Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
~I Cor. 13:4-8~
I am once again amazed at how God works! I published the above post, returned to my blog, looked across to the sidebar and read these words from "Bible Verse for the Day" (and I'm putting them here because they will change tomorrow): “And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I
carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will
deliver you.” (Isaiah 46:4) (Read by Max McLean. Provided by The Listener's Audio Bible.)
Sixteen-year-old granddaughter Emily and her family live near the Gulf Coast and have been pounded with rains and winds. Thankfully, they are safe! Yesterday she posted these words on her Facebook:
Joy (noun)- Dancing and spinning and giggling like a three-year old in the middle of a hurricane, barefoot and sopping wet, with rain pouring down and floodwater up to the scar in the middle of your shin, while your brother and sister are splashing and running and jumping and laughing around you... and realizing you haven't smiled this widely and this long in days. :) ♥
And as I smiled, I thought: I think there is a sermon or song or two, an analogy, a lesson in those lines!
I think the song has already been written! Thanks, Deron, for bringing it to my attention again this week: And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
Em's definition is a wonderful symbolic picture of dancing in the rain . . . in the storms of life. And we all have them in varying sizes,
intensities and durations.
I'm reminded that:
a "dancing-in-the-middle-of-a-hurricane" attitude is a choice
you have to risk getting wet
some will shake their heads at your attitude and actions
having a family "celebrate" with you always helps
you may be reminded of previous storms as the water sloshes
around your "scars"
"scars are a sign of healing"
feelings of joy run deep and don't depend on weather forecasts and surrounding floodwaters
joy splashes onto others
I also know that I must not be critical of those who have not yet been able to "praise You in this storm." I'm certainly not the poster child for this kind of faith, but I'm leaning and learning!
I'm thankful that "I know the Master of the winds. I know the Maker of the rain." And by way, Em knows Him, too - in a very real way!
In spite of anything and everything swirling around me,
I know that He is in control.
We followed our son's black Suburban over 4000 miles through 12 states! It was the best of times! I took this pic as we were leaving "our home" near Jackson, Wyoming, with our hearts full of gratitude for God's blessings and presence as we enjoyed His incredibly awesome creation. I'll be sharing more of my photos in the days ahead.
I'd like to share something I read this morning that spoke to me. It's too good not to share!
Hebrew word "fast" means to cover the mouth. In fact, a fast of words
is one of the fasts in Isaiah 58. Isaiah 58:9b lists not pointing
fingers in judgment and not speaking malicious words as conditions of
great blessings. Sylvia Gunter remembers the first time
God led her to fast for 40 days of all negative, complaining, critical,
and judgmental words. She wrote in a recent devotional, "About two
weeks into my fast, I was treated haughtily at a store. As I left the
store, I said to myself, 'I'll just take my business elsewhere. That is
the second time she has had an attitude with me.' "Immediately
I heard in my spirit, 'No, you are the one with the attitude.' I
wanted to fall to my knees on the sidewalk, crying out, 'I am so sick
of me!' I know how Isaiah felt when he told God, 'Woe is me! I am
ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of
unclean lips' (Isa. 6:5). O God, take a coal from the altar and purge this wicked heart of mine.
God showed me that He was dealing with a root of pride (Isa. 57:15, 1
Peter 5:5-6). I was puffed up, with no sense of my own spiritual need. "I
struggled for a while in this fast of words in what felt like
hand-to-hand warfare, but God softened and sweetened my heart. After
that season, I felt like a dog in a yard with an invisible electric
fence. Every time I opened my mouth to say anything critical, I would
get a zap from my loving Father. I reviewed my prayer notebook and was
amazed at how many Scriptural insights God gave me during that time. God
was being faithful to reveal more of Himself. "Ask God
if He is leading you to do a forty-day fast of critical, judgmental,
negative, complaining, gossiping words. You may be amazed what God
will do through it." Thank You, Jesus, for helping us guard our thoughts so that our words also please You. "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23).
It's not too often that I see a hummer's tongue . . . and I love it when I get a "miraculous" shot like this one! Well . . . OK, it's not really a miracle; that may be carrying it a little too far!
I wonder, though, how many miracles we miss . . . or take for granted . . . or call a "coincidence." I'm reading a book by Mark Batterson entitled The Circle Maker, which I highly recommend. He writes about the Israelites complaining about one miracle, the manna from heaven, while asking for another - meat. He reminds readers not to be too critical, however, for we do the same thing!
There are miracles all around us all the time, yet it's so easy to find something to complain about in the midst of those miracles. The simple act of reading involves millions of impulses firing across billions of synapses. While you are reading, your heart goes about its business circulating five quarts of blood through a hundred thousand miles of veins, arteries, and capillaries. And it's amazing you can even concentrate, given the fact that you're on a planet that is traveling 67,000miles per hour through space while spinning around its axis at a speed of 1,000 miles per hour. But we take those manna miracles, the miracles that happen day in, day out, for granted.
I'm glad God is patient with us just as He was with the Israelites, but I don't want to take His patience lightly. How much richer our lives would be if we could just see - really see - the miracles around us daily. . . and if we could learn to be content with His just-enough-for-today blessings.
I mentioned the rarity of seeing a hummingbird's sliver of a tongue. I certainly don't want God to say, "I rarely hear Glenda being thankful for the blessings I lavish on her."
Lord, give me eyes wide open to your manna miracles . . . and a thankful, content heart.
From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, the LORD'S name is to be praised.
So many reasons to Praise His Name. Among them:
I sing praises to Your name, O Lord,
Praises to Your name, O Lord.
For Your name is great and greatly to be praised.
~Lyrics by Terry MacAlmon~
Note: After posting this, I looked across the page to my Bible Verse of the Day, and here's what I read (I'm adding it here because the verse will change tomorrow):
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name
which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should
bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the
earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
Meet Barnabas . . . our newest family member . . . a small, furry bundle
of life and energy! He came to us recently during some difficult days, and his name fits him so well. He just has a way of getting one's mind off cares and concerns! I am reminded that our creative God uses the unexpected to bring encouragement into our lives! These words from an old song come
to my mind:
My Jesus knows just what I need . . . He satisfies and every need supplies. Yes, He knows just what I need.
If you have visited my blog for a while, you're already aware of how much I enjoy nature! The older I get, the more I revel in God's handiwork. I love sunrises and sunsets, the mountains and woods, birds and butterflies, and flowers of all kinds. But I don't want to ever put the creation above the Creator! The world is His . . . and it's all about Him!
I think of the question asked by Francis Chan: Are we really in love with God, or do we just love His stuff? I definitely love His stuff, but I worship Him! I praise Him for His awesome power!
This is my Father's world; I rest me in the thought . . .
I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry, moon and stars mounted in their settings.
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, Why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way?
~Psalm 8:2-4 The Message~
It's a staggering thought that I can't wrap my mind around: The Creator and Keeper of the universe knit me together in my mother's womb, and I never leave His thoughts nor His sight! I don't understand it, but I don't have to understand to experience His unconditional, never-ending love.
With the songwriter I ask, "Who am I that a King should bleed and die for?" And with another I can sing the answer: "I'm a child of the King!" Amazing . . . but true!
The gorgeous, glowing setting sun gave this tree, damaged from last year's storm, a golden hue. The mockingbird perched atop it was an added bonus!
Don't we all wish for "higher ground" at times . . . above all "the stuff" of life . . . soaking in the Son's golden rays? It's a healthy part of our journey toward Christian maturity. Many years ago, Johnson Oatman, born in 1856, must have had similar desires when he wrote the hymn "Higher Ground." For those of you not familiar with those words, here they are:
Usually my posts are fairly short, so I hope you won't get bored with my rambling today! I found it difficult to summarize our drive on some country roads yesterday . . . way, way back country roads! We visited some old homeplaces, a beautiful little church and rode for miles admiring God's creation. Feel free to click on the pics to enlarge them, and I hope you enjoy the ride!
I was struck by the stillness of the old homeplace where this swing hung motionless
on a long, long dusty porch.
I was amazed at the longevity of these handmade, original log gutters that run the length of the porch and and empty into a cistern. I'm not sure that much water reaches the cistern now because of straw and leaves filling the gutters.
If these walls could talk, the stories would be endlessly woven together with happy times, sad times, and God's presence. It's a special place to me for several reasons. I have fond memories of visiting the services held here many years ago, and I can still hear Aunt Ollie's beautiful, clear voice as she led the small congregation in old hymns. In a corner of the peaceful churchyard, she and six other family members were laid to rest - among them, Aunt Sallie.
Aunt Sallie lived not far from the church and spent many happy hours in her little house in the woods . . . making sassafras tea, hunting, gardening and enjoying her quiet life. She's been gone a long, long time, but the cistern she used still stands . . . sturdy and strong . . .
just like Aunt Sallie!
We drove for miles, not meeting one vehicle . . . just enjoying the quietness, the simple beauty of the wildflowers, the abundance of grapes and huckleberries, the longleaf pines, and cool, clear creeks.
Solitude and the beauty of God's awesome creation are good for the soul! We returned home feeling blessed to have visited the past but also to have been so keenly reminded of God's mercies and blessings that are new every morning!
The God who met with that small group of people at Good Hope Baptist Church long before I was born and who was so real to Aunt Ollie and Aunt Sallie is still alive and well!
No doubt about it . . . we saw Him on those backroads!
Waiting - and waiting - in a semi-dark room at the optometrist's office yesterday after having my eyes dilated, those words played in my mind. There's not a whole lot one can do in that situation, so I used some of those moments to meditate and pray and think. Actually, I sang those words, too . . . very quietly, of course . . . but I like to think my audience of one, He who started the whole world singing, might have tapped His foot!
And would you believe that when I opened my devotional book this morning, there were those same lyrics jumping off the page at me? God is just so good like that!! This Scripture was also added:
You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord our God gave you has failed.
Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.
In a shaky and uncertain world, I'm so thankful that I can stand on His unfailing promises!
I have found a friend in Jesus; He’s everything to me.
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay;
He tells me every care on Him to roll.
He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star;
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.
~Charles W. Fry~
Although my Easter lilies are late blooming, I am glad The Lily of the Valley is always in season . . . always blooming . . . always adding beauty to our lives . . . and He's always on time - His time, not mine!
I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.
So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it.
Should we be satisfied just believing in Christ and not longing to move more and more into His fullness? No! . . . To ripen in grace, we must live close to Jesus, in His presence, ripened by the sunshine of His smiles.
More of You, more of You;
I've had all but what I need -
just more of You.
Of things I've had my fill,
and yet I hunger still.
Empty and bare, Lord, hear my prayer
for more of You.
~Lyrics to More of You - Gloria Gaither~
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.