, like God, just because we can’t see them unless the light is shining on them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

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Creativity and our DNA

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Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:6

Whether you believe the account in Genesis or not, (I do) you can’t deny that creativity is a part of who we are. Even before we can walk or run, we are stacking blocks. Why are we not content to let the sand just lie there and be sand? Because the truth is the act of creating is part of our DNA handed down from our Father in Heaven.

I remember craft time in school when they handed out the clay or the paint how excited we all were. And not just the ones with the natural talent, everybody. And back then no one worried if we were good enough, we just wanted to join in and watch the colors mix, splash over the page, feel the clay warm under our kneading hands. My Mom still has one of my projects from first grade and I still remember that feeling of seeing my finished product; a teal colored fish with a roped piece of clay for a smile.

This morning, after hearing about the Nuke deal, I was kind of bummed out honestly. I thumbed through my phone at the news flashes and threw it back down on the bed distractedly. I didn’t want to hear anymore. I turned my attention to the blank paper that was going to be a card for my Dad’s 87th Birthday. I decided to draw a simple sketch of a place that holds deep significance to our whole family. I crouched on the floor with a few pencils and working from a photo, I sketched a scene.

Soon the cat came in and thought it was play time so he started batting the pencils out of my hand. They both wondered why I was on their level so they hovered around, curiously watching. I found that in those minutes I lost track of time and all the worries of the world outside. For those few minutes I was doing something Holy. I was a partaker in creating something from nothing and even though it’s just a simple drawing, I know my Dad will love it because he is an artist. He understands the joy of the creative process.

When we share our art with someone we are actually joining with God in the creative process He started when He created the world, the cosmos and us. And when we pass it on it becomes a kind of benediction that makes them want to reciprocate in their own way.

Art is a way of keeping our sanity when the world outside seems anything but. Art is a way of building a bridge of hope that lifts us above and beyond ourselves and points to something and someone greater. It says that there is much that is still good. To much to give up.

Turns out there is a world of adults out there who long to go back to those coloring and finger painting days. There are whole workshops now devoted to distressed, depressed, burned out adults who long to get back into the rhythm of doing something they left behind long ago and turns out they shouldn’t have.

So push aside those thoughts that you’re not good enough.

Or do that thing you secretly have always known you were good at.

Paint, draw, sing, build, write. And don’t let anyone tell you it’s a waste of time or even worse, that it’s childish.

You spend enough time in your day being an adult. Now take a break for awhile and enter into what you were really made for

You won’t be able to stop smiling, I promise.

(This post is an abbreviated version that was swallowed up earlier in the day. It is out there in the cloud somewhere)

I started writing on this theme from a prompt I heard about over at The High Calling, though I missed the community link up. Read some great articles on this theme right here.

“Heaven is all around us……..”

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My Dad has sent me many letters over the years and I treasure them all. He usually calls and tells me he sent one, sometimes he tells me everything that’s in the letter and says, “Well I guess I didn’t really have to send it did I?” But I am always glad he does, for I have something to hold onto after he’s gone. I was thinking yesterday, about how I would feel if I got one of these letters from Heaven after he passed on, how would any of us feel? It would be a priceless gift we wouldn’t let go of. If someone writes you words, they are writing out part of their heart. And that’s something never to take lightly.

This particular letter is one I wanted to share because I think the message in it is very valuable and something we all need to remember.

Dear Lori:

I woke up early this morning and sat by myself and was led to write this:

I was reading April 14th, “Jesus Calling” and it spoke of Heaven and I realized how close I am to entering that place of peace. It spoke of Heaven being all around us, even today. Even as we live our lives here and now–what a shame that our peace is disrupted by the dirt and anxiety that engulfs us and stains the picture of Heaven all around us.

Life seems like painting a beautiful picture (which I have done) but making a mistake and destroying the picture and starting all over–life is like that. We start all over every morning but before long we destroy the picture with a terrible memory or a situation in our daily lives that we can’t control–Jesus watches us paint the picture as he looks over our shoulder and it hurts Him when we destroy it.

When I get to Heaven, I hope I don’t look back and see all the times I destroyed the picture and wasted the beauty of Heaven that I had the opportunity to see all around me, everyday.

Dad

When my Dad says he painted a picture, he really did. He did some beautiful watercolor paintings and I remember my Mom would always say that one day she would walk into the room and see what she thought was a great painting and the next day she would see a big, black “X” over it. His critical eye would have found some fault in it. He felt it was less than his best.

And isn’t that how we all are? God gives us a new day, something full of promise and we junk it up with things He never intended, like worry, regret, fear of failure. Or we create something that God is smiling over and we destroy it because all we can see is the mistake.

Today, don’t settle for the black “X”………. make God smile and put a big gold star on this day,  better yet on yourself!

For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago. Ephesians 2:10 “The Voice”

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The day I took my wonder back

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I am so excited! Today is day #1 of the Wonderstruck book club blog posting. I am linking up with Duane Scott and Shelley Miller  and writing about the book once a week through May 8.

I have long been a student in the school of Wonder. My folks taught me at a young age to live with my eyes open and ears tuned to the beauty of God’s creation. We didn’t go to Disneyland when I was a kid, we went camping. When I read the first two Chapters of Margaret Feinberg’s book I was hooked. She had me at the Northern Lights, and Hobbits. But what do you do during those times when the worries and stress of life has squeezed the wonder right out of you?

What I do is pray. Then I go outside and let the wilderness speak for Him.

I tried to tell myself it wasn’t because of the snake that I hadn’t been to the trail this year. I tried to convince myself it was other things.

But I knew the truth.

In my mind’s eye I could still see it. Coiled there in the sun. Waiting for me to find it. Well, no it wasn’t, but that’s what it felt like. And then right after that we saw the rattler in the road and I remembered how fast it coiled when we slowly idled by. Gave us both the creeps.

The mountain had been calling me for weeks. Someone had told me the Superstitions were ablaze with color and I had decided, today was the day. I needed to hear the quail call minus the sound of the freeway in the background.

When I got there, several cars were already parked in the lot. Good, I thought. More people on the trail means more footfall to scare away the snakes. With camera bumping against my side, I headed out. The desert was ablaze with yellow flowers and for a moment I forgot my trepidation and clicked some photos.

I felt like God had graced the area with hundreds of bouquets just for me.

I took a deep healing breath and walked toward the trailhead. My heart was pounding even though I had scarcely begun walking let alone climbing.  I scanned the trail from side to side as I walked, eyes peeled for any movement. I jumped back at the sound of a harmless lizard scuttling through the brush. My eyes drank in the sights and sounds as I tried to erase that other sinister image burned into my brain.

Breaking into a trot, I figured if I made enough noise, the snakes would have warning and time to get out of my way. Or get really ticked off.  How stupid, I thought. That’s just what they hope to do to us with their clever rattles of theirs.

In times when I have been deeply distressed, nature has always been a way for me to find God again, to get back my balance, and I was tired of letting this fear win.

As I approached the place where I had seen it last year, I prayed for God to deliver me from my silly fear. I made up a mantra, “Damnsnake, Damnsnake, Damnsnake,” and I uttered it under my breath. Then I started to get mad at it all over again for robbing me of trail time this year. With head down and heart pounding, I soared up the mountain in what felt like super-human strength. I did it!

I felt a victory bubbling up in my heart. I even paused to take a photo to commemorate the spot as I felt my wonder come flooding back.

When I got to the midway point I rested on the bench. I felt exhilarated and free. Buoyed by my victory, I greeted fellow hikers and felt joy spill over me like a fountain. I had told myself that for this first time back, I wasn’t going to go all the way up to the top.

Now that I had it back, I simply had to go all the way.

On the way up to the top, I met an elderly man from Canada coming down. He held two walking sticks and was dressed in a dapper cotton plaid shirt and hiking shorts. There was a spark of Heavenly light in his eyes and it inspired me to see him out enjoying life, letting nothing stop him. I stopped and we talked about this and that, and then I went on my way and he went on his.

I thought to myself, this is catching, this wonder thing. And I thought, and not for the first time in my life:

Wonder is contagious, and it’s something we can pass on.

I sailed down the mountain, my spirits lifted to the heights of Heaven, my day transformed by wonder.

Smiled on by grace.

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