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Archive for October, 2013

Perfect Gift

Sometimes I get discouraged by my many, many failures and shortcomings.  Sometimes I feel that nothing I can possibly offer to the Lord is nearly good enough.  Satan, the enemy of my soul, encourages me often in such negative thoughts and tempts me to stop trying at all.  But last evening was a huge ‘step up the ladder’ for me!

It seemed to be just a fun evening planned with good friends, good food and drink and a long evening to enjoy the gift of friendship.  Because our friends love the Lord as we do, our conversations cannot possibly be void of God’s influence in our lives, and so as the conversation flowed suddenly there was an amazing moment of truth for me.

I don’t even remember what our conversation was up to that point.  Everything seemed to leave my memory except for the very special message God had for me to hear.  It seemed so casual, but for me it was exactly what I needed to hear.  Doug and Ginnie told this little story:

“A child was playing in the field and saw all the lovely wildflowers and so, heart filled with love for his father, he gathered a huge armful of ‘beautiful flowers’ to take to his father.  His mother saw him coming with the armful of wildness and said, ‘What do we have here?’

‘It’s a bouquet of flowers for Father.  I think he’ll love them, don’t you?’

‘Sure!’ said the loving Mother.  ‘But why don’t I put them into a lovely vase for you?  Then I’ll give them to your father for you.’

‘Oh, yes!’ said the child placing the offering into her arms, and then ran off to play again.

The Mother lovingly removed all the weeds and poison ivy, trimmed off the dead branches and leaves, filled a jar with water and arranged the remaining wildflowers into a lovely bouquet.  Then she presented the perfect gift to the father.”

This is what Christ does for us!  Everything I have to offer is imperfect.  No matter how hard I try, it is impossible for me to get it completely right.  But my simple offerings always go through Christ who cleans them up and perfects them for me before he presents them to the Father on my behalf!

This simple little story lifted my spirits completely!  I don’t have to do things perfectly!  If I will do my best, and trust Jesus with the rest, by the time my Loving Father sees my gift it will be perfectly beautiful!

So…let’s don’t grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up!  (Gal. 6:9 NIV – paraphrased slightly by Judi)

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Jesus Wept

John 11:35 is one of the most confusing verses in the Bible to me.  For most of us who were raised in the church and in Christian homes, it was probably the first verse we could quote, since it is notoriously the shortest verse in the Bible.  But for me, it is a very difficult verse to explain.

I’ve heard preachers speak of Jesus’ great compassion and his deep love for Lazarus that he would weep for him.  But my question is this:  WHY would he weep for Lazarus?  Did Jesus not know He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead?  Was Jesus weeping for His loss, even though He knew Lazarus’ resurrection was imminent?

Or was He actually weeping for all those friends of Lazarus that just wasn’t getting it?  Was he actually weeping for Mary, whom he loved deeply, when He saw her great suffering and loss?  But if so, why?  If He knew He was about to resurrect Lazarus, why did He not say to her, “Stop crying!  I’m here and all is well! Start rejoicing!”?

Could it even be that He wept from sheer weariness?  He had traveled a distance to be there, and must have been exhausted.  Could that have been the reason for his tears?

Or, might this have been a culmination of His ministry and He knew what was just ahead?  Was He weeping for all those around Him that still did not understand Who He was and what His mission was?  Even Mary was scolding Him instead of rejoicing that He had come.  Did no one understand?

I don’t know that any of us can really know the reason for His weeping.  But one thing I do know.  Jesus knew emotion and experienced tears.  Jesus knows compassion, and He sees each tear we shed.  And He understands the ‘why’ behind our tears, even when we don’t.

And one thing’s for sure.  This is going to be one of the first questions I ask when I meet Him face to face:  “Jesus, why did you cry?  What did it mean?”  And I can hardly wait for the explanation!

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Gift on Wings

Have you ever thought about the gifts of nature God has given us with the many colorful and musical birds around us?  The birds are more entertaining than anything else I can think of (except maybe grandchildren) and somehow always seem to connect me with our creator in a moment of praise.

I love having birdfeeders outside our windows where I can watch and listen frequently.  And I love the variety of color and size and shape and personality that all visit my feeders simultaneously.

When we lived in Indiana, we planted a small orchard about probably 30-40 feet from the back of our house and after the trees matured I had placed lots of birdfeeders in that orchard.  We had a large deck on the back of the house where I could sit and watch the birds coming and going from the feeders.  The birds became so familiar with me that they would often come right up onto the deck and perch on the railing in front of me and chatter away at me.  I would talk to them and they’d listen a bit and chatter like crazy back at me like we were having an intelligent conversation.

When it was time to refill the feeders I’d drag the 50-pound bags of birdseed to the orchard to feed them.  They’d often fly beside me as though they wanted to help and then they’d sit in the trees right beside me and watch and wait, often chattering so much they’d make me laugh out loud.  We became great friends and I often wondered if they missed me after we moved away.  I certainly missed them!

Here we live in a small town, and a neighbor allows a cat to run freely through the neighborhood, and so they are a bit more inhibited.  Several have gotten to know me though and are less frightened than the others. P1010716

We have a pair of wrens that have taken over our grill and built a huge nest inside.  I saw them busily carrying their straw and grass inside it early in the spring and knew immediately that grilling would not be part of our lifestyle this summer!  After their babies were raised and they were away from home one time this summer, I opened the grill to see inside and was amazed at the huge nest for such small birds!

I love wP1010709atching the wrens.  They are such busy little creatures with their tail sticking straight up instead of back like most other birds.  And how they do chatter!  One of the pair has taken to climbing on the screen outside my kitchen window and chattering away at me.  He’s still too timid to talk to me if I’m outside, but apparently the screen gives him confidence and security.

The chickadees that have been coming to the feeders lately are half the size of the ones I’d have in Indiana.  They are such tiny little creatures, but so beautiful and full of energy!  Are they babies?  There are four of them and it makes me wonder why they are so small.  But how lovely they are all the same!

It’s fun watching their different personalities.  The nuthatcheP1010768s always eat upside down, the woodpeckers are actually polite to one another, and the cardinals think they own the place!  The titmice (what’s the plural of titmouse?  Titmouses?  Titmice?) are so very graceful and gentle with one another and with the other birds also.  And the mourning doves clean up everyone’s messes and sing their mournful songs until I want to almost cry from the beauty of it!

When I’ve worked particularly hard and need a break to rest a bit, my favorite place in the world is on the big swing in our pergola watching the birds.  Time can get away from me there, but there’s not much that’s more relaxing and restful than that! P1010767

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