Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘God’s Blessings’

 

 

While waiting for the coffee to brew Monday morning, I peeked out the kitchen curtains. To the east, a glowing red band rimmed the horizon. Slightly to the west, a clear, dark sky provided backdrop for a gleaming crescent moon.

 

 

Thank you, Father, I prayed, for prompting me to look out the window just now. Your handiwork never ceases to thrill me.

I wondered what further delights God might present as the day progressed? I decided to begin a list, just for the fun of seeing how many moments I could record. The glowing horizon and bright crescent moon became #1.

#2.  A completed workout.   Thank you, Lord, for helping me eat a live frog–yet again!  (Yes, that’s a perfectly logical prayer for those who know what Mark Twain said: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” For me, exercising is about as distasteful as eating a live frog!)

Moments later, as a bowl of oatmeal spun slow circles inside the microwave, I chose to window-gaze again. This time a squirrel caught my attention as he scampered along a treetop branch, then leapt across a wide chasm to the next tree.

 

 

How do squirrels jump like that without falling? Such astounding abilities you’ve given some of your creatures, Lord.  

#3 became:   A gravity-defying squirrel.

#4.   Oatmeal—with cinnamon, berries, walnuts, and milk. Thank you, Father, for the endless combinations of ingredients we can put together to make our taste buds happy! 

#5.   Coffee.  The most exquisite flavor to start the morning.

 

 

I was on a roll now as the praiseworthy moments continued:

#6.   A dropped contact found.

#7.   Sunshine pouring through the windows.

#8.   The drive to our son’s house along the edge of Mount Airy Forest. Spring is in evidence: bright green undergrowth portends the imminent leafing of trees.

 

 

#9.   Clear, rain-washed air–fresh and crisp. Just breathing is a supreme pleasure.

#10. Holding four-year old Elena’s soft little hand as we climb the stairs together.

#11.  Snuggling two-month old Maarit on my shoulder while taking her on another slow, bouncy tour of the living/dining, and kitchen area. Her bright eyes seem to study every object, any sign of movement, every play of light.

#12.  Reveling in Maarit’s smiles, each one a delightful surprise.

#13.  Making her laugh for the first time.

#14.  Watching Elena complete a 48-piece puzzle, with very little help.

#15.  Catching one of Maarit’s smiles on camera–well, almost.

 

 

#16.  Listening to a symphony of birds upon arrival home, as I walked from car to house.

#17.  Soaking up the warmth of sunshine on the deck while reading my Bible and journaling a bit.

#18.  Enjoying a refreshing salad, all the more delicious because Steve made it.

 

 

#19.  Receiving blessing and challenge while reading posts from bloggers I follow.  (See the list in the right column!)

#20. Resting with a pleasurable book.

 

    *    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

It may not be practical to record such moments every day, but I can see great benefit from keeping a list now and then.

It’s grateful eyes that get to see God’s goodness and glory everywhere–all day long.

 

 

(“It is good to praise the Lord…

…to proclaim your love in the morning

and your faithfulness at night…

…For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord,

I sing for joy at the works of your hands.”

–Psalm 92:1-2, 4)

 

What commonplace moment brings you uncommon joy? Please share in the comment section below!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.pixabay.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.farm7.staticflickr.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.wikimediacommons; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)

Read Full Post »

 

ce609cc703524583a5612651768d1b6a

” Let all that I am praise the LORD;

with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name…

may I never forget the good things he does for me.”

–Psalm 103:1-2 NLT

 

So begins Psalm 103 (one of my favorites), written by David the Shepherd-King.

I imagine him–seated at a large table, a blank parchment spread before him, and a sharpened reed in his hand. Close by sits a small pot half-filled with a mixture of soot, gum, and water–his ink.

David’s gaze drifts to the view of Jerusalem outside the palace window. His thoughts carry him back in time to the hillsides of Bethlehem, just a few miles away. There he had tended his father’s sheep as a boy. But oh, the wonders God had performed during the years since. The humble shepherd boy became a giant killer, then a fugitive from jealous King Saul, a courageous warrior against Israel’s enemies, and finally after many years, the crowned king of Israel.

I can sense his heart filling with gratitude and praise, his eyes filling with tears as he considers all the “benefits” God has bestowed.

And David begins to write, extolling the Lord for his forgiveness, redemption, love, goodness, and more (vs. 3-6).

 

e4899256565153444bad6e6b57b5e9c2

 

His pen needs more ink. As he dips the reed, David’s gaze is once again drawn to the window. He begins to contemplate God’s goodness expressed to his countrymen long ago:

 

“He revealed His ways to Moses,

His deeds to the people of Israel” — v. 7, HCSB.

 

Through the laws outlining his ways, God had revealed his holy character. Through his miraculous deeds God revealed his power, faithfulness and…

…David’s mind shifts to the days when the Hebrews were brought out of slavery in Egypt and led back to the land of their father, Abraham. How compassionate God was.

David marvels at the provisions God engineered, so his people could escape: the gold, silver, and clothing Egyptians gave them as they prepared to flee (Exodus 12:35-36); the food and water necessary for survival (chapters 16 & 17).

 

hand-manna-daily-bread_1300033_inl

 

David recollects God’s patience with the Israelites—grumbly and rebellious as they were (Numbers 14:18).

And David contemplates God’s love (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)—caring and protective—in spite of the Israelites’ ingratitude and disobedience.

David picks up his reed once more and continues to write:

 

f2444db203802ba507f32fe9a95cdd56

(“The Lord is compassionate and gracious,

Slow to anger and rich in faithful love — v. 8, HCSB.)

 

Those words beg the question: When have I experienced God’s benefits of compassion and grace, patience and faithful love?

A few examples follow:

 

  • The Lord is compassionate.

Time and again God has tended our family through the loving kindness of friends—friends who have prayed with us in the midst of trauma and who have provided for our needs (like a place to stay, furniture, a contribution to our children’s college funds—the list is very long!).  God has benefited us with numerous blessings—even a car one time.

 

  • The Lord is gracious.

He cares about all our concerns, big and small. 

This past winter I lost a scarf at the local bookstore. It wasn’t an expensive one, just soft and warm, the perfect size. A thorough check through the aisles and an inquiry at the information booth proved futile.

A couple of weeks later I returned to the same shop. Although I doubted the scarf would turn up (After all, my search two weeks prior had been very thorough.), I decided to ask again. Sure enough, the girl behind the counter produced my scarf.

 

s_56de28c59818291dc00090cf

 

  • The Lord is slow to anger.

I’ve been incredibly blessed to know Jesus my entire life. But I still suffer from bouts of sin—sins like fretting, negativity, lack of faith, low self-esteem, pride, selfishness…must I go on?!

Yet he patiently forgives me and removes my offenses as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He even understands my frailties (v. 14). How gloriously comforting is that?

 

0aa0797ca313789431143703a9dea838

 

  • The Lord is rich in faithful love.

Every day, with his provision, protection, and presence, guidance, goodness, and gifts, God expresses his unwavering love for us.

And with David, my heart overflows.

You, too?

 

604b8f7e850fb168c3cb274090981150

(“Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being,

praise his holy name” — v. 1, NIV).

 

How has God demonstrated his compassion, grace, patience and love in your life?  Please share your story in the comment section below!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.pinterest (2), http://www.lds.org; http://www.pinterest.com;  www.poshmark.com; http://www.pinterest (2).

 

Read Full Post »

71776

 

No doubt many of you know the name, Jan Karon. She’s the author of the Mitford series, named after the fictional village tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains where most of her compelling stories take place. Within the pages of these thirteen books live Father Tim, an Episcopal priest, and a delightful cast of eccentric, endearing characters.

One of Mitford’s residents is Dooley, a foster child who is eventually adopted and the recipient of God’s generous, providential care.

In volume #11 of the series, In the Company of Others, Ms. Karon writes of Dooley: “While most people understandably took family for granted, he took it for grace.”

Isn’t that a wonderful quote? I copied it down with the thought, I want to be like Dooley and take all gifts for grace—never for granted.

Gifts such as:

  • A praise song that causes my heart to overflow in joyful, reverential tears.
  • A word of instruction or encouragement that speaks to a need in my life with uncanny accuracy.

 

IMG_0743

  • Participation with God in his creation–even if it’s just in the yard.  Gardening offers great pleasure and a sense of his presence in the beauty of leaf and flower; the concert of bird song as I putter; the aroma of soil, grass, and blooms; the delicate softness of petals–all gracious gifts of my Heavenly Father.
  • Holy beauty in a writer’s words (even in a secular work)–words like: “Lingering as long as it could, sunset’s sad joy filmed over the day with a delicate blush…” (Susan Vreeland, Lisette’s List, 355).

To “take all gifts for grace” can produce ethereal joy.  For a moment we experience the transcendent, as if the veil between heaven and earth is parted ever so slightly, and a single beam of God’s shimmering glory pierces through the dullness. Suddenly we’re basking in the warm euphoria of his presence.

We never want the moment to end. But inevitably the splendor begins to fade and we’re left reeling like Jacob—as though we’d been transported to the gate of heaven (Genesis 28:17).

 

3886825d61642e9e40513cc3b0f5aed8

 

And we’re anxious to repeat the experience.

Is it wrong to desire frequent glimpses of God’s glory?

I don’t think so. Yes, on the one hand we’d be misguided to try and evoke such moments (“Come on, tears! FLOW!”). On the other hand, surely God wants us to live aware, alert to receive those gifts of grace when he sees fit to grant them.

Like Micah, the prophet, we can affirm:

 

aeb840bdb7c75d8b80d14fc6043675eb

(“As for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,

I wait for God my Savior.”

–Micah 7:7, NIV)

 

Surely watchfulness is part of seeking—seeking to know him more intimately, to experience him more profoundly (Jeremiah 29:13).

 

2958f422983b6512856e42b6b07d56eb

 

And as we grow in our awareness of these glory-infused moments, we begin to realize how often they really do occur.

Just in creation alone we:

  • See him in the towering mountains and trees, the powerful oceans and rivers. There is glory in the grandeur.
  • Hear him in a pounding waterfall and crashing thunderstorm. There is glory in the power.
  • Feel him in a soft breeze and gentle rain. There is glory in the whisper.
  • Take in his aroma from the pungent pine tree and sweet honeysuckle vine. There is glory in the refreshing.

 

162769

 

In fact, his glorious gifts of grace are all around us.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Thank you, oh God, for the gracious display of your splendor throughout each day. You fill my heart with wonder and joy every time I catch a glimpse of your glory—from an early morning bird chorus to a liturgical dance performed by children, from the encouraging word of a friend to the warm welcome of strangers. I praise you that your gifts of grace are bestowed with such delightful creativity! May I never take them for granted.

 

What gift of grace has filled your heart with euphoric gratitude lately?  Tell us about it in the Comment section below!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.goodreads.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.doityourself.com.)

 

Read Full Post »

In a list of meaningful but “minor impressions,” beloved columnist/author, Joe Bayly, wrote the following for Saturday, July 28, 1962:

“Rode the merry-go-round tonight with happy David and worried Nathan, while Mary Lou looked on and waved each time we passed. Timmy kept up with us, running, for three times around”(1).

 

merry-go-round

 

And then Joe included this familiar scripture:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17–NIV, emphasis added).

That means everything good in this world comes from God—even a delightful ride on a merry-go-round.

Sometimes, however, the goodness of God’s gifts isn’t immediately recognizable.

Scripture offers a number of examples, such as Paul’s thorn in the flesh. The exact nature of the problem was never revealed, but we do know it was chronic and debilitating. Who would call that a good and perfect gift?

Paul did.

“At first I didn’t think of it as a gift,” he said.

Then God told him, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need.”

 

5d8bb2a1a82601d325fc995ea54384ca

 

“Once I heard that,” Paul explained, “I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift.” (vs. 7-10, The Message).

I, for one, have never had to deal with a long-term thorn in the flesh. But difficult, shorter-term circumstances have turned into tremendous blessings. For example:

  • A particularly exhausting week of teaching, family responsibilities, and other pressing matters was followed up by a weekend music retreat at church. How could I muster the energy to attend and complete a long must-do-by-Monday list? While visions of PJs and pillows danced in my head, I dragged myself to church. But through the funny and inspiring retreat leader, the uplifting music, and the invigorating camaraderie of music ministry friends, I left Friday evening highly rejuvenated, looking forward to more blessings come Saturday and Sunday.
  • Our son was not accepted into his first choices of graduate schools, and we wondered what God was doing. Was Eric proceeding in the right direction? Those trying days, however, turned into lessons of trust and spiritual maturity for him, which he humbly took to heart. As for the university that did accept him? That’s where Eric met his wife.
  • Into every life a few challenging people must fall, right? And with them often come discouragement, stress, and hurt. Where’s the blessing in all that? For starters, God uses such relationships to train us in turning our thoughts to the positive (Philippians 4:8), so we can experience renewal and peace. We also develop perseverance and maturity (James 1:2-4)—traits that lead to a calm and steady life anchored on Jesus.

God gives only good and perfect gifts. Sometimes they come as small but delightful surprises—like a perfect merry-go-round moment.

Sometimes they come wrapped inside trying circumstances.

But those are some of his best gifts–when negative is transformed into positive.

Because that’s downright miraculous.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Have you ever received a good and perfect gift out of difficult circumstances?  Tell us your story in the comments below.

 

(1) Joe Bayly, Out of My Mind:  The Best of Joe Bayly, Zondervan, 1993, p. 41.

 

(Photo credit:  www.elcivics.com, http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

 

Read Full Post »

(Reblogged from May 30, 2013)

 

trees forest 1600x1000 wallpaper_www.wallpaperfo.com_41

 

I placed my Diet Coke on a nearby table and settled into one of the front porch rockers. The book I had brought with me remained closed on my lap. Instead of reading, I gazed at tall pines, listened to birds chirping good-night to each other, and breathed in cool mountain air.

What a stark contrast to home, I thought. My husband, two sons, and I had escaped the oppressive summer heat of our Florida home, and were vacationing in a North Carolina rental cabin.

Not long after settling, I noticed an enormous Luna moth perched on the porch railing. He appeared to be sleeping soundly. His shapely sea-foam wings stretched out primly, in a perfect display of shimmering symmetry. Not even an antenna moved.

 

lunamoth8698

 

In the sweet idleness of that moment, I had time to wonder:

When do you suppose moths wake up? Is it at dusk, or does it have to be completely dark? And what will be the first part to move? Will his wings flutter a bit in warm-up? Or will those long antennae flicker, checking his surroundings before he ventures into the night?

My knowledge of Luna moths was sorely lacking.

I made strong attempts to read my book, but kept distracting myself for updates on that moth–especially as the sun dipped lower in the sky and shadows deepened.

Eric, our older son, came out on the porch. He stood with hands in pockets, watching the sunset. “What’s up, Mom?”

“This is going to sound silly,” I began, “but see that moth over there? I’ve gotten curious about when they wake up. Is it at dusk or only when it’s completely dark? And as if that isn’t enough, I’m wondering what part of him will wake up first. Do you suppose it will be his antennae that move first, or maybe his wings?”

Eric chuckled slightly—not sarcastically, but in good humor that once again his mother’s curiosity was taking an interesting turn. I thought he’d turn and go back inside the cabin. To my delightful surprise, he chose to sit in the rocker next to me.

 

8566949488_e4888c35b5_z

Together we kept vigil over that moth as the sunlight diminished to an apricot glow on the horizon, and the landscape turned dark gray. Still that moth did not move. And soon we were enveloped by the night.

Suddenly, with barely a testing of his wings, the majestic moth was off the railing and fluttering away. Eric and I barely had time to say, “Oh! There he goes!” before the moth disappeared into the darkness.

We sat quietly for a few moments longer, listening to the crickets chirping cheerfully. With a contented sigh I reveled in the moment: the cool, peaceful surroundings and my satisfied curiosity. Most of all I savored that Eric had chosen to share with me this rather inconsequential moment.

 

I am new to shooting at night but one of the things I loved about shooting at night in the forest is how camp fires light up the trees. The orange glow on these trees is from a camp fire about 200 meters away.

Just a few years earlier, if I had asked Eric to sit with me and watch a moth, he would have said, “BOR-ING!” and loped off to other pursuits. But that year he was twenty-four. We were starting to relate to one another differently, share more common interests, and communicate on a similar level. Eric was still my son, but he was also becoming a friend.

‘Reminds me a bit of what our Heavenly Father offers. As we mature in him, our relationship grows into a loving, familial friendship, characterized by common interests and heart-to-heart communication. But such a relationship develops only as we spend time with him and his word.

Those who say, “Time with God is BOR-ING!” and lope off to other pursuits are missing out.

On what, you ask?

• The joy of His presence (Psalm 16:11)
• The goodness he bestows (Psalm 31:19)
• His strength (Psalm 138:2-3)
• Rest, in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1)
• Perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *      *     *     *

Such precious gifts, Father: joy, goodness, strength, rest, and peace. I praise you with all my heart for being a God who pursues a warm, loving relationship with his children. May I seek your face in return. Always.

 

(Photo credits:  www.wallpaperfo.com; http://www.corlinanature.com; http://www.dcr.virginia.gov; James Wheeler.)

Read Full Post »

1-samuel-12-24-consider-the-lord-landscape_1956134444

 

Consider what great things [God] has done for you,”

(from the farewell address of Samuel the prophet,

to the people of Israel–1 Samuel 12:24b, italics added).

 

I wonder if Samuel paused after those words, to give the Israelites a moment of reflection.  God had blessed them in numerous ways by:

  • Miraculously bringing them out of slavery in Egypt.
  • Sustaining them during their wilderness journey to Canaan.
  • Providing laws and commands for them to assure an orderly, pleasant, and productive life.
  • Giving them victory over their enemies.
  • Sending prophets and judges to guide and encourage (vs. 6-15).

 

31118_000_025_15

 

And what might have been the Israelites’ response as they remembered those blessings?

Were they whispering prayers of praise, because God had cared for them so attentively?

Did they resolve to reverence him more intentionally and serve him more faithfully, as Samuel suggested (12:24a)?

 

132658d0c1661c211eb040ed8e8a8308

 

Surely both responses were called for.

I also wonder if we might similarly be impacted by considering daily the great things God has done for us.

My own pondering made me realize my life includes parallels to those of the Israelites (although in less striking ways). Perhaps you, too, have had similar experiences.

God has:

  • Brought me out of difficult situations. (One small example: When a teaching job opened up nearby, I no longer had to endure  a stressful 50-minute commute.)
  • Sustained me with a heightened sense of his presence through the wilderness of hurt and emotional pain.
  • Provided his Word of wisdom for an orderly, pleasant, and productive life. (Not that I’ve always taken advantage of that wisdom.)
  • Given me the final victory over Satan, through his Son, Jesus. One day I will enjoy life in heaven with my Savior.
  • Sent spiritual teachers, pastors, and mentors to guide and encourage me.

 

A group of young women bow their heads and pray with bibles.

 

But perhaps you feel excluded from God’s blessings. Any consideration of your circumstances makes you shake your head in disillusionment. After all, the evidence seems clear. While others are enjoying marriage and family, a satisfying career, good health and/or _______________ (fill in the blank), you’re not.

Perhaps another point of view would provide alternative evidence. Consider your circumstances and the blessings they do provide.

For example:

 

worldteach-guyana-500

 

  • Not married? You benefit from greater freedom in your life.
  • No children? You can invest fresh energy and enthusiasm into children-not-your-own, providing the parents a much-needed break.
  • Struggling in a wilderness of emotional upset right now? Draw near to God and he will draw near to you in new, profound ways. Look for him in creation and in his Word. Listen for him in a song or in the encouragement of a mature friend. Be watchful, because he reveals himself in highly creative ways.
  • Is Jesus a part of your everyday life? Then you have a constant Friend who loves you, cares for you, withholds no good thing, and will never leave you.
  • Are there mentors and models in your life, showing you the way to a God-enhanced life? How splendid not to be struggling alone.

The bottom-line consideration is this:

Do I want to wear a shroud of despair or a garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3)?

 

26054-field-girl-woman-armsout-praise.1200w.tn

 

Do I want to live selfishly or in grateful obedience to the One who has bestowed so much?

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Amazing God, words fail to express my gratitude as I consider your countless blessings.  Nor can words sufficiently extol your grace that motivates such loving benevolence.  I long to be continually grateful and consistently obedient, as a love-gift back to you.  May thankfulness energize my obedience! 

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.wallpaper.knowing-jesus.com; http://www.lds.org; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.fullsupply.org; http://www.americakeswick.org; http://www.transitionsabroad.com; http://www.crosswalk.com.)

Read Full Post »

 

dew

 

Gently, silently,

In quiet faithfulness

The Lord of heaven

Sends refreshing dew

On the mist of morning,

To all things rooted in the ground.

Miraculously,

Withered leaves uncurl,

Shriveled petals unfold,

Drooped stems and grass stand tall, and

Freshly washed hues

Gleam in sparkling splendor.

7ac86eeabe5b5a5fffb78d499e880750

 

Gently, silently,

In quiet faithfulness

The Lord of heaven

Sends the refreshing dew

Of his grace and blessing

Upon all people rooted in his love.

Miraculously,

Withered souls blossom,

Shriveled hearts unfurl,

Drooped spirits revive, and

Freshly washed attitudes

Gleam with gratitude and praise.

 

3996f114bc5b807e394ba097efa10a02

“His favor is like the dew on the grass,”

His multi-faceted grace, a sparkling jewel,

Providing manifold blessing:

Enduring hope that renews our strength,

Overflowing joy that isn’t dependent on circumstances,

Deep peace that defies explanation,

A God-enhanced life

That gives rise to satisfaction and fulfillment,

Firm security that God will never fail us, and

The absolute truth of his Word that guides us rightly.

All this and more bestowed upon us like the dew—

Unearned and undeserved.

 

bf66668287931218d44763d55fa25b69

 

 

(Deuteronomy 33:12; Hosea 14:5; Ephesians 3:17; Proverbs 19:12b;

Psalm 62:5; Psalm 16:11; John 14:27; Psalm 128:1-2;

John 10:10; Lamentations 3:22; Psalm 119:137-138, Ephesians 2:4-10)

How has the dew of God’s grace refreshed your life this week?

    *     *     *     *     *

Photo credits:  www.pinterest.com; http://www.metoffice.gov.uk; http://www.pinterest.com (2).

Read Full Post »

Laurie Klein, Scribe

immerse in God, emerge refreshed

Strength Renewed

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Colleen Scheid

Writing, Acting, Living the Grace of God

Walking Well With God

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Shelly Miller

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Mitch Teemley

The Power of Story

Faith Barista

Because some days you need a double-shot of faith.

Rebeca Jones

Building Standing Stones

Wings of the Dawn

even there Your hand will lead me ~ poems and reflections by Heidi Viars

Jennifer Dukes Lee

Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

Holley Gerth

Coffee for Your Heart

Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Healthy Spirituality

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Just Wondering

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Jody Lee Collins

Impressions Becoming Expressions

(in)courage

Impressions Becoming Expressions