Thursday, December 27, 2012

Old Chorus Revisited

Psalm 63:3-4 KJV Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
Year ago, in Women's Aglow, we used to sing this Psalm. I had not thought of it in a long time until I read the Olive Tree 30 Day devotional this morning. They quoted Matthew Henry's writing:
Praise with Joyful Lips
Topic: Joy, Praise
Psalm 63: 3- 6
"Even in suffering, we do not lack material for praise. A believer with this frame of mind values the loving- kindness of God more than life. God's loving- kindness is our spiritual life, and that is better than temporal life. We must praise God with joyful lips; we must carry out our Christian duties with cheerfulness, and spread the praises of God from a principle of holy joy. Praising lips must be joyful lips.
David was in continual danger; care and fear kept his eyes wide open and gave him wearisome nights, but he comforted himself with thoughts of God. The mercies of God, when called to mind in the night, support the soul, making darkness cheerful."
In this winter season of longer nights and less sunshine I pray you will find abundant reasons to praise our Creator. He is our life and His loving-kindness surpasses our understanding.
May you be blessed with a increased awareness of His presence.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

New To me Devotional

I downloaded this from Olive Tree yesterday. Hope it blesses you!
Adapted from A Plain Account of Christian Perfection by John Wesley
Day 24 – Prayer Unceasing
Topic: Prayer, Loving God
1 Thessalonians 5: 16- 19
Our Lord takes it for granted that His people will pray. And indeed in Scripture, generally the outward obligation of prayer is implied rather than asserted. Moved by a divinely- implanted instinct, our natures cry out for God, for the living God. And however this instinct may be crushed by sin, it awakes to power in the consciousness of redemption. Theologians of all schools, and Christians of every type, agree in their recognition of this principle of the new life.
Chrysostom has said, “The just man does not desist from praying until he ceases to be just;” and Augustine, “He that loves little prays little, and he that loves much prays much;” and Richard Hooker, “Prayer is the first thing with which a righteous life begins, and the last with which it ends;” and Père la Combe, “He who has a pure heart will never cease to pray, and he who will be constant in prayer shall know what it is to have a pure heart;” and Bunyan, “If you are not a praying person, you are not a Christian;” and Richard Baxter, “Prayer is the breath of the new creature;” and George Herbert, “Prayer…the soul’s blood.”
Adapted from The Hidden Life of Prayer by David MacIntyre

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Need a lift?

Oops! This post never made it on my blog! Well, one weekend in October at Southeast Church in Louisville I got to hear Simon Mbevi give a talk similar to this one! Take the time and learn a fresh approach to prayer! Well worth the listen! Sure hope you enjoy this!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

National Election and the Day After

I find the exhaustion from working the election to be like none other. Not only is it a long day, 5:15 AM up and getting ready to 8:15 PM finally home again, but I spend the day mostly with strangers seated at a table where we greet other strangers all day long, trying to follow rules set by the State and misunderstood by the people ... besides waiting to see who the next elected officials will be. For an introvert this is hard work indeed! And this year I was the most experienced person at the table and that too was stressful!

I usually plan nothing the day after an election and this year is no exception! This morning I found Amy Carmichael's devotional so on target that I just had to share her thoughts with you!

Psalm 68:9 KJV Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary.
Amy Carmichael: "O God, Thou wilt grant to Thine inheritance a gracious rain; for it was weary, but Thou didst refresh it. "
"After prayer of the kind that is a real traffic with Heaven, we may be tired, there may be a dryness like the dryness of the burnt- up earth before rain. Here are words which we may turn into a prayer: O God, send a plentiful rain; confirm Thine inheritance, for it is weary; refresh it. Do we ever bring His own words to Him and find that He turns away? Never.

"Sometimes the dryness is different. It is not the natural dryness after effort which has achieved, it is the tiredness of failure. "I could not get there" who does not know the baffled feeling that is the worst sort of weariness after distracted prayer? Even so, there is the plentiful rain, the gracious rain; rain not for the deserving, but just for the needy. Thank God for His Book of books. Is there a need it cannot meet, a dryness it cannot refresh? Not one. Come unto Me, and I will refresh you. MT 11:28 "In a place of green grass, there He has made me dwell." PS 23:2

Even so, Lord, refresh Your people and our land.

Friday, October 26, 2012

What does your punkin look like?

Here are two from our neighbors!
Sometimes we think the only really blue skies are in New Mexico. Now granted, they have better "big sky" than we do, but this was one lovely day.
In a few days all of the leaves except a few oaks will be on the ground. The autumn rains will begin and Bob's new daffodil bulbs will get a good soaking. Hopefully it won't be too very cold or wet for Trick or Treating.
Until then, enjoy the season!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Autumn rolls on ...

and yet it feels like spring or summer! Here are the latest pics.
The scatter of autumn!
The backyard GLOWS.
Pyracantha burns.
The tree across the street glows too and calls me out from the living room.
The roses bloom on along with the mums ...
Hope your autumn is as warm and happy as ours has been!
Praise The Lord in every season. All of the earth sings of His glory.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Autumn in Ohio

I have been taking a sequence of photos to try and capture the color panorama in our back yard. Also as the leaves depart notice that the path on the hillside comes into the clear. The trees were so dramatically different when we returned form California last weekend! There is also a short video of our winds from last Sunday.
I hope you enjoy our maple trees as much as I do!
Sept. 10

Sept. 17

Sept. 25
 Oct. 3

 Oct. 17

A short video of the wind, trees and wind chime.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

His Word and Gratitude

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts and to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." COL 3:16
When we come together to worship do we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, or are we more likely to approach our church gathered time in carnal ways? In my flesh I am prone to judge your clothing, pick at your behaviors, and generally 'flesh out.' Paul teaches us in his letter to the Colossians that we are to come together filled with the word of Christ, ready to teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and I might add, in and with all love. When my heart is full of gratitude to God I am less likely to even notice what you are wearing or how you appear. When I stay conscious that I am to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus my tongue is bridled and my heart is closer to Him and to you.
Next time you are getting ready to meet with your church family try to come prepared with His word and your gratitude. It makes a heaven-like difference.
Father, help us to come to Your house prepared the way You teach us through Your word. Set us free from the many carnal strongholds we entertain. Show us how to love You as Jesus loves You. Amen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cincinnati Zoo News!

Remember September 27th of this year when I wrote and about the Manatee or "Sea Cow" and the microscopic Tardigrade? Well, the Manatee was in the news today in Cincinnati! Here is a link to the article. I hope you will copy and paste the link to read about our 630 pound plumped up guy!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Santa Barbara Dolphins

When we visited Santa Barbara we did not see any dolphins in the water. Of course, we also did not go out  in a boat! But we did find this statue at the entrance to the Wharf where State Street begins. It was a lovely day for a stroll on the wharf. There is a science museum there. On my stroll back to land I noticed something being lowered from the science building, into the water, then pulled up holding a piece of kelp. I had forgottten it was a museum for a moment and thought, "What? Kelp for dinner?" Then I realized they were probably showing the children what was in the water below. It was an amusing moment. I also saw a seal pop up his head in the area near the wharf. By the time I got my camera out, it was gone.
We had a lovely time there, but there really is no place like home!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

John 14:1

John 14:1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me."
Trust, oh the "T" word! Trust can be hard to come by if you have had your trust violated repeatedly during your earthly life. If the trust was violated by your mother, or father, or siblings then it can be really difficult to trust God. He is willing to help us in our weaknesses. But we have to let Him.
At the same time, trust in God can sometimes be much easier than trust in people. I believe that is where the gift of faith is most often granted. I have known women who were violated in many areas of trust as very young children. In their adult years they came to trust God even though trust had virtually been eliminated from their vocabulary. Life dealt them many blows both physically, emotionally, and mentally. Trust in God became their avenue of life and that more abundantly. Even in the midst of their growing trust in God they are responsbile not to let their hearts be troubled.
If we are constantly looking back over our shoulders at all the awful things that have happened to us in life, we will have less strength for the current journey. Before Christ tells us to trust in God and in Himself, He instructs us to take command over our own heart. "Let not your heart be troubled." When a child comes to an adult and is troubled, the loving adult generally listens to the child, comforts the child and tries to point the child to the bigger perspective, or the immediate presence of our God and Father for comfort. We must be willing to do the same with ourselves. Jesus said I must not let me heart be troubled. When troubling thoughts come my way, I listen for a bit, I instruct myself to take comfort in His arms, and I try to look beyond theimmediate moment to the 'bigger picture.'
In my original booklet I had a picture of a lacy heart here. Inside is written: "My heart is my territory of responsibility. Regardless of my past or present circumstances, Jesus commanded me not to let my heart be troubled."
Lord, help me to keep my heart from being troubled. And when my heart is troubled, let me run to You for reassuance and a fresh reminder that I can trust You for every area of my being. Amen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Breeze and Shadow as Art

While eating lunch at The Cask, I noticed this living art on the wall. The white wall was already lovely with wrought iron light fixture and sculpture. Then the breeze began to toss the tree inside the courtyard, plus the palm tree outside the courtyard and the fun began! The small fish pond next to me gurgled loudly on my left. The family chatted on my right and in front of me, but the wall keep calling my attention. After lunch there was a lovely surprise in the living art tree!
I hope you enjoy this under 2 minute video of the event! Watch for the hummingbird at the end!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Our Hummer

Every summer we make sugar water to feed the hummingbirds. They are so much fun! If the feeder is empty they will dive and chirp to let us know they want that free meal NOW. If we sit on the front porch eating cereal they hover in the air and look us over, deciding if it is safe to breakfast with us. Bob got some incredible photos this summer. I thought you would enjoy seeing them. The birds have left now for their flight to I don't know where.

National Parks magazine, Fall 2012, has an article about "The Secret Lives of Hummingbirds." There is a Hummingbird Monitoring Network which has trained park staff and volunteers how to handle the fragile creatures. Did you know there is a standard banding protocol?  Mesa Verde, Bryce Canyon and Bandelier all conduct research with the Hummingbird Monitoring Network. At Mesa Verde some banded birds have returned five years in a row! "They volunteers set up monitoring sites that trap, band and release hummingbirds from March to October. Every two weeks a team arrives at dawn to begin its count. Some volunteers trap the birds while others identify the species, record fat levels and other indicators of overall health, note whether the bird carries an egg, and attach the tiny tracking band." To trap the birds the feeder has a net affixed to the top, and "when a tiny aerialist lands on the perch, the woman standing nearby pulls a drawcord and -poof!- the bird is trapped within a soft, meshy balloon." Mind you, handling these tiny birds is a challenge. Their legs seem to me to to be tinier than toothpicks!

The website has many facts. Here are a few I found most interesting.

Hummingbirds can flash their bright colors, as well as hide them when needed.
A hummingbird can weigh anywhere between 2 and 20 grams. A penny weighs 2.5 grams. A baby hummingbird is generally smaller than a penny. Females will lay a clutch of two eggs. Baby hummingbirds cannot fly. They remain in the nest for three weeks.
Most hummingbirds die in the first year of life. The average life span is about five years, though they can live for more than ten years! 
Hummingbirds can hear better and see farther than humans. They are the only birds that can fly both forwards and backwards. Hummingbirds can also hover in mid-air, fly sideways, and even upside-down! They can average 20-30 miles per hour, with an ability to dive at 60 miles-per-hour. They can barely walk and always prefer to fly.

So here is our hummer, resting on a metal sculpture between his many sips of nectar.
I could not wait for the summer medical stuff to end, but I am sorry to see the hummers go!

Friday, October 5, 2012

LET Love Be Genuine

The New Revised Standard version of Romans 12:9-10 reads, "Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor."

Genuine love infects every act with reverence, from raking a yard to clearing a table. Often we block the flow of our genuine love in an attempt to control and condition others. Love is the greatest gift we have to share and when we hinder its flow part of our life goes stagnant. Allow the genuine love from God which is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) to flow out from his river of living water within you. Then be willing to reach out to those around you as Jesus would.
I knew a man who believed and lived this verse. We had great fun literally trying to outdo one another in showing honor. I have forgotten his name these many years later, but his genuine love and the glow in his smile live on in my memory.

Genuine love. Once you experience that, the other kinds of love just don't measure up. Let your love be genuine - and that will lead you to naturally hate what is evil and cling to what is good.

Father, give us the courage to take the risk to let our love be genuine. You have poured out Your genuine love upon us. Help us to share from Your bounty. Amen.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Let Your Light Shine

In Matthew 5 verses 14-16 Jesus says: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

I wonder if you know that Brownie/Girl Scout song?
"I've got something in my pocket
It belongs across my face,
I keep it very close at hand,
In a most convenient place."
 I changed the next part a little:
"I bet you wouldn't guess it
If you guessed a long, long while
So I'll take it out and put it on,
It's my secret life with God."
Most of us are best at showing who Jesus is in us when we are unconscious He is showing. As God transforms us into the image of His character, people see. Some wonder why you look, act, or seem different. We can clear up their wondering by giving praise and glory to our Lord, giving credit to Him for our SELF being changed. As they watch and learn that the power within us is also beyond us, and available to them, they to will learn to praise our Father in heaven.

Jesus, give me courage to LET Your light shine through me. Help me not to hide Your light within me as some great cosmic secret. Shine forth! And bring glory to Your name. AMEN.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Not A Fan Week #2

We are doing the study "Not A Fan" in our church crosswalk group. This is part of my contribution for this evening.
In the journal section I wrote:
"I am willing to let You lead me regarding these uncomfortable feelings. I do not know how best to proceed. Help me rest in You and find my fulfillment in knowing You, Lord.

"Living surrendered to Jesus is like not having to take responsibility for all the outcomes.
There is a freedom that comes with being a slave."

Sometimes the Journal brings up uncomfortable things that the Lord would like to change. He showed me an area where I have the propensity to sin.

Propensity: tendency, leaning, inclination, bent, liability, bias, disposition, pension, susceptibility, predisposition, proclivity, proneness, aptness 

As I prayed about this area, He began to show me how He has repeatedly asked me to do things His way, shown me the need to change, and exhibited my behavior to me in the least destructive, yet clearest way. The question came up last week about what Jesus means about giving up everything and dying to self. I noticed that from my journal experience I can share that dying to self can be refusal to follow what we have always done, our habitual response. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, strength can be choosing His ways over our own, His thoughts as better than our own. From Ignatian Spirituality models we learn to say and to pray: "I want and I choose what better leads to God's deepening life in me."

These verses help me focus on this topic:
Mt 22:37. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

Matthew 6:31-34 "So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Jeremiah 6:16 This is what the Lord says:“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ 

Isaiah 55:6-8 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 

Micah 7:18-19 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Always His way is scattered with instruction, directions, forgiveness, another chance to get it right. As I seek to love the Lord my God with all my might, I am not disappointed, but continually cared for, led, showered with compassion and pardon.
May your days be filled with his presence and grace.