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Archive for the ‘Love’ Category


Public Storage storage hallway with storage un...

Are you storing too much stuff in a storage unit?

Like many people I have a storage unit that is brimming with items that I don’t have room for in the little shoebox I live in, but that I just couldn’t seem to part with either. For quite a while now, I’ve been toying with the idea that I need to get in there and clear a lot of it out, and that’s just what I’ve been doing recently.

It’s sort of an amazing process because many of the items that I’ve stored I come across and just immediately say, “donate”, while others that hold an emotion or a memory are a lot more difficult to get rid of.

It amazes me that many of these items we keep because they act as an emotional trigger of sorts. They cause us to remember when something happened, who we were with, how it made us feel and all those emotions that are associated with good memories we don’t want to let go of. Because they are touchstones to our pasts, we have a hard time letting go of the item itself. Not because it’s really worth anything, but because it acts as a reminder to help us remember our own history.

Among the many boxes I cleared out, I ran across a Buzz Lightyear action figure from Pixar’s Toy Story. When I picked him up, I was instantly transported to Disneyland when my son was 4 years old. He was star struck when he saw his hero Buzz, and didn’t even want to go and say hello because he couldn’t imagine approaching his hero.

Finding Woody, the cowboy doll from the same movie, brought a totally different memory of the same trip. My son was so happy to play Duck, Duck, Goose with all the characters from Toy Story (Buzz wasn’t there). So much so, that when Woody took his hand, my son who didn’t find Woody as intimidating as Buzz, was thrilled to be with the cowboy. I remember laughing as I watched Woody carefully shaking my son’s hand loose when he had to move on. No easy feat for somebody in costume trying not to hurt a 4 year old’s feelings.

I have a friend who often refers to the need to clear things out so God can bring different blessings in, and she’s not the only one who I’ve heard say something similar. The phrase seems to be very popular today when so many people are clearing their lives out in one way or another whether they want to or not.

Many times when you are doing something (no matter what it is), you notice all sorts of other people doing the same thing. And, I’ve always wondered if it’s because you’re more aware of it so you see it more, or if people are just engaging in the same activities at the same time without even knowing one another.

I usually lean heavily to the former explanation rather than the latter, so, when I saw all sorts of moving sales, estate sales and garage sales happening this last week, I assumed I was just noticing them more because I was clearing things out too.

That was until I actually went to try and sell my things at a few local consignment shops that are really good about seeing items quickly. Every one of them ( and there were a few I spoke with) said they were so swamped with people wanting to bring things in to sell, that it would be at least three weeks to a month before they could even see clear to look at my things.

This really made me think that maybe I’m not the only one who’s doing this clearing out thing, but that many other people are too. And, more than that, there’s something a little more going on than what the surface would lead us to believe.

The LORD many times says we have to give up everything to follow Him, and, when He says everything that pretty much means everything including physical, emotional and spiritual things that we’re holding onto. And, for many of us, no matter what form it takes, that means just throwing it away or just walking away from that something that leads us further from the LORD  instead of closer to Him.

Yet, as I looked at Buzz Lightyear and Woody and experienced the memories they brought up, I thought it could also include not just throwing things away, but actually purposefully giving things to Him for safe keeping. He knows that some things mean so much to us that it’s hard for us to give them up for Him.

It would be so much better for us to place those things that are so important to us in His hands, knowing they are safeguarded by Him throughout eternity. Then it doesn’t matter if the clearing out brings us more of a blessing or not, because it’s then that we realize that His own self and the love He has for each of us is the only blessing that really matters.

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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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Some things are just strange aren’t they? Just yesterday I received a message from a friend of mine thanking me for ministering to her the day before.

Day 232

Red Vines can help you minister to others.

As I sat looking at the message, I wondered what in the world she was talking about. I quickly went over the day before, and couldn’t see any way that I had ministered to her. So, I took stock of the day again, this time much more slowly, and still, I couldn’t come up with a thing. As far as I could see, it was just another Sunday.

I though about asking her, but then thought “no”, because really it feels like a stupid question. Someone tells you that you helped them a bit, ministered to them (which is a little step up from just helping) and then you don’t remember what you did? I mean really, aren’t we supposed to remember this sort of thing?

Finally, after a couple of hours of coming back to it and wondering about it, it dawned on me that I just had to know what on earth she was talking about. So, I contacted her and her answer was simple. Red Vines.

Red Vines. The red, tasty licorice candy that’s low in fat and high in sugar. And, because it seems to chew forever, makes it feel like you’re eating a lot of the sugary treat when in reality you’ve only had a twist or two. Okay, maybe three, but that’s not the point.

Her answer left me more confused than ever, I realized that I had given her a box of Red Vines, and they weren’t even mine. They were hers. I had bought them for her when we were at the store the day before. She left them at my house, and, I knew I would see her the next day. So, I took them to church with me to give to her, praying all the while that they wouldn’t melt into some weird red gob of gooeyness as they sat in my hot truck during the service.

When I gave them to her, as far as I was concerned that was the end of it. But, for her, it wasn’t. The act of my remembering to giver her the box of Red Vines reminded her that someone thought about her, remembered her and cared enough about her to make sure that she could enjoy something she liked.

Later, I got to thinking that that’s really what ministry is all about. Thinking about someone, remembering them and then caring about them enough to do something about it. It’s in this very way, in the small things of life, that we can show others how much God thinks about each one of us, remembers who and what we are, and loves us enough to want to be a part of our lives.

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”

Psalm 103:13-14

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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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Do you ever think about the words used by different generations? Sometimes I do.

Blocks

What words roll around your mind when you think about God?
(Photo by Inga Munster Cotton)

Words, words, words, words

There are times when my mind takes flight over the undulating terrain of words throughout time. This is usually when I probably should be writing something for work. And, although the argument can be made that sitting and thinking about words is part of my creative process, in reality it probably has nothing to do with it, but should have a lot to do with it.

Either way, whether those words end up in my stories or not, my mind flies over to them,  before wandering over them slowly. What they sound like. What they look like. What they mean. Who says them. And a whole lot more.

I turn them over in my mind, and they’re  like those little wooden blocks that children make towers to tomorrow out of before they all come crashing down around them, causing squeals of laughter, or tears of frustration and remorse. I guess you can say that I love words, and none so much as the common.

What is fierce?

Today the word ‘fierce’ came to mind. As I turned it over and over, looking for its equivalent in today’s world, ‘sick’ came to mind, along with its predecessors, ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’, along with the almost unforgettable qualifier ‘totally’.

‘Totally fierce’ tumbled around my mind for a while, and with its implications of total abandon, protection and uninhibited passion behind it, I found I really liked the sound of it.

Is fierce bad, or good?

Fierce is an interesting word because it can be either positive or negative, depending on what side of the fence you are standing. I would think most people would look at it in its most basic definition of  being, “Extremely severe or violent; terrible” which sounds pretty bad, but it is also defined as, “Extremely intense or ardent” ( both definitions come from the free dictionary.

No gray area with God

So, I got to thinking that this is exactly how God is. Depending on where you stand with Him, He is either the first or second definition. He’s definitely not anywhere in between. There is no gray area with God. He either seems fierce or extremely severe and terrible if you aren’t in relationship with Him through Jesus/Yeshua, or He is fierce about how He feels for you as someone who knows Him through Jesus/Yeshua.

The fierce I AM

It is very clear throughout scripture that the great I Am is fierce. He isn’t some wishy-washy god who changes on a dime to accommodate some vision of what some man thinks He should be. He is who He is and He cannot be anything else. He is fiercely who He is, which can be a little frightening at times because we don’t ever encounter that with anyone but Him.

The intensity with which He feels, and the lengths He is willing to go to get through to us can be frightening. Then when we are in relationship with Him through His efforts, not our own, the ardent and passionate way He loves us can be frightening in its ferocity.

God is fiercely in love with you

At the end of the day, no matter how you slice it, when you really realize that you are in relationship with the fierce One who created it all, including you, and that He is fiercely in love with you. There is no way to respond with anything but amazement, awe, and yes, sometimes even a little bit of fierceness ourselves.

“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 8:39

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English: Old Cottage

Image via Wikipedia

The other day I wanted to ask my almost 12-year old son a question.

Instead of just doing the thing that the experts tell you that you should do, which would be to try to find him and look at him full in the face in order to communicate with him more effectively, I did what most parents do. I yelled my question from where I was in the office to wherever he was in the house thinking he would hear me.

“Here I am,” yelled my son from the other room after I’d called him for the umpteenth millionth time. In exasperation after there was no response to my question, I needed to know if he was even within earshot. I needed to know if he was there. So, I said, very loudly mind you, “Where are you?”

Now I don’t want to give you the wrong idea that we live in a large house where it is easy to not hear someone. No, my son and I live in a two bedroom, two bath home that is very small. In fact, I often refer to it affectionately as my little shoebox. So, the fact that I had to find out where he was in it was somewhat comical considering I usually know where my cat is at all times.

But my son, he’s a different story altogether. He’s always moving around, seemingly never in the same place for more than a second or two. In my mind, he never seems close by at all, but whenever he yells back “Here I am”(this little scenario happens more frequently than I would like to admit) inevitably he is much closer than I ever expect. Usually just around the corner.

Isn’t this usually how it feels with God? He always seems like He’s moving around, and fast too, like we just can’t get a grip on where He is only to find that He’s been right in the mix, next to us the whole time saying “Here I Am”.

“Therefore My people will know My name; therefore they will know on that day that I am He who says: Here I am.”     Isaiah 52:6

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Tree

Image by Adnan Yahya via Flickr

 

Trees, what a wonderful part of God’s creation. Now, I’m normally not really a tree aficionado, I have a hard time distinguishing between an oak and a maple, but I do think they are amazing creations.

The fact that some of them are really quite spectacular to look at is only enhanced by the reality that they are an integral part of the oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange chain that allows those of us with oxygen grabbing lungs to, well, actually have something to grab onto.

Recently, I took a drive over the Carson Pass in Northern California. It, like many of the passes in the northern part of the state, is laden with a multitude of trees with some short and others so tall that you can’t see the tops of them from the ground, that stand along the ridges and slopes of the Sierra Nevada.

Because of the amount of rain we’ve gotten this year, the trees look a little bit more green and well watered even late in the season. But, even I, who isn’t a knowledgeable tree person, could see that the trees in the higher elevations were very different from their down the hill counterparts.

Lush green pine trees lined Silver and Caples lakes at an elevation level of over 7,000 feet above sea level, while down in the hotter regions of the foothills that run into the Central Valley, blackish scrub oak’s with their green leaves dominate the landscape, making it feel like you’ve somehow driven into regions of Africa when you take that trip.

A friend of mine, who is much more horticulturaly aware than I, always says, “you need to grow where you’re planted” a phrase I have often repeated to myself and my son at various times.

There is nothing that illustrates it more than driving down from a pass like Carson Pass and seeing so many pine trees and aspens into the foothills and Central Valley where the Valley Oak – able to get water that it 70 feet away from its main trunk – dominate the landscape.

Yet, no matter what the tree, or where it’s planted it, it still participates in that universal tree job as an oxygen factory. And, the same can be said of trees all over the world, no matter where they are, what they look like or what their other functions are, they all still participate in making this an oxygen rich world.

Sort of like us, no matter who we are, what we look like or where we’re planted, if we belong to Him we should be glorifying Him in and with all of our being.

“And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the LORD to glorify Him.”

Isaiah 61:3b

 

 

 

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