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Saturday, November 9, 2019

Inspired by . . . God's closet




The battle is the Lord's, friend, but the battle is real.

Almost before I hit publish on my last blog post I began seeing affirmation of His word popping up in my IG and FB feeds.

Many of you let me know that you were getting His message, too.

Be still

Wait.

Stop striving.

Depending upon our individual personality, these commands are either a sweet relief or a very real struggle. 

Either way, even in the waiting, scripture teaches us to be prepared. To "position" ourselves, as it says in Chronicles 20. There are so many scriptures, beloved, that tell us to be watchful, and ready. Many of these are in the context of Christ's return. However, I believe they also can refer to being ready for Him to reveal Himself in our daily struggles.

When we stop trying to control every minute of our days, we open the door for God to show up in miraculous ways. I know you've experienced this truth.

Almost the first thing we do every morning to prepare for our day is to clothe ourselves. For those of you in the corporate world, you're looking to make a statement. Red tie, black suit, red scarf, chic, sleek. In control. Mom's are pulling on sneakers and comfortable clothes. Active, ready to wrangle the kids and clean up messes. You get the idea; you dress for what you expect to encounter on any given day.

In the same way we prepare our physical bodies for the daily fray, scripture teaches us how to clothe our spiritual selves for battle.



Ephesians 6 teaches us defense: how to protect ourselves against the wiles of the enemy. The belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, and shoes of peace all give us the power to stand firm. The shield of faith protects us from the enemy's fiery arrows.

Then there are the garments described in Colossians 3. These garments prepare us for action or interaction with others. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love. Just as that red tie or scarf may project power and control, these attributes set us apart as children of God.

When we respond to situations with kindness and humility, people take notice. Sadly, these are rare traits in today's world. But we can be a powerful witness for Christ, simply by "wearing" these "garments."

There may not be many things about the Proverbs 31 woman we can emulate, but we can achieve this:
"She is clothed with strength and dignity and can afford to laugh at tomorrow."
By constantly asking for God's help through prayer, we can be prepared to do what the Lord has called us to do, even as we wait patiently while the battle rages around us.

We can rest in this truth:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."  (Joh 16:33)

Shalom,









Saturday, November 2, 2019

Inspired by . . . this battle


You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. 2 Chron 20:17

What battle are you fighting today?

Are you fighting your husband, your kids, yourself? Battles in the public arena, your school, your church?

STOP.

Be still.

The battle is the Lord's.

He may be speaking to the kingdom of Judah in this OT passage but He is just as clearly speaking to each one of us who consistently fight, battle, and strive in our own strength.

The battle is the Lord's. Our job is to take up the position He has given us and wait and see what the Lord will accomplish.

So what is our position? What has God given us to do?

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Mic 6:8
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1Th 5:16-18
Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  Ecc 12:13

Easy words to read, hard words to follow. Keep them before your eyes. Meditate (think) on them. Practice them. They will become part of your life.

Then, you will cease striving and know ... the peace of God.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Joh 14:27

Shalom,














Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Inspired by . . . past Write 31 series



Over the last few years, October has become one of my favorite months. It's almost like a second spring here in south Texas. As the heat subsides, the plants can stop fighting just to live and put their energy back into blooming! My garden really puts on a show this time of year.

October's golden glow is just one more thing to love. There is something different about the morning light this time of year. It's like liquid gold seeping through the curtains and coaxing me out of bed in the morning.

Texas may not have four seasons like other parts of the US but there are hints of change and I enjoy celebrating each one.

Another thing I've always looked forward to in October is the #write31days challenge. I wasn't going to be able to participate this year, but I was still sad to learn that 2018 was the last year of the official challenge. 

I first participated back in 2014 and every year since, save one. Each year proved to be a unique blessing. The series are always available here on the blog but as we begin our journey into October I wanted to highlight them again in hopes that you will find something to love.

31 Days of Joy

31 Days Praying the Names of God

31 Days in the Psalms

31 Days Hymns of Faith

The official #write31days challenge may be over but I hope there are bloggers out there who are continuing to challenge themselves on their own. Focusing on a theme and writing about it each day has proven to be a rewarding experience. One I'm sure I will revisit in the future!

Blessings,









Saturday, September 7, 2019

Inspired by . . . expectant





For whom do you wait expectantly?

Your kids? Your husband? A long-awaited visit from loved ones?

Growing up I can remember waiting expectantly for the NJ cousins to arrive for Christmas at our farm in VT. I would fly to the window every time I thought I heard a car coming up the drive! Anticipation would build until, finally, their station wagon would pull in! 

Immediately the fear would set in, even as I raced down the stairs and out the door to greet them. Would they still like me? Would the girls still want to play with Barbies? But then they would pile out of the car and we'd grin at each other and the fun would begin!

These intense emotions from my childhood are but a glimmer of what it will be like to meet Jesus. No comparison really but they are all I have. 

Today, when the door opens, who do I expect to see? My husband, of course. Yet my soul longs for Jesus. I anticipate His coming and long for His return.

Do we do this naturally? I don't think so. It's a discipline learned and born within us as we read His word and draw closer into a relationship with Him. The anticipation grows as our love for Him grows.

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope."

And then, when He finally does appear, I think I will be struck dumb with fear! If only for a moment. Will He welcome me? Dare I approach HIM?

And then I will run, fly even, into His outstretched arms. Because... to whom shall I go? You, Lord, have the words of eternal life. 

"Surely, I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Shalom,





Monday, August 5, 2019



Yesterday, I watched a titmouse eating a persimmon fruit. Suddenly the fruit came detached from the branch. Imagine his delight! That is until he tried to fly away! The fruit was much too big for him to carry and eventually he had to let it fall to the ground.

This got me thinking about the fruit and the vine. The obvious analogy is that we need to stay connected to Jesus in order to produce fruit and flourish. 

After watching Mr (or Mrs?) Titmouse I think the further lesson is that we need to hold our blessings, our gifts, the fruit that God gives us in this life, close to the Vine, too.

Too often we receive these things with joy and then forget Who gave them in the first place. We move them into the "this is mine" pile. As you may have discovered, things held too tightly become blackened and bruised.


Allowing God to hold our blessings gives us the freedom to enjoy them with both hands!


Shalom,


Tuesday, July 16, 2019





The pendulum swings. 

As humans, we tend to rush blindly to one end or the other. This is true with most anything and the Law of God is no exception. We either view God's law as the solution and move far to the legalism side or we view it as the problem and move far to antinomianism (anti-law) side. 

Somewhere in the middle, we find freedom.

But we may have to set aside some negative thought processes to get there.

As our Pastor spoke from Romans and Hebrews this past weekend he reminded us that we are not under the law as a means of justification.

Even as I was agreeing with him in my mind he asked the question, "What is your response when the evil one accuses you?"

I don't know about you, friend, but that one hit me dead center.

Why? Because my response is to fumble around in my box of good deeds as I lamely attempt to point out where I haven't failed. The result? The enemy just laughs and heaps further condemnation because he knows that my good deeds will never be enough. They will enslave me as sure as sin itself.

He knows that good deeds offered year after year never bring the worshipper to perfection. (Heb 10:1)

My response reveals that I am still looking for justification through obedience to God's law. I am looking in the wrong place, beloved!

Our justification, being made righteous before God, is achieved through Christ alone. (Rom 5:9; Rom 5:15: 1Cor 1:30; 2Cor 5:21)

When the enemy accuses, our right response is to point to the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 

All our sins, past, present, and future were forgiven at the cross. 

Period! End of story!


Yet the enemy likes to talk and cajole and stir up doubt. That's when we need to shut him down with the truths of scripture. 

We are justified by Christ alone, covered by the power of His blood.
"It follows that there is now no condemnation for those who are united with Christ Jesus. In Christ Jesus, the life-giving law of the Spirit has set you free from the law of sin and death." Rom 8:1-2
Let us live in that freedom. A life that rejoices to be commanded by the One whom it loves most. One Who is completely trustworthy and true.

Shalom,




Sunday, June 16, 2019

Inspired by . . . Seasons



Always be joyful; pray continually; give thanks whatever happens; for this what God wills for you in Christ Jesus. 1Thess 5:16-18
*****


If only some of the seasons in our life would end as quickly as Spring does in Texas. The official start of summer isn't until Friday but Mother Nature doesn't abide by our worldly calendars. Evidence of spring's abundant rain is quickly disappearing under the sun's golden fire. And what moisture the sun doesn't extract, the wind beats dry.

It's been a bit dry around this place lately. Time is a fire that licks lustily at the river of words that long to flow freely. Streams of creativity are dammed up, waiting for release. Despite the lengthening days, my current responsibilities leave me with little daylight and even less energy.

There are books waiting to be released but no time to engage a launch team; characters from current stories stand frozen mid-scene; still others beg escape from the corners of my mind. These days, stories are written in my head as I struggle to fall asleep at night - - Only to be forgotten as priorities march in on the rays of the rising sun.

Just as the flowers bloom in the desert, I'm determined to "give thanks whatever happens" and embrace this season of my life. God's purpose is not always evident in the minutia of daily living. Yes, always, when life doesn't give us what we want - - God has something better.

Sometimes . . . it's just Him.

Shalom,




Friday, May 31, 2019

Inspired by . . . Bird Blinds Vol. 2

Pedernales Falls State Park
As promised, more pictures from my first bird blind experience at Pedernales Falls State Park. I'm blessed to see most of these birds in my own front yard but I still enjoyed watching them in a different environment.

Woodhouse's Scrub Jay

Ladder-back Woodpecker

Northern Cardinal (female)

Ladder-back Woodpecker

Ladder-back Woodpecker

Northern Cardinal (male)
Lincoln's Sparrow

Carolina Wren
Sitting in the quietness of the blind I am reminded . . .

"Life is this simple: We are living in a world
that is absolutely transparent and the Divine
is shining through it all the time.
This is not just a nice story or a fable.
It is true."
~Thomas Merton

Blessings,

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Inspired by . . . how best to live



"Choices are always powerful. It does not matter that we rarely understand exactly what we are choosing. Perhaps that is precisely where the power lies: not in the choosing but in the learning how to best live with our choice." ~Christie Purifoy, Placemaker

*****

The older you get the more you tend to look back. You begin asking questions like: "How did I get here?", "Why?", and "What's next?"

The "how" may become clear even if the "why?" and the "what's next?" remain shrouded in the mist.

Stepping back through our memories brings us to the many crossroads of our choices. Even where those crossroads are deeply scarred by the trainwreck of someone else's choices; evidence remains of how we chose to pick up the pieces [or not] and move on.

There is nothing wrong with looking back. The bible is filled with admonishments to remember. The key is not to look back with bitterness and regret. Rather we look back with an eye of discernment. Seeking those divine moments when His hand was upon us; teaching, guiding, protecting. This knowledge is often given to us only through hindsight. 

For me, "learning how to best live with [my] choice[s]" is two-fold:

Change and Trust.

If I'm making choices that move me in the wrong direction, I need to change. We are body, mind, and spirit. Unhealthy choices equal a disconnect between these three elements.

Romans 12 teaches us how to correct and guard against this disconnect so that we can know the will of God and make choices that reflect His will and bring Him glory:
"Therefore, my friends, I implore you by God's mercy to offer your very selves to Him: a living sacrifice, dedicated and fit for His acceptance, the worship offered by mind and heart. Conform no longer to the pattern of this present world, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds. Then you will be able to discern the will of God and to know that is good, acceptable, and perfect." Romans 12:1-2


At the same time, living with my choices means trusting that He who began a good work in me will bring it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. That even when I make the wrong choices or am tossed about by the waves created by the boulders tossed by others, He is faithful.

There is no room for a victim mentality in Christ. The "whys" and the "what's next" are most clearly revealed when we embrace the freedom we have in Him. Looking back is just where we begin. We do not remain in the past.

Rather, we give thanks for the present and rejoice in the future.

For this is His will for us in Christ Jesus.
"Always be joyful; pray continually; give thanks for whatever happens; for this is what God wills for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thess 5:16-18

Shalom,




Monday, May 27, 2019

Inspired by . . . Freedom Isn't Tidy


It's messy. Bloody. Tragic.

Liberty may be an unalienable right but it's not guaranteed.

And it is most certainly not free.

It is paid for by the blood and sacrifice of men and women.

Today we honor them by remembering that sacrifice.

Today we honor them by continuing to stand for the truths that our forefathers set forth as self-evident.



In Remembrance,

Friday, May 10, 2019

Inspired by . . . Bird Blinds Vol. 1

Pedernales Falls State Park

Any of you who have been visiting this blog for a while know how much I love birds and photographing birds. So you may be surprised to learn that, until recently, I had never been in a bird blind.

I have been hearing for years about the birding opportunities at Pedernales Falls State Park but had never taken the time to visit. This past January, we finally made it!

The park is beautiful and hosts two bird blinds! 

What an amazing experience!

Rather than blog-bomb you with an overabundance of photos I thought I would share over two or three posts.

Let's start out by cleaning things up a bit!









Blessings!


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Inspired by . . . He Is Risen!



"Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation, anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him. 
As for the word that He sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. 
He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all that He did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. 
They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him on the third day and made Him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. 
And He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 
To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name."  (Act 10:34-43)

Blessings on your Easter!


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Inspired by . . . silence the stones





In my memories, Easter is a wash of pastel colors; fresh greens, robin eggs, lavender buds, and sunshine.

It was a time for dressing up and going to church.  We knew about the cross but the concept of sacrifice was lost somewhere in the Easter baskets that were overflowing with gifts and candy.

Peanut butter eggs may be the best thing since sliced bread but the real gift of Easter is the sacrifice.

Sacrifice.

It's an unpopular concept in our world today. Prosperity is a gospel loudly proclaimed and universally accepted but someone giving out of their need rather than their excess is scarcely mentioned and rarely celebrated.

How can a world of instant, personal gratification understand a God who laid aside all His glory and power to become a man? A man who allowed Himself to be tortured and killed to save the very people who shouted, "Crucify!"?

I don't know. 

But I do know that those of us who believe live a life woven with the reality of this Truth. We are the heralds of His sacrifice. Our lives: a canvas to display His glory. Our lips: an instrument to praise His name.

And silence the stones.

Shalom,



Friday, April 12, 2019

Inspired by . . . rivulets in the desert


The intensity of these moments took my breath away. 

A sky so dark. The crescent moon so crisp in the sky I felt as if I could lift it free from the fabric of the night and tuck it in my pocket.


A sky so blue. Broken suddenly by the silence of wings. So deeply white, a cloud in the sky, his beak a ray of sunshine.



Moments seared hot in my memories. Whispers from heaven.

Rivulets in the desert.

When we're in the desert, especially when we're in the desert, the enemy loves to coax us off the path of faith with mirages of sunlit fields filled with wildflowers . . . that quickly turn into pools of tar and quicksand.

Time spent in a spiritual wilderness is a blessing that is most appreciated in hindsight. We are desperate to be in His presence, yet we can't seem to grasp even the hem of His garment.

Often, strangely, we find, finally, that He was closest to us when He seemed the farthest away.

In the desert, flash floods destroy what the rivulets sustain.

Perhaps, in this moment, He is revealing as much of Himself as we can contain.

A sky so dark.
A sky so blue.

Shalom,



Photo credit @getstencil