Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Close to His Heart

"He tends His flock like a shepherd; 
He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
He gently leads those that have young."
Isaiah 40:11

Baby Girl is infatuated with other babies right now, real or pretend.  She is constantly carrying and coddling one of her several baby dolls, taking them to bed, for walks around the house in the stroller, to tea time, and in the car when its time to leave.  Her arms are full of her little ones.  Her heart breaks to leave one behind.

Our Shepherd is much the same.  His tenderness reaches for us so that He may hold us close to His heart.  He gathers us in arms that are never too full or too weak to hold.  He gently leads us.  He determines where we should go so that we are getting the nourishment, the rest, the growth that we need, but He is not harsh or unsympathetic when we falter in our follow.  And His heart breaks to leave any behind

Lean closer to the Shepherd today.  Let Him gather you in His arms.  Let Him carry you close to His heart.  Let Him tend to you so that His love flows through you to others and ensures that none are left behind.

To lean close to God's heart, I highly suggest reading all of Isaiah 40.  It will bless you, as will Internet Cafe Devotions, a place to develop a deeper relationship with God as you interact with His Word.


Monday, October 25, 2010

In Quiet Comes Joy

I breathe deeply as I walk through the quiet of the woods.  Golds, reds and bits of green fill the space with a brilliant beauty.  The cool air washes over me in baptism.  Quiet.  Clean.  Peace.

My toddler is noise.  My boys are full of stories and questions.  My husband needs my help.  The headache that has plagued me for over a week has demanded space in my body and has left my shoulders in knots.  But here in the open space, the quiet reigns.  Its command is soft, but insistent.  Its invitation so welcome.

I am reminded of these words sung by Amy Grant:
     I need a silent night, a holy night
     To hear an angel voice, through the chaos and the noise.
     I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
     To end this crazy day with a silent night. 

Silence is a gift.  Within the silence is space:  space to breathe, to think, to know, to be, to be loved . . . but mostly to hear.  I need the quiet for rest.  I need the quiet for clarity.  But most of all, I need the quiet to hear the Voice.  So He quiets me.

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love . . . "

Giggles and squeals break the forest silence as my three sugars catch up with me on the trail.  The silence is broken by joy, and theirs is not the only I hear. 

" . . . He will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17).

In the quiet broken, my spirit sings back.  And I count my blessings.

holy experience

Rejoicing in these blessings #360 - 378:


followed by joy

sunlight through trees

cool, fresh air

red-headed woodpeckers

Baby Girl loves her daddy

picnics in October

a walk along the river

fall break

a break from the headache

a good first public school report card

a yummy fish fry

good singin'

God still speaks

and sings!

He rejoices over us!  Over me!  Over you!

amazing grace

He created the silence

and He broke it


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thankful for the Music

The headache has been here since the end of last week.  It has taken slight breaks now and then but has refused to leave completely.  With it comes its friend, Fatigue.  I have pressed through, spending time with my best girlfriend on Friday, hoping conversation would cure what medicine couldn't.  Saturday, I didn't let it stop some time out with my husband, and it took a short leave for church on Sunday.  Monday it returned in force and made doing anything -- writing, reading, cleaning, smiling, cooking, talking, teaching -- less than desirable.  But of course, I had to do most of those things, including driving to school to pick up The Thinker.

And that's when it happened.  A song.  A song of praise.  A song of praise with such good singin', I couldn't help but smile and lift a hand, just one, as I drove.  For a brief few minutes, the hurt was less than the joy.  And even though my lips couldn't form the words, there was Victory in my heart.

"Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,
always giving thanks to God the Father for everything,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Ephesians 5:19-20

Today, I'm continuing my count to 1,000 with Ann because every day is a good day to give thanks, even if you can't articulate it on time. 

And I count Internet Cafe Devotions as a place I'm thankful for, a place to find more like-minded Word-filled thoughts. 

holy experience

Gifts #341 - #359:

Psalm 95:1-3 in The Message:
     "Come, let's shout praises to God, raise the roof for the Rock who saved us!
     Let's march into his presence singing praises,
     lifting the rafters with our hymns!
     And why? Because God is the best,
     High King over all the gods.
     In one hand he holds deep caves and caverns,
     in the other hand grasps the high mountains.
     He made Ocean—he owns it!
     His hands sculpted Earth!"

the music in my heart

a song of praise

beautiful leaves in abundance

visiting with my best friend

fun in a toy store with the hubs

hearing my dad preach

lunch with family

back rubs

their smiles

"tank you, Mommy" several times a day in her little voice

Honeycrisp apples

apple cider


early morning fog lit by sun:  world aglow

grace, grace, grace -- It's always Amazing!

like-minded people

the sound of my sister's voice over the phone set to the music of my brother-in-law's banjo

the smell of pumpkin bread

fun with Photoshop

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Beauty in Dying

There is beauty in dying.

As I look around my part of the world during this favorite time of year, I see beauty in the colors and bounty of creation.  As the trees enter into a season of rest and the leaves display a final act of triumph before falling lifeless to the ground, their glory cannot be missed.  They are paring away the unnecessary and concentrating on the important.  As they do this, they reveal their true colors, leaving me in awe of the beauty of dying.

One year ago this month, a family member of mine went through this dying process.  After several years of battling cancer that started in her breast, she now waits in Heaven for the rest of her family.  Although I wasn't present with her during her final weeks on this earth, I have seen the fruit of her dying beautifully.  I witnessed the ways she lived fully as she knew she was dying.  I was told of the ways she prepared her nine year-old daughter for her parting.  I've seen evidence of the care in leaving memories and instruction and a godly legacy.  I saw her living well, continuing to give of herself and be present in this life and paring out the unnecessary as she edged closer to eternity.  In this paring away, the beauty of her essence was revealed more clearly.

Hers is not the only dying I have witnessed around me.  I have watched a friend die to sin and choose faithfulness.  I have witnessed another beautiful one die to self and care for a child that will never be independent from her.  This year, I tearfully observed two friends die to doubt and display trust as they relinquished their baby girls to Jesus.  Daily, I perceive dying around me as people sacrificially give of time, money, dreams, desires so that others might experience love.  And as they pare away sin, selfishness, anger, greed, envy, and so on, their beauty cannot be missed. 

It looks like ChristAnd it's breathtaking.

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,
so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;
by his wounds you have been healed.  For you were like sheep going astray, 
 but now you have returned to the Shepard and Overseer of your souls." 
1 Peter 2:24-25

"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 
When Christ, who is your life, appears,
then you also will appear with him in glory." 
Colossians 3:3

Anticipating more glory,

For more thoughts in the Word, visit Internet Cafe Devotions.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Not What I Signed Up For

I never wanted to be a writer when I grew up (not that I want to now, for the record).  For a short while, I wanted to be a dancer.  I never took lessons, but I loved to spin and twirl in front of a large mirror in my parents' bedroom.  And then I went through the astronaut phase, because who doesn't want to float in space and see Earth looking like a pretty marble as you bounce on the moon?

Second grade changed everything.  I walked through the basement door of the old school building to one of my favorite years of all.  I learned math rhymes and how to write in cursive.  I did a book report on Hawaii and got to reach into the grab bag.  I recited "how now brown cow" and went next door for some Spanish.  Most of all, I loved my teacher.  She was also my dad's sister.

From that time on, I wanted to be a teacher too.

I pursued my dream of teaching, even attending the same school that my aunt and my cousin, her daughter, had attended.  I loved every minute of planning lessons and preparing bulletin boards.  In the middle of my college years, I married and switched schools, but continued on the four-year plan to get my degree.  I was blessed with an awesome student-teaching mentor and finished my college career on a Friday in May.  I found out that Saturday that I didn't have the flu.  I was expecting.  A baby.

My plans changed. 

I have never stepped foot in my own classroom as a public school teacher.  I chose the path of stay-at-home mom as my own mom did and blessed me by so doing.  Instead of leaving every day to teach others' children, I walk into my kitchen to teach my own.

I never wanted to be a home educator.  I never aspired to journaling publicly.  I never expected to lead women in Bible study.  I never thought that there would be days when my children would leave me at wit's end.  My life isn't what I expected, and as I recently told my sis, "It's not what I signed up for."

"It's what they, your husband and kids, signed you up for," she replied, "when you weren't looking."

Even while I laughed at this, it led me to this whisper, "It's what I signed you up for." 

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD . . . " (Jeremiah 29:11).

The Lord has a plan.  For me.  For you. 

And though it may not be just what we expected, it is worth signing up for.

holy experience

Continuing the count of blessings heaped within His plan #322 - 340:

Baby Girl in her nightgown all morning long

daily aerobics with The Stinker and The Princess (sooooo funny)

silent giggles

she dances

second chances

Sunday afternoon naps

growing older alongside the one I love

apple pie

answered prayers

a good Bible study

people who really do care

Fall is here!  Fall is here!  Fall is here!

the leaves are changing


October means Christmas carols, yes it does

an old and unexpected song in the morning to remind me

a great end to the soccer season

a fun fall festival at a new school

a tree skirt with The Thinker's handprint on it



Friday, October 8, 2010

He Loves Me Best

He loves me.

He rubs my stiff shoulders in the morning and my worries away at night.

He calls me on a sunny day just to say hello and to check on me on a day when I'm not feeling well.

He faithfully works to provide for us.

He takes time off to go hunting and goes on a date with me instead.

He cleans up the dishes and just grins when I pick up his dirty socks.

He gives me time to myself when I need it and his arms when I need him.

He reads his Bible and Pinkalicious (multiple times).

He drives the car to church, coaches the kids in soccer, and leads them in scouts.  He is there.

He is here.

He forgives me, spoils me, makes me laugh, listens to me, and drives me crazy.  

He is mine.

Happy birthday to him who loves me best.  May I love you just as well.

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