Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Putting the Awe in Autumn

Key Verse - You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12

I love living in a place with four distinct seasons. In March I will be the first to tell you that Spring is my favorite season. I practically dance around the yard looking for the first green shoots of daffodils, my favorite 'happy' flower. As the season progresses, my family suffers through daily updates on the latest perennials to pop through the fertile dirt.

But as I age, I have to say that Autumn is becoming my favorite season. Of course, it doesn't look the same in all parts of the country. I am partial to the multiple colors of the Midwest. There are so many shades of green, gold, orange, and red that it is beyond my comprehension. Some gold trees practically glow in the sunshine as they try to outshine their peers. Then there are the sweet gums -- I never realized that orange, pink, and red looked so good together!

We drove down the highway for about 45 minutes the other day, and my nose was practically pressed to the window. Each time we rounded a bend, I had to catch my breath. Every new hill was more colorful than the last. At this time of year I fully understand the concept of being so awed that my heart swells. I can't get enough of the beauty.

While Spring reminds us that life goes on, Autumn seems to be a opportunity for God to show off. Each October the world sings and applauds His glory.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Genesis 22:14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said,"On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided." (NIV)

I finished posting the last message when I heard a car door outside. I looked out, and my very helpful, very strong neighbor was in his front yard. I asked for help, and he came right over. After putting his full weight on the lugwrench and jumping up and down several times, all lug nuts finally broke free (I'm secretly glad it wasn't really easy...I would have felt like a wimp!).

He is a Godly man, and during our conversation he mentioned that "God always sends a ram from the bushes." No matter what our needs are, God will provide. Thank you, Jim, for the reminder and for lending your strength to change the tire. And thank you, God, for providing yet again.

Accepting Weakness

Verse for the day: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NIV, taken from www.biblegateway.com)

Ugh, I hate when I can't handle everything that comes along. All the 'boys' in our house are on a camping trip, and I got a flat tire this morning. No problem; my Dad, in his wisdom, made me learn how to change a tire before I was allowed to drive the car. I was driving my husband's car, so I'd never changed a tire on it before. What could be so hard?

I unloaded the trunk and figured out how to get the spare tire and the jack out (not a very self-explanatory set up). The jack was wedged into place and it took a lot of tugging, but I finally got it. Taking the wheel cover off was another story. The car manual's picture didn't look anything like the actual wheel, and there wasn't a tool in the kit that fit -- it looked like I needed a large allen wrench. There wasn't one in the tire changing kit, and I couldn't find one in our house. I finally got it off using a large screwdriver.

Next I knew I needed to loosen the lug nuts before jacking up the car. Every single one of them must be glued on! I twisted, turned, jumped, kicked, and even hammered at the lug wrench. Not a single nut will budge!

This is so frustrating. I have the knowledge, and I have the basic strength to change a tire, but I am unable to do the job. Why do I hesitate to ask for help? I don't want anyone to think I'm not capable, but what difference does that make anyway?

If it is so hard for me to ask other people for help, I know I am not turning to God for the help He can offer, either. I want to handle everything, but like the lug nuts, my life won't budge without God's strength making the change. Lord, Help me to turn to you for strength. You know what my life needs, and you know how to make the changes. Help me not to be stubborn as you work to make me new. Oh, and send someone strong to help me change the tire!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I need to act my age...

Verse for the Day: Proverbs 16:22 Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it, but folly brings punishment to fools (NIV)

I knew before my feet left the ground that this was a mistake. When will I listen to that voice in my head? My daughter was working hard to improve her cartwheels and round-offs and I was observing and offering advice. I used to do gymnastics a lot -- I joke that I've spent 2 - 3 years of my life upside down. She went inside to wrap her wrist so it would be stronger, and I thought that I'd try a cartwheel and round-off so I could better explain what you do at different points in each stunt.

I walked around to the side of the house so no one would see me; that should have been my first clue that this stunt wouldn't go as planned! I stretched a little and tucked my shirt in (must be modest!), then I started. My hands went down well, and the cartwheel felt comfortable and familiar -- until I was upside down and my arm decided it didn't want to support my weight. Everything moved in slow motion, and my feet landed awkwardly as I crashed on my shoulder.

Of course, the first thing I did was look around to see if anyone saw me! Then I moved everything to be sure I wasn't broken. I got up quickly and went back to the stone wall where I'd been sitting while watching my daughter. She came out and was none the wiser. After several more attempts and definite improvement, we decided she'd had enough and started back into the house. Hmm. Things weren't moving as smoothly as usual. I'd slightly pulled a muscle in my leg and pinched a ligament in my back (as I found out later). So, for now I get to sleep sitting up and I can't stand or sit for more than five minutes without having to move.

When will I admit that I'm getting old? I know you are only as old as you feel, but somewhere common sense needs to kick in. I have given lots of people a good laugh, though, and disappointed many since there isn't a video tape of my folly. Guess I'm back to sitting on the sidelines!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Beating the Beetles

As published on Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today, Sep 29, 2006

Key Verse:Song of Solomon 2:15, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” (NIV)

Monday I stood in awe of God’s majesty. While we were on vacation, He took exquisite care of my little border garden. The roses were thick with fragrance; coneflowers, phlox, and tall spires of purple loosestrife bloomed in colorful profusion. The diversity of His imagination always amazes me. I smiled at the thought of Him designing each flower on the third day of creation. Instead of producing thousands of identical blooms, he created a plethora of color, shape, and fragrance for us to enjoy.
Tuesday, less than 24 hours later, I peeked at the garden for a mid-day smile. My joy turned to ashes. Japanese beetles had infested my loosestrife and roses destroying every bloom! I’m sure my neighbors laughed out loud as I stormed out the back door attacking now bare stems with a tennis racquet while a swarm of disturbed beetles buzzed my head. I called my husband and insisted that he stop at the hardware store on the way home for a trap with torture-like properties.
He of course came through with an effective trap (no torture…) and he put it up immediately. We watched together as confused beetles flew toward its bait while we mourned the loss of the garden’s glory.
This morning I looked out the window amazed. Not only were the beetles gone, gentle purple blossoms had returned to the loosestrife. I was reminded that God’s mercies are new each day. Yesterday’s crisis was visible only when I looked at the bag on the yellow beetle trap that swelled with its catch.
It occurred to me that this situation was a metaphor for our marriage. One day everything looks and feels wonderful. We go out of our way to do special things for each other for the sole purpose of seeing the other one smile. Then the beetles, or as Solomon says ‘the little foxes,’ take over our lives and eat away the joyful moments. The children whine, the dog throws up, the washer breaks, and supper burns. When he gets home, I ‘greet’ my hardworking husband with a scowl and jump right in to tell him how horrible everything is. All he can see is the shadow of the joyful wife he left in the morning.
I hate when I focus on the negatives and forget that I am here to support and provide tangible love to my spouse and family. Thankfully God provides a fresh start each morning. I can ask for forgiveness for yesterday’s failings (from both God and my husband), and I can focus on the blossoms of today’s joy. Yes, things will go wrong, but I can manage my attitude so the day isn’t ruined. I want to shoo away the negative attitudes so that my husband comes home to the peaceful place and loving wife that he deserves.
My Prayer for Today:
Lord, I thank You for Your amazing creation – yes, even the Japanese beetles. Continue to remind me that our troubles are only temporary, and that Your love is eternal. Help me to focus on Your blessings and to keep the world’s little hassles in proper priority. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application Steps:
Today when something goes wrong, look for a blessing. If it is something that you will laugh about in the future, be forward thinking and laugh today. If it’s too hard to smile, at least recognize your efforts to effectively deal with the situation.
Prepare to meet your spouse at the end of the day. Comb your hair; find a reason to smile, and think about the type of greeting you want to give. Don’t talk about anything that went wrong in your day for at least 15 minutes.
Do something special for your spouse today in secret.
Reflection Points:
Would you like to come home to yourself at the end of the day? What can you do to make this stressful time more peaceful for both you and your spouse?
What are the ‘little foxes’ in your marriage? How can you actively work to minimize their impact on your attitude?
What have you done lately to show your husband that you love him?
Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (NIV)
Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” (NIV)
Philippians 2:14-15, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” (NIV)