Blog Archives

The Stuff of Miracles

I am grateful for small things today:

DSC_8620-001

  • diminutive crab apples, food for hungry birds

DSC_0881-001

  • fine curlicues on a yucca plant

DSC_0890-001

  • delicate veins of a husk cherry

DSC_0892-001

  • seed head of a stunted purple coneflower

DSC_0894-003

  • gossamer “wings” of milkweed seed.
DSC_0900-001

The sun sets so early now that I didn’t think I’d have time for a walk outside before the light failed, but I decided a short stroll was better than none.

If I hadn’t gone, I might not have discovered the silky filaments of the milkweed.

If I’d believed the lie that a small amount of time was worthless, I would have missed a comical robin hopping branches, gobbling crab apples.

I wouldn’t have seen the setting sun ignite a translucent oak leaf.

The wooly bear caterpillar would have inched away unobserved, miniature pumpkins would have remained hidden under frost-withered leaves, and the year’s last violet might have been mowed instead of celebrated.

DSC_8624

If I hadn’t I hadn’t taken advantage of the few minutes available, I might have missed these small gifts of grace and lost the opportunity to give thanks.

And I would have missed the miracle of joy that came with a grateful heart.

DSC_0885-002

Small things, the stuff of miracles . . . do you remember this story?

a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish  John 6:9

and then

Jesus . . . took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.  John 6:11

Gratitude peels away the veil of the mundane, whether it’s fishes or flowers, and reveals the miraculous. Gratitude opens a way to experience a joy that satisfies. The people in the crowd were seated (they stopped); they heard or watched Jesus give thanks (gratitude); and they ate as much as they wanted (joy and contentment).

For small things, the stuff of miracles, I’m grateful.

DSC_8443

Revisiting a post from 2013

Pay Attention

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.

DSC_1677 (2)

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?

DSC_3017

I try to pay attention to the old, the dying and dead,

DSC_6053-001

but do I only notice the sparkling, the new, the contemporary?

DSC_5466

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.

DSC_5849-001

The geometry spoken into the heart of a flower is no less perfect because the flower is called a weed.

DSC_5608

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

DSC_5585

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

DSC_5578

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?

DSC_6016-002

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.

*          *           *           *          *

Linking with

     

Sunday-Go-to-Meeting

I missed going to worship service last Sunday, due to illness.

I missed seeing my church friends and family.

I missed praying with my women’s prayer group.

I missed hearing the pastor’s message.

I missed singing choruses and hymns.

But I didn’t miss out on worship.

westfield church

After resting most of the morning, I took a brief stroll in the yard.  I dressed in frayed, blue pants and a stained sweatshirt and pulled on my chore boots–definitely not my Sunday-go-to-meeting best clothes.   I walked the short circuit around the house to see the  flowers that had come into bloom that week.

Orange poppies have begun their brief but vivid show.  A new (to me) variety of geranium graces the front porch.   Dame’s rocket has claimed a corner of the asparagus patch.  The iris have unfurled their fleur de lis flags of white and gold and violet.

I marveled at the beauty in God’s creation and was thankful that He had created flowers with such exquisite color, shape, and fragrance.  When I gazed more closely at the blossoms, I saw even more amazing details.  Our God is an awesome God.

On Tuesday I read a quote from my brother-in-law’s sermon:

Worship is to encounter and experience the presence of the living God, Jesus Christ, and to respond in reverence, adoration, and praise to Him.

I encountered the Lord on the path around my house. I was reminded that He is the living God, the great Creator of life.  How could I respond except with reverence and praise?

Even though I was not in the church building, I didn’t miss out on worship last Sunday.  My worn and stained clothes weren’t a problem, because I was dressed in my Sunday-go-to-meeting heart.

A heart God is making new, ready to worship

For it’s not where we worship that counts, but how we worship—is our worship spiritual and real? Do we have the Holy Spirit’s help? For God is Spirit, and we must have his help to worship as we should. The Father wants this kind of worship from us.    John 4:22-23   RSV

  Let heaven and earth praise him,   Psalm 69:34   NIV

 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
    I will glorify your name forever.   Psalm 86:12   NIV

You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.   Nehemiah 9:6   NIV

 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.   Psalm 13:6   NIV

I will proclaim the name of the Lord.

    Oh, praise the greatness of our God!   Deuteronomy 32:3   NIV

*          *          *          *          *
Thanks to Steve and Marlene Pedigo for the Westfield photo and sermon quote.
*          *          *          *          *
linking with Laura Boggess
linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee
Essential Fridays Linkup
linking with Essential Fridays

Thankful 30: Day 21–The Password is “Thank You!”

I have joined Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful. — Emily

Day 21

It’s a gray day, barely brighter at noon than it was at breakfast time.  The wind drags a cold, damp blanket of clouds behind it, and by supper freezing rain coats the porch railing.  Then sleet pellets the windows, until the final change to snow as the temperature drops.  “Winter weather advisory” is the phrase the forecasters use today, but the words I need to fight the gloom are from the Bible, a “Thanksgiving Psalm.”

 On your feet now—applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.

Know this: GOD is God, and God, GOD.
He made us; we didn’t make him.
We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.

Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.

For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

Psalm 100:1-5  The Message

On gray days I need the antidote of praise. I need to remind myself that God is good, that God is love, and that He is always faithful.

On gray days, I also need the antidote of color.  Maybe you do, too, so here are reminders of warmer days.

DSC_0194-001

I am thankful for flowers,

IMG_6342-001

from tiny, wild violets to mammoth sunflowers,

DSC_0190-001

from June’s sweet roses

 DSC_0379-001

to October’s chrysanthemums.

DSC_0565-001

See the marvels of God!
He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,   Psalm 46:8  The Message

DSC_0616 (2)

See Thankful 30 page for every day’s entry.

* name changed

Sunflower photo by Barb Briggs

Thankful 30: Day 15–Flowers With Perseverance

I have joined Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful. — Emily

Day 15, November 15

DSC_1172-002

I am thankful for the last few flowers, struggling to bloom despite hard freezes, snow, and shrinking hours of sunlight.

DSC_1120-001

They illustrate perseverance.

DSC_1119-002

per·se·ver·ance

steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.  —Dictionary.com

DSC_1114-001

In spite of frosts that turned petals and buds to freeze-dried versions of their former blooming glories,

DSC_1165-001

DSC_0642-002

in spite of being the only flowers on an entire bush to have survived, they bloom.  They persist.  I could use a little more of that kind of tenacity.

Couldn’t you?

DSC_1173-001

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

2 Thessalonians 3:5  NIV

DSC_1174-001

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:4  NIV

See Thankful 30 page for every day’s entry.

* name changed

Thankful 30: Day 12–She’s a Winner

I have joined Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful. — Emily

Day 12, November 12

I am grateful for Barb’s gift of photography.  Many of the photos in my posts are hers, including the beautiful sunflowers in the background.

Today I learned that she has won second place in a national photo contest:  Capture the Heart of America–Celebrations of Agriculture category (SilosandSmokestacks.org).

Here is her winning photo.

In Exodus 31 the Lord is talking to Moses about Bezalel, a craftsman he’s chosen to make the Tent of Meeting and the objects in it.  God explains that the artistry is a gift from the Lord.

I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs . . .  Exodus 31:3,4

Barb’s gift, her skill in photography is from God, too.

Here are a few more of her photos.  Enjoy.

IMG_9506

photo by Barb Briggs

IMG_6635

photo by Barb Briggs

barbs bee and round sunflower

photo by Barb Briggs

IMG_7931 (2)

photo by Barb Briggs

IMG_9389

photo by Barb Briggs

IMG_7161

Art is born when the temporary touches the eternal.G.K. Chesterton

See Thankful 30 page for every day’s entry.

* name changed

“Birds or Blooms” or “Can You Hear Me Now?”

IMG_7158

photo by Barb Briggs

As I drove down rural roads last June, my three-year-old grandson and I played a game to pass the time and practice identifying colors and shapes.  I would tell him what I saw, and he would look for it.

“I see a yellow sign shaped like a triangle.”

“I see a red barn.”

“I see blue flowers.” I pointed to the plants lining the shoulder of the highway.  “They’re called chickory.”

“Chickadee,” said my grandson, thinking he was repeating what I’d said.

044-001

photo by Terry Landers

“Chickory.” I corrected.

“Chickadee.”

“Chickory.”

“Chickadee.”

“Chick-or-ree.

“Chickory?”

“Yes.”

He was familiar with “chickadee,” so that was the word he heard.

New is hard.  It takes a while to twist our tongue around a new word or to open the door a crack to a new idea.

When the apostle Paul was on the road to Damascus, he saw a bright light and heard a voice saying, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.”  I might have answered, “So, God, I keep persecuting the Christians, right?” but Paul answered, “What shall I do, Lord?”  Paul was willing to hear something new.

Perhaps none of us will see a blinding light, and few will be asked to take the gospel to far-away nations, but all of us may be asked to speak to someone we don’t know, think about a Bible verse in a different way, or consider a new ministry.

Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out!

Isaiah 43:19  The Message

So if you sense God is talking to you, take your fingers out of your ears, and be ready to hear something new.  Chickory!

background photo by Barb Briggs

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: