Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What can happen in a garden


Dorothy Gurney wrote a verse we often see on garden plaques:

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
 
We can draw near to God anywhere, in the darkest dungeon imaginable, but there is something about being in God's creation that awakens our sense of wonder and awe.

As my friend Jane and I walked through several woodland gardens on a recent garden club tour, I experienced again how these places may help us draw near to the Lord.
 


 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Gurney’s familiar lines come from a longer work entitled “God’s Garden,” the last verse of which is:

For He broke it (God’s heart) for us in a garden
Under the olive-trees
Where the angel of strength was the warden
And the soul of the world found ease. 

On the tour, I revisited a home, which I had not seen in years and came to a garden bridge.

Though the bridge has been redesigned in recent times, it was on this wooden span decades ago, my husband  “found ease” for his soul when his friend, Jim, prayed with him.

The prayer initiated what is often called a Damascus Road experience. God began bringing healing from the pain and sorrow from the loss of Jerry’s sweet eight year old daughter only two years before, as well as the recent death of his best friend a day earlier. On this bridge, under the spreading oaks and Georgia pines he experienced the benefit of God's broken heart for him as the waters streamed beneath him.

With my friend Jane, whose husband was the man who prayed the prayer with Jerry,  I stood for a few moments reflecting on all God has done because of what happened on that bridge. Jerry who was an attorney at the time has been at this point preaching God’s word for more than thirty years.

Jim is now with the Lord and understands more than we do the ripples that have gone out from that one prayer.

“Nearer God’s heart in a garden . . . “

At this house, it has proved true.
 
 
Faith in the Fashion District releases August 23, 2018 and has just become available for presell. This story of how one woman's life on Seventh Avenue launched a lifetime in ministry helps you discover how God can use you--in unlikely places.

If you plan on buying the book, it would be a huge blessing if you could purchase it during this presell period. My understanding is you won't be charged until it releases.      HERE for presell.   
 

 


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What tiny creations can do


I opened the door to the studio just before Easter looking for a box of plastic eggs for our hunt a couple of days later. I hadn’t been out there in awhile and in my peripheral visionmovement. Then a Carolina Wren flashed in front of me. I turned to see her masterpiece of twigs, moss, straw, and dried leaves built on storage bins. I flashed my cell phone light inside, saw several tiny eggs, and forgot all about the plastic ones I had been searching for.

A twinge of anxiety crept up on me. No bird has ever been successful with a nest out there. Predators of various kinds have intervened coming in the same way she did, a small cat door. But I’m hoping this year will be different. The biggest threat, Mama Kitty, has been domiciled for months in the house, apparently having given up her days of wandering.

I followed the hatching of the baby birds going from nearly naked with a few random spiky feathers on their heads to being covered in them only days later.

Yesterday morning, I took this picture.
 
 

Four days earlier, this is how they looked.
 
 

At first, I thought only three, but now, I can see part of another miniscule beak.

These feathered chicks are fascinating to me. I’ve even named them: Lettie, Louie, Leonard, and Lois. I figure it’s pretty good odds for two boys and two girls.

When I look at those wee faces, I see in them the reflection of their creator, one who cares about every detail. If even one of them were to wriggle out of that nest before it was time, God would know. God would care.

After Job lost everythinglivestock, servants, even his beloved children, he was then afflicted with excruciating sores, but  continued to trust God. At one point he proclaimed God's might to his friends, “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7-10).

This time of year can do amazing things for our faith if we’ll allow God to speak to us through what he is doing in the world around us. If we’re wondering about God’s oversight in our lives, we can take encouragement from his creative power in the tiniest of his creations, because God is indeed, “the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

So, I’m off to take another picture.

Leonard was a little squashed in the last one.

For more about Carolina Wrens  and to listen to their song, HERE.

If we’re wondering about God’s oversight in our lives, we can take encouragement from his creative power in the tiniest of his creations, because God is indeed, “the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (click to tweet) 


Faith in the Fashion District releases August 23, 2018 and has just become available for presell. This story of how one woman's life on Seventh Avenue launched a lifetime in ministry helps you discover how God can use you--in unlikely places.
If you plan on buying the book, it would be a huge blessing if you could purchase it during this presell period. My understanding is you won't be charged until it releases.      HERE for presell.   
 



 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Going on an adventure, Part Two


On my daughter’s return from the mountain hike I wrote about in last week’s post, she sent me these pictures.




 
 


 
As you can see, her venture outside her usual world had amazing returns. Even though she faced high winds at the top of the 6500-foot peak, a terrible thunderstorm, and hiking for miles in soaking boots, she said, "I'd do it again." It was worth the trouble for the glorious benefits.

God reminded me concerning our faith, the same principle holds. In my book Faith in the Fashion District releasing later this year (available for presale now), I talk about why we often have to step out of our comfort zone to see God at work. I know from personal experience, God may ask us to let go of security in order to accomplish his purposes and help us experience life at its fullest.

This is unsettling business.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Jesus Christ demands the same unrestrained, adventurous spirit in those who have placed their trust in Him that the natural man exhibits. If a person is ever going to do anything worthwhile, there will be times when he must risk everything by his leap in the dark. In the spiritual realm, Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold on to or believe through common sense and leap by faith into what He says. “

We can cling to familiarity, sameness, and predictability to the point that we can miss God. Change challenges us. 

To a couple of men throwing their net into a lake, men who knew only one way life, Jesus said, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass” (Matthew 4:19 The Message). Without questioning, Peter and Andrew threw down their nets and went after Jesus.

You gotta love their leap of faith.

Many years ago, I kept having dreams about getting new clothes. In the dreams, I would say, I don’t want new clothes; I like the clothes I have. I knew getting these new clothes would take risk and a lot of work. The clothes I wore at the time were those of a musician. It’s what I’d always done, what I was trained to do, but God was stirring in my heart the first rumblings of becoming a writer. Being a writer means experiencing rejection and enduring solitude. It has not been an easy transition, but here I am all these years later . . . writing. I still do music, but when people ask what I do, I tell them I write. If I had not been willing to embrace what God had for me, I would have missed my life.

There are times, we have to throw down whatever is before us, whatever is familiar and go after God. It may not be easy. We may face high winds and storms, but like my daughter, I feel certain that in the end we will say it was worth it.

 


 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Going on an adventure


 “Guess what I’m doing next week?” my daughter asked soon after she arrived for Easter weekend. We sat down at the kitchen table. I kind of braced myself knowing how these things can go.

“Tell me,” I said.

“I’m hiking up to one of the highest peaks in the Appalachian Mountains.”

I straightened the placemat and tried to keep my game face. “With who?”  

Turns out, she’s going with a friend who has hiked the Himalayas.

I should be comforted by this other woman’s experience, and I am, but these things still stretch me to the end of my mama nerves. So many of you understand this and are dealing with issues far greater than mine with kids in the military, on foreign fields, or into extreme sports in a big way.

I shouldn’t be surprised at my daughter's announcement. Given my children’s gene pool, there was ample precedence to believe they would be adventurers.

The man I married has fished the deep seas of the Atlantic for Marlin. He has rescued leatherback turtles on the sands of St. Croix. He has hunted wild Russian boar in the swamps of South Carolina. He has skied the black diamond slopes of Colorado. He has waded the trout streams of North Georgia with a fly rod in his hand. He has soloed in a Piper Cub across the clay hills of his Southern home. He has hiked the Appalachian trail and into the wilderness of Yellowstone (On this particular jaunt, he never saw another person for four days and later found he camped among the biggest movement of grizzlies in years). He has waited at dawn for the first movements of turkey or deer and watched for ducks to come in on the water. He has stepped out into a football stadium with 50,000 people cheering him, and played with Bill Stanfill and George Patton and against Joe Namath.

This train was coming down the track, for sure, but that doesn’t make it less of a challenge. The area my daughter hikes will be isolated. No cell phone access. And did I mention bears? Who knew I would go from putting her in pink dresses with lace collars to making sure she has bear mace with her?

Two women in the wild.

I won’t hear from her for three days.

Am I going to trust God for her or am I going to worry my head off?
 

 

The Psalmist wrote these simple words, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3). That word trust in the original language has these variations of meaning:  to be confident, sure, bold, secure, to feel safe.

Will I choose to be sure, bold, and secure in trusting God to watch over my daughter?

I have a sense my confidence in her safety will only increase as I do.

As I think about this, it looks like we’re both going  on an adventure. I'd love to have you come with me on this trust journey.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3 (click to tweet)



 I now have a release date for Faith in the Fashion District--August 23, 2018 and it has just become available for presell. This story of how one woman's life on Seventh Avenue launched a lifetime in ministry helps you discover how God can use you--in unlikely places.

If you plan on buying the book, it would be a huge blessing if you could purchase it during this presell period. My understanding is you won't be charged until it releases. HERE for presell.   
 




 


 

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