Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lenten Photo a Day Challenge - Days 41 and 42: Quiet and Persevere

Day 41: Quiet
When you are quiet, you hear and see and generally notice the world around you better.  The other day I took a few minutes just to sit quietly on my front porch and enjoy the (finally) warm and sunny weather we were gifted with that day.  I was quietly thanking God for the things I noticed around me outside - the trees budding, the daffodils dancing, the grass greening, the sun on my toes.  As I sat on my porch I caught a glimpse of red and leaned over to see.  I was delighted to find a single tulip hiding behind a bush right off the porch.  Had I not taken a minute to be silent, I would never have seen this little beauty.  I had the chance to surprise my daughter by showing it to her later.  She "oohed" and "ahhed" just as I did and we both thanked God for the little surprise gift.  Even though life can get super busy and often chaotic, don't forget to slow down and even just for a moment, be silent.  You never know what God has to show or tell you in that moment.

Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in all the earth!  
Psalm 46:10

Day 42: Persevere
As the spring takes hold of the earth, plants of all sorts, most with names unknown to me, are sprouting forth. I've always been amazed by this - little miracles every spring.  As I figure out what is weed and what is a plant I wish to have growing in my yard, I am again amazed.  I am amazed at the perseverance of the weeds.  They seem to push everything else aside as they grow their roots deep and take nutrients from the "good" plants. They don't want to be plucked out and even when I think I have rid my garden beds of them, they return - again and again.  They persevere.  I'm usually tired of pulling weeds by mid summer and left to persevere, they overtake my beds by the end of the summer.  I am amazed also that many of these "weeds" are quite beautiful.  I wonder do they try to use their good looks to survive?  Okay, I know that plants do not think that way, but do we?  Do I persevere in the right soil and in the right frame of mind? I pray that I do and you do to.  Persevere in the word and may my appearance be that kind of beauty that comes from a heart that follows and is rooted in Christ. A prayer from 2 Thessalonians 3:5, May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. Amen

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lenten Photo A Day Challenge - Day 38: Symbol

Do you have a symbol in your home that indicates your faith?  Do you wear a symbol around your neck perhaps? Many Christians display a cross somewhere in their homes, like the one I photographed today. This one hangs above our front door.  Like any symbol, however, this cross above our door means much more than the shape carved into wood.  It reminds my family and guests of a great price paid for us.  It stands for a way of life and a renewed way of thinking and indicates what we as a family believe.  It reminds us what and who should be first in our lives - that God himself be the focus in our home.

“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:14-15

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lenten Photo A Day Challenge - Day 37: Fortitude

Merriam-Webster defines fortitude as "strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage." I picture fortitude as a brick wall of sorts - some source of strength that bears one up when faced with trials. It helps us stay upright and on our feet. In my mind (and photo) I imagine the brick wall, but in my heart I know that the best source of this kind of strength comes from our God. I love the promise that can be found in 1 Chronicles 28:20. Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished. What an awesome promise. God will not leave us. We need not be afraid for God is with us. We can be strong and courageous.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lenten Photo a Day Challenge - Day 36: Wait

Wait.  Never did like this word, but I have come to see the value in it.  Wait for the Lord, the Psalmist tells us in 27:14, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.  Often that is easier said than done.  It isn't always easy to wait.  We waited for our baby for so long.  It was difficult and frustrating, but I knew in my heart that God was not telling us "No" to our family, He was telling us "Wait."  So during that time we waited (some days more gracefully than others) and trusted in God and in His timing.  But I trust in you, O Lord. I say, "You are my God."  My times are in your hands. Psalm 31:14-15.  While we waited, we kept the dialogue going with God.  We tried to use the time to draw closer to Him.  And, in His perfect timing and planning, He brought our baby to us and our family was born.  Is waiting today any easier?  No.  But while I wait I hope I wait a bit more patiently and with a bit more trust.  I pray that you do, too.  Show me your ways, O Lord; Teach me your paths.  Lead me in your truth and teach me For you are the God of my salvation; On you I wait all day.  Psalm 25:4-5

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lenten Photo a Day Challenge - Days 32, 34, & 35: Light, Family, Prayer

Playing a bit of catch up here on my Lenten Photo Challenge.

Day 32: Light

There's just something about that afternoon sun that comes shining through our front door.  Our pup loves to warm herself up and doze.  I love having the door open to that light.  Jesus told us that He is the way, the truth, and the light.  I pray we are always drawn to the light and willing to sit and bask in His presence.

Day 34: Family

I had a hard time trying to decide just what sort of photo would show "family."  Family can be complicated, messy, and wonderful.  So, I snapped this photo of my kitchen table because, when I looked around my home, I could picture my family at this table.  As shown, it's kind of messy right now.  But it has history.  It's beautiful underneath that big mess of "daily stuff."  It's a gorgeous oak table (and heavy, heavy, heavy) that my husband and I bought many years ago.  There are some scratches, dents, and blemishes, but we've established a relationship, if you will, with that table.  Lots of memories with family and friends and friends who've become family have been forged around that table.  Lots of laughing, serious discussions, prayers, and sometimes tears have been shared around that table.  For me, family is relationships.  For our family, we strive to prioritize our relationship with God as our most important relationship.

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."  Joshua 24:15

Day 35: Prayer

Philippians 4:6 encourages us to pray about everything and worry about nothing.  The ESV translation reads, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  I love this description of prayer.  It's an open invitation to come to God with anything and everything that's on our minds and in our hearts.  It's an invitation for friendship, counsel, a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen, a place to bring our burdens, a place to find direction and wisdom and a grateful heart.  Sit down with a friend today.  With Jesus.  And simply pray.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring Birthday Card

SRM is hosting a brand new challenge blog, HERE.  The first challenge is anything that CELEBRATES!  I have a few birthday cards that need to go out this month, so it was easy to play along - especially when SRM makes the perfect clear stickers for cards!  I also had fun digging into some of my new Inked Rose collection from We R Memory Keepers - perfectly spring-y.

I know Susan at SRM loves doilies (and so do I), so I used a small doilie on this card.  The butterfly is from the We R Inked Rose coordinating stickers.  The twine is American Crafts and the sentiment is, of course, SRM.  (It's from the Thinking of You Sticker Sentiment sheet.)

Make sure you check out SRM's blog for more great inspiration!

Lenten Photo a Day Challenge - Day 31: Sacrifice

Our 5 year old daughter drew this picture at church last Sunday.  It's Jesus on the cross, of course.  That's a bluebird flying up overhead and .... hmmmm, maybe the Easter bunny down below?  Love :)
Today's word is sacrifice.  While our Hannah clearly drew a picture of Jesus' beautiful sacrifice, we too are called to be a "living sacrifice."  Paul, in Romans 12:1-2 writes:  I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  The idea is that our lives as Christians should be lives that daily reflect our love and devotion to God.  We are called to reflect His love and give of our time, talents, and treasures, which may be a sacrifice at times for sure.  But it shouldn't matter what we see others doing or not doing.  What matters is our relationship with our God who sacrificed so much, including bringing His only beloved Son to a horrible death on the cross, so that we may be restored to His Holy presence.