Nov 15, 2011

Magnify Him with Thanksgiving

Magnify Him with Thanksgiving... Psalm 69:30 KJV

Vibrant fall colors
speak to the bounty of God’s gifts just as the vibrant musical talent of a very young Christian singing artist Rhema Marvanne speaks to the depth of faith. Read Rhema’s story and share in her joy as she uses her stagger musical gift to sing: I Thank God.

Recording God’s gifts with the treasure trove of beautiful women in the Gratitude Community. Today I'm sharing selected blessings that nurtured faith.

Magnify the Lord with thanksgiving [for]:
faith stories that affirm belief (79).
Sunday school teaching that brings peals of laughter (116),
hands making gifts of love for pilgrims on a spiritual retreat (120).
hymns sung with joy and reverence (121).
groups devoted to missions, study and prayer (223).
powerful teaching in Sunday’s sermon (249).
the Spirit within that seeks God (376).
Holy Communion followed by prayer at the kneeling rail (459).
an opportunity to teach women’s Bible study class (550)
Spirit lead scripture to compose prayer (575)
hearing a ‘quiet voice’ urging me to listen for the benefit of another (630).
traditional preparations for Advent (678)

Nov 13, 2011

Welcome One Another - Christian Hospitality

A six week season of hospitality and celebration is fast approaching. As we prepare for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years the food has to be planned, the house must be readied, clothes, decorations, gifts; all must be attended to. Hospitality requires intentional orchestration, a point our pastor’s message brought to my attention today.
The sermon’s message was taken from Romans 15:7.
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Our Pastor spoke of hospitality, of being a warm welcoming congregation reflecting God’s love, inviting all who enter our sanctuary to be embraced by acceptance.
Whom do I welcome? Do I approach others with God’s acceptance? Do I greet and welcome folks who attend …sometimes or who always sit alone? Do I offer a hand in introduction to visitors in my pew or in my Sunday school class? Have I invited friends to attend church events with us? Have I participated in the church’s outreach missions to the un-churched?
But even more to the point of Paul’s words, do I live a Christian hospitality in my daily life? Did I give a smile and whispered support to the mother struggling with her teenager in a restaurant? Did I email a note to a woman who was absent from the week’s Bible Study class? Did I suggest a lunch date to an elderly person who I know is struggling? Did I greet walkers on the path that were not of my race or class?
Hospitality requires intentional orchestration.
As the Pastor closed the sermon he reminded us,
You may be the only Jesus some will ever see.

Nov 10, 2011

Fall Purple, Disguises, Shapes, and Choice ~ Photo hunt

Camera on hand, cool winds rustling leaves everywhere, fall colors shimmering in the sunlight.  The season offers a brilliant welcome for a day of seeking pictures for this week’s Scavenger Hunt Sunday.
Purple mums nested among red ones in the crisp shade of a shrub row made a lovely contrast in color. I envision pairing theses lovely blooms with phrases of bountiful thanks.

It was not until I wandered close to the water’s edge that I realized the protrusions topside extended to a submerged root structure. Shaded water and drowned leaves disguised the presence of a long fallen majestic tree.

The hanging fish wind chime swinging from a friend’s porch caught my ear and my lense.  Modifying the light accented the various shapes and created an edgy deep water feel.

The final choice reflects a photo of the fragile beauty seen in spent blooms of autumn. The rose lingers past its prime but its classic form and muted coloration gives a sense of remembrance and romance.

Nov 8, 2011

A Blessing Can Have a Long Legacy

Gratitude for a blessing can have a long legacy. It can be written across the soul early in life, raised high and often, knowing full well its precious value. It feels meager to record it once on my current listing of gifts. Blessing number 681 has brought knee-bending thanksgiving for almost fifty years.
#681 Thanksgiving Lord, for a full lifespan with my father.
A 1959 transport lands on a mid-west international runway. The door opens. The young Lieutenant onboard has been away from home for a year, flown halfway around the world to return. He doesn’t wait, jumps off the plane with duffle bag in hand and runs to the four young children racing for his arms.
In 1966, at the same international airport, a commercial airliner arrives from LA. Several passengers are on the final leg of their travel from Saigon including the same soldier, a Major now, wearing pilot’s wings on his uniform.  Mama is teary with joy but allows us, dad’s six kids, to reach him first, to tackle our father at the gate. This was the first of two more homecomings over the next three years from that small divided Asian nation.

Our father was a soldier, a Veteran of war. Even so, I never knew that he received the Bronze Star until well into adulthood. Today our soldier is 82 years young. Every Veterans Day I call my humble soldier to tell him how honored I am by the service he gave in the years of his prime and how blessed I feel to have had him present  these many decades since. He always deflects my words by saying we all served, the whole family. It weighs heavy on him, those years, the impact they had on us all.

There was a cost. But there was also growth. I clung to God early. I learned faith in childhood through trials beyond childhood concerns. I experienced the strength that can come only from the Spirit within and the depth of joy that only the hand of God can deliver.

My heart deep thanks to all members of the Armed Forces this week of  Veterans Day 2011.

Oct 30, 2011

Renewed by the Spirit's Work

He saved us through a second birth,
renewed us by the Spirit's work...
Titus 3:5

Scarlet leaves of autumn,
flags of waning life, nutrition withheld from leafed out growth. Yet, the evergreen limbs of this southern shrub, unfurls a glorious autumn offering of new growth in wine-hued spires at its tips.

New growth can arrive in the autumn of life.

Second chances, deeper thought, revisited experience, new lenses through which to see ~

Renewed by the Spirit’s work,
Salvation arrives from God’s persistent encouragement for faith.

God's gifts unfurl through the seasons of life. My gratitude matures with living and the offer of His holy mercies year after year. I'm writing down those mercies with the Gratitude Community, so the the heart can be strengthened yet again: mentioned here #656 - 660.

~ quiet evenings at home
~ a life season of peace filled days
~ gratitude for God's warnings, for His unshakable pursuit of our hearts
~ gratitude for time, more time to grow in faith
~ for opportunities to humbly, gently encourage others to deeper faith

Oct 24, 2011

He Talked with Us on the Road

On the road heading west,
local Sunday morning church services on the radio, one each hour represents different Protestant denominations. I settle in [hands on the wheel, eyes on the road] anticipating with interest the teaching and music of three Christian congregations in one morning.

Congregations of real people! I hear bodies rise from pews, voices clear to join in the confession of faith, and hymnals open to song. These broadcasts cross our metroplex of two mega-cities and dozens of moderate to smaller ones. One must smile at the reality of thousands gathering to seek our Lord all along this highway I travel.
 Once the cities fade in the rearview mirror along with radio signals and the vast western prairie stretches to the horizon, favorite CD’s fill my ears with the gifts of musical praise.

And as the driving is done [still, hands on the wheel, eyes on the road],
Notice the slower moving vehicle of an elderly person; prayers for their safe arrival.
Notice several semis lining the roadside rest stop; prayers for their Sabbath rest.
Notice the acres of wild-fire ravaged grasslands; prayers for restored life.
Notice the beauty of God’s hill country; prayers of thanksgiving.

Notice an aging rural steeple and later, billboard evangelism: prayers that a heart will be called by either.

Billboard: You  are God's child.  Make Him proud!

Notice trailers piggy-backed on rails or rolling on 16 wheels; prayers for labor producing commerce.

Notice the miles yet to go and the miles safely traveled; prayers of gratitude.

Think too of Biblical travels:

Hagar in the wilderness, Moses leading the nation, or two traveling the road to Emmaus.
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

The Lord and His Angels have accompanied open hearts on journeys far and near, in all corners of the earth.
Thus, I humbly venture to claim His companionship as I travel today hoping that every journey offers an experience of revelation, reflection, and worship.
Simply listen for His leading and look for His face as the road is tread.

Oct 10, 2011

A Year of Drought

Like satin,
petals perfectly formed,
gently unfold,
layer by layer
in fragrant display of
buttery splendor
just in time
for autumn's reign.

Our region carries the burden of harsh drought scourged summers. Unrelenting heat burdens daily life and crushes the green right out of our landscapes. Hope hungry inhabitants scan nightly weather reports for a bit of a drizzle that might fall their way. Any plant species lacking the 'grit' of deep, water efficient roots literally become dust.

Then...wait for it [believe me, we do], fall gently begins. 108 chills to 90 and eventually 70 something. Occasional overcast days promise rain, somewhere. And. it. comes. Foliage revives, roots swell, and buds form offering up a final fall burst of green and bloom.

The wait rewarded, thirst quenched.

Is it not so for the heart rooted in Christ?
But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit. ~ Jeremiah 17:7-8
Gratitude fills page after page, fills life day by day, fills prayer hour by hour:

636. half moon gleaming in October sky
637. acorns, all varieties littering woodland's floor, offering food storage for winter meals
638. Cardinal stark red against shaded green
640. fall air crisp each morning
648. heavy ground drenching rain
652. Monarch butterflies stop a moment during their transcontinental migration
655. overcast cloud cover and humid air soothes sun scorched land


{This post is dedicated with much admiration to my friend @Higher Choices.}

Oct 4, 2011

Divine Nature ~ Scripture and a Snapshot

Paul’s words in Romans 1:20, expresses my soul’s response to what I see when I look attentively at the world all around me. Images of God's close up, minute beauty even in the Creator’s work that constitutes the burgeoning Holly tree beside our patio showered with rain glistening on the color and form of leaf and berry surfaces.  Fruit ripens red for winter adornment.  Nature’s seed preparing to carry on God’s replenishing plan for our natural world.

Oct 3, 2011

'First Love' for God Flows as a Fountain

Faith flows
much like a fountain
within the heart;
a persistent
high spirited 

The heart flows with love for God sustained by the rains of grace that fall in response to a genuine seeking for God. Time spent pursuing our Lord through the spiritual sustenance of prayer, worship, service, and thanksgiving invites the rains of grace that fill our hearts with flowing faith.

In the absence of intimate time with him Our Lord laments,
“…You have forsaken your first love.” Rev. 2:4
In the absence of spiritual sustenance the heart loses the high spirited flow of faith. Eyes cannot see His blessings. The heart cannot love Him passionately. Ears will not hear holy words of assurance and promise. Hands will not serve with thanksgiving. Therefore...
“… sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…” 1 Peter 3:1

“We sanctify the Lord God in our hearts when we with sincerity and fervency adore him,… when we rely upon his power, trust to his faithfulness, submit to his wisdom, imitate his holiness, and give him the glory due to his most illustrious perfections.” 
Matthew Henry Whole Bible Commentary

Giving Him the glory and sustaining a highspirited flow of faith, in part, through the Gratitude Journal:
607. Christian friends of deep knowledge and conviction
612. opportunities to be steeped in scripture
615. the oncologist offers a prayer for us
617. prayer experiences with special women
627. Excerpt from: Joyful, Joyful, We adore Thee  written by J. van Dyke, 1907
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain

Call us to rejoice in Thee.

{Musings gained from the week’s Bible class, Sunday’s service, and deeper independent study. Linking with Hear It Sunday and the Gratitude communities.}

Sep 26, 2011

Miracles Defined by the Beholder

Madonna, Kimball Art Museum Fort Worth, TX

Miracles are defined by the beholder. Only the one who knows the back story can identify that there is miraculous energy imbedded in seemingly common events.
Only such a beholder can identify long-ago dream content that is now occurring in real time; prophetic foreshadowing now firmly believed as having been prophetic.
Only the beholder can witness to verbal remarks that display a dramatic change of heart when compared to preceding history.

Only the beholder can witness to the comfortable, bonded, even affectionate interchange between those who no longer are burdened by the despair of estrangement.
Only the beholder can witness to a long journey of pain and trauma that has reached a plateau, turned the corner, and taken on elements of joy, laughter, and deep regeneration.
I am the humble beholder of such miracles. I have experienced the great good grace of our Lord working toward wholeness for His people. In an earlier time in circumstances only God ultimately understands, my child and I were estranged.

Today many years past pain and unceasing prayer, the child has become a beautiful woman devotedly mothering her own babies. We have found and recognize ourselves within each other; divinely bonded by common characteristics, shared preferences, remembered history. Together we talk over morning coffee, we share magazines and books, we laugh about our pets, we critique houses on HGTV, fuss over her grandfather, and we’re equally besotted with her precious babies.
Blessedly, we have reached a new plateau, turned a corner, and we dream joyously of the future we intend to share.
“I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten … And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you…” Joel 2:25-26 KJV

Posting here to join the Gratitude Community, numerous journal entries trace some of the miracles mentioned in today’s post and my occasions for bowing before the Lord in unending thanksgiving.
45 ~ Daughter calls with baby updates
46 ~ Grandsons’ mirror Mama's and Nana’s azure blue eyes
86 ~ Daughter and son in-law banter over supper dishes and baby bottles
198 ~ Daughter’s voice soothing her babies
205 ~ Opportunities to tell her stories of her own babyhood
265 ~ Opportunities to pray over my grandchildren
269 ~ Mother - daughter early morning coffee and laughter as babes play
272 ~ Making memories with grandma visits
289 ~ Long visits, the heart swells, wounds heal  
462 ~ Gratitude Lord to be with daughter and babes for memory precious visit
474 ~ Early mornings in the glider swing with babes & their mama
556 ~ Grandsons’ babbling over the phone

Sep 15, 2011

Father of our Spirits

Setting aside the sandstorm whirl of dominating thoughts,
Grasping online, like for air, for the writings offered at Christian sites,
The mind gradually redirects, calmed, and invites the spirit to settle alongside as the heart begins to find nourishment.
Eyes scan, mind muses, reads on until caught by a scripture reference,
Scramble over to Biblebrowser to linger there over deeper reading of scripture.

 God beckons and I trudge away from the demands on my mind to converse with Him in a rambling manner, Him hovering just beside my ear as I shuffle through various resources in search of holy nudging. On this occasion I was seeking inspiration to prepare an opening prayer for the first session of a Women’s Bible Study Monday morning. This Spirit walked, wandering process is often fruitful for me and thus it was that day as 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 was brought to my attention.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the [people] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV

The scripture was beautifully aligned with the study the women would be embarking on the following day.

Moving forward to compose the prayer, I was noticeably halted over selecting the initial address to our Lord. Going this time to my bookshelves to search through resources unearthed these names for God, ones I have not commonly used; Father of our Spirits and Author and Perfecter of our faith. Adding these to the prayer’s address seemed to meet an intentional message for the study.

Indeed as I viewed the initial video lecture with the class the following morning, it became apparent how specifically matched the 2 Timothy verse and attending to the names for God, matched the first verses of Revelation and Beth’s emphasis for the first lesson of the study.
My eyes tend to grow WIDE with awareness of God’s leaning and leading. The heart swells and leaps with recognition of the Holy Spirit’s presence. In closing the class time, I suggested to the women that Our Lord had prepared for their work through this study before they ever entered the room.
God’s work in my life in matters such as the process of writing this prayer consistently charms and conquers my heart in abiding belief. Christian Blog Network

Aug 29, 2011

Everywhere I send you, you will go...

Jeremiah 1:7 from Sunday’s sermon put on walking shoes and joined me on the path for the day’s walk; the scripture message stretching with each step, traveling across interior thoughts, connecting to memories of grace, forming the meaning posted here.
Paths can be clear or barely there but unroll continuously across life. Some display beauty on both sides though the direction is uncertain and the journey ahead is obscured.
“Because everywhere I send you, you shall go…” ~ Jeremiah 1:7.

Life’s paths have unending twists, many rise too steep to climb, or descend and bend around corners unseen.
“Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight” ~ Psalm 119:35.

There are those paths that are unforgivingly hard, constricted by unbending rails of demand, winding through weed strewn ravines, leading to the darkness of fear.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” ~ Psalm 105:105

Others present split crossroads demanding choice,

and uneven surfaces that rise up sharply. Feet stumble, hands bruise, faith teeters in the fall.
“Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths;” Psalm 25:4

Then there are the paths clearly seen from the high places far into the distance, traversing through lush and abundant resources.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” ~ Psalm 23:3

It is God who sends us forth on an earthly journey; marked as His people, provisioned for every circumstance; His word given as guide posts along the way, His commands a compass for the crossroads, and His light the assurance for treacherous and dark passages.
Recording with the Gratitude Community for this journey with God:
Blessings # 544 - 547
God’s plan for the journey ~ Jeremiah 1:7
God’s word that “[lights} our path” ~ Psalm 105:105
God’s “[direction] in the path of His commands” ~ Psalm 119:35
God’s leadership in “paths of righteousness” ~ Psalm 23:3