Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Selah: He Provides Quietness

Saturday Selah
He giveth quietness. Job 34:29 [KJV]
I watched a few minutes ago as four power company trucks raced south down our two-lane highway. Many people up on the mountains still have no electricity. My husband spoke of a couple ahead of him in line at the local pizza place last night who were acting very grumpy. Evidently the man realized his behavior was not exemplar because he explained as he paid for his purchase, "We don't have a well. We haven't had water or electricity since Tuesday."

My husband used his Christmas present, a Flip video recorder, to document some of the conditions he encountered Thursday as he was on his mail route. There were several places where he had to drive through the canopy of trees that had fallen. One place had the power lines propped up off the road by a sturdy branch with a 'y' at the end of it. Many times it was the power lines holding up the trees off the road. At one point in his route, he had to turn around and drive miles back around a mountain to service the mailboxes just on the other side (a few feet from where he turned) because of a large tree blocking the road.

I understand the frustration that man felt. I've been there. Dynamo helping clear a path with his mower.Actually, I'm pretty grumpy after a few days of camping without getting a proper shower -- and that is self-imposed lack. I've also been through ice storms and moving situations where it was more than a few days before we had power. I know at one point when I was given the answer, "It will be next week before the inspector can get to your house. We can't turn the power on until we get his report," I burst into tears and blubbered to the man on the phone that I couldn't go another week without electricity. This after playing "Little House on the Prairie for a week and a half...boiling water on a camp stove, cooking Thanksgiving turkey on the grill, and using a propane lantern and candles for light. It really was fun...for about a week. I borrowed the "Little House on the Prairie Cookbook" from the library and we worked our homeschool lessons around our situation. But even though we were in North Carolina, early December tends to get cold. Bath water doesn't stay very warm waiting for the next stock pot to boil and be poured in.

As God was teaching me patience and endurance [*grimace*] and I tried to be consoled by my husband's reassurance over the phone that we would check into a hotel over the weekend, a knock sounded at my front door. The inspector showed up at my door less than an hour after I talked to his co-worker on the phone. My power was on before dark. I was able to bathe my three little kids in warm water...cook on my electric stove...and joyfully, soak in my new garden tub with warm, yes even steaming hot, water.

Lesson learned: Always let your emotions show when you need something from a Southern male bureaucrat...Southern gentlemen are taught to step up and save a damsel in distress!

Whooops! No really, the lesson learned is that God will provide what we need...even if what we need is peace and quietness and just a little warmth. I was at the end of myself when I had that emotional breakdown on the phone. But while the inspector was at my house, I found out that a cancellation on the man's schedule allowed him to be able to get to my house before the business office of the electric company closed. Now Who do you supposed arranged for that cancellation?

My daughter has been staying with us since a couple days before these recent storms hit. She has been marveling at the timing of her illness that caused me to bring her and her son to our house at just the right time. She is the kitchen manager for the culinary school she attends and since the college uses a vo-tech facility kitchen, when the county closes the schools she doesn't work. She has been able to recover here without missing work. When she went past her house a couple days ago and saw the huge pile of snow blocking her iced-over (steep) driveway, she started thinking about how God provided her illness just in time to keep her from being stranded on the hill with no way to get out. (Not that her father and I wouldn't have mounted a rescue attempt!!)

Box elder tree just off our front porch.On Monday before the storms hit, my husband and son brought a large load of firewood home and stacked it on the porch. It is enough to last us well into February. And it burns well, so it is seasoned to be used just now at the time we need it. My son and I were able to get a water line break well on its way to being fixed before my husband got home from his long, icy mail route on Tuesday so all he had to do was help get the splices in and fill in the hole. Yesterday my son, daughter, grandson, and I were able to get out between snowy downpours and resupply our panty.

All the little evidences of the Lord's care have given me a sense of quiet in my soul. Just what my busy lifestyle (again, self-imposed) needed. I'm sitting here in my large rocker, glancing out the window at the frozen (and finally sunlit) beauty, tucked under my favorite blanket, steaming cup of coffee on the table next to my Bibles and devotional, with a roaring fire in the fireplace. The kids are still sleeping and my husband has warm clothes and a reliable car in which to deliver mail. I am blessed this morning with a quiet spirit brought on by my gratefulness for the Lord's care and attention to my needs.

Thank You, Father, for your tender care and abundant mercies!

Like other shepherds
help me keep
watch o'er my flock by night;
mindful of each need,
each hurt, which might
lead one to stray --
each weakness
and each ill --
while others sleep
teach me to pray.
At night wolves and leopards,
hungry and clever, prowl
in search of strays
and wounded; when they howl,
Lord, still
my anxious heart
to calm delight --
for the Great Shepherd
watches with me
over my flock
by night. ~Ruth Bell Graham

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Power's Back On: IOW-Faith Steps, WFW, & Thankful Thursday

We've had a weather related disaster week! An outdoor faucet got bumped and the pipe broke clean off at the main line underground. Gushing water in the yard directed us to the problem and after hours of digging and mending in the snow/ice/rain mix, we had water coming out of the tap not the ground. Then the snow/ice/rain mix caused the downing of trees which snapped power lines...and we spent a day huddled in the living room around the fireplace. As a result of all these adventures, my posts this week are combined into this one.

My husband and I take spur of the moment mini-vacations all year long. Most of the trips are just for an afternoon or a single day. Our children got us a Garmin Nuvi for Christmas to make these little trips easier. The Nuvi is a global positioning device that uses signals from satellites to triangulate our location and that of whatever destination we tell it.

The first few days, we input my parents' address (8 miles away), a restaurant's name (15 miles away), and the mall bookstore (25 miles away). We had fun with it and my husband was (and still is) amazed at the technology that could fit in the palm of his hand and has the ability to take us from our home to any destination we told it.

On the Friday after Christmas my husband's aunt died in Akron, Ohio (a five-hour drive away). When we left for the funeral on Monday afternoon, all we took was an overnight bag, our cell phones, the address of the funeral home on a piece of paper, and the Nuvi. We put the address into the Nuvi and set off. We were amazed when, following the turn-by-turn directions, we arrived at the parking lot of the funeral home.

On the way home we encountered the first of several drawbacks to blind faith in technology. As we approached an interstate on-ramp and the Nuvi said, "turn right onto ramp," my husband turned right at the first turn he saw -- a road that ran parallel with the on-ramp. We had gotten accustomed to obeying the Nuvi's directions and momentarily ignored what our own eyes told us. After a trip to Nashville later that week, we finally started keeping our eyes and minds fully engaged in our travels, using the Nuvi as the tool it is meant to be.

Often our steps of faith are just like that week of learning and relearning we had. We have our ulitimate destination assured, but there are many turns and detours along the way. God expects us to be informed followers - not stepping out blindly - while trusting Him as we go. He gives us guidance through His word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Because the destination is already secured, it really isn't the point of the trip. Each step (and/or turn) on the journey is the point. Having faith in God and His leading -- trusting His good purpose because we have studied and understood His map (read the Bible and prayed), growing into the person He has called us to be...that is the point of the journey.

Lord, thank You for Your guidance and the trust You never break. Help my faith be strong and steady for the journey on which You have set me. Let me always look to You for the next step and the next. Amen.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday Selah: A Friend in Need

Friendship gives license to show up at the door of need without asking, "When would you like me to come?" or "What would you like me to do?" Nor does friendship call out, "Just let me know if you need anything."

Practiced friendship whispers, "I'll be there" and promptly steps through the door with sensitivity, respect, and understanding.

But what about honoring the right to invite? Those who wait for parchment invitations wait long, for need rarely throws a party--rarely even has a voice.

Yet need has its own needs. It needs protection from strangers tromping in with work boots and good intentions. And it needs relief from acquaintances wearing the spiked heels of advice and pat answers.

Need waits with longing for the familiar entrance of dear ones who pad barefoot through the soul on ordinary days. ~Susan L. Lenzkes
I had a hard time with today's Selah. A dear one of mine is suffering and I am hurting along with her. Not knowing how to help has made me feel frustration at my own helplessness. Susan Lenzkes' words were just what I needed to read. I know now that the most important part of my role in the situation is as arms and hands and ears, not mouth and tools. I must hug and hold and listen, not advise and fix.

Thank you, Lord for giving me Your wisdom through the writing of another woman of faith.

A friend loves at all times. ~Proverbs 17:17

Friday, January 23, 2009

God is So Powerful!

If you haven't seen this video, you will be moved and inspired. Share it with your young people.

Catching up on projects...starting new ones.

This has been a busy month for me. I've been working on a new column at Take Root and Write. Thyme for the Garden debuted on Wednesday. Please go over and visit. There is a corresponding discussion group on Christian Women Take Root also called Thyme for the Garden. I'd love for you to join the group. These two websites are part of a wonderful ministry to women started by Noelle Mena.

I've been unable to do more than read a couple blogs this week...I've had to fight off a cold, complete with a funny, croaking cough. My daughter has had an allergic reaction to a red velvet cake. We spent most of yesterday (3 hours in the afternoon at family practice & 4 1/2 hours in immediate care last night/this morning) getting medical help for this.

And I have a list of writing projects to work on this weekend. I hope to be back to my regular postings on Monday. I will be posting Saturday Selah tomorrow, so please come back and share your inspirational moments from this past week. I've really missed keeping up with everyone's IOW & Thankful Thursday postings! I will be setting aside some time just for catching up.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Selah: Three Steps to Sin

Inspired by a brief (under 2 minutes) radio spot, I'm changing the format of Saturday Selah. I would like to offer a place where we can share encouraging messages we have heard throughout the week. In as few as 50 words or less, we can share a Bible verse or two and what they meant to us. Perhaps we heard song lyrics that touched our hearts. Anything that made a difference in your week can be posted here.

Our job as women of faith is to encourage others to seek God. If something stood out as special encouragement, then God meant it to help others as well. Don't worry about the word count - it's not a strict policy, just a guideline. Sometimes God gives us a little to say, sometimes He gives more.

From Ruth Graham Bell:

Three Steps to Sin
  1. Contemplation
  2. Rationalization
  3. Consent
P.S. Sin always affects others.
  1. Serpent - "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden?
    Eve - "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"

  2. Serpent - "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
    Eve - When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom...

  3. Eve - She took some and ate it.
  • Adam - She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
  • The Rest of Us - For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

But God always makes a way...
  1. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one ad only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." ~John 3:15
  2. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin." ~Hebrews 4:15
How will I respond to this?

What choice will I make the next time I am confronted?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sneak Peak @ Thyme for the Garden

SmileysHere's a treat for those craving a bit of spring, especially those of us enduring the "Arctic Blast." (It is currently 15 degrees at my house right now, up from 0 degrees when I got up a 7 am. Brrrrrrrrrrr!)

I have posted a few resources on the new Thyme for the Garden site. This site contains resources in support of the upcoming Thyme for the Garden column on Take Root and Write and the Thyme for the Garden group on Christian Women Take Root.

Today's featured post is a discussion of an Herbal Tea Garden (ok, it's also a bit of a rant on the goodness of organic herbs!). There are links to a few Herbal Tea recipes.

You can also find a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map. If this is not enough, go visit our local TV gardening guy, John Marra (recently retired from the West Virginia University Extension Service--so very knowledgeable about all things home and garden!). He has an article on growing tomatoes here:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thankful Thursday: In the Presence of the Lord

Iris' TT topic is Possibilities. Visit her at Grace Alone to read more and to link your own.

I'm a collector of study Bibles. I have 4 or 5. Today I was reading the Week 1 devotion in my Women of Faith Study Bible.

It is a great place to start in this new year. I want to share some key points as part of my TT list, because I am very, very thankful for the truths this particular devotion contains.

God's Pursuit of You

Each day in the Garden of Eden is perfect. The soft ground cushions Adam and Eve's bare feet. The dew waters their surroundings to a perfect, lush green. Evenings in the garden are even better--if perfection can be improved on. That's when Adam and Eve walk with God. His presence surpasses the rest of their day and brings them joy and peace.

But this day is different. They hear the "sound of the Lord God" as He walks "in the garden in the cool of the day" (Genesis 3:8). But they don't run to meet Him. They don't feel the way they used to. They hide because they are filled with shame, a new emotion for them.
This is where most of us live, in confusion and even shame. See how the devotion goes on to explain the real definitions of shame:
God is calling you too. Are you running to meet Him--or are you hiding from Him? Shame can prevent an intimate, personal relationship with God. But it's important to differentiate between true shame and false shame.

You feel true shame if you feel guilty for your sin (and all of us sin). You feel false shame if you feel dirty because another person sinned against you...If you have been wounded by someone else's sin, you may feel a sense of shame, but it is not true shame.
I LOVE this part!!
Bring true shame to the cross of Jesus for forgiveness.

Bring false shame into the arms of Jesus for healing.

"He 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." (1 Peter 2:24 NIV)
Look what Jesus has done for us:
"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:22-23 NIV)
And now we stand before God in the image of His Son:
"But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved! And God raised us up with Christ and seated us in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-7 NIV)
And Jesus intercedes with God on our behalf:
"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
" (Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV)
And the closing remarks of the devotion are so important:
If your sin seems too great or horrible to be forgiven, or if your shame seems so overwhelming that it can't be removed, remember, Jesus loves you so much that He has already taken your sin and shame on Himself. He makes you clean from it. Receive His gift and let Him wash your shame away.
So, I am thankful:
  • That Jesus is there when I fail, to lift me up and put me back on the right track.
  • That He reminds me that I am His when I remember old hurts ("wounded by someone else's sin").
  • That I can be forgiving because He forgave me.
  • That I have the freedom to read my Bible and to share the Word of God with others.
And on a more everyday note:
  • I'm thankful for a good heat source in my house.
  • I'm thankful for enough warm clothes.
  • I'm thankful for my husband and son who see that our wood pile stays replenished.
  • I'm thankful God is healing my husband's sore back.
  • I'm thankful for the microwave *wink* so I can zap my coffee one more time. (I need a self-heating coffee mug!)
  • I'm thankful for the ability to make a hot supper for my family on this very cold day.
  • I'm thankful for the makes the cold a bit more bearable.
  • Somewhere, way down deep, I think I'm thankful for the extreme cold...not sure about that, I'll get back to you when the outside chores are done.
  • I'm thankful that Iris came up with this weekly reminder to be still and count my blessings.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Selah: Jesus Wept

Inspired by a brief (under 2 minutes) radio spot, I'm changing the format of Saturday Selah. I would like to offer a place where we can share encouraging messages we have heard throughout the week. In as few as 50 words or less, we can share a Bible verse or two and what they meant to us. Perhaps we heard song lyrics that touched our hearts. Anything that made a difference in your week can be posted here.

Our job as women of faith is to encourage others to seek God. If something stood out as special encouragement, then God meant it to help others as well. Don't worry about the word count - it's not a strict policy, just a guideline. Sometimes God gives us a little to say, sometimes He gives more.

Now to my inspiration from this week. I hope you are as blessed by it as I have been.

In John 11 we see Jesus arriving in Bethany four days after Lazarus died. Mary, brokenhearted, collapsed in grief at His feet. She tells Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." [John 11:32 (NKJV)]

Jesus' response contains the shortest verse in the Bible: He wept.

He did not weep for His own grief at the loss of His friend. His heart broke for the pain Mary was suffering.

Then He asked, "Where have you laid him?" In other words, Jesus told Mary to take Him to the source of her pain.

That is what Jesus does with us. He has compassion for our breaking hearts. Our pastor defines compassion as sympathy with the intent to take action.

Jesus weeps for our pain, and asks us to take Him to its open that wound and let Him do all in His power to comfort and heal that pain.

Dear friends, reach out to Him right now with your heart break. Let Him in to comfort you and guide you into His blessed rest and peace.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Favorite Love Scriptures

I love that Iris picked God's word as the theme for today's TT. You can visit her at Grace Alone to read more posts and to leave a link to your own.

I'm jumping ahead of February in focusing my favorite Love verses.

I think it's important to remember as we start this new year that we are strongly grounded in the faith that God loves us and we must share that love with others.

First, proof that God loves us:
But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8 [NKJV]

In this the love of God is manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins. - 1 John 4:9-10 [NKJV]
Then, God expects, commands, us to love others:
For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. - 1 John 3:11 [NKJV]

And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. - 1 John 3:23 [NKJV]

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. - 1 John 4:11 [NKJV]
Next, we must show our love:
We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death - 1 John 3:14 [HCSB]

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. - 1 John 4:7 [HCSB]
Our love for God is shown to the degree we show love to others:
If anyone boasts, "I love God," and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won't love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can't see? - 1 John 4:20 [The Message]
Our love must be active, an act of the will:
But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? - 1 John 3:17 [NKJV]
Our love is in direct response to God's love for us:
We love Him because He first loved us. - 1 John 4:19 [NKJV]
And this love causes us to respond in love to others:
The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You've got to love both. - 1 John 4:21 [The Message]
Love is the best we have to offer to God and others:
We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. AND THE BEST OF THE THREE IS LOVE. - 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 [The Message]

Happy Thankful Thursday!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

IOW: Working and Growing Through the Tests

Bonnie is hosting In Other Words at Ink It Blog. Visit her to read more IOW posts and to link your own.
"Real life in the real world is a tough, nitty-gritty journey that every pilgrim on planet earth must make. Moving to Disney World is not an option. There will be tribulation; Jesus said so. But be of good cheer: He's still in the business of guiding and strengthening and healing and overcoming."

When the Glass Slipper Doesn't Fit
by Claire Cloninger and Karla Worley

In this world every person lives through seasons of joy and seasons of adversity, believers and unbelievers alike. Yet for believers the purpose of the seasons is clear.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. - James 1:2-4 [NKJV]
The Woman's Study Bible [1995, Thomas Nelson Publishers] addresses these times of testing:

"Testing comes through the circumstances of our lives so that we can know our own hearts more insightfully and appreciate God's grace more deeply.

In such times of testing, we become aware of our thoughts, attitudes, and emotions.

Through this self-awareness, God shows us where we must yet yield to Him in trusting obedience." - page 269, Testing: The Strengthening of Your Faith

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting. - Psalm 139:23-24 [NKJV]

The woman of faith has a particular purpose for being tested: In her hands lie the future of the next generation of faithful women. At all times along her life's path she influences those who join her on the walk, or just briefly cross her path. Testing is like weeding the garden -- leaving only a pure faith and enabling the woman of faith to reach the goal that only God can assure she achieve.

The life of the woman of faith is not a stroll down a meticulously cultivated garden walk. She is not a guest enjoying the garden. She is a worker amongst the weeds and thorny patches. Working the Master Gardener's plan, teaching other gardeners as she goes, she nutures and cares all her life.
...the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior...teachers of good things--that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. - Titus 2:3-5 [NKJV]
Dear Sisters in the Faith:

Let us seek the Lord during all our seasons:
  • In joy, He rejoices with us.
  • In sorrow, He comforts us.
  • In trials, He strengthens us.
  • In testing, He purifies us.
Even though it seems better to hide away from the tough times, the pain, the depression...strength comes to those who turn to Him in confidence (even a shaky one). Never doubt your worth or purpose in His plan...and enjoy the good times with a thankful heart. We walk our own paths...but we all walk. If I don't see you sooner, I'll see you at the Garden Gate!
But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. - 1 Thessalonians 2:4 [NKJV]