Snow in my yard…and so is God!

Fresh snow is beautiful and it often causes me to contemplate.  It’s very quiet outside, save for the crunch of snow beneath my feet.  The birds fly by and I can actually hear their wings beating in the air.  As I drove out of the driveway today, a perfect three-point buck startled some 50 feet from me and started running in the same direction as my car, his attempt at getting away from me.  Back at home, there are rabbit tracks through the snow at the front of our house, funny little tracks like no others.

The snow has caused me to consider deep things.  I’m wanting desperately to hear God today, His answers to questions I have in regards to communication issues with people I love.  I find myself turning the issue around and around in my mind, wanting to stop any crazy thoughts I hold stubbornly to and which will not allow me to enter into His holy place of understanding.  I wrote quite awhile ago about the fact that any situation we find ourselves in is not unknown to God…He has a way He would prefer I go through it.  That’s what I want.  His way through this.  His way means I have to be willing to lay down my way through it and therein lies the rub.  What am I holding onto that is not healthy, reasonable, open, rational about this issue?  It’s similar to looking at a snow-globe; turning it slowly, slowly, looking at it from every angle, caught up in the awe of the thing.  I can’t quite see the awe of this situation, yet I know it’s there because my God says He will turn everything to good.

I’m reminded that I’ve made an invitation to others to join me in spending time with God.  Yes, there’s a difference between listening for God in regards to issues and listening for Him to get familiar with His voice.  Or is there?  Both require me to lay aside my own agenda, my angle, myself.  I can’t hear Him if I’m all caught up in myself.  God’s desire is that I would worship and praise and have a thankful heart toward Him.  That’s all.  He wants relationship with me.  Period.  In this moment I think He’s asking me to lay this issue down and just come be with Him.  That feels right with me.  I can always come back to the issue but right now, I just need to be with God.  I suspect that the awe of the thing will come as I am willing to let go.

You’ve just spent a few moments with me as I processed here.  Hope I didn’t make you uncomfortable, but my writing, as you might remember if you read my home page, is my way of encouraging myself.  I don’t know the answer at this moment in time.  But I’m willing to wait with God over this one.  I know that I know He cares for me and if something is an issue for me, He wants to be a part of, and a solution to it.  That’s all I’m hearing at this moment.  That’s enough.  I think I just encountered God in my yard!

Uh-oh, here we go again…

The holidays are upon us.  It seems that November 15th begins a recurring,  slippery slide for me every year.  It’s absolutely confounding to me that we could arrive here so quickly each year, I mean it was just February something the other day, wasn’t it?  How did this happen?  I’ve been thinking about going outside and cutting back a few of the plants in the yard before the bad weather gets here.  Hmmm, guess that will have to wait now because there’s already 2 inches of snow on everything.  And what on earth happened to those fall walks I was going to take this year?  Did we have fall?  Or did I actually fall and lose September and October?

There are presents to buy.  I frantically call my kids and ask what sizes the grandchildren are wearing now.  Size 10?  Really?  When did he sprout up so much?  And she’s into size 8?  “My gosh, you must be feeding those kids food tainted with steroids or something!  Will you please stop that?   I’d like to enjoy my grandchildren as ‘children’ for awhile before they move into those years of teen-hood and grandma won’t be any fun anymore.”

There are church activities rolling upon us, drama parts to practice, people to touch base with.  Do we want to have a dinner party?  If so, when will that fit into these rapidly declining days?  And the bazaars.  When will I go check out all the wonderful things at bazaars that I love to look at, and then realize, “I could make that!”, and I never buy anything (and I don’t ever get around to ‘making that’ either!)?  Do I have enough cards for this year and what will I include in my famous Christmas letter?  Something truly boring so Uncle Charlie will make fun of me at Christmas again this year?  Or should I just report the news of this year that shot by attached to a rocket?  Maybe I should totally make up what goes into the letter this year…that will surely get the relatives back in touch with each other.

“Guess what honey, it’s time to dig around in the loft and find all the Christmas decorations.  What do we want to put up this year?  Oh no, that thing is so tacky and worn, put it back into the box,” I say.  Why on earth doesn’t it go into the trash if it’s that tacky and worn?  Do we want a real tree or will the artificial one do?  Real?  Well, then I want to get it soon because I love the smell of trees, even if they do only last about an hour and then begin to drop needles all over the house.  By the time Christmas is over, there are needles around the toilet for crying out loud and the tree looks like something out of a minor forest fire.   I want to know how on earth this happens every year!

There’s always the issue of where will the holidays take place; our house, parents, children, relatives.  OK, so this year we’re cooking dinner.  Perhaps I’ll try that new recipe I saw in one of the magazines.  You know, the recipe for pumpkin, raspberry, pine nut, sage dressing.  My husband whines, “oh, remember the recipe you tried last time?  It didn’t turn out so good!”  Oh yeah, I remember that, it really was an awful recipe.  But I don’t want to cook the same ‘ol things for dinner, I’d like to try something new.  My husband rolls his eyes.  “Here we go again” this particular roll of the eyes tells me.

Oh man, the weather is turning really cold out.  “Honey, are we ready for the arctic blast that is on its way?”  Frozen pipes on these occasions wouldn’t be a good thing…all the company and no bathrooms brings back memories.  I remember the year we totally lost power for a few days, the pump froze, there was about six inches of snow on the ground, and we had to trek to the back pasture of our farm to, well, you know!  It was cold and treacherous business, that year was!

How does this happen that I get caught unaware every year?  “I’m not ready for this,” I scream inside.  I think I just want to sit back, sip on a cup of joe, read a good book, and just let it all go this year.  Let’s face it, before I can blink my eyes, it will be November 15th again anyway!  I can really get a head start if I start thinking about next year right now!

We can’t change the freight-train speed of this time of year, so we might as well find the humor in it all.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all…may our Lord bless and keep you, shine His grace upon you, and make your holiday truly a time of thankfulness, family, friends, and laughter.

The Lord God planted…

Our pastor taught recently about tithing, sowing, and reaping.  His tithing topic was just excellent, drawing our attention to the fact that Scripture tells us to test God out in this area of our lives (see Malachi 3:10).  Why would God tell us to test Him in this?  A challenge?  I loved that pastor said not a word about how much the church needs or doesn’t need our tithes, just that God tells us to tithe and to watch what will happen.  The following Sunday pastor shared about sowing and reaping.  These two areas, tithing, and sowing and reaping, go hand-in-hand.  We are told in 2 Cor 9:6, “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (NKJV).

I was pleasantly surprised to come across a Scripture the other day.  I was searching for Scripture to back up a Bible study I was preparing and came across Gen.2:8a, “ The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden…” (NKJV).  I never saw this before!  God planted a garden.  This was during the time that God was creating everything we know today as our world.  He could have easily just created the garden where He would place Adam and Eve, but no, the Word says He planted the garden!

What are the ramifications of this short verse?  For some reason, this was huge to me.  Our God, this amazing and creative God, could make something out of nothing.  I don’t know how He did this, but He created.  I’m sorry to say that my finite brain has a hard time wrapping itself around the idea of creating something out of nothing, and so my only sad reference to this phenomenon is to a nose that wiggles and things happen!  I cannot fathom how God did all this creating.  I’m reminded of Psalm 139 when David states what I’m feeling about a God that can do the impossible.  It is just too amazing and wonderful for me to take it all in.

God planted the Garden of Eden.  Our God knows about sowing and reaping.  He knows about sowing seeds, tending to them, nursing them along, and the resultant harvest that would come.  He knows about getting your hands dirty.  He knows about how you can get lost in the mere act of pulling weeds.  He knows the peaceful feeling of sitting in the dirt, tending to fragile growing things, helping them get a good start so they will produce tasty bounty at a dinner table.  Oh yes, He knows very intimately about the process of sowing and reaping.

As I sit here this late fall day, knowing that my garden is put to sleep for another season, I already find myself longing again for the peaceful act of tending to living, growing things.  My God did much the same thing in this act of “planting” the garden.  But, there’s far more to God’s plan for sowing and reaping than just the idea of a garden…I’m reminded that sowing and reaping contain implications to my walk with Him, my family, work, ministry, finances and more.  As I sow into reading His Word, I reap life, truth, and “living water” to myself.  As I sow into my family, I reap great satisfaction and love.  And on it goes, this sowing and reaping, into every aspect of my life.

I love it that our God gave us so many true-to-life, modeling examples so we would know exactly what to do in this life.  He planted a garden, a very basic and easy place to start, both the story of us and the example of what our task is here on earth.  What is God asking you to tend to right now?  Do you hear Him?  Be encouraged because as you “tend to” your assignment of sowing, God will send an abundant harvest for you to reap.

A small space…

I’m reading a new book, “God in the Yard” by L.L. Barkat.  It’s about spending time with God.  OK, so you know I’ve been attempting to purpose setting aside time with God so I learn to hear His voice.  Well, that’s kind of what this book is about.  The author had also been on a quest to seek out God, but couldn’t get past the limitations of her own life.  We so often sabotage our own attempts at spending time with God for various reasons…I don’t have time, I can’t find a good place to do it, I can’t afford to “retreat”, etc.  Yep, I’ve gone to all these places myself.

Well, this author decided that God was calling her to her own backyard.  She struggled to get past the fact that her neighbors might see her out there (so what?), that it was cold (bundle up), and that it didn’t seem as cool as going out into the woods somewhere (oh well).

The questions I answered on my last posting were from her book.  This is an experiment for me.  I’m attempting to spend a little time with God in an insignificant place in my yard, answer her questions, and see what happens.  I’ve already decided that my small space may end up here in my living room looking out the window.  I’m not going to turn this into law!  But, being outside periodically can help you get in tune with God…there’s just something about bird sounds, wind, leaves blowing around, and so on that are conducive to clearing out the cobwebs and putting you more in tune to the Lord.

I’ve been interested in “silence” for a good many years now.  I still struggle with being silent before God.  I don’t know what’s up with that, probably more to do with a full agenda than in my ability to hear.  The full agenda keeps me from this time commitment with God.  So I’m purposing to slow down the agenda right now and I’m going to work my way through this book and see what happens.

If you’re interested in coming along, this could be a fun and perhaps interesting experience for us.  I’m going to camp in chapter one for a bit, so you have time to order a copy of her book if you want.  I’ve made up my mind I’m NOT going to just sit down and read it through, which is my normal bit.  Instead, I’m going to read, savor, and pause as I go.  I’m forcing myself to NOT go to chapter two until I’ve answered all her questions.  Interested?  If so, let me know you’re onboard for this (reply to this post) and I’ll linger awhile longer while you get a copy.  I don’t know where we’re going, but it could be fun.  Even if no one answers, this is where I believe God is taking me…to a small space, to spend a bit of time, with the lover of my soul.

Have a blessed day in Him…

An Assignment from God…

When I was a child, I lived in a tract home in a city near San Francisco with my parents and one brother.  I walked to school every day and sometimes walked home for lunch.  I wasn’t allowed to walk to the store by myself (about 3 blocks away) until I was probably 10 years old (that’s a guess).  I received one present for my birthday each year and one major and one minor present for Christmas.  I didn’t feel deprived of anything and in fact, thought we were the typical American family of four.  I had good friends in the neighborhood, most of whom changed once I entered junior high school and I began to branch out in my friendships.  I had good parents, a strict upbringing, I knew I was loved (although we weren’t a touchy-feely family) and I didn’t question things until I entered my teens.

Today I live in the country in a town of about 10,000 with my husband.  We own a home with a view that I never in a million years thought I’d have.  I had to face numbers of things about my childhood that have been hard, but for the most part, I’m grateful for the upbringing I’ve had.  I feel like I’ve lived most of my dreams save for a couple still to go.  I’ve accomplished a number of things in my life and that makes me happy.  I’m amazed I still follow God (after such a rocky beginning and middle).  I never thought I’d actually go on a mission trip in my life because I was too fearful.  I now have two under my belt and I’d like to go again.  This part of my life is turning out to be the best yet.  Hmmm, does God save the best for last?

If I could, I would return to the innocence of my youth.  Other than that, there is absolutely nothing I would want to turn back the clock for.  I love my life and what God continues to show me about life.  It has been hard at times, but I love where He’s taken me, where I believe I’m going, and I believe I’ll finish strong.  I’m learning to accept, probably the biggest accomplishment yet.

Now it’s your turn, an interesting little “free-writing” exercise that will force you to consider.  Answer the following three statements:  1) When I was a child, I lived…  2) Today I live…  and 3) If I could, I would return to…

I’m on an experiment with God…want to join me?

Dream Homes

Our son and his wife just bought a house.  It hasn’t closed yet, but it’s their dream home and they expect to be moving in slightly before Thanksgiving.  Actually, they have found themselves right smack in the receiving end of this confounded recession, purchasing a home that four years ago they couldn’t possibly have afforded.  Funny how things turn out.

My son grew up in the country.  He was very firm as a teenager about the fact that he wasn’t going to live in the country, just too boring and not enough to do.  So, as soon as he graduated, he began spending more and more time in the Portland area.  We would sigh in relief when he came home at night after a day and evening with friends in Portland.  He also spent quite a bit of time at Onyx House in Eugene where he met his future wife and the allure to be anywhere with Autumn pulled like a magnet on him.  Once they began dating in earnest, they too spent time in Portland.  They married and moved to the burbs of Portland.

Then the grandbabies came, one, two, three.  Suddenly we heard talk out of my son’s mouth about how he wanted his children to grow up with land around them, but they just couldn’t afford a house in the country.  They struggled with finances and learned some hard lessons over the past 10 years.  We kept telling them to talk to God about their dreams, that anything is possible, even as you climb out of error pits.  They took a Dave Ramsey class and heard what they needed to do about turning their financial issues around.  We’re so proud of them…they actually did what they learned and as of August, were debt free save for their home.  They kept looking for the dream home all this year and praying that God would help them find the right place.

I’m smiling as I write this because God is so incredibly good to us, His children.  He listens when we tell Him what the desires of our hearts are and I believe He really does want to give us every single one of them.  I can’t speak to the process that God goes through in determining which ones we get, but I’ve seen Him do this over and over in my life and now we get to watch Him do it in our son’s life.  Ask and you shall receive.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but if not, there is often a replacement that is so much better than what we asked for.  Our son and family will move shortly into the house of their dreams.  They didn’t think it was possible and yet this home is even more than they asked for; more room, more upgrades, more land than they thought possible.

Thank you Lord for your provision.  What a joy to look for your hand in every blessing.