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Friday, January 30, 2015

Inspired by . . . a month in photos: January

 

This January lived up to its reputation as the month for new, and so far, my #oneword365 is coming on strong.

A little too strong.

I’m not happy about my new schedule, or my dad’s new home, but I am trusting God’s purpose in all of this new-ness.

As January comes to a close, I’m joining in Mona’s new “a month in photos” linky.  (Mona’s even offering a free template if you want to participate!)

While it’s normal for us to look back at the end of each year, I’m looking forward to taking a look back each month of this new year.

Here’s a look back at January 2015. . . .

 

Quote of the month:

The experiences in our lives, when we let God use them,

become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do. ~Corrie ten Boom

 

 

Photo_Collage_January

 

I admit, I cheated a bit using this picture of my dad. It wasn’t taken this month. It was taken sometime last year, late summer, I think. It’s a favorite of mine. And it represents a goal; an expression and a place of health that I’m praying we can get back to soon.

Favorite photo of the month:

Squirrel_7

 

Sprinklings of God’s mercy and grace:

1. The gentle hands of nurses and aids that truly care for the people in their care.

2. God’s strength to get through each day.

3. Healing rest.

4. Prayers and support from family and friends.

 

When you look back at your January

what do you see?

 

Blessings,

June

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Mona’s Picturesque

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Inspired by . . . squirrel nutkin

The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin is not a favorite of mine, I admit, but Beatrix Potter certainly nailed it when she described squirrel behavior in her children’s book.
Squirrels are cute, funny, and very entertaining to watch. But those observations are from a {my} human point of view. I daresay my Kitty would not agree. And Old Brown certainly did not hold that opinion of Nutkin!
I always know when the squirrel(s) are up to something because I can hear them racing around on the roof of my cottage. {And skidding off the air conditioner in the back – ha!}
They are usually harassing Kitty in some form or fashion, or trying failing to get the sunflower seed out of my squirrel proof feeder.
This particular morning however, they were up to something that turned into an entertaining photo opp.  If you’ve had a week like mine, you could use a little levity right now.

Squirrel_1

You never know what you might see when you look out your kitchen window.

Squirrel_2

Someone has discovered the beautiful mosaic birdfeeder my daughter gave us for Christmas.

Squirrel_3

Ah, yes, gently now. Find a toe hold.

Squirrel_4

The ridges of glass do nicely.

Squirrel_5

Steady now!

Squirrel_6

I do believe . . .

Squirrel_7
. . . it’s a perfect fit!

Have a wonder-filled day!
Oh, and feel free to share a riddle in the comments!

Blessings,
June


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Camera Critters

Monday, January 26, 2015

Inspired by . . . owning it

 

Prelude:

I wrote this post back in November, after my #write31days experience, but never got around to posting it.  There is something about God’s timing {sigh}.

The feelings I express below have not changed, but there is now a new dimension to my #write31days experience. You see, God knew what I’d be facing over the next few months. My series on JOY, as much as I meant it to bless others, God meant it/used it to prepare me for what lay ahead.

My friend, He cares for us – YOU - in the most intimate of ways. Do not ever doubt this Truth. The words of Corrie ten Boom, that I shared with you at the close of 2014, have never been more relevant to me than they are now.

 

TenBoomQuote

 

November, 2014

I’m different.

I know this because I’ve been in writers groups. I’ve read your blogs about why you write, how you write and what happens if you don’t write.

Very little of it resonates with me.

I’m different.

Different does not equal less than.

Different does not equal better.

Different is just different.

I’ve been a reader of words all my life. I love words. How they are used, their histories, etc. It never occurred to me to write anything myself. Nothing produced in school had tempted me to continue. Nothing simmering inside, yearning to get out. I was happy to read what others had written.

Then one day, about fourteen years ago, God woke me up from a dream and told me to write the rest of the story.

It was . . . odd. Like a dream itself.

So are the other six books and the literally hundreds of scenes –that-spawn-stories that He has given me since.

And then in 2011 came this blog. A new world, new blessings.

All of this, and yet I have never considered myself a writer.

My friends and family use the term without abandon. “Oh, she’s written. . . .” blah, blah, blah. “She’s an author.” blah, blah, blah

I sort of smile, and shrink inside myself, because it’s not me.

The mediocre, yes. The words stumbled upon, yes. That’s all me.

Anything you’ve read that’s clever, creative, meaningful, profound – that’s God.

And yet, saying that sounds so presumptuous . . .

. . . and yet.

The words inside me have been poured in, to be poured out. I am not their creator. They are not birthed from something inside of me. I must continually go to the Source to be filled.

I don’t have a daily discipline of writing - - Gasp! I know.

I write when inspired. And sometimes I write uninspired, to fill this space because I think I need to, and you can likely tell the difference.

This is why I don’t participate in challenges or prompts {unless they are photographic}. I greatly admire those of you who can write for five minutes every Friday. Those of you who have rocked this #write31days for the past five years. I sit in awe of you all, truly. However, this awe does not translate into a burning need to participate. The desire is not there. Probably because the talent is not there. I know my limits.

So when I found myself deciding to take the #write31days challenge, I looked around wondering what had just happened. It’s one of those decisions you make that you didn’t really make. This should have been my first clue that God was up to something. When God takes me out of my comfort zone, it’s not a gentle nudge. {Thank you, God} No, it’s more like being hit by the bullet train.

So I began. And God, in His great mercy, left manna for me every morning. For 31 days.

And somewhere along the way, day 27 actually – I’m a slow learner - I realized that God was trying to show me something.

I am a writer.

I’ve come to a place where I can own it.

I am a writer.

But God also confirmed for me something I already knew; I am not the Author.

It’s true people use these terms interchangeably, however, they do also have very individual meanings.

 

Author - one that originates or creates

Writer - someone whose work is to write books, poems, stories, etc.

 

These last 31 days have been far from a walk in the desert for me. Meeting God over a bowl of manna each morning has been a Gift. Receiving confirmation of His will, for at least part of my life, has been free-ing. Truly a JOYful experience, for which I am eternally thankful.

 

JOY_figurine

 

Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master;

nor is He who is sent greater than He who sent Him. John 13:16

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

 

Blessings,

June

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Inspired by . . . continue

 

Just before the new year I started one of YouVersion’s reading plans. New thru 30: a plan that has you reading through the New Testament in 30 days. I knew when I started it that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but at the time I had no idea I’d be quite this far behind. I just completed day, um, four.

The new year has brought the new routine of visiting my dad in the hospital/rehab facility every other day or so. This, in turn, has wreaked havoc with every other schedule in my life. But I have been trying. Trying to do a bit here and there. Trying to breathe despite the weight of sadness, trying to hear God’s voice in the dark. Trying not to miss what He has for me, even during this difficult time. Because I know that God doesn’t waste anything.

 

WaterLilyBlossom

 

Many of you know that there is a great weight of weariness that accompanies you when you’re in a valley. This weariness can make the reading of the Word meaningless and routine. So as I read the words {of the New Testament which} I’ve read so many times before, I’m trying to see the words with new eyes.

Day five of my reading plan begins with Mark, chapter six.  We learn here that when Jesus taught and performed miracles in His hometown He was not honored. We learn how He called the twelve disciples to Him. How He instructed them and sent them out to preach, cast out demons, and to heal. Then, oddly, between verse 13 and verse 30 when the disciples return to Jesus, we have the story of Herod beheading John the Baptist. It seems that this tragedy had happened previously, but Mark chose to include it here in his narrative. I wondered why.

Many of Jesus’ disciples had first been disciples of John the Baptist. I’m certain that their grief over John’s death was worsened by the senseless manner in which it occurred. I don’t know why Matthew and Mark insert the story where they do in their narratives. Perhaps there is no other reason than to address one of the rumors that Jesus was John the Baptist brought back to life.

 

LilyPadPod

 

But as I pondered this, the placement of the story story spoke to me, personally.

Sandwiched in between Jesus sending out His disciples, and their returning to Him, we read of a terrible tragedy.  We hear of John’s disciples claiming his body and laying it to rest. It is a time of sadness and grief. And yet the scene before and the scene after tells of Jesus’ disciples carrying out the work of the Kingdom. They are preaching the Good News. Freeing people from bondage. Healing people from their afflictions. It was a time of great rejoicing and thanksgiving.

These things can, and do, exist in the same space in time.

The work of the Kingdom didn’t stop when John the Baptist died. Nor should it. Nor would John have wanted it to. The work of the Kingdom doesn’t stop when tragedy, grief or pain comes into our lives either. It doesn’t stop, but it might change or look a little different for awhile.

For example, for me these last few weeks, reflecting Christ has been more about honoring my dad in some very public settings than it has been about writing here on this blog. There are times when actions proclaim the Truth more profoundly than words. And when God gives us the strength to act in times of weakness, His name is glorified all the more.

 

But His answer was: "My grace is all you need, for My power is greatest when you are weak."

(2Co 12:9)

 

I want to encourage you, if you are experiencing a time of tragedy, grief or pain. It’s natural to narrow our focus. To go into survival mode.

But God calls us to do more than survive. He calls us to thrive!

 

Worry_tenBoom

 

Ask Him to give you what you need to continue on. To continue His work.

He will do it. He will give you the strength you need.

And soon, you’ll be looking DOWN into the valley from a higher place.

 

Blessings,

June

 

 

Sharing inspiration here:

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Inspired by . . . always near the cross: love

 

Since writing this post about a week ago, I’ve been pondering what it takes to live always near the cross. There are seven things that I think will keep us there. You’ll notice that “perfectionism” isn’t one of them.

Love

Humility

Sacrifice

Obedience

Submission

Faith

Trust

 

Roses_Spicket

Continue to teach me that Christ’s righteousness

satisfies justice and evidences thy love;

 

LOVE

I think about the great love that held Him there, and realize that it must be out of love that I come, for this place near the cross is not an easy, comfortable place to be.

It is a place of justice and sacrifice. A place of righteousness. Lingering there demands that I face all three.

Not only in respect to how God exercised them in my favor, but in respect to how my identity in Christ demands I exercise them to others.

 

Rose_Imperfect

 

The LORD has told us what is good.

What He requires of us is this: to do what is just,

to show constant love,

and to live in humble fellowship with our God.
(Mic 6:8 GNB)

 

Blessings,

June

 

Note: Thank you to everyone who is praying for my dad. He is still recovering from a stroke he had earlier this month. We’re facing some difficult decisions regarding his care. God is faithful. I’m getting around to visit as many  of you as I can, and follow up on your encouraging comments. I appreciate every one. Thank you.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Inspired by . . . sans snow

 

It is during these cold, bleak days of January that I find myself longing for the snow-scapes of my youth. Growing up in Vermont I can only recall one winter without {much} snow. It was awful. Bitterly cold, brown, bleak, and depressing. No one wants to go out and play in ice mud. The cold is much more bearable with a carpet of white, glistening snow. Everything stands in sharp contrast against a canvas of white. There is beauty in the white, winter landscape, and it isn’t hard to find.

Right now, south Texas is experiencing cold, sunless, blustery days. There is no snow, of course, and the landscape is mostly brown and grey. Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy, and after a day few days without seeing those golden rays I begin to get a little glum.

My spirit longs for beauty. Longs to commune with nature and her God.

 

Rosehip

 

True, unwavering satisfaction in life comes

when we invite God into each moment and see with eternal eyes.

~ Laura Boggess, Playdates with God.

 

Dead_flowers_kk_gift

kk_gift

 

There is beauty to be found, even on these cold, sun-less days of January. When spring is but a distant memory, and our souls begin to droop with despair, there are hints of His promise all around us.

 

Dead_flowers_kk_2810

kk_2810

 

We can breath the coldness in, warming it with our bodies, and allow the wind free reign.  We can don thicker coats, as the animals do, and forage deeper for the things that satisfy.

 

Leaves_Petal_Acorn

The beauty is there to be found and hope springs eternal.

 

***

If you are experiencing a winter in your soul, don’t lose hope.

Keep believing, keep trusting.

Cling to the anchor of your faith – the eternal hope.

***

There are these two things, then, that cannot change and about which God cannot lie.

So we who have found safety with Him are greatly encouraged to hold firmly to the hope placed before us.

We have this hope as an anchor for our lives.

It is safe and sure, and goes through the curtain of the heavenly temple into the inner sanctuary.

On our behalf Jesus has gone in there before us and has become a High Priest forever, 
(Heb 6:18-20 GNB)

Blessings,

June

 

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Inspired by . . . always near the cross

 

Good morning! I’m glad to be back in this space today, if only briefly.

 

Glass_birdfeeder_Sunrise2

Help me to make use of {Christ’s righteousness} by faith

as the ground of my peace

and of thy favour and acceptance,

so that I may live always near the cross.

Valley of Vision p88

 

I read this prayer just before falling into bed Tuesday night, after having spent three days in the hospital with my dad. I thought, “That’s where I need to be, Lord, because it’s the only way I’m going to get through this.”

“But what does it mean to live near the cross, and how do I do it,” my exhausted mind asked just before I fell asleep.

Over the next few days, as we transitioned dad from the hospital to a rehab facility, snippets of this brief conversation kept coming back to me. I imagined myself sitting at His feet. Not as Mary did, in a warm house, listening to the Rabbi teach, but at the cross. In the desolation and pain of that moment. In the truth of that moment and what it means for me personally and for us collectively.

 

Glass_birdfeeder_Sunrise

 

There is peace and comfort at the cross that transcends understanding. The arms of Jesus are not wrapped around me in comfort, as I often imagine them to be. No, as I sit at the cross, they are spread wide in sacrifice. How does that comfort me? His sacrifice was about more than the taking on and forgiveness of my sins. It is also about empathizing with my pain, whatever the source of that pain is: physical, emotional, spiritual. Jesus experienced and suffered all.

For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;

but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
(Heb 4:15 KJV)

From Matthew Henry’s commentary we read:

Though He is so great, and so far above us, yet He is very kind, and tenderly concerned for us.

He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities in such a manner as none else can be;

for He was Himself tried with all the afflictions and troubles that are incident to our nature in its fallen state:

and this not only that He might be able to satisfy for us, but to sympathize with us.

***

Dad is recovering from his stroke more and more every day; growing stronger and less confused.

Today, the ice storms bring a mixed blessing, forcing me to stay home.

Sit quietly with me, won’t you? and think about what it means

to live always near the cross.

 

Blessings,

June

 

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Inspired by . . . new

 

There is a reason why Narnia was covered in snow and ice when Lucy stumbled through the wardrobe and came upon the lamp post. You may remember, if you’ve seen the movie or, better yet, read the book, that as the children made their way to the valley where Aslan was  preparing his army, they met Father Christmas and the earth began to show signs of spring. In fact, by the time they reached the valley the earth was in full summer attire, flaunting rich green grass and fragrantly blooming trees.

Winter represents death. The kingdom of the enemy.

Except for a few places on earth where winter never arrives, these months are a time for plants and some animals to die. For the earth to rest, to lay quietly in waiting. The ground becomes hard and cold. The weather harsh, and unforgiving.

 

WinterTree_earth

 

Yet the same ice that covers the tree limbs, breaking them , and causing so much damage, shines like a multi-faceted jewel when touched by the rays of the sun.

We catch our breath in wonder.

The sparkle invades our senses and we feel JOY.

Despite the death evident all around us, we see beauty in the freshly fallen snow and the feathery etchings left after an ice storm.

Just as Jesus speaks each snowflake into existence, and we marvel that no two are alike, we are each individually fashioned by Him.

Isn’t it just like God to come into the winter of lives, into the cold, hard ground of our heart and speak something new?

To give us hope.

To renew the expectation and wonder we first had, when things were new.

The new-ness wears off so quickly, doesn’t it? I’ll wager that a few of you have children who are already bored with the gifts they received for Christmas last week.

I don’t want to bored with one thing in this life! But I do want to be finished with a few!

I’m ready for new!

Mostly.

To be honest, new scares me.

But I know it’s time. He has been preparing me. So really, I wasn’t too surprised when God whispered this word softly to my soul as I was praying about my {one} word for the year.

 

Zinnia_Isaiah43_19

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?
(Isa 43:19 KJV)

 

Yes, Lord, I do want to know it, this new You have for me.

Even though I don’t know for sure what new looks like, I know You go before me.

My life is in Your hands.

 

Blessings,

 

June

 

 

#OneWord365

Texture {earth} by Mona

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