"Trees and Insider Information"
As I started out on my morning walk today, I realized the trees had some inside information. They somehow already knew it was the first day of autumn. They knew to already start changing colors seemingly overnight (!), with some already falling to the ground. How do they know???
Well, they did… they knew and acknowledged the ending of one season and the start of a new. And they graciously informed me of that as I began my morning exercise.
I don’t always know. Or…I can’t always recognize it until I’m a bit further into “the next”…this changing of seasons…
The definition of “season” is: a period of the year characterized by particular conditions of weather, temperature, etc… a period of the year when something is best or available…i.e. oyster season, pumpkin season…
Have you noticed that you have a little bit more of a pep in your step on the first day of a new season?
With the first day of winter, we’re excited about our cozy sweaters and Christmas just around the corner. And if you are like me, as an Ohio girl, excited for the potential of a snowfall… yes, even in middle Tennessee. A girl can hope, right?
With spring, it’s the anticipation of new growth, of fresh beginnings, of the dead things coming back to life again in all their greenness. (Is that even a word? Well, now it is…).
The first day of summer brings a smile to my face because of the longer days of sunshine and outdoor events and my husband grilling almost daily. Yep…I’m pretty fortunate!
And now…it’s the first day of fall. It wasn’t my dad’s favorite, as he would say everything is dying. True. But, as with every season, there is something to be received, something to look forward to and to be learned… and those tree leaves! Wow, are they going to show off this year or what?!?!
So as these days and nights turn wonderfully cooler, as the cycle of life and death continues, and as I acknowledge another change of season, I want to look with anticipation to “the next”, hopefully becoming more mature, more seasoned (see what I did there ? :-)) more aware of the fact that He is not finished with me yet… and He’s not finished with you, either. Now THAT should bring a smile to your face. :-)
"What's That in Your Hand?"
Yesterday was delightful in every way… not only was it Resurrection Sunday (Easter) which is huge in the lives of Christian believers, but it was also absolutely beautiful weather. This provided a fabulous backdrop for many to celebrate together outside with family and friends.
But what stands out in my mind from the events of yesterday was one little boy (maybe two years old) in front of me in church. He was being held by a parent… and with one hand raised, he held onto (most probably) one of his most treasured possessions, a stuffed animal… and the other hand was also raised in what seemed to be praise to God during the worship set of our Easter service.
Do I think he knew what he was doing? I don’t know… but, there is a huge part of me that believes he knew exactly what he was doing. After all, “out of the mouths of babes and infants, He has ordained praise”. It was a sight to see… and I felt God speaking to me.
“See that little guy, hanging onto his treasured stuffed animal… but raised to Me in a sacrifice of praise? What are you holding onto, Cathy… a treasured possession, that you could as freely offer to Me in a sacrifice of praise as did this little boy? What are you hanging on to… that you need to release to me?”
Well, I’d have to say there are many things that I release to the Lord only to grab them back in the blink of an eye. Why do I / we do that? Is the Lord still challenging you / me in the area of entrusting to Him our ALL … in a sacrifice of praise? I don’t want to just sing the lyrics or read the scripture passages with expectation that change and transformation can’t come consistently on a regular basis in my life. I don’t want to leave one more meeting or church service unchanged. I don’t want to leave my quiet times unchanged. And yet I often find I do. Then, in a moment, He speaks to me… through the outstretched arms of a little boy, whose name I don’t know, but…. HE does.
And He knows yours. And He knows mine. He is asking you and me…. “What’s that in your hand that can be released to Me in an expression of absolute surrender, in a sacrifice of praise…to free you up even more...to worship me even more extravagantly with an abandon you’ve not yet experienced?”
I ask you …. And I ask myself….What’s that in your hand?
Back in 2013 I happened upon the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year for 2009. Know what it was? “Unfriend”. They used it as a verb, “to remove someone as a friend on a social networking website”…such as Facebook.
My husband asked me right around that time, “What’s your favorite among the names of God?” I thought for only a moment and without missing a beat said, “Friend”.
Yes, I absolutely am so grateful He is my Wonderful Counselor, my Prince of Peace, the Great I Am … and so much more. But when I awaken in the morning and when my head hits the pillow at night, I’m so glad He calls me His friend…that He is my “closer than a brother” Friend. It still amazes me.
We read in John 15:15, “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you”. Let that sink in for a moment. I mean, seriously, wow…
We all love to serve Him whenever we can, whether it be assisting an elderly person grab the item they need from the top of the shelf just beyond their reach in the grocery store, taking a meal to a new mother, or visiting someone in the hospital. But beyond the serving, He longs to talk to you, to me…to engage in conversation as one would with a friend across the table at the coffee shop. That’s mind-boggling, isn’t it … to think that the Creator of the universe seeks relationship with you and longs to pour Himself into you on so many levels.
May He reveal Himself to you in ways You had not even imagined could be possible. May you truly understand He will NEVER “unfriend” you. And may you know now, more than ever, that He is your AFFF (Always Faithful, Forever Friend). :-)
Everything within me did NOT want to work out.
It was HOT. And motivation for me was minimal. But finally, knowing I’d feel better afterwards, I threw my hair back in a ponytail, put one foot in front of the other, and went out the door into the makeup-melting heat of a Tennessee afternoon.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t like the word, “motivation”. At first blush, it seems pretty easy. You lack motivation? You just strongly encourage yourself to get with it. But when you feel you’ve totally lost the “desire to do; interest or drive…inspiration, cause”… then what?
Ideally, it’s great to make and have goals…that should “cause” us to drive forward with great speed of inspiration. But when you just can’t tap into the energy necessary even for that, is it enough to just put one foot in front of the other?
That was what I felt I could do that day…just put one foot in front of the other, and that had to be ok. Is that ok for you…to allow yourself to say, “It’s enough for today.” There’s grace for that, as my good friend, Becky, says.
And you know what was so very sweet of the Lord? At every turn, I saw beauty…the spectacular yellow of the daffodils, two bunnies playing next to my walking path, and a couple of butterflies that seemed to keep in step with me, dancing through the air with my stride, remaining…as a continual remembrance from the Lord that He was enough, that He IS enough…MORE than enough for today and tomorrow…grace enough, mercy enough, strength enough…when all I can do…when all you can do…is place one foot……it’s ok, ya know?
September 28, 2020
Happy National “fill in the blank” Day!
I, too, chuckle when I hear of another “National ? Day”, knowing it has somehow been a day determined by a card company which will go unnamed. I mean, seriously, there is now a national coffee day, donut day (though, I’m not at all appalled by that :-)), etc…
But I have to say…
I’ve so enjoyed all of the acknowledgements and posts from moms and dads celebrating their sons and daughters these last few days…as someone, somewhere, created a National Daughter’s Day and a National Son’s Day. And I haven’t minded one bit…kinda like I don’t mind donut day. Yum.
The words I’ve read are full of life, encouragement, gratefulness, candor, meaningfulness, beauty… And boy, have I needed to read those words in these days.
There’s something to be said for words full of hope and life being declared from a parent into the heart of a son / daughter…words said and meant to build up and not tear down.
How marvelous it would be if every day was a national son and daughter day.
But, it can be that way. We’re all sons and daughters. We can ALL speak words of life into one another on a daily basis…not just on a “card company-created” holiday…but, every. day. What’s stopping us?
What’s stopping me?
Seriously, what’s stopping me from being intentional to choose three people in my life, on a daily basis, and then speak words of affirmation to them through a text, an email, or a good old-fashioned card in the mail? Do you know how much time that would involve sending a sentence or two to three people a day? Probably as long as it takes me to drink my first cuppa joe in the morning… not long at all.
So, yes, I’m challenging myself to do just that. Would you join me?
November 15, 2020
When I think of the word “remain”, I think of many other words, including, linger. You know when someone walks past you wearing a nice cologne or perfume and it lingers in the air? Or you’re meeting a close friend over coffee and you just want to linger there because the conversation is so good? Or you’re in a worship service and the music and the words are melding together so beautifully you just want to linger there?
I’ve seen a branch severed from a tree lying lifeless on the ground. I’ve seen a beautiful bunch of tulips recently cut remaining beautiful for several days until they, too, begin to wilt and die. We’ve all seen what happens when something is separated from its source of life.
I really like another word for “remain”, and that word is “abide”. I want HIS words in my life to abide, to remain, to linger in me. I know the joy of abiding in Him.
I want my life to count for something, yes, even into my old age. Can I still bear fruit? Absolutely. Can I be a light in the midst of the darkness because I carry the very presence of God wherever I go? Yes, beyond a shadow of a doubt. But I must remain, linger, abide in Him. Do I sometimes feel in the last months that I’ve been hanging on by a thread? If I were to be honest, yes, periodically. But I’ve also known that consistently strong grasp of my Father’s hand not letting me go. And I, as well, choose to not let go of His hand. I need Him... I need Him desperately. And I need Him for life itself.
As I remain in Him, the potential for me to speak words of life and encouragement to others multiplies greatly. But if I, the branch, am separated from the vine, well… we all know what happens.
Stay connected, my friends...to one another in community...but most of all, to your Source of life... God Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and the One who lovingly formed you and breathed His very life into you. Wow... why WOULDN’T I want to linger with the Lover of my soul?
December 3, 2020
Isaiah 43:2 - "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. "
Not if...when. WHEN you walk through all of it, He will be / is...with you...with me. You and I have heard, probably many times over the years that someone always has it worse off than you. This is a true statement, but we often say it and hear it said almost flippantly.
The truth is, all of us... ALL OF US go through waters, fires, trials...and find ourselves sometimes in less than fortunate circumstances. I was reminded this morning of a book I read many years ago entitled, “Don’t Waste Your Sorrows.” Such a good reminder today... nothing need be wasted, dear friends. Allow each trial to pull you in ever closer to the One who has not left your side for one moment but instead is using it all to grow you more and more into His likeness...We can trust Him in the fire.
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