Friday, February 25, 2011

Winter of the Soul

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

      My husband thought the new picture I put on my blog header was too dead looking. I pondered for a moment to consider his opinion. Then I answered him back, "It's not dead, it's winter." Sometimes winter causes things to look dead, but really, they're only sleeping. They are taking a rest from their labor, in preparation for the work ahead. The grape vine I chose for my blog header is not dead. Right now it has buds just ready to burst forth with life. It's waiting for the "go ahead," for that appointed time when the work begins again. When each branch in the vine will send forth its little branches and leaves, and fruit.

      Sometimes in life we go through periods similar to winter, perhaps a winter of the soul. When we're dormant in our activities, and it feels like we aren't growing. Perhaps something happened to us that caused us to be put out of commission temporarily, or slowed down. We may feel a little bit dead, or useless, but in reality God has brought us to a state of waiting...resting...and being still. Just like the grapevine, there is work ahead of us and we are being prepared for it.

      It can be a time of growing on the inside, in the hidden places of the heart. A time of trusting God and His plans for our lives, knowing that He is doing a work in us that will burst forth with life, like new leaves on the vine. As we draw closer to Him, and seek His face (being still and knowing He is God), His work in us will grow and mature, and bring forth fruit.

      The picture of the bare vine may look sad to you, but to me it is a reminder of the promises and goodness of God. Because year after year I've seen what He has done through the vine. He has always been faithful to bring the leaves of spring after the cold barren winter, followed by summer's abundance of fruit as His many blessings overflow into the baskets of autumn.

      Just as we can count on the seasons changing every year, we can also count on the faithfulness of God to bring us through those quiet times of waiting on Him. New buds will soon appear on the branches of our lives and God’s goodness will burst forth with spring blossoms; replacing our winter of the soul.

Friday, February 18, 2011

When a friend walks away...

(I took this picture because I noticed how much my vacuum cleaner cord looked like a heart. I kind of thought it was relevant to this post because one end of it was plugged in to the outlet and the other end was in the vacuum cleaner...and in the middle was this heart -well, you decide if it is relevant.)

"Love is patient, love is kind...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
 1 Cor. 13:4,7
      What do you do when a sister in the Lord falls away, or more like, turns away from God? When they turn their back on everyone and everything they once held dear, and choose a life of sin instead. When all common ground - the ground you once walked with them - is gone, and the path is no longer visible to the eye. When they no longer allow you to call them sister or friend, and close the door on your heart. Do you cry...question God...pray? What do you do?

      This happened to me just recently. Someone I care for very much, turned and walked away. She didn't just walk away from me, she walked away from others too, and even worse, she walked away from God. I know if my heart hurts this much, His heart must be breaking. I also know He will never give up on her, He will always love her, and so must I.

      I'm going to pray for her, especially now when she will not pray for herself. I want to remain a faithful sister and friend by interceding before the throne of Grace on her behalf, remembering that the Bible says love is patient and kind, and it never gives up (1 Corinthians 13). I heard a speaker just recently say that interceding for someone in prayer is like putting one hand on their shoulder, and the other on God. So at this time when my friend cannot, or will not draw near to Him, I'll stand in the gap and pray with one hand stretched out to her and the other to God. In that way, I'll hold her ever so close to both of us, even though she is far away.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sharing my trip

I'm back!

Not only did I go on my get-away with friends, but I didn't get big lips or the flu (previous post) until I got back. I'm not complaining:) We arrived at the house just in time to unload the car and watch the beautiful sunset.

We were reminded that the heavens declare the glory of God, as we watched the sky change colors and the sun disappear from sight.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.    Psalm 19:1-4

It was nice not having a schedule. Our only plans were to have no plans. We were there for peace and quiet, and to fellowship as sisters in the Lord.

After breakfast we decided to go on a hike to Feather Falls. When we made the decision to go, we didn't realize it was a 10 mile hike, but we opted to go anyway after we found out. We were glad we did.

We crossed a few bridges.

Reminders that God is our bridge over troubled waters.

These waters weren't troubled, but without a bridge it would have been a lot of trouble to cross them.

It was five miles to the falls, but it was worth the hike, and singing praise songs along the way made the time seem to go faster.

" Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and billows have gone over me." Psalm 42: 7

I loved the way the water looked as it fell on the rocks...

The Feather River snaked through the canyon below us.

 We passed some other brave souls who told us they saw a bunch of lady bugs on the lower trail, so we decided to go back the way they came. What we didn't realize is that it was uphill almost all the way!

We found the ladybugs. They were in bunches on the moss covered rocks.
My camera didn't capture these little ladies very well, but you get the idea...lots of lady bugs!

We passed this log on our way back and decided to cross it instead of staying on the trail.
Hey, we're over 50, and sometimes we need to veer off the trail and remember what it's like to take chances...even small ones.
(no one fell)

The last mile was hard...really hard. Uphill all the way. So we did what no survival books would tell you to do (except the Bible), we started praising God.

Before we knew it, we were back at the parking lot where we started five hours earlier.

We drove out about an hour before dark...thankful that we went.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Do I trust Him with my future? With or without big lips? (bare with me here)

      I planned a get-away with some friends of mine, sisters really, about two weeks ago. We decided to go up to my parents place in the mountains for a few days (like a retreat). Walk and know, girl stuff. But then I started thinking about what I had to do at home to get ready to go: buy horse feed, plan meals, reorder a prescription for one of the horses....the list went on, and on....
Before I knew it, I was so weighed down with all the things I had to do just to leave home for two days, I was already tired and feeling like it wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be, and I hadn't even left yet.

      Then, I came across an article in a publication I received, it was about daring to hope and look forward to things joyfully, and I felt it was talking to me. I had lost all my joy about going away. Life seemed to be all work and no play, and the weird thing was, I seemed to not really mind it. Was it easier for me to stick to my work and not plan other things? Was I afraid of being disappointed? The article talked about that. I was feeling a little convicted. Did I not trust God with my future, even something as small as a trip away for a couple of days?

      I prayed about it, and acknowledge that God was in control of my future and this trip. I told Him I trusted Him with it all and I wanted it to be glorifying to Him. Not long after, I was really looking forward to going...excited even. I started making plans; what I would wear, what we would eat, and thinking about how fun it was going to be. Then it happened - fear of disappointment tried to stick its ugly head in and steal it away. It started with my husband getting sick - really sick! He was coughing, sneezing, blowing his nose...germs flying everywhere! I could feel them landing on me in bed. I tried not to sleep facing him but I know they were landing on me anyway; the air was full of felt thick. There were used tissues everywhere!

      Before he recovered completely, my youngest son announced to me, "I feel awful, my throat hurts really badly." He looked terrible! He lay in bed for two days, and then started coughing. He was still sick when his older brother came home and informed me that he had a stomach ache. All night he threw up...diarrhea all the next day. I walked around with a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a wash cloth, wiping everything down. I'm sorry to say, I was treating them like they had the plague.

      As I watched this drama unfold, it hit me - I know exactly what is happening here. Each time a new sickness comes through the door I wrestle with fear - am I going to get sick and not get to go on my trip? I had to reaffirm my trust in God's control of my future and that He is faithful to be the keeper of my hopes and dreams...and plans. It was quite a test though. Every time I felt a sneeze coming on, or a cough, I wrestled with it again. Each time I had to give my worrying to God. I almost made myself sick over it!

      I was doing pretty well and then I got a call from my Mom. She began her conversation with, "Did you get sick after you got home the other day?" "No...Why?" (I had to ask) She replied, "My lips are big and swollen!" That's when I couldn't take it any was getting ridiculous...even funny. I burst out laughing! I don't think my Mom understood, but I think I was beginning to.

      I'm leaving with my friends tomorrow for our get-away. I'm really excited! I know it will be a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to fellowshipping with them. I picture us leaving with the Rav4 packed to the roof...all seats mugs in holders...GPS programed and talking and laughing as we drive away for our two days of adventure. And once I'm in that car, it will be too late for disappointment to win. I will honk my horn as I pull away from the house, and watch it grow smaller in the rear view mirror. If by chance I happen to get a glimpse of myself in that mirror and notice any big swollen lips looking back at me, too bad, I'm going anyway. That's what lipstick is for!