Friday, February 27, 2009

Raining and Raining

"The quality of mercy is not strained; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."

-William Shakespeare

I woke to the sound of rain dancing on my windows this morning. As much as I am longing for the warmth and beauty of spring, I couldn't help enjoying the comforting sound of the light sprinkle. I thought about the goodness of God, how His mercy endures forever, that each drought in our lives is followed by a season of renewal and refreshing.

When I'm walking through a dry season, I have to remind myself of God's everlasting promises. I must challenge myself to find hope in His word and trust His voice. Christ said, "I will never leave you or forsake you," and His word is true.

Perhaps it is sunny and warm where you are today. Perhaps you are experiencing signs of spring. Perhaps your weather is stormy or cold. Wherever you are and whatever your surroundings may be, remember that God loves you with an everlasting love and that His eyes are never removed from you one moment. Any dry season or any rainy day will be followed with a bright season of joy and gladness.

Trust in God's love. Place your confidence in His providence. He will not fail you. Have a blessed and hope-filled weekend!

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."

Psalm 136:1

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quiet Places

"Let us have a quiet hour . . ."

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Stillness. Solitude. The whisper of the early morning light or the beckoning of the late hour of the evening. It's just nice to find a special time and a simple, solemn spot where we can escape the hectic pace of our day. It's a place to unwind, to find inspiration, and to spend some time with God, to meditate, pray, or search our hearts and minds.

We all need a special time and a special place to be alone and gather our thoughts. I've managed to carve out a few areas in my home where I can find that spot of solitude. Sometimes it's a corner chair in our family room, a little nook in our bedroom, or the breakfast table in our kitchen. The importance lies not in the place, but in the comfort and the refreshment of a few moments well-spent.

Often, I curl up on my sofa and read my Bible. Sometimes, I sit in a chair by the fire and read, and I have been known to sit at my kitchen table and write. Whatever I do, I find comfort in God's word, in hearing His voice; or, I find relaxation with some poetry, a magazine, or a novel. The quiet time leaves me rested. It gives me moorings to live my life. It's a blessing that creates a sure foundation. I have learned a lot about myself and gained much spiritually by taking some time for God and finding some moments for solitude.

I want to inspire you today to create a spot of solitude, a place where you can find blessed, simple moments for yourself and your Creator. It's not only a gift for yourself, but also it's a sacrifice to God and a gift for everyone you love.

Here are a few examples of quiet places . . .

What a beautiful room! Picture is from Waverly Inspirations

Truly a woman's hideaway - from Victoria magazine, January 1998

A simple spot in a bedroom - from House Beautiful Slipcovers

A nice nook for reading - Picture is from Victoria Romantic Window Style

I can't wait for spring! Picture is from Cottage Retreats

Please feel free to share comments! God bless!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Morning Musings

When I was teaching, Monday was not my favorite day of the week. It always reminded me of the seemingly never-ending toil of routine. It was only after I left my career that I came to appreciate the ordinary. Having time to reflect on life, I began to consider the importance of small things, those little details and bits of precious time that mean so much to others around us...and to God.

I went my local library and checked out the Christian classic, The Practice of the Presence of God. Written by Brother Lawrence, a monk in the 17th century, he powerfully reveals the simplicity of his life and the joy that is possible in the ordinary.

Assigned to the kitchen in his monastery, he developed a phenomenal walk with God. He humbly fulfilled the drudgery of his responsibilities, and often worked on the sandals for the others in the monastery. Brother Lawrence lived for God in everything, and in everything, he saw God. He said that it isn't " 'needful that we should have great things to do. . . We can do little things for God.' " And so he spent his life, a meek, broken man, pursuing one thing, a life that pleased his creator.

Most of us do have the opportunity to devote our time so fully to God as Brother Lawrence. We're wives, mothers, grandmothers; we have careers, homes to care for. Dirty diapers need changing, shopping and laundry must be done, along with gardening, cooking, a host of other chores. But if we will choose to find God in our simple, daily tasks, we will have great joy and find deep peace.

Though a quiet, unpretentious man, Brother Lawrence was a mighty example to those around him. Many looked to him for prayer and counsel. And as many are looking to us today, let's be an example of faith and carry a torch for our Lord that nothing can extinguish. Let's be inspired to live lives that find Him in every corner of our world and discover the awesome power we can have in everyday life.

"Give God the praise for any well spent day."

- Susanna Wesley

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Cottage of Content

"Miss Mills replied, on general principles, that the Cottage of content was better than the Palace of cold splendour, and that where love was, all was."

---from David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens

What image comes to mind with the word "home"? The gathering of family? The warmth of a cozy fire? Comfort food? Old fashioned memories? In these times, perhaps you think of the stress of a mortgage, or the difficulty in maintaining and beautifying what you have.

The more I hear about the housing crisis in our country, the more I think about the real meaning of home. So many people are suffering. So many are on the verge of losing their homes or sadly have experienced the pain of foreclosure.

For those who are in agony today, wondering what they are going to do about a home, we need to pray and ask the Lord to strengthen each one and meet their needs. After all, home is more than a house. Home means security and comfort. It is about love and family. It is about a dream of ownership and caregiving, of passing down a legacy to our children and grandchildren.

One of my favorite scriptures comes from the book of Jeremiah. It says, " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future' " (29:11). God has placed in all of our hearts a desire for a resting place, a home of our own, where we can be ourselves, rest, and be loved for who we are.

I pray for God's blessings on all today. I want to be less focused on materialism and more focused on having joy and thankfulness with what I have, my own cottage of content.

My own humble abode. It looks pretty shabby in this picture. It was taken before we got our new roof and added a little landscaping. Here are some more possible "cottages of content":

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Saying Grace and "Grace"

I love this picture. I used to have one like it hanging up in my house. It has always reminded me of childlike faith. When I was growing up, saying grace was always part of our family meals. In our hectic lifestyles today, saying grace can seem cumbersome and unnecessary. Sometimes the blessing seems a mere thoughtless, repetitive whisper, hurriedly spoken over a meal.

Recently, Jeff and I thought our blessings had become so routine that their sincerity was lacking. So, we began to take special care and give more attention to our mealtime prayers, making sure our hearts were truly thankful.

The idea of saying thoughtful grace made me think about "grace," the word itself. It's a beautiful word, one of the most meaningful in any language. The Greek word for grace, charis, means something that gives delight, goodwill, and favor. It also means God's unmerited favor. Something we can't earn. Something we don't deserve. The free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Amazing Grace!

We can give grace to others. We do so when we show them the truth and when we forgive them, even when we're hurting. We show grace to others when we refuse to return evil for harm they've caused us and when we have courage in difficult circumstances. Grace is like a beautiful swan on water. Moving, yet unmoved by the ripples around it.

In a culture that emphasizes temporal, outward beauty, it's not always popular to strive for an inner quality such as grace. But grace is lasting. It doesn't fade with time. It doesn't require botox or color or lipo. Women of grace have lasting beauty that nothing can destroy. Physical beauty is a blessing, but physicality is a trap that time springs. My hope and prayer is to be a woman of grace, doing my best to be as attractive as I can be outwardly, but more importantly, striving for inner beauty through God's gift of grace.

A few women of grace. . .

Corrie Ten Boom

Ruth Bell Graham

Catherine Marshall

Mother Teresa

My Mom (with my grandson, Caleb)

Please feel free to share your thoughts about grace and add to this list of women of grace.