I enjoy it so much when God paints the autumn sky. It is brilliant!
“From sunrise to sunset, let the LORD’s name be praised!” Psalm 113:3
The William O’Brien State Park is one of my favorite places to go for a walk.
Choices … choices. A stroll next to the St. Croix River or through the woods. This time, the walk through the woods won out and with very few people out walking, it made the walk even more peaceful.
The day couldn’t have been more perfect. Sunny with occasional restful clouds floating by.
Sometimes I look at nature and it looks messy to me – grasses growing amidst weeds and flowers with an occasional bug flitting in and out of the mess.
Yet it reminds me that this is how life is also. No day is exactly the same and sometimes the stress of illness, work or family drama all blends together.
And then … it’s as if someone pulls a blessing out of the sky and plants it right in your path. The heart goes back to breathing regularly, the drooped shoulders relax and the furrowed brows line disappear.
These are the small moments of blessing that I look for every day.
Sometimes ~ just around the bend ~ a large blessing stares me in the face. Unexpected and breathtaking, it brings such joy to my heart. Today, it was a pair of swans sitting on a beaver dam. Although the dam looks messy, the beavers spent much time putting those sticks in an orderly fashion.
And suddenly, my cares wash away as a field of grass lies before me.
And it’s enough. Enough to overcome any stresses for the day.
“He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth.” Psalm 104:14
As I was visiting family in North Dakota, I decided to take a walk on a beautiful crisp blue sky day.
The crispness in the air mixes with the oxygen I breathe and my brain seems to function in a heightened sense of awareness.
And thus it was that I happened to come upon ~ the short birch tree.
I had never seen a short one before. With its large branches so close to the ground I wondered why it was so different than others. And then it hit me ~ pruning.
This birch tree had been pruned and it could still stand straight as others but its majestic~ness would be able to be seen from those on the ground. A much closer look reveals horizontal markings on the tree. Every flaw is open for inspection and/or observation.
I found it to be a reflection of our humanness.
“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2
A couple of months ago we noticed that our very well built tree house was starting to lean. Every day it seemed like it leaned a little more and then a little more. We were pretty sure the large tree stump that it was built around was rotting.
One morning I woke up to a semi cloudy day and wondered if I might be able to pull weeds. Heading outside, I looked towards where the treehouse was and noticed there was weed pulling that needed to be done around and underneath it. But then I looked at the sky and talked myself out of it.
Heading back inside the house, I started doing chores when suddenly I heard a loud swish and thump. It had been a little windy earlier and I thought “which tree fell this time?” Looking out the living room window, I noticed the tree house lying on its side on the ground with the tree trunk attached to it.
And … that’s where I had considered working.
There have been so many times when God’s protection shielded me and I was thankful that today was another one of those times.
Looking at the treehouse, a vivid memory came back to me of a movie I had seen several times called The Wizard of Oz. In one scene, because of a tornado, a house is flying through the sky and then lands squarely on the body of the “wicked witch of the east.” But the only thing you see of her is part of her legs sticking out from under the house.
I shuddered to think that I could have been killed under this treehouse in the same manner.
“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” Psalm 5:11
I dislike working the outside perimeter of our yard because of the possibilities of ticks and mosquitoes. But this morning I said “I can do this. I will not be afraid.” And I prayed really hard for courage and protection. So, with weed whacker in hand, I headed out.
When I came back in, I showered and checked for ticks and found none so I made lunch, sat down and watched a little TV.
Then I happened to glance down at my arm and very quickly heading up my arm was a HUGE tick (well, okay, since I dislike them so much they look huge – this one was the size of a pregnant ladybug). I quickly brushed it away from me. Had I been smart enough (no comments here, hehe) I would have killed the evil creature.
So I spent the next hour vacuuming/hunting for the tick but it was not to be found. Fortunately, they die within 24 hours if they don’t have a water source.
I’m glad I prayed for and received God’s protection. I’ve come to realize that God doesn’t always part Red Seas for us as most of us don’t have those kinds of experiences. In the every day, mundane kinds of experiences ~ that’s where I see God at work.
“The value of man, the estimate God places on him, is revealed in the cross of Calvary.” (My Life Today)
When we look to Jesus we are better able to see the value of our fellow human beings because we will see them through His eyes.
Challenge for today: When criticism of another person comes to your mind, stop, pray and ask God to show you the value He has placed on them and to give you the strength to treat them as He would treat them.
We attend a fairly large church in Minneapolis that has approximately 400+ people. It’s quite different than the previous church I attended which has 25-30 members.
So ~ it’s no wonder that trying to adapt and fit into a “group” has been challenging, especially when these groups seem so tight knit.
One day it was announced that one of the members of the church was transferring to a smaller church which is closer to where we live. I hadn’t even know it was there ~ a new church plant.
So one day we decided to attend this church just to check it out.
This church plant rents space from another church but signs were visible as to where to go. The greeter was quite friendly and pointed us in the direction we should go along with handing us a church bulletin.
When we arrived at the entry to the sanctuary, there was a Bible study class in session so we decided to wait until that was finished. That’s when we met the Pastor who was also friendly. He told us that the church had mailed letters to the surrounding area inviting people to attend and he wasn’t sure why we hadn’t received one.
Soon enough the service started and everything went as planned per the bulletin handed to us.
Right after the closing song was sung, a child of about three came over to where we were sitting and handed me a handmade card.
It brought such a huge smile to my face.
Smaller churches certainly have a more personal feel to them. Hmmm … wonder if we should continue attending “where everybody knows your name.”
This roadrunner looks large, so how can this man hold it in one hand?
Well, as you probably have guessed, he’s not holding it in his hand but the photo is taken as if he was.
This New Mexico Roadrunner Sculpture is actually 20 feet tall and 40 feet long. It was built by artist Olin Calk back in 1993.
At first glance you can’t really tell what it’s made of, can you?
So, let’s take a closer look … But, before I show you a picture that has a little more detail, see if you can take a good guess just by looking at the picture below.
Are you guessing?
It’s hard to tell from afar, isn’t it?
Let’s take a look at it’s beak ~ what do you see?
Here’s a closer look at the tail section ~
And a few more pictures for you to view this interesting sculpture ~
From ironing boards, shoes, keyboards and crutches, this roadrunner is made up of a lot of what people would consider junk or garbage.
It reminds me of humanity. Sometimes we look at people from afar, see them at their best and really want to get to know them. Once we get closer though, we see that they are made up of the same thing everyone else is made up of ~ basic human needs, put together as best as possible (although in some instances not put together very well at all).
The question we have to ask ourselves is: Do we want to get to know them better in spite of their weaknesses and flaws (recycled lives as it were) or would we rather just drive by and hope we find someone who doesn’t have so much stuff crammed into their life.
It’s not really a tough choice if we remember that we have struggles and flaws also. Our desire, need and hope is that someone “out there” will give us a second look in spite of all we have been recycled out of ~
Humanity is not always at it’s best (especially the closer you get to someone) ~ that’s a given. I’m not always at mine either. Seeing past the outer core of people isn’t easy yet sometimes the best reward is when you dig deeper and are able to experience their (and your own) potential.
” … The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
It’s Friday evening. My body and mind slow down in preparation for Sabbath. It used to surprise me that this happened ~ the calmness that occurs as Sabbath draws near. I look forward in anticipation to this rest and can’t imagine life any other way.
Settling into bed as the evening draws on, I choose a Christian playlist on my iPod and wirelessly play the songs on the Bose speaker. Ahhh ~ the sounds of nature. No words only music.
Turning off the light, I kiss my husband goodnight and wait the 5 minutes it takes for him to fall asleep.
Lying back in bed, I close my eyes and start to silently pray. Everything is dark.
Then it happens. As if I’m watching the beginning of a Star Wars movie, I feel myself being propelled through space. Darkness and movement. I’m moving quickly but I don’t feel afraid.
I see light. Suddenly a man sitting on a throne with a crown on His head is directly in front of me. I can’t make out His features.
Silently I tell myself “This can’t be God for no man has seen God and lived.”
Quickly realization strikes: “It’s Jesus!” my mind says.
And just as quickly as it appeared, the vision disappears.
I close my eyes tighter to see if I can make it reappear but it doesn’t. Then I fall asleep.
The next day I remember what I saw, what I felt.
Oh Jesus ~ the things you do to remind me to keep my eyes on You.
A few months ago (yes, I’m a slow reader), I picked up a book called Prayer, Does It Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey.
I have to say, this book has a LOT of golden nuggets and I thought that every now and again, I’d share some of them with you.
I’ve often had people ask me “Will you pray for …….?” I always say yes as I feel prayer is powerful. And yet, in the pit of my stomach, I’ve sometimes wondered if some of my prayers are lost in the air above my head.
It’s not that I don’t believe in God ~ no, not at all. He has expressed Himself to me in so many ways. But sometimes, when prayers don’t appear to be answered, I wonder what happened. Did I lose the connection somehow?
And so … this book was/is quite appropriate for those types of moments in my life.
One of the very first golden nuggets I ran into was something I had never thought of:
There were no closets in Jesus’ day. So ~ why did Jesus (in the King James version of the Bible) instruct us to pray in our closets?
“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:6
Different versions of the Bible use “go to your room and close the door” or “go away by yourself and close the door behind you.”
The original Hebrew word for closet here means a storage chamber or a secret room. So, the KJV is not quite as accurate as it should be.
Jesus’ main concern here was that people were praying in public to show off. And people can have a tendency to do that when asked to pray publicly. Perhaps they feel pressured to say the “right” words or not to forget to say something.
Sometimes when I’m at church and I hear really long prayers I wonder why they have to be so long and my thoughts trail off into something else. Has that ever happened to you?
Our prayers should express the relationship we have with God so that it can free us to pray with people and for people. More often than not though, we need to have more one-on-one intimate conversations (prayers) with God as those are the times when our relationship with Him can grow the best.
I find that when I have the radio on in the background, I can’t “hear” God as well as if it’s quiet with absolutely no distractions. What works best for you?
So ~ have you had all of your prayers answered? I know I have even though sometimes it doesn’t “feel” that way. Yet I’ve learned that we can’t trust our feelings all the time. Sometimes the answer will be no, other times yes and still other times God asks us to wait. But each time, if I’m patient, I know He has made the best decision for me.
So, find your “closet” and pray. He’s definitely listening.