Feeds:
Posts
Comments

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

Advertisements

2012 Calendar, sized as A4 page

18 days until the end of school.

The school year is winding down and the countdown to summer has begun. My son knows the exact count better than I, but it’s about 18 days until he is done with school.

And, I can really tell.

Focus problem

Typically my son is a pretty conscientious student, but lately trying to get him to focus has been a chore of monumental proportions. It’s like there’s some sort of unseen principal at work that states the closer the end is, the less likely that any work gets done. The problem with this, is that there is still work to do to maintain a decent grade in any given subject.

I was talking about this to a teacher friend of mine, and she said she sees what’s going on with my son all the time. It’s like students just want to stop before they reach the end of the year.

Finish line phenomena

She said she not only sees this propensity to stop before they get to the end when it comes to the academic school year, but she’s seen it during sports events too. To illustrate this too common phenomenon, she told me a story about a time when she was helping time kids who running track during PE.

There she was, holding the stop watch in order to time each one of them. Most of the students got off to a good start, but then something really odd happened just as they were coming down the home stretch to get to the finish line. Many of them just slowed down, and not only slowed down, but started to dawdle their way toward the end, with some of them actually turning off the track to get water or just sitting down.

Stopwatch

Counting down the seconds until the finish line.

She said she couldn’t believe her eyes, there she was still holding the stop watch as the seconds ticked by because the timer didn’t stop just because they did, finally she did the only thing she could think of to get their attention so they would finish.

She yelled. “Go! Go! Go! Keep on going!”

That startled some of them into action, but she didn’t have to yell at them only once, she had to continue until they crossed the finish line.

Continual prodding

I very often feel like that with all the prodding I’m doing with my own son as the school year winds down. And, my friend’s story also made me think of the Apostle Paul and what he wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4 about finishing the race.

No matter who we are, many times we’ve had the experience of just nearing the finish line and feeling like we just can’t quite make it. So, we slow down, we dawdle, we stop for a drink of water, or we just sit down. When we get to that spot, a lot of times we just lose focus, and many times don’t even know that we do because we just can’t see the finish line any longer.

It’s a good thing we have a LORD who not only sees the finish line, but has made the commitment to get us across it, even if that means taking drastic measures to get our attention, or incurring us across it Himself.

“The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

1 Thessalonians 5:24


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


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


Light is a funny thing, living and static and the same time. If you’ve ever seen the way light overtakes a room pushing back darkness and replacing it with its own self, you’ve seen one the many amazing things that light does.

Where does the light of the Lord shine? Brightly, in unexpected places.

Nightlights

Just recently I was in the market for a night light. Since my son is a teenager now, I thought I was beyond shopping for those little darkness busters, but I’m now in that in between spot that many people are finding themselves in. That time when you are in between taking care of your children and your parents.

The experts call this time of life the ‘sandwich’ spot and I can see why, you’re raising one generation on one side and your helping to take care of the other generation on the other side. Basically, this means you need to think on two sides of the spectrum, which is why I was shopping for a night light.

Needing light to see

If you’ve ever had older people stay with you as guests, or even had a parent or parents move in with you, you know that they need light at night. They don’t need the light to banish the darkness, they need the light to see by so they can navigate the house without hurting themselves.

And, this is why I went searching for night lights just recently. My Mom needs a light to navigate her way through the house during the wee hours of the night. But, searching for a nightlight that fit the bill was no easy task.

Bright lights

First it had to be bright enough so she could use it to see with her failing eyesight, but not so bright that it was the brightness of a regular lamp. I searched high and low for just the right nightlight. I went to stores where I tried out high priced lights, and I went to drugstores where I found moderately priced  night lights. But, none of them fit the bill.

Finally, after I tried what I thought was everything I found myself in a dollar store with a friend and saw a basic – translated not too attractive, very utilitarian – nightlight at a price I couldn’t beat. Just a dollar. I laid my dollar with Washington’s face on the counter, and brought the nightlight home.

Perfect light

That night we tried it out, and it was perfect. The light was bright enough that my mom could see where she was going, but not so bright that you felt like you were on the landing strip of an airport.

I would never have thought the perfect light would be found at the dollar store. Then I started thinking, how many times do we look for the light of the Lord in the places where we think it should be? Yet, we find the brightest reflection of His light in places we don’t expect, that we may not look once at, let alone twice. But, He guides us to those places, so, we can see Him shine His brightest.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation,…” Psalm 27:1a


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

 


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