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I wonder

I wonder if the birds in my backyard know me at all?

I feed the birds regularly during those cold months when they fluff their feathers to hold in body heat and need extra energy to stay warm.  Sometimes the squirrel sneaks in to pick up the leftovers, and I get aggravated at him and shoo him away.

In winter, it is my pleasure to provide extra food for our feathered friends.  Their variety amazes me. The personality traits can be seen in each species. The blue jays are big and bossy, always taking over. The doves are complacent, minding their own business.  The woodpecker checks out hidden places in cracks and crevices the other birds can’t reach. The cardinals come in pairs.  And the little birds – chick-a-dees, wrens, and tufted titmice – they wait their turn and pick up small seeds left behind.  And I wonder if they know I am the provider of the seed and the fresh water on my deck?

Sometimes I call to them, “Come on, birdies.” And I imagine they recognize my voice and are just waiting for my invitation.  But do they really?

If I go outside my door, the birds all scatter.  They appear more afraid than friendly to me.  But why should they be?  I like them.  I enjoy them.  I feed them.

But they don’t know me.  They just like the seed I spread out for them.

How often have I gobbled up all the Father has provided for me without noticing Him?

How much do I take for granted that He will provide?

How quick am I to say thanks?  Do I just run scared if He tries to communicate with me?

I don’t want to hide when God comes near.  I want to know Him.  Because He wants to be known by me.

That in itself is astounding.  The Creator wants the created to know Him. He reveals Himself in so many ways so I can.

His provision is just one of those ways.  His gifts come regularly.  His voice is heard throughout the earth.  He offers grace upon grace for those who will receive.

He calls to me, and sometimes I don’t even notice or pay attention.  How sad that is.

cardinal

The birds in my back yard teach me a lesson.

God loves me.  He takes care of me.  He wants communion with me.

How then shall I respond?

 

 

A light dusting

I was doing some light dusting the other day since I was expecting some company. It seems like most of my cleaning these days is light.  “A lick and a promise,” I used to hear my mother say.  I didn’t really know what it meant then. Now I say it quite often when I do a little of something with the promise I’ll do more later.

While I was lightly dusting the living room, I came to a large piece of furniture Sweet William and I salvaged years ago. It was actually an old record player in its youth, the kind that also stored records and was built into a massive cabinet. None of the works was in it when we bought it, but we could see its potential.  Bill, being the handyman that he is, put in a newer, more modern sound system. We now enjoy music that we can even control with a remote, something the original builder of the cabinet would not have dreamed of.

On the cabinet sits a number of frames holding family pictures.

 

 

There are great black and whites of the three grandchildren some years back.    

 

 

 

 There is a color of Travis and Renee before the children were born, plus another of their family of five when Ethan was still a baby in arms.    

 

 

In a smaller frame is a photograph of my mother and dad taken outside, about a year before Mother died.

Close beside it is the picture of my dad and step-mother, Esther, at their wedding day.

 

 

 

 

Recently, I added a photo of Bill and me, quite a bit younger when his hair was black and mine was what he calls auburn.  

The photos make a nice grouping of my immediate family members.

There are other things mixed in with the pictures that I realize have become very meaningful as I take in the scene as a whole. There is an old kerosene lamp sitting in the back right corner, behind the photographs.

An angel figurine that Renee’ gave me one Christmas graces the center.  

In the forefront is an item I remember being in parent’s home.   It is a small, old, wooden-looking plaque, framed in faux twigs. There is a tiny picture of Jesus on the left, you know the one that used to hang in every small church in the country.  On the plaque are printed words that have worn to a golden patina:

The Eternal GOD is Thy REFUGE.” Deut. 33:27

I pass that grouping quite often through the week, as I turn on the radio or CD player, as I walk to the piano to play a song, or when my piano students come for lessons.  I glance at those pictures of my family, sometimes stopping to examine those dear faces.

I realized this week, during my light dusting, that the display on the old cabinet is a sort of memorial.  The lamp represents the Light that shined on my parents’ pathway first and has permeated the hearts of each one of us in turn. The angel sits as a reminder that guardian angels encamp around those who fear God and have tasted His salvation and found it to be good. And the little plaque says what I know to be true, that yes, the eternal God is our refuge!

That truth has been proven to me for such a long time.  Through the thick and the thin of my days, in good times and bad, when we are healthy and when we are not, in life as well as in death, God has never failed to be the only refuge that remains stable in an unstable world.

I don’t worship there like it’s a shrine or expect that this vignette is somehow holy.  But it seems to be my “Ebenezer.”

The word Ebenezer means “stone of help,” and is explained in  I Samuel 7.  The story goes that the prophet Samuel took a stone and set it up at as a monument, something to remind the Israelites of the victory they had won by the help of their God.  He called the stone “Ebenezer.”

My grouping there on the old record player cabinet is my reminder . . . a visual of how God’s grace has flowed down.  I need to be reminded.  Sometimes I stop there and declare it out loud, “The eternal God IS our refuge.”

Too often my eyes get focused somewhere else.  Problems loom large in my vision.  Feelings overshadow my faith.  All that can block what I know to be true, that God is never far away, that He does hear my prayers, that He speaks peace to my heart and tells me “Do not be afraid.”

When I need a safe place, a strong and sure haven of protection, I can always run to the eternal God, to my Savior and Lord, who has always been, who is now, and forever will be my refuge.

  

I’m not a great photographer, as you can tell.  But I hope you enjoyed the visit in my living room.

Do you have a memorial in your home?

Still the storm passes

I’ve been listening to a lot of weather reports for a number of days now.  The muddy Salt River is high enough for me to see it out my front window.  I hear reports of people evacuating their homes, of flooded basements, of hail damaged roofs.  Tonight I see war-like devastation in the southern states where friends and family live.

And we pray. 

Sweet William and I have prayed a lot lately about the weather, asking for protection and mercy on us and those we love, naming them one by one.

And I wonder what is happening?

Is it the result of global warming?  Is this punishment from God? 

Jesus said it rightly when He warned His disciples, “In this world you shall have tribulation.”  He didn’t say, “Everything will be just great if you follow me.”  Nor did He say, “You’ll be healthy, wealthy, and wise.” 

Life is hard.  We all know it is true.  Listen to the stories people tell.  Even those who smile have a heartbreaking tale to tell.

The rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).  Bad things happen to good people.  We don’t want to believe that and act surprised when it does.  Especially if the bad things are happening to us personally.

During these stormy days and nights I have thought of a favorite Scripture verse in Job 26:14 (CEV).

“These things are merely a whisper of God’s power at work.  How little we would understand if this whisper ever turned into thunder!”

God’s power is unparalleled on this earth.  Man’s discoveries and inventions are no match for His smallest breath.  The forces of nature that were spoken into existence astonish us. 

Power belongs to God, so says Psalm 62:11.  Comforting words follow that verse telling me that mercy belongs to Him also.

I don’t know what is happening.  But what I do know is that God is good as well as powerful.  He is not willing that any should perish.  He loves men and women, boys and girls and wants them to turn to Him in their trouble, to thank Him for His many blessings, to worship Him for who He is. 

He is God.  He is in control.  He is a shelter in our time of storm.

 

What storms are swirling around you?  Leave a comment.

On saving daylight

 

Well, I’m about to get adjusted to the spring-forward time. I have dragged myself out of bed several mornings this week. Even strong hot coffee didn’t seem to make a difference.

Is there anyone besides me who wonders why we pretend to “save time” by changing the clocks?

I found out from RightJuris.com that old Ben Franklin first suggested the idea to add more daylight and save on using candles. The United States began practicing Daylight Saving Time During World War I, and it has come and gone ever since.

The way I see it, there is a set number of daylight hours no matter the time on the clock or how often we set it forward or backward. It messes with my system twice a year by having to adjust to a different bedtime and wake up time.

It seems our culture expects more and more work from already overloaded  individuals. Perhaps it is that we pressure ourselves to produce more, to accomplish more, to excel more.  No time to stop.  Put on another pot of Maxwell House!   Drink some Dew!  How about another energy drink?

Do you remember when the computer was a new invention, and we thought it would give us extreme amounts of leisure? Instead it has simply increased our work loads.

Whatever happened to rest? It is supposed to happen every seven days. At least that is how God planned it.

When God created the world in six days, He “rested” not because He was tired but because He had completed His work.

The Ten Commandments, however, instructed Israel to remember the Sabbath Day, the seventh day of the week, and keep it holy unto God. God knew our tendency to overwork, overdo, and overachieve. In fact, we often act like we are gods who need no rest and can just go forever.  Energizer Bunnies on adrenalin.

I must confess that I used to treat every day as the same with lots to do, working from dawn to dark, so to speak.

I was convicted of that back in 2005. The Lord dealt with me about my need for a “Sabbath rest,” a day to rest and relax, to lay aside the To-Do List, to close the planner and allow my body and mind to refresh.

It was tough at first, like a junkie kicking a habit. But soon I began to plan for my Sunday Sabbath by finishing tasks on Saturday. I closed my Day-Timer on Sunday. I went to church and came home expecting to take a nap. It was absolutely wonderful.

I have to guard my time even now; it would be my tendency to go back to the old way of working until I dropped. That is not healthy for me physically, emotionally or spiritually.

My commitment to keeping Sabbath honors God by acknowledging that He is more than able to keep the world turning without me. It frees me from the load of too much to do and too much to think about. I recognizing that He is the only One who never slumbers or sleeps. He doesn’t need to.

But He knows I do.  Sabbath rest – it is a good thing.

Psalm 121: 3b . . . He that keepeth thee will not slumber.

 4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

 5The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

 

 

What about you?  Do you work too much and rest too little?  Do you keep “Sabbath?”           Please leave a comment.