Today is the second day of September and we are having a big heat wave here in the bay area. I know it has happened before, but it is rare for us to get temperatures over 100 all over the area. We are spoiled because of the temperate climate here.. very few extremes. It is easy to be comfortable in this area since our lifestyle allows us to see so much beauty and we rarely face disasters like they are facing right now in Texas. The flooding we have been watching all week is a reminder that things can change in an instant. No matter how much we try to be in control of our lives, we are not able to predict the future. It seems to me that the Lord continues to remind us of His sovereignty through natural disasters and personal tragedies.
More and more of my conversations seem to center around trials and tests that people are facing. Even here in our county.. things are changing. With so many people moving to the bay area over the last 10 years.. our highways are crowded and there is litter everywhere. Our quiet protected area is not so quiet or protected. People are struggling here with finances, health, and family problems. In order to live here.. there are not enough jobs and the housing situation is unbelievable.. who can afford to be here? I know we can’t.. but God has us here and He continues to confirm that. Our family is here and we support one another. My husband has lived here since he was born and I have been in this area for 50 years.. Yes we are getting older every day:) Many of our friends are gone, they have either moved away or passed away.. it is a bit lonely at times. Aging is challenging in a youth oriented culture and unfortunately the church is the same way. We have found ourselves feeling left behind and in some cases cast aside.
The good news is that these experiences do not define us. Our identity is in the Lord and He continues to affirm our worth and value. Because of the challenges we face.. I am more confident that it is not what I do, or who I know or what people think that defines me. I am His and that is what matters. Our circumstances continually change.. tomorrow it could be snowing here and Texas may experience a heat wave that dries up the land quickly. Tomorrow could bring a scary diagnosis for us or someone we love.. or tomorrow someone may be healed right in front of us.. reminding us of who is in control.. every day.. every single hour. We are not alone or forgotten..we are never abandoned or cast off. He remembers us.. comforts us.. holds us as we lean into Him in these times.
Father.. I pray for everyone reading this that they may experience more of you as this day unfolds. I pray for your spirit to be poured out on us as we cling to you in these trying times. We long to draw closer to your heart.. teach us how to do that.. protect us and guide us each day as we trust you.
I love this time of year.. after a long rainy winter, we are finally getting some beautiful weather and the first signs of spring are here. All my potted plants are showing signs of life.. it is always a surprise when I see that they survived so much rain and I never managed to transplant them.. yet they are coming back again. Their conditions are less than ideal.. but they persevere..reminds me of our lives.
We live in less than ideal circumstances.. yet every spring we can look ahead with hope and trust that the Lord has new things for us in this season. The hardships of winter may have beaten us down.. but there are signs of new growth.. signs of life. I don’t know about you.. but I need to have hope for the future.. to believe that there are going to be surprises.. things that God is going to do that I never expected..I try to make a point of noticing those things when they happen.. even if they are very small things.. like my rose bushes looking exceptionally healthy this year.. almost ready to bloom.. a precious gift from God.
Easter is coming in two weeks.. a time of celebration.. rejoicing in what the Lord has done for us. We have this time to begin to savor each day and to be thankful for this life.. to pray and ask for restoration and healing.. to seek a greater glimpse of His goodness. This is a special time and I don’t want to waste it looking back at the disappointments..the desire of my heart is to experience the abundant life of John 10:10 every single day in the midst of the challenges and trials.. He is always with us and always pouring out His love into our hearts.. time to drink deeply of the Living Water.. to fill up so we can pour out that love to others.. Let it be so Lord!
I believe that this is always true of God. He is always doing a new thing and never runs out of ideas:) The problem is that at times we get stuck. We may feel as though nothing new can ever happen or that we are forgotten or possibly we believe that the past is being repeated in the present. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Spring is the time when we are reminded of this. Every year new things spring up from the ground.. trees are suddenly filled with lush green leaves. The light coming in the window is at a new angle. The old brown leaves that covered the ground are gone..suddenly replaced by lush green meadows and the tiny blossoms of wildflowers. The earth is being renewed by its Creator God. He has taken out his paintbrush and painted the most beautiful watercolor we have ever seen.. it takes our breath away.
Every spring I am surprised by the Lord..totally amazed at His creativity.. so inspiring. His personal reminder that He is at work in our world and that He is doing a new thing around us and of course in us.
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)
The past month has been full of surprising changes and I expect that to continue throughout the summer. There are seasons of life when it seems as though our feet are in quicksand. We pray and wait and wonder..looking far out into the distance.. asking God ” what exactly do you have in mind?” He remains silent. The silence is deafening.. and still we wait.. we pray and we lean forward hoping to hear something.. anything.. a glimpse? Suddenly God speaks ” Trust me.” That’s it? Really?
So we do. After enough time ( only He knows what that means!) God moves. He surprises us with ideas that we know cannot come from anywhere but the heart of God. Things begin to change and we feel our world start to shake.. Whoa! Are you sure God? I know, I know, I asked you to do something, to do anything.. Just surprise me. I said that? What was I thinking?
Are we safe? Yes. Is it always easy? No. Is He with us? Yes. We are being led down the path of life by our Great God and our lives belong to Him. He has carved out a path that is perfect for us and He is ahead of us on that road. He has cleared the way..prepared everything perfectly for such a time as this. So put on your seat belt because this is a summer of surprises!
“Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, riversin the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
to be in His presence..the same way we are. Today as I was walking through the valley I suddenly saw everything around me in a new light. As I looked at the trees and plants.. I saw them reaching up to the Lord. It was as though they were showing me that they long for more in the same way we do. It was a surprising experience.
I love nature and try to get out into it as often as possible..I appreciate the beauty that lies just outside my front door..particularly when Spring begins to show its face in the flowers and lush green leaves of the trees. It is easy for me to remember that God created all of this .. it is a gift He gives us every day. Today was different because I could sense the longing of creation for its Creator. God seemed to be saying that as we long for Him and reach for Him in that same way, He will bring growth to us and we will bear fruit for Him.
I saw this picture of how all creation, including us, waits for the day when all is as it should be. Even the plants and trees will be their perfect selves..everything will be made whole and beautiful. We live with this desire throughout our lives here and God wants us to live as fully as possible each and every day. But the truth is we will not experience life fully until that day when His work of redemption is complete.
I can live with that..knowing that He is working and bringing to completion everything and that someday the perfect world that we long for will be ours!
“Let’s hear it from Sky, With Earth joining in, And a huge round of applause from Sea.
Let Wilderness turn cartwheels, Animals, come dance, Put every tree of the forest in the choir—
An extravaganza before God as he comes, As he comes to set everything right on earth, Set everything right, treat everyone fair.” ( psalm 96:11-13)
I love them. The colors..the surprise every time one shoots up in the air an..that moment when as you wait for it to explode. If you are in a crowd..you can hear the sighs and feel the wonder all around you. Fireworks help us celebrate..prompt us to look up..take our breath away..renew our weary spirits.
God does all these things too..and not just on the 4th of July. He loves celebrations.. He rejoices with us when we find ways to enjoy life. When we lift our eyes waiting expectantly for Him to show up.. He is delighted with us. Every night the sky is flooded with stars that He made. Some evenings we can catch a glimpse of the beauty of the full moon. Nature is His handiwork. The coast of our beautiful state is one breathtaking view after another. The wildflowers are a sea of incredible shapes and colors. What a creative genius He is!
Yes I love fireworks..but even without them there are surprises and beauty everywhere. Find a way to enjoy this day..let Him renew your spirit and lift you above your circumstances..you deserve it!
“This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
How much do they matter? They make all the difference. How do you feel when someone knows about something that really matters to you..without you telling them? Personally I absolutely love it. God is so good at that very thing. Lately I have been noticing the way I will have a small desire and the next thing I know..I realize that God does something to show me that He knew all about it.
We were going out for dessert in nearby town..one that we rarely visit. As we were driving I thought of an old friend.. he pastors a church in that town. I thought..wouldn’t it be great to see him. It was a quick thought and I didn’t dwell on it..I wasn’t even sure where he lived. We met our friends in a wonderful frozen yogurt shop..as we were enjoying our yogurt..my husband said..”look who’s coming in the door.” I turned around and there was our old friend with his two beautiful children. No Way! It was God.
This morning my daughter called to tell me about a kitten she was considering adopting. I was surprised because for weeks I have been thinking about the fact that our family is catless and feeling very sad about it. I kept bringing it up to my husband and wondering why I had such a feeling that something was missing. Suddenly we were in the car.. in the holiday traffic..driving to see the most darling little Siamese kitty. He is spending his first night with my daughter’s family … my new grandcat..only 5 minutes away. God knew.
So when something small comes through your mind..a small desire or want..don’t be surprised if God shows up and surprises you with the very thing you were longing for. He wants us to know that He is aware of all of those things that we hold in our hearts..every little detail..every potential opportunity to show us that He is with us..that He loves us..that we are not forgotten.
“The Lord is my shepherd.. I have all that I need… Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life.”
I hear the lyrics of a song going through my head..a song from a long time ago. It turns out to be a song that came out the year my daughter was born..1972. A great year for me. I wanted nothing more than to be a mother. I had dreamed of it all my life and was just amazed when it happened. That amazement continues to this day..only now I get to be amazed everytime I see my daughter as a mother..with three amazing children. God is good and He surprises us with things that delight us beyond measure.
The lyrics of the song are written here..
I can see clearly now the rain is gone I can see all obstacles in my way Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day
Oh yes, I can make it now the pain is gone All of the bad feelings have disappeared Here is the rainbow I’ve been praying for It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day
Ooh – look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies
I can see clearly now the rain is gone I can see all obstacles in my way Here’s the rainbow I’ve been praying for It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day Real, real, real, real bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day Yeah, hey, it’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day
I had to share it with you! Some days are just full of songs like this.. I’m leaving in a minute to watch one of my beautiful granddaughters dance in her ballet class! God is good!
Since we are in time and He isn’t..there is a bit of a conflict. We have trouble waiting when in reality time is not important to Him. Try wrapping your mind around that for a minute. Our culture tells us that every minute counts..don’t waste any time..get moving..go faster and faster..time is of the essence. God sees things completely differently..in fact He says the opposite to us. Slow down..take your time..wait..don’t be in a hurry..never panic and remember to stay calm. His ways are mysterious and counter intuitive to us.
I was recently thinking about a desire that I have had for years..something that I longed for..I wondered if God wanted to give it to me. After all I am a grandmother and time is running out. I can hear the Lord laughing as I write this..time never runs out for Him. In this present season He is giving me that desire and I am having a difficult time believing that it is time. How strange is that? Here I am waiting..praying..longing and suddenly it seems to be here and I am struggling to receive it. What is God up to? It seems that He wants to teach me something very important.
The first message in all this is a reminder that He never forgets us..or our desires. The second one for me is realizing that what I thought I wanted actually scared me a little.. I was so used to the way things were.. I was going to need to leave my comfort zone. God knew that I would need to get to the place where I could receive what He had for me..He waits until we are ready so it is a gift..He wants to see delight in us..He waits to surprise us and watch us the way a Grandma watches her grandkids on Christmas..seeing their surprised faces as they get that unexpected gift..what a moment!
Isn’t it amazing to realize that we have a God who loves us enough to wait for just the right moment. He is not punishing us..He is not cruel or harsh..He loves us more than we will ever be able to imagine with our finite minds. He is for us..with us..under us and over us.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
I woke up this morning thinking about Easter..being over. If you have been reading my blog for any period of time you probably recognize my fascination with days before and after key events..holidays etc…this is linked to my temperament type. I am an ENFJ..we enjoy the bigger picture and love to see patterns in everything. Often in my life I will notice how something happens on a certain date and then later something else major happens on that exact date. The second event usually represents closure or completion. I met my husband on the day before Easter and married him a year later on the day before Easter…and our name rhymes with Easter!
So here we are on the day after Easter and I am mulling over the significance of this day. Going back in history it was a great day for the first disciples. Jesus was alive and they were getting tiny glimpses of something huge that they barely understood. Although He told them it would happen they probably had their doubts. Suddenly they were astounded by the truth. He conquered death and they were invited into His kingdom..to live forever. It sounds too good to be true even now.
But is it? No..it is His gift to us. We are included..accepted..we belong..He is for us..forever and ever! He promises us new life..new beginnings..healing from old wounds..restoration..renewal. Our part is to accept this great gift. To allow the truth of His promises to sink in..to receive everything that He has for us. It won’t happen all at once.. it takes a lifetime..a lifetime that prepares us for that step over the threshold into eternity. The real big picture is only partially revealed to us here. There is so much more to come. Embrace the new life that He has for you today..live fully and as you do..He will reveal Himself to you in amazing and surprising ways!
“But forget all that- It is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the wasteland.”