Don’t Fear the Storms

Into every life a little rain must fall.

Isn’t that what they say? I’m deep into the psalms in my morning quiet time and storms do come but the testimony of God’s people is one of faithfulness and steadfast love, of rescue and salvation, of deliverance and praise.

He is mighty to save, abounding in steadfast love and mercy.

Maybe that’s why I love a good storm. I see the clouds moving in and feel the change in the air and know that the world is going to be washed clean.

After the thunder fades and the lighting ceases I know there will be a freshness, a newness to the earth. Some things will be removed and washed away. Some things will be refreshed and nurtured.

And no matter what the earth will still stand, upheld by his hand.

Do not fear the storms that come your way, friend, no matter how fierce they seem.

“When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” Psalm 94:18-19

Think On These Things

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in;

hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons,

for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High.

So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
 for his wondrous works to the children of man!

For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters;

they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep.

For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,
a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants.
He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.

And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in;

they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.

By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.

When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow,

he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes;

but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks.

The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth.Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

Psalm 107

What You Ought To Remember

You know what’s embarrassing? Slamming the toilet lid down in a public restroom because you forget that all toilet lids are not self closing like the ones at home.

You know what’s painful? Forgetting that you chopped jalapeños a few hours ago and rubbing your eye.

You know what is not embarrassing or painful? God’s forgiveness. The teaching of Scripture is that when we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us. Not just forgive either but to cleanse us from the dirt and mess of our sin. And if that were not enough, we are told He throws our sin away as far as the east is from the west.

You know what God doesn’t forget?

Us.

Me.

You.

He remembers our frame. He remembers that we are His people and He is our God.

He remembers His promises.

So many promises! But this morning I woke up thinking about forgiveness and Psalm 139. Such thoughts are, indeed, too wonderful.

You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it. (Verses 5 & 6)

I hope you begin your week thinking of the promises God gives to His children. And may you walk in them.

Happy Monday y’all.

Think On These Things ~ 1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,

but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 

or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 

but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

It’s All Good

I was having a bit of a rough minute this morning.

Rob has been out of town all week and I am ready for him to be home. I have a few things weighing on my mind and the pups were/are being a bit of a handful. To top it off my emotions seem to be a bit, shall we say, emotional?

All in all, I was feeling a tad sorry for myself but trying to buck up and give myself a pep talk. In the course of said pep talk I was reminding myself of Psalm 139 and encouraging myself to remember that God knows my frame; I’m fine. Everything is fine.

I sit at the dining room table in the morning to read my Bible and go over my prayer cards. I refreshed my cup of coffee and sat down deciding to read Psalm 139 in full.

I literally laughed out loud as I read verses 11 & 12 because in that exact moment the sun rose just enough above the trees to flood my table with its glow.

“If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

Such a funny and sweet reminder from Him not to let myself get overwhelmed. As if He wore glasses He’d be looking over the top of them saying, “You’re fine.”

And it’s true.

It’s all good.

A Beautiful Reminder

I love autumn.

The brisk temperatures.

The cozy sweaters and fuzzy socks.

The comfort food. I may not be real good about eating soups and chili and such during the summer but I do love that stuff when it starts to get cool. I guess I definitely have seasons for my food even if, having lived my whole life in the south, my fall and winter are short and barely there.

What I really love the most though are the colors. The amazing display that the foliage puts on each year just takes my breath away.

Years ago, as I was contemplating a particularly gorgeous autumnal exhibition by a Bradford pear tree, I connected the dots in a profound way that has stayed with me ever since.

The beautiful leaves with their colors that so delighted me were quite simply, dying.

Obviously, I knew the change of seasons, however limited my exposure, and I understood the science and mechanics of what was happening. But in that moment under that tree I realized it in a different way.

Every year since as I see the stunning colors of fall I am reminded of this truth..they are at their most beautiful in death.

The way of Christ is upside down from the way of the world but when we are faithful to His ways, when we are willing to be that living sacrifice, we are just like the leaves and gloriously beautiful in the way that only His people can be.

I think it is truly fitting that the rich bold colors are at their peak as we prepare for Advent, don’t you? A gracious reminder that while there is pain and suffering and even death, the Christ child who came bore it all for our sake.

Monday’s Musings

You know how sometimes you just have random thoughts bouncing around in your brain? Well, that’s one of the reasons I have a blog, because sometimes I need to make room by putting stuff somewhere.

One thing I am thinking about in particular since I am going to start up the photography business is exactly what services I will offer. Specifically, my niece is due any time now with her second baby and I am delighted to be on call to photograph the birth, a genre of photography that I absolutely love and want to do more of. But I have had more than a few moments of what-would-I do-if-she-goes-into-labor-while-I-am-doing-such-and-such and wonder how in the world you handle that if you do birth photography on a regular basis. (Total side note…all of the births I have photographed have been in the hospital. Would love love love to have the opportunity to do a home birth so if y’all know of anybody doing a home birth who’d be open to pictures hook a sister up.)

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Also, related to those thoughts I am doing a product shoot of sorts today that I am pretty excited about. A friend of mine makes these incredibly lovely hats and sells them in her Etsy shop. I have photographed some of her hats before but today we will be working with her model and I think it will be so much fun!

 

 

Sarah is also coming home today from a four day cruise to Cozumel. I can’t wait to hear all about it and hopefully see some pictures. She was seriously hoping to see sea turtles and sea horses. While she has been floating on a big boat with friends, Emily has been apartment/cat sitting. I can say without any hesitation that I am not ready for another child to move out and I am glad Em isn’t going anywhere just yet.

Also, can I just say that I am soooo over this summer heat. I have a friend living in Oregon and she got snow over the weekend, people. Snow. We had such a lovely spring and June was so mild but man, the heat showed up in July and has made itself way too comfortable. I’m just ready for a bit of cooler temperatures but that sounds a bit whiny, doesn’t it? Sorry about that.

All righty then, moving on.

So we watched Back To The Future with our kids over the weekend and all I can say is man, do we have selective memories! I think the story got caught up in the nostalgia of being part of our teenage years or something because I sure didn’t remember the language being so salty. Nor did I recall the thing with his mom being such a major theme in the story. Our children were properly appalled and took great delight in ribbing us for watching such a movie. They were also quite amused by the rather dated special effects and overly dramatic acting. Rob decided that if we want to share a movie from our childhood with our kids again we better watch it first.

Some parenting stuff I have been thinking about and piecing together starts in chapter 6 of Ephesians:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places and 2 Corinthians 10:3–4 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (Emphasis is mine.)

I also keep noodling on all the times in the OT that we were told so and so was a righteous king but he failed to tear down the high places, that is the worship places of the Canaanites.  And how our weapons of choice are prayer and worship. Intangible things that have a very concrete impact and literal affect in real time.

If we confess that our battle is not of flesh and blood, and we do, and if we confess that we fight with things that are not made of metal and stone, and we do, what does that mean about other intangible things in our lives? Our secret thoughts, hidden feelings, and tucked away sins?

I contend that those secret sins that take up that dusty dark corner of our heart will somehow manifest itself in our life in a way that is passed on to our children. We want our children to want the right things, to make the right decisions, to choose the right things, and for the most part we want the same thing for ourselves. Except for those little hidden things that no one knows about but God and we like to walk around as if they’re not there. I guess I am wondering how those insidious weeds in my own life spread their roots out to my children and others in my life.

May we have the courage to confront our high places, the desire to bring to light what we want to keep hidden and be humble enough to destroy them.

Lastly, something not quite as deep and heavy. We live in a world where words of affirmation are everywhere. Random vandalism tells us we’re beautiful. Graphic tee’s remind us to let nothing dull our sparkle. But this I saw and knew it to be the best of all encouragement ever.

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Have a great Monday!

 

 

 

 

 

Gleanings from Galatians

Yesterday the Bible Reading Challenge had me reading the entire letter of Galatians which sounds like a lot but it’s six relatively short chapters that are just jammed packed with rich truth. As usual, no matter how many times I have read something before there is always something to glean…sometimes not even brand new truths but something that just adds to the fullness of my understanding. Here are a few gems and the ponderings they produced.

Chapter 1:15-16 ~

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult anyone.

Paul goes on to say he actually waited three years before returning to Jerusalem to meet Cephas and it would be another fourteen years before he would return and really get into the thick of things with the other Apostles and believers.

My take home was a gentle reminder to not blurt out every thought and rush off willy nilly and get busy but to take some time and stew on what God is doing and what He would have me do.

Chapter 2:11–14

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.  For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.  But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” 

Emphasis is mine and I cannot tell you how heavy that landed on me. If we are living lives that look no different than the unbelieving neighbor beside us then how can we dare ask them to live any differently and why should they?

Everything we do should be different because everything we do is done to the glory of God and with an eternal purpose. Our marriages, our child rearing, the way we are educated and educating, the life we live must be lived in such a way that Christ is revealed. I mean at first glance we may look the same but as we enter into relationships with people, as they get to know us, they ought to become curious about why we seem just a bit different, why there is something they may not quite be able to put their finger on but they know we aren’t the same. It will be something about the means to the end of disciplining our children, the way we love and honor each other, the way our Sabbath is enjoyed, the way we handle our money, the way we forgive, the way we deal with stress, the way we help others. There should be a thousand different ways we live out our ordinary lives that will show we believe Christ is King over all.

Chapter 4:9

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be know by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

Just a good solid reminder to keep guard over my thoughts and not allow old habits and ways of thinking to creep in.

Chapter 5

Seriously, the whole chapter. But this little verse…

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

Have you ever been out of step with someone you were supposed to be in step with? Stumbling around and so clumsy. It’s not easy to fix without coming to a complete stop and starting again. So that is my prayer; when I realize I am out of step then I want to stop what I am doing and get in step with the Spirit. I don’t want to fumble around tripping over myself trying to make our steps align. I just want to match my stride with His.

Chapter  6:1–3

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 

It is so very easy to have a higher opinion of ourselves than we ought, isn’t it? I don’t think we deliberately set out to think better of ourselves than other people but it is just so much easier to assess those over there, to make judgement calls on their behaviors and actions. Assumptions are second nature to us, assuming that we would never ever do what so and so has done but shifting their sins through our perspectives and coming to a conclusion that we know their story.

In I Corinthians 10 we are told take to heed when we think we are standing lest we fall and then moving in to chapter six of Galatians we are told to restore a fallen brother with a spirit of gentleness lest we be tempted. That spirit of gentleness only comes through the humility of understanding the darkness of our own sin, of using God’s perspective on sin as opposed to our own sliding scale of right and wrong.

For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Oh Lord may I put pride far from me!

Chapter 6:9

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 

And lastly, this little gem. Don’t give up but keep persevering in the faith, keep loving each other, keep doing the right thing even when it seems that no one else is or no one is benefitting from it or seems grateful for it.

Serve each other. Love one another. Seek forgiveness. Forgive each other. Encourage. Laugh with the one who laughs and weep with the one who weeps. Do all the things you can do for the good of those around you and don’t stop, keep loving them in thought and deed. God promises to grow something that gives an eternal harvest when we stay faithful in this way.

Chapter 6:16

And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 

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Think On These Things

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!

Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me! 

                                                                                                                                         ~ Psalm 31:1-2