Category Archives: Uncategorized
My apologies if you received a draft version of the upcoming Tulip Time post.
The “Save Draft” button is awfully close to the “Publish” button.
We’ve been without internet, but should have access in a week or so.
Hope to “see” you soon.
The house had been bulldozed, burnt, and buried weeks ago, and I’d never noticed.
I drove past this home every time I went to our nearby town, and still I hadn’t realized it was gone.
The contractor’s progress in building a bigger, new house a few yards away had distracted me. Am I like the proverbial ravens, attracted to shiny, new objects?
I try to pay attention to the old, the dying and dead,
but do I only notice the sparkling, the new, the contemporary?
Do I neglect to see the beauty and meaning in the small, the quiet, and the ordinary? A new day’s light illuminating grassy seed heads dipped in dew is still a miracle.
The geometry spoken into the heart of a flower is no less perfect because the flower is called a weed.
Are things too small to merit my contemplation, like the millions of dust particles that turned the western sky into a burnished sunset?
Do I look, but do not see? Is it a rebellious heart that overlooks the wondrous that surrounds me?
“Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people. Ezekiel 12:2 NIV
Have I failed to thank the Lord for the vistas revealed this fall because they are so “ordinary.”
Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? Mark 8:18 NIV
Have I failed to pay attention to the glory at my feet, because it is expressed in common garden flowers and weeds growing in dusty gravel paths?
Have I neglected the everlasting love of God that surrounds me because I wasn’t paying attention?
Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love. Isaiah 55:3 MSG
My prayer for us all:
that we may have undistracted eyes to see
the physical beauty, the everlasting love
in all things, old and new, great and small.
* * * * *
The sun had burned off the morning haze and ushered in a beautifully-bright June day. The warm breeze was gentle, and the deep blue sky was spotted with puffy, cumulus clouds.
On days like this it’s easy to understand Jesus’ proclamation:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
John 8:12 NIV
The sunshine surrounds me and illuminates everything. It is the engine of photosynthesis that provides food for man and animal. Sunlight heals. It banishes the deep shadows.
Sometimes the light is muted, weak. High humidity at dawn can drape the morning with a heavy haze,
but the sun is still there.
Sometimes sunshine is hidden, obscured. Storms swirl and veil the sun. The word “hide” means “conceal from sight,” not destroy or eradicate.
The sun is still there.
When the rainstorm scrubs the world clean, and the light is shrouded in the final wisps of clouds and is captured in rain-washed reflections,
the sunshine is still there.
Sometimes when the sun has slipped below the horizon, the only light is what is reflected in sunset clouds.
But the light is still there.
Is your life today as warm and cheerful as a bright summer’s day? Soak in the rays and rejoice!
Are there troubles on the horizon, making it hard to see how the future will unfold? Let the light of God guide you.
Are the storms of life–illness and injury, financial setbacks, broken relationships–clouding your days? Have faith that the radiant glow of the Lord’s compassion shines behind the thunderhead.
Are you facing the loss of a loved one in the dark grief of sunset? The blazing love of Jesus is a light that will comfort you as you mourn.
Jesus is the Light you need every day, every kind of day, in every circumstance. Look to Him.
Seek the Light.
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV
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linking with Diane Bailey
linking with Essential Thing Devotions
linking with Holley Gerth
I love it when I see a theme developing–a God prompted theme. Since I posted Careful about taking care with the words we speak to others (and ourselves), I’ve noticed other bloggers and websites have had something to say about the subject, too. Sometimes it wasn’t their main point, just peripheral, but I heard the still, small voice.
I think God is still trying to teach me something. Join me as we look again at the effect our words can have on hearts–hearts as fragile as butterfly wings.
Words matter, and they should edify.
What will you contribute to your world today? Endless-mindless chatter or pontifications or soliloquies or slams against anything or anyone with whom you don’t agree? Or life-giving words that build up and challenge and leave the hearer wanting more?
“Edify” means to instruct or benefit, to uplift. The Latin source words are aedes “a dwelling, temple” and facere “to make.” So when we speak edifying words to others we have the privilege of helping to construct the dwelling, the temple for the Spirit of God in another human being.
Watch your tone or Lessons from a lab
I watched our trainer use positive vocal tone and food rewards. She never once used physical force or harsh words.
Maybe if I spoke words of love more often than complaints and demands, my family and friends might respond differently.
Rose obeyed her trainer. Why?
Because she associated the call to come with good—with pleasure—with reward.
Warning: Fragile Hearts Ahead
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 NKJV
What if occasional hurtful words become a pattern of humiliation and abuse?
Focus on the Family recently did something out of the ordinary. Due to the huge response to a show on emotional abuse, they aired it again only a few months after the first broadcast. The show’s guest, a licensed clinical social worker and author, Leslie Vernick said
The Bible is quite clear that reckless words pierce like a sword …. God validates the reality of our harsh words on someone’s soul, spirit and body. And I think we as Christians need to validate that, too.
Need to learn more about emotional abuse?
By reading this article series [on the Focus on the Family website], we hope you will help you learn to listen to your friends’, neighbors’, relatives’—or maybe even your own—waspish, hurtful words. And if you are a recipient of this type of domestic violence, first hold yourself in high esteem, re-evaluate your relationships and then ask for help.
Handle With Care
Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience shares The 1 Thing You Have To Stop Doing If You Ever Want a Harvest and talks about mudslinging and angry words. We need to remember to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Read all the angry and sign up for the culture wars and pump your angry fist and you sign up to take down the very people that Christ took nails for.
Read all the angry and go ahead and sling a bit of mud and you find yourself the one going a bit blind. Been there, done that: You forget how to see people as souls, you forget that you’ve never once talked about a mere person, but always and only about God-fashioned souls so handle with care.
You forget that the person you’re slamming is a person who Jesus loved so passionately for, He busted open His heart and bled for.
In a Facebook conversation about these words from Ann Voskamp, I read of my friend Berny’s desire:
Constraint of pen and mouth . . . and keyboard.
I pray for grace and gracefulness.
I don’t want to harm . . . only bless.
* * * * *
Photo of dogs and trainer by Heather MacLaren
Photo of cross and shadow by Barb Briggs
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows— light! sunbursts of light! Isaiah 9:2 MSG
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 NIV
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18 NIV
During the sermon last Sunday our pastor shared part of his family’s Christmas letter.
It was a different kind of letter, not chock full of their kids’ accomplishments, but full of their hearts’ desires. This Christmas season they were struck by how much we need a Savior and acknowledged their failings. They included these two scriptures about Jesus, instead of the usual story from the second chapter of Luke:
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 NIV
Jesus is the Greek form of the name we’re familiar with from the Old Testament, “Joshua,” and it means
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1:15 NIV
In his family Christmas letter our pastor wrote:
I am still selfish; I’d like to be better at sharing.
I still regret my lack of patience when parenting.
My children have come to me for mercy and found a mad man instead.
He came to save me from my sins.
The pastor’s wife added:
While in the privacy of my home, I yell at my kids and my husband.
I struggle to find contentment.
I struggle with self sacrifice for those who are truly in need.
He came to save me from my sins.
From the older children came these words:
Instead of responding to inquiries with openness and compassion, I respond with anger and then point out mistakes.
I could show more patience and caring to those that challenge me by speaking only words that are true, necessary, and kind.
I often treat others and myself poorly. I put too much value on money, and I love worldly possessions.
I worry. I always have to have something to worry about, which prevents me from truly enjoying the many blessings God has given me.
He came to save me from my sins.
The cross is often lost in the shadow of the Christmas tree. The gift given at Christmas, boxed in a manger and tied with a bow of swaddling clothes is the present I least expected, but needed most.
Jesus came to be born as a tiny baby and to die on the cross to save me from my sins: my impatience, my indifference, and my ingratitude. My sins–more than mistakes, greater that mere errors, offenses of a self-centered heart–that are guilty blood drops on white, winter ground. I need a Savior.
He came to save me from my sins.
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7
linked with Jennifer Lee Dukes
When I saw the golden glow of light spilling in through the east windows of the house, I suspected the sunrise might be special. Still in my pajamas and bathrobe, I threw on an extra pair of heavy socks and old slippers (with a split in the sole) and crossed the creaking boards of the front porch until I could see the southeastern sky.
Yes! The colors were gorgeous, so I hurried back in the house, hung the camera around my neck, and poked my arms into the sleeves of a winter coat and my feet into my son’s several-sizes-too-big chore boots. Early morning colors change so rapidly; time and sunrise wait for no woman.
If you drove past my house just before sunrise a few days ago and were startled to see a wild-haired woman, shuffling through the snow, bathrobe flapping under a down coat, I apologize for my appearance.
My predawn dash was motivated by excitement, anticipation, and awe–I didn’t want to miss any of this sunrise, so I didn’t wait to get cleaned up and dressed.
Neither did the shepherds in the Christmas story. They didn’t stop to make themselves “presentable.” They hurried.
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. Luke 2 :15-17 MSG
Don’t wait until you’re “presentable” before you hurry to Jesus.
Run with your broken sole/soul,
and unwashed heart.
Run to the manger to see what God has revealed.
But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Luke 2:10-12 NIV
God has invited you to a Christmas party, and it’s “come as you are.” Hurry. You don’t want to miss a thing.
Photos #4 and #6 by Barb Briggs
linked with Jennifer Dukes Lee
linked with Emily Wierenga
Christmas is a season of shining lights, glittery ornaments, and glowing candles. We celebrate Jesus’ coming as the light of the world, but it can be a dark season, a time of tears for some whose hearts are still tender from a recent loss. Even if we’re not feeling the “Christmas joy,” God is right there with us. Today I’m sharing a story about loss and comfort written by Brockie, one of the women in my prayer group.
Ever have those moments that come from nowhere. You know, those moments of grief and loss that are overwhelming, and you couldn’t have seen them coming from a hundred miles away? I had one of those today in the coffee shop. Frank Sinatra music was playing, and I found myself lost in my dad’s voice, singing with his quartet . . .
“and then I go and say something stupid like I love you.”
I sat with my three-year-old daughter by my side, wishing Dad was here to hear her sing “Away in a Manger” a hundred times this season. I kept thinking how much he would love to watch my high-school-aged daughter make that left handed lay up that looks so smooth in her basketball games.
How proud Dad would be of the older boys and their academic accomplishments, as well as the wonderful young men they have become (all the while wearing the great socks that he would give them at Christmas time). So if this is your first Christmas without a loved one or your 50th, I pray you will find the words of Isaiah, repeated by Matthew to be comforting:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’). Matthew 1:23 NIV
May you find God’s presence near to you in the middle of your grief and sorrow, and may you know you are not alone. Blessings!
Photos by Barb Briggs
Another day of fog,
another day of cold mist
sliding down the creek beds.
Another day of peering into the vapor
at the end of the driveway,
watching for a truck or car to materialize.
Another day of hidden sun
and missing shadows,
Another day of dripping leaves and eaves
and soggy shoes and muddy boots.
The fog has hidden the horizon, and the landmarks that point the way home are lost to me.
Another day of that prayer–you know the one, Lord. I’m asking you again today.
Another day of sending my request into the fog that has swallowed my hope and sense of direction,
praying but feeling cut off from you, Lord.
Then I remember that fog is a cloud come to earth, and I stand inside it, and God’s glory is here with me.
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Exodus 40:34, 35 NIV
In the cloud dropped to earth I find small splendors:
emerald moss, bejeweled grasses,
diamond drops of condensed mist, miniature water beads pierced by fox tail grass,
reminding me I am in God’s presence, regardless of how far I can see.
Sometimes the cloud descends, as it has today,
and I walk with sodden shoes on holy ground
with the misty weight of his glory upon me.
And that prayer–you know the one, Lord. I’m still asking even though I can’t understand how you will work it out, but I know that you will
as surely as sunny skies will follow these foggy days.
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! 1 Corinthians 13:12 MSG
linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee