The Perfect Shot

When I see a beautiful sight, I always grab for my cell phone in hopes to get that perfect shot. What makes it perfect to me? To not have anything obstructing my view.

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I’ve missed numerous sunrises due to the fact that I’m not a morning person but I’ve chased many a rainbow, ran to see a sunset and, of course, walked around with my head in the clouds.

It’s God’s creation and it always amazes me. It’s perfection at it’s finest: raw, unfiltered beauty.

Do you ever think that God looks upon His creation in this way? In the beginning, the book of Genesis, the Bible says God saw that it was good.

When I see a beautiful sight, I always grab for my cell phone in hopes to get that perfect shot. What makes it perfect to me? To not have anything obstructing my view.

I live in rural America, nice place, not a lot of buildings to get in the way but there are plenty of powerlines. Numerous times I’ve had to crop these things out of my photos before being satisfied- and some aren’t able to be cropped out. They are right in the way.

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I don’t want to have to look past these man made things to see the beauty but sometimes I have no choice. It may not make for the perfect shot but it doesn’t take away the beauty that exists past it all.

Sometimes we have to look past those “power lines”- those things in our lives that tend to have so much power that they distract us from the beauty beyond.

Do we see the beauty past the chaos? Are we looking at what’s going on OR are we seeing what’s happening? Although I’ve used both of these phrases in italics as an informal greeting,  I realize they are actually very different.

It is possible to become so tuned in to the Father that we can still see that raw, unfiltered beauty in even the toughest of situations in our lives.

We must desire to look through God’s eyes. We must have faith in Him and in His Word, remembering His unfailing love and promises to His children that He will keep. He is where that power lies.

*Application*
Ask the Lord to help us look past what’s obstructing our view: to see through His eyes.

Writing on the Wall

I turned the car around so I could go by once more and read what was written.

Not long ago as I was taking my nephew home, we drove past a house with words spray painted on the outside. I’m sure it was the talk of the small town soon after it happened but since I don’t go by there often, it was old news by the time I saw it. It’s not often we see this sort of thing in our county.

I turned the car around so I could go by once more and read what was written.  The words “thief”, “liar” and “you stole our home” screamed out in burgundy letters on the side of the house for all to see.

This immediately took me back to a certain day back in 1986. My brother, our parents and I went to look at a vacant brick house close to where we were living at the time that was for sale.

It seemed nice on the outside. At least I don’t remember anything out of the ordinary, but when we went inside I saw words spray painted on the walls.

I remember someone explaining to me that the people had to move and didn’t want to so they spray painted words on the walls of the home. I recall feeling overwhelmed by the emotions within those walls. I’d never seen anything like that in my life. I know I was only 6 years old but still, to this day, I can hear the writing on those walls. I guess that was the painter’s point: to be heard.

Over the years I’ve gone to big cities and have seen words painted on walls,  railroad cars and various other places- some out of boredom- I think, some out of hurt turned to hate and some possibly before that point, yet still simply wanting their message to be heard.

I must say, all the places I’ve been in or by over the years, I’ve never felt the way I felt way back in 1986 until recently when I saw this house.

I thought about this while deep cleaning a house some old friends recently moved out of after they sold it. As I wiped the door facings, I thought of my own home. Just a few days before I had purchased a box of magic erasers and wiped a few door facings of my own. I thought of one in particular that I didn’t wipe down. It has markings where we’ve measured our daughter over the years. We didn’t start it until 3 years ago but I thought I’d sure be sad to have to leave that or have to scrub it off one day.

As I worked my way through the house I was cleaning, wiping walls and baseboards, I came upon a piece of trim with measurements of my friends’ little boy. That “writing on the wall” made me a little sad that they were having to leave this behind, but thankfully by choice.

Later, as I spoke with the boy’s dad, he said they had made markings of their son’s measurements on something else to take with them.

As I made my way past the measurement markings I thought- how different are my memories of those harsh words as opposed to these good markings. I guess the difference is some choose to leave and some have to. In some instances, it is our poor choices that result in us having to leave a place we once called home.

When I began writing this months ago I wasn’t sure of the scripture I’d be using, yet I couldn’t seem to shake this memory of long ago. As I began to search, it didn’t take long to find what I needed. It was interesting to find that the phrase “the writing on the wall” actually stems from the Bible in the book of Daniel, chapter 5.

The writing on the wall was written by the Lord. It scared King Belshazzar to see only a hand writing words he didn’t understand right before him, and it very well should have.

Daniel was called in to interpret the writing on the wall. It was a warning to the king (Belshazzar) of what was to come as the result of not humbling himself before the Lord even though he knew what had happened to his own dad, King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 5:18-21). Daniel went on to say:

Daniel 5:22-28 KJV And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written. And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

Daniel 5:30 KJV  In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.

It is up to me to choose whether or not I leave the mansion that is being prepared for me before I have even arrived. So oft I fail, yet I come to the realization of knowing I need to read the writing in the Bible, His holy Word, and obey so that I will not be reading His writing on my own wall.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Nailed It

Since none of us are getting any smaller, the whole kitchen floor had to be pulled up and the dirt dug down and hauled out as we should have done years ago. 

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Over a year and a half ago we had a little run-in with some unwelcome guests: termites. When we found those unwanted intruders, we called pest control to come spray and assess the damage they’d done.

Since our house is an “antique”, when we bought it we had to replace almost every floor down to the joists. We even brought shovels, wheelbarrows and the teenage boys in the family in as reinforcements to help us dig up dirt close to the floor that had caused the wood to rot.

One room we didn’t dig much of the dirt down and haul out was the kitchen. The pest guy said we’d have to dig down so his worker could crawl underneath to treat for the termites.

Since none of us are getting any smaller, the whole kitchen floor had to be pulled up and the dirt dug down and hauled out as we should have done years ago.

If you’ve ever had your kitchen floor replaced, you know it is a dreaded job that is only done when necessary. The refrigerator, stove, cabinets and anything else on the floor must come out.

After the area was treated the floor was rebuilt but had a weak spot in it and was unlevel. We lived with it like that for quite a while… until this past weekend. I decided I was ready and it was time! My refrigerator has actually been in my dining room all this time because I wasn’t taking the doors off and moving it back in until the floor was completely fixed.

I pulled everything out of the kitchen Saturday morning. I put my daughter and niece to work and later, my husband too. When I found out the guy wasn’t going to be able to work on the floor until Monday or Tuesday of the coming week, I told my husband it was up to us and I couldn’t wait that long to get started.

Thankfully some friends came and spent their Saturday night helping pull up our floor, jack up floor joists and cut plywood subflooring and piece it together.

Sunday rolled around and me being determined to get the house back in order ASAP (Thanksgiving dinner will be at my house next week!), we spent time cutting, measuring, suffering.

When time came to lay what is called underlay that the vinyl will lay on, it called for staples. I’m a cheapskate and refused to buy a staple gun so we opted for nails.

My poor husband is constantly on call for work so when he was frustrated with the hammering and the phone, I grabbed my trusty leather gloves, the nails and hammer and decided to bend a few myself.

The night before, I’d hammered screws in to get them started and my friend (and reinforcement), Brandy, followed behind and screwed the plywood to the floor joists with the drill. I’d hit my fingers several times with the hammer so using my gloves the following night was a stroke of genius.

I’ve never been good at hammering so as I hit my thumb a few times I was thankful for the bit of cushion. I was bending nails left and right and throwing them across the floor (with an attitude). Suddenly I thought, “Why don’t I just ask for help?”

A simple “Lord, please help me,” and what do you know- the nail went straight through. I started saying “please” and “thank you” and found myself moving right along. Of course I bent some more nails along the way but as I started thinking about this I thought of how bad it must’ve hurt to have those nails driven into Jesus’ hands and feet on the cross. My attitude began to change.

As I hammered and the nails went straight on through, I thought of myself- my sins, causing those nails He had to feel. I began to struggle with hitting them as hard as I had to hit them. I am grateful for that act of love that was done for us.

I then thought of Jesus and how in Mark 6:3 it is written, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

It says He was a carpenter. How He could actually give me some tips on where to hammer those nails and how to get that nail in right every time, so I began to ask for that too.

It was quite the time I had down on that floor in the kitchen with Jesus. He was there helping me out while helping me remember what He did for me and how He continues to do for me.

When my husband came back to the kitchen he said “woah”. I’m not sure if he was talking about all the bent nails thrown across the floor or how much work I’d gotten done. He knelt down on the floor and asked me if I was ready for him to hammer for a while. Of course I had saved him some edges I couldn’t seem to get.

As I went for one more nail I reminded him that Jesus was a carpenter. I told him a few of my thoughts I’d been thinking and how I’d been seeking His help in there and had received it.

It turned out to be a good time, just me and the Lord. My time knelt down on the floor changed my whole way of thinking. It always does.

Thanks for reading!

Filthy Rags

Although I actually looked at it as a way to blame someone for marking up my life, the Lord reminded me of my own righteousness (ouch!). 

Sometimes work seems to dwindle down and sometimes I have more than I could ask for. Near the end of August I had so many houses to clean on my schedule, some days I was cleaning two per day. During this time I was exhausted. I fell behind on doing things at home I normally do. One thing in particular was laundry.

The first morning I didn’t have to work, I began folding a pile of laundry thrown on a chair in the living room. As I grabbed a pair of jeans part of a broken ink pen fell to the floor. I didn’t think a whole lot about it except that I could tell I didn’t do this load of laundry. I always check and clean out pockets.

Since I didn’t have to work, catching up on laundry was a must. I grabbed a load of towels and washcloths and threw them in the washer with some detergent and bleach. When they were finished, they went into the dryer.

I didn’t notice anything until I was taking them out and putting them in a clothes basket. There were black marks all over every single piece of laundry. I looked in the washing machine and then in the dryer trying to find what had caused this. I saw marks on the inside of the dryer so I scrubbed them off with a dryer sheet. (Good little tip there.)

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I expected the black marks to smell like grease but they didn’t. As I stood there trying to figure this out, I remembered the broken piece of ink pen. The mystery was solved.

Kind of ironic really, the things we use to clean our outer bodies are marked up themselves. If I was fancy or showy I’d throw them in the rag bin but they’ve still got a lot of use in them.

Although I actually looked at it (to be honest up until about 5 minutes ago) as a way to blame someone for marking up my life, the Lord reminded me of my own righteousness (ouch!).

Isaiah 64:6 KJV  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

So when I reach for a washcloth or a towel and I see all those marks while getting in or out of the shower, I hope to remember that no matter how hard I try to get clean- Jesus is my righteousness. That’s it.

 

 

If You Get a Friend Request From…

I can’t help but think of how this “warning” has spread like wildfire

As I scroll social media, Facebook to be exact, I continually see posts about people’s accounts being hacked. Folks are saying if you receive a friend request from them, don’t accept it- it’s not them. One shared a link about this being a scam and another about it being a hoax. People are sending one another private messages with urgency about receiving another friend request from an individual they’re already friends with. I’ve received a few myself.

I can’t help but think of how this “warning” has spread like wildfire, and who even knows if it’s true. If it isn’t, people sure are taking it seriously, but what if it is?

At first I was seeing a lot of talk about accounts being hacked, now I’m seeing more talk of accounts being cloned.

As I was thinking about the change of words, I thought about when cloning animals was big in the news a few years ago. It was disturbing to me that scientists were/are using science to try and take over the Lord’s place of creating. Of course if you have a cloned animal and one God created, they make look alike, yet one is of (or made by) God and the other isn’t. At least that’s how I see it.

When it comes to this big thing about Facebook accounts, one is the maker of the account and one is a counterfeit.

When relating this to spritual matters, it reminds of a particular passage in the Bible.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 NKJV  13) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14) And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15) Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. 

We are told not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirits, whether they are of God. 1 John 4:1 (2 & 3)

Some people are all the time scamming, or seeing who they can get one over on; well, so is the devil. It is important we realize this is no hoax. Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 

If you get a friend request from him, don’t accept it, it’s not from God.

Thank you for reading. May God bless you and yours.

 

You Better Recognize

Sometimes it seems hard to really listen with the intent to apply (not reply) [to] what we hear.

As you read the title, many of you may remember that phrase from years ago, or I think it has been years ago. As I “Googled” (looked up on the internet) when the phrase was popular, I came across an article by Robert Brereton on a site called LinkedIn. He specializes in social change and conflict management. He began his article with these two sentences [regarding “you better recognize”]: This famous quote, widely known for its affiliation with urban culture is used to relay the importance of realizing what is happening in real time.   The recipients of these words are urged to process the underlying meaning within the message. 

I always think of this phrase when I go to search for something online and my phone is being sluggish. It sits on the screen and says “listening”.

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Maybe I should be glad it’s taking the time to listen. Maybe it’s listening closely so it will really register what I am saying; that maybe my words are being absorbed so deeply that there will be no mistaking in what I have said.

I’ve come across a certain quote several times that says, “The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand; we listen to reply.”

Sometimes it seems hard to really listen with the intent to apply (not reply) [to] what we hear. I can be quite the “talker” at times and when I’m having a conversation with another “talker” it can be quite the battle to get a word in.

Now, back to the phone- (I told you i can be a talker). After a long aggravating wait, the words on the screen finally change to “recognizing”. Each time I see this, I say to myself, “You better recognize.”

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We have become so impatient and reliant on these devices, I believe we expect perfection. We tend to forget everything (and everyone) fails at some point except the Lord. Even at this exact moment as I write this my satellite TV has gone completely blank! I’m glad I’m not engrossed in the program that’s on (haha). (Ok Lord, so I’m getting this right?)

Proverbs 2:1-5 NKJV My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.

When it comes to the Lord, listening and recognizing is extremely mportant. It’s necessary to listen to God’s Word and recognize what He is trying to tell us! It will save us such heartache and regret.

Maybe it’ll be different next time when I see my phone slowly take in what I say. When I see the little dots rotating on the screen as it’s recognizing what I say, I hope to remember I need to be as my phone: I need to take time to hear what the Lord would have to say to me. For my own good I better recognize!

Thank you for reading and may God bless you!

Moving Forward, Going Backwards

As she stood at the doorway and told me one last time she didn’t want to go, I looked her in the eyes and told her the truth: Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. Whether it is in your own mind or out of someone else’s mouth or actions, it is the devil and he is seeking to devour you!

My daughter has been taking gymnastics classes for a little over a year. She’s experienced joy, frustration, excitement and motivation. She’s experienced fear and has overcome some fears. She’s been encouraged and she has also been discouraged. This sounds like life and what we all experience throughout our days, doesn’t it?

I’ve never seen my daughter so passionate about something in her life as she is with gymnastics. She has set goals. She stretches and works on things every day and marks it off with a check on her calendar. She has learned self-discipline. For the past several months there is not a day that goes by that she doesn’t set aside time to do this.

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Although she is shy, she has become somewhat of a leader when it comes to this. Her friends that come over see her motivation and join her. Even family members have gotten on the mats and joined her in stretching and doing flips. (Myself included and it was not pretty haha.)

Last week when I picked her up from class, she said she didn’t want to go back. I haven’t seen her this frustrated since she started. This week, yesterday, after school she told me twice she wasn’t going to her gymnastics class. She made up excuses and gave her reasons but I said, “You’re going.”

Her big thing is she is afraid to go backwards. Of course I relate this to life and spiritual things with her, telling her we want to move forward in life and move forward with God, but in gymnastics it’s necessary to go backwards: that’s part of it.

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As she stood at the doorway and told me one last time she didn’t want to go, I looked her in the eyes and told her the truth: Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. Whether it is in your own mind or out of someone else’s mouth or actions, it is the devil and he is seeking to devour you!

John 10:10 NKJV   “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 

1 Peter 5:8 NKJV  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeing whom he may devour. 

The devil wants to steal your joy. He wants to kill your dreams and motivation. He wants to destroy your goals- everything you’re working towards. He wants to devour you by taking away any confidence or hope you may have. It’s not you and it’s not anyone else- it’s the devil. He wants you to give up BUT God is greater and He wants you to succeed!

I’m not sure what else flew out of my mouth but I told her she was going and that the Lord would take care of her and He would be her strength. She surprisingly and quickly agreed. She wasn’t all that happy on the way to class but her whole attitude changed as she exited the car and walked toward the door of the gymnastics studio- all smiles and even laughter!

An hour later, I came back to pick her up. A woman was standing outside talking on her phone and she said, “Go look at your daughter! She got her back walkover!”

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I went inside and everyone was excited. I watched that young lady God blessed me with go backwards! And with such grace! I was in shock! I thought I was dreaming and was she ever beaming! I said, “Do it again!” And she did, ever so gracefully!

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She was smiling from ear to ear all the way home, as was I. It was a lesson for her, as well as for me.

I told her, “Now do you see? The devil wanted you to quit and you didn’t and look what happened! You moved forward, you pushed through, and you did what you didn’t think you could do!”

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Ironic enough, my niece called me later and I told her all about what had happened. Later in our conversation I told her it didn’t look like I was going to make it with a writing career. She quickly reminded me of what I had spoken only hours before- “That’s just the devil wanting you to quit. How is that any different than what Leah just went through? I mean, you’re writing for God.”

How quickly I forget!

I hope we will remember to apply this to our lives, even by the minute. Thank you for reading and God bless!