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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Inspired by . . . a synchroblog 




This is a synchroblog.

My dear friend, Linda, honored me with an invitation to participate along with a few other bloggers in simultaneously writing about what saved my life this summer.

My first thought, after being pleasantly surprised (and grateful) that she included me, was to ask, did my life need saving this summer? and if so, from what?

These are the questions I contemplated last weekend as Hurricane Harvey made landfall and headed across Texas toward my little cottage.

Unfortunately, many in Harvey's path needed life-saving assistance. In contrast, I hope none of the other writers of this synchroblog needed their lives, literally, saved this summer. I have no idea what anyone else is going to write about, but I suspect most will be discussing life in the figurative sense, rather than the literal.

Before I can talk about what saved me, I have to answer the questions at the beginning of this post.



If we look honestly at our lives we have to admit that we all need saving from something. For some of us, it's a situation, an unhealthy habit, or perhaps a burden. 

All of us need saving from our sinful nature.

While there are a variety of answers to what saves us from situations, habits, and burdens, there is only One Who saves us from our sin.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!   (Rom 7:18-25)

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (Joh 3:16)
 So what did I need saving from this summer? Honestly?

Myself.

Some of you who read this blog with regularity may remember I mentioned a little visit to the ER back in March. As a result, I've been on more meds in the last five months than I've taken in my entire life. My body has not responded well. It has been a struggle for me. Mentally, physically and spiritually.  

The aches and pains are easy to deal with compared to the brain fog and despondency; which is part medication-induced and part as a result of dealing with a chronic illness day-after-day-after-day.

I know many of you can relate to this.

So what, or better said, Who saved me?

God. 


The awesome part is that He used all of you to do it!

Your comments, filled with prayers, wisdom, and encouragement reminded me that I'm not alone in my struggles. Your blog posts continually pointed me back to Him. All of it He used to keep my focus exactly where it needed to be.

On Him.




So I thank God, and I thank you for saving [my life] me from myself this summer.


Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Pro 27:17)


As you go, please click through to these lovely ladies, Linda, Beth, and Lisa to see what saved their lives this summer!


Blessings,







Sharing inspiration here:
Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,
Faith On Fire, Grace & Truth,
Inspire Me Monday, RaRa Link Up, Intentional Tuesday,
#WordswithWinter, Titus 2 Tuesday, Thoughtful Thursdays,
Encourage Me Monday, Wholehearted Wednesday,
Women with Intention Wednesdays, Word Filled Wednesday,
#GiveMeGrace, Sitting Among Friends, #Glimpsesofhisbeauty
Counting My Blessings, Grace Moments, Heart Encouragement
#DanceWithJesus

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Inspired by . . . what we believe


There are two studies which have been impacting me greatly over the last several months and weeks. 

My Dreamer and I have been listening to Alistair Begg's sermons on the book of Daniel entitled And He Shall Reign. (the entire series can be downloaded here for free)

And, more recently, (as I mentioned previously) I have been doing the First5 study, Suffering & Sovereignty which is based in Job, Lamentations, and Ecclesiastes. (This study runs through October 21st so there is still time for you to join us if you wish)

Both studies focus on the sovereignty of God. Daniel gives us the "big picture" which is critical for us to see and understand especially given the current cultural and political climate. While in the book of Job the lens narrows and we get a picture of the reality of God's sovereignty in our personal lives.

We've been camped in the book of Job for the last 12 weeks and the one thing I've noticed about Job's friends is that they had an incomplete and often incorrect view of God. Some of what they said was true, much of it was not, and some of the truth was taken out of context.

This got me to thinking about what we believe about God and what misconceptions we might have. 

The book of Job also, rather alarmingly, reminds us of the role of the enemy in our lives. We should remember that the enemy was intimately acquainted with God. The enemy knows what God's word says. I think it's safe to say that he delights when we get it wrong. 

**I not referring here to those things about God that we don't yet understand. In some sense, until we meet Him face-to-face, we will always have an incomplete view of Who He IS. I'm talking about the things we believe about God that are wrong, i.e. contrary to His word.**

The best lies contain an element of truth. [click to tweet]
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? (Gal 5:7)
The Galatian's faith was being derailed by falsehoods regarding circumcision relating to justification. What falsehoods are hindering us from obeying God's Word?

How do we view God? Jesus? Does what we believe line up with scripture? 
Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1Jn 4:1)

Is what we believe based solely on what we've been told? Do we look up verses for ourselves and read them in context, praying for God to give us wisdom? 

Remember, it's easy to take scripture out of context and use it to justify an accepted, yet false belief.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, Who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (Jas 1:5)
The cliche, "God helps those who help themselves." is widely quoted and believed. It is also NOT in the bible. In fact, the principle it alleges is actually contrary to what the Bible teaches.

The truth is, we cannot help ourselves. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. It is true that God calls us to pursue holiness, but He also provides the grace we need to do so.
And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Php 1:6)
Of this Jerry Bridges (The Discipline of Grace) says, "This thought is both encouraging and sobering. It is encouraging because it assures us that our spiritual growth is not left to our initiative, nor is it dependent upon our wisdom to know in which areas and in which direction we need to grow. Rather, it is God Himself who initiates and superintends our spiritual growth."

Believing that there is something we can do or have to do before Christ can save us nullifies the cross. [click to tweet]

The most effective way we can combat misconceptions about God is to read His Word for ourselves. [click to tweet] Go to the commentaries only after you have read and reasoned, and prayed and wrestled with understanding for yourself. 
You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)
God does not hide from us. If we honestly seek Him, He will reveal to us the truth about Himself.

Shalom,





Sharing inspiration here:
Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,
Faith On Fire, Grace & Truth,
Inspire Me Monday, RaRa Link Up, Intentional Tuesday,
#WordswithWinter, Titus 2 Tuesday, Thoughtful Thursdays,
Encourage Me Monday, Wholehearted Wednesday,
Women with Intention Wednesdays, Word Filled Wednesday,
#GiveMeGrace, Sitting Among Friends, #Glimpsesofhisbeauty
Counting My Blessings, Grace Moments, Heart Encouragement
#DanceWithJesus

Friday, August 18, 2017

Inspired by . . . the just and the unjust



I know that many of my {blog} readers do not read fiction of any kind, let alone romantic fiction and you all have valid reasons for not doing so. However, there is good, Christian fiction (yes, even romantic fiction) out there that not only provides a good storyline but solid biblical lessons as well.

I was recently reminded of this as I was re-reading Lori Wick's Yellow Rose Trilogy. I can't believe it has been nearly twenty years since I read these stories for the first time! Yet despite the fact that these stories were written twenty years ago and are even based in the late 1800's, the spiritual questions and struggles the characters face are still relevant today.

Don't you just love that about God?

Whether we're sweeping the cold, stone floors of a Scottish castle in 1501, walking through the dust of a hot Texas afternoon to use the privy out back in 1882, or typing out a blog post on our laptop computer in 2017, God's word is relevant and true.

He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Not only that, but His word is living and active. Meaning it is capable of constantly teaching us new things. I am so far away from knowing everything there is to know about God. Every day, as I meet with Him, He teaches me new things about Himself and new things about myself! Sometimes hard, yet always wondrous, lessons!

Case in point; one of Lori Wick's characters, Dakota, is a new Christian whose parents are not yet Christians. After a brief exchange with his parents, Dakota realizes how blessed their marriage is, which leads him to question whether God blesses non-Christians as well as Christians.

We're not talking about worldly blessings here, like money or a "happy" life, etc. We're talking about true blessings from God. Like a good, loving marriage. Or Godly gifts, like wisdom, etc. Does God bestow His blessing on those who have not accepted His Son? [click to tweet]

Yes, He does. I'm sure you've seen the evidence of this throughout your life. Maybe you even experienced it before you became a Christian. Perhaps you're experiencing His blessings now and you're not a Christian.

Matthew 5:45 tells us:  For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Mat 5:45)

I have a confession to make; I've been reading this scripture wrong and out of context the entire time! I've been focused on myself and the rain in my life rather than on a God Who loves so completely and so fully that He blesses and dies for His enemies.
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1Pe 3:18)
I've been viewing myself as just (which I am only because of Jesus) rather than remembering my evil and unjust state before I accepted Jesus as my Savior.

The fact that He would use a fictional character in a Christian romance novel to enlighten me to the truth of His word is astounding to me.

But then I am reminded that Jesus is the Master Storyteller. [click to tweet] He used parables to convey His message when He walked this earth and He is still using stories, your story and my story, to spread His gospel today. Whether the stories we write about are imagined or experienced matters little.

What matters is that we use our stories to praise and glorify Him. [click to tweet]

Are you a storyteller?


Blessings,





Sharing inspiration here:
Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,
Faith On Fire, Grace & Truth,
Inspire Me Monday, RaRa Link Up, Intentional Tuesday,
#WordswithWinter, Titus 2 Tuesday, Thoughtful Thursdays,
Encourage Me Monday, Wholehearted Wednesday,
Women with Intention Wednesdays, Word Filled Wednesday,
#GiveMeGrace, Sitting Among Friends, #Glimpsesofhisbeauty
Counting My Blessings, Grace Moments, Heart Encouragement
#DanceWithJesus

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 33:52

I fall a little more in love with Colorado every time we visit.


Sunrise view from our cabin in South Fork
Hot Air Balloon seen from the car while driving through Pagosa Springs
This trip was more of a restful one. We really didn't do too much, which was just what we wanted to do.  

We stopped at Chimney Rock National Monument. The price to hike in is a little high, so we saved it for next time, and a hope for better weather.


Chimney Rock
Durango is always fun. Even if you just sit in the courtyard with a coffee and watch people . . . or house sparrows.








Our favorite antique shop is across from the Strater Hotel.



We found this fun, whimsical sculpture down by the train depot.



We did a few other things in Durango, which I'll share with you next week.


What are you seeing through your lens this week?

Have a wonder-filled week, friends!


Sharing inspiration here:
Nature Notes, Through My LensBird D’pot,
Saturday’s Critters, Life thru the Lens,
Wild Bird WednesdayOur World Tuesday,
Community Global, Photo Friday, Little Things Thursday

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 32:52

We're enjoying cooler climes and a change of scenery this week. This is the perfect time of year to head to the mountains.

Texas and New Mexico provide plenty of eye candy along the way!



San Antonio Mountain, New Mexico
 We ran into quite a few storms. Nothing severe and it was nice to have the cloud cover while driving.



There are an abundance of wildflowers this time of year. I'm looking forward to getting more pictures over the next week.



In Taos, New Mexico we stopped at the Kit Carson home and museum. It is well worth your time. The gift shop has a lot of neat and beautifully made items, reasonably priced. 






The courtyard garden is a delight!




One of my favorite Colorado birds is the black-billed magpie. They are colorful, big and sassy!




I'm hoping to see some elk this trip, so come back next week, or follow me on IG to find out what I'm seeing through my lens between posts!

What are you seeing through your lens this week?

Have a wonder-filled week, friends!


Sharing inspiration here:
Nature Notes, Through My LensBird D’pot,
Saturday’s Critters, Life thru the Lens,
Wild Bird WednesdayOur World Tuesday,
Community Global, Photo Friday, Little Things Thursday

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Inspired by . . . mountains and valleys



I've been writing more about suffering and trials than JOY and blessing here lately. For a blog that is supposed to inspire that may seem a little out of context.

But we all go through seasons. Mountain tops and valleys. We learn and grow in our faith from both experiences. And, I believe, we can learn and grow from the experiences of others.

There is no doubt in my mind that God uses everything in our lives. Nothing is wasted. I believe He encourages and inspires others when we share honestly, according to His will.


A favorite verse of mine is 2 Corinthians 1:4;
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2Co 1:3-4)
The First5.org group (if you're not familiar with them, check them out) is studying Suffering and Sovereignty for the next five weeks. The books of Job, Lamentations, and Ecclesiastes. The timing couldn't be more perfect.

God's sovereignty is key to understanding and contending with our suffering and the suffering of others. [click to tweet 

The book of Job teaches this like no other book in the bible. In light of Job's almost inconceivable suffering, we, the reader, are given a glimpse behind the scenes into the reason behind his suffering. Something Job and his friends don't have and something we almost never have in our own suffering.

While the purpose of our suffering is not likely that of Job's, the fact is that there is a purpose. Just knowing this truth gives us hope in our affliction.

The passages in Job where God speaks are awe-inspiring and humbling. They remind us Who God IS and where our focus and attention should remain during times of trials as well as blessings.

I'm reminded of what a favorite author of mine, Lori Wick, once said in the context of one of her stories: we shouldn't compare our suffering to someone else's, "It could be worse..." etc. Rather we should view our suffering in light of eternal life. [click to tweet]

Yes, we may be suffering, we may even have to endure tragedy in this life, but it is truly a light and momentary affliction when compared to eternity and the LIFE we have in Christ.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2Co 4:17-18)
Blessings,


Sharing inspiration here:
Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,
Faith On Fire, Grace & Truth,
Inspire Me Monday, RaRa Link Up, Intentional Tuesday,
#WordswithWinter, Titus 2 Tuesday, Thoughtful Thursdays,
Encourage Me Monday, Wholehearted Wednesday,
Women with Intention Wednesdays, Word Filled Wednesday,
#GiveMeGrace, Sitting Among Friends, #Glimpsesofhisbeauty
Counting My Blessings, Grace Moments, Heart Encouragement
#DanceWithJesus

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 31:52

The Dreamer and I had planned a drive on Sunday to capture some life thru my lens that didn't originate in my front yard. A hill country lake, a river running through a state park and some small town vibes were on the agenda. But I just wasn't feeling up to it.

So we stayed home and I have more images from my front porch to share with you this week.

Don't get me wrong, Sunday was decidedly restful. Something which my body needs right now. I always enjoy time working on my embroidery projects (I share my progress on IG) and reading for pleasure. I'm currently re-reading Lawana Blackwell's Gresham Chronicles and enjoying them, even more, the second time around!

A few days ago I caught a splash of color outside my kitchen window.



The painted bunting had come for a visit. We live a few miles from the Guadalupe river where the painted and indigo buntings are more prevalent. I usually see at least one or two painted buntings around. This guy was my first sighting this year.



One of the succulents in the planter my mom bought me for my birthday is blooming. The hummingbirds love it!



My lantana is coming back slowly but surely after being nibbled on by the deer. Thankfully the increased blooms are bringing more pollinators to the yard.



And speaking of hummingbirds. Here are some bathed in this morning's light.



Doing what hummingbirds do best . . . 




What are you seeing through your lens this week?

Blessings,

Sharing inspiration here:
Nature Notes, Through My LensBird D’pot,
Saturday’s Critters, Life thru the Lens,
Wild Bird WednesdayOur World Tuesday,
Community Global, Photo Friday, Little Things Thursday