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Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer (?) Schedule

I question mark (?)  summer as we have experienced the coolest, wettest two months of what would normally be called spring and today it's still very cold, windy and cloudy.
But however the weather happens still doesn't change our schedules and routines for the coming months. 
For many of you your daily routines will take on a new meaning, sleeping later ( hopefully) but running to new summer events, to the pool, to the park, to the beach, endless days trying to pack in all the fun of summer.

No longer have children in school, my schedule doesn't change much as far as that routine.  I no longer plant a garden and this year marks my first year without a horse in eleven summers, so no "training, grooming or riding" to take up my time.  We are spending countless trips to the bird feeders, we have created a "monster" that needs frequents servicing, but what fun to watch the endless parade of color out our windows.  I counted my list and see I have identified over 55 species just from our window.

                                     Male Western Tanager at Jelly Dish

We have no definite Bible Study scheduled for the next few months.  I will be doing some research for an August study.  Meanwhile, we will post a devotional here and there and hopefully encourage you to stay in the word on your own.  Find a topic and study it out.  I suggest to take the Proverbs and read one for each day of the month. 
I've been doing this for the last year, still amazed at how the Lord speaks to me with new insights as I've gone thru Proverbs over 12 times now. 

                                    Male Oriole Nothern Bullocks Variety

Working on a devotion now for posting in the next few days. 
Hope you will check back once in a while and be encouraged in His word.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Joy - The Crowning Virtue - Chapter 14

Maybe I have tried your patience ( chapter 13) waiting for our final chapter - Joy.
I've made several attempts to finish this but one thing after another has interrupted me.

I hope to be back today with a final word and maybe meantime you can read Isaiah 45
and share a comment on that or whatever else you chose.

I was so touched by Isaiah 45:3 that I had to turn there and read the whole chapter.
God really spoke to my heart here.  I so hope you will find a few moments and dwell there, let Him speak to you too.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Patience - More than a Disposition Chapter 13

I just thought some ocean scenes and sounds would be so fitting with what Kelly shares regarding God's relentless patience:

"God's relentless patience has met me much like ocean waves rolling on the shore - there's always another round if I don't get it the first time, or the hundred-and-thirty-second"  Kelly Minter

What peace we can take away knowing He never gives up on us.

Patience for us is produced as a "fruit" of the spirit.  Good fruit comes from a vine or tree that is carefully tended and pruned as needed.  We grow patience/longsuffering and sometimes how we are feeling at the moment we like to think of it as "patience" and then there are those times it definitely feels like "long as in loooong - suffering"

If we could just step back in the moments and consider the example He set before us.
"He embodied patience by choosing to remain silent, refraining from striking back, even praying for His crucifiers, saying "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chapter 12 - On Compassion and Humility

Defining "compassion". According to Webster:
a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune,
accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Webster defines it as a noun.   I see it more as a verb, an action word, a do something word.  For many of us it takes humility to show compassion. 

"When you know suffering and humbling, you become intimate with humility,
and when humility becomes your friend,
it opens you to a world you never knew before."
Kelly Minter  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Everything Must Die (To Rise Again) Chapter 11 Humility

Humility is not a cheer-rousing subject. We don’t jump up and down in undiluted excitement waving sparkly pom-poms. It’s part of our sin nature to desire exaltation. We long for recognition and some of us make a search for significance our god. Striving and straining we work to become “important” even within Christian circles. Our striving may not be outward, but inwardly we envy the woman on stage, the retreat coordinator, the Bible study leader, or the one who can sing like angels. We look up to them and wish we were in the “in crowd”.

Christ calls us to humble servant hood. Philippians 2:3-5 challenges us. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Whoa! That’s one tall order sister!

I found the following story about humility that I thought you’d enjoy.

     Adam said, “Lord, when I was in the garden, you walked with me everyday. Now I do not see you anymore. I am lonesome here and it is difficult for me to remember how much you love me.

    God said, “No problem! I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will know I love you, even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish, childish,  and unlovable you may be this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourself.” And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam. It was a good animal, and God was pleased. The new animal was pleased to be with Adam and he wagged his tail.

     Adam said, “But Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and all the good names are taken. I cannot think of a name for this new animal.”

     God answered, “No problem! Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG.” Dog lived with Adam and was a companion to him and loved him. Adam was comforted, and God was pleased. Dog was content and wagged his tail.

      After a while, it came to pass that Adam’s guardian angel came to the Lord and said, “Lord, Adam has become filled with pride. He struts and preens like a peacock and he believes he is worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught him that he is loved, but no one has taught him humility.”

     The Lord said, “No problem! I will create for him a companion who will be with him forever and who will see him as he is. The companion will remind him of his limitations, so he will know that he is not worthy of adoration.” And God created CAT to be a companion to Adam. Cat would not obey Adam, and when Adam gazed into Cat’s eyes, he was reminded that he was not the Supreme Being. Adam learned humility, and God was pleased. Adam was greatly improved, and Cat did not care one way or the other.

If you find yourself struggling to grasp humility, you might just try praying for a cat! Choose a question from chapter 11 and share your insights with us.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Kindness - Chapter 10

Random acts of Kindness.  Make a Difference Mondays.

These were the first couple that came to mind.  I'm sure there are a long list of similar themes to which we could apply ourselves from time to time.  Thinking of this I'd like to encourage you to grab a question from page 200 and give us some feedback. 

I'm going to consider a powerful act of kindness shown towards me that has had lasting results.  I ran away from home just at my sixteenth birthday.  I needed a "safe place".  A pastor and his wife opened their home to me, sight unseen, and provided a stable, safe Christian environment.  Thru that act of kindness and selfless love God was able to plant good seed in the soil of my heart and now some 43 years later I get glimpses of "good fruit".

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Soul at Rest Peace, Part 2 - Chapter 9

The Lord Bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Did you know that God commanded Aaron and his sons to speak the above blessing over the Israelites? God wants us to have peace. He desires to give it to us. It is a free offer from the hands of grace. This peace isn't contingent on outward circumstances, but is an inward settling of the soul. It is a peace that says, "It is well" even when the world around you is falling apart.

Where does this kind of unexplainable peace come from? It comes from a life lived in obedience to God. Kelly's words really resonated with me when she said, "I would rather have a clear conscience on a rocky road that be plagued by guilt on a silver street." My life has been rocky at times, but God's peace has been ever present.  My spouse lives with chronic illness and there have been many lost dreams, pain, struggle, and tears, but God has been our anchor through it all. I can site many a time when the circumstances around me were anything but calm, but inside a tide of peace welled up as God whispered, "It is well. I'm here. I know. I care." When I sat by my husband's hospital bed wondering what was going to happen, the peace was there. When a doctor brashly said to my husband, "You'll be totally infertile within six months," the peace stood strong. (We now have two daughters and not through adoption.) When we got the 8:30 p.m. call from the hospital in San Francisco telling us they had a kidney for my husband and we had to be there at 5:00 a.m. the next morning, God's peace was flowed over me. This is not to say that my ship doesn't occasionally shuddered with the crashing waves, but the anchor of Christ holds firm and eventually I get back to that place where his peace reigns in unexplainable ways.

Choose a question from chapter 9 and share your thoughts through the comments link. How has God's peace manifested itself in your life?


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Peace, Not as the World Gives

Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace.......

I hope you can take a moment, sit back, click on this video and rest in
 His peace today.
Hopefully you will know the words and can let them refresh your soul and spirit as you take in the majestic and beautiful works of His hand.

Kelly mentions that Peace has to be fought for.....it is kind of a contradiction, but so true.   We  do have to apply effort to obtain His peace.  I agree with her, "our efforts will never outweigh the joy of peace restored to our souls that were once at odds. "
(Eph 2:17-18)

I wish you Peace this Mother's Day weekend.  Today's chapter will be our last chapter for this week.  We will resume Monday with Chapter 9.  It's a triple blessed weekend for me...Lisha made my first Mother's Day 43 years ago on May 9th! My second daughter Mischel celebrates her 40th on May 6th....really, blessed Mother's Day to each of you.

Tracy's Tulips 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Yes, You Really Can - Chapter 7


Kelly has given me some different thoughts on forgiveness in these last two chapters.
I've known that forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.  "But forgiveness is not denying what our enemies (or loved ones) have done; it's not calling something whole that's fractured or something pure that's corroded.  Forgiveness is looking in the face of what our offenders have done, recognizing their wound for all that it is, and then choosing to forgive. It has nothing to do with denying the wrong of those who hurt us but has everything to do with changing our hearts toward them. " (page 90)

That's the beginning of peace for us, when we become willing to change our hearts, letting go and letting God restore and rebuild us in Him. It is a process and one that we often have to come back to as feelings surface. 

The artichoke analogy. I did some research and discovered this is considered a thistle plant.  If you really think about it, this is a great analogy of a heart in need of producing"forgiveness" as well as other character qualities of Christ.

Before we can even began to peel away the layers of bitterness, anger, revenge, gossip, etc.....heat must be applied....ouch!! and the paring knife (Hebs. 4:12 goes here)

There's some "fruit" or food value after the outer petals are peeled away, there at the inner petals. The real fruit and value is found after the "choke" is stripped away and the "heart" is exposed and opened.

I wanted to drive home this analogy so I went and purchased me an artichoke....
gonna set that in my windowsill and think on it for awhile.

But God commendeth His love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 KJV