Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The High Tide of Suffering


Gray Sil. Water-1
This is a re-post of an entry I wrote August 2009. This entry is dedicated to the families wading through the high waters of suffering through sickness, the loss of a child or the fear of the unknown. It is also dedicated to the families that are in the midst of suffering for the sake of Christ, giving up all they have to follow a limitless God who loves them and has set them apart for His purposes and glory.

"Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered nor will they come to mind. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accused. Isaiah 65:17,20

The verse above tells us to look forward to eternal things. To hold fast to the promises of God when we see suffering this side of eternity. Can you image a life where mourning the loss of a love one doesn't threaten to pin you down to the floor of despair. A life where the former things will not be remembered nor will they come to mind. That is our future if we are in Christ and set our minds on eternal things. But before the curtain call, while we are on this side of the eternal stage, we are called to remember.
A Call to Remember was the purpose of this blog. A call to remember the Lord's deliverance. A call to look back and ponder the big questions of life. A call to not only remember our times of joy but also our times of sorrow. In our times of sorrow and weakness, God wants us to remember our intimate moments with Him. He wants us to experience His grace, His power and ultimately His glory. Our weakness, gives Him the opportunity to display His power which we would not have known in our own strength and in return, He receives the glory for doing what only He can do.
When we have waded through the high waters of sorrow we are called to remember the Lord's faithfulness and deliverance. We are called to know He not only parts the waters of sorrow but at times chooses to carry us through them. He picks us up and carries us to the other side so not even our feet get wet. He wades through the waters and tells us to rest a moment. And while He is carrying us through the high waters of suffering we are to remember the promise above and to trust in Him, who is the author of our moments. An eternal perspective in the midst of suffering. Remembering God, our mighty deliver, who can do more than we can ask or imagine. It is in our suffering, we find intimacy with God. We experience fellowship with Him we wouldn't have experienced had we not gone through the high waters. We can say with confidence, God, who is all powerful, loves me and cares about every need this side of eternity. Isaiah tells us that, "Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength." I trust in this promise. I trust, when I am weak I am strong for His power is made perfect in weakness. I'm glad that my Savior can identify with my weakness and sympathize with my heartache. After all, He came and dwelled among us. Paul tells us, "since we, the children of God, have flesh and blood, he too shared in our humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is the devil- and free us who all our lives were held in slavery by our fear of death. The scripture also tells us that He was tempted in every way and is able to sympathize with our weakness. We know that he suffered greatly for our benefit. All of this He came and endured to have a relationship with us. To be made a merciful and faithful high priest. Who can and does sympathize with our human weakness."
Lord, bring peace and comfort to those who are wading through the high waters. Reveal to them, this very moment, your love and power to deliver them through the high waters. Restore their strength. Sustain them with you mighty right hand. Reveal Yourself mighty to save and intimate in your love. Lord, part the waters and carry them through the strong currents. Calm the winds of fear and oppression. To you be the glory, forever and ever. We love you, Lord

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tending Your Garden of Grace

In the Grass
This post was written the Summer of 2009. This post is a continuation of thought to Weeds In My Garden.

I was weeding this morning in the hot sun. While my four girls were playing in the backyard and my husband mowing the lawn, this thought came to mind, "You have to keep going back to the same place don't you?"

Let me mention here that it has been at least three weeks since I have pulled the weeds on the back hill behind our house. I have gotten busy with other things and have neglected my garden. I have allowed other things to distract me from tending the weeds and now they have grown to the point of becoming unmanageable.

"Where do I begin pulling," "How could I've let them get so out of hand," "If only I would've dealt with these last week." Were the thoughts running through my mind as I was leaning over to begin the tedious process of uprooting.  It was while asking myself these questions that I noticed the same weeds I pulled up three weeks ago were back.

"You have to keep going back to the same place don't you?"

You see it is not enough for me to only tend my garden once a year. I can't just weed once and think that I don't ever have to go back and pull up the same weed twice.

The soil that produces the weeds is still the same soil.

The environment the weeds flourish in is still the same. In fact we have gotten a lot of storms this spring which in turn nourishes the soil and encourages the weeds to grow....

You see, I can pull up the weed of Fear but fear will sprout up again.

I can yank up the weed of anger but given the environment that I live in, it will present itself again.

I can tend to the weed of jealousy but I can't assume that it's contained for life.

I find this especially true, when the storms of life pop up. Often times, it is when we face difficulties that we need to be more diligent to tend our garden. Weeds flourish in the environment of trails and hardship. The soil, our flesh, is the breeding ground but the water of the storm will accelerate and encourage the growth of the weeds.

"You have to keep going back to the same place don't you?"

In Weeds in My Garden,  I mentioned some examples of these small weeds. I want to take a moment to make mention of them again. These weeds are fear, jealousy, unforgiveness, anger, pride, control, complacency, bitterness, spirit of entitlement, relying on self rather than relying on God, blame shifting, complaining, selfish ambition, gossiping, vanity, greed. Again, these sins reside in the heart and often times effect our behavior.

We can't ignore these weeds, in fact, the longer we ignore them the bigger they grow and the more noticeable they become to those around us.

When life gets busy we are tempted to ignore the nagging urge to confess our hurt to a mighty God.

We run from the opportunity to sit still and pray for restoration.

We mask over our anger with busyness.

We cover up our control issues with activities.

We proceed as if we are right with God and don't need to go back to the same place of pain twice. After all, a little unforgiveness never really hurt anyone.

We do not confess and repent; turning our back to sin and running toward a place of restoration and healing.

"You have to keep going back to the same place don't you?"

The truth of it is that over time that small weed of unresolved conflict has choked out a beautiful flower called GRACE.

The small weed of vanity has choked out a beautiful flower called HUMILITY.

The small weed of blame shifting has choked out a beautiful flower called RESPONSIBILITY.

The small weed of complaining has choked out a beautiful flower called THANKSGIVING.

The small weed of fear has choked out the beautiful flower called FAITH.

What is getting in the way of tending your garden?

"You have to keep going back to the same place don't you?"

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Heart of Adventure

Bubble Gun
This is a blog of remembrance. I have found that my most intimate times with the Lord are the times when I feel I can not go one more day in my own strength. Only when I'm awakened to my depravity can I experience the all consuming love from the One who loves me wholly and completely. I want my girls to know all that He has done for our family.  I want them to know that their story is really His story weaved through their fragile and fleeting lives. I wanted to post some of my favorite photos of our family over this past year. Being a photographer I have many precious photos of the ordinary mundane moments of our life but also photos capturing adventure and freedom which we all yearn to experience this side of eternity. I wanted to post these photos as a call to remember all He has done and continues to do in our lives.
Gray Sil. Water-1

Hannah Jekyll-1

Hollen -1

JOZY-1

Time: The fleeting moments of the mundane where love transforms ordinary moments into lasting memories. The power of the lens to capture the beauty of life's fleeting moments and to stir up by way of reminder the gifts we have been given by our Lord Jesus Christ through whom all things hold together and have their being. May these photos stir up praise to our Maker and bring joy to our hearts as we look back and remember the fleeting beautiful moments of the ordinary. As we look at these photos may time stand still even for a moment as we remember and give thanks for all He has done.
Etherel Gray-1

Hollen and Gray with Horse-1

Gray on Bike-1

The heart of adventure....
Where fear has no place and God reigns supreme. Where we embrace the joy of the moment and make the most of the time we have been given. All to the praise and glory of our Maker who takes our ordinary moments, however fleeting, and transforms them to oppertunites for eternal impact. Only when we embrace His adventure and live our life for the eternal will we find significance in the temporal. The heart of adventure...where God reigns supreme and where fear hs no hold. Let us run with perserverance the race that is marked out before us.
Meet Lucy-1

Hannah on the Path-1

Worshipping in Water-1

In My Father's Arms-1

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Weeds in the Garden

Hannah and Hostas-1

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

One of my favorite things to do in the spring time is to pull the weeds in my garden. There is satisfaction in knowing that every weed removed makes way for the beautiful flowers I have planted to flourish.
One thing I have notice while weeding is the biggest most noticeable weeds are oftentimes the easiest to remove. The reason being, some of the tallest weeds have the most shallow roots.
It is the small weeds that are the hardest to pull up. They are the ones, if left unattended, will grow and eventually overtake the garden. It is these creeping weeds that will choke out the beautiful flowers I have planted.
I find this is the same way with sin. You see the most noticeable sins are oftentimes the easiest sins to identify and turn away from. They are actions that indicate ones heart condition. For example, drunkenness, cussing, wild living, sex outside of marriage, cheating, course joking, fits of rage, lying, stealing, fighting, destructive behavior. Just to name a few.
I have found in my personal life, my behavior is an outpouring of what is in my heart. I have also found, it's much easier for me to change my behavior, than it is for me to change my heart.My Actions are just indicators of my heart condition.
Let's talk about the small weeds. These weeds if left unattended will choke out all the beautiful flowers the Lord has planted in your life. These sins will also strangle your faith and over take your garden. Oftentimes, these small weeds are the reasons we do what we do.
Most of the time, these sins go unnoticed to the outsider. They can easily be explained away by the insider. These weeds are dangerous because they are socially acceptable and often times not recognized for what they are WEEDS (sins)! They go unnoticed and over time wreck our faith and render us useless in the kingdom of God.
What are some examples of these creeping weeds? Fear, anger, jealousy, pride, control, complacency, bitterness, spirit of entitlement, relying on self rather than relying on God, blame shifting, complaining, selfish ambition, gossiping, vanity, greed, just to name a few. These sins reside in the heart and often times effect our behavior.
What are we doing to tend our garden of faith? We need to be diligent in asking the Lord to help us identify and pull up these faith choking weeds. We need to expose the heart conditions behind the sin and bring to light the deep roots of unforgiveness, hurt, disappointment, abandonment, abuse, dejection,rejection and perfection. We need to surrender to an Almighty, All Powerful, All Knowing God.

What weeds in your garden need tending?
Re-posting of Weeds, written Spring of 2009.
Picture: My beautiful Hannah in Nonni's garden