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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category


A little over a year after the royal wedding, here’s a repost that I hope you’ll enjoy. 🙂 Sarah

Tower Bridge as viewed from the North-East nea...

Would you believe the LEGO replica of Tower Bridge has 4,287 pieces.

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There’s a lot to be learned from building with LEGO.

That’s what I was thinking as my son and his friend were industriously starting to put together the Tower Bridge set that my son received from his grandparents for Christmas. According to my mother, it was the very last set in the whole state of Texas, and maybe the world. This was because by the time the first week of December came around, and everyone was atwitter about the royal wedding and marriage of Prince William and Kate, all the sets were pretty much taken. But, my mom being one of the most resourceful people I know, made sure that she found one for my son.

So, there I was watching my son and his friend open the box labeled for 16+ – who knew that there were now LEGO sets designed with the difficulty level to be made by those 16 years old and above? – and all these little bags filled with little LEGO bits came tumbling out. When I say all these bags, I mean there must have been at least 30, maybe more, and unlike the sets for those 16 years and below, the bags weren’t marked 1,2,3 and so on, to be opened and built in some sort of sequential order that is easily tracked in the instruction booklets. No,  those clear little bags were just what they were with no markings at all, which means you have to pay super close attention to the instructions and the process of digging through the pieces to find the right ones because you have no idea where they might be.

By the time they emptied out all the bags and took a look through the 3 booklets of instructions, they were surrounded by 30 plus piles of little pieces. These were obviously, eventually, going to look like the Tower Bridge that spans the famed Thames River in London. But I tell you, all it looked like was little broken bits from my perspective.

Then I thought that’s just what our lives look like. All sorts of piles of bits that don’t even look like they’ll match, let alone be combined together to build something amazing. But this is just what God tells us what will happen if we just believe  Him and allow Him to be the Master Builder, taking all those parts of ourselves that He has handpicked to have a place in us, and our lives, and making them into something amazing.

Sometimes that’s a strange thought during those times of our lives when things seem so disjointed, disconnected and full of little bits, that they will all come together and make something marvelous. But, if we have faith that the Master LEGO Builders can design such a thing to happen, why is it so difficult for us to believe that the Master Builder of Creation can do the same thing with us?

“Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Isaiah 64:8

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The oddest things hit you at the oddest times. Like when you’re in the kitchen just going about normal everyday cooking, like boiling water.

In the last few years it seems like I’ve been in an extended period of waiting. Waiting is never easy. I have yet to meet one person who would actually say they like to wait for anything. Some are more patient about it than others, but, it seems like no one would ever put themselves in a waiting spot.

So to try and make the wait easier, I’ve tried to wait in expectation for the next phase of what my life holds, and what the Lord is going to do. That being the case, recently I’ve realized that that’s not what I’ve ended up doing. Instead of waiting with an active expectation, I’ve actually just been waiting with no expectation. Instead of actively waiting, I’ve been passively waiting.

So it hit me while I was in the kitchen waiting for a pot of water to boil so I could make pasta, that waiting in life is a lot like waiting for water to boil.

Now I know the old adage that a watched pot never boils, but the reality is that if you prepare it correctly, it will, just not as fast as you think it should. All you have to do is get the pot out, fill it with water, put it on the burner and turn on the heat.

Then wait. And wait. And wait.

You can go off and do other things while it boils, but if you stand there and watch it with expectation a funny thing happens. You get to see what goes on with the water as it goes through its stages of heating up, then boiling.

At first, the water is pretty still and it looks like nothing at all is happening. Then, so suddenly you don’t think you’re seeing things correctly, there are small movements as the water starts to flow in channels in the heat. Later, bubbles start to form on the bottom and sides of the pot, just before they rise to the surface and you can truly see that something is happening.

With the breaking of the bubbles on the surface, then you know it’s time for you to do whatever it is that you’re going to with the boiled water. Like, put in the pasta so it can cook, and, you can go on to the next phase of preparing something to eat.

In waiting for the water to boil, it occurred to me that it’s the same with waiting for the Lord. We can passively wait, go off and do something else and not bother to look to see the signs that the Lord is at work. Or, we can actively wait, by doing what we are doing as we live our lives, and at the same time keep our eyes open. If we do this, then we can see the flow of the current of the Lord beneath the surface before what He’s doing boils up to overflowing in our lives.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

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Because it’s been such a strange weather season in the Sierra Foothills where I live, the plants have had a difficult time knowing when to come out, but the weeds don’t seem to have that trouble at all. They are everywhere.

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Around my little cottage, A.K.A. my little shoebox, is a large area that I have to weed whack twice a year. Once when everything starts growing in the spring, then once just before summer when everything has turned a golden brown.

Usually this isn’t an issue. I just do the front yard in one day, and the back yard the next. Then a few weeks later, I do it all again. But, this year, I look at the whole expanse that needs to be done, and it just makes me tired.

I realized this after I dropped my son off at school and pulled the truck in the back of the house. The weeds – that look a little like wheat quite frankly, so they’re not unattractive, just tall – where way taller than they should be. As I sat scanning the yard, looking at them and how tall they are, I realized that I had only done one quadrant of one days work about two weeks ago.

That’s about 1/8 of the acre that needs to be done. In short, not a lot.

It felt like a heavy weight slowly oozed through me as I sat there trying to figure out when I would be able to squeeze in the time to get out the weed whacker and actually tackle them. Then it sunk in that not only did I not have time for another two weeks, but, I was just too tired to do it.

Sometime that’s just what happens in our live isn’t it? We have a task that we know needs to be done, something we’ve done without an issue for years, when all of a sudden it’s just overwhelming. We realize for whatever reason, we just are too tired to tackle it. Then on top of that comes the sense we’ve got such a long way to go to get it done, that doing it seems like an impossibility.

We can get to that spot in a lot of different ways, maybe your workload has become heavier, or there’s been a change in your lifestyle, or your child is transitioning to another level of life, or your parents are. No matter what the change may be, when added to the current load of life, it all of a sudden becomes more than we can handle.

It’s kind of like the old story about the straw that broke the camels back.

But, as children of the Great I Am, we are not called to handle these things on our own. He makes all things possible as we look at Him, not at our current impossibility. He will make a way for us, we just need to trust Him to do it. And, He’ll help us with that too.

“I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?”

Jeremiah 32:27

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The other day, I looked around during one of the many storms that roll across our neck of the woods and realized that our cat was nowhere to be seen. Now, this wouldn’t seem too unusual except that he usually makes sure he is very much near one of his people all the time, which many times literally mean underfoot.

Safe icon

What does safety look like to you?

I scanned the house for him, which took all of one minute because we live in a little shoebox of a cottage. Since the house is small, and he is large, I thought I’d be able to see him with no problem.

He is an indoor cat, and even though he’d be okay outside, we live near a very busy road, so whenever it happens that I can’t see him I wonder if he’s gotten out. But, this particular time, I knew he hadn’t.

So, I looked around the house again. And, again, he was nowhere to be seen.

Finally I asked my son, “Have you seen George?”

My son looked up from his book at me, then did a quick scan of the house and not seeing his cat anywhere nearby replied, “I don’t know, maybe he’s in his safe spot.”

George’s safe spot. I didn’t even think to look for him there.

So, I went over to my desk and bending down saw that he was under it, lying full-length, which is almost 3-feet tip to tail, where the back of the desk meets the wall. The spot is his favorite place to be when there’s too much rain, wind, thunder or lightning outside because it gives him a lot of shelter, but, also allows him to stretch out and be comfortable.

After I sat down, I started thinking how each of us needs a safe spot too. For many of us, it’s our home where we feel loved and accepted no matter what. But for some people it’s not their home, but someplace else where they feel safe. Either way, it seems to be our very nature to seek out and find that place where we feel safe and protected and able to just be comfortable in who we are.

And, that’s what the Lord provides for us in every situation, whether we are in a storm or in the calm. A place with Him where we are loved, cared for and accepted. So much so, that after a while we realize that without Him we can have none of those things in their totality. It is only with Him that we can experience that safe place that only He can provide because He is truly the only safe spot there is.

“LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.”

Psalm 16:5

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Buried treasure. It has a ring to it doesn’t it? Just saying the words brings to mind pirates, strings of white pearls, gold coins and the sweet scent of magnolia trees.

Magnolia tree

Buried treasure in an unlikely place, under a magnolia tree.

Magnolia trees?

For me, yes magnolia trees. Specifically, one magnolia tree, a giant of a tree that dominated my front yard when I was small. Its roots were like gnarled brown fingers swirling and digging down into the earth. I would sit between those roots and look up, especially after the pink and white flowers bloomed. During those times, it was amazing to see how the sun would filter through the petals and take in the scent that fell gently  to the ground.

The treasure of a magnolia tree

One day my next door neighbor, who was far more adventurous than I, suggested that we play buried treasure. This sounded like a great idea to her little sister and I, who would do anything she told us to.

“Great,” my friend said to me. “You go in and see what you can find.”

So, I did. I went straight to my mother’s bedroom and found a beautiful golden ring with three big gorgeous diamonds in it that sparkled every which way. I pocketed the treasure and promptly went outside, where we decided that under the roots of the magnolia tree was the best place to bury our treasure.

Digging holes

We dug and dug, until we had made a deep dark hole. We wrapped the ring in a piece of cloth – my friend’s only contribution to the treasure – where we deposited the ring from my mothers’ bedroom.

We lived in the house for many years after that. Whenever I would climb the magnolia tree or just sit underneath its branches enjoying the scent of the flowers, I would think about the treasure and where it was buried, between the two largest root fingers at the back of the tree.

The secret of buried treasure

I never told me my mom about the treasure and she never seemed to indicate that the ring was gone until many years later, when the house and the magnolia tree were just a distant memory. By then it was too late to go digging around in someone else’s yard, even though I still remembered the tree and the location of the treasure hidden in its root system.

Instead of a buried treasure, it became like so many treasures we bury, a lost one.

Lost treasure

I was reminded of this just recently, by a story of a good a friend of my mom’s. She lost her class ring 50 years ago. One of her heart’s desires was to have her ring back, and God provided that through circumstances that only He could. You can read the story here, Class ring returned after 50 years.

God returns lost treasure

I am amazed by what the Lord does with the treasures, whether they are physical treasures or treasures of ability, we bury or lose along the way. He knows where each one of them are. And, when the time is right, He is known to return them, which makes me think that maybe they’re not completely lost like we think they are, just kept in the hands of the Lord for safekeeping.

“The king asked the woman about it, and she told him. Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, “Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.”

2 Kings 8:6

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Manna, bread from Heaven, God’s way of feeding His people when they came out of Egypt into the wilderness. When you think about it, manna was just an odd phenomenon from the beginning.

Out in the desert, the people complained that they had no food to eat. In their minds back in Egypt they had pots full of meat and ate all the bread they wanted. They conveniently forgot they were slaves to the Egyptians, and that God had heard their moaning against the Egyptians and came in to set them free.

 

Saj - Arabic flat bread

Bread feeds the body while the Word of the Lord feeds the spirit.

 

Amazing freedom

 

Set them free He did, with spectacular miracles and the saving of their firstborn sons from the Angel of Death, and not only the sons of His people but the sons of all that believed in Him and observed the Passover instructions. Really amazing when you think about it.

Yet, not much later, they were groaning and crying out, complaining that they had been brought out to the desert to die, and not to the freedom that God had for them. What was all the complaining about? Essentially it was because they had to believe God to take care of them while they made their way through the desert to the Promised Land. The caveat was they didn’t have the luxuries of Egyptian life – if you call a life of slavery accompanied by pots of meat and daily bread luxurious.

Food for His people

And what did God do? Did He blast them for their unbelief and lack of gratitude? No, He knew His people and said, “I have heard the complaints of the Israelites.” Exodus 16:11a then provided them with bread in the form of manna in the morning and meat in the form of quail in the evening. He fed them.

This was no easy feat, by some estimates over 2 million people came out of Egypt during the Exodus. Two million people scouring the desert for something to eat, 2 million people being fed by white flakes that appeared in the morning and disappeared as the sun rose.

Exactly the amount we need

But, manna wasn’t just handed to the people, they had to go out and gather it. Every morning they went out, except the sixth day when they gathered enough for two days because they needed to observe what would become the Sabbath. And everyone gathered exactly the amount they needed, not a scrap more, not a scrap less. When it was weighed no matter what they thought they gathered, they found it was just the exact amount they needed to eat for that day.

Just the exact amount of food for that day, each according to his appetite and age. And, isn’t that what God does with us and our spiritual food? When we take the time every day to be fed by His Word, we get exactly what we need, not too much and not too little, each according to what we need, but if we don’t take that time, we starve.

“At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will eat bread until you are full. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.” Exodus 16:11b

 

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We’re all created differently with different personalities, different talents, different tolerance levels, yet God takes all those differences in His children, binding them together into a whole.

How we pray is as unique as who we are.

How our personalities differ

There are those whose emotional lives are like shark teeth, with the high and low points that look more like the jagged teeth in that amazing predator’s mouth than anything else; those with the floating, even keel in their inner lives that, to me, looks more like a jelly fish; and everything in between.

Whether it’s true or not, I’ve always viewed myself more like the jelly fish as far as my emotional life goes, I just kind of float along with whatever happens, which is why God seems to be trying to get me to be more, well, bold. Not an easy task for a jelly fish who has the attention span of a gnat, but through Him all things are possible, so I go with it.

How we pray

I was reminded of this propensity of mine to just go with it this week when a friend of mine and I were praying for another friend who is ill. Now, my praying friend is not a jelly fish in her emotional life at all, neither is she a sharks tooth up and down person, but she is very bold and definite in her approach to things, which made praying with her for our other friend very interesting.

We both prayed. She with her bold self prayed for a complete healing, a miracle, approaching the throne and making her petition known to God very clearly, definitely and with a spirit-deep passion that left no room for doubt as to what she was asking for. I was suitably impressed.

We are told to approach Him boldly through Christ, but she had it nailed down in a way I’d never seen before.

Me, with my less bold self, approached God a little more slowly and didn’t ask for a complete healing or even a healing at all. Instead, I asked for God’s will to be done, for comfort, for guidance and most of all that our friend would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has not forsaken her in this, that He is and always will be at her side, no matter what happens.

When we have different personalities, We pray differently

It occurred to me afterward, that the difference in our prayers, like the difference in our personalities serve a purpose in His body.

All of our prayers, whether bold or timid, even those that are sometimes contradictory, rise up to Him blending and threading together. Yet, somehow He hears them, making sense of them all, then does something with them, responding and answering them in ways we never thought to imagine.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

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