Monday, August 20, 2012

Resting in God with the "Things" Around Us

I am so very blessed to work where I do!  As you probably know, I work for Highland Oaks Church of Christ.  Every Monday we have an hour of staff spiritual formation time.  Sometimes singing, sometimes contemplating, sometimes using word pictures.... and always resting with God.  I am so thankful for Monday mornings!

Today, our spiritual formations director gave us the following scripture...

But God made the earth by his power, 
and he preserves it by his wisdom.
With his own understanding he stretched out the heavens.  
When he speaksin the thunder, the heavens roar with rain.  
He causes the clouds to rise over
the earth.  He sends the lightning with the rain 
and releases the wind
from his storehouses.

Jeremiah 10:12-13

We were then asked to choose something from a table.  Some of our choices were a rose, cinnamon, dirt, and a slice of a lemon.  We were ask to look at, touch, smell, maybe even taste (depending on what it was!) the thing that we chose.  We then spent time in silence with whatever "thing" we chose and reading over the scripture from Jeremiah.  We could just sit in the quiet we our thoughts, we could write, it was totally up to us.  The point was, we were free to let God take us wherever He wanted to take us during that time of quiet & rest with Him.

For some reason, I chose a slice of lemon.  I first read through the scripture several times.  And then I began to smell the lemon.  Generally, a lemon makes me makes immediately think of something sour.  But today, when I smelled that lemon while reading the passage above, I found myself at the ocean.  The lemon smelled clean and fresh.  I even in my minds eye envisioned squeezing the lemon and the mist of juice that would be created and spraying out.  It made me think of the mist coming off of the ocean.  I kept going back to the ocean.  Feeling the wind blow in my hair; breathing in the smell of clean, crisp air; feeling the mist of the water on my face.  It was an incredibly peaceful place.

As I read the scripture and thought about the storm, I again thought about the ocean. The ocean can be one of the most calming, peaceful places imaginable; but is can also be a place of raging storms, of crashing water all around.  Yet in the midst of the raging storm, a simple touch from God and the storms are still; the ocean is again calm and peaceful.  As I think about the storms in my own life, today's spirtiual formation time is so meaningful.  One minute you can be in the midst of a horrific, raging storm.  But one touch from God, maybe even through the touch or gentle word of a friend, and the waves are gently crashing into the shore, the mist is hitting your face and you are relaxed again by the calming sounds of the ocean; by the calming spirit of God.  

I wish everyone could experience what our staff experiences on Monday mornings.  There are no Monday morning blues for us.  We ended our time together today by singing the following song.

Had it not been the Lord who was on our side
Had it not been the Lord who was on our side
The anger of the enemy would have swallowed us alive
Had it not been the Lord who was on our side

Had it not been the Lord who was on our side
Had it not been the Lord who was on our side
The waters would have engulfed us, we would have surely died
Had it not been the Lord who was on our side

Blessed be the Lord who would not give us up
Blessed be the Lord for His unfailing love
The snare is broken and we have escaped
Our help is in the name of the Lord
Blessed be the Lord!

My prayer for this week is that I will remember to find God in everything around me.  And I know it can be done.  After all, I found God today in a lemon!


Friday, August 10, 2012

With a Heavy Heart...

I don't even know where to begin this post.  I just know that my heart is extremely heavy.  My heart hurts for those who are hurting and especially for those who are fighting cancer.  Cancer is one of those unexplainable things that touches so many lives.  I lost my dad to cancer when I was 12 so this particular disease has a strange place in heart.  

It is a disease that touches so many; a disease for which a cure has made great strides; a disease that seems to continually change. Quite frankly it is the disease that scares me the most.  But it is also a disease for which many are in remission and for that I praise God with all my heart. 

I have 4 friends who are battling this disease at this very moment.  And each one of them is fighting a different battle.  Each one of them is walking a journey that was not of their choosing.  But each one of them is walking though this journey with a Faith and Trust in God that is an inspiration to those around them.  

Cancer is not a fight that easily won.  It is a fight that takes everything you have and then some.  It is a fight I pray that I never have to fight.  But it is also a fight that I will choose to help those in my life fight.  While I cannot physically do much for them, I can continue to hold them up to the One who Can.  I can continue to pray prayers for strength, peace, wisdom and courage for the journey they face.  I can continue to ask God to hold them in a way that no one else can.

I know that there are many who are fighting this disease.  And I know from my own experience with my dad, it can be a lonely place.  If you know someone who is battling this disease, let them know you are thinking about them.  Let them know you are praying for them. Let them know they are not alone and that you have not forgotten about them.  It will mean more than you can know.

I know this is not a typical post.. but as I said, my heart is heavy for those in my circle and my outlet is to write.  I pray God's blessings on each of you.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2

Because He is God... and i am not...

Friday, August 03, 2012

Time... It's a Curious Thing

I have found myself thinking a lot about time lately...  And in the words of Alice - from Wonderland... It gets curiouser and curiouser!

I was thinking about some events that happened earlier this year.  It seems like they were a lifetime ago... when in reality they took place only 4 months ago.  We celebrated our granddaughter's first birthday last week and I can't believe a year has already passed since her birth.  Time is one of those things you can never really wrap your mind around.  No matter how hard you try!

You may spend a year planning a vacation and it seems like it will never get here.  Then suddenly it's here and before you know it, it's over!  There are times when you are waiting in line for maybe 5 minutes in a store and we are always rushing around so much that 5 minutes seems like 5 hours. We put something in the microwave for a few minutes (or seconds!) and stand around tapping our fingers because we don't think it's heating up fast enough.

Then you have the other side of time...  Time when you are waiting for news on a job; or maybe you are waiting on the results of some tests.  Maybe you are waiting in hospital waiting room for answers.  Maybe you have been praying over something for years and you continue to wait for answers.  Maybe you are going through treatments for cancer or some other illness.  Those times in life, time can just seem to simply stand still.   

Sometimes you wish you could go back to a certain situation so you could do it over again.  Sometimes you wish time would speed by so that you can get past a particular situation.  Sometimes you wish you could go back in time to see someone you've lost, to tell them one more time how much you love them.  Sometimes you wish you could make time stand still because you are in a particularly wonderful moment.  All of us may find ourselves in any one of these circumstances at any given moment.  Time is one of those things it seems like we never have enough of; and yet at the same time, it's one of those things we seem to waste so often.

Time is one of the most valuable and precious gifts we receive and yet one of the things we squander the most.  One thing is for sure, we never know from one minute to the next how much time we truly have here on earth. We need to make the most of the time we have.  We need to remember to tell the people we love how we feel about them.  We need to let grudges go.  We need to stop saying what if and start saying what can I do. We need to stop saying someday and start saying how about now. We need to love more and judge less.  

Time is a precious, precious gift with no promises of how long it will be here...  But we can promise to use it wisely and not waste a minute of it!

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot, 
a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build, 
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance, 
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 
a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away, 
a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak, 
a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

                     Ecclesiastes 3:1-8