Thursday, October 31, 2013

His Perfect Love

Fear, it can grip your soul like a vice.

Fear, it can destroy and devastate.

Fear, it can paralyze.

Fear, it can wound and harm.

Fear, it can pull you into darkness.

The fear though, it does not have to have power because there is love.

Because perfect love casts out fear.

Love, it frees you.

Love, it breathes new life.

Love, it spurs you into action.

Love, it heals and it strengthens.

Love, it is a beacon of light and hope.

And the best part of it all?

It is His love for us.

His perfect, unending, all encompassing love for you and me can drive out the fear.

And He does love us. Loves us so deeply and so completely.  There is nothing at all that can cause Him to stop loving us, absolutely nothing.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Beautiful Creation

I am home from my final trip of the year, which makes me both happy and a bit sad. I love traveling; exploring new places or rediscovering old ones.  But there has been a lot of it in my life lately, and I am ready to be in one place and not living out of a suitcase for awhile. 

This last trip was a combination of both work and play, and my favorite one of the entire year.  In the matter of less than a week, I experienced ocean, redwoods, mountains, farm land, and vineyards. Temperature lows of 38 to highs of 85 (and those two were in the span of just a few hours!). Foggy drizzle to bright sunshine, and I LOVED it all.

Before and during; the prayer constantly on my lips was that I would have eyes to see His goodness and love for me in all that I experienced. I wanted to savor and be thankful for each and every moment.

I wanted to see past the creation to the One who created.

And God does not disappoint. 

When you look for Him, He is there to be found. . .

In the golden yellows and burnt oranges of leaves that tell of a turning of seasons. Signs of autumn that shout of the hope that comes in knowing that the falling away of the old allows room for the new and the renewed.

In the sun dancing across the trees, leaving trails of light through hundreds of giant redwoods. Rays that sing of the joy found in the Light of the World.
In the fog rolling in from the ocean. Fog that blankets a town in quiet and whispers reminders of the peace found in resting in Him.
In the brilliant colors of a sun dipping below the horizon. Colors painting a masterpiece that speaks of the artist who lovingly created us.  The One whose perfect love for us casts out fear.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Being Enough

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." ~ Maya Angelou

I've heard this quote many times, but today I read it again on a blog post and it really hit home. There are days where I feel the tugging so deeply that I want to be more, do more, touch more lives, accomplish more. More being the pattern here.  There are times where I worry that maybe I'm not enough; that in my current job or the things I'm doing, it's not enough of what I could be doing for God.

I don't have a prestigious title, I haven't written a published book, I'm not leading a huge ministry; I am a single mom to two little people while also working at a small company as a communications specialist.  But what I am learning, and why I think this quote spoke to me so loudly this time, is that in these small things, God is still doing big things.

It shouldn't be that I am only a mom, because that is a huge thing in itself. God gave these two precious ones specifically to me. He created each of them, knitting them together, knowing that He would equip me to the be the mother they need. I can lead by example, teaching them how to trust the Lord, how to look for joy in the every day and how to love freely. To them, my job title or list of accomplishments won't matter. What will matter to them is that I made them feel like they belong and that they are unconditionally loved.

While I may not be climbing the corporate ladder as I used to envision or winning awards; I am at my current job for a reason. These eleven people I interact with on a daily basis, they will remember how I made them feel. So smiling at them every morning, offering to help on tasks that aren't exciting, asking how someone is really doing - these things are important, even if not defined that way by the world.  In this job, I can help those I interact with to feel appreciated and cared about.

So instead of wanting to be more, I am beginning to recognize I am enough. There is incredible peace in knowing that who God created me to be and where He has placed me right now is enough. It is enough because He is present. It is enough when I allow Him to work through me. It is enough because I am trusting Him. 

People will remember how I make them feel, and how I want to make them feel is loved, appreciated and called by a gracious God. I can do that in this moment and don't need to be anything more than I already am to do it.

Perhaps in the future, God will call me somewhere different and I will have new responsibilities. But no matter if it's a different job or ministry, the heart of the matter will be the same - being a blessing and a tangible example of God's love on this earth. I won't need to be more in those moments either. I will simply need to be me, the woman God is refining and working through.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dear Lord,

Transform my prayers from last resort, desperation cries to first response, trust-filled whispers.

Ignite a fire in me to know you intimately.

Teach me to move from fear to faith.

Create in me a heart that loves you fully and out of that flows genuine love for the wounded and the hurting.

Show me how to be a light in this dark world.

Help me to always be listening and willing to go where you lead me.

Lord, I thank you that you never leave me nor forsake me.

I thank you that I need to do nothing in my own strength, because your strength is made perfect in my weaknesses.

Thank you that your grace is sufficient for this moment, this day and in that knowledge I can rest knowing you are in control.

Lord I need you; every second of every day and for that I am truly thankful.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Out of the Ashes

"From the ruins
From the ashes
Beauty will rise
From the wreckage
From the darkness
Glory will shine."
~Nothing is Wasted, Jason Gray
I was in Tahoe two weeks ago for work; I know, I've got a pretty awful job, huh. But in all honesty, I do have a great job and recognize how blessed I am to get to experience the things I do through work. 

This time of year in Tahoe is absolutely beautiful. After the work part of the trip, I was fortunate enough to take a half-day photography tour of Tahoe. The guide took us all over the South Shore area, showing us several places I've never seen before. Our last stop on the trip was a road that winds up above Fallen Leaf Lake that offers some great views.  One side of the road overlooked the lake and the other looked over a valley that had been devastated by a fire a few years back.

At first glace the area appeared desolate and destroyed. The trees that were left standing seemed to be only remnants of what they once were; bare trunks, blackened and scarred from the flames with no visible evidence of the life they once gave through their branches and leaves.  For all intent and purposes, it looked like a wasteland now. However, looking deeper there were signs of new life all over. Green sprouting up from what was once just ashes. It was interesting to learn that controlled fires can be good for the area, that they stimulate growth and some trees in fact need the heat to open up their cones and spread seeds.
As I snapped away with my camera, I couldn't help but make the leap to how God works. During the trials and the fire, He is in fact working behind the scenes to bring new life and goodness from what was meant for destruction.  He takes things that at first appear ugly and broken and He turns them all into beauty. Maybe not always beauty as the world might describe, but the kind of beauty found in a heart that still hopes, in a strength that cannot be broken and a joy that cannot be shaken.
This is a theme that I write about a lot on here, but it is something so close to my heart because I've walked that path.  There has been grief that at times felt too overwhelming to handle and there were shattered dreams.  But I have seen God refine me through it all. I've seen Him working good in the lives of me and my children. I have seen the moments of beauty already and I am trusting that what I may still not understand right now, one day I will see how it was used for His glory.
"He has sent me . . . to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." Isaiah 61: 2-3
Looking back now, I think that I might be like those trees that needed the heat to truly grow and thrive. I wouldn't have chosen these events for myself, but through them I believe my life is headed in a direction that might not have been possible were it not for walking through the fire. The fire has allowed seeds planted to grow amidst the pain and in that I see beauty.