Sunday, April 29, 2012

Where I Find Hope



Sunday Scripture

and a


Song




Today, I share with you my life verses.
When I face difficulties of any kind, I cry out to God through these words.
When I have a decision to make, I pray these verses fervently.
When I want to affirm whom I follow, I pray these words in gratitude.



"Show me the right path, O Lord;
    point out the road for me to follow.
 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God who saves me.
    All day long I put my hope in you."
Psalm 25:4-5 (NLT)




Please enjoy this video:
"My Hope is in You" by Aaron Shust
Subscribers please click here to view this video on my blog site. Thanks!




Thursday, April 26, 2012

Life Renewed - Bring the Rain!


A gentle spring rain patters on my skylights, and the fat droplets bounce off tulip petals and new spring leaves. The rain is cleansing, and the air smells fresh. How often does God bring the rains to cleanse the earth?

After a long winter of snow and ice, we welcome the first deluge of spring rains to wash away the remaining salt residue from our roadways. More spring rains thaw the ground, awakening the roots of plants that have been sleeping for months.

Subsequent rains bring green growth back into our lawns, and before long buds begin to swell on the trees.

Color has returned to the world where only browns and grays existed for a very long season. The bright spring green of new leaves on the trees and shrubs awakens my senses and brings me hope. Flowering crabapples are awe-inspiring; the colorful palate of spring bulbs dotting the landscape brings smiles to winter-weary faces.

This celebration of new life brings us back to life, too. Hearing the birds’ happy songs as they begin courting and preparing for a new season of parenting fills the morning stillness with beauty that makes my heart sing.

Creatures of the natural world no longer need to only strive for survival. They are free to find joy in living as new life is bursting all around them.



Can we celebrate this way in our human existence, too? As the spring rains wash away the weight of winter’s hopelessness, can we be born anew? I pray that God will wash over us and cleanse us to renew our hope, that we may embrace new thinking to open our minds to the possibilities before us.



Perhaps as the rains fall outside, we need to pray for God to reign in our hearts anew, showing us the way to live and the reason we are here.







Invite God in. Ask Him into your heart. Invite Him to live in you and show you the pathway to peace. The gentle nudging of the Spirit can be heard more clearly when we are already attuned with God. 


Be ready to embrace life as fresh new hope blows into your heart. The world around us is full of new beginnings. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day Every Day







The world we live in is the world we share with
all of life here on Earth.












It is our responsibility to protect our world, for
all the creatures on earth are depending on us.











We must be ever vigilant, keeping watch over wastefulness, 
and understand that our natural resources 
are limited
and must be protected. 



  There is joy in living
    And freedom brings the power
        To do the right thing


We must have a vision
Shared with all of humanity
To preserve and protect 
Our World




The Power and Majesty




The Miracle of all Creation 




The Serenity and Peace of Life here on Earth











Our Future is in Our Hands
             



Sunday Scriptures

and a

Song


"You take care of the earth and water it,
    making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
    it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
    for you have ordered it so."
Psalm 65:9 (NLT)

"Sing a new song to the Lord!
    Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!"
Psalm 96:1 (NLT)

Friends, in researching scripture for today's post, I found there are 728 times in the Bible that the word "earth" is mentioned. I am awestruck. This repeated connection is certainly not coincidence. 

Blessings to you on this Earth Day 2012. Please sit back and relax as you enjoy this extraordinarily beautiful video.


Subscribers please click here as you'll certainly want to see this incredible video.




Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When Hope is Scarce


There are days when my spirit soars, free from worry, like a bird on an updraft column of air, reaching a pinnacle of height and effortlessly soaring over all of creation. Then, like the bird, I have to come back down to earth.

Gravity is a force to be reckoned with, but so is despair.

Why is it that I can be so full of the Spirit and feel complete peace within my life one day, and wake the next day to a feeling of hopelessness hanging on my spirit like a heavy blanket weighing me down?

Where do we find hope when hope seems lost? How can we restore our peace when hope is scarce?

Certainly we can’t live on the highest peaks of euphoria all the time, but neither do we want to wallow in the valley of despair.

How do you restore balance in your life?

I know there is joy that restores my spirit when I sing praises to my Lord. My thoughts shift to God and pull me out of my troubles, and I am reminded of His great Love. Yet I don’t always remember that just to lift my voice and sing will be restorative to my spirit. And sometimes I don’t feel like singing through my sadness. But when I sing, I am instantly transformed back to a child of God, loved by my Heavenly Father, and free from worries and cares.


There is a certainty that a walk in nature will make me smile, as I feel oneness with all living things of the natural world. Perhaps it is because the focus moves out of myself and into the world that I am restored. I walk along, one foot in front of the next, and the pattern becomes a soothing rhythm. 


The glorious wonders of nature surround me, and I feel connected to heaven and earth. Soon I realize I am smiling, and there is a song in my heart once again.

For me, these methods help to restore my inner peace. If I can’t get outside, and I am feeling more introspective, I might turn to meditation for its restorative properties. Instrumental music playing softly helps to tune out the rest of the world, and a mantra of “I am well” or “I am healed” calms my spirit and allows a change of inner perspective.

Prayer and meditation are excellent methods of connecting with our inner selves and with God. Through prayer, we can share our troubles with God, and release them. Through meditation, our hope and wellness can be restored. 


As a young woman of twenty years of age, I saw mountains for the first time. It was through this natural beauty that God first whispered to my heart, and I began to believe in a higher power that ordered this natural world.

I’ve always been drawn to the words of the psalmist who wrote, “I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)

There is power in knowing God is in the strength of the mountains, and peace in feeling His presence in the order of the natural world. Restoring our spirit and finding hope when it seems scarce is as easy as turning our thoughts to God and laying our burdens at His feet.

Releasing our pain and our worries to the One who knows all, sees all, and is Infinite, lifts our burdens revealing our pure inner self which only seeks peace and knows hope is the pathway to finding that peace.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Worthy is the Lamb




Sunday Scripture

and a

Song


“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 (NLT)


One week out from Easter Sunday, we have the joy 
to continue the celebration
of our Risen Lord!

Revelation Song
Phillips, Craig & Dean 


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Thursday, April 12, 2012

From Ashes We Will Rise


This morning I woke to a loud CRASH and I knew in my heart that they were beginning to tear down my neighbor’s house. Though it had recently burned in a fire and I was disturbed by seeing the burnt frame against the sky every time I drove by, it was still emotional for me to realize it was being torn down. We shared a lot of fun times in that house with wonderful friends. Thankfully only property was lost in the fire. All the souls who lived there made it out safely.

Now the house is gone. In less than a day, it has been removed down to the foundation, and I have a clear view of the marsh and horizon beyond. The trees are the tallest objects on the property now, and they look strangely out of place without the structure they used to frame.

It’s time to build anew.

As I was walking through the restored prairie land at the UW Field Station on my hike today, I observed the rolling fields that had been burned last weekend. Usually I participate in the annual burn, but this was a holiday weekend and I was unable to fulfill my job as a “flapper” and help put out fires that strayed beyond the burn zone.

As I walked downwind of the fields, that familiar burnt smell reached my nose. It smelled like the day my neighbor’s house burned down. And the way I smelled as I went to church that morning after stopping to help in the only way I could, by carrying out some houseplants from an area of the house that hadn’t burned. 




I pushed these thoughts out of my mind and tried to find peace amidst the blackened hillsides and the towering burr oaks. I thought of how necessary the annual burn is for the prairie, to control the tall grass plantings and prevent undesirable species from growing.



I marveled at the tall oaks, unaffected by years of burning the grasslands at their feet. And I thought about the refiner’s fire. You know, the intense heat used to remove impurities from metals so that they can be used in their purest forms.

Could trials of our lives qualify as a refiner’s fire? Does our inner spirit, through facing challenges and setbacks, refine and become more pure in oneness and connectedness to life?

We face challenges every single day. If we make choices that improve our view of our place in this world, and our view of ourselves, then I would say that we are indeed being refined by our choices.

When we face those really tough times that burn us down to our core yet somehow we make it through; when we endure those times when we feel like our spirit cannot bear the weight of our troubles, yet we survive, we emerge as a new creation. Slowly, trial by unending trial, we are formed and shaped into the person we are becoming.

How we view the difficulties of our lives helps shape how they will form us. Certainly, there will always be trouble in this life.

We could take a lesson from the mighty oaks of the field, and learn to bend and not break when the storms of life blow through. We will become more resilient with each passing season, and as we make choices that build our inner strength, we grow closer to the person we are becoming.

It is humanly possible that we might not respond to a situation in the best possible way every time. But hopefully we deal with our trials in a way that is forgiving to ourselves and nurtures our spirit. 

Sometimes it takes the perspective of time to see what we have learned. It may not be until sometime after your ordeal that you begin to understand how you have grown and changed as a result of what you have gone through. 


Be patient and open to learning more about yourself. Be aware that God is walking through the fire with you, and be receptive to His guidance. We constantly have the opportunity be be refined as we pass through the challenges that affect us. We can be changed in ways that lead to a better understanding of ourselves and our place in this world.






This song has been playing through my head all day as I've been writing this. 
Shawn McDonald sings "Rise". 




 Subscribers please click here to view this excellent video on my blog site. Thanks!




Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Cleaning of Your Heart


As early blooms explode color into my landscape, I can’t help but notice the flower beds that need cleaning after winter’s storms. Old leaves, twigs and dead plant materials need to be removed for the beauty of this year’s plants to be enjoyed.

Traditionally we clean our homes after the long winter months, though I have adopted more of a seasonal approach to this thought of “spring cleaning.” I like to clean for each season. In spring we need to remove the dusty feeling of being closed up in the house for too long, and for summer, well to be honest, just enough cleaning to get by – I have too much to do outdoors!  

But if we get away for a summer vacation, the house needs a good cleaning when we return, as cobwebs seem to form when the house is still and silent. Fall cleaning is a good time to catch-up after a busy summer of outside work and activities, and before the big Christmas holiday decorating I like to clean and dust and make the house sparkle and shine before the glitz and glamour is added.


Spring cleaning is in progress here in my home, and yesterday as I shook a small throw rug outside I remembered the days of old when large area rugs were hung up outside in the spring and beaten to remove a winter’s worth of dust. 


I imagined children squealing as clouds of dust were beaten out of the rug, and how dirty those children (or housewives) would feel after beating and breathing in the dust of the floor debris after a winter season. I was thankful I had only that little rug in my hand.

 
All this cleaning has gotten me to wondering if I need to do some spring cleaning in my heart. Is it time to take a deeper look and imagine the debris that clings to my spirit and makes me heavy-laden? What can I do to release these old hurts and the disappointment of unfilled expectations?


The best answer I have is to pray. God knows me inside and out. He knows my dreams and my wishes and my capabilities. He knows where I’ve failed and where I’ve fallen. He sees me as I struggle with acceptance of my situation.  Only God knows my fears and my hopes. And only His love can bring me peace.

So I will pray. I will ask God to clear out the cobwebs of uncertainty and wipe the dust from my eyes so that I can more clearly see the blessings in my life instead of the burdens I carry.

I will ask for His help to release my heartache and let it blow away like dust in the wind. Just as fresh linens drape the mattress, His peace covers me in fresh perspective and serenity. I must remember to always be grateful for the gift of God's presence in my life.  

Without knowing Him, I would not know peace. Without knowing His presence in my life, I would flounder and succumb to the waves of despair that threaten to drown me.


God is my Hope. My prayer is for Him to be with me always. And I pray that you would know Him intimately and know His peace.

Search yourself. Do a little "spring cleaning" and ask God to show you places in your heart that harbor old hurts or suffering that should be released. Let them go, and allow the winds of change to blow freshly upon your life. We would all do well to take up a little spring cleaning of our hearts, and begin again anew.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

He Lives!



Easter Sunday

Scripture and a Song



"and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.
 He is Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 1:4 (NLT)



Enjoy this powerful song by Nicole C. Mullin
Redeemer



subscribers please click here to view this video on my blog site



My prayer is that you would find great joy in realizing God's immeasurable love for us.



Happy Easter!


Friday, April 6, 2012

In Search of New Life


Early on a Good Friday morning, I was scheduled for surgery. It wasn’t routine. This was a re-excision, which meant they were opening up the already healing wound to make sure they got all the cancer. I was devastated. I was healing well and had been through the first surgery only weeks before. But I didn’t have “clean margins” meaning the edges of the tissue removed from my breast were not clear of those nasty little cancer cells. And they had to go back in to make sure they got them all.

Undergoing the first surgery was terrifying, but this second procedure traumatized me. Right from the start, my husband wasn’t allowed into the surgery preparation area for my support. The IV ached in wrist. They gave me nothing for anxiety though I couldn’t stop crying. I had to walk to the operating room toting my own IV stand, and drag myself up onto the narrow, cold table to be strapped down. 

The anesthesia didn’t work! First I had to tell them "Hey, I'm still awake under here!" and they gave me a little bit more anesthesia. Then I woke up in the middle of the procedure and felt my surgeon tugging and pulling as he stitched me back together. And yes, I felt the needle. Finally, there were no “amnesic” effects of the anesthesia, either. I remember everything, and believe me, it was a trauma. Along with the anesthesia drugs in my body, the pain meds they gave me plunged me even deeper into my darkness.

My family in the busy waiting room thought I would be ecstatic that the procedure was over. As they wheeled me out in a wheelchair, I felt a dark thundercloud over my head. No one knew of the autrocities I had just experienced. That was my Good Friday.

I came home to my bed to heal, just as I had for the previous surgery and another one only a few months before. I was beaten down, bruised, and my spirit longed for peace. I chose sleep.
  
My darkness continued on Saturday, as I lay in my tomb. Dead to life and dead to the world, I shut myself off from the lively activities of my family in the rest of the house. The drugs still lingered in my blood, and my inactivity did nothing to release them. I tried to eat. The day lingered on. Then night, and more rest.

Easter Sunday dawned brightly. The sun shone and birds sang and I crawled out of my darkness, out of my tomb of self-pity and found new strength. I perched on the window seat and watched my grown sons search for their Easter baskets along with their little brother. I laughed at their struggles to locate them, and felt new life course through my body once again.

I felt filled with love and life. I was alive! The sun shone warmly on my back and my heart warmed with my love for my family. I had made it through! The darkness lifted and though I was weak, I felt my purpose and the promise of the joy life brings.

We all live our own resurrection stories. Stories of new life and new growth and new opportunities to grow into the persons we are meant to become. Not every rebirth involves such intense physical components as I experienced, but most of the time the change comes from deep within us and the rebirth is painful in its own way. 

Three years have passed since that Good Friday. The physical and emotional scars are well-healed. My walk with God is closer than I ever knew it could be, and I have learned to trust Him for my every need.

I’ve experienced many smaller rebirths throughout this time, knowing God is leading me ever higher up the mountain on hind’s feet. He walks beside me and has gone before me. The way is clear.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)





Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring has Sprung!



Under ominous skies, the first of our April showers approaches. But we don't have to wait until May for our flowers. Truth be told, the daffodils and tulips are already beginning to bloom, and some have shared their sweet palate of color with us for many days already.


Springtime beat the robins to my backyard this year. Usually, through the cold and blustery month of March, these harbingers of spring with their russet breasts and bright yellow beaks hop around last year’s lawn looking for bits of something to eat.


This year, we experienced an unusual warm spell in mid-March. Record-setting temperatures caused my white magnolia to bloom over a month early. Sadly its normally long-lasting tepals turned brown and blew off within days due to the extreme heat. It usually is not eighty degrees when my magnolia tree blooms! 

The return to more ‘normal’ temperatures (forty degrees colder!) under relatively gloomy skies, turned everyone’s feelings back to an internal winter. People seemed grumpy and sad. Though we knew the early warmth was unusual weather for these parts, we had reveled in the expectation of an early summer.

Winter hats, coats, gloves and scarves were discarded as we dug out our shorts and tank tops. I found the heat exhausting, too much too soon, but still didn’t want to complain. After months of cold, even a mild winter like last season’s can wear on you after awhile.

The gift of all of this warm weather has been the early flowers, and new leaves on the trees and shrubs. Green looks great on the natural world, especially after months of seeing only brown or white in the landscape. Several neighbors have already cut their grass. They seem to be enjoying getting their mowers out and thankfully storing the snow blowers for the warm seasons.

The bulbs we planted at our church with the Sunday school classes last fall are up and blooming earlier than planned, but since the return to cooler temperatures, the flowers are lasting longer and the blooms should last through Easter day.

Everyone at church is noticing the flowers and commenting on their beauty. We planted about 250 bulbs, about 75 of which were little crocuses. This year the crocuses came and went in a matter of days with the heat.

The tulips and daffodils are in their glory, and I’m amazed how many people have commented to me how beautiful the church grounds appear. While I am thrilled that people would notice our efforts  (and thankful that everything actually came up!) my real joy will be to see the children’s faces as they realize how they contributed to adding beauty to their church property. And not just for this season, but for many spring seasons to come.




Our heritage is in our children. Teach them to sow, and to reap. Teach them to sing, and to pray. Show them a merciful God who loves them unconditionally. And love them without reservation.  Let them know forgiveness, and teach them to practice it. Demonstrate compassion, and acceptance. The future of humanity depends on it.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Joy of Springtime


Sunday Scripture

and a

Song




Mornings are again filled with the sweet serenade of songbirds in the trees outside my window. How I miss their chorus through the long winter months here in Wisconsin. Today I share this scripture from the Song of Songs which echos my joy at the birth of new life. 

We can expereince rebirth in any season. The joy of discovering new life inside of us is the Spirit's way of making us new. I pray your winter 'season' has passed, allowing joy to fill your heart as you experience new life and new hope.          ~ Blessings ~



"Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone. 
The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air."  Song of Songs 2:11-12 (NLT)



I chose to share a special song by Cat Stevens today. "Morning has Broken" is a familiar tune to many of you. There is great joy in the beauty of the natural world around us, and even greater joy in connecting with God through the beauty of all of His Creation.


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