Posted in Faith, life, Spirituality

His Eyes Are on the Lilacs, And I Know He Cares For Me!

We left the arid, drought drenched plains of the Texas panhandle at the beginning of 2013 and moved to the majestic mountains of New Mexico.

It was nothing short of a complete leap of faith. There was not a job bringing us here. There was very little family here to support us. It was a dream of J-Dub’s to live here and so we shut our eyes and leapt knowing that “the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest”. Amen? Whithersoever. Doesn’t the old KJV just say it good sometimes?

Beauty surrounds us here. Snow capped mountain tops, fields of flowers, tall pines, rolling streams, abundant wild life. That first spring of 2013 arrived and I was awed by the sight of the lilac bushes that surrounded our property.  And I do mean surrounded. They are monstrous bushes, standing well over 10 feet tall and lined up in a row, bumping into each other.  I was so anticipating the arrival of all these purple bursts of flowers, that I blogged about it here.  Yet, I was left disappointed when a late freeze blasted the buds. The next spring, once again, those tiny purple buds appeared and I held my breath only to be disappointed once again when Old Man Winter blew his icy breath on them.

Earlier this year, JDub and I made a very difficult decision that it would be the best fit for our family if we returned home. Yes, to that arid drought drenched Texas Panhandle. We must wait until school is finished, so this will be our last Spring time here. Of course, I started a list of things I would miss about this place. Of course on that list is all the things that make is so beautiful.

Right before Easter, the many lilac bushes once again showed their promise, but I didn’t hold my breath. We drove back to Texas for the Easter break and my last thoughts as we pulled out of the driveway and I gazed upon the massive bushes were, “oh well. If they do bloom, they’ll be spent by the time we return.” No faith. No faith at all on my part. Sometimes prior disappointments squash it, don’t they? We don’t want to be disappointed again. In people. In circumstances. Instead we prepare ourselves for it not to happen instead of looking toward it. Where is our hope? We replace our hope with “realism”.

But lo and behold, when we pulled back in several days later,  I was met with an awesome welcoming! Those purple (and one bush of white) lilacs were in bloom and greeting me. They were happy, I could tell it. Every blossom oozed happiness. I was overjoyed! I began laughing and whooping and clapping before I ever got out of the car.

The past several weeks the bushes have bloomed and bloomed. Their aromas have washed over me filling me with memories and pleasure. We have brought some inside and placed them in Mason jars.  Now, I’m sad to say they are at the end of their blooming season.

But I’m so glad I got to experience them, this last spring I have to live here.

It’s God you know. Of  course it is. He has a way of caring about what we care about, even little things like lilacs, which I dare to argue aren’t little things.

Now that I’m a parent, I kind of, sort of, in my very limited human capacity understand the graciousness of God a teeny tiny bit more. My little girl is the apple of my eye and I long to lavish things upon her. Just for her enjoyment. Just for the sheer reason that it will make her happy. And of course I’m reminded of Matthew 7:11 that tell us,

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

Isn’t that an awesome thing? All we have to do is ask and then believe. He knows what we need even before we ask. He wants to give to us. He is not one that holds back, in fact he GAVE his one and only son that whosoever believeth in Him shall have everlasting Life. John 3:16

He GAVE the ultimate gift. Our God is a gracious giver. He will give us what we need.

Phillipians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in Christ Jesus.

Why do we worry about our needs when we can call upon the God of the World, the Creator of all, the one who tells the lilacs when and where to bloom to help us?

Is there something you are consumed with? Are you worrying about a detail of this life?

Read again Matthew 25-32 and be reassured.  “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Friends, I am preaching to myself! Since deciding to move back to our hometown, J-Dub and I have experienced quite a few roadblocks. We have worried. We have fretted. We have doubted. I have wondered if God is going to come through. But I can tell you, when I think about my past and I think about the things He has done, and I read the promises from His word, I can affirmatively answer that Yes, he will come through. He has yet to let me down.

It’s the original work of Satan, to lie to us and to make us doubt God’s word. Recognize it as such. When Adam and Eve were in the garden, wasn’t that the words of the Serpent? He began with “Did God really say………” He planted enough doubt in Eve’s heart that she sinned.

Yet we are told that the promises of God are Yes and Amen. We are told that those who believe in Him will not be made ashamed. Look and see that the Lord is good. He will come through for you. He will come through for me.

So open your arms and receive my friends.

Be blessed!
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Posted in Faith, Love, Spirituality

You Dance Over Me

I’m not sure what it was that woke me in the middle of the night.  The dream.  The fact that my left leg was asleep from stem to stern.  Or my big barking dog in the backyard.  Whatever it was, I was awake.

I wiggled my leg, feeling the pins and needles begin to subside; laid there deciding whether I should get up and shut up the dog and face a possible ax murderer staring back at me ( I always imagine the worst); all while I picked the pieces of my dream and put them in their place, making it all come together.  It was a Dad dream, my favorite kind, and so I savored the memory of him for just a while longer before I ventured outside to yell at the dog.

It turned out, there was no ax wielding maniac, probably just a skunk.  I returned to bed, but now I had a new problem.  I was awake at four in the morning.  Alone in my head.  My thoughts crowding and bumping into each other.

As a mom-in-the-trenches, there are two things I currently cherish in my life.
1)  My sleep
2) My alone time when I’m awake.

I debated them.  Should I try to go back to sleep?  Should I get up and write? (something I don’t have time for unless I’m awake and everyone else is asleep).  I want to sleep. I want to write.  I can’t do both at the same time.  Instead I did neither. I played Words with Friends, then I thought of my dream some more, which carried me to a real-life conversation I had with my sister a few hours previous.

She had mentioned a scripture that she was focusing on.  Zephaniah 3:17?  Or was it Zechariah 3:17?  Four in the morning memory isn’t so hot.  She said she had highlighted it for her Bible Study and had left her Bible opened on the table.  Later, she noticed that her daughter, who’s battling her own adolescent wars, had drawn a heart beside the highlighted scripture and had written her initials inside.  That image touched me.  The fact that an adolescent girl would pause to read that scripture, and that it was meaningful enough to her that she would make her own notations with her heart and initials.

I am unfamiliar with Zephaniah 3:17.

I got my phone and looked it up.
Zephaniah 3:17
NLT:  “For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you.  He is a mighty savior.  He will rejoice over you with great gladness.  With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will exult over you by singing a happy song.”

Then I read it in the NIV:
“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, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

I read them again and again, mulling over these words and considered the relevance to my niece and her struggles.

God is with you.
Lives among you.
Mighty Savior.
Rejoices.
Great delight.
With gladness.
Calm all your fears.
Rejoice over you with singing.
Happy song.

It paints a happy picture, doesn’t it?  It paints a loving picture.  It paints a picture of a God who is crazy about us.  One who cares.

Just then my little bed partner, Emma Kate, rolled into me.  Her skin was warm and toasty and her breathing was full of slumber.  I kissed the side of her head, and felt my heart bursting with love for her.

Those words echoed in my head:
Great delight
With gladness.
Calm all your fears.
Rejoice over you with singing.
Happy song.

We love because he first loved us.  He is our example of love.  We should strive to love like him.  Those words are of a Loving God.  And, just for an extra bonus, the words of an Old Testament God.  The mean one, you know?

You see, I have a problem with God.  Rather, I have a problem with my idea of God.   I try to fit him into a mold and relate to him in ways that I relate to others. I’m told God is loving.  I’m told He desires a relationship with us more than anything.  I’m told that he cares for us. But, sometimes I can’t help but see God as aloof, off in Heaven doing his own thing, his back turned to me, his ears barely hearing my pleas.  He’s busy.  He’s working.  He wants to be left alone.  Maybe he says, ‘In a minute.’  ‘Later.’  ‘I need to finish this first, then I’ll get to you’.  Or maybe he says, ‘Can I just have a few minutes to myself?  Geez, all I’m asking for is a little quiet time here.  To regroup.  Recharge. Is that too much to ask?’

Or wait.  No, that’s me.

You see, I think God relates to me the way I relate to my child. And others.

But he doesn’t.

My ways are not your ways.  My thoughts are not your thoughts.

We’re told here in Zeph. 3:17, that he delights in us.  Sings over us.  Rejoices.  Yagil.  That literally means he dances, skips, leaps.  He shouts over us with shouts of joy.

Whoa.

When was the last time you danced and sang over somebody?  Not with somebody.  Not for somebody’s entertainment.  But OVER somebody.  As much as we think we love, it’s no comparison to how he loves is it?

God does not have his back turned.  He’s not saying, “not now, later.”  He cares.  We are his children, and He is not weary with us.  He has shown up to live with us.  He has arrived.
Annnnnnd……He is full on dancing, singing, rejoicing, and loving us.

How awesome is our God?

I think that knowledge is worth getting up at 4 a.m. for.

In my book, anyway.

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Soap #2–The Old and Curmudgeonly: Sleeping Through the Storm

My little town got 8.5 inches of snow Tuesday night, and they cancelled school.  And as an added bonus, we don’t have to start school until 10:00 this morning.  Yippee Skippee!! 

Snow days don’t come around often, and I try to enjoy them.  I spend my day in  lazy gear, reading, writing, facebooking, napping.   My husband on the other hand, is like a fish out of water.  He turns the TV on, then turns the TV off.  He sits in the recliner, then sits on the couch.  He lets the dogs out and lets the dogs in.

Finally, he got still long enough to sleep a little.  I decided a picture of these three old dogs was in order.

He didn’t work because he took care of everything the day before. 

He double-fed the cattle and put out hay, but I’m sure those cattle will be glad to see him and the cake wagon (aka the feed truck) today.

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He was prepared for the approaching storm. 

It reminds me of a story I once read by an anonymous author:

 Years ago a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops.

As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. “Are you a good farmhand?” the farmer asked him. “Well, I can sleep when the wind blows,” answered the little man. Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man’s work.

Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, “Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!” The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.”

Enraged by the old man’s response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, and he returned to bed to also sleep while the wind blew.

So it is with life.  Can we sleep while the wind blows?  Are we prepared when the storms of life arise? 

There’s marital troubles, financial troubles, job troubles, relationship troubles, health troubles.

There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.

Sorry.   Bubba came to mind.  It happens.

Here’s my SOAP for the week. It’s my new way of Bible Study.   S stands for scripture, O for observation, A for application, P for prayer.

Scripture:  In Luke Chapter 4, Jesus was sleeping during the windstorm.

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Observation:  Even the disciples who had seen Jesus do miracle after miracle were afraid during the storm.  Their faith was tested, they didn’t feel prepared.  They didn’t think Jesus cared about them.

Application:  During storms in my own life I have cried out that same lament, “Do you not even care?”  But he does.  I know he cares for me.  He had told the disciples to get in the boat, we’re going to the other side.  He’s with us every step of our journey.   Side by side, through all kinds of weather.  Through the sunshine and the rain.  When we give our lives to Him, ask Him to direct our steps, strive to follow Him, read His word, and pray, then we can be prepared for the storms of life.  Knowing he’s in the boat with us, taking us to the other side, through the storm and all will help us feel peace.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, I love you and I thank you.  I thank you for my good times, and I thank you for the storms that you have seen me through.  I thank you because I know that you will be with me in the storms that are inevitable.  I pray that through You, I will always be prepared when the winds toss my little boat.  Hide your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  Guide me on my journey.  Keep me safe. 

In Jesus’ name, 

Amen.

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The Old and Curmudgeonly SOAP #1

Okay guys, I recently joined up on an online Bible Study group via Facebook.  There are some awesome godly ladies in this group and I’m excited about being a part of it.  I have already been blessed and looking forward to future blessings.  Part of the accountability of the Bible Study involves posting a SOAP.  Instead of The Bold and the Beautiful, or the Young and the Restless, my soap is titled, The Old and Curmudgeonly.  But really, I jest,  it’s not that kind of soap.   It’s a Bible study method using the SOAP acronym to help spend more time in God’s word and understand what He is saying to us.   S stands for scripture that I’ve read.  O stands for observations that I made while reading the scripture.  A stands for application and how that scripture written many moons ago applies in my life today, and P stands for prayer which is a very personal prayer that I’m letting every one else hear.

I’ve been dilly-dallying around about this Bible study, worried about doing this on my blog, even though I do allow this blog to get all Jesus-y at times. 
But we are here to please God and not man, so I pray that my weekly SOAPS will speak to you in some way.   

God wants to speak to us, I know that fo’sho’.  So I’m going to let Him.

I’ve been reading my Bible through in a chronological way in the order of events as they happened.  So far this year I’ve read Genesis and Job, and now I’m in Exodus.

S—Scripture:  Exodus 3:1-2 (The Message)Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the west end of the wilderness and came to the mountain of God, Horeb. The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. He looked. The bush was blazing away but it didn’t burn up.

 9-10 “The Israelite cry for help has come to me, and I’ve seen for myself how cruelly they’re being treated by the Egyptians. It’s time for you to go back: I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the People of Israel, out of Egypt.”

19-22 “I know that the king of Egypt won’t let you go unless forced to, so I’ll intervene and hit Egypt where it hurts—oh, my miracles will send them reeling!—after which they’ll be glad to send you off. I’ll see to it that this people get a hearty send-off by the Egyptians—when you leave, you won’t leave empty-handed! Each woman will ask her neighbor and any guests in her house for objects of silver and gold, for jewelry and extra clothes; you’ll put them on your sons and daughters. Oh, you’ll clean the Egyptians out!”

O–Observation:  Moses was just hanging out being an ordinary person, doing his ordinary day-to-day job of shepherding his sheep when God appeared to him.  He wasn’t anything special, just a regular ol’ Moe.  God approached Moses and gave him a charge:  Go to Egypt and tell Pharaoh Let My People Go!  Which makes me start singing this song right here, which has some pretty awesome dancers in it as well.

And then God begins to tell him in verses 19-22 exactly, step by step, the troubles he will encounter, that God will intervene, and how it will end up when he obeys Him.

A—Application:  God is all-knowing.  God is ever-present.  God is in-the-know.  He knows our past, forgives our sins (after all Moses was a murderer), continues to love us and use us for His glory.  He knows every hair on our head, and each step we are going to take.  Nothing catches Him off guard.  He is not surprised when life throws us a curve ball.  Just like in this scripture passage, God knew that the Egyptians would not be agreeable with His plan.  He knew Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened.  He understood what it would take to change his mind.  And it all came to pass.  Just like in my life.  He’s got my road map in His hand.  He is directing me in the ways He wants me to go.  Even when I don’t understand why events are happening or not happening, He is working behind the scenes, orchestrating my life.  He will use me in my everyday life, in my job, or when I’m doing my thing, I can hear from Him.

P—Prayer:  Dear Lord, help me to always trust in You.  When You speak to me, help me to recognize your voice, follow your ways, acknowledge You in my life.  You have my life in your hands, you are the author and finisher of my faith, your plans for me are for good and not for harm.  Help me not to fear my future.  Help me not to be afraid.