Monday, April 25, 2016

All Things Green and Colorful

Looking out the window this morning, I see lush, green over the lawn and the pastures and along the horizon as the trees now have lush green color from the leaves. Everything seemed to pop to life after the short rain we had on Thursday evening. The color is so intense, so fresh, so alive! It seems to scream "spring" in a gentle, happy voice.

"And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food. And it was so" (Genesis 1:30 NIV).

The flowering trees seemed to be at their peak this weekend. It was a beautiful drive through Marshalltown yesterday, just admiring all the different shades of pink and the white blooms also. Their colors were made more vibrant against the brilliant shades of green. My hillside of creeping phlox also burst with color this weekend. Patches of purples, pinks, and white now drape the hillside like colorful blankets. While the tulips are just beginning to bloom in the country, they have been showy in towns for several weeks.

I hear reports of morel mushrooms being gathered and even asparagus being ready in some gardens. What delightful morsels God created for us to enjoy! Bursting forth from the ground with little warning or evidence beforehand. Such amazing mysteries of the earth. How tempting it would be to wander through the green pastures and lie down, breathing in the fragrance of the earthly produce all around.

"He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul" (Psalm 23:2-3 NIV).

Take a few moments today to soak in the beauty of spring colors around you and rejoice; for it is good!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Reading The Word

As I have been sorting and packing I realized how my life has been guided by the Bible. And my search for understanding has been molded by many different versions of Bibles. I have explored the Word in versions that matched my stage of life, it appears. When I was young I received a Revised Standard Version Bible when I was baptized so that was what I used throughout most of my youth group and Sunday school days. In high school we were introduced to the Good News for Modern Man, also called Today's English version of the New Testament. It opened my eyes to the Word with its cartoon-like illustrations and language that seemed clear and familiar. This paperback Bible has been taped together and the inside covers carry notes of learning how to pray, studying Acts, and a list written by my mother when she must have used my Bible for several years of Bible studies.

I used the Living Bible for the next few years. At a time when my babies were still small and I joined Friendship Bible Coffees. It includes a chart showing that I read through the Bible book by book for the first time. The next step was to a Woman's Devotional Bible. It offered topical writings by women interspersed that gave insights to the scriptures in a new way.

With each new Bible I increased my studying of scripture and became more familiar with the books. I have never been good at memorizing scripture so I can't quote you a scripture off the top of my head. However, the years of study helped me learn to use the concordance to supplement my reading and the more I read the more I am able to find what I'm looking for. Now I am using primarily the Life Application Study Bible in the New International Version. It is also well worn by now with highlights and underlined verses and many notes in the margins. I have started using yet another version to read through the Bible again.

I admire my mentors who are so good at quoting scripture and I wish I had that kind of mind. But, I love being familiar with the Word as I read it because it always brings more meaning to light. I gain such pleasure from reading and knowing about Jesus Christ and all of the ways His life was prophesied in the Old Testament.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning" (John 1:1-2 NIV).

I can't part with any of my Bibles. They hold part of me now.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Random Thoughts for a Monday

I am feeling frustration with my computer today. I am hooked up to my WiFi but the computer kept saying I had no connection when I tried to get into Google programs including Gmail and my blog. I reset my hot spot and it continued so I wonder if it is an issue with Google. It's over my head. Finally it let me in to BlogSpot so I'll try to make this fast today. I may or may not get this posted today.

If you read this blog regularly you probably remember me writing about our window-diving robin. Well she is back. Same window that she started on, a big picture window in our dining room. She sits on top of a bush that comes up a few inches above the bottom of the window. She repeatedly flies into the window, makes a thud, then sits on the bush looking at the window. I've tried to scare her away and she will fly a safe distance, wait and return when I leave the window. She must not hit it hard enough to hurt herself; she only flies about a foot in distance. However, she leaves behind little feathers and (excuse my language) poop all over the window. This disturbs me. I like clean windows to look through. Last year she eventually built a nest up on the ledge near the top window (that's harder to clean - requiring a tall ladder and is a big hassle.)

Yes, we still have a female cardinal who attacks the window in our closet, also. She stays here year-round and I believe has a nest in the bush that is below that window. Maybe the key is to not have bushes near your windows! Guess we will be leaving our quirky birds behind when we move.

One last thought, our Sunday school class just finished up a study on the book of Revelation. It was really eye-opening. I learned so much and have a greater understanding than I did when we began, for sure. But the book is definitely challenging, yet filled with truth that we must pay attention to. The days Revelation warns about may be closer than we want to believe. John describes what we should cry out from our hearts:

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being" (Revelation 4:8, 11 NIV).

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Energy On Empty

It is hard to write an encouraging blog when you feel overwhelmed and too tired to even come up with a topic for the day. I know as I get pressured by time I will again be energized to get going on the 'to do' list. But today I just feel unmotivated and lazy. I haven't exercised for several days so my metabolism is probably flatlined. So I'm seeking God's encouragement through scripture especially today.

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody" (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV).

Scripture warns us to avoid people like me. It tells us to earn our keep; work to pay for food or do not eat. Don't be a burden to anyone else. Live a life that is worthy of being a role model to others. Not today.

"We worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: If a man will not work, he shall not eat. We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as  for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right" (2 Thessalonians 3:8-13 NIV).

I know what is right to do; I just need to get up and go. I know if I place my feet on the treadmill I will have the energy to keep walking, it is just my inner mind that tries to talk me out of it, quite successfully at times. Today, I must grasp God's strength and allow it to pull me into action. I will leave behind my inactivity and move forward with His nudge and His hand in mine. Trusting Him to lead me where I need to go, and fill me with His power.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Beautiful Beginnings

It is a beautiful Monday. The sun is shining. The wind isn't blowing, yet. The birds are singing. And it is a new week to enjoy. Both of the devotionals I read this morning talked about taking it one day at a time and appreciating the day we are in. It is important to be mindful of the present, and not dwell in the past or spend time worrying about what may happen tomorrow.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34 NIV).

The only thing we can use is this very moment. As I write this blog I can only hope that for someone it sparks a light that shines in their day. Maybe the message will turn around a rough beginning and make the day better somehow. Maybe God will bring to mind a reason to change your attitude or direct your actions in the next moment. Maybe today your life will become a beacon to someone who is watching you and that someone will be blessed.

"All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:16 NIV)

Live your life for today. Make each minute count for the Lord. Show an act of kindness to a stranger or surprise a loved one with a thoughtful deed. Do something that really matters, something you have longed to do but couldn't find the time to do. Cherish each thought, each action, each person you greet. Allow gratitude to fill your heart and share it with someone who needs it.

"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that'" (James 4:13-14 NIV).

Be a blessing today.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Moving Madness

Panic is setting in. There is too much stuff. I am kind of a neat freak so moving activities put me on the edge. We have piles for garage sales and stacks to pack and stuff I won't even touch until May because they are still needed for our daily routines. There are pictures on the walls that have to come down and rugs that need to come up. I don't like disorder in my life so this is really a test for me to keep my calm.

There is still plenty of time to accomplish everything but it just feels like I'm in a holding zone. Fortunately the biggest mess is still in the basement and I can escape it by coming upstairs. I've made good progress on all the stuff that I probably should be getting rid of. I'm fearful that I'll fill up the new house with "old stuff" before we move in any of the real stuff we need. I hired a mover yesterday and that is a huge relief. Our old backs can't do what they used to so we got some professionals lined up with the right equipment and know-how to make the move go smoothly.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:4-7 NIV).

What a blessing this verse is to me. My Bible opened to this today and it is just what I needed to read. I have so much to be thankful for and that is where my focus needs to remain. I pause and take deep breathes allowing my mind and heart to focus on Jesus and I feel calm again. Sometimes we just let the pressures outside of us control what is inside and that's when we become anxious, irritated and stressed. All I need to do is possible with Christ Jesus. Today I will do what I need to do and tomorrow will still arrive after the night sky disappears.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Wind Power

This was a weekend of extremes. On Saturday the north wind blew hard, chilling me to the bone. Even though the sun was shining, the temperatures barely reached 50. Yesterday the wind's power changed its source and forcefully blew from the south, warming temperatures to the upper 70s. It was tiresome both days because I fought the strength of the wind both days. It was "hang on to your hat" and more, both days. The birds struggled to fly and the trees bowed down with respect.

"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going" (John 3:8 NIV).

When I was a child we had a windmill on our farm. It was one of the iconic windmills that are so rare but so photographed these days. The same wind that moved its blades to produce the power to pump water, has left many of the rural Iowa windmills bent and broken. Those that remain are cherished reminders of time past and beautifully represent another era, especially against a colorful sunrise or sunset.

Today Iowans realize what power there is in the wind and literally hundreds of wind farms cover the state, harvesting the power with rows and rows of huge white turbines.

As believers we sometimes forget to harvest the power of the Holy Spirit in our own lives. We have access to such great strength through the Holy Spirit. He teaches us all things and reminds us of all that Jesus spoke, and fills us with lasting peace. The Holy Spirit is our constant helper and Counselor.

"Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire, that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them" (Acts 2:2-4 NIV).