Listen!

“Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways.” Proverbs 8:32

Years ago I used to  love the times of solitude while riding my chestnut mare, Cindy, through the nearby desert. They were wonderful times to enjoy silence and sunshine, to relax and think.

Most times, the rides were uneventful. But there was one day as I slowed Cindy’s spirited gallop to descend the sandy slope of a dune, that she suddenly stopped.

She stood perfectly still, her ears poised to catch every sound. No amount of coaxing encouraged her to move.

I was impatient with Cindy’s apparent stubbornness.

I didn’t hear the sound she was hearing.

I didn’t sense the rock-hardness of her tensed muscles beneath me.

Leaning forward, I was ready to scold her. But the sight before me took my breath instead. I finally understood.

There before us, coiled and ready to strike, was the reason Cindy was not moving. I finally heard the distinctive, dry warning sounds of a desert rattlesnake.

My ears were opened and my senses set on fire with understanding. Prayers of thankfulness flooded my heart.

I felt God’s protective presence that day as we remained quiet and the danger left its undulating pattern across the sandy dune and out of sight.

I was reminded then as I am today of how vitally important it is to be aware of how God chooses to speak to us.

He speaks to us in countless ways, but sometimes to hear His warnings or guidance we must be still and listen, and we’re wise to listen with patience.

The choices we make, our well-being, and occasionally our safety can depend upon how well we listen.

“A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’” Luke 9:35 NIV

I am a whisper in time. Down through the corridor of the ages my whisper echoes with feathery sweeps into the age to come.  An excerpt from my journal.

Has there been a time when you’ve listened and avoided danger?

Love,

Sally

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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

 

Feeling Invisible?

“Am I invisible? Am I inaudible? Do I merely festoon the room with my presence?” as Christopher Fry was to ask in The Lady’s Not for Burning.

I love that quote! It flat out made me giggle when I first read it with its reminder of how invisible I feel sometimes. You know—those days when you just want to wave your arms and yell, “I’m right here and I have a name!”

Life holds such a clamor of people and things. We’re pulled in a dozen directions at once. We feel both invisible and inaudible and we wonder . . .

Who sees who I really am? Who truly listens to what I have to say?

Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom. Has your other half ever sauntered into the house much later than he’d said he’d be, and before you can say a word, he says “Man what a day! What’s to eat?” [After the day you’ve had, you barely hold back a slightly snarky “Um, it’s all curled up in the oven waiting for you, sweetie!”]

Or maybe you’ve been bolted to your desk, jammed up against deadlines when your boss pokes his head into your office to deliver a veiled sing-song request, “Copier”s out of paper!” [You grit your teeth against blurting out something a notch less than ladylike!]

Even a doting grandmother, without receiving so much as a welcoming hug, might sometimes hear “Did you bring me a present?” [Ouch! Just maybe I shouldn’t have?]

Ever think, What! Am I a nonentity?

No matter what your circumstances, do you seem to fade into invisibility and feel taken for granted when you live out scenes like those?

And as if all that isn’t enough stress, what about the things that constantly beckon us wherever we are, like ticking timers, buzzers, bells, phones, and chimes, all demanding us to race to them for attention?

Of course, we don’t “merely festoon” our homes or where we work,with our presence. ☺ We’re loved by our family, appreciated by our bosses, colleagues, and co-workers, (no, not all the time) but we catch glimpses.

But when the only warmth and welcome seems to come from a pot full of fresh-perked coffee or the brisk scent of brewing tea or the comforting aroma of hot chocolate, just maybe it’s time to take a break.

So what do you do when you feel invisible?

You can stop, pull in a breath, and turn things around. You can lift something more than a cup of coffee, tea, or chocolate.

Lift up your eyes: Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens” (Psalm 123:1).

Lift up a friend: “For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Lift up your voice: “Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together . . .” (Isaiah 52:8a)

Lift up your soul: “Rejoice the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul” (Psalm 86:4).

Lift up your hands: “Lift up your hands in His Name: Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name” (Psalm 63:4).

 ♥

“They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing; for the majesty of the LORD they shall cry aloud from the sea” (Isaiah 24:14).

And there’s One to whom you are never invisible or inaudible.

Dance! Your heavenly Father adores you!

Allow God to lift you up:
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

“. . . I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

I like this breath prayer too: “More of you, Lord. Less of me.”

And I’m sure you have your own stress relievers. I’d love for you to share some.

Love,

Sally

 All scripture is from New King James Version of the Holy Bible

Wait!

We sit on weathered gray benches of rough-hewn pine worn smooth with use and age. Tiers of them are positioned to view a burbling, boiling cauldron of vaporizing turquoise liquid.

There must be close to a hundred souls here, seated or standing, wrapped in cold, late spring air.

Youth aren’t usually known for the fruit of patience, and the two groups of youth filling most of the benches are no exception. They’re waiting, antsy, talking, laughing, and bantering with each other and their counselors.

Some are from homes far away. We hear many different languages spoken, and faces from cultures different from our own, smile back at us.

A common reason brings us to this place. We want to watch this geyser reach for the sky.

“Does anyone know how long is it supposed to be before it erupts the next time?” I ask those who sit next to me.

There are some shrugs and head-shakes. But an attractive dark-eyed teen rubs her cold hands together, and replies with a grin “I don’t know for sure, but I just heard it should be in about fifteen minutes or so,”

Above us one of the groups blend their voices to sing “Happy Birthday” to an older counselor. We all applaud and wish him well. Next to us another group floods the chilly air with the same song for their friend, Rachel. Rachel covers her face with gloved hands in embarrassment. There’s more well-wishing and applause.

Time drags it’s feet, and another song begins. But this one’s different. “Jesus Loves Me.”

Hmmm, they’re more than just summer campers. And we learn that there are youth groups from churches in many other states around the country.

The songs become a gentle rivalry as one group attempts to outdo the other. They do “the Wave” then sing some more. And most songs bring back memories from my own church camp days. The songs lift up the Lord.

It becomes quiet for a moment. Then the crystal clear music from a single young voice graces the atmosphere with “How Great Thou Art.” Her group immediately joins in.

I can’t stop myself from singing along. Neither can most everyone else, and it becomes a time of worship and awe of God’s handiwork. I sense His arms around us. Jesus is here. This piece of time becomes a witness to those who don’t know Him.

The song ends, and immediately the music of the turquoise pool begins. Amazed at the timing, all of us draw in deep breaths of the icy air, watching as the heated bubbling waters roar upward in a crescendo of silver-white foam soaring skyward in leaping waves, one after another.

The heat permeates the cold air and creates a steamy cloud of vapor. Miniature tidal waves send liquid flooding over the multicolored edges of the crater. Our awe continues as the pool settles into another cycle of quiet.

Are you waiting for something right now?

Waiting for a geyser is one thing, but what about when you’re waiting for test results or for a change in your life or a baby, a new job, or simply peace of heart?

 Sometimes it isn’t easy.

“I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God” (Psalm 69:3).
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:5).

“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).
“Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield” (Psalm 33:20).
“And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You” (Psalm 39:7).

Here’s how God wants us to wait:

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

And check out James 1:6, too.

I’d love for you to leave a comment.

The photo above is of Old Faithful. To see photo of Echinus Geyser erupting click here http://marlimillerphoto.com/Ig-65.html

 All scripture is from the New King James Version of the Bible.

Little Things

Multitasking as a wife and mom, starting a new job, and keeping a household in some semblance of order was a challenge.

There were mornings when I’d end up on my hands and knees, maneuvering in a business suit, wiping up spills when my six-year-old tested the effects of gravity and let his nearly full cup of juice do the Jersey Bounce off the kitchen floor.

Then before I could breathe again, “Mommy, the dog got out!” from my frantic ten-year-old daughter—wearing exactly what I’d said she couldn’t only five minutes ago. You know—the times when you could just grab a pillow and scream into it.

There was always that choice—

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, there was always hope I’d find the dog, deal with the dressing disaster, get them to school on time, and make it to work without wearing some of the juice—

And prayer. There were times I’d be mopping up mess and praying  “And while I am down here, Lord . . .” and the prayers would spill like the juice had, with splashes of complaining, and pleas for help with patience, and wishes for more time and energy to cope.

It helped to come across little things like Klara’s poetic prayer and how Brother Lawrence turned work into worship.

And while I am down here . . .

Lord of all the pots and pans and things
Since I’ve not time to be
A saint by doing lovely things or
Watching late with Thee
Or dreaming in the dawn light or
Storming Heaven’s gates
Make me a saint by getting meals and
Washing up the plates.

Although I must have Martha’s hands,
I have a Mary mind,
And when I black the boots and shoes,
Thy sandals, Lord, I find.
I think of how they trod the earth,
What times I scrub the floor.
Accept this meditation Lord,
I haven’t time for more.

Warm all the kitchen with Thy love,
And light it with Thy peace,
Forgive me all my worrying and make
My grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
In room or by the sea,
Accept this service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.

Poem by Klara Munkres

 

 

 

“We can do little things for God. I turn the cake that is frying on the pan, for love of him; and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king.”
Brother Lawrence, from The Practice of the Presence of God

When have you tugged on the Father’s robe with your most earnest prayers?

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’” (Isaiah 41:13 NKJV).

“Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand” (Psalm 73:23 NKJV).

“The LORD is a shelter right by your side”  (Psalm 121:5b  HCSB).