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In a Parched and Weary Land …

WEATHER:  I don’t have to tell most of you that this country is in an extreme heat and drought situation. Living in farm country, every day the news tells us how much damage the crops are suffering because of the lack of rain. It’s easy for the untrained eye to see it as the corn stalks wither and brown in the heat. Farmers struggle to keep their hogs cooled. Gardeners  usually fight Japanese Beetles this time of year are also struggling to keep their gardens watered sufficiently. It’s not “fun” to be outside, especially in the sun. And at night we can’t even enjoy a fire either because of the heat or the burn ban restrictions. When a cloud appears in the sky or there is the slightest breeze or drop in temperature our hopes soar that rain and cooler weather are coming.

NEWS:  It’s very discouraging to listen to the news these days from two innocent girls missing in Iowa to the inexplicable shootings in Colorado, suicide bombers, robberies, life-altering illnesses – the list continues.  We look for any glimmer of hope in the tragedies.

In a dry and weary land where there is no waterDavid was in a similar situation when he as in the wilderness of Judah. He was feeling totally drained and L-O-N-G-E-D for God’s presence.  David lived a life being hunted by the king, hiding in the desert and not being able to go to the Temple to worship God. Psalm 63 describes some of that longing. David remembers that he has seen God in the sanctuary and gazed upon God’s power and glory. He praises God for His unfailing love and care.

Have you ever been in a spiritual wasteland where you are struggling for nourishment? I have. Following my husband’s heart procedure and other issues, I felt drained. I KNEW God was there caring for me and even carrying me through the tough times, but I couldn’t FEEL Him. Somehow the inner assurance seemed to have evaporated in the heat of trials. After I wrote Practice! Practice! Practice! a dear friend reminded me of a simple book that I hadn’t looked at for a while – Invitation to Solitude and Silence, by Ruth Haley Barton.  I picked it up again and have been enjoying my morning time with God just BEING in His presence.

There is such a blessing that occurs from spending time with God – not on the fly as our guest pastor said Sunday; praying on the go, listening to Christian music, quickly reading a 2 minute devotional – all of which are good. But there is an importance of being thoroughly drenched and refreshed by BEING in God’s presence. Whether it is simply picking up His word and reading a verse or a portion of scripture and then just sitting there, thinking about it, thanking God for His word, listening to what He might have to say.

As much as we are physically craving rain to water the earth these days, how much more should we be thirsting, longing, craving for God to fill us spiritually?

I want to encourage you – and myself – to spend that much needed time IN God’s word, WITH Him – just BEING in His presence and letting Him minister to your needs.  It’s not easy and it’s not just sitting there. It is actively waiting and listening for what God will place on your heart.  Watch, pray.  It’s incredible how God blesses, not only in those moments, but continues to shower you with His love, grace and care in the hours and days following your time with Him.

I thought I’d share a song from one of my favorite musicians is Fernando Ortega. He has captured Psalm 63 beautifully in O God, You are My God.  I pray that you will be blessed with some time this week just BEING in God’s presence and letting the Holy Spirit fill you to overflowing so that you are spiritually refreshed and nourished ~ Faye

I am linked with Good Morning God and Beholding Glory.

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Today’s Trouble is Enough for Today.

Tomorrow has enough troubles of its own.I’ve been struggling what to write for a post since last week.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time in God’s word and in other readings. As you know, I’ve been writing and reading about The Quest for Serenity, but it seems to have evaded me this week when it comes to finding peace in a focused topic. So here are some late-night ramblings …

Life has so many unexpected adventures and experiences. How difficult life can get for some that they end up overwhelmed, struggling with depression, health issues, financial burdens, to the point where they can’t cope and just can’t find peace. Recently someone I used to teach in youth group decided to end his own life.  There are so many unanswered questions when someone decides this. It is such a burden and loss for the family and friends left behind. It leaves such an incredible void. It really made me do some serious thinking once again about what is really important.

In my small circle of friends, family and acquaintances, there are people dealing with all types of issues:  divorce, financial difficulties, job uncertainties, infertility, countless health issues, problems with parent-child relations, problems with other relationships, and job stress. Life is full of trials. My husband had a heart procedure in January and will face another in July. I find myself playing one of my not-so-favorite games – “What-If?” I’ve done it with so many changes in life. I should realize it is such a waste of precious time and energy (and sleep). Instead, over and over I play the different scenarios of what the future holds.

Here are a few things that have played in my mind the past couple of weeks:

In The Quest for Serenity, G.H. Morling shares from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, when Paul was in prison. Paul tells them, “I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:13)  Paul also wrote these words,

“I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.  For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.  I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.  But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.  Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what He is doing through me.”    -Philippians 1:20-26

Morling shares this quote:

Competency to deal with things as they arise and the confidence that goes with it are essential to serenity.

I am challenged by that quote to be filled with the truths of the verses above.

I find myself becoming concerned and then progressively worrying about life’s issues:  Will I get something in writing to post on this blog?  What lies ahead with Rich’s procedure?  Will the pain in my friends’ lives ever go away? Will a planned family gathering go well?  Will the health of family members improve or continue to decline?  The list is seemingly endless.

Yet God reminds me of these precious words:

“I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  – Matthew 6:25-34

If I take the time to remember that God is in control, so I don’t have to worry about the details, I am so much better off and filled with His peace and serenity.

Basking in the blessing of serenity that comes from God’s perspective and grateful for His strength in difficult times ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

How Can I Keep from Singing Your Praise?

It’s Spring in Iowa. Actually one might even think it’s been Summer with temperatures in the 70s and 80s for over a week instead of 30s and 40s. All of the plants and trees have been budding and bursting forth their beauty. I’ve been working in a garden center and am blessed that the owners allow me pretty much free reign of the property to take photos.  Every where I turn something else seems to herald its praises to God.

When I see how God has blessed me throughout my life, how can I keep from shouting His praise? Funny, as I’m writing this, Chris Tomlin’s How Can I Keep from Singing? is playing in the background. God’s timing is so incredible. I turned on Chris Tomlin’s CD this afternoon after I needed a spiritual remake and a lifting up of my spirits. I ran into some people who pretty much are able to only see the glass of life as half empty. They’ve had many difficulties in life, but after talking with them I just felt so sad and sorry for them. When I got home, I knew I could wallow in their self-pity or I could crank up the music and praise God for all He has given to me. These friends have been stuck in the past dreading the changes life offers. Now I don’t like change either, especially when it comes with trials – chronic illnesses, infertility, floods, tornadoes, broken water pipes, health concerns, etc.

But then I look at these beautiful plants and flowering trees. They’ve been hibernating over the Winter after dying off in the Fall just to be able to withstand the harsh winds, snow and ice. Then when the sun comes out, temperatures warm and the Spring rains come, they burst for their glorious color and intricate beauty. Look at this Magnolia blossom, it’s beautiful before it even opens. The white, pinks and purples all gracefully coming out of the base of the bud. There’s not even leaves of the tree when the bud is showing off it’s glory. It doesn’t care if the sky is cloudy and overcast, it’s ready to praise its Maker. It’s not worried about any possibility of weather changes and even the “danger” of frost. It just obeys God’s command to glorify Him.

My  heart grieves for these friends who are struggling to see God’s beauty in their lives. I am so grateful to be deeply content in You alone, for You have been there for me through all of the trials and blessings of life. Help me to keep these words in my heart and mind:

How can I keep from singing Your praise? How can I ever say enough, how amazing is Your love? How can I keep from shouting Your name? I know I am loved by the King and it makes my heart want to sing! ~ Chris Tomlin

So abundantly grateful for the blessing of being able to give praise and glory to God! ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Incredibly Blessed

I don’t have a lot to say today. I’d like to share how I experienced abundant blessings from God Friday after a beautiful snowfall during the night. I was up early and reflecting on Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than ALL we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout  all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.”

I dressed warm, grabbed my camera and headed outdoors right at sunrise. It was pristene white, peaceful, and quiet. God blessed me with His beautiful creation. I saw eagles closer than I’ve been to them before in the wild. I’ve been praising God all weekend for the way He blesses us over and over again with the beautiful from His creative hands.

I pray you will be blessed by these photos as well. I especially pray that you will be able to see the beauty of God’s love and grace all around you ~ Faye

Delight in God

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.   ~   Hebrews 11:1 [NLT]

Delight yourself in the LordThis morning during my devotional time, I found myself praying something like this – Father, forgive me when I let the frustrations with what my body cannot do take over my attitudes and actions. It wasn’t moment’s later He led me to the following “It takes a radical reliance on God’s Word – specifically God’s promises about the day when the healing and wholeness He’s secured for us/me will become the reality we will see and know and enjoy.” [Nancy Guthrie-Abundant Life]

I can’t describe how I felt – awed, humbled, embarrassed, thankful, grateful. God heard my prayer and answered almost immediately – not with physical healing, but with words of encouragement.  He may not heal our diseases or solve issues here on earth, but He always hears our prayers. And better yet, He promises that He will abundantly bless us in the life to come. God blesses us with glimpses of His glory and goodness.

While walking today, I was blessed by the sunshine, white wispy clouds, and the eagle soaring above me. Later I watched a Downy Woodpecker working at the trunk of a tree. How can a bird get food from frozen trees is beyond me, but God provides for all. God’s goodness for all His creatures is a glimpse of how much more He cares for us.

Guthrie states, “To live by faith is not to have confidence that God will make everything okay for us in this life, but that He will more than make up for the pain and difficulty of this life in the next.”  What incredible assurance we have! What a precious gift from God – FAITH!

So many people today seem to be burdened with trials. When we become so focused on the things of this world – good or bad –we miss the promise from God for our future.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart ~ Psalm 37:4

Praying that you will enjoy seeing the blessing of God’s goodness to you today ~ Faye

This blog is linked with Good Morning Girls Link-Up Wednesday.

Blessings Overflowing

God pours out His blessings on us every day. However, it seems during the holiday season we notice the blessings even more. I noticed this Sunday how I was blessed with hugs and warm greetings from numerous people, even ones I didn’t expect. I have been filled with God’s love through others since early yesterday morning. Those simple acts of caring were a reflection of God’s love and care and have left me filled to overflowing

There are days when I can be in a room filled with fellow believers in Christ and leave so alone. Was it them, or was it me? A quote I read yesterday challenged me, “…our behavior and heart condition do determine whether we receive the fullness of God’s blessings.” Is my heart and my attitude ready to openly receive? Or do I stay to the fringe of the room, talk to the same people always or keep too busy so that I don’t allow anyone close?

Yesterday God worked through so many people to bless me. And it wasn’t just happening to me.  I saw several small groups gathered listening, encouraging, crying with, hurting for, celebrating and sharing the love of God.

Isaiah 55:1-3 says,

Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink – even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk – it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to  me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. Come to Me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.

I was blessed yesterday to be filled with life, abundant life in Christ; shown through others who believe in Him. I’m not sure if it’s the season, or the fact that we focused on the Lord’s Supper and our brokenness being restored through Christ’s blood. Whatever it was, the Holy Spirit was moving among His people and working at filling them. What a blessing to be filled to overflowing with the love of Christ, freely given to all who believe, and easily shared when we are focused on Him.

May you enjoy God’s overflowing love and presence ~ Faye

Showers of God’s Blessing

Showers of Blessings

God’s blessings are so wonderful. I am so grateful I was able to enjoy so many of them in the past 24 hours.

Friend 1 – cancer is “only” Stage 1. So much better than spread throughout the body. Now the planning and preparation for the treatments begins.

Friend 2 – treatments have helped in treating the cancer. Spreading out the follow up tests and treatments.

Friend 3 – heads for surgery to remove a portion of the cancer. They, too, are rejoicing it’s not more extensive.

My heart breaks for them all as they have to face more treatment, but God has answered a multitude of prayers to make these cancers be on the treatable side. Now prayers will continue for them all in the days and months ahead.

Thought I’d be a blessing to the church secretary by filling in for her a couple of days so she could enjoy some vacation time.  God is SO Awesome! While cleaning old files, I went down memory lane of the church’s 39 year history. I saw how far God has brought the church and scattered so many people who have worshiped with us throughout the United States and even the world.

I ended up being richly blessed by conversations with several people who came through the door. What incredible gifts God blesses us with – smiles, eye contact, touch, hugs, tears and laughter. God has made us so incredibly wonderful.

Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.  Greet each other with Christian love.       2 Corinthians 13:11-12

How wonderful it is to stand and receive the multitude of blessings showed upon me from God today!

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.       2 Corinthians 13:14

Enjoying God’s Abundant Blessings ~ Faye

Faith on the Journey

This is a week where the rubber hits the road – do I really believe in God being in control of all things?

Background:  Sunday morning my team is leading worship. The pastor is preaching on one of the 7 deadly sins – Laziness vs Zeal, or a passion to live for Christ out of gratitude for our salvation.  It’s also a Sunday where we will remember the Reformation by looking at the five tenants of the Reformed faith – Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone, Christ Alone, Glory to God Alone.  God’s word tells us in Hebrews 11:1 that

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.” or as said in the NIV – “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

This week is one of those weeks where what I say I believe has to become reality. I’ve learned of a 30 year old wife who has been diagnosed with bladder cancer; a 50 year old friend who just found out she has Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma; a friend’s dad had a failed surgery on his heart and the doctors are looking for new options; many friends struggles with relationships with family members; the flooding in Bangkok, Thailand is affecting a couple I know. It just seems like everything is coming in waves. Life is full of disappointments, dangers and the unknown. So each day has been spent in a lot of prayers for others. Tonight I went for a walk in a nature setting and just prayed to God about my friends. What a privilege we have to share intimately with God our heartaches. Each day comes with its abundance of problems, but when we put our FAITH in God, each struggle is shared by Someone who is much bigger than you or I.

Faith is the confident assurance, the conviction that God is going ahead of us on our pathway of life. He knows what struggles we will face ahead. He is preparing us for what we will have to deal with in the future. We need to have the confidence that God knows what is best for us, and He loves us so much.

So this is a week where I need to rely heavily on my faith in God otherwise life would be so overwhelming.  I rely on Paul’s words in Romans 15:13

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

What an incredible blessing to have the assurance of what we hope for so much so, that we will be filled to overflowing by the Holy Spirit.  By the way, while I was pouring out my heart to God, I asked Him to give me some evidence that He was hearing me (sometimes He is silent and I have to trust that He keeps His promise to hear me), but today He blessed me by having two friends come along that very private path. They listened and encouraged me in a way that only God could have done.

Enjoying God’s abundant blessings of hope, joy and peace ~ Faye

 

Why Be Persistent in Prayer?

I love it when God answers prayers. I really love it when God answers prayers in ways I never expected or imagined!

I saw a glimpse of His working in someone’s life today and was so blessed.  This person has struggled with being hurt and angry and unable to forgive the callous acts of some people. From my perspective, I’d say the person was definitely justified by their reactions after being falsely accused of misdeeds. But I saw first hand God’s grace and peace working through that person as they were kind, compassionate and caring to some of the individuals who had  spread lies and rumors about them. The incredible thing is this person is not a professing Christian. God was answering my prayers for this person’s life, and they were seemingly oblivious to them. Fortunately, God wasn’t.

How often have I prayed for this person? Almost every day for the past several years. Have I seen God answering those prayers for opportunities to share my faith, witness that person be changed and transformed by the saving grace of Christ – not yet. Some days it seems so strange to continue to pray for them when God doesn’t seem to allow them to hear His call. But God is so good. When I least expected it, basically while the person was in the very presence of his enemies, God blew me away by the transformation I saw in this person. The person volunteered to be of assistance in the future if needed, answered questions to help the individuals proceed, and best of all, left the meeting calm and filled with a peace that they would not normally have had given the circumstances. Even more surprising, I was there as a friend and hadn’t spent time specifically praying for the meeting today, yet God answered previous prayers for healing and blessed several people.

Psalm 77:11-14 says, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will ponder all Your work, and meditate on Your might deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your might among the peoples.”

I’m praying and hoping I remember this day of the LORD’s deeds for I saw His transforming power. It has given me renewed courage and strength to continually pray for this person’s faith and relationship with God.  It has encouraged me to continue to pray for a wayward loved one. Everything is in God’s timing, not mine. Even though I don’t see an answer to my prayers right away, God hears them, and in His perfect time, He will answer the prayers of a persistent heart. I encourage you to think about God’s deeds in your life from today and in the past. Write down a few of them. Share them with others to encourage them in their walk of faith. Tell your children of the ways God has blessed you. Help others remember the mighty deeds of the LORD.

God’s richest blessings ~ Faye

I love God’s sense of humor!

So I’ve started this writing/blog thing and I made it clear, it wasn’t what I was planning on doing. Last night I was reading a devotional on Hannah, which I figured I’d use for my Weds Bible study, but God had other ideas. As I read the article it showed how Hannah sought God’s will – she poured out her heart and she boldly requested His involvement. Well believe me, that’s what I’ve been doing the past few weeks, asking God, “Is He really sure about this venture?”. When I was at the end of the reading, it was like God was confirming for me, “Yes,” because the author wrote — “The truth is, it’s possible that we have been singled out so that God can reveal Himself to us in a new way.  Unanswered prayer does not mean prayer refused or ignored. It may instead indicated that the Lord is at work on a much larger scale than we can know or imagine, becuase He indeed (here’s where I broke out laughing), ‘is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think’ (Ephesians 3:20).” God used MY verse!  Needless to say, He got my attention. [Ginger Garrett, In Touch, October 2011]

However, He wasn’t done. This morning I was flipping through my day calendar [Reflections from the Heart of God, Roy Lessin] reading a few days because I was behind about 9 days. I think God intentionally had me miss the past 9 days until this morning because He KNEW I would still need the confirmation.  So, Oct 5 says, “God is leading you on a prepared pathway and will perfectly lead you into the plans He has for your life. Take each step without concern about where the path is taking you. He has gone ahead of you like a scout who has already checked out the trail. Nothing that is ahead will take Him by surprise!” The next day was from Deuteronomy 31:8 – “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” GREAT CONFIRMATION. But I’m still arguing with Him, “are You really sure about this?” Crazy, I should know better than to argue with God’s plans.  The next day said, “For each STEP that GOD ASKS YOU TO TAKE today there will be GRACE, for each DECISION there will be DIRECTION, and for each TASK there will be STRENGTH.”

I’ve been asking God how I should fill my time over the past year and a half and God’s decided to do it in a way that is out of my comfort zone, but where I can share how incredibly every day He does bless us abundantly. He has shown me He will walk with me, in fact, He’s been there ahead of me making sure the way is clear for me if I follow His leading. How precious a God we serve. The final page of the calendar said, “You may not know all the details of your journey or clearly seewhere the trail is leading, but God will always give you enough light to take the next step.” Rejoicing in God’s timing and humor!

God’s richest blessings,

Faye

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