Category Archives: Beauty of God

Lasting Moments

Yesterday I saw my son and daughter in law’s professional wedding pictures for the first time. They were shot as glimpses — clasped hands, a stolen kiss, a playful moment – in an effort to not only capture the event, but the emotions evoked by the moments.

Wedding site

We all want to hold onto the moments. You see it every day on the social media. It’s as if, in our posts and selfies and Instagrams and tweets, we’re proving our significance, that our days have meaning, that we’re not just spinning our wheels here on earth.

Because we feel time slipping so quickly through our fingers.   And there’s this lurking fear that this is all we have.

I read a passage from “Gifts from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh that states what so many people feel. Lindbergh writes that we all want to be “loved alone,” to be the “one and only” in someone’s life.  But, she soberly reminds us, “there is no one and only, there are only one and only moments.”

Ecclesiastes seems to say the same thing.  Solomon wrote, “He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecc 3:11) That describes so perfectly the melancholy we feel in the transience of our poignant experiences.

Ecclesiastes goes on to say, “He has set eternity in the hearts of man.” We are created to long for something that will last. And Solomon wrote in Proverbs, “What a person desires is unfailing love.” (Prov 19:22)

The amazing thing is that God doesn’t leave us bereft in our longing.  In glorious, heart-warming prose He asserts that we are ALWAYS the one and only in His eyes —

And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. Hos 2:19

I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. Isa 63:7

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isa 54:10

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

God’s love is constant. It isn’t like snapshots or video clips. It’s one long continuous take. We don’t have to feel anxious, like we’re not enough, like we somehow have to hold onto the moments as proof that our life is meaningful.  God’s steadfast love illuminates our moments and makes them extraordinary ones.

Here are some moments from my day. Some of them felt good. Some felt flat. All of them feel better when I remember God’s love.

Somehow, I believe that our connection with Him connects our moments and gives them meaning. They become a part of His pattern, the beautiful design He is weaving through space and time.  They each somehow seem almost as special as the moments from the wedding.

Every day we can chronicle our lives anew, just like this, and feel like our mundane doings are part of something graceful and significant.

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Filed under Beauty of God, Synchonicity

Faithful in Relationships Part 4 — Utterly Awesome!

. . . if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.  II Tim 2:13

God is faithful.  Nothing we do can change that.

We will ALWAYS be on His heart.

Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the LORD.
 Jer 31:20

His love is boundless, endless, measureless.  The more we realize it, the deeper it goes.

Every day we can discover new dimensions of God’s love and righteousness, and be in awe.

God is committed to us.  The question is: Will we be fully committed to Him?

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. II Chron. 16:9

Will we be committed to others?

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

… there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  Prov 18:24

For this is what our soul craves.  This is what matters.

A God who has our back, who is our everything, who is our delight.

Friends who are partners.

And as we see more and more that we have this, WE ARE faithful, because it is our greatest joy.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you. . . Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live . . . Ps 63

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.  Ps 16:3

We SING and CELEBRATE, just as God celebrates us!

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. Ps 63:7

And when the world seems like dust around us, when chaos rules, when failure is palpable,when we are overwhelmed, the perfection of God that includes faithfulness is a lifeline.

As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. Ps 18:30

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.  Deut 32:4

Until finally, we are ready to commit to Him in intimacy our very spirit.  Trembling and vulnerable, we bring it out and lay it into His hands.

Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.  Ps 31:5

As our Savior did, we entrust our lives completely, because He is completely for us.

And when we do, in our Savior, faithfulness is multiplied.

We have the Spirit, an intercessor, forgiveness, freedom from sin, answers to our impossible prayers.  We are thoroughly equipped for every good work.

There is grace upon grace, and every spiritual blessing.

There is faithfulness so deep, so high, so all encompassing, so strong, how can we but walk in peace and fullness of heart?

For as the ultimate act of faithfulness, He gives us His righteousness as our own.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  II Cor 5:21

I will find joy in the LORD. I will delight in my God. He has dressed me in the clothes of salvation. He has wrapped me in the robe of righteousness like a bridegroom with a priest’s turban, like a bride with her jewels.  Isa 61:10

tia wedding

tia and Karl

 

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Beauty of God, Righteousness

Producing Organic Fruit

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The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.  Mark 11

Like Jesus, I REALLY want to see fruit.

I love productivity.  I love accomplishing things.

And I hate feeling like I am spinning my wheels.  The boon and bane of not having a paid job is being able to be “flexible,” which, for me, really means distractable. (Ok, spell check says that’s not a word, but it needs to be.)   I live a life of getting sidetracked.  And when I’m feeling tired, it’s even worse.  I’m sucked into a vortex of puttering.  Ack!

So after vacation, I wanted a new start.  Time to be more productive!  I became more intentional about scheduling my time.

And it worked.  I had d times, coffee with friends, a hospital visit, a Bible study, lunch in Montgomery, someone over for dinner. I wrote the newsletter, wrote an article, did the books, ran errands, organized kingdom kids, oh, and got my toes done.

But later in the week, as I prayed during my quiet time, I was reminded that all of this is nothing if it isn’t accompanied by the sweet soft voice of the Spirit.

It’s like Paul asserts in I Cor 13:1 — “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

We can do great things, but if we don’t do them out of love, they’re just empty efforts.  Love is what turns the cacophonous notes of our actions into music.

And love is only one of the fruits of the Spirit.  This is true for them all.  When we work without the Spirit, it’s like laboring in a garden all day without planting anything.   It’s like running around in a silent movie.  The vibrancy is missing.

Because God created life to be more than empty actions.  It’s a dance.  God plays the music and our souls respond.  Life is the personal experience of God’s art taking shape.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Eph 2:10

For the ground that has soaked up the rain that frequently falls on it and yields useful vegetation for those who tend it receives a blessing from God.  Heb 6:7

There’s a beauty in soaking up the grace God gives us and producing a crop.

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And perhaps the best grace He gives is His Spirit.

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!  Luke 11:13

This, I believe, is the fruit that Jesus looks for — not just good deeds, but actions that well up from the fruit of the Spirit in us.

“I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can’t produce anything without me.”  John 15:5

Today we live in an age where we can live in Christ, and he can live in us.  THAT is the source of fruit.

And back then, even though Jesus’ followers didn’t all have the indwelling of the Spirit, they had the Word, and they still could act out of a heart of love, reverence and gratitude.  That is fruitful.

Blessed is the one . . . whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season.  Ps 1:1-3

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”  Hos 6:6

But we have more.  When we walk in the Spirit, we have this amazing power of life within us.

. . . life is at work in you.  II Cor 4:12b

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  Eph 3:20

And with this power we can GENERATE.  The fruits of the Spirit do not come back empty.

Love never ends.  I Cor 13:1

We’re productive.

And it’s not this burdensome labor.  It flows.  It’s organic.

To me it’s the most beautiful thing.  God’s glory shining here on earth.

Campus weekend at AU

 

 

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Filed under Beauty of God, Having the Right Heart, Mark

A Friend A Day #8 — Stumbling upon Treasure

atlas girl2

I’ve been reading “Atlas Girl:  Finding Home in the Last Place I thought to Look” by Emily T. Wierenga.  It’s one of my favorite discoveries lately.  I love this book about a woman who loses and finds her faith.

And this is one of my favorite passages from the book —

“But what I needed was love, to wrap me up in its arms and tell me how beautiful I was and to make me laugh. . . .There are those nights when your dad reads an extra story or sings one more song. . . There are fresh homemade carrot cakes baked for your birthday and home-sewn dressed out of red velvet. . . But when you’re young, you see the gaps more than you do the glimpses.  You see the hole more than the donut.”

I’ve been blogging so much about being thankful more and subsequently seeing God’s love more.   But the reality is that it’s sometimes not enough.   Sometimes my insecurity is like a huge chasm.  Sometimes my emotions strike up and whirl out of control inside of me like a sudden storm. And then all I can see is the gaps, not the glimpses.

So a good goal is to make the glimpses more frequent.   A good goal is to make the glimpses bigger.

And then sometimes God Himself stitches the glimpses together and I see a pattern that’s so right, so overarching, so magnificent, that I am awed to the depth of my soul and I am at peace again, knowing that everything is okay.

Church is great for that.  We sang, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, all my inmost being praise His name,”  and I remembered my study on that very psalm (Ps 103) this week and how it exemplifies God’s compassion.  I wanted even more to praise the Lord with all my soul.

The head of a service organization got up and expressed her deep gratitude for our group’s workday to help them on MLK Day.  I remembered how the day almost didn’t happen, and then how so many of us were there having a great time helping out, and I felt like everything was coming together just as it should be.

One of the campus girls shared a written word at communion and I was in tears at how beautiful it was, seeing how much her faith meant to her, knowing I had a small part in where she was.

Last Friday I made a new friend.  One of the women in my choral group invited me to drop by her house some time.  So I set up a time and went over.

It was wonderful.  She showed me her quilting room, where she puts together beautiful stitched projects and helps underprivileged women in the community to do the same.

I saw her indoor aviary.  It was so amazing — larger than a china cabinet, with all kinds of nests and colorful birds hopping around.

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She made me a smoothie with homemade kefir she kept in a mason jar on the kitchen counter.  It was great.

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The time was an adventure.  A treasure in a week of stumbling around trying to find my way.

It reminds me of part of one of my favorite poems my mom wrote:

“We have stumbled over trunks of treasure

In the darkness, and have laughed

Down the velvety corridors of night.”  (Marguerite Tillinghast Roberts)

We travel down the velvety corridors of night, through the wailing winds of  insecurity, the pain of feeling unloved, where the gaps are more than the glimpses, and the real challenge, the hardest thing of all, is to TRUST that we are loved, to know that we will stumble upon treasure, to know that He is the God who makes beauty out of ashes, who  just at the right time pulls back the fabric of the universe and allows us to see the myriad connections.

That is why we keep going on, keep holding on, keep reaching out, keep praying to have the heart of Jesus.

To provide for them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.  And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.  Isa 61:3-4

 

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Filed under A Friend A Day, Abundance/Greatness of God, Beauty of God, Diary, Favorite

Redeeming Time

(Video of my family, joyful in the moment.)

Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Eph 5:15-16

Redeeming the time.

This has also been translated, “make the most of every opportunity.”

Each moment contains an opportunity – an opportunity to be righteous, to serve, to believe, to love, to use our gifts.

That opportunity is lost, unless we redeem it.

But each moment also contains meaning.  Each time we slow down and thank God, we proclaim the truth: He is there!  Each seemingly empty moment is revealed to have beauty and value.

As Ann Voscamp wrote in One Thousand Gifts, “I want to slow down and taste life, give thanks, and SEE God.”

Time is redeemed.

Voscamp realized, “This day is not a sieve, losing time.  With each passing minute, each passing year, there’s this deepening awareness that I am filling, gaining time.”

Each time we redeem a moment, it is gained. It becomes solid.  It resonates into the future.

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Each time we redeem a moment we steal it from Satan. We negate his lie that life is meaningless.

We declare the reality that the goodness of God all around us, and He gives to us ceaselessly, abundantly.   We receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken. (Hebrews 12:28)

We maintain that even our struggles have purpose: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” II Cor 4:17

Day by day, the worldly veil fades away, and our spiritual self becomes manifest.

Redeeming the time.

Overflowing with thanksgiving. Savoring experience. Being wholly present.

Defining each moment as a parcel of God, full  with meaning and opportunity.

Taking hold of the life that is truly life.

(A serendipity — we came across this moving version of “By Our Love.”  Ken translated it into beautiful guitar chords that we all sang at house church yesterday.  So wonderful. )

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Filed under Beauty of God, Faith, Favorite, Gratitude

Peace

Snowy path

Walking in Your grace

With assurance, all’s in place.

Bowing, on my face

Breathe the stillness, cease the chase.

Dancing to Your pace

Beauty seen makes my heart race.

Thanking for each trace

Signs of goodness fill my space.

Lifting up Your case

Seek to please You, Your embrace.

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Filed under Beauty of God, Peace, Poetry, Synchonicity

Filling Up With His Goodness

Yesterday I went outside to do some yard work.  I was feeling this hormonal funk that I’ve been having lately, and thought being outdoors would help me.  As I worked on trimming the hedges, I tried to be in a better mood.  But I kept seeing all the things that needed to be done — the dirty front columns with their chipped paint, the place a dog had dug through the wood chips.

Then my neighbor stopped and rolled down her window as she drove by.  “Your yard looks so nice,” she told me.  I wanted to tell her how much there was to be done, but I thanked her instead.  It was a good reminder that I was looking at the wrong things.

I do have a nice yard.  And as I continued working, I was able to look a the small things — the fall wind gently blowing under an overcast sky, the white camellias starting to bloom.  And I thought how all of these things were a reflection of the goodness of God.  Throughout my day of emotional yuckiness there were things all around me, morsels of God’s goodness, that I could fill up on.

My camellias coming into bloom.

My camellias coming into bloom.

I thought of the never ending abundance of God, and it was a comfort.  Although I want to feel like things are failing, this never describes God.    “His compassions never fail.”  (Lam 3:22)  “Love never fails.”  (I Cor 13:8) 

I thought of this verse:  “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”  Ps 27:13

Every day, I SEE the goodness of the Lord.  It is something I can bank on.  It will ALWAYS be there.

As I prayed while I jogged this morning I just thanked God.  Sometimes I think we need to keep thanking God until our tank is full.  We don’t need to move onto petitioning until we feel our heart change, and peace and joy settle into us.  Otherwise petitioning can deplete us.

I thanked God for the carpet of beautifully shaped leaves beneath my feet as I ran.  I  thanked Him as I recalled things that happened yesterday — phone conversations, encouraging words, the heartfelt prayers of a sister.  I realized that, despite my leaden perceptions, God does give me many gifts of goodness throughout the day.  My downcast heart seems to dominate and define the day.  But there are patches of goodness, like tropical islands in a stormy sea.

Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life.  Ps 23:6

The goodness of God surrounds me.  It is there, hiding in the slate grey rain, the the enthusiastic smile of a friend, the shared laughter, the missive from afar, the opportunity to share good news, the spiritual growth of friend, the words of a loved one.  These things are like balm to a fevered body.

A week ago I had the Auburn campus and singles over for lunch following church.  After they left, I wanted to feel that strange sense that it somehow hadn’t gone well enough.  Then I thought, “My house was FILLED with people I love, people who are happy and laughing.  It embodied what is best in the world.”

Campus

Campus

God gives us the best.  It is there for eyes that see, and hands that open to receive it.

 How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.  Ps 31:19

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Beauty of God, Diary, Gratitude