Showing Up

IMG_6668Sometime the Lord shows up because we do.
And often it is in the midst of the time we spend with others.

When He is given the opportunity, He will show off in our relationships when we show up.
Especially when we are:
Being present.
Building memories.
Asking questions.
Listening.
Going deeper.

Precious is
Time with new friends, new family,
Time with family who have known you your whole life.
Time with friends you’ve had for years.
Time with your kids who are making their way in the world.

How do you spend your time with others?

In the words of C.S. Lewis
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal… It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry… everlasting splendors.”

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Showing Off

After telling a friend about our plans to take a (reflecting, listening, creating, writing contemplating) trip, she prayed and asked God to “show off” for us. Her prayer created anticipation, eager expectation, and a desire to see how God shows up and shows off.

And when we’re looking, its amazing what we can see.

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On the first day, wildflowers of blues, purples, oranges, yellows and reds blanketed the roadside like a patchwork quilt and wispy white angels floated in the cirrus clouds above.

 

 

As we put the miles behind us, I tried but didn’t do very well in setting aside distractions, problems and worries. I was still too “connected.”

So of course the Lord would have our first couple of nights and our drive over the next three days in locations with no cell coverage and no internet. (Okay, maybe I found and frantically used the locations where we did have coverage but they were few and far between). I definitely need more practice in being in the moment.

In the moments of practicing, I couldn’t help but see.

A gorgeous sunset shortly followed by moonset over the Davis Mountains prepared my heart, despite the twenty-five degree drop in temperature that left me shivering (really, 75 is cold?)

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As Jon took pictures and I snuggled with my furry ten-pound lap warmer, we watched evening light slowly fade as the sun pulled the last light of day over the horizon, replacing the sky with a canopy of dark velvet scattered with tiny dots of light as the stars came out one by one.

 

On the second day, a little less connected and a little more present, I continued to seek.

A tiny white flower in a barren landscapeIMG_6570

Purple cactus dotting a back drop of yellow and brown

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Sunlight splashing off canyon walls towering above me and the wind rustling through the bamboo as it blew down the canyon

 

 

 

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The cool water on my feet as I waded into the Rio then wiggling my toes on a sandy path along the river banks

 

 

Another gorgeous sunset viewed through a “window” between peaks in the mountainsIMG_6624.JPG

Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door (window?) will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7, GNT)

The list could go on and on, because if we look, we will always see how God shows off in a thousand different ways.

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First Verse, a journey through the Psalms: Psalm 75

We thank you, O God!
    We give thanks because you are near.
    People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 75:1 (NLT)

When was the last time you told others of the wonderful deeds the Lord has done? Have you paused lately to consider exactly what wonderful deeds He has done for you? He’s provided us sunlight, air, food, life.  Those are some of the obvious. Maybe a family? A job? A home? But what are some wonderful deeds of which we might not be aware?

A peek into Paul’s letter to the Ephesians begins to unpack a few of these wonderful things:

  • Long before God laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind
  • God settled on us to be the focus of His love
  • God planned for us to be made whole and holy by His love

Wonderful, wouldn’t you agree? But it doesn’t stop there.

  • God decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ!
  • God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! (Go ahead. Imagine. Guess. Request. He does far more. And that’s quite wonderful)

Paul also told the Romans

  • God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
  • We have a wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done in dying for our sins—making us friends of God.

Peter also chimes in, in his first letter, with more wonderful things God has done.

  • What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.
  • But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

In his second letter, Peter tells us God will give you, through his great power, everything you need for living a truly good life: he even shares his own glory and his own goodness with us!

Just a few of the amazing and wonderful things God has done for us. And there is so much more. This month, delve into the letters in the New Testament, give God thanks, and tell people everywhere of His wonderful deeds.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, You have done such wonderful things for me. More than I can imagine. More than I can grasp or understand. As I rise each morning, blessed by the day You have given, bless me also with new insight into Your wonderful deeds. Let me live as one living a new life, a chosen life, a called life, and a good and holy life, ready to tell everyone who asks, the reason for the hope I have.

Grace and Peace

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Building Oak Haven – What’s next

The house is mostly finished, but we’re still working on it. Still a “punch” list for us to complete, mostly detail work, caulking trim and touch up painting.  A closet with shelving needs to be painted and Jon’s studio has window sills also needing a coat of paint. And I haven’t finished sealing all the grout yet. See why we’re still working on it? Tedious, kind of boring work, but it needs to be done, all the same.

As I write this, I’m sitting in my study. Outside, five deer parade by. Two mommas, one with first year twins as big as her and another with an early summer fawn still growing.  The other day, when the sun made her brief appearance, (she has been too scarce this winter) they sat on the tall grassy hillside in the back yard, out of the wind and basking in the warmth.  They drive my dog crazy, but I love having them as neighbors. We’ve had other gatherings, with two-legged neighbors, for dinner and Bible study. We’ve had several get togethers of friends and family since moving in and its a joy to see a sketch, a concept, an idea, come to life and rooms filled with laughter and friendship. My heart over flows with the blessing of living here.

What’s next, you might ask. If you know me well, you know I have a list for that, too.

The outside landscaping still needs a lot of work. We’re scheduled to have a tree company come and trim/prune our beautiful oaks before the weather turns warm. Our property has some amazing trees and we want to keep them healthy and strong.  I also have a sweet friend who is a horticulturalist and she has offered to give me some advice on plants and placement. Living in the Hill Country, we need heat tolerant, drought tolerant, deer resistant (varying opinions on that one) and of late, a bit of cold weather resistant.  It’s a challenging climate. The beautiful flowers and bushes that do so well up north and come back year after year, can’t handle our summer heat and require more water than is environmentally friendly.  And some of the lush tropical plants can’t handle the cold snaps our winters sometimes bring and also require too much water.  Native is best. And thankfully there are plenty of gorgeous plants to choose from.

The other thing keeping me busy (distracting me from writing!) are my projects. We have some great pieces of furniture that no longer fit with our decor. A few too many Pinterest photos and I’m out purchasing paint and setting up a work station in the garage. The first victim is our china cabinet, oak with a light stain. It’s a great piece but needs updating. I’m experimenting with making chalk paint (rather than pay for the overpriced cans of it) using baking soda. So far, it seems to be working out. I’ve done the prep work, of course. Sanding, priming and then painting. I’ve started with the hutch and it’s waiting for the second coat. Then I’ll give it a light, smoothing sand and a coat of furniture wax.  The next step will be a bit scary and require a touch of artsy-ness. I hope to mix the right color of stain with the wax and add another coat to soften the color and give it a bit of antiquing/interest.  Once it’s done, I’ll empty out the base, bring it out to the garage and get started on it. If I’m successful, I have a bookcase in the entry, a small end table and two tables on the front porch lined up. Oh, and I’ve also asked Jon to build two headboards for our guest bedrooms out of the pallet wood I saved. Pinterest inspired, too, of course.

What’s next? Lots. Some tedious. Some fun. But really, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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First Verse, a journey through the Psalms: Psalm 73

Let us hope in God’s goodness.

No doubt about it! God is good—
good to good people, good to the good-hearted.
Psalm 73:1 (MSG)

Once upon a time…

These four words conjure up ideas of good and evil, love and jealousy, conflict and victory, sorrow and hope.  A tale of happily ever after.

And yet, this life seems to bring only the evil, the jealousy, the conflict, the sorrow. No good, no love, no victory, no hope. No happily ever after.

But God is good. He is a God of goodness. Of love. Of victory. Of hope. He is a God of the happily ever after.

If we don’t see it, its because the story isn’t finished yet.

He is the Author. He is the Creator.  He created. And it was good. He planted a garden. And it was good. He placed man in the garden. And it was good.

But jealousy appeared. A creature with evil intentions. Telling lies. Bringing conflict into a place of peace. Sowing discord and ultimately sorrow. The story took a turn for the worse and the ending seemed to have no hope.

But God.

God had a plan. A story. A happily ever after. He was not surprised by the unexpected turn in the plot. He was not shocked when evil, disobedience and sin showed up in paradise. Because He knows where these things abound, His grace abounds all the more. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. Where evil increases, God’s grace surpasses it every time.

As the history of man unfolds in Scripture, we see God’s grace, His redeeming love, His plan of perfect redemption and restoration.

Before the beginning, He had already begun to weave His promises into the story. From the beginning, He promised One who would come and “bruise” the enemy. Throughout the story, God provided glimpses of the One to come.

He chose a man. A family. A people. He guided them. He instructed them. He rescued them from captivity. He led them through the desert. He brought them into his promised land. He drove out the enemy before them.

Ah but the problem of wandering hearts. Straying affections. They left their first love. They believed the lies once again. They allowed the enemy to sow discord and ultimately sorrow.

But God was relentless. He would not be deterred. He made a way, where there seemed to be no way.

He dealt with the issue of the heart. He promised a Son. A king. A sacrifice for their sin. One who would defeat the enemy.

When the time was right, when the stage was set, as the suspense mounted, He appeared. In his redeeming love, God sent the Victor. The Savior. The valiant, humble prince. Who paid the price. Slew the dragon. Defeated the enemy. And conquered death.

God writes a story that unfolds even now. His grace abounds. He promises a wedding feast. Another garden. A happily ever after.

Because he is good.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, you are good. You have a plan, a story. To create in us new hearts. Good-hearted hearts. Regardless of how the story looks right now, I will trust in your relentless, redeeming love and eagerly anticipate your happily ever after. Amen.

Grace and Peace

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