3.28.2013

When Jesus Bids You Come Away...

Credit


When your mind starts to feel like the news-feeds you read...
it's time to come away with Jesus. 

When you start to feel like the walls around you are closing in, it's time to come away with Him.

When opportunities are starting to look like ticking bombs, and the calendar like doomsday...
it's time to come away to His safe, strong arms.

When all looms before you and threatens to steal your peace and lines drawn in the sand are looking like deadlines all about, it's time to come away with Jesus. 

When you feel like you can't keep up; you are falling behind in many things, and feel there's no hope of catching up-it's time to stop.
He's bidding you...
come away. 

It's time I come away with Him for a few days, and let Him refresh me with His grace, truth and love.

Praying you are able to do likewise!


Then Jesus said, "Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile." 
Mark 6:31 (NLT)

 
May these next days allow you to draw closer to the Lord, God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. 

See you here on Monday, friends.

 “The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26





Missional Women
http://christianmommyblogger.com

3.27.2013

Parched Places (Writing to God- Week 6)


Credit

"God will provide joy, even in the wilderness."
Rachel Hackenberg


Hello, my fellow sojourners. Here we are in the middle of holy week. We are counting down in our hearts and minds the days ahead...Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. 

How are you doing?

Are you on track with your Writing to God?

I am, myself walking along in solitary places in my spirit. Feeling a bit stretched tight as Winter clings, and Spring seems distant. This girl who loves snow, and winter is long ready for Spring. Awaiting His breath of faith upon me as well as blossoming buds, blue skies, and birds calling me in the early morning. 

Does anyone else find it difficult to keep up at certain times of the year? 
September, Spring, and Christmas squeeze more out of me and but for grace, joy and beauty of each, I think I'd just cocoon myself away and wait for the pace of the season to allow breathing time. 

But truly peace is available, and He does not depart from those who belong to Him.
Age is on my side, as well. 
I fret less over the incidentals of self imposed (or other imposed) expectations. 
I seek Him and (mostly) bask in the love and peace He abundantly gives.

The prompt I am sharing from is Enlightening- Jeremiah 31:2-13

I hum through dish washing
keeping time with the beat of my heart-
the joy of my soul, 
my heart is light with song,
I rejoice in the mundane.

The routines of my day are dances,
dirty laundry but opportunity
 to praise your faithfulness and goodness.

Oh, Lord, I dance through my days
offering up my praise
How you lighten my load-
even whites.

Though at times I grow weary,
occasionally teary-
It's all part of our journey
of grace and mercy.


***************

Oh, Lord- thank you for words. Thank you, The Living Word. Who became flesh.  Thank you for your journey to the cross.Lord, you are worthy of praise and glory and honor. At your name every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, on earth and in Heaven- that Jesus Christ is Lord of, all to the glory of the Father. Amen and Amen. Messiah. Chosen One. King of Kings, Lord of Lords, The Great I Am, Emmanuel. Holy is your name...and I praise you. We praise you, Lord. 
Worthy is the Lamb. 

****************

Upcoming Schedule:
We are currently in the Prayers and Prompts for Holy Week which wraps up on Easter Sunday. We will resume in the 40 Days section at Day 32 and proceed through days 33, and 34. Wednesday April 3rd we will meet together here again and then write on through our final week together on this journey. The final  days (Days 35-40) will wrap up our 40 day journey and on April 10th- our final Wednesday author Rachel Hackenberg will be joining us here with a special message of encouragement and time of sharing. 

3.26.2013

Bloom: The Only Way Out is Through (Hope for Today)


"And the day came when the risk it took to stay tight 
in a bud was more painful than it took to blossom."
Anais Nin
                                            
Trust.
One little word with such huge meaning. 
Fragile at times but, key to our future.
Where we place our trust, for better or worse, will lead us to peace, joy and growth. 
It will also lead us to painful places. I have been thinking lately about those I have trusted.
 Some worthy, some not so. I myself strive to see things in a broader perspective.
 I don't really care to be politically correct. 
I really don't aspire to impress a denomination. 
I think it is foolishness to believe that there is a difference between who you are personally, spiritually and  professionally. 
You are who you are all the time. 
Trust. Once broken, so hard to repair. 
A loyalty disregarded. 
A boundary crossed. 
Integrity questioned. 
Insensitivity to specific circumstances beyond one's control.
 Disappointment, disillusion set in. 
Trust is so easily betrayed and oh, so difficult to regain.
 A child suffers a breach in that trust and carries that into adulthood.
 The Lord heals but there is the smallest scar that remains. 
The child inside knows what the adult tries to forgets...people are untrustworthy.
 It only takes the right circumstance to bring to the mind of the child the forgotten pain and truth. 
The child tugs at the memory of the adult. 
Remember? 
The child brings up the string of events which have resonated within the pain that seems familiar. Every loss, heartache, injustice, abuse, neglect connect in an open-ended timeline that leads to today. Bitterness threatens to settle within the soul. 
Yet still the child also recalls hope. 
The child recalls faithfulness. 
And most of all the child remembers love.
 Because God has planted that love deep within the heart of this child.
 And that hope will not die. 
That hope will grow eternally and yield crops of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. 
There is no stopping what God has done. 
As Joseph said when his brothers returned to Egypt and had fully recognized him and acknowledged what they had done was wrong- what you meant for evil, God meant for good. 
This child can rest in this reality.
God is not mocked. Do you think when He says 'I have summoned You by name and called you my own', He lies? He is for us, who seek to know Him and live according to His will. He knows the heart, but you cannot trust your own heart... (Jeremiah 17: 5, 7-9) leave that to Him who knows how desperately wicked the heart is and take hold of Him alone who is able to guide you through every darkness and evil that may come upon you. Do you fear the days ahead? 
Do you think God has not seen? (2 Chronicles 16:9)

This year the Lilies in our yard seemed to be incredibly reluctant to bloom.

I would walk out every morning and they looked like they were going to stay tight in their buds forever completely content in that mode. This really bothered me as I longed to see their beauty bursting forth. Instead I saw tight green buds, day in and day out. I wonder if I am this way to the Lord at times. Resistant to His leading, longing to stay myself, tight in a bud, due to fear, pain...lack of trust. I can't help but think of Anais Nin's quote, with the closed buds pictured above.



Well, the Lilies finally did bloom and they are magnificent!

 Sometimes pain from the past can cause us to close- up tight.
We don't want to trust that God could allow anything bad into our lives - at least not this: add your own perception of the one thing you believe that God allowed that has caused you to lose your trust in Him. Maybe it wasn't in the past.
Maybe it is right now.
Maybe your pain is so buried beneath the surface that you can't even recognize it anymore.
It feels like if you stay in that bud you will suffocate.
But a flower must surely bloom or it will wither away and die. 
This is not so for we who believe.
Our way is the way of Life.
Our Glorious King desires to see our beauty! (Psalm 45:11)
He calls us forth to bloom.
There is no way out of this.
We bloom or wither away.
That bud cannot sustain us forever.
 Trust. 
A word used to describe that which we rely on. 
Such a small word with such a big meaning.

 Bloom.
 Such a beautiful word that brings forth the promise and hope of new life. 

So take the risk.
Bloom, trust, grow...hope.
The only way out of this current circumstance is through it.
 But the one who is faithful to care for all the lilies in His fields is faithful.

Be encouraged, for you are worth much more than these to the King.
John 14:1



HomeEducatorMom.com Link UP Thursdays

3.25.2013

Monday Morning Coffee Chat (Ain't That a Lot of Love?)

Friends, it is so hard to keep track of all the blessings God gives. It's like chasing butterflies. Or like a bottomless cup of coffee on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But I will share a few here today and I pray I share something that blesses you in the process.

So for those of you who are wondering how Home Schooling has been going, I will say this. It's going. The statement "one day at a time", has a whole new level of intensity these days. And I thank God for this phrase.

The weather here in Little Rhody continues to sarcastically toy with even the heartiest New Englander. Personally, I just roll with whatever comes our way. Or perhaps I should say, click my camera at whatever comes my way. Hmm. Not much one can do about the weather, right? Below are some pictures I captured this week.

*408. Seagulls flying at Camp Canonicus captured by my Elph 110 HS
409. Scarborough walk on, windy inviting me to pause

*410. The fact that life is short but never too short to pull over
and capture beauty as God gives it

*411. Waiting for a wave before I snapped this shot...delicious! 

*412. These beautiful trees, sky, stone wall inviting me into the present moment
Click.

*413. Divine appointments and a sweet new friend -
 Thank you, Jesus for your ways, which are so beyond our ways! 

This week I asked for prayer on my Facebook page for a meeting I had planned for Friday and I thank you and want to say how thankful I am that God allowed Holly Otten and I to come together. I will be sharing more about Holly this week on the blog. Holly is a very inspiring and anointed daughter of God who has embarked on a very exciting mission to help sexual abuse survivors secure healing and freedom in Jesus Christ. She has written two books and is working on completing a curriculum for her ministry called "Tin Man Ministries". You can find her at Survivor of Sexual Abuse on Facebook.
Also her website is HERE

Photo by Dave Marcoccio
Blizzard of 2013

The town of Narragansett celebrated 125 years of Independence with a wonderful open house event at the beautiful Towers. It was actually a sunny day (no snow) but the picture above was given away as a postcard to celebrate. There were also commemorative stamps available. Plenty of historical information was shared by volunteers, the Historical Society and local long time residents. My girl and I enjoyed this Friday afternoon.





*414. That I live in a beautiful state, and for the opportunity and freedom to take a day and enjoy the local history with my daughter unhindered. 


I enjoyed attending my very first Home School conference this past Saturday with the RI Guild of Home Teachers group and really enjoyed myself and appreciated greatly listening to those who spoke as well as meeting fellow local Home Schoolers. There was a room dedicated to Curriculum and it was great to check out many resources that were there.

For your amusement I am sharing our Home School desk as it looked at the end of the week. Really that was all my messy. We like to keep things "real" ha! This will be tidied up by...God willing (or flesh compliant) Monday! 
*415. That Home is where the heart is, at least this side of eternity and that Home School helps us to keep our family with all it's imperfections tighter, closer and more connected. Thank you, Lord.

Last but not least ...
I confess I am a long time Simply Red fan (it goes way back). In which I also implore you to view or freely pass on this performance in Prague. For no other reason than...because I felt a little in the mood for some Simply Red. Click HERE for music video clip for the song "Ain't That A Lot of Love?"





Have a Great week! 



3.24.2013

Spring's Desire


I find myself longing for something new.
Not that I am discontent. 
I am not. 

I have peace. 
Am content.

Yet I feel a longing within,
not dissatisfaction,
for that stirs up 
negative connotations.

Is there a fresh wind blowing?

Have the winds of March left 
the feathers strewn, dried leaves dancing?

Questions prancing through my mind, like horses
waiting on Spring's kiss.
Nostrils flare, warm breath meets cold air,
I stand waiting as thoughts gallop on past.


Credit 

There is a stirring within my soul,
I've not forgotten
my ultimate goal.
I am your pupil- the center of your eye
Confident am I, of your love.

But there is a new day dawning and I sense the morning
whispering sweet promises blurred by mist.

I walk the shore, winter's abandoned rocks glimmer, 
washed clean in salty splashes-
beaten, tossed, worn and beautiful...



Am I like a rock, Lord?

Am I beautiful?

What does Spring promise?
Hope eternal in colorful blooms,
new life,
glimpses of green.

Mr. Robin, don't be dismayed,
though it may seem
Spring is delayed,
He has made everything beautiful in it's time.

Hope in His faithfulness.

I find my hope in the blue sky of your eyes,
the white clouds of your hair,
the solid strength of the trees reaching low, reaching high
the wind that blows my hair wild...

Lord, quench my longing with your presence,
let me bask in the quietness of an eternal glory that far outlasts a season.
Hope eternal, bubbling up,
living water to satisfy the thirst of my soul. 

Spring blooms in the confidence of your love.

Am I like a flower, Lord?

Am I lovely?

What will Spring deliver this year?
Will I be renewed with the thaw?
Dew kissed promises refresh the heart.

Credit

Make me brand new, Jesus.
Roll the stone, make me alive-
Call my name- loudly
I will rise.


Make me new, without compromise.
Renew my heart, without disguise.

Let my life reflect You.
Let your presence abide 
and shine through.

Let your life
truly be
 Spring eternal rising up from
 within me.

*With special thanks for the beautiful horses captured on film and shared by Kelly Laffey of Laffey's Irish Animals. 


I always try to link with my friends at dVerse...
check out some really great poetry there:







3.23.2013

The Return






For “you were like sheep going astray,” 
but now you have returned 
to the Shepherd and Overseer
 of your souls.
1 Peter 2:25


Oh, to know we are safe in the bosom of our Savior.
Because of nothing we have done, will do or can do.
Because He loves us with an everlasting love.
Because He is Love.
Rejoice and Rest in this truth.
Once, sheep going astray...
Now safely secured in the Way.

This painting is by the C. Michael Dudash who happens to be one of my favorite artists!
Someday I hope to own an original! 


Linking up on a beautiful weekend, seeking rest and encouragement along with these friends!


3.22.2013

Those Feet (Remember: 5 Minute Friday)




I remember the first time I saw those feet.
Toes stretching wide, new life.




I became captivated with the perfection of something
 fresh from God's hands and was awed.
I spent days circling you while you slept, snapping pictures.
I'd stumbled upon treasure; 
somehow birthed these amazing gems- 
and was smitten with every move they made.
 Even now I am held captive by their charm.
 Reminded of the Father's handiwork. 
So I paint them and surround them with cute fashion 
yet they are never more beautiful than when they are full naked. 
Like that day I first aid eyes on them...on you. 
Precious girl.
Will I always be entranced by your feet?
I do believe it is a mother's prerogative and declare with loving confidence,
"Until the day I die!"




Joining in with Lisa-Jo for 5 minute writing Bliss!

Five Minute Friday

3.21.2013

Love No Matter What by Brenda Garrison (Book Review)




I loved the title of Brenda Garrison's book, "Love No Matter What",  and decided right away, since this is the goal for most Christians, especially Christian parents, that I should and would devour whatever wisdom was presented in the pages. 

The book is written for parents of children, especially that are in their teen years and beyond. In ten chapters Brenda shares not only her own story but also a dozen other families stories to share insights, and practical help for parents dealing with children who don't fit into a cookie cutter Christianity and refuse to do so. 

Using the Prodigal Son story from Scripture as a base model, Brenda sets up camp at Luke 15:11-32 and she continuously returns there throughout the book. 

Brenda along with her daughter Katie share their perspectives of the same circumstances in Katie's life, when she began to make choices that challenged and confronted her parents faith, belief systems and convictions. The outcome, learning and journey are the heart of this book. 

Some of the things I loved about this book were that she addressed reality for Christians who are dealing with kids who may not fit into, nor want to fit into the accepted Christian mold. 
With more than half of kids leaving the church after they graduate perhaps it's time to take a step back and consider where the heart of Christianity lies these days. The Christian community needs to listen better if they really want to minister with grace and truth to kids who are presented with an overload of opposing, confusing viewpoints daily. Brenda deals with some of the issues of "unsafe" Christian youth groups, individuals, and church communities (aka "prayer groups" etc.) and how to guard yourself and your child from being a spiritual casualty by keeping healthy boundaries and being careful of sharing too much. Sad fact in any church community but the fallout that we see now is partially caused because of callous hearted, careless Christians with loose lips and insensitive words, gossip and slander, disguised as "prayer, and spiritual conversation. 

Practical advice for keeping communication open, loving continuously and not compromising God's standard. Also the examples and variety of situations presented from the many families in the book offer almost every possible situation from bad choices, to outright rebellion and how parents got through the circumstance. Real life advice for we who need it. 

Practical, encouraging, honest and real.
I'd give this read 5 stars.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion in the back of the book make this an excellent book for shared study and prayer with a partner or small group of parents struggling with the same circumstances (or who have had and are able to lead/encourage others in the journey).



*********************

Book Description (From the Publisher) 

How will you respond when your child makes a decision you don't agree with?
Parents and kids will never agree on everything but what can mom and dad do when that decision—whether a matter of preference, spirituality, or morality—is something they think is totally wrong? Author and speaker Brenda Garrison knows all too well that how parents respond will either build a wall or a bridge between them and their child.
Brenda and her husband were forced to answer this question when their oldest daughter Katie abruptly moved out of the house with no means of support. It was not an illegal or immoral decision, but it was one that wasn't good for her. Their determination to keep an open door of communication is documented not only by their story, but by comments from Katie in each chapter as she offers insights from her own perspective.
Also included are other family scenarios—everything from matters of preference to foolish, immoral, and even illegal decisions—as well as insights into different styles of parenting such as servant, checked-out, gotcha, scared, and controlling parents.
With practical tips and relatable stories, Brenda shares how to model God's parenting style and explains the difference between the parent's responsibilities and the child's, then helps mom and dad discover ways to develop and nurture a relationship with their child that will last a lifetime.


I received this book in return for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are completely my own.
I review for BookSneeze®





George Bailey Meets the Twilight Zone (Welcome to My "Wonderful" Life)


Credit

I relate to George Bailey. A lot. I mean, who, in all honesty, hasn't had their share of adversity? Who hasn't had a plan, plucked out of their hand or watched a dream die a slow, painful death as it drifts further from the shore of possibility? Who hasn't pondered their own significance or perceived lack thereof? Who hasn't raised their fist at God, hung their head low, and lost what they thought was all hope for the future? I watch George Bailey and my heart beats a similar drum- I feel his frustration, struggle with his desire to hold fast to the dreams longing to erupt from within. There are days when I have scratched my head and wondered aloud before God. I want Him to intervene. I look around and I know I'm supposed to see a wonderful life but wait...I'm not there yet.

Enter The Twilight Zone. I grew up watching Rod Serling. A debonair host of tales which end with a disturbing turn of events...always. Perhaps that's where it all went wrong. Because really, this is more of how my life feels on a daily basis. You want a glimpse into my life? At any moment, when you least expect it (what did you expect?) the bizarre scene, the scary music, the macabre twist. Have you ever felt you were living inside a scene of The Twilight Zone? 

Back to George. See the fact is we all have dreams, right? I mean  BIG dreams. Dreams we bury down and forget, until we start losing sleep about something we need to do before we leave this planet and enter our eternal heavenly home. 

Back to Rod and the macabre twist.

Wait. Hold that thought.

Enter Clarebel. I'm pretty convinced there is an angel earning wings on my behalf.* Possibly a legion. Because my God, promises never to leave nor forsake me, but still I sometimes try to put some distance between us. Not overtly. I'm way too spiritual for that. By the time I realize the distance, I can see God's open arms but the scary music is all I hear and let's face it, if you've seen the intro for The Twilight Zone, well that's pretty much my stream of conscience at that point. It's really hard to hear God over that noise. Yeesh!


E-mail subscribers Click Here for Video


You still with me? Back to Rod...and the macabre twist.

I know that I have eternal life, forgiveness, a Faithful God. But Israel still flows through my veins.
I want to please God. But then I tire of Manna. I want to pray but I'm too busy complaining about the darn cucumbers left behind in Egypt. I want to say "Yes, Lord" but I delay, doubt, hold back. "What is the bleating of sheep you hear?" 


It's called trusting in the arm of man. My own reach, ability, plan.
Forgive me, Lord.


Recently I shared about a sweet quote that I happened upon and how it jumped out at me and claimed my attention.

"What's for you will not pass you."

You know the Israelites were in the ultimate Twilight Zone. 
Yet they stayed there because of their own stubbornness...

How often do we allow ourselves to suffer consequences because we just don't want to accept what God is giving? How often do we think His arm is too short? 

Lord, I pray that I would trust that what you have for me will not pass me.
I also pray, Lord for anyone reading this post who needs to remember that you are faithful and true.
You are a God that lifts the chin and looks upon the face with adoration, complete. 
You are a God who loves and restores the crops that the locusts have eaten. 
You lead to a land flowing with milk and honey and you are a God who does not withhold that which is good for those you love.
Oh, Lord that we, that I, would believe this to the core.
Lord, let us not say that your good BUT believe it from the heart and live like we do. 
Amen.


Back to A Wonderful Life...

In the end my friends, the macabre is the blessing. As we release our grip on our own ability to "make things happen" and trust God from the heart, He will act on our behalf. We die to self and as we let go of that which we would (in our flesh) want to cling to, we are freed to live and move and have our being in Him...In the end isn't that the way out of the Twilight Zone? Isn't that the rescue we need? 

Maybe it is a wonderful life after all.
Remember if it is His will, it will not pass you.
He will bring it to pass.
Clinging to this hope with you.


Linking with Michelle, Emily, and Tracy!
First time at Betty's and as always Ramona's and Laura's!

HomeEducatorMom.com Link UP Thursdays
Missional Women
Marine Wife Mommy and Life

3.20.2013

Writing to God (Week 5-Guest Post by Stacy Artis)

Credit

  Hello Friends! I hope your writing journey is going along well as we head into the next weeks leading right through Palm Sunday and onto Easter (Resurrection) Sunday! Honestly, I am finding myself feeling especially blessed with the writing prompts and Rachel's words. It's like opening a little present every day! Well I am thrilled to have my friend and sister in grace, Stacy Artis from A Life Lived Well here today. Stacy and I have an ADD connection - we think a lot alike! I can imagine us sipping coffee, talking in circles and having no problem following one another! Here's Stacy! 



Good morning and a big thank you to Dawn for inviting me to guest-host this week!  I am so honored to share in this journey of Writing to God with you.


I've been keeping journals since I was about 8 years old and bought my first little blue diary with a tiny silver key at the local G.C. Murphy's.  So, it felt pretty natural to start journaling about my journey once I became a Christian and once I got over my pre-Christian hangups about what prayer should and shouldn't be, I started writing a lot of my prayers down.  As someone who struggles with ADD, writing my prayers down helped (and still helps) me keep my focus.  

When Dawn first introduced her plan to form a little community of people all working through the same devotional book I was intrigued, but honestly thought "I do not need another thing to do."  It kept coming back to me, though, and after praying about it I decided to join in.  What I was already doing was very similar, so it wouldn't be too big of an adjustment.  I thought it would be nice to have the directed prompts every day and the feedback from the other people who where doing it.

The actual writing hasn't been hard or a big change, but the prompts have been amazing!  The prayers I wrote before....there was nothing wrong with them, but they were wide, all encompassing, rambling.  I tried to cover every person, every need, plus touch on praise and gratitude and, and, and....  They were often several pages long and took a lot of time to put on paper.  Writing to God has taught me to focus on a single aspect of who God is.  That focusing on one thing has helped me to be still and deepen my relationship with my heavenly Father, to get to know him better.

Day 25, Feeling a Prayer, was the one that touched me the deepest this past week.  The scripture for that day came from Psalm 34 and I haven't yet been able to get it out of my mind.  I have been rolling it over and over in my mind, repeating with my tongue, making it a part of me.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good..."  

I am to use every sense to experience my relationship with you, my God.  I am to taste and see and touch and hear and even smell that you are good!  

Oh, Lord...David loved you so fully and exuberantly...so much so that he wrote song after song of praise to you, so much that he sang and danced naked in the streets...CONSUMED with the pure joy of knowing you, of knowing you were his God.  To know you like that, as Father, Abba, Daddy.  To praise you in all things and with all things.  Sharpen my senses, God, that I may fully use each one in my worship of you, in my journey to live a life that is prayer.  

Fill my senses,  and teach me....to see you in the swaying field of flowers and the silent snow and the smiles of the ones forgotten by the world; to hear you in the words of a prayer and the laughter of a child and the tears of one in pain; to taste you in the sweetness of communion wine and the salt of the sea on my lips and the tartness of a ripe apple; to feel you in the warmth of the sun on my shoulders and the grasp of a baby's hand on my finger and the cool green grass between my toes; to smell you in the fragrance after the rain and the fur of a newborn puppy and the ocean breeze....teach me to know you in everything.


I am feeling so blessed by this journey with the Lord.  I hope you are, too, and I'm looking forward to hearing what God's been doing in your life this week.  Thanks for spending a part of your day with me.

************************************************

Please stop by Stacy's place:

A Life Lived Well Blog Button
Upcoming Reading:
     *Week 4.   3/20-3/23   Days 29-32; Palm Sunday through Wednesday (3/24-3/27) from Prayers and Prompts for Holy Week (at the back of the book!)