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Sun and Shield

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Psalm 84:11 NLT
For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Are you feeling unsettled? Are you wondering if there is a God? Are you wondering if He hears your prayers, moments of despair, or your requests? We all have days, maybe weeks or years of questioning? Does He see me?

Sometimes our requests are answered quickly, sometimes it feels like silence and no answers and sometimes it’s “my child, I love you and wait”!

I am learning God can be working behind the scenes and in my hurry to a conclusion I am sooooo impatient. Isn’t self control a fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5 is a gold mine of instruction.

Galatians 5:22-26 NLT
[22] But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! [24] Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. [25] Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. [26] Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

If you aren’t feeling God answering your prayers, maybe what you think is for you is not a good thing.

He would never withold His best from you. Maybe His timing is not now or ever. He can be trusted. Remember He knows the number of your days and holds you in the palm of His hand.

Psalm 139:16-18 NLT
[16] You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. [17] How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! [18] I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

Isaiah 49:15-16 NLT
[15] “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! [16] See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.

I have been feeling the need for the Word of God intensify. His words are nuggets of gold. They are not just words on a page but wisdom from above. It doesn’t matter if you were born in times past or present.

I used to think the Bible was filled with stories unrelateable but the more I read and meditate on His Word, the more I see our human nature doesn’t change very much over generations. Sadly, we are a mess without our Savior.

The human race tends toward its own sin nature: selfishness, wanting our own way, pride, jealousy, survival of the fittest, and me me me. I see these traits in myself and I cringe.

This mindset causes conflict leading to unrest, leading to fear, anxiety, depression and maybe war.

Look at the state of our world, our state, our community, maybe even our homes at times. We can be the bearer of unrest and conflict or choose,instead, to be a person who speaks life, pauses to bring words of affirmation, sprinkled with discipline in love, forgiveness and prayer over destructive communication.

It always boils down to choice. I choose peace not victimhood. Love in truth over fear and avoidance.

When I have spoken in fear or anger, I am learning to repent and turn back to Gods ways. It isn’t easy to break habits but it must be done. I must cast aside sins to break generational cycles.

Cast all cares upon Him for He cares for you. 1 Peter 4

What about you? Be the voice in the wilderness filtering your speech after mediating on the word of God. His love is unfailing, He is our strength.

Psalm 117: 1 – 2 1 Praise the Lord, all you nations. Praise him, all you people of the earth. 2 For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord!

Road less traveled

Jeep travels by Mary Mesikapp
Psalm 25: 4 - 10   

4 Show me the right path, 
O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.  

5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God who saves me.
    All day long I put my hope in you.
6 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
    which you have shown from long ages past.
7 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
    Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
    for you are merciful, O Lord.

8 The Lord is good and does what is right;
    he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
9 He leads the humble in doing right,
    teaching them his way.
10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
    all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

Occasionally, our family travels into the mountains on 4 x 4 Jeep trails. This time in nature reminds me to consider the road less travelled. My husband drives as I navigate with suggestions over the huge boulders, rolling rocks, and tree stumps. Water passages can be tricky especially when you never know how deep they may be. Our youngest hangs on for dear life as the jeep lurches, slides, and is temporarily at an odd angle to the mountain. Our brains are scrambled somewhat by the bumps on the trails yet our brain clears with joy when we reach our destination.

Traveling on Jeep 4 x4 trails takes trust, wisdom and a drive for adventure, much like life’s journey. Trust in the driver and the jeeps solid maintenance is necessity. On jeep trails and in life, there can be opportunities to avoid obstacles.

I can be an avoider, how about you? Yet the more time spent in the Bible teaches me to believe the obstacles may be used by God to deepen my faith.

The Lord is good. He does want to show us the path to follow. We have to let Him provide us with wisdom, which means we must drop our need to control and our pride.

We must be open to redirection, like navigating boulders. We have to take time to read His Word, it is an action step for our benefit.

We must discern who our tribe will be. Who is the leader? Who is the follower? We have to seek accountability from the right people who want us to be examples of integrity and character. There will always be people bent on our destruction. We must choose wisely who we believe.

The Lord is faithful and He is love. He is the Ultimate Best Friend and Wisdom Giver. Let Him be your navigator. He is the Compass directing you to the best things.

Thirsty

Let the Living water of God fill the empty places and bring refreshment. Are you parched in the weary state of the world or in your private life?

Let the Lord quench your thirst. I love this song by Shane and Shane. Living Water flow through Jesus and fill your life.

https://youtu.be/DlnAREAjTfU

Psalm 107:9 NLT
[9] For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

God bless you today.

Sisterhood (Brothers too.)

Lessons from the Clucky Ladies are many. This photo taken by my youngest is such a beautiful picture of the Sisterhood ( Brotherhood :)) of Christ. Let me paint a clearer image for you nonchicken people stacked chickens in a laying box is not the norm :).

Chickens need their separate space in the chicken coop to lay eggs. Generally speaking, each chicken needs time to release their egg in the laying boxes. There are 5 separate spots for our ladies. As they prepare to lay their eggs, they have a pensive face, quiet and determined. As they are laying, they usually sing a song. Or at least that is what it sounds like. I would guess it is a feeling of accomplishment.

One of the chickens is brooding for the past few weeks, this potential mom to be sits on her egg and her sisters eggs all day hopeful for a chick to be her reward. She is steadfast in this behavior and day by day we are needing to provide extra tender loving care by providing water, and snacks to keep her alive. We have no rooster, therefore, this want for a baby chick will never be filled.

The brooding chicken clucks in a loud noise as we remove eggs gently from underneath. She has been loved by our daughter and myself, held as a little chick and thus is not mean. She runs off to eat after we remove her egg.

We have watched her red comb, the object on her head and below her chin, shrivel. I have learned that the comb is very vascular, meaning it carries blood supply to the body, it provides cooling for body temperature. A healthy comb is vibrant red and thick in size, as you can see in the photo of the other chickens.

This beautiful snapshot our “Cluckly Ladies” reflects our need to surround friends and family with support. It can be just a word of encouragement, a phone call just because you feel prompted ( maybe by God), or dropping a text or funny meme. It can be lifting up a prayer right away. There is nothing better than hearing someone pray for your needs. Its love in action. You will be amazed when you step out of the box and bless another.

Matthew 23:37 tells us the Lord wants to gather his children as a hen protects her chicks. What love is this, He is protector and wants us to love others. We have to be open to spreading love to others. It can be scary but so amazing.

The Sisters (Brothers) in your life, biological or otherwise need to hear from you. It may just be what the Great Physician ordered.

Relate

I can relate to this new song from For King and Country, so relevant, enjoy!!

You are not alone, you are a treasure.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NLT
[6] For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. [7] We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

Driftwood and Criticism

Criticism is not fun even if it is constructive. I consider criticism a statement of failure and condemnation, being judged unfairly and not measuring up to someone’s standard. It kept me angry. Synonyms for criticism vary from censure to review, assessment to appraisal. There can be negative or positive results.

Can there be rewards for constructive criticism? Should I be open to grow and be transformed into a better version of myself while I am feeling chipped away? Is there any truth to the criticism? Is this a healthy relationship?

I pondered, should I allow myself to be whittled like a dry tree branch? I have always been fascinated by people who can take a piece of driftwood or an old part of a tree and create something one of a kind, beautiful. They are able to see the beauty underneath the surface. Think about it, our God sees us the same way!!!

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On the outside the scrap driftwood appears to be dry and useless as it holds no life. It has been broken away from the main tree trunk. There are no longer pathways of sap to provide sustenance and energy. Maybe it has been floating in a river or ocean quite a while becoming further withered.

Do you ever feel like driftwood? Floating along, perhaps feeling alone, lost, distracted? The Master Craftsman could be waiting for you to float onto the shore and be ready for new things. If we ponder, the tools needed for this transformation we may use: Stillness with God, the Bible and humbly allow the cutting away of sin, forgiving ourselves, repenting and asking God for a new beginning. We must choose to let him carve away the dry.

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A wood carvers tools of the trade may be straight chisel, wood carving gouge or whittling knives each serving a specific purpose. A knife cuts away at the unnecessary layers of dead wood. It digs away layers slowly from the outside in. Could that be a chronic sin such as telling little white lies so we don’t hurt someone’s feelings instead of being truthful?

Proverbs 27 :5  An open rebuke is better than hidden love!

The gouge may allow the craftsman to gather the dry parts quicker, yet with care and patience the carver is hopeful not to gather too quickly. The gouge may be the deep consequence of returning to angry outbursts instead of listening intentionally.

Proverbs 15:1  A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.

The chisel removes debris closer to the surface. It’s a skimmer of sorts. Perhaps an example of this in humans may be, the gentle rebuke from a parent, ” Hey, do you want to try that response again? Deep breath and we can talk more.” or ” Forgive me!”


Proverbs 26 :28 A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

Corrie ten Boom was such a humble example of Christ, she gained more self-control as she was in the trial. Her quotes from her time in a concentration camp are found on the internet and in her book, “The Hiding Place,” a biography from World War 2. She witnessed the oppression of Jewish community including her friends. She, along with her family, chose not to stick with the status quo and many lives were saved by not turning a blind eye to the atrocities on their fellow country man.

The world is better for women such as Corrie and their example of putting to practice the words of scripture. I do not know if I could have forgiven those who committed evil. I would pray that I would choose the wisdom of God were I in her shoes.

One of my favorite quotations from Corrie ten Boom: Our critics are the unpaid guardians of our souls. 

What a timeless quote for daily mediation. I think honest critical comments can help us grow into who the Lord already knows we can become. There is a difference between constructive, loving communication and criticism that is meant to devour another person. Loving communication must start with words of affirmation, truth and love.

James 3: 2   Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.



James3:6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

The enemy wants us to switch gears in our minds and use our tongues to sear in fire those created in the image of God.

We must seek truth in Christ, be bold in speech and allow Him to grow our faith and bless our lives.

Ephesians 4:15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ.     

I need to allow the dry places in my soul to be touched and sharpened by those who can help me grow. However, I am not open to be devoured by another whose intention is destruction. I pray for discernment of the Holy Spirit.

Choose wisely who we trust with wisdom. God first, of course, then friends who want to reflect Him to the world, like Corrie. May be the unpaid guardians of our soul need to be given thanks. Let God, the Master Craftsman, cut away the dry places and bring out the beauty just as driftwood!

Proverbs 27 :17   As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Run away Horse

Opie( Mr perfect Valentine), our free spirited palomino, had two adventures this month as a run away horse. Lessons in life were gained through this crazy country experience.

As we ( the hubby and I) took two days in 104 degree weather to harvest 235 hay bales, we became exhausted and sweaty. In the past our young adults were a part of our harvest team.

This year, our teen daughter was excited to drive the pickup as the ole parents grabbed the bales from the field and stacked them in the barn.

Opie, our 16 year old Palomino and his side kick, Loute, the brown and white goat tag teamed running through the back pasture.

I watched Opie nibble from the final rows of 40 different hay bales as he sauntered up the row. His eyes wandering to and fro. I distracted him by encouraging him to visit friends (fellow horses) in the back field. Temporarily my ruse worked. I went back to stacking hay on the trailer.

Suddenly, I looked behind me I yelled to my husband, “look out he’s making his way to the open gate”. My husband ran fast but Opie bolted whinnying happily as he snuck out the side gate to the street. I ran the opposite direction gathering halter and lead rope. I caught up with my husband breathing like a steaming tea pot, muttering and praying for safety.

Opie galloped to our neighbors gate trying to get into his friends’ pasture then reared and ran around the corner onto a busy country road. Loute, his buddy ran along with him, adding to the chaos as she made loud sounds, Loute, her German name fits perfect it means “loud”.

This crazy country comic relief reminds me it’s easy to be distracted by world or culture. Apparently the world outside the pasture was calling a rogue horse and goat to run!!!

Loute waddled alongside her buddy into trouble and all the way back to the corral and pasture. Her voice was louder than usual and obnoxious.

We must laugh at the craziness but stay the course. Find joy in the crazy! Life can be a sweaty hot mess. Don’t you agree?

Psalm 33:11 But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.  

Opie snuck out again three days ago, due to distractions of life, kids decisions, heat, hungry and tired, my husband left the gate to pasture open ;)!!!A stranger came to inform us by ringing our door bell, saying, “ do you have a palomino?” 😉 The kind man brought an apple, yet our stubborn horse knew mom and dad were coming with halter and lead rope to safely bring him back to his pasture, where sustenance, clear water, food and a fan was blowing away the summer heat. This is the place Opie could be refreshed and renewed.

 John 8:12 Jesus said to the people, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

As I was trying to catch my breath the second time, I pondered how much each of us are like a horse, we need a halter and our Wise Creator to hold the lead line. Just like his owners, Opie must let us keep him safe and alive :). We must be willing to be lead to good holy places. So blessed Jesus wants us to seek Him and He will guide us.

Garden Gate

When I look at this photograph from a family trip to Victoria, B.C., I recall a heavenly Butchart botanic gardens with amazing beauty. Heaven will make this look simple.

Isaiah 32:18 NIV

My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes,
in undisturbed places of rest.

Our home is not here, it is in heaven. Someday, I will see it for myself and be in the Presence of Jesus. I hope to meet you there.

Illuminate.

This photograph was taken at an old mountain community church outside Estes Park, Colorado. It was beautiful to see light illuminate the stained glass window. In a way, it is like each person who wants to learn the Word of God. We can take what we learn and illuminate what God is teaching us, sharing what we are learning about our own broken lives and let His Light shine through our stories.