Archive for the ‘GOD’ Category

I have a love-hate relationship with surprises … I hate to be confronted with surprises, but I love to plan them for others.

The other day I got to surprise a couple of people and it was such fun (at least it was for me). Their reactions were unplanned, without the filters that give us the ‘right’ words to say.

I remember, many years ago, when I was having a milestone birthday. We had booked a sitter for our daughter and went out to a nice restaurant for dinner. When we arrived back home, just before entering our house, I looked over to him and said, “thanks so much for not planning a surprise birthday party, because I really hate surprises” … lets just say, his face said it all … I gulped and opened the door to (you guessed it) a house full of people.

That was an undesired surprise, but then there are other surprises that are simply bad. When a loved one dies, a job is lost, a dark secret or a lie revealed. Those surprises can crush a person, changing the trajectory of life.

The thing is, every surprise we encounter is old news to God. He knows the good, the bad and the ugly that is coming in our lives. He knows the resources that we will need for the surprises to come.

That’s not to say that we actually choose to use or rely on those resources, but he has provided them. As a matter of fact the resource of peace through the Spirit is there for those who choose to accept that in our lives. He is never pushy, but there for our taking … if we so choose.

For those of us who have chosen, it is unfathomable to consider living this life, with all of it’s surprises, without the assurance that we do not have to face them on our own.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it.

Isaiah 43:19

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If you drive or bike by me while I am out for a walk, you will most likely see a woman, face forward, moving at a fast clip that ensures that the wonder-dog is in full panting mode. A brisk pace from beginning to end is what my daily walks are all about. I have a destination to reach and that is the end of the walk.

That’s me … the purpose driven walker.

For a few months there’s been a niggling in the back of my mind concerning these daily scurries around my hood. It has been poking me more and more until I finally had to admit the challenge being presented to me …

how about a slow, meandering walk for a change?

It is a bit embarrassing to admit that it took me months to try this out.

Finally, a couple weeks back, as I tied my runners I determined that my canine buddy and I would challenge the idiom about a dog and a new trick.

We wandered. paused. looked left. and right. and even turned back a few times. we stopped to watch the sheep nibbling on grass. we watched the gentle wind send the trees swaying overhead. we listened to the birds songs. checked out flowers, and shrubs. we breathed slow, deep.

Our walk took double the time we normally walk. We wandered, and lingered, and ambled and dawdled, and maybe even dilly dallied just a bit.

And, you know what?

it was pure delight!

There was no drive, no purpose, other than to enjoy the very moment we were in.

This slower pace may just become a more regular way to walk.

the one who acts hastily makes poor choices.

Proverbs 19:2b

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For a few days now, my daily walk has not been accompanied by podcasts of messages by a couple of my favorite Christian preachers, but music.

The music is a bit different from much of my playlist, for the songs are long (like 7-8 minutes long, each one), with much repetition of lines in the songs. When I slip in my headphones and tie up my runners I am transported to the most beautiful sanctuary of worship within the beauty of the natural creation.

This daily, solo, worship service has facilitated my expressions of trust, love and hope in God alone. It has enabled me to escape the the me centered world I live, and live in. I can spend my walk time focused on the One who is really in control, the One who is always faithful, always with me.

And He alone deserves praise.

One of the worship songs that I have been using as a vehicle for my walking worship is the Doxology (praise God from whom all blessings flow).

It was written in 1674, by Thomas Ken, who had a fascinating life with positions in church leadership that had him mixing with the likes of Princess Mary (later Queen), King Charles 2 (and his mistress) as well as King James 2, whose Declaration of Indulgence, Thomas refused to read in church … and spent some time in the Tower of London.

His doxology was not printed publicly until after his death.

And today, over 300 years later, his penned praise to God is still sung, in cathedrals, churches, and along the paths and sidewalks of the Pacific Northwest.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

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Are you an if/then person?

You know, one of those who sees and seeks understanding of conditions and results.

I am, most naturally an if/then person.

If I study hard, then I will achieve high marks.

If I work with all my might, then I will be successful in my job.

If I sow good things, then I will reap good things.

The thing is … life isn’t always that predictable and it most certainly does not come with guarantees.

We live our lives as mere mortals, among mere mortals, in a fallen, sin-saturated world. Therefore, conditions and results do not always line up.

Students who study hard fail exams. Hard working people lose their jobs. We can sow good things in and around us and reap only that which is bitter.

These are the realities of living in this world.

Yet, this does not mean that we proceed through our days and lives with our knuckles dragging on the ground. Even when the if/thens of our life have faulty results, there can be joy.

“The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10

There is a strength that comes, irregardless of circumstances, if/then failures and failed conditions. It is a strength that comes from choosing joy … but not just any joy. It is a joy that we skin-covered souls can only experience and achieve from one source … it is a joy that comes from familiarity with God.

When we look at the failures, pains and destructions in our lives compared with the love and mercy and redemption available to us in Christ … we have true joy at our disposal.

If we choose Christ, then we will have joy in Him … though all around us might fall.

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when you speak, your whisper is as a megaphone to the ears of my soul.
You refuse to be unheard …
even when we think we have deafened our souls to you.
It is a human perception that we can silence You …
but you can not be quieted.

So, I will praise you.

For you are the God of all creation.
You, for eternity,
have been, are and will always be.
This, my God,
is your position,
and when I come to you,
this is what I must always remember.
For you are good and you keep your promises.
You have always been faithful to me,
so I know I can trust you.

So, I will praise you.

When we pray to you, we speak our petitions to you,
like a long list for Santa, or a Genie …
but you cannot be contained in a bottle or a season,
and you, only you, know what is best
for us.
Even that which breaks our hearts,
that which makes us wring our hands
and collapse on the floor …
even that which cannot, it just cannot,
be good

and I will still praise you.

But, you do not fail.
Your presence always guides me,
not to the destination of my choice,
not on the journey dreamed,
but to your ultimate destination,
with you.

and I praise you.

I cannot think of breath when I wasn’t aware of
your presence, your strength, your support,
your peace
… even in
the deepest waters,
the darkest shadows,
the loneliest journeys.

I will praise you.


This is my story
this is my song
praising my Savior
all the day long

I know it is well,
is the story I’ll tell

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“… I carried to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had let soften a bit of madeleine. But at the very instant when the mouthful of tea mixed with cake crumbs touched my palate, I quivered, attentive to the extraordinary thing that was happening inside me.”

Marcel Proust from In Search of Lost Time

What is it about a scent that can change you from the inside out, taking you to a place in memory, or of a memory never yet experienced?

That is what it was like the first time I inhaled (for great it was) the perfume of the Mock Orange blossoms. Immediately I had to have it, for its scent was too beautiful to deny myself this annually blooming shrub.

That was probably over a dozen years ago.

Since moving from our larger home, on a larger property to a townhouse on a postage stamp sized lot, the thing I have missed most, longed for most frequently, was my mock orange and its springtime blossoms that diffused in the air around, much to my delight.

So, this summer, in the midst of a heat spell, I purchased one, to plant in a pot on my minuscule patio.

I have fed it, watered it and protected it from the heat on the hottest of days. With each act of care, I dreamed of that moment next spring when nature would reward me with delicate white flowers, emitting the dreamiest of fragrances.

Just the other day I noticed something different.

It couldn’t be …

As I moved closer I detected what appeared to be flower buds on the top of the plant.

The plant in my previous garden bloomed annually, every year in mid May, calling my nose to a closer inspection. That was the only time it ever bloomed.

But here, in a pot, on my little patio, the most delightful of gifts was enfolding, blooming right before my eyes, sending its aroma up, into the air, beckoning me to come closer.

And I said thanks.

Thanks, not to this flower, but to its Maker, who knew how to speak love most clearly to the heart of this daughter.

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It’s early on a Sunday morning, of a long weekend, that marks the end of summer in so many ways.

I hear the Wonder dog shake his sleep from his head, then the wet of his tongue on my arm, hanging over the side of the bed. Blech!

I reach to the other side of the bed, empty. This summer has been one of trading places. He often rising before me. So I tap his side of the bed, the known invitation for my buddy to leap up onto the bed with me. I sense him searching, sniffing and looking for my face to lick. It’s his way of saying, hey lady, I don’t have indoor cammode, I need to let out for my relief.

I lift the covers higher, turning to the other side, my face safe from his slobbery expression of love … ok, it’s really his urgency to get me to let him out, but I am the interpreter of this dog.

He settles, a loud sigh, fully communicating his impatience.

I open only one eye, gauging the time of day by the light peeking around the curtains and the sounds of cars passing by. I reckon it is near six. I relax, sleep calling me back to it’s magical place.

This is so odd for me, this slow morning wake up. I can recall mornings as a child, awakening in my childhood bedroom, sun peeking in around the window blinds and my heartbeat racing to start the day. I would leap out of bed, afraid to miss out on one moment of the day (especially if it was a weekend or holiday).

Rise! Shine! Your new day is dawning. The glory of the LORD shines brightly on you.

Isaiah 60:1

That verse describes my typical morning awakening so well. It is as if I had an urgency to start the day. The time on the clock is redundant, it could be 6am, or 4:30am (eye roll). Either way, once my lungs have taken in the deep morning breath, sleep is no more, for I know that my calling is to be awake.

That is similar to the call in Isaiah. Though it were written to Jerusalem, it applies to each of us. We cannot bring the light of dawn, for it is this morning light that is our light. Another way to say it is that we have no light within us, except for the light that God gives. Sure, we might be able to muddle around, using our human instincts, but without the light that comes from Christ, we are not seeing clearly.

The thing is, our walking in the dark, we have chosen this. We chose to muddle through the dark, though each morning we are reminded of the call of God, through the light of the dawn.

This morning light also reminds us of our daily opportunity to start over, fresh. Like the oft quoted words of Anne Shirley, “tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.” This daily rise of the light is our morning whisper to choose to live in His light, to shed our pre-occupation with the false illusion of our own good, our own sufficiency.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

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As I sit at my desk I can hear him … off in the distance, somewhere to the east of us, a rooster crows with wild abandon.

When I hear him, my mind ofter recites this, with each call :

before the rooster crows …

My rooster neighbor crows just before 6am, so if Peter were to have denied Jesus three times that day, before the rooster crows … well, it must have been really easy for him to have denied his Lord, three times, before dawn.

What was Peter thinking?

Jesus had pre-warned him of his impending denials, so he knew they might/would occur. One would think that he would be prepared and wouldn’t fall into a trap of saying what he did not want to say! It is like his tongue deceived him.

Have you ever done that … say what isn’t true, what you didn’t want to say?

Once I had an experience where my brain and tongue were not working in co-operation. I had a medical appointment, via phone. I am not a phone person … never have been. Even as a teenager, I dislike phone communication. So, knowing this about myself, I made notes for the appointment.

When it was time for the appointment, with my list at my hand, I was asked questions … questions that I had written answers to on my paper … right beside me. One of the questions (probably the most important) was, “how has this issue been?” And I answered “a firm okay” … but on my paper I’d written, “rotten”. Right there, I denied my own reality, with not so much as a glance to that paper beside me.

When telling a friend about this she said, maybe, as a people pleaser, I instinctively responded with what I thought my doctor wanted to hear. Maybe I was so eager to have progress to share that I instinctively fabricated it.

If it was that easy for me to deny my own health situation, I think I can understand Peter’s denials before dawn. For, in his case, his denials came out of fear for himself. They were most primitive, for his denials originated in a fear for his life.

The thing is the rooster crows every morning … we have this daily reminder of Peter’s denial of his association with Jesus. We may not be asked directly, or daily about our relationship with Christ, but we still have opportunity to live it. We live our relationship with him in how we love (or do not), in how we use our resources (time, money), in how we behave towards others (in our neighborhoods, in businesses, workplaces, families), in how we think verses what we say (“as one thinks, so is he” Proverbs 23:7).

We all have daily opportunities to live out our association with Jesus … or deny it.

I love how the Contemporary English Version writes this verse (Matthew 26:34):

Jesus replied, “I promise you before a rooster crows tonight, you will say three times that you don’t know me.”

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In June I noticed it.

A plant was growing, just outside our garden gate. As my eyes noticed it, I could not remember seeing it the day before, yet it must have been four inches tall. Days and weeks passed, each day the plant’s growth noted. Now, it stands feet above my head.

A neighbor in our complex had taken sunflower seeds out, when they went for a walk. The popped a few outside the gates of everyone in our complex, anticipating a colorful late August floral display.

Of the four planted outside our gate, we have only two (the grounds keepers were rather thorough in their ‘weeding’). The one is a bit of a slow developer … perhaps it’s growth was stunted in our earlier heat dome. But the one still present, that first one I saw.

It has been growing in the shade of a tree, only getting direct sun late into the afternoon and evening.

Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone ever sees it’s bright yellow flower, for it has grown straight up into the branches of the tree.

For the person walking on the sidewalk, all they see is a big stalk, growing up and into the branches of the tree.

But …

I know it is there


every time I walk out my gate,

I lift my eyes,

to see it’s beauty.

Proverbs 8:17 came to mind the other day as I was peering through leaves to see the flower.

those who diligently seek me will find me

What a reminder this hidden flower, this bit of yellow beauty, this gift from a neighbor …

that there is an if/then reality within.

If we look for God,
then we will find Him.


That’s a guarantee we can take to the bank …

and He never leaves us.


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Nine weeks …

That’s how long we have been waiting.

Nine weeks,

one heat dome (who knew there was such a thing?),

one heat wave,

forest fires,


tinder dry conditions,

crops, plants, trees are singed, dying,


so, so dry.

We look ahead, listen to the meteorologists,

hoping they will be bearers of good news.

Hoping they will tell us what we want to hear,

what our living things need,


We bow our heads, lift fists to the heavens,

begging the One who can,

to do it.

To open the skies,

to let down

the renewing,



water from the clouds



falling onto everything,

wetting our world,

nourishing our soil,

extinguishing the flames,

soaking the roots,

soothing our dry, lifeless surroundings.

Renew our earth with life-giving rains,

as your presence in our lives

renews our souls.


The Breaking of the Drought
by Frederick J. Atwood

Listen!—it rains; it rains!
The prayer of the grass is heard;
The thirsty ground drinks eagerly
As a famished man eats bread.
The moan of the trees is hushed,
And the violets under the banks
Lift up their heads so gratefully,
And smilingly give thanks.

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