He Has Me Covered

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I tend to be a very visual person, so I find myself always looking at things around me, I notice even the most minute details…..and I think on those things. That is just how I am. The views always capture my attention, allowing me calmness and contemplation in an otherwise hectic life. With that said, this past week I was on my way back from the barn, crossing through newly fallen snow. Even though it was bitterly cold, and the wind stung my face, I took a moment and gazed over the back pasture, where the fence touches the horizon. The gray winter sky buried itself in the snow making it difficult to discern which was which. Yesterday evening, I was walking the dogs after dinner, the village water tower was silhouetted against the burning pinks and purples of a frigid January sunset. The night, here, is filled with a million stars, they are a cold and crisp sparkle on a quiet ebony night. Although I try to describe the views, I feel I can’t do it justice. This area allows me to see God’s hand in everything. I spend many of my moments enjoying His creativity.

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The thought crossed my mind this week, that I never could have imagined all of this. My life, like most, has had many twists and turns. There were times when figurative doors slammed shut on what I thought was the next chapter in my story. If someone had told me ten years ago, where I would be, what I would be doing, I would have never guessed I’d be living in rural Ohio, in the middle of what was at one time a farm field. I had no idea of the man I would meet and marry, after five years of widowhood. I could not have known the friends I’d make, the lives that would intersect with mine. I am reminded that God is the Author and Finisher of my story. He alone knows the future, be it by one minute or decades, or for all eternity. My life is literally in His hands.

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I know that God loves me. I know that His plans are perfect. I know that He always has my best interest at heart, and I am His beloved. I am able to relax, and know that He has me covered…..and I can rest in that knowledge.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4 

Join us over at Beloved Brews! The writing prompt for today is: share what inspired you about God this week or share a story/insight/experience as God’s beloved.

Beloved Brews Linkup

Positive Vibes

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Something has been nagging at me lately, nibbling away at my thoughts. Maybe, I think about things too much. I have heard, over the past month, individuals saying things like, “Send positive healing vibes out into the universe”, or “I say thank you for all the good in my life…saying a prayer and sending it out into the universe.”  What exactly does that mean? Sending it out to the universe? Where? To the stars? Other planets?  Wanting “The Force” to be with you?

I know there are a lot of agnostics and atheists in this world, maybe even some that read my blog. Although, they would have to overlook a lot since my blog is obviously faith based,  and I am not shy about putting my views out there.

I guess “sending it out to the universe” just seems empty and meaningless to me. I truly believe that people want there to be more, hope that there is more than just this life, that there is a “higher power” beyond what the eye can see. Otherwise, this existence could get fairly depressing, in my opinion. Life is hard.

If one is going to thank somebody, why the vast universe? Why not the One who created the universe? The One who calls the stars by name, calms storms with just the sound of His voice, and already knows each of the days of your life, before even one of them came to be?

I know there are a lot of people searching too. They just haven’t figured out yet, what it is they are searching for….or who they are searching for.

Having said that, I can only give my own personal story. My testimony, that there is, indeed, a God. I can speak to the fact that Jesus changed my life. That I know because He lives, I can face all my tomorrows with peace and absolute security. Some would scoff at me, and say, “Only the weak need religion. God is just a fantasy that people make up when they are forced to face the unknown.” To that, I reply, “I could present all the proof in the world, and until one is ready to see it, it will not make sense to him/her.”

Dear readers of my blog, you are loved. You are not forgotten. God has a plan for you. Really.

I would be honored if you would take a few extra minutes and read some of my archived posts. The funny, the difficult, the lovely, the gritty brokenness of my life. It is my story…..and I know the author of my story. His name is Jesus.

Kennis Sounds Like Dennis

What I Learned From Kennis

I Remember

Stoning

Do I Suffer Well?

The Greatest Gift Of All

Whiter Than Snow

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This morning I trudged to the barn through the freshly fallen snow and drifts, that were created by last night’s blur of flakes and wind. I was thinking about the beauty of the whiteness that surrounded me, the sun that valiantly attempted to brighten a gray winter sky, and the frigid air that numbed my fingers, even in insulated work gloves. A new day, one that is starting out fresh and clean.

The verses from Lamentations 3, came to my mind.…“The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”… (verses 22-24 NIV)  These verses have long been some favorites of mine.

The ground early yesterday was dirty and muddy, filled full of dog and cat prints, patches of dirty snow from a previous winter storm, and grass that was obviously brown and dead…….and yet……in one afternoon and night the outside was miraculously transformed into a pristine and glowing place. Fresh. New. Beautiful.

God is the God of second chances….and third…and fourth.  Second chances in nature, and second chances with His most loved creations. Us. If you are anything like me, there are times when you feel that life has left you dirty and scarred. You have been bruised by the memories, beaten down by the events. You long for a fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning.

God is here, in the midst of the dirt and grime of life. He is not a callous God who leaves us to mire in the mud of the day to day. David (of the Bible) understood what it was to feel broken, and he wrote a psalm to God, “I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD.… (Psalm 40:1-3)

Dear friends and fellow readers, if you are feeling down today, I encourage you to read Psalms. Also, to read the gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Let them speak to your heart. God is not arrogant, nor does He push Himself on individuals….but, if you come to Him, He will not turn you away.

You can be a new creation in Him…..and He will wash you whiter than snow.

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What I Love To Do that Feeds My Soul

I’m in the process of making real, legitimate lifestyle changes to take care of my physical self. Eating in a healthy manner, no sugar, no gluten, more nutrient packed smoothies, and regular exercise to strengthen my core. I need to stay serious about taking care of this body, so it will, it turn, take care of me.

I’m constantly reading and researching, finding there is always something new to explore or try. My goal is to never stop learning. After all, as the saying goes, the mind is a terrible thing to waste.

So, I am working on the physical, striving to sharpen the mental. That leaves the spiritual. What do I love to do, that feeds my soul? This question reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from beloved author, C.S. Lewis. “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Our soul is what makes us who we are. Without the soul we are merely a physical shell. Without the soul, our mind becomes dry and fragile. Our soul is a gift from our Creator. It sets us apart from all other creation.

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So, how do I feed my soul? I do that by drawing close to the One who intimately knows me. God, who created me, left a hole that only He can fill. When I live the moments and thank God for them, when I slow down and take the time to gaze at the stars, and feel awe and magnificence… When I see the colors splashed across the morning sky, feel the beating of my own heart, listen to a cat purr….. The fresh smell of a damp, rainy morning…The quiet hush of newly fallen snow. I feel close to God when I am in nature…..because the beauty of nature always, always leads me back to the Creator.

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The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1
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In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.  The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Psalm 95:4-5
A cold January with beautiful sunrises

A cold January with beautiful sunrises

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it;  let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy…Psalm 96:11-12
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For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20
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 Join us over at beloved brews, and read what others love to do that feeds their souls.
Beloved Brews Linkup

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Life can sometimes be overwhelming, can’t it? There are always things that seem to pop up when they are the least expected, and the least wanted. Why can’t things ever be easy? Why don’t more things go right? The car quit working and to get it fixed is going to cost, I’ve stalled out on my weight loss, sometimes I just want to eat gluten even though it makes me very ill, some people have given me the cold shoulder, it hurts and confuses, I have friends that are going through difficult circumstances and my heart breaks, dogs and cats that poop and puke and make a mess for the umpteenth time, my muck boots have a tear in them (yuck), and my work schedule has been thrown off. I’m just plain old, tired.

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After going through my laundry list of all the wrongs in my world, I am reminded of something one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, wrote in her book, One Thousand Gifts. She talked about how often we see the holes in this fabric of life. Our eyes so often concentrate on the empty…..we neglect to see the full. (my paraphrase) I will admit, I am so guilty of this. I know better….I know what it is to be thankful, and yet I allow myself to fall into the “if only” mentality. If only I did this or that, if only I had this or that then everything would work out and life would be great.

The Great Deceiver whispers in a quiet voice, a voice that chokes and smothers. One that taunts me about all there is to not be thankful for. All the things that are not good. All the ways that Christ lets me down. Fear creeps in through the cracks, and he smirks. Fear. Fear of all the what if’s, the if only’s, the pain, the misunderstandings, the exhaustion, the Father of Lies doesn’t retreat….he presses in harder. He wants to break me. That is what he is all about. He wants to come to kill and destroy, but I know The Truth. Christ has come that I might have life and have it to the full.

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I (Jesus) came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 ESV

Will this life ever be perfect? No. We live in a broken, sin cursed world. Oh, but sweet friends, there is still so very much to be thankful for. Right in this moment, with the very breath that fills our lungs with life giving oxygen. Breathe in. He loves us. Breathe out. He cares. Breathe in. He lives. Breathe out. Forever.  Amen.

What Does It Mean To Be Real?

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“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” —The Skin Horse, to the Velveteen Rabbit, on being real.   ― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

This quote is from one of my favorite childhood books. I think the skin horse was pretty wise, for being a toy. Sounds to me as if he understood the realities of living better than humans, wouldn’t you say?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it means to “be real” with other people. It can be a scary thought for many of us, but necessary if we are going to have relationships with other people that really matter, and aren’t just pleasantries and plastic facades. I’m not saying that we should let everyone know all our business, or that we should blurt out anything that comes to our mind in the name of “being honest and keeping it real”, because quite frankly, that more times than not, is less than helpful. I’m not talking about being real in bold smugness, but more in allowing us to have a humble servant’s heart towards others.

I am considering what it means to be imperfect with others. To not be scared to allow people to see my mistakes, my failures, my shortcomings. There is something about knowing another person has the same problems as you, it makes the problems a little less scary, and a lot more human. Don’t we look at another person sometimes and think to ourselves, if he/she can do it, I can too! Many times it really isn’t necessary that anyone do anything in particular, just lend genuine support, a listening ear, and maybe some heartfelt empathy for what the other person is going through.

Life has it’s wonderful “mountain top” experiences, where everything is right with the world…..but, those times tend to be a rare triumph. Most of us live in the shadows of the mountains, here in the day to day. Oh, life is still good, or it can be, but we deal more with the routines and struggles of a climber that is out of breath and out of sorts. Deadlines and dead loved ones, forgotten appointments and disappointments, meals to plan and plans to make, jobs with bosses that just don’t get it and getting it all wrong for the umpteenth time. College, and careers. Dates and do-overs. Marriages and misunderstandings. Kids and courage. Tears and laughter and everything in between. That is where we live. That is real.

As a follower of Christ, He calls me to be real with people. Often times, it is in our most vulnerable moments, when the mask falls to the floor and shatters into a million jagged pieces, that our hearts are softened and we can be genuine and real. It draws others to us—because they understand. They have been there too.

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2 

What’s The Word?

Today I am participating in Beloved Brews over at my friend, Bonnie’s, blog.

The prompt for today’s writing: What is your One Word for 2015? 

Beloved Brews Linkup

We are only a couple of weeks into the new year. This year is still fresh with possibilities. In the midst of those possibilities there is this word, “renew“.  The word I have chosen. The dictionary gives the definition of renew as to “re-establish (a relationship)”, or to resume (an activity) after an interruption.  And don’t we all deal with the interruptions of life? We get off track and get back on again. We long to renew our strength, our minds, our bodies.

This past year, I started eating differently, I have exercised more, I’ve read more books, and studied more. I’ve tried a lot of things and sometimes I’ve failed. And that is okay.

I have stopped to really see all the ways that God has gifted me, as I have renewed my mind, my body, and my spirit. In 2015, I continue to be renewed, as I step out and try different things….to follow the plan that God has written, uniquely for me.

Not always easy, but always worth it.

Sometimes the path is difficult and I stumble, but God says, “Even youths grow tired and weary,and young men stumble and fall;  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. (Isaiah 40:30-31) 

Thank you, Lord.

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    they will walk and not be faint.