He Sustains (5 Minute Friday: Small)

“For who has despised the day of small things?…”
Zechariah 4:10
Who has despised the day of small things? I am waving my hand wildly, “Me!, Me! I have.”
It’s taking me most of my life to kick against the goads of my own attitudes of thanklessness which permeate my mind like dark clouds. Who has despised the day of small things? I have. So why is it so hard to recognize that which I have also been guilty of when it storms right up into my face in the attitude of this one child? And I am starting to understand this thing, love. His love, like precious rain that pours down on dry ground, starting as a trickle, culminating into a downpour. That which is not within me, is within me, because He lives and moves and has His being in me. And when it is too much, I am coughing, choking, parched, He rains his love down on me, all around me, pouring out sweet salvation, grace and redemption on my weary soul, and I smile. Because even in the desert places He does sustain. 

* Happy Friday, Friends! Running off for a day at Lake Compounce but I will be around to visit later!

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The Profundity of God

I’m smiling at the absurdity, perfection and beauty of it all…
I returned home from church this morning with a headache and decided to lay down. The week has had it’s ups and downs, and still how the simplest things can bring forth wonder, joy and reverence. I show up at church looking forward to the message. Our Pastor is preaching and teaching on John Chapter 4 and the woman at the well, who is no stranger to me. I’ve heard messages and teaching on this passage so many times, and guess what? I never tire of it. There are some passages that just resonate, yes? There are some messages that can be preached and re-preached and studied, meditated on, swallowed and still they continue to bring forth fruit, growth, conviction, truth, beauty.

 “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33)
Our church is on the second of a three week sermon which will end next week. I never tire of the Jesus that is revealed in this precious section of scripture. Never. That’s MY Jesus. I am amazed daily at this God who never tires of meeting us in out of the way places. In dry, parched places and seasons of drought, even when these seasons are caused by our own foolishness. What is it about THIS God? Who seeks after the one, disobedient, strong willed and defiant lamb, leaving the satisfied flock to fend for themselves. Until He brings back that which is lost. This God whose love and faithfulness never waver. Oh friends, He does satisfy his flock with good things. And He never, ever leaves His troubled sheep. Yet for the self-satisfied, He waits until they are so sick with the filler of this world that they finally desire the true nourishment of His grace, mercy and love. He is patient. His embrace is never more than one turn away…we take the smallest step toward Him, and doesn’t He take three giant steps toward us? 

I don’t get this God, and I can’t get enough of Him and Elisabeth Elliot was so right when she proclaimed “If God is small enough to be understood then He is not big enough to be God” and I concur with awe. I don’t get this God, but I so get His grace. I’m reliant on His mercy and love. I lay in bed a few minutes ago and it suddenly dawned on me, the profundity of this God. My Pastor asked if I would share something I wrote about this woman at the well. A post I wrote awhile back on this here blog. Like, out loud. You, know, actually read the words in front of people
Isn’t it funny that I have so much to say, but the thought of actually saying those words in front of people reminds me of what a failure I really am? I know that when I speak in front of groups I get all tongue tied, and the words choke up in my throat and refuse to come out and I will see *people* who I fear don’t really like me anyway, who surely will be judging and criticising me. Who don’t like Samaritan women like me.
Is this why I write?
 So, I hesitated to say yes OR no, because I suspected God was in it and who am I to argue with God. Um, even though I do- but that is another post, altogether. But, our Pastor spoke to my hubby and I today to make sure I did not feel pressured and discuss if I felt comfortable sharing and if not that it was OK as well. (Have I mentioned how much I love my Pastor and His wife?) So as I lay on my bed contemplating the conversation, I was reminded of the few times my writing had been described as “profound”.
 That word has been used a few times very recently with regard to my writing. I confess sometimes I go back and re-read my writing to try and “see” the profound. Because here is the great big wonderful truth. That anyone would say my writing is in fact profound is a complete, beautiful testimony to this One True Living God.. .who lives in me! It’s a bit absurd in the most beautiful way. I’m not profound at all but it gives me great pleasure knowing there is a profound God living in me. And He shines through in the words He gives. I have proof!  
 I dropped out of school in 10th grade (long story – wait for the book), although I later returned to continue on, getting my GED and also onto complete college and continued studies. While in college as a returning adult student and new Christian one of my professors had us keep journals which we had to turn in, full of self reflections and observations concerning this particular class. At one point he took me aside and said my writing was “profound”. He proceeded to read a passage in the class. I almost did not recognize my own writing. It was as if another had written from within me. I considered this compliment one of the greatest I ever received and a clung to it – and let it be grace to my exposed soul. I did not often, if ever share my writing. And many of these words were of the soul baring kind. The kind that leave one feeling naked. Exposed. Yet not only did he give me a gift, he affirmed the gift within me, even my very nakedness in a beautiful way. It would be many years before I would actually be brave (or crazy) enough to share my writing publicly. 
Guess what?
If I ever write anything profound, if that profundity is evident in any words I write (or speak), it is because God IS profound.
 It is because He lives in me.
A mystery and beautiful absurdity, indeed! 
God lives in me and He is a profound God!

If that Profound God lives in me, chooses to dwell within this temporary tent, then the profound is possible! Isn’t that profound?
The same is true for you!
God is profound in each of us in different ways.
Let’s not let the enemy keep us from sharing the profundity of God!
Would you consider praying for God’s good and perfect will with regard to sharing next Sunday as part of the last message on John Chapter 4? 
If you want to read what I will read out loud here it is: I Am That Woman
Dear Lord, thank you for your mercy, grace and profundity! You are a God who loves us faithfully. 
I ask that you would allow my voice to resonate with your heart next Sunday and that I would be  completely Christ conscious and not self-conscious while sharing the words you have given me.  May the true joy of knowing you be evident to all, and may the words I read be water and encouragement to those who need your Living Water. Mostly allow me to remember that your grace is sufficient for me, your power is made perfect in weakness. PS. Remind me also that you are profound IN me. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, who guides us into all truth. 
**Please note, I LOVE OUR CHURCH! This is not about members of our church but enemy warfare that takes place in the minds of all believers. So Spiritual Armour on, and join me in casting down the lofty thoughts that raise themselves above our Awesome God.
Thanks for listening, I know this was a lengthy Sunday post, but hey- who can predict profundity.
Loving that word, today! 


On Savoring the Good @ 5 Minutes for Faith

I am over at 5 Minutes for Faith today sharing a bit of what God has been working in me recently. Instead of sharing a piece of that story- although the lesson is related to my message there, I thought I would share a bit about the picture I used in the post.

On our recent family vacation to Maine, this mama and her 7 ducklings became a springboard for God’s messages and ministry to my heart. You see the owner of our cottage explained that this particular mama had nine babies, but the foxes had gotten two. Now there were a number of duck families about the lake we stayed but there was something about the freshness of these babies and the way they made their way every morning and evening by our cabin that was significant, tender and oh, so sweet. We found ourselves looking for them and I began to measure God’s faithfulness daily by the assurance of those 7 baby ducklings rummaging through the berries in front of our cabin each morning. Then one day after a rainstorm, they did not return. Coincidentally we were experiencing some unexpected disruptions and discord in our vacation plans. I found myself feeling extremely sad and down, and the feelings seemed magnified by the absence of those sweet babies and their mama.

There are times when all of our circumstances seem to magnify the bad side of things in our lives.

 But God longs to be our Good. Always.
He is good even when things are bad. 
And there are times when they, in reality are- 
BUT He remains the same Good God. 

Ironically, the weather cleared. Blue skies returned as did our mama with her 7 baby ducklings. You know, friends…God knew I needed to see His faithfulness in a special way and the return of blue skies and ducklings reminded me of the hope I have in Him, in all circumstances.

I know God wants me to learn to really savor the good so that in difficult moments I am not overwhelmed by despair. To savor is to pause and recognize in the present moment. It is a powerful reckoning. We so easily can lose perspective, miss the small gifts that God lays in our path daily. He reminded me ever so faithfully this vacation, to savor the good. Recalling in all of my moments His faithfulness. His hope. Remembering that He is Good, regardless of the weather, or circumstance.

So today’s message is brought in part to you by the Mama and her 7 ducklings. 
I would love it if you joined me there!

Waddle on over…read post at 5 Minutes for Faith

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Simple Woman’s Daybook (What Every Woman Needs)

FOR TODAY~ Well I am linking with The Simple Woman’s Daybook- Here’s a peek into my day…hope you are enjoying your weekend, friends. 
Outside my window…Sunshine and blue skies. Second day in a row. 
I am thinking…how God is sovereign, perfect and full of surprises. Good surprises. That anything that exalts itself against that thought needs to be cut down, cast out and severed. 
I am thankful...that I lived through teaching my Sunday School class. I am always amazed how God graciously provides me with all I need. Even though I needed that extra hour back badly this morning, he supplied grace for all. Thankful for the way he teaches me through every circumstance, situation and every person. He wastes nothing.

In the kitchen…the dirty dishes are calling. I am currently avoiding them It’s the Sabbath, right? 
I am wearing...A hand knit sweater made by my grandmother, who I feel is wrapped around me in love. Also my very favorite comfy jeans. 

I am creating…an altered book, some words on paper in my new journal and a few posts swimming through my head that need to be released via the keypad. 

I am going...to savor the day, pray as I go and appreciate knowing His presence on a quiet Sunday afternoon.
I am wondering...where my phone is. Again. 
I am reading…too many books. But three for review including Transformed by ToughTimes by Steve Reed, Love No Matter What by Brenda Garrison and Reasons for Belief by Norman Geisler. A few others but I really have to stop the multiple book reading at once. My brain is on overload. 
I am hoping…to see God do miracles in those I know, love and come across as He wills. I am hoping to see many answered prayers and mighty acts of wonder in the days ahead. 
I am looking forward to...attending my first Home School Conference this month. Reading and teaching the new curriculum for Sunday School. 
I am learning...that He longs to fill our every waking hour with His presence. 

Around the house...books are everywhere, my Girl and her friend are eating leftover pork fried rice and relaxing quietly, bed is unmade, dishes are dirty, fridge is in need of restocking, and there is a sweet peace permeating it all. 
I am pondering...grace. I could ponder it all day. 

A favorite quote for today…”What’s for you will not pass you”
One of my favorite things...yesterday I got a bangle with the above quote on it…and for some reason, I need these words now, so I am appreciating this Alex & Ani bracelet gift. Every woman needs a little bangly thing once in awhile…for no reason.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Resume schedule- read, write, teach, love, pray, savor every moment. Homeschooling, connecting with new and old friends, attempting to get more fresh air.

A peek into my day…somehow I set my clock to Indiana time. Why that was an option on my Blackberry and how it happened is vague. I had my glasses off and checked the alarm at bedtime. Lo and behold I was waking up to Indiana time instead of Eastern. There’s grace for that, too. Heading to the park with the girls, Hubs will be home soon (hoping he’s cooking!), my Mom and Bella (her poodle)  are off to Florida (just helped her load the car)!

A Picture:

Wakefield, RI

As I said I am joining with the lovelies at A Simple Woman’s Daybook for the very first time…
It’s Stacy’s fault. 😉 

Linking with Barbie as well, because I think this is a fairly encouraging post! 

Faith In Open Water {Faith Life Preservers- Day 23}

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Waiting with hope is very difficult, 
but true patience is expressed 
when we must even wait for hope. 
I will have reached the point of greatest strength 
once I have learned to wait for hope. 
George Matheson
Many of you know I have the ever so tiniest obsession with a certain creature from the sea. If you are new to me and have not followed me long I will fill you in, friends. I am slightly shark obsessed. I have never outgrown my grade school inspired fascination with these creatures as well as most of the amazing and mysterious ocean. It inspires within me wonder, fear and awe. Amazement. Of course, knowing the One who created it is also both relief and more awesome, still. But I want to share with you some of my pondering today about faith, hope and the deep blue sea. Maybe there is some encouragement to be found in open water and even bad movies.
Since I am a shark fan (Of course I watch Shark Week!) and the classic movie Jaws, you can imagine that if a movie is released that is about sharks I have to see it! I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau after all and in my imagination I have swam with him on many adventures since early childhood. Sometimes television can be good, I suppose.
Shortly after I got married, a movie had been released called Open Water. Although my hubby and I did not go to the movie theater to see it (thankfully), I talked him into watching it with me one night. He does not share my shark enthusiasm but he graciously agreed.
To say that this movie upset me would be a monumental understatement. The movie infuriated me and at the end of it I stormed out of the living room (my poor hubs had suffered through the whole thing with me) and went into quite a rant about the ending of it. Let me give you some background (or click the link for more details as I don’t recommend seeing the movie, at least until you hear me out-and yes I am giving spoilers, so if you don’t want to know do not read on). The movie is about a couple who goes off on a scuba diving excursion among 18 others. It is a low budget film and feels very real and surreal at the same time. I want to say that what bothered me about this movie is not the filming, or the footage because that was frighteningly real and disturbing on it’s own. It is my understanding that the shark footage was authentic. No mechanical mayhem, as in Jaws. So on that note horribly accurate shark behavior and reality. (OK, that is actually disturbing as well) The story is the thing for me, so let’s get to it. We journey with the couple as they swim off from the others who have signed on for the trip to explore the deep blue sea. The mix ups that occur on the boat during the couple’s absence is filmed and we see that the tally of who is aboard the boat for the agreed upon departing time is inaccurate. The small boat leaves the couple out in open water and returns to port. When the couple finally surface from the deep, they see the boat off in the distance. They assume it will return and the next hours are spent waiting. Add nausea here. We spend the night with them as they are stung by jelly fish, nibbled on by sharks, surrounded by darkness and consumed by fear. They try to keep one another’s hopes up but in the end…this is the clincher. In the end, both are consumed by sharks in a feeding frenzy that starts with the man and ends when (enter rant here) the woman seeing all hope gone removes her gear and sinks into the sea of sharks. 
Enter hopelessness. I have never been more upset with a movie. It angered me because of the utter hopelessness it portrayed. The absence of God. The darkness and void of a seemingly meaninglessness existence and situation. The too late response of the crew recognizing those left behind. The earnest search in morning light. Hopelessness. 
The final scene only fueled my anger more:
 “After Susan slips below the water’s surface, the film scene flashes elsewhere, revealing a fishing crew cutting open a newly-caught shark’s abdomen and stomach, and finding a waterproof diving camera, ostensibly that of Daniel and Susan. One of the fishermen asks off-handedly to another, “Wonder if it works?” (Source: Wikpedia)
See it bothered me because I know that even if…
He is God. 
He is good. 
He exists. 
He is not void.
We are not without hope.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution 
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, 
neither angels nor demons, 
neither the present nor the future,
 nor any powers,  neither height nor depth,
 nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us 
from the love of God
 that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 35, 38

My paraphrase: 
No bad movie, or frenzied, 
flesh consuming shark 
can consume my soul.
Christ owns me.
I am in the palm of His hand
wherever I am. 
Like Jonah in the Whale’s belly or
 Job surrounded by foolish friends. 
His love never lets me go.
His love will never let you go.
Always hope.
In Him.
One more thing: Beware of Bad movies. 
But, even a bad movie can be a reminder of God’s goodness!
God is Sovereign.

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; 
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:8-10

I have included the official movie trailer clip
and have to confess I still feel sick when I watch EVEN this much.
So use discretion if you watch.
Not for the fainthearted. 

31 Days of Faith Life Preservers 
October 1-31, 2012
See all other Faith Life Preserver Posts HERE.

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