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!

That Plant

There are times I end up letting that certain plant die. She then gives me a piece of the plant I had first given her.

Years ago I bought a houseplant from a lady at a yard sale. She told me if you broke off a piece of this vine-type plan and stuck it in water it would root and you could replant it. Of course as I would care for it, pieces would break off so I’d do as she said. One day my mom came over to my house and commented on my thriving plant, so I gave her the ones I had rooting in water to start her own.

Over time her plant became huge. It was beautiful and full, so full that she had started another one in a different pot. I told her my plant had died. I would forget to care for it and all I had was just a glass with a few pieces rooting.

One day when I pulled in to my driveway, I saw a beautiful plant on my front porch. Mom came by and dropped off one of those plants from the few I’d given her years ago. I took good care of it for a while, then I didn’t. I pulled the green off and once again rooted them in a cup water.

The other day, when she had time, my mom repotted some of her plants and moved them indoors before the cold creeps up on us once again. She said her plant that we’d passed pieces of back and forth over the years had died. She said she’d just been too busy and tired to take care of all of them lately.

The supply has dwindled down quite a bit, but if she’s interested, I plan to give her half of what I have. This has almost become a tradition between the two of us and this plant, only I’m the one that usually kills mine.

As I washed dishes tonight after supper I had to move a piece of the vine hanging from a shelf above my dish drying rack where my plant sits. The remnant of that plant that still sits rooted in water. I thought about how a mom helps a daughter, and how a daughter helps a mom.

As I continued to ponder on this thought, I began to think of my daughter- how there are times I teach her certain truths about the Lord and life, and then there are times she often reminds me of those same certain truths I seem to forget. There are times I end up letting that certain plant die. She then gives me a piece of the plant I had first given her. I always relate plants to life, therefore we pass life back and forth to one another as needed.

My daughter teaches me a lot. I know there are times I disappoint her or even shock her with the realness of my mistakes. I can see that, but I know she understands that mom is a human being that messes up just like anyone else. It’s not my daughter trying to condemn me, instead it’s the Holy Spirit convicting me. It is the Lord working through her and that is a beautiful thing. How could I despise that?

Hebrews 13:16 NKJV But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Thank you for reading and God bless!

Carry Me

As the years passed and I grew older, it occurred to me that I was no longer that little kid that could easily be carried. I was in a place where I realized I needed Someone stronger. No human could carry me with all the heaviness I had found within.

My youngest brother (of the 3) is a little over two and a half years older than me so we were pretty close growing up. He may have inflicted much pain into my life but he would also stand up to anyone that tried to hurt me. From early on, any time I got hurt, I remember him carrying me home.

I had to have been about 4 years old because our grandmother passed away when I was 5. We were playing down by the creek and my brother, Keith, picked up a big round rock. I always wanted to do what he did so I decided to pick it up too, only I wasn’t as strong as he was. I dropped it on my knee and I began to bleed. Thirty-four years later and the scar is still there. Keith was not only strong enough to pick up the rock; he was strong enough to carry me all the way to our grandparent’s house. When we arrived, my grandmother cleaned my knee and put a bandage on it.

One day we were riding the school bus home on our bumpy dirt road. I was sitting in the back and let me tell you, skinny kids don’t belong in the back of the bus when you’re on a road with potholes. The bus driver showed no mercy and hit a few of them in a row. I bounced up off the seat and the breath was knocked right out of me. Thankfully it happened about a minute away from our house. Again, Keith carried me home from the bus stop.

Another time I recall is when my brother built a ramp to jump his bicycle. I watched him fly through the air, carefree. I decided I was going to do it too, only I didn’t go near as fast. After the fact, he told me I didn’t go fast enough. I rode my bike slowly up the ramp, singing a song from a perfume commercial (yes, I still remember the song haha). I flipped right over the handlebars of my bike. Guess who carried me home. Yep, Keith.

It is not often I see my brother anymore but I remain grateful for all the times he took care of me. As the years passed and I grew older, it occurred to me that I was no longer that little kid that could easily be carried. I was in a place where I realized I needed Someone stronger. No human could carry me with all the heaviness I had found within. It was no longer my brother that I needed- it was my Father.

Isaiah 46:4 NKJV says- Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

In life there are still times when I pick something up that’s too heavy for me to hold. Just because He (God) is big enough to lift it doesn’t mean I am. I end up dropping it and scrape myself up, yet He’s still there. He picks me up and carries me.

When the bumps along the road of life knock the breath right out of me, He picks me up and carries me.

When I try to do things my way, the wrong way, I flip right over the handlebars and land in the gravel. Still, the Lord is there. He picks me up and carries me.

Although I have some scars from life, and although I’ve endured pain, I’ve always been picked up and carried. I believe He was giving my brother the strength to carry me until I figured out I needed more than he could offer. What I needed was a Savior- I still do.

So if you’re reading this and you feel something lacking in your life- you need someone to carry you- reach out to the Lord. He will fill that void that none other can fill. He is strong enough. It doesn’t mean you won’t cry while He is carrying you in this life, but His Word is true. One sweet day, He will carry you home to be with Him: a place where there is no more sadness, no more suffering, no more pain and your tears will be wiped away.

Revelation 21:4-5 NKJV- 4) And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. 5) Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

Thank you for reading. May God bless you, for He will help you through.

 

 

 

The Brick Wall

I believe a common thing we do after we experience hurt is to build up a brick wall- at least that’s what I did. If I built that wall, no one could get in, right? I didn’t want anyone in.

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I put up a brick wall only to have it torn down.

I’ve always loved rooms that were added on to a brick house- the ones that have the bare brick showing on one wall. I’ve seen them in people’s houses, in movies or television shows that have a brick wall on the interior and thought it looked so neat. Maybe about a year and a half ago I was at Wal-Mart looking around and saw a package of brick print wallpaper. It was about $15 on clearance, and although I’m a bit of a cheapskate, I liked it so much I placed it in the shopping cart.

The particular wall I had in mind to put it on wasn’t going to work out so the package had been sitting around for quite a while. I’ve measured different walls to see where it would fit but always ended up setting it aside. Well, last night I finally decided I’m going to do this! I took everything off the wall in my dining room and started my little project. I realized I didn’t have what is called a seam roller to do the job so I messaged a friend for advice. I ended up using a small paint roller I’d used to paint around the small areas in the kitchen last summer. Learning to use what I have instead of worrying about what I don’t have is commonplace in my life. It ended up working well.

After hanging one strip I saw how cool it was going to look. That one piece gave me the drive to continue on. After all, it wouldn’t look right if I didn’t finish. I maneuvered around the obstacles I encountered. I dealt with an uneven wall, patched up some things as best I could and found the finished product was very satisfying to my eyes. I just sat at my dining room table after midnight and looked at that awesome wall!

Now, on to tearing the wall down. About 5 years ago, the church I was extremely involved in was suddenly split down the seam. During this time I was overcome with many deep, negative emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, depression and, at times, utter disbelief. For a while I even believed that the Lord didn’t love me anymore. I didn’t walk away from the Lord at that time, but instead dug in to His Word and drew closer to Him. I realized how easy it had been for me to buy into the lie that God didn’t love me, even after all I’d been through, and after all I’d been shown by Him. It was after this experience that my book was written. I felt it was important to stress that, no matter what, “In Every Situation, God is There”.

I’m not going to go too far in-depth as to what happened with the church, (that’s a different story for a different day, or maybe not at all.) One thing I will say is the unbelievable became reality and the situation left it’s mark on mine and several other people’s lives.

Many can and will tell you, “church hurt” has a deep impact, no matter who you are, it leaves a scar. I believe a common thing we do after we experience deep hurt is to build up a brick wall- at least that’s what I did. If I built that wall, no one could get in, right? I didn’t want anyone in. Who is anyone? (Gulp) Church people. When someone would invite me to church I felt my facial expression change uncontrollably. I didn’t feel as if I was running from God, just all of His people. Well, those that went to church anyway. I didn’t want any part of it. I had been hurt and I didn’t want to experience that pain again. Matter of fact, I wasn’t going to be hurt again. I was bound and determined to avoid the possibility altogether.

Over the past 5 years I’ve gone to several different places of worship (from time to time) lugging around my brick wall. Quick to scope out exits or who I may have to reach around to grab my daughter’s arm to drag her out at the first sign of “danger”.  (And yes, unfortunately there are dangers, such as false teachings. Unbeknownst to me years ago, the Holy Bible is full of examples.) I had my guard up. Although it’s very important to make sure we aren’t led astray, that wall I’ve been toting around for years has kept a lot of people out that need to be within those four walls of a church building to hear the hope of the gospel. To have a community of brothers and sisters in Christ to fellowship with. And yes, one of those people I was keeping out was me.

Several months ago I had a dear family member tell me he needed me to go to church. It would motivate him to go. Guess what I did with that? Absolutely nothing.

The week before last I talked with a dear sister in Christ. I was telling her how someone had asked for help and I didn’t help them. Within a few hours that person I refused to help showed up at my house. I brought it up and apologized. As we both stood with tears in our eyes, I knew I needed another chance. I wanted to make things right.

So attending a church service this morning was a plan I selfishly dreaded. I walked in. Thinking back, I wonder if anyone could see my back bowed under the pressure of the heavy bricks I was carrying. The sermon began and my sturdy wall began to weaken as I sang along to the old familiar hymns.

Philippians 1:21, which happened to be a favorite verse of a beloved ex-pastor of mine, was the beginning verse of the Scripture used in today’s sermon. The favorite verse of the pastor I had when I loved going to church services. The minister that was there when I was involved in the church. Ironic? Not at all. Coincidence? I think not. The Lord? Most definitely. It was also a reminder of someone that had taught me to love the church and to see the importance of it.

Philippians 1:21-26 NKJV  21) For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  22) But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23) For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24) Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25) And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith.

The preacher said, “Paul put himself and his wants below other’s needs. He would rather die and go to be with the Lord than to continue living in this old sinful world, but He knew He was needed in this world to help others find their faith in the Lord.”

The mortar between the bricks in my wall began to crack. As the service went on and the Lord used that preacher man to speak to me, I wondered if anyone saw the wall I had built tumble to the ground. Did they see the pile of rubble beneath my feet?

During the prayer, teardrops fell from my eyes onto my crossed hands that grabbed the chair in front of me. They were so large that I seemed to hear them drop, yet I never heard the sound of that wall that finally gave way. As I stood, turned and walked out of the sanctuary, somehow I didn’t have to step over that pile of bricks from the wall God tore down. He must’ve swept them away so I wouldn’t trip.

Last night I put brick wall paper up. I even said at one point, “I don’t want to go to church.” Isn’t it funny how the Lord is apparently guiding my steps, even down to putting wallpaper up. 

I pray this won’t discourage anyone, but encourage. If you have a wall, ask the Lord to help that thing fall. It’s so much weight to carry, it’ll only hold you down.

If you know anyone this might help, please share it with them.

Thank you for reading and God bless!

How to Catch a Flea

A few weeks ago my niece came over and wanted me to paint her toenails. She was sitting on the floor in my bedroom and all of a sudden she said she got bit by something. She asked if we had fleas. I said, “I hope not!” She went on to tell me she read there is a trick you can do to find out if you have them.

You put a bowl of water under a lamp overnight. The fleas are drawn to the light from the lamp. They try to jump towards the light, fall in the bowl of water and drown. I said, “So if I put a bowl of water under the lamp on the piano, I’ll find out if I have fleas?” She said, “No, you have to put the lamp on the floor.”

I never tried this trick because four of us live here and none of us have gotten bit by anything except mosquitos, and that is outside unless one makes it’s way in occasionally. I think she just got lucky (haha), or maybe the Lord knew I’d need something to write about one day.

The other night Leah and I were reading in the book of Matthew. As I was reading aloud, I was reminded of the conversation my niece and I had. In verses 15-16 NKJV, Jesus says:

15) Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify you Father in heaven.

I glanced over at the lamp that was giving off the light to read by on the bedside table.

Although the trick with the lamp may be a good way to determine if you have fleas, we normally want to put a lamp in a higher place to be able to see better- to light up a room. This parable in the Bible speaks of followers of Christ. We don’t want to cover our light, place it on the floor or even have a dimmer switch, but let it shine bright to light up a dark world. He wants us to be a shining example for Christ, that our Father might be glorified.

Thank you for reading.