Life’s Little Blessings

Last week while visiting my mom, I delivered a fresh hot cup of coffee to her as she sat in the family room. When I set the mug down on the coffee table next to her, she said that I should look out the window on the door. She told me that I wouldn’t believe what I would see. (Above you see a photo of one of mom’s window wells.) There in the window well was a happy, pink petunia growing.

I love surprises. I think we need special surprises in the window wells of our stressed filled lives to bring us joy in the mundane. But I know I don’t often see them or look for them.

Our days are packed with so much to do, not to mention the unexpected interruptions that come along. Life gets overwhelming and we get lost in it all.

Isn’t it just like our loving Father to grow a happy, little petunia in the window well to make us smile?

I am realizing more and more how the busyness of life squeezes out the time to recognize the Lord’s blessings. It is too easy to live void of the sweet expectation and hope of what He might do. He gives blessings freely and His love touches our lives in so many ways. Yet, too often, we miss these gifts because our minds are focused elsewhere, or because there are too many tasks on our to do lists.

It is time to try to be more aware, who knows what little joys are waiting for you?

I know I need to become more aware of the Lord’s sweet kisses each day. His kisses remind me of His love and the hope I have in Him. I need reminders to thank Him for His presence in my life each day.

Remember to look for and recognize His blessings, often they are right in front of us, so easily missed.

Thank you, Lord, for petunia’s in the window wells of life.

Friendships…A Gift from God

 

Friendship is truly a gift from God. Time spent with friends who are in a deep relationship with the Lord leave me filling enriched and fulfilled. I feel like I come away knowing the Lord more because of time with a Christian friend. Christian friends talk about the things of life, yet each discussion comes back to the Lord and His work in our lives. We discuss what He is teaching us, how He is leading us, and how He is at work in answering our prayers. We focus on our hope in Him. It is beautiful and we each come away feeling a depth of His love through one another.

It is very important to have Christian friendships, so that we can encourage and build each other up. I know we have many different friends at different levels in life, and each of them are at a different place with the Lord, but as a believer, we need those friendships that are faith-building. We need people who encourage us in our walk with the Lord, to lead us to see Him more clearly.

As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.”  Proverbs 27:17

The Lord renews us and speaks to us through those He has put in our lives. He uses us, as well, to touch others with His love. Today, I thank Him for the gift of friendship. I thank Him for those friends that He put in my life for me to touch with His love. I thank Him for those Christian sisters He has put in my life to build me up and for the “sharpening” that is taking place through those relationships.

And, I thank Him too for the connection I have found with other bloggers. It is a beautiful thing to share with other believers the things that the Lord is teaching us, and to confess our neediness for Him in our lives through our blogs.

May your soul be refreshed today by the gift of a friend who shows you the Lord in a new way and encourages your heart in your Christian walk. Let the Lord work through you to be another’s soul refreshment today also. May the Lord bless you through the gift of friendships in your life.

 

Welcome!

I love this doorway, first of all, it is green my favorite color and it just has so much character. It looks inviting to me. I look at it and wonder what might be behind those closed doors. If I knock will there be a greeting with a smile or will someone gruffly slam the door in my face?

Seeing others, greeting others, and drawing others in is an important part of the Christian life. I am realizing through my time in the Word that I often have my doors closed tightly. I get too busy, too focused, too deliberate about accomplishing my to-do list. I end up missing a lot. I miss opportunities to touch other’s lives with His grace. I overlook kindnesses done missing chances to express gratitude. I move swiftly through my day from one thing to another so much in my own little world. My own thoughts reverberate loudly off the walls of my skull, and I don’t listen for the prompts of the Lord.

Helping people to see the love of Christ as we yield to His Spirit’s work within us is our calling as Christians. The truth of this makes me want to grow in being slow and intentional. I need to walk slowly and really see those around me. I need to see the tears, the lost looks, the fearful eyes, the ragged clothes. I need to allow it all to touch my heart, to really sink in deeply. I need to be intentional about reaching out with comforting words and encouragement. I need to respond with a heart of compassion. I need to react by meeting the needs I see around me instead of moving onto accomplish my next task.

There are so many things that need to be done in our busy lives in the course of a day. The hours fly by and by late evening we are exhausted, sometimes it is by early afternoon that our energy lags. How can one possibly add one more thing to do?

Have your days gone by without noticing the needs of those around us? I have to admit that I have left too many days go by like this.

So, how do we change this? How can we make tomorrow different?

Prayer. I believe that is the answer. Praying for a heart of mercy. Praying for eyes that see this world as the Lord sees it. Praying for help to hear His prompts, those spiritual nudges so easily overlooked. Praying for the ability to choose the best over the better in all opportunities. Praying for help finding quiet in His presence in our days, so we aren’t running without His direction. All of that and probably so much more.

What will really matter in the end? It won’t be how many days I checked off all on my to-do list. But rather did I listen? Did I respond with love and soft words? Did I meet a need? Did I touch a heart in a special way? I want the door of my heart open, I want my eyes open to all around me, I want my arms reaching, and my hands giving. Lord, make it so.

Help each of us to look into the eyes of the widow. Help us to meet the needs of the hungry and needy children. Help us see and hear with a heart like Yours, Lord. Lead us, Lord, to live out Your love in ways for all to see the reality of You in this world. We can only do this Lord as You work through us.

Loving God

 

I just finished a Bible study by Catherine Martin titled A Heart that Hopes in God. The last question of the study asked for the reader to go back through the study and look for important truths that have been learned in the study that give hope. I had underlined a lot, and took time to read through each section that I had marked. It is obvious that much of our hope comes from the love we receive from God, in knowing the depth of His love for us. But the thing that most inspired me was a certain man’s love for God.

Psalm 18:1NLT “I love you LORD, you are my strength.

It was explained in my study that the word here for love is “raham” which means to love deeply and compassionately. This Psalm was written by David, shepherd boy and king. The word raham is used only this once in speaking from man to God, all other times it is used in the Bible it is used to describe God’s love for man (A Heart that Hopes in God).

The depth of David’s love for God amazed me. The Lord said that David was “a man after his own heart”(1 Samuel 13:14). It makes sense that a man after God’s own heart would love Him deeply and compassionately.

Considering this made me think about my love for God, is my love for Him deep and compassionate? The Lord asks us to love Him with all our heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). The Lord sees our hearts, He sees what and how we love. He must weep at what He sees.

This world so cheapens love. David really knew God’s love and returned that same love back to Him. The Lord says when we search for Him with all of our hearts we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). I think that David found Him, grew to know Him, and then to love Him with such beautiful love.

Lord, teach me to love You with raham, with deep and compassionate love. Help me to search for You with all of my heart and find You. Help me to love You with all of my heart, soul, and strength. I desire that You turn my eyes away from anything that would weaken my love for You.

I love the hymn Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus, especially the verse that says that “the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Our eyes turn upon many things throughout the day, how many lead us away from knowing and loving the Lord more?

Pray today to learn to love Him deeply and compassionately, what greater joy could there be?

Waiting !

Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait. And in His word do I hope.

Waiting, ugh, waiting is hard! I get frustrated waiting in the check-out line, and that is usually only a few extra minutes. It is even more difficult to wait for the Lord to respond to my prayers, especially when the time of waiting moves from months to years.

Yet, I know that going ahead, reaching for the prize before it is mine, is dangerous and has the potential to cause more trouble. Only the Lord’s way will really bring full satisfaction to my heart and glory to His name.

There are times when you are even wanting to move ahead in doing something good, and are wanting to do it now, even in those circumstances it is important to wait. The Lord has a reason for His timing in all things. If we move ahead of Him, it may take away a lesson He has to teach, or it may mean us losing out on His best for us.

Waiting is a big part of surrender. Surrender is a part of daily life. Sometimes we are asked to surrender our time to help another instead of doing what we had planned, or maybe we are asked to surrender a desire to get something we want when there is a greater need elsewhere. When we choose to surrender to what the Lord asks, we are saying, ‘I am Your’s Lord, all of me, I am willing to sacrifice anything for Your will. I am willing to wait for Your best for me.’ When we wait we are saying ‘I will sacrifice my time, my desire, my dreams as I wait for You to act.’

Here are a few Bible verses that describe how we should wait on the Lord. When we are left to wait on the Lord to work on our behalf or for an answer to a prayer, we can use these verses to remember how to wait.

Psalm 62:5 NLT “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.

Usually, when we are waiting our eyes are fully focused on what we want, this verse reminds us to focus on the Giver. The psalmist David tells us we are to wait quietly, not murmurring and complaining. He wants his whole being to be quiet and wait in perfect trust. He waits quietly because he has placed his hope in the Lord. David knows that he has gone through difficult times before, and the Lord came through, so he feeds on the faithfulness of God, trusting in God Who has proved Himself to be trustworthy. Be quiet before the Lord as you wait, remember Who you have placed your hope in.

Psalm 37:7 ESV “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him, fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices.

There are other times, that as we wait, we are comparing ourselves to what others, what they have, or what they are getting undeservedly and we fret.  David tells us again to be still, but to also wait patiently. Stop looking around getting all upset about what you feel you are missing out on. God knows exactly what you need and when it will be the perfect time for you to receive it. Remember you are in God’s presence and He is in control, He knows what is best for you. He will not fail you.

Micah 7:7 AMP “But as for me,  I will look expectantly for the LORD and with confidence in Him, I will wait [with confident expectation] for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” 

Micah says that he will wait expectantly. We wait anticipating what is about to take place. We look for it because we know Who we are asking. We wait knowing that God is a good Father, He will give us good gifts. So, we look to God with expectation and confidence, knowing that He hears us and He will answer in His perfect timing. Don’t take your eyes off of the Lord, look expectantly to Him.

Our hope is in God and in the truth of His Word. We wait quietly, we wait patiently, we wait expectantly, because God is good, because He is faithful. Waiting is not easy, but remembering Who God is can be helpful. We need to keep our eyes on Him. Look to His Word, to His promises, and all the while remember His unchanging love.

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

It is so beautiful to me, how the Lord always knows exactly when we need what we need even before we know. I am feeling exhausted this morning, and my to-do list for seems never ending. We have been doing a marathon of canning vegetables from our gardens. I woke up feeling tired, that is not good when you know there is so much that needs to be done and the time to accomplish the tasks is limited. I opened the Bible study I am doing to find out that today’s lesson was the start of the 23rd Psalm. I needed to again be reminded that the Lord is my Shepherd, my all in all. And I needed to be reminded of the rest, refreshment, and renewed strength that I can find in Him.

I love Matthew 11:28-30 in The Message,

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Last year we purchased a pressure canner for canning the low acid vegetables. I was leary of getting one because they scared me. But we went ahead, and I have learned to feel comfortable using it. We have been canning beans in the pressure canner. The canner has to build up a certain amount of pounds of pressure in order for it to work, in order to can the vegetables safely. I was thinking about that and sometimes it seems like I put myself in a pressure canner of my own making. I write out a long list of things that need to be done and feel pressured to accomplish them all.

My study this morning led me to the above verse in Matthew, it is exactly what I needed. It takes me out of the pressure canner. I need to learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I am realizing how intent I get in keeping my eyes on the end result of getting it all done. And in doing that I really miss the journey, the process, I miss really being present in life, I miss His presenvce with me.

Jesus didn’t rush from one thing to another in a hurried frenzy. He was calm and at peace in what He knew He had to do. I want to learn to live freely and lightly.

Today, I am going out to mow the lawn, not thinking about the remainder of things on my list, but I will choose to just enjoy God’s incredibly beautiful creation. Today, I will go pick up the few groceries I need and as I walk through the many aisles of available products, I will be thankful to the Lord for His amazing provision. Today, as I make minestrone soup, I will enjoy cutting up the vegetables, and thank the Lord for starting life in a garden, for the gift of vegetables that He enables us to grow in our garden, and for the many lessons He teaches me there. He is the giver of all good gifts. Today, as I do my cleaning, I will choose to be thankful for my home and the many things that God has given me to enjoy here. Today, when we do even more canning, I will rejoice that I have a husband to help me and how beautiful it is to work together on a project. I will be thankful for all of the vegetables as well as the ability to preserve them. They will keep for about a year after we can them. I will remember that my Keeper keeps me forever. Thank you, Lord!

I will remember His grace in all I do, and I will be present in the acts of all I have to do. I will be intentional about seeking His presence and peace rather than feeling overwhelmed in the pressure I put on myself.

Today, look for and live in His unforced rhythms of grace.He takes the pressure off.

Surrendering My Life

It seems that the more time you have, the more things you seem to find to fill it with. We try harder and harder to do it all. And Jesus calls us. Too often, upon His calling, my reply is often “Just one more thing and then I will sit with You”. There is always one more thing. He waits for me.

Luke 10:42 AMP “but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her.” (Jesus)

Mary made Jesus her “one thing.

When we decide to make Him our one thing, it is life changing. It is full surrender. It is in full surrender that we find satisfaction and rest because it is there that we stop being in charge, and give it all over to the Lord. He promises that if we seek first His kingdom, everything else will be given to us (Matthew 6:33). There is no need to worry and stress.

I have been wrestling with knowing rest and finding satisfaction. I am realizing that when I try to take over and work everything out myself that I end up losing both satisfaction and do not find rest. I stress instead. But when I give it all to the Lord, and reach for Him to take care of everything it is then He supplies me with both. I know satisfaction in doing it His way, and I find rest.

I am in the process of reevaluating my surrender to the Lord. The Lord has been repeatedly moving my focus to see my lack of surrender. I am recognizing more and more my fear in surrendering and fully trusting. Honestly, it doesn’t make sense to be afraid of surrendering to Him. He loves me enough to have died for me. Yet, I lack trust in certain areas of my life.

I have found a very helpful tool created by Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth. She uses the words of the familiar hymn “Take My Life and Let It Be” to outline questions for each area in life that we must learn to surrender. It is very beneficial to use for a self-check and bring each area to the Lord in prayer. You can find this at: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/articles/take-my-life-let-it-be/

I am using these questions today and in the upcoming week to help me learn more about areas where I need to grow in trust. I am seeking to learn surrender to a fuller degree.

What about you? Where are you in your journey to surrendering fully to the Lord? I hope you will check out this tool and that it will be helpful to you.