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Leftover Thoughts after Vacation

Genesis

When I explore new places, I see so much beauty in the Earth that God created.  When I am still and submerge myself in these natural surroundings, I cannot help but be in awe of the subtle differences in landscapes and waterways.  I have always found peace in quieting myself and wondering about our creative Father ever since I was a child and ventured into the woods or the farm I lived by.  This world is beautiful underneath all the ugliness that man has created by his own fleshly nature.  My quiet place is anywhere that I can be still and notice the clear brooks, green hills, or feel the soil between my toes…..soil.  Just thinking of that alone, the gritty odor of soil and the way that it shifts and molds under my feet, whether it’s sand, clay, or peat.   The feeling of coolness from shaded soil or the hot sand that you quickly walk on that is exposed by the blazing sun.  How God took something filthy and created humans to have relationships with.  Yes, by our very nature we are dirty, yet God sees each of us sprouting, growing, and blooming to the potential He created us with individually.  Distinctive differences on numerous levels, each with different markings, characteristics and traits, yet similar enough to know that our origin is dirt.  Only God can take something so grimy and shape it into something pleasing and necessary to its environment.

Revelation

When I sit on the ground, whether it’s a mountaintop overlooking a valley or on a beach with my feet in the sand, I want to remain there forever.  My soul is quiet and I feel God’s presence around me.  Remain….that’s a word that I don’t think of often, but to remain means several things, look it up in the dictionary and think about each meaning. Synonyms of remain are abide, stay, wait, tarry, rest, or endure.  That word also makes me think of this scripture “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” John 15:4.  My filthy self, needs to remain in Christ if I want to be productive and fruitful….if I want to live to the fullest potential of what I was created for.  I can’t do that on my own, severed from Christ.  I’ve tried before and it doesn’t work, I wither and become dry dust without Christ. Ashes to ashes, we all fall down.    abide

I wonder, as I view turquoise skies, emerald seas, and chocolate mountains, how much greater the eternal kingdom will be with a remaining known presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  I used to be scared of thinking about life outside of this world, but when you remain in Him, it’s a paradise we cannot truly fathom.  It has to be a stillness we’ve never even come close to feeling even on our highest moments on Earth.  A place where time doesn’t matter, harmonies float in the air like the wind, and worries are non-existent.  Paradise….if I remember the vine and stay attached to it.

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Posted by on July 6, 2018 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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More than I can count

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. Martin Luther King, Jr

Some days I just feel the need to write.  There’s some kind of healing that happens, I believe when you can just throw the words out of your mind and onto paper or a screen.  I’ve been gnawing on some things that have been going on in my life with certain people who are causing discourse either with those around me or myself and at the same time I’m reading a book that is reminding me to love the unlovable, people different from myself, those I mostly don’t acknowledge or even see.  But, to do this is hard, especially when you encounter those who are ready to run you over and take anything that is left of you or accuse you of not caring when you care more than they understand.

These feelings are minor compared to what Jesus must have felt when those closest to him abandoned him.  That’s what I have to remind myself of.  Jesus felt all the heaviness of all types of problems, sins, hurts, regrets, guilt, accusations but still loved the world enough to bear them.  What amazing love that is.  Yet, how many times have I felt disappointed in God for not doing what I expected him to do?  How many times have I tried to manipulate God to get what I want?  How many times have I shut the door in his face because He’s telling me something that I don’t want to hear?  How many times have I been selfish?  How many times have I been cruel?  How many times have I blamed Him for something I caused myself?  How many times have I hurt him?  How often have I pushed him away?  How many times have I run over him?  How many times have I lied to him?  All these questions remind me of the scripture where Peter asked Jesus how many times do I forgive someone who sins against me? Is 7 times enough?  Jesus replied to Peter and said, no seventy times seven.  Now me, my math skills are terrible, so I would just know that number is more than I can count on my hands.  But, after I figure it up with a calculator, the number is 490.  I don’t think Jesus intended for Peter to keep score to 491 and then write them off as unforgiven.  I think he just gave a high number to show that to forgive isn’t something you should keep score with.  You just need to do it, even when it hurts.    Even when you haven’t done anything wrong but the other person thinks you have.  Forgiveness is never easy.  But forgiveness is necessary.  Why?  Look at how many times Jesus has forgiven you and me and not kept score.    He doesn’t look at you and me and say well, remember the time when you messed up and so on.  Nope, he just forgives and loves.  That’s what we are commanded to do as well.  Is it easy?  Not at all, but it is possible with God.  Trust me, I don’t have it all together and I know I have a long ways to go.  I’m just reminded recently that to be Christlike can hurt and not be comfortable.  But, this is how we show others who He is.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2018 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Ode to My Creator

viewfromspruceknobOh how beautiful our Earth is.

Oceans, rivers, springs and streams dress it with blue ripples.

The waters calm my soul when I gaze over those endless bodies.

God splashed the shades of blue onto His canvas of Earth to delight mankind with the soft touches of cool refreshment.

The rains of the Earth remind me that God’s love washes over me continuously.

When storms dance on the waters and cause my heart to fear, He whispers in the wind and I remember that He’s with me and that the storms won’t last forever.

God constructed the mountains, hills, and crags with great views of boundless land filled with vegetation and animals.

I am at awe when I stand at the top and feel the breeze move through my soul.

The climb is never simple, you wonder if you will ever reach the summit.

I peek over the edge and look at the walk that God encouraged me to continue.

The reward is great with perseverance.

Some days and nights, I lay on the cool Earth in great wonder of my God, the creator.

God fills the skies with various brushes of clouds in the day.

Sometimes the clouds are thick and heavy with little light passing through.

Other times the clouds are soft splotches with bright light bouncing onto the earth.

While at night, He sprinkles the sky with stars to dance in the moonlight.

Oh how majestic our Creator is.

 

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2018 in Poetry, Writing

 

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December Day

You send shivers up my spine,

While blanketing the ground

with soft cotton kisses.

Some love you,

while others loathe

seeing you dance silently from the sky.

Yet, your initial covering

is so pure,

a frozen backdrop.

Time stands still for a moment.

Is it because of the chill in the air

or the beauty you leave behind?

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2017 in Poetry

 

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Give in, Get rest

fightingsleep

This morning when I got up, I kept hearing Chris Tomlin’s song “Lay me down,” in my spirit.  I like the song, it’s upbeat and catchy.  But, I really started thinking about the lyrics and what it actually says.  Often I can hear something, but not really listen to what its saying.  I hear the sound, but don’t listen to the message of it or just don’t really think about it.  While I was thinking about it, I started visualizing a kid who fights a nap.  I’ve seen kids do everything possible to fight sleep and avoid rest.  Kids can do some really silly things to stay awake.  They wiggle, ask for food or drink, go to the bathroom a million times, cry, sneak and play after the parents leave the room.  But, after a long fight, usually sleep just overtakes them or they skip the nap and become unbearable the rest of the day.

If I don’t get enough rest, I know that I can be hard to live with.  I try to medicate myself with enormous doses of coffee, but that’s just a quick fix to the problem.  Anyway, after thinking those few thoughts, God spoke the verse “Be still and know that I am God.”  The thing is, if you are still and not fighting rest, you find it pretty quick.  Your eyes get heavy and the next thing you know, you’re in dreamland.  After thinking about that verse, I wrote down some key words that I felt went along with my whole visualization that I know God gave me, for at least my own personal life.  The four words I wrote down were lay, listen, rest and know.   I started digging in the word and wrote down some verses to look up later when I had more time to examine what God may be trying to show me.

First, for lay, I read about Jesus laying down his life for his sheep….for me and you.  (John 10:11)  Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice.  Next, I read 1 John 3:16 and it says that Jesus is our example of love because He laid down his life for us and that we should do the same for our brothers.  Sacrifice involves laying down things that are hard to lie down; otherwise it wouldn’t be a sacrifice.  The thing about sacrifice is that God isn’t going to force us to lay that sacrifice down, he wants us to be obedient and willing to do so (John 10:18) Jesus became willing to go to the cross.  So, back to the thought of a kid taking a nap, in order for the kid to receive rest, he has to first decide to lie down.

Second, listen.  Listen is an action word.  I cannot hear well, I wear hearing aids and often I have to really focus on the person speaking to hear them.  Other noises that are louder will distract me from actually hearing someone who is speaking soft.  When I was a kid myself and couldn’t go to sleep, my Dad would tell me to just close my eyes and think of good things.  I would most of the time listen to his advice and do that and fall asleep.  But if I listened to the worries of the day or the fears that lingered in the shadows, I’d toss and turn and have trouble falling asleep.   So, the first thought is that to find rest, I need to listen to my Father (Heavenly one).  John 10:27 says “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  Proverbs 1 says that those who are wise listen yet fools despise wisdom and discipline.  I don’t think I want to be a fool, but I know that I have been and sometimes I’m foolish and stubborn because I don’t listen.   1 Samuel 3:9, “So Eli told Samuel, Go and lie down, and if he calls you say, speak Lord, for your servant is listening.  So Samuel went and lay down in his place.”   In this verse, the word servant stands out to me and the word Lord.  The Lord is lord of my life, He reigns over me and I need to be willing to be submissive to hearing what He wants to tell me.

Third key word is rest.  My first key scripture took me to Job 3:17.  Job is upset and he’s tired, he wishes to never have lived and wants death because he sees that as the quickest answer to his problems.  He wants to find rest and he thinks that death is it.  I’ll admit that I’ve had those thoughts myself in the past.  What I can take from this verse or the whole passage is that when I look inward, I’ll only find wrong answers.  I’ll hear the wrong voices that want me to quickly destroy what God’s answer is instead.  But, Psalm 62:1 says my soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.   I don’t have the answers to my problems; I can’t save myself or others, my rest and salvation come from God alone.  How do I find that rest?  Matthew 11:28 says “come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  So, I have to go to Him to find rest.  I know when I was a kid and if just thinking good thoughts wasn’t enough for me to fall asleep and find rest, then the next thing I needed to do was seek my Dad and have him hold me.  It was easy to fall asleep in my Dad’s arms.  I was safe there.

Lastly, know; when I rest what do I know? I know that He’s God (Psalm 46:10). I have to know that God is above all, He is in control, not I.  John 14:17 reminds us that the world doesn’t recognize God because they don’t know Him.  As His child, I know Him and I know His voice.  I can trust Him, because I know Him and know that He loves me.  Romans 7:18 reminds me that apart from Him, nothing good lives in me.  I am sinful by nature.  Romans 8:28 reminds me that I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.  God is working in all situations, even when I can’t see it.  I have to rely on this love and because I see and know this love, I’m supposed to show the fruit of love to others (1 John 4:16).  Finally, 1 John 5:14 – 15 says “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”

So, in conclusion, I lay me down, I’m not my own.  I belong to you alone…….

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2017 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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All I’m asking is for a little respect

In light of the disdain and outward opinion from our society with the newly elected President, I have noticed we lack something vital. That something is respect. To respect is to have due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of someone else. Now, please realize that I do not care for most politicians myself. I don’t trust what they promise or say. I did not care for Donald Trump and things he said and did while he campaigned. But, he is our president now and we have to respect him as our leader. 1 Peter 2:13 – 17 says, “For the Lord’s sake, yield to the people who have authority in this world: the king, who is the highest authority, and the leaders who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. It is God’s desire that by doing good you should stop foolish people from saying stupid things about you. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Live as servants of God. Show respect for all people: Love the brothers and sisters of God’s family, respect God, honor the king.”

Yield to people who have authority. Think about the headlines that have hit media in the past year. We witnessed throughout the country that policemen were targeted as evil and provokers of violence rather than civil leaders who place their very lives in danger every day to protect civilians. Why do we think we shouldn’t yield to their authority? A policeman’s job is hard, stressful, and low paying. They have to be on guard for anyone they approach in any dispute, matter, or traffic violation. They have to expect the unexpected because they never know if the person they are questioning is a loose cannon or not. Let’s respect and yield to those who are in authority…..for the Lord’s sake. The highest person in authority in the United States is the President. Like him or not, we must yield and respect him. We should also pray for him and others that are placed in those authoritative positions. We need to pray for wisdom for our leaders, that they will make just decisions and listen to both parties and rising smaller political parties that represent our country. All political parties need to respect one another, by not screaming and calling each other names, but coming together and finding that common ground. I can’t stand politics. I always disliked it and I’ve loathed it even more in the past decade because of the nastiness and arrogance of people arguing for their party to the point of belittling those opposed to their party. I’ve observed the lack of respect on both sides. So, respect is definitely missing from the picture.

Tearing more into the scripture, it states that God’s desire is that by doing good (not disrespecting, name calling, accusing, screaming, belittling, mocking, ect..) it will stop people from saying stupid things about you. How do we do good? First, don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. In other words don’t say things like “It’s my God given right to……(you can fill in the blank). “ Second, we are to live as servants of God. A servant in this context is defined as a devoted and helpful follower or supporter. As a servant, when you are out and about, however you act represents who your Master is. Do you represent God the way He wants others to see Him? Third, we are to show respect for all people. All means everyone, even those who are different from you. Fourth, love your Christian family. Don’t gossip and hate on someone in your Christian family, but love them. If it’s hard to love a certain someone in your family, ask God to increase His love in you to achieve that love and respect for them. Lastly the scripture says to respect God and to honor the king. God is our heavenly king. He is the ultimate one in charge of all things in Heaven and on earth. We respect God by being obedient to him and adhering to the golden rule. Love God, love others. I’m not saying that is an easy thing, but it is possible if you allow God to empower you to love by His spirit.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2017 in Life, Spiritual Reflections

 

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A Challenging Journey

I’ve been issued a challenge and it involves the teen youth group my husband and I are leading.  It is very exciting for me to be a part of this and see what the group can accomplish this year.  The challenge is to find eighty ways of transportation and do them in our home state of West Virginia.  The challenge began on November 6, 2011 and will end November 6, 2012. The idea came from our pastor who recently saw a show on History channel called, “Around the world in 80 ways.”  He thought it would be exciting and interesting for us to take the challenge and apply it to our area.  Besides, the name of the youth group is Extreme Voice.   Why would this have anything to do with a church youth group?  What purpose would it serve, other than getting to do some really cool things?  First, Jesus used many modes of transportation to get from one place to another.  He walked, went by boat, or by donkey.   Next, He traveled throughout Galilee encountering people, teaching them, healing them and showing love to them.  It didn’t matter how they lived, who they were, or whatever shortcomings they had, he reached out to them.  Everywhere he went, excitement ensued.  He led an extreme life.

Why should the Christian walk be boring?  Why would we want to put Christianity in a box?  There are many things to experience and many people to encounter along the way.  How can you meet people if you stay in a place that many people feel unwelcomed to come into?  Sure, people came to Jesus, but He also went to people, sought them out of the crowd, listened and loved them.

Every way we try on this challenge doesn’t mean that we will encounter someone every time.  But, I’m sure there is something we will gain from each experience that will teach us something about ourselves, community, or teamwork.

The first way we marked off our list was a hike at a local park.  We decided to geocache  while we hiked, since my husband and I knew several cache’s were hidden there.  Our hike ended up being almost three miles.  It led us on a path around the whole length of the lake.  We handed the group the GPS and let them lead the way to the hidden cache.  They did excellent finding the cache and working together.  We followed the hike up with a lesson on following God’s direction in your life.  We left the park by car, (2nd way) and finished the day off gathering together for ice cream at the local drive in.

The teens are excited, I’m excited, and so are the other leaders involved.  It’s going to be an interesting year!  I’ll continue to share the ways we make it through the state as they unfold.

 

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in Travels

 

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