Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two Pennies Matter

Tiny . . . but oh-so-beautiful and fascinating! Look at that sliver of a tongue!

The smallest butterfly I've ever seen . . . but look at the detailed color!

These delicate blooms on my asparagus fern were so small I almost missed their beauty!

Little things . . . but not insignificant.
God is not a creator of insignificance!

I'm glad that God's measuring system and His perspective are not at all like the ones we apply to our lives - and to those around us.
Our best - our all - seem so little to us at times.
But He says, "Little is much" if given to Him to multiply and divide.
I like His math!!

We get a good look at Jesus' perspective in Luke 21:
1-4Just then he looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. He said, "The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they'll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford—she gave her all!" (The Message)

He's watching. He sees. It doesn't matter that no one else does.
His eyes never miss the smallest act of kindness done in His name
or in obedience to Him.
Our "two pennies" are important to Him and His kingdom.

One day recently my Scripture calendar had these words:
Perhaps at the Last Day all that will remain worth recording of a life full of activity and zeal, will be those little deeds that were done solely beneath the eye of God.
Lord, help me remember that the smallest job done in your name is very worthwhile.
Teach me to rejoice in whatsoever task is set before me today. Amen.

When I was growing up, we sang this little song at church:
Two little fishes, five loaves of bread -
Five thousand people by Jesus were fed.
This is what happened when one little lad
Gladly gave Jesus all that he had.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

In Praise of a Safe Passage

I've been carrying you on my back
from the day you were born,
and I'll keep on carrying you
when you're old.

I'll be there,
bearing you when you're old and gray.
I've done it and will keep on doing it,
carrying you on my back, saving you.

~ from Isaiah 46:4 (The Message)~

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Shocking Lesson

For those of you not familiar with growing and harvesting peanuts, I'll give you a brief lesson! Or maybe I should say that I'll show you what I've observed John David doing!

Much preparation, time, effort, and hard work went into raising this year's crop. The extreme heat and little rain made it even more difficult. Lots of watering was necessary in order to keep the plants growing. But grow they did!

When he determined the peanuts were mature - and only a seasoned gardener can make that call - he pulled up the vines and put them in the sun to begin the drying process.

The next step involved "shocking" the peanuts. Vines were stacked on a pole - one that he cut in the woods - and left to fully dry.

This is what a fully-loaded shock looks like! For about two weeks the peanuts will be cured by the sun.

You probably notice a younger crop, still green and making peanuts, in the background. Those are the rows our grandkids planted and will be ready to pull up in the future. The grands love parched peanuts and enjoyed helping their Poppa plant them.

In a few days, John David will pick all the peanuts off the vines - a very time-consuming process. Then all the hard work and weeks of waiting will pay off, for we'll have plenty of peanuts to enjoy during the cool fall nights - if cool nights ever arrive here! Around our house, LSU games and parched peanuts just go together!

Planting and harvesting . . . sowing and reaping . . . just a natural process in the life of a gardener or farmer. And so it is with our lives as Christians. Sowing and reaping . . . planting seeds and harvesting. It doesn't happen without plans, effort, patience, more effort, watering, a mindset that sees what the seeds can become and a faith that looks to God to "give the increase."

Wouldn't it be good if we could see the fruits of all our labors - all piled up - like that shock of peanuts? Sometimes, however, the results are hidden to us - but never to God! He sees . . . He knows. Always.

One day, when our sowing days are over, we'll see and fully grasp the extent of all our planting and tending and nurturing. And I have a feeling that if we've sowed bountifully as II Corinthians 9:6 suggests, we just might be shocked!

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
~Knowel Shaw - Bringing in the Sheaves, 1874~

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Beauty Behind Me

Coming home late yesterday afternoon, I looked in my passenger side mirror and saw this beautiful view. I love the reflection on the side of the car, too! Any way you look at it, a sunset is truly a MASTERpiece!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rock-Solid Encouragement

Have you ever seen a prettier rock? It's a worry rock - according to grandson Aiden, who painted it and gave it to us. Instructions came with it: when worried, just rub the rock and cares will fade away! Now wouldn't that be easy? Easy . . . yes, but then we'd never know the joys of depending on God and seeing Him work in our lives.

So what value does it have? Well, it's pretty sitting on my kitchen window ledge . . . it has the fingerprints of Aiden on it, and he was so happy to give it to John David and me . . . it's one of those gifts a grandparent cherishes. But more than that it's a reminder of another rock - The Rock! The Rock of Ages! The Rock that can't be shaken! The Rock that I can always go to with worries, cares, and burdens! The Rock that I can hide in until the present storm and future storms pass.

I love the imagery and the truth in the old hymn "He Hideth My Soul" by Fanny Crosby. In part it says:
A wonderful Saviour is Jesus, my Lord;
He taketh my burden away.
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved;
He giveth me strength as my day.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the Rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land.
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

I'm especially drawn to the word picture of being hidden in the bottomless depths of His love! Now that's the antidote for worry!

Thank you, Lord, for your patience in reminding me of this truth over and over again!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Willow-y Beauty

This unique, old willow tree grows in the pasture behind John David's dad's house. I think it's beautiful! I know . . . beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or maybe not!

The eyes of some "beholders" haven't been trained to look for beauty. Other "beholders" don't take time to look for beauty. It's sad but it seems that a few just don't want to see beauty.

Life is certainly richer when we can see beauty in the commonplace . . . in the unfamiliar places . . . in the obscure places . . . in the rugged places . . . in the less-than-pleasant places.

On our recent ride through the pasture, the beautiful willow tree grabbed my attention. In spite of its gnarled appearance and its unusual shape, it's a thing of beauty. And its age does nothing to diminish that beauty. The years and storms and winds and drought have just strengthened its trunk and branches, and the roots have been driven deeper into the earth.

The world would be a much kinder place if we could just look at people with those thoughts in mind. Imperfect bodies . . . age . . . outward appearance . . . have nothing to do with real beauty. Instead, real beauty comes from within. True, lasting beauty in a person has much to do with inner strength and peace . . . and deep roots . . . and growing in Christ-likeness.

In the busyness of life, I don't want to miss the beauty around me - both in nature and in people. Looking for and finding beauty is a sure cure for a negative, critical approach to living. Furthermore, those around us can see the beauty of Christ in us . . . and He will be glorified!

And that's a beautiful thing!

He hath made everything beautiful in His time . . .
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rain Expected

Cracked, parched earth
Dry, thirsty souls
Share a common need:

Showers . . .
Refreshing, life-giving showers

Lord, send the rain!

For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty,
and floods upon the dry ground . . .
Isaiah 44:3b

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Old Times

"Old times" never come back and I suppose it's just as well.
What comes back is a new morning every day in the year, and that's better.
~George E. Woodberry~

As much as I love old things - old photos, family heirlooms, reminders of my childhood and raising my own family, antiques - I don't want to live in the past.

"A new morning every day in the year" . . .
with new beginnings . . . new opportunities . . .
new blessings . . . new challenges . . .
Today . . . that's the place to live!

It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed,
because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning;

great is Thy faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Real Joy

J - O - Y!

Such a tiny little word . . .
but so vast its effects!

Who can describe its presence deep in the heart?
How does one find just the right words to capture its power
as it breaks through circumstances and clouds and darkness
and explodes with life-changing strength?

How can mere words define this priceless, infinite gift of God
that comes from within and has nothing to do with emotions or externals?

Is it like a bottomless river that flows peacefully through the soul?
Or does it bubble up from an ever-flowing spring?
Or is it a gentle whisper that echos these words: "You are not alone" . . .
"Nothing is too hard for me" . . . "I love you"?
Yes, Yes, Yes . . . and it's so much more!

It can't be bought nor earned . . .
neither can it be worked up.
Every heart yielded completely to God can experience it.

Happiness, which is based on what's going on around us,
may come and go,
but real joy can be a constant.

Maybe because its source IS a constant . . .
an abiding Presence . . .
a Friend who'll never abandon us . . .
One who knows us intimately yet loves us with an everlasting love.

And when our hearts get full of stuff
and it seems we've lost our joy,
He's kind enough to remind us that He - the Giver of Joy - is still there -
and that if we'll give the stuff to Him,
we'll find our joy remains.

I may not can adequately explain it,
but I wouldn't trade it for anything in this world!

Songwriter Gloria Gaither said it so well:

Jesus, You're the center of my joy;
All that's good and perfect comes from You.
You're the heart of my contentment,
hope for all I do.
Jesus, You're the center of my joy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

He Knows My Name

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are mine.
Isaiah 43: 1

I have a Maker;
He formed my heart.
Before even time began
My life was in His hands.

I have a Father;
He calls me His own.
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go.

He knows my name;
He knows my every thought.
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call.
~He Knows My Name - Tommy Walker~

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Even Then . . .

Sunset behind our home 8/1/10 (unedited)

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same
the Lord's name is to be praised.
Psalm 113:3

His name deserves praise!

Even when . . .
"darkness seems to hide His face". . .
storms unleash their fury . . .
questions and confusion threaten our peace . . .
pain of all kinds attack our physical and emotional well-being . . .
tears fall and our hearts break . . .
the world seems to be crumbling all around us.

Even THEN . . .
we can choose to praise Him!
Not for these things . . .
but in these things.

In the midst of these circumstances we can praise Him . . .
because He has good plans for us . . .
because He sees the big picture . . .
because He will never leave us . . .
because His grace is sufficient . . .
because He loves us with an everlasting love . . .
because He IS still in control!

Easy to do?
No! No! No!
It is a choice. And it can't be based on feelings.

The result:
We are encouraged!
Those "watching" us see God at work in us!
He is glorified!

Habukkuk 3:
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.

I sing praises to your name, O Lord,
Praises to your name, O Lord,
For your name is great
and greatly to be praised.

~Terry MacAlmon~

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Bridge

His outstretched arms . . . a bridge
between life and death . . .
heaven and earth.

Can't you see His great arms extended to
the hopeless
the hurting
the needy
the weary
the confused
the lost
the whosoever?

These strong arms never grow weary and never hold a "no vacancy" sign.
No one will be pushed away or brushed aside.
You can trust them.

You can trust Jesus!
You can trust His love!

He whispers, "Come."

Come to Jesus.
Come to Jesus.
Come to Jesus and live.
~Chris Rice~
(Be sure your volume is turned up to hear the entire song from my playlist.)