Crossroads

It’s early. I hop out of bed feeling great after of a good night’s rest. A whole fresh new day is ready to walk into.

All is well,

until . . .

What mess?

I walk into the kitchen and find the mess . . . again. How many times . . .?

And no, the pup didn’t do it.

How quick and easy the glowery dark cloud descends with its storm of anger and frustration. So much for the higher functions of my cerebral cortex. They nosedive into a worse mess than the small, irritating one in the kitchen.

I should go back to bed! I need a do-over.

I don’t get angry often and when I do, it’s a quiet, internalized “mad.” I’m not the confronting, haranguing type. Maybe I should be.

I go outside. In my PJs. Pace the concrete sidewalk. Complain a while, then pull in breaths of the cool morning air and pray.

It helps, but when I go inside and settle into a devotional time, the Lord opens His Word. I pray and open my Bible at random (but in this Hand-in-hand walk we’re on, there’s no such thing as “random”). It falls open to Jonah, chapter four, verse four.

My eyes land on this “Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Jonah’s answer was to go make himself a shelter, sit in its shade, and watch to see what would happen to the city. My answer is to ask, Why shouldn’t I be? But He makes me think.

To shorten Jonah’s story, the great city of Nineveh had devolved into a wickedness that the Lord could no longer tolerate. As His prophet, Jonah was to go and warn that city to repent, or be thrown down. And Jonah didn’t want to obey—he ran.

Jonah ended up having a whale of an adventure, literally, and doing exactly what the Lord told him to do. But when the people of Nineveh ended up being sorry and humbled themselves, God saw and relented. Jonah was not happy and wanted the city punished . . . which was why he was angry. Plus, he was probably tired, a little chewed up from being in a whale belly and all. Not to mention being worn out since it took him three days to walk through the huge city with the warnings. This time Jonah sat under a shady plant that the Lord provided.

So, I’m a little like Jonah sitting under the shade-giving plant that dies, only I pace the sidewalk and grumble, a lot.

There are many more comparisons and angles in Jonah’s story. We all have different levels of how we express anger and how we deal with it.

I’m reminded of my relationship not only with God, but to God.

In Genesis 1:26a it’s written “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”

We’re all fearfully and wonderfully made . . . in God’s image, according to His likeness.

Yes, things anger me—but like Him, I can be slow to anger, allow for compassion, give myself time to think, and try not to “sweat the small stuff” as my brother likes to say.

God created Jonah with the capacity for compassion for the plant that shaded Jonah. God created us with the same capacity.

The Lord had compassion for Nineveh. He knows every detail of my “mess,” and I can use some compassion and love and understanding. With the Lord’s help, I can talk with the mess-perpetrator again. Maybe things will change . . . or maybe I’ll just get better about not sweating the small stuff.

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” James 1:19 NKJV

How do you handle your anger?

Love,

Sally

Amazon Author Page for The Stonekeepers

 

Our Creator Sets Limits

It’s an honor to have Pat Luffman Rowland guest-posting this week. I’ve long been a fan of Pat’s writing, and you may have seen the link to her blog, Prayerful Pondering, in the sidebar. Many of her posts have caught my attention and imagination, but this is one post that I asked if she would share with us. It’s brief, but powerful, and it sets in place a parallel to our lives.

Pat writes:

Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt”? Job 38:8-11 (NIV)

The ocean is my favorite part of nature. I love to watch the rhythmic movement of the waves, hear the sound of them rolling into shore or crashing on rocks.

The waters have a vastness that seems wild and free, yet it is restrained by God’s command, the boundaries He set.

How can I trust that God’s boundaries for the ocean will hold?

How can I walk by the edge of the water, and not be afraid that a boundary will give way and I will be swallowed up?

It is by faith in the One who created the seas and determined how deep and wide they would be, by faith in the One who spoke that they might come so far and no farther.

Such is how we must trust God with the problems and perils of our lives. Sometimes it seems trials go on forever, pile one upon another. We begin to ask if God has forgotten us when relief is slow to come.

It helps to think of the ocean and how God has it in control. Just as He limits the oceans’ reach, He limits how much His children go through. We don’t always understand our tribulations, but God has said He uses all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

We must place our trust in that word from God. We must trust that the same One who created the boundaries for the seas, created limits for how much happens to us. We must trust that all will have its place in forming us for eternal life.

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The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:27 (NIV)

A little about Pat.

Pat Luffman Rowland1Pat Luffman Rowland doesn’t recall a time she didn’t believe in God or know that Jesus was His Son and our Savior, but she made her profession of faith and was baptized at age twelve. She will never forget the experience of understanding she belonged to the Lord! The sun became ten times brighter and it was as if she could hear angels sing—a supremely joyful moment.

Pat has an undergraduate degree in Healthcare Consumer Relations, a master’s in Religious Studies, and worked for twenty-seven years in healthcare. She’s retired and lives in a suburb of Memphis with her two cats. Her daughter, Kristi, and son-in-law, Mark, reside in Georgia and are the delights of her heart.

Pat is active in her church, First Assembly of Memphis, and the church school, First Assembly Christian School. A writer, in addition to her blog, Prayerful Pondering, her work has appeared in devotional publications including The Upper Room, United Methodist Reporter, and Presbyterian Daily.

♥       ♥

Sally’s note~  Thank you, Pat, for sharing your blog post with us. I’m thrilled to have you as a guest and hope you will bless us with your wisdom again soon.

Have you sometimes felt slammed by wave after wave of things happening that just don’t seem to quit? You felt your prayers weren’t heard, that you wouldn’t survive? And just as you were about to “go under,” by faith, you prayed once more and dug in your heels.

And now, in retrospect, something changed, things eased and were somehow resolved.

Did the Lord perhaps impose limits, boundaries for you?

We are beloved. The Lord walks with us through it all.

Are you a survivor, thankful for His gracious limitations?

Pat and I would love for you to leave a comment on how God has set limits in your life.

Blessings!

Sally

Sleepless in Shushan

Have you ever had a night when you just couldn’t sleep

because those little night gremlins

wormed their way into your head

and began gnawing on the edges of your mind?

Once in a while, night can become Satan’s playground. We may be unable to fall asleep or may be awakened out of a sound sleep, ripped away from resting and thrust into groundless fear that forgets faith for a frightening moment. But if we know and love the Lord, it’s only for a moment.

“The mind is a beautiful thing,” they say. But what if it refuses to settle down and sleep?

What if your lovely gray matter decides to take the night off?

What if it says, “Nope, we’re going to think about every little detail of the day and take over the night, whether the rest of you likes it or not?”

Now, right here, is the perfect spot to give you a magical list of six great ways to solve sleeplessness.

Really? Are there any?

Sure, there are ways to help, like count sheep, deep breaths, recite scripture, think lovely thoughts, sip warm milk, or just give up and get up. You know them all and have probably tried them all.

But, once in a while, there may be a good reason why you’re wakeful.

 In the Bible, in the Book of Esther, King Ahasuerus was sleepless in Shushan the citadel.

“That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king” (Esther 6:1).

Queen Esther’s husband, King Ahasuerus was troubled with his wakefulness and called for someone to read him boring records so he’d fall asleep. But there were reasons for the king’s inability to sleep.

Good, sound reasons.

If the king had slept, he’d have missed what was written in those chronicles that ended up being instrumental in saving Queen Esther and her people from certain death.

God is in the details of why the King couldn’t sleep.

Could He be in the details of why we sometimes can’t sleep or wake up unexpectedly? Can that happen to us?

The king couldn’t get to sleep. But what about when you’re awakened from a deep sleep with a sense that something’s not right.

You get up and go directly to your child’s bedside–and discover a fever that needs your immediate attention. Or there’s an uneasiness, you can’t seem to go to sleep, and you rise. You’re drawn to turn on the TV and find there’s an overwhelming need for prayer. On the west coast, a gunman is holding many hostage—terrified people. And you’re certain they’re praying. They need prayer. And you pray.

Or what about the time you really wanted to watch the blood moon lunar eclipse but were just too bone weary from a difficult day. You tumble into bed and forget to set the alarm.

Then suddenly you’re wide awake. You glance at the blue digits on the clock. Three-thirty-two.

Did You do that, Lord?

And instantly, your bare feet are on the floor taking you to the front porch to feel the world move beneath you.

You stand in awe of the wake-up call and the sight of earth-shadow inching across the rugged face of the moon, the power and glory and mastery of God. An eclipse you would otherwise have slept right through.

But you know. You’ve been there too.

We love and serve an awesome God. There is nothing He cannot do. That includes the dearness of waking His child, whose little one needs her or whom He knows will pray for others or who has the desire to enjoy His creation, right on time.

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2 NKJV).

“Keep sound wisdom and discretion so . . . when you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:21, 24 NKJV).

Saint Teresa of Avila has the last word this week. I love this quote. Savor its depth and insight.

“God gave us faculties for our use; each of them will receive its proper reward. Then do not let us try to charm them to sleep, but permit them to do their work until divinely called to something higher.” Saint Teresa of Avila

Love,

Sally

Simplicity

Sometimes it’s the little things. So simple, so subtle—and we miss them.

Jesus holds me safe and close as I speak through Him, directly to my God, my Creator, asking and believing.

The Son of God, Jesus, said these things about what would begin to happen on the day he was resurrected and left to go to his Father—

“In that day you will ask Me nothing.

Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

Until now you have asked nothing in My name.

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you;

for the Father Himself loves you,

because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father” (John 16:23-24, 26-28 NKJV).

So my heart remembers when I pray . . .
. . . that my prayer is to my Heavenly Father, God.
I speak to Him, believing, asking for whatever my needs are,
and asking in the name of Jesus,
knowing God will give me what I need.

And my joy is full.

A note written by the photographer about this wonderful photo that I found under the category of Joy.

Tim Shields calls his photo: Praise God

He writes: “This is the world famous sand dunes of Death Valley. And this is my 12-year-old daughter jumping with all the joy of life that she has within her. It was 6:45 AM and we had just watched the sun rise over the sand dunes. It was a magical moment to appreciate God’s creation together.”

Praying for your joy to be as effervescent as Tim’s daughter’s was that beautiful morning.

Walk in Beauty

Oh Great Spirit, whose breath gives life to the world, and whose voice is heard in the soft breeze; we need your strength and wisdom.

Cause us to walk in beauty.

Give us eyes ever to behold the red and purple sunset.Make us wise so that we may understand what you have taught us.

Help us learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.Make us always ready to come to you with clean hands and steady eyes,

so when life fades, like the fading sunset, our spirits may come to you without shame.

Amen

A traditional Native American prayer, and my heart so easily turns to God as I repeat it. I found it in the back of an old hymnal a long time ago, and the words never fail to impart a sense of peace, serenity, and oneness with our Heavenly Father.

“Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation; the fear of the Lord is His treasure” (Isaiah 33:6 NKJV).

“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:17 NKJV)

Do you have any unusual prayers or blessings you enjoy? I’d love it if you’d share one in the comments.

With clean hands and steady eyes, may the Lord cause you to walk in beauty, strength, wisdom, and understanding with Him, every day.

Circles, Rings, and Valentine Things

Whom do you love?

“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. …”

Proverbs 31:10-31

“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her,
and likewise also the wife to her husband.”

1 Corinthians 7:3

Whom do you love?

“A friend loves at all times . . .” Proverbs 17:17a

“He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him in!”

 “Outwitted” ― Edwin Markham

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another;
as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

John 13:34

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

1 John 4:8

♥ ♥ ♥

Who is it that loves you?

It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.”

Isaiah 40:22

He who sits above the circle of the earth loved you first.

From before you were born, God loved you and he promises never to leave you nor forsake you.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
This is the first commandment.”
Mark 12:30

 “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
2 Corinthians 13:12

God gave us all His love in the person of his only Son, Jesus.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Are you doing something special for someone you love on Valentine’s Day?

It’s a good day to remind your friends you care!

Have a great week.

Love you!

Sally

All scripture is New King James Version

Count the Stars

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
—think about such things”
(Philippians 4:8 NIV). Paul of TarsusAngelic guardian of Time

Thinking about things excellent and praiseworthy:

“In the beginning . . .”
When our time began . . .
God divided the light and dark to carve out day and night—the framework of our time.
“So the evening and the morning were the first day.” Genesis 1:5
And we began to count.
God’s first arithmetic challenge for mankind.

“Count the stars if you are able to number them.” Genesis 15:5
The amazing and beautiful image above is by my friend, Mike Sherick from the IMSM Observatory, Mayhill, New Mexico.

Click on the image to enlarge and enjoy it and to read the inscription. Click your back button to return to this page.

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” ~Marcus Aurelius

I’m thinking a lot about time, counting the years as they glide by in quickening succession. Right up there in the mind-boggling realm of counting the stars, is knowing God listens and answers our prayers with infinite love, fulfilling His eternal promises.

Let the Lord be your Anchor as you think about the wonder of Time and Prayer.
In the chapter “Time and Beyond Time” in his book, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis’s writes:

“Almost certainly, God is not in Time. His life does not consist of moments following one another.”
“Ten-thirty—and every other moment from the beginning of the world—is always the Present for Him.”

A saying from the Blackfoot Nation makes me think, “whatever is pure, whatever is lovely.”

“What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”


And the truths that Jesus spoke, “whatever is true, whatever is excellent”

“Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.” Luke 12:23
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“Ah, Lord God! Behold,
You have made the heavens and the earth
by Your great power and outstretched arm.
There is nothing too hard for You.
Jeremiah 32:17

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven”
Ecclesiastes 3:1


Does what you think about help shape the story of your life?

What are your thoughts on Time or God’s attentiveness to our every prayer?

You are so loved by God. May the Lord lift you up and bless your thoughts today and every day.

Love,

Sally