Safe

Get home! I raced down the hall toward the parking lot. My heels clattered down the quiet walkway. No middle schoolers flooded the hall; school ended an hour ago. I stayed for a meeting, but I needed to be home for an appointment and to get dinner for Van before he left for BSF. My brain said, hurry! Get home!

Keys in hand, I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful blue sky, dotted with fluffy, white clouds. An unusually rainy winter for southern California meant a soggy, gray day, but now a stiff breeze moved the clouds across the sky.

I opened the car door, took one more grateful look, and stopped. Froze really. In the hedge just a few inches from the hood of my car rested a bird. His feathers ruffled in the light wind, but except for turning his head, the bird didn’t move.

Holding my breath, I held onto the car door, reached into my purse, and groped until my fingers closed on my phone. Please, don’t move, I begged.

Amazingly, he didn’t. I zoomed in. Click.Safe_1

He still didn’t move. In fact, he seemed content to stay perched on the hedge, watching the world go by. Thank You, God, I whispered.

I stood there several minutes. Enraptured. Flooded with gratitude that this lovely gift stayed. Another bird joined him for a brief second, but even after the second bird took off, he continued to take in his surroundings, content to stay in his spot.

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I don’t know what made that bird feel safe enough to stay on the hedge. Why didn’t he take flight when I came racing to my car? No matter the reason, I still feel joy deep in my heart when I look at my pictures (and I’m especially thankful for the “live” feature on my phone so I can see the wind ruffling his feathers, his head slowly moving as he observed his world).

But I know what makes me feel safe. Safe enough to stay and observe my world.

Jesus.

No matter what ruffles my feathers. Whether I’m alone or have others near. In blue skies and storms. I am always safe because of Jesus. Like my bird friend, I can watch the world, decide when to go and when to stay. Enjoy the gentle breeze. Because I am never alone, but always in the Presence of my Savior and my King.

It’s been a long time since I participated in a Five Minute Friday hosted by Kate Montaung. Every Friday, she offers a prompt and invites writers to take 5 minutes to write whatever comes to mind. Click on the link and be inspired by what others have to say about this week’s word: SAFE

Christmas Expectations

What were Mary’s expectations as she traveled to Bethlehem? Was she hoping for a room with a bed, a pitcher of water, clean sheets?

Did her expectations change the closer she got to the city? She didn’t have time to plan for Jesus’ birth away from home, especially when there was no where to stay except a stable. Since her mother wasn’t there, did Mary expect Joseph to find a midwife, even in this strange city?

Did her surroundings fade away as she held her precious baby in her arms? Counted his fingers and toes. Kissed his forehead and cheeks. Laid him in a manger filled with hay instead of a special cradle carved by Joseph.

Whatever Mary expected when she knew she carried the Son of God, she could not have expected all that happened when Jesus was born.

But Mary understood that her expectations were not as important as God’s plan. That first Christmas, Mary showed us what Christmas expectations we really need.

Mary’s Christmas expectations included only one thing: Being in awe of all God gave.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19).

This Christmas is not going according to my plan. There have been twists and turns. I think I adjust, and something else changes. I did not get all the things done that I normally do.

My Christmas expectations must be on only one thing: Being in awe of God’s gift to me.

His Son, Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 

Not for any reason except His mercy and grace. His love for me. And you.

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Hope Cycle

I tend to be an introvert. I need my own space and a lot of quiet. People can make me feel claustrophobic. My patience, grace, and kindness are finite. Limited. I allow circumstances and feelings to intrude and affect my responses—rarely for the good of myself or others.

I find myself in  a vicious cycle of annoyance, impatience, anger, hurt. Slammed doors and silence. Until someone holds out an olive branch and we gingerly move together again.

How thankful I am that God is not like me.  A.W. Tozer’s, in his book, The Attributes of God: A Journey into the Father’s Heart, begins with God’s infinitude. Tozer points out that because God is infinite, He has no limits, bounds, or ends. He isn’t usually good or mostly good, He is 100% good. All. The. Time. 
Continue reading “Hope Cycle”

What I Do to Feed My Soul

Like so many, my days seemed filled with noise and activity.

My desk piles up with papers and books. So many that I can’t find whatever it is I need, and so I ruffle frantically trying to find the pen, the note, the papers to pass out to my seventh graders which I just held in my hand two minutes ago. Thirty-five seventh graders never stop talking. Or tapping. Or moving. Or wanting me to answer the same question for the thirty-fifth time.

When I get home the dogs dance with excitement, eagerly awaiting dinner and a game of fetch. The TV blares. Conversation with my husband, Van, goes on above the noise while we do evening chores together.

My soul longs for rest. Quiet. Letting my mind wander. Hoping my heart is open for the voice of Jesus.

My soul needs nothing more than Him.

My soul needs all of Him.

Time to listen. Be refreshed by His Presence.

The best way for me to do this on a day-to-day basis is slow down. Look for, acknowledge, take delight in His creation. I take gift walks. As I walk, I talk–to myself and to God. Anyone watching must wonder what I’m up to, muttering, “Oh! Beautiful.”

“Look at the shape of that tree.”

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“So many textures.”

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“Wait! Stop! Get a picture of this.”

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And I dart from thing to thing. Stopping short taking a picture, often of the same thing from different angles or close-up and whole.

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IMG_4095I’m a terrible photographer. But it doesn’t matter to me. When I see those pictures, my soul rests again. The beauty of God’s creation serves as a reminder of the one message that keeps me close to Him in the midst of noise and confusion and demands: He is always present. He always loves me.

All I have to do is look. And acknowledge Who the creator, my creator is.

My soul rests because I know He is there.

Linking up today with The Faith Barista, Bonnie Gray, about her book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest.

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Awestruck

Yesterday I took my youngest granddaughter, Robyn, and her brother, Blake, to look up-close-and-personal at the Rose Parade floats. I devoted my time and attention on these two and enjoyed every minute.

Every float is a work of art. Not one detail is left to chance. Flowers, seeds, beans, leaves, fruit, bark, or any natural material cover every inch of each float. Thousands of people crowded around every float, taking pictures and admiring the work involved in creating these magnificent pieces of art.

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I stood amazed at the ingenuity and beauty of these floats.

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But I couldn’t help but think about who really deserved my awe: God. He is the One who, with just a word, created each of the materials used on these floats. His imagination and creativity made the innumerable colors, textures, shapes, and sizes people admired.

His attention to detail in every aspect of His creation astounds me. Nothing man can do compares to the vision, inspiration, and artistry of God.

How often do you take time to stand in awe and wonder at the creativity of God? To drink in what He does? Are you giving Him honor and glory and praise for all he does and is and gives?

To avoid the throngs of people still looking at the floats on our way back to our car, we walked along the edge of the crowd, on a dirt trail. God’s majesty surrounded us: the sky a perfect shade of blue, golden leaves shimmering in the afternoon sun, and hidden in the hollow of a tree, a spider web sparkled. Robyn, Blake, and I admired each of these, a perfect ending to our day together.

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When I got home, I recorded these gifts in my newest Joy Journal. Gifts from God, both those made by man and made by Him. Time with special people.

Unspeakable joy.

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Psalm 150.