How ’bout some jelly on that #manna?

The Old Testament records the travel plans of the newly reorganized and very fussy nation of Israel on their way to the place that had been long promised to them as a special homeland.  Sometimes I’m tempted to think, “For crying out loud, people!”  (Which they did, frequently.)  I mean, after all, God had done some pretty amazing things from the beginning of this project, what with plagues and parting the Red Sea, Charlton Heston notwithstanding.  There was plenty of water from a rock to satisfy a couple million people or so, and enough quail to feed an army.

And then there was this thing called manna.  I think the jury is still out as to what this stuff really was, which is kind of a moot point, since it was obviously enough to keep them nutritionally sustained over time.  Kind of like the limbis bread of the wood elves in the Lord of the Rings.  (Yes, I own the trilogy of movies, directors cut and all that,… but I digress.)

I readily claim that I’m not a picky eater, and neither is Bob.  But admittedly we do enjoy some, albeit limited, variety in our palate.  I joke that I could live on pizza, but the reality is that even my homemade pizza would probably get a bit old over time.  So in a somewhat shaky defense of the Hebrew people, my very human side can relate to a diet of everyday manna bread and water, even though it made them very healthy indeed.  (I can only imagine the mothers of the five-year-olds….)

However, it seems that the people never quite learned how to address their grievances judiciously to the God that was so obviously trying to help them.  It wasn’t that they were hungry or thirsty.  They were just bored.  Bored with the desert, bored with constantly moving,….bored with bread, and more bread, and only bread.

Put that thought on hold to check out how their future king, David, managed his frustrations and fears and disappointing circumstances with God.  Here’s just a snipet of one of his many recorded communiques with his Lord:

Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me. My foes have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?
 You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?
 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call;
This I know, that God is for me.
 In God, whose word I praise,
In the Lord, whose word I praise,
 In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?  (see Psalm 56, NASB)

Now David wasn’t just having a bad day.  This was written in the context of his true enemies (and he had many) capturing him in his own wanderings prior to his providential promise of ascending to the throne.  David had no problem “pouring out his complaint to the Lord”, it’s just that he knew how to do it properly.  It’s not about using the right words; it’s all about having the right heart.  David didn’t mince words with God; he didn’t candy coat the problem or his own emotional response to it.  But even in the muck and the mire of dealing with life, he maintained that God was with him, God was in control, and no matter how long it took, he would continue to trust God for the outcome.

Deep breath.  Back to the Israelites.  They just hadn’t grown up enough to understand and appreciate with Whom they were dealing.  Unfortunately, as it has been said, desperate times call for desperate measures.  God sent in “the snakes” to do a severe work of judgment.  And then, in typical fashion, He also provides a way of healing once bitten.

  • I find it interesting that God uses snakes to do the dirty work, since Satan was described as a snake in the garden after deceiving Mother Eve. The original sin was pride, thinking that we should be allowed to “be like God” (which, really, we already were, being made “in His image”, all that.)  Like Eve, the Hebrews thought they were “entitled” to more than manna, more than what God deemed healthy for them for that point in the journey.  Hmmm….
  • The account goes on to say that the people became impatient (Oh!  That word!!) with the long journey and complained about the manna, i.e., God’s provision.  Not complained in the sense of David’s pouring out his honest frustrations to God “Whom he knew would do what is best, and trusted Him with his life, regardless of current circumstances” kind of complaining.  This was more of a “how dare you invite us out here and feed us nothing but bread” category, and the snakes were happy to accommodate.  There is a very important warning here: when I complain to God with a victimhood mentality, with a feeling that I am entitled to more than I have (instead of a humble “I know what I really deserve” kind of thinking) there are definite “snakes” just waiting for a piece of me.  Their names are Bitterness, Resentment, Jealousy, and Offense, and they have many, many sibling slitherers close behind that are just as poisonous to my soul
  • Interestingly, once the people asked for forgiveness, God didn’t just remove the snakes. They were still lurking around, waiting and watching.  But God gave the people a pole to look upon should they be bitten, and having gazed upon the pole, they would be healed.  Similarly, if, through unresolved heart issues, we allow ourselves to be bitten, we really have only one option for true healing, and that is to gaze upon the One Who was raised up on a cross for us. 

So yeah….shut up and pass the quail.

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This ain’t Missouri

IWAA7We are visiting my husband’s family, all of us on the edge of the continent known as the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Only a few rows of houses from the beach, we can hear the roar of the ocean waves and feel the breeze off the Atlantic.  Right now, though, I am on the other side of the house, on the patio (of course) in the morning.  Not much breeze on this side, except for the fan, and the morning dew is so thick that it’s dripping off the roof. 

The view here, on both sides of the house is considerable different from Missouri, definitely “not home”. These are not the same people jogging, walking and riding bikes along the street and sidewalk.  Back home I see Sherry as she strolls up Central Street on her way to work.  Back home I see waving prairie grasses and bison, not cresting waves and beachcombers.  In my county I see bass and catfish and perch jumping out of the lakes, not dolphins arching up from the ocean.  At our local park I see turtles sunning themselves on the logs, instead of jellyfish remains drying up on the white sand.

Then I hear it—the call of the catbird, that unmistakable feline sound, easily identified even by my untrained ear.  And I am reminded that, though I may not be in my familiar territory, God is still here.  And everywhere, His voice is the same, immutable, unmistakable.

We are told that we go through seasons of life, rites of passage, some of which are culturally induced although some are admittedly universal.  Personally, I feel almost that my “seasons” have been more like “spasms”—can anyone relate?  Nevertheless, we move from one set of experiences inexorably into another.  Not only do we have to navigate from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood—emotionally as well as physically—but we also have other times of joy and struggle:

  • School—most of us in the United States have been blessed with the availability of public education, and many of us are still impacted by memories and experiences of those infamous junior high years.
  • Moves—more and more frequently in the past several decades of our society have we seen the increase in the mobility of families. In the past, if you were a military family, that was a given. Now, however, it may seem quite unusual in many places for any child to start kindergarten and graduate from high school in the same place.
  • Relationships—marriage, child-rearing, child-releasing. You just have to “be there” to really understand this one…
  • Collateral damage—it is also becoming somewhat unusual to see family members that all have the same last name. Blended families, whether from death or divorce, bring special challenges all their own.

Certainly there are many, many more examples that could added to this list, times when being resilient and flexible can be most helpful.  While resiliency is an essential quality to cultivate so as to survive and thrive this side of Heaven, true resiliency can only happen when there remains a stable reference point.  Elastic is very resilient, but to retain that characteristic, it must have a place to snap back to.  Flexibility is a good thing, but flexibility cannot even be defined unless there is a starting point from which to measure it.  (At least, that’s what it seems like when my daughters try to teach me some yoga or Palate moves!  Ouch!)

In a world of changes and challenges, of unfamiliar circumstances and scary possibilities, God has said that even though the heavens and the earth pass away, His word would never do so. (1)  He also says that He, as God of the Universe, does not change. (2)  He promises that He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. (3)  Only with God can we find the perfect interconnection with resiliency and immutability, between flexibility and stability. Only in relationship with Him can we properly define our starting point and make it safely to the end.

Another one of these “seasons” is yet upon me, and although its unrelenting hold has become more gentle, I am aware that the hold of the Father has never changed.  He is aware of this time in my life, anticipated it for me, knew the particulars would be unfamiliar, and sometimes unfriendly, to me.

 And He sent me His catbird to remind me of His unchanging and unfailing presence, no matter where I am on earth, or in life.

  • Luke 21:33
  • Malachi 3:6
  • Hebrews 13:8

(Excerpt from God Loves Birds, by Dawn Jones)

#morningperson vs. #nightperson !!

Perhaps there was something prophetic in the fact that my parents named me “Dawn”, since clearly I am not a night person.  Unlike my husband, Bob, and our eldest daughter, Jessica, both of whom are summarily nocturnal, I tend to rise with the sun and start winding down at dusk (if not before).  This fact was recently re-confirmed when I attempted to stay up at night waiting for Jessie availability to video-chat regarding plans and arrangements for her upcoming wedding.  However, there was one important glitch concerning our e-date: she lives in California and we are in Missouri, which is a two-hour time differential not in my favor. 

Even though I downed yet another cup of black tea late in the evening, and watched mindless television, (since reading at night rapidly puts me to sleep), finally my brain and body reneged on our plans.  After texting Jessie my apologies and need for a rain check, my head hit the pillow.  Unfortunately, I had unsettling dreams—was it the TV, the extra caffeine, or just being off-schedule?  Either way, I didn’t pull myself out of the sack until after 7AM in the morning, which was definitely sleeping in for me, and being the morning person that I am, meant that a fair chunk of the best time of the day was already gone!

So there I was, then, sitting at my desk, just too tired to arrange myself on the patio as usual.  The bike ride I had planned with my husband for later that day was tanked also.  In fact, after a lovely and productive time the day before, I was having some motivational difficulty as this particular one wore on. 

Jessie and Bob are night owls…I love to see the sunrise.  Jessie and Bob love to celebrate her home visits with late night chats and cheesy monster movies…I love to serve them surprise breakfast in their beds the next morning.  My eldest daughter and her father can discuss a topic in great detail to its utter encyclopedic conclusion…I tend to prefer synopsis, just the crib-note version, if you don’t mind.

There are many ways in which our differences can be considerably inconvenient, even downright irritating—that’s a given.  Several times when my husband has (finally) come to bed, he inadvertently wakes me up, but rather than quietly getting under the covers, it seems like his brain tells him, “Oh, good, she’s awake!” and he proceeds to pontificate on some deep personal revelation or travail.  Of course, loving him as I do, my brain says, “You need to listen; he needs you,”  like I should somehow allow myself to be drawn into this conversation lest he be left alone with his thoughts.  My body, on the other hand, disagrees.  Naturally, if I listen to my brain rather than my body, chances are by the time the conversation is over and we are both lying in bed, and I be wide awake as I hear my Beloved breathing sonorously and peacefully next to me…sound asleep.  And my work alarm goes off at 5AM. 

So, in this sense really, where is Jessie when I need her?

As I write this, I am sitting, as usual, on the patio, having had an unusually warm and early spring.  It is only late March, and the trees are already leafing, the daffodils are already done, and I have plants poking through the soil by several inches.  My gardening friends and I are holding our breath hoping the frost won’t reappear!  I’m realizing yet again the marvel of my garden’s diversity, as I’m rethinking some of my planting designs (using the term “design” loosely).  I might put the tomatoes in a different place where they will get more sun, and enjoy deeper more fertile soil.  I might plant more salad greens where the tomatoes were last year—I want to try the Swiss Chard somebody suggested.  Not sure if the new hostas got enough shade last year so I may need to revisit that plan.

I am re-reading a beautiful book by Linda Dillow entitled Calm My Anxious Heart, and I’m in the chapter on being content to be me. Mrs. Dillow comments wisely regarding a favorite Old Testament song, Psalm 139.  In this Psalm, King David was expounding on the uniqueness of our birth and plan for our lives, among many other fascinating truths regarding God’s design and intent for putting me here, in this body, this place, and this time. 

Just as I am thankful that God created so many different plants for all types of gardens, whether for sun or shade, whether for cool, spring temperatures or hot mid-summer Missouri Julys, so also He has wisely and lovingly provided a massive diversity of traits in people. 

  • Some of us are up front, on stage, and in the spotlight; some are hidden in seeming obscurity. One is tempted to covet the other’s quiet and anonymity, while the other may pine away for what she perceives is a lack of appreciation.
  • Some of us are bold and outspoken, completely un-intimidated by what others may think or feel; their counterpart is diplomatic, a person of few words, and sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other. The first tends to regret speaking rashly, while the second longs for the courage to speak out more.
  • Some of us have physical disabilities that prevent us from doing the things that come so easily to others—they feel they are missing out on so much fun! Others of us have perfectly functioning bodies, but struggle daily with emotionally or mentally crippling disorders such that, to be rid of, we would gladly give our right arm.

The grass is always greener…I know it’s not an original thought, but still one that’s all too true.  Like our garden plants, God makes His people all different to fit us into His grand design.  In one of his letters to the early church at Corinth, Paul writes that we are to no longer look at people from a worldly point of view, but from God’s point of view.  Regardless of whatever “defect” at which the rest of society points their finger in regards to someone’s personality or property, or their body, or  their bank account, God sees them differently, and His opinion is really the only one that counts. 

So also am I to see myself. Paul encourages the church at Corinth to “lead the life which the Lord has allotted and imparted to him and to which God has invited and summoned him.” (2) We can rightfully infer from that truth that God has “allotted, imparted, invited and summoned” us all to a life of service in Jesus within our circumstances, our personalities, and even with what the rest of society might think of as defects.   After all, God is the One Who is capable of turning our “defects” into delights. 

The NCAA basketball tournament is in full swing, and March Madness has once again infected my husband. I wonder what time he’ll be to bed tonight?  No matter. The garden will still be here tomorrow when the sun comes up, and so will I.

(Excerpt from God Loves Gardens by Dawn Jones)

  • 2 Corinthians 5:16
  • 1 Corinthians 7:17 (Amplified)

Oh, those persistent #conesflowers !

I love wildflowers.  There is a reason why they grow wild, more than one really.  But the main one that I am interested in has to do with their persistence, how well suited they are for the areas wherein they thrive.  The pale-purple Missouri cone flowers, one of my favorites, can be seen all over our area both in fields and well as in cultivated gardens.  The wind blows the seeds to different areas, and the birds, (I suspect mostly the finches who love to dine on the dry cone seeds) unknowingly drop a few here and there, and suddenly one season without any formal preparation, there erupts another garden of cones!

Another most interesting characteristic about some of these wildflowers has to do with nature’s preparation—the process called “stratification”.  This was a new botanical concept for me. The potential flower must first undergo a traumatic period of freezing and cracking of the outer shell for the seed to be brought to life.  Without this cracking of the hard shell, which has now served its purpose in protecting the seed within, the whole seed would simply rot in the ground.  But as the outer shell’s protection is no longer needed, and through the unpleasant stratification event, the required germination can take place and a new flower makes its way onto the scene.  Truly awesome!

Most of us in the human race also have an outer shell.  We’re not born with it, but unfortunately through years of hurt and fear, we allow ourselves to be encased, our true selves hidden away for safe keeping.  At least it feels safer than the alternative of emotional honesty.

  • Sometimes we lather ourselves with a goodly dose of self-pity by accepting the role of victim instead of grasping the responsibility for our future in the light of the reality of our past.
  • Or we lock our true desires, interests, longings and even deep concerns far away in the vault of our hearts, for fear of reprisal or ridicule. It’s happened before (whatever “it” is), so why go through that again?
  • We feel safe in being shy, or brash, since each characteristic helps us to keep others are arms’ length, a safe distance from getting too close to the truth, our truth.
  • The twin sisters of bitterness and unforgiveness make convenient hiding places since they shut people out of any chance for reconciliation—surely it’s easier than the effort it takes to rebuild trust,

…or maybe it just seems that way…?

Whatever our method of perceived self-preservation, this outer shell remains stubbornly intact.  The problem is, unless that casing is broken open—stratified liked the wildflowers—the seed of our true selves may eventually rot.  And the true life is in the seed, not the shell.  The potential to push the dirt aside and grow toward the sun is given only to the seed, not to the seed’s casing.  Once full grown and blooming, new seeds are then formed that serve to feed other life, or to plant new life and start the process over again.  But it won’t happen that way, unless as Jesus says, the grain falls into the ground and “dies”, thus “producing many others and yields a rich harvest” (1) 

Unfortunately, in human terms, stratification hurts. And it usually comes in the very form that caused the shell to mold around us in the first place.  How can we learn true courage if we are not forced to face fear?  How can we show true compassion if we do not first endure pain?  And how can we truly love if we are not first tempted to truly hate?  For us, the shell that encases us is one made of our own choices, that is, our responses to life’s harsh realities and circumstances beyond our control.

Jesus, on the other hand, promises that we can bear fruit, and fruit that remains. (2)  That is exactly what we are created to do!  But as fruit comes only from the seed and not from the casing that houses the seed, so we are to recognize that the true identity within us is an identity provided for us in Christ.  We are destined for specific tasks and undertakings that have tags with our names on them, (3).  However, these will never be fully realized, or fully bloomed out, until our outer casings are split apart.  Only then will the old shell eventually wither away as our new growth pushes through the dirt of our lives, and into the air and sunshine of His purpose and direction.

There’s just no way around it: we must allow for, and even embrace, God’s tearing away—His holy stratification—of our outer shell to allow our true life to emerge.  Otherwise, new seeds will not be formed for planting, those people around us that need the nourishment of our talents and gifts will be deprived of them, and scariest of all,

…our “protective” shell will end up becoming our tomb.

(excerpt from God Loves Gardens, by Dawn Jones)

  • John 12:24
  • John 15:16
  • Ephesians 2:10

Let Sleeping #Dogs Lie…PUH-leeze!

I’m not sure who coined the phrase “let sleeping dogs lie”, but I think it refers to “leaving well enough alone”.  Now that we have Buckley, I can see how the two thoughts relate.

There’s something very comforting about having a dog sleep peacefully at your feet.  It’s also quite a high compliment.  For an animal to willingly lie down and sleep I surmise there probably must be an element of trust, a trust that is earned from familiarity and relationship.  And he just looks so doggone (pardon the pun) adorable!  It makes me want to snuggle up next to him, bury my face in his warm neck, and stroke his soft black velvet coat.  They say this practice brings down your blood pressure, you know.

Of course, then the opposite happens.  Buckley wakes up, followed by him wanting something which usually involves me in an activity other than what I want to be doing at that time.  Our winter morning routine is an oft repeated dance: I sit at my desk with my pot of hot tea prior to going to work, Buckley decides he wants to be outside (it is NOT an biological emergency), I have to convince him to lie down and “wait” and “be patient”.  Evidently, these are not commands that he relishes any more than we humans do.

At other times, all his other physical needs being met, he just wants attention—mine.  The Buck can use his nose like a soft but persistent battering ram, summarily inconvenient when I’m holding a cup of tea at my desk, since his head is just at the level of my elbow.  Other times he uses his eyes; oh, those woeful, cushiony brown eyes!

The overall challenge is that Buckley is demanding, in his own endearingly sweet way, for what he perceives he really needs or wants,…now.  I may have acquiesced more at first so as to build his confidence in our commitment to him, but maturity of relationship must follow as I insist that he comes to me on my terms, not his.  The other way around would not be healthy, for either of us!

Consider the similarities in our relationship with our Heavenly Father:

  • When we are not even aware, God looks upon us with the greatest affection, admiring things about us that we are not even aware of! Buckley has no cognizance of how beautiful his coat and coloring are, or how comforting that musty fragrance of dog is to me. Likewise, we have qualities that bring our Creator enormous pleasure, and we are wise to let this realization sink deep into our hearts as we walk through a world that criticizes and accuses.
  • There are legitimate needs and desires that we bring to God, and are well invited to do so. Our neediness for knowing God’s affection is something He is very aware of, and early on in the relationship we may have wonderful moments or seasons of intimacy (back in the 70’s, we called it “hilltop experiences”). There might even be immediate answers to prayers to build and encourage our faith.
  • We should NOT in any way be discouraged, however, when or if these times progress to periods of waiting; that is, what we perceive to be delayed answers to prayer, or perhaps even more difficult, disappointing answers to prayer. There are learned saints that have written more eloquently and effectively on this subject of “where are You, God?” Suffice here to say that He is There, since that is one of His covenant names to us (i.e., Jehovah Shammah), and the time of dryness provides opportunity for greater affection—on His terms, not ours.
  • It is important that, regardless of what my emotions tell me (or scream at me!), my mind and my heart must stay informed by Truth. I can trust Him to redirect me in my neediness, and restore me to His peace. In essence, I come full circle to a childhood song —

Jesus loves me, this I know,

For the Bible tells me so.

Little ones to Him belong,

They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

The Bible tells me so.

As I write this, the black furry battering ram has been in my lap, and he has now resigned himself to my feet to wait for a more opportune moment.  He trusts my affection and my care.  And he recognizes that I am in charge, although he sometimes needs to be reminded.  The winter storm of yesterday has passed and the sun is shining.  We will head out to play…later, when it’s time.

(excerpt from God Loves Dogs, by Dawn Jones)

On Amazon
On Amazon

Remembering #summer …eventually

It’s the thick of summer now.  This morning, the locusts are humming and the humidity is high, and it’s not even 7:30!  I have just returned from the last of three sorties out of state, and as I lay in bed last night, trying to get to a place of much needed slumber, I began feeling an inward fatigue.  Not exhaustion – yet – but a red flag, a warning to be aware of what I was sensing internally.  I’ve never scored high in what some might call self-awareness, so this was an important signal for me. 

All three trips were not only tiring—how many miles in the car total?  But they were also very relationship-building and relationship-affirming with other family members.  As much as I truly love them all, and am so thankful for them all, it was still quite a time of “out-giving”.  Now as I lay in bed, I began to feel overwhelmed by “the List”—all the things clamoring for my attention, and none of them wanting to stand in line and wait their turn. 

Now, as I sit on the porch, I pray,

I cast all these cares upon You, Lord Jesus.  Thank You, Holy Spirit, that You are my Guide, Comforter, Teacher.  Thank You for grace for the moment.  Show me how to fill up my soul’s tank, to be honest with my limitations and merciful with the limitations of others.  Lord, protect me from over-responsibility and taking on what is not mine to do, not just in projects, but in people.  Bless the works of my hands and the words of my mouth, because they are Yours.  Show me how to open myself so that You can fill me up.  Then, and only then, can I honestly pour out to others!

As if in response to my prayer, a yellow swallowtail butterfly lights to rest in the bush only a few feet away from where I am sitting. He spreads his wings, a living stained glass window, and I am reminded that pausing to admire and to attend to such beauty is, in itself, an act of worship to its Creator.  Wait, and listen, and watch, and in these things, worship occurs.

 Another one arrives and joins his twin!  This second one I would have missed if I had not been paying attention.  There is no nectar with this green bush, no feeding or pollenization happening.  Nothing that business-as-usual would classify as “productive”.  There is only the cool shade in an already dry, hot, and promising-to-be-hotter morning.  And an important mystery begins to be revealed to me: all creation needs rest.

Is it possible to make a credible connection between rest and worship?  Or is worship merely something we “do” when we sing on Sunday morning, and rest something we’d secretly rather be doing on Sunday morning?  What if rest and worship can each be classified as a both a discipline and a joy?

The need for rest is not merely a consequence of the original Fall of man.  No!  It was indisputably God’s intention from the beginning of creation that we should take time for rest, not only physically, but in every other way as well. The Fall of man is, in actuality, reflected in our cultural attitudes typified by statements like, “Sleep is highly overrated.” Granted, sleep and rest are two different things, but everyone needs both.  It is no accident that the Bible specifically records the 7th day of creation! (1)

Rest is a requirement for health in all areas of our existence.  And rest requires patience, as we allow time for the brain itself, the actual physical organ that sits within in our skull, to recuperate from various levels of trauma, which include individual definitions of stress and overload.  We want quick fixes, like emotional M.A.S.H. units providing temporary patches rather than complete healing and recuperation. 

Now here’s the interesting connection: rest, and its companions—waiting and patience—are skills to be nurtured, even practiced.  And these skills are exercised when we take time to worship God by purposefully diverting our attention from our lists to His beauty.  Significant worship occurs in rest and reflection, as we are attentive to what God is providing for this moment.  (2) Worship does not need to be boxed into a few songs during a worship service, but is expressed when we admire what God is doing right in front of us—in the smile of a child, in the gift of my friend’s big sunflower, or in the lighting of a pair of butterflies in the shade.

I guess even butterflies need rest.

  • Genesis 2:1-3
  • Psalm 84:1; Psalms 23:1-3

(excerpt from God Loves Gardens by Dawn Jones)

“Do you want to see the #bird ?”

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pixabay

 “Do you want to see the bird?”

That’s the question that came into my mind early one morning as my attention was drawn away from the task at hand while sitting at my “outside desk”.  This is a fairly frequent occurrence…not the voice, mind you, but the diversion from the task at hand.  The variety and beauty of God’s creation, even in my little back yard, is amazingly distracting!  My eyes are consistently opened to new experiences about, well, anything that grows.  I can recognize a few of the birds; that is, more than the robin and the cardinal—those were staples even in my limited aviary repertoire when I was a kid back in Indiana.  Now I can add several more, just by observing and looking them up in my husband’s very old (but not obsolete!) Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds that he has saved since his high school years.  In addition that, I am even beginning to identify some of their songs—the catbird, for instance.  I was able to point out that peculiar sound for my daughter when she was home visiting.  She actually thought there was a cat nearby! 

On this particular morning, here was an exquisite song!  And a fairly new one for me.  The problem was that the sun was only thinking about waking up, so it was still too dark for me to see the singer. 

“Do you want to see the bird?”

Now, was that really God’s voice?  Or was I just thinking it?  Either way, as I was looking intently for the source of the song, it looked as if the bird had already flown away.  Okay, so that was a disappointment.  But the bird’s premature departure moreover presented me with a mildly perplexing challenge:  if, indeed, God had spoken to me about this lovely part of His creation, why had He not shown it to me when it was in His power to do so?  He is not Someone Who holds a piece of candy in front of us only to cruelly take it away, of this much I was confident.  From cover to cover in the Bible, the basic foundation of all life is the understanding that God is love, (1).  This truth assures me that even the disappointments in my life, whether large or small, have both reason and purpose that are founded in His love for me.  These higher plans of God to work in my disappointing circumstances, and sometimes in the especially painful ones, also include what He desires to accomplish through me to benefit others.

Hmmm…

Then it hit me.  (I can be a little slow on the uptake, but thankfully not this time.)  There are times when God, in His loving wisdom, does not immediately provide for my request, at least in the way that I am requesting it.  It seems that one of the divine reasons for this apparent refusal, which may be merely a delay rather than a flat out “no”, is so that I can see for myself just how badly I want what I am requesting. 

This, then, is the gift that is often times greater than my original request—

  • that God would show me myself: the true reasons for my desires, unearthing any selfish ambition that lies hidden beneath years of impoverished thinking. (2) It may that I need to be shown my motivation in requesting the gift, which may need to be reworked, (the motivation, that is, not necessarily the request itself), before I can be on the receiving end. (3)
  • that the gift of waiting would stimulate and produce in me a more clearly defined and better focused desire (4).
  • that He would prepare my heart and situation to properly receive from Him. (5) I am reminded of what kind of king the Jewish people of Jesus’ day were looking for, and because of their expectations, many missed Him completely. (6)
  • that I would learn to keep seeking, keep asking, keep knocking. (7) One of the characteristics of true faith is its persistence.
  • that I would keep trusting His love to provide what He feels is best. (8)

Actually, the end result—or I should say, the intended main objective—is intimate relationship with God.  At least, that’s God’s main objective.  Which means it would behoove me to make it mine as well. 

I’m still not sure what that bird was.  Maybe a warbler or a wren.  It matters not, because I hope I have received the greater gift, not of connecting with the singer, but of connecting with the Voice.

 (From God Loves Birds, by Dawn Jones)

  • 1 John 4:8
  • Romans 12:1,2
  • James 4:3
  • Romans 8:26
  • Isaiah 64:4
  • John 1:10
  • Matthew 7:7-11 (Amplified)
  • Matthew 6:33

Time for #timechange…a pictorial reminder

IMG_20150307_091324946

They say a picture paints a thousand words.  So here are more pix and few less words.  

We never had to do this when I lived in Indiana.IMG_20150307_092228917

The whole “Fall Back” thing is pretty nice, getting that so-called extra hour in.

IMG_20150307_091411651

But when it comes to “Spring Forward”, gag!  That’s a little tough.  You wouldn’t think that one measly hour would make that much difference, little did I know!


Wish it didn’t have to happen leading into Sunday, but I guess we’re more concerned about people being late to work than we are being late to church. Just a thought.

IMG_20150307_091700397So here’s a double reminder,
all you fortunate 
ones that are at the starting line for that annual spring leap!

1. Don’t forget to set your clocks forward tonight, and  2. Get your butt into a pew tomorrow! (‘skuse me, this site is called “inspiration with an attitude”….)

And sometimes we need a little more strategic reminding>>>IMG_20150321_163031250

 

Hi!

rocker

Dear Audience,

I guess I could address this “To Whom It May Concern”, but that’s just too impersonal and business-like, and I’ve been at work all day anyway, so who want’s that?

Or I could say “Dear Sir”, but if someone is actually reading this, that someone might not be a sir.  Same thing for “Dear Madam”, and of course, now there’s a third option, but I don’t even want to go there…at least not right now.

Dearest Audience is w-a-a-a-y too familiar.

Hey, Gang!…too cheeky.

Wazup….definitely not my style, whatever that is.

Hmmm….

How about…..hello.  It isn’t catchy, or original, certainly not sophisticated.  It is, nonetheless, heartfelt, down-to-earth, and, well, me.  Now, the professional me, the one that wears a lab coat and takes temperatures spends too much precious time dispensing the collective wisdom of health and wellness to people who may or may not already know what they should do but don’t plan to do it.  The wife/mother me tries to be encouraging, listening, and probably over-compensating.  The facebook me is careful to not offend my “friends”, some of whom I don’t even know. 

Those are all part of me, to some degree.  But the blogger me, that’s just me.  Not worried about offending, not trying to keep the peace, or even put food on the table.  I write me.  And therefore, “my” audience is anyone who might find themselves interested in, um, … me.  Not my face, nor my resume, not my personal issues or political affiliations, educational degrees and certifications. 

Just me. 

And sooooo…..for anyone who might think anything coming from me might be something that they might be interested in…

….hello.