Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Lent journey: GO

Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.
I Corinthians 3:5-9 (The Message)

Personal reflections:  Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19 tell us to GO into the world...  God has work for us to do.  This will look different for all of us.  Maybe you will be the next generation of a family doing what the family has always done (ie. farming) or maybe you will get married and raise your children in the same community you grew up in and your children will attend the same elementary, junior high and high school as their parents or maybe you will be one of our brave and honorable military men and women (with the possibility of sacrificing your life for our continued freedom), maybe you'll become a pastor or a priest and will devote your whole life to serving God or maybe you'll become a missionary and take God's Word to those who haven't heard it or maybe, like me, God will ask you to live a nomadic life; going to the place He shows you to go....  We all have places in the world God wants us to GO to.  He has given each of us specific gifts and talents and if we allow Him, He will work in and through our lives blessing and loving people as we journey on this earth, for God first loved us - enabling us to love others around us.  

For me, it's easy to fall into old patterns - I'm the one doing the work, the one who wants to belong to a community of people and the one who wants to be "rooted" to a piece of land for the rest of my life - Me!  There is the problem.  BUT today, I am one who is awaking from what feels like a long slumber.....and seeing God as my focus, once again.  God has shown me through this Lenten photographic journey for 2015, He is fanning the embers back into a flame within my spirit and He has work for me to do.  Instead of focusing on what I want, He is showing me, again, that He desires to work through me to reach others - with Truth and Love; to be a vessel for His blessings to flow through.  I know there will be days when I get tripped up again (and again and likely again), but my hope and prayer is that my eyes, my heart, and my soul will be fully tuned into what God desires.  May He be my daily priority.  

I am giving thanks, anew, today for the blessing of this place that we currently live in, for this community of beautiful people, for the opportunity to have a garden and to learn and grow continually....  May I serve You well here, Lord, and be blessed to bless others.

God is so very good and I am blessed more than I could ask or imagine.  Joy overflowing!  

Thank you, Lord, for loving me, healing me and blessing me to be Your servant.  Thank you for new eyes to see you more clearly.  I am indeed blessed to be Your child and honored to do Your work. 

He is Risen.  He is Risen indeed.  Easter blessings today and in all your days ahead!

Lent journey: REFUGE

He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings, you will find refuge; 
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  Psalm 91:4 (NIV)

Personal reflections:  When looking around in nature; observing, I see God's Word come alive more and more through His Creation.  Examples abound for us all to see.  There is something so endearing, so loving and comforting; a story told through this picture that makes me desire the same type of experience.....and this verse expresses God's invitation/promise for those who make Him their dwelling place; His love for us.

Psalm 91 is a psalm that Blaine and I pray; a psalm of protection in this world.  I can imagine massive angel-like wings that our Heavenly Father opens for His children to run under where we are safe and secure in His refuge.  And yet, those "wings" can wrap around just me in a way that I know and feel God's love, specifically for me, and I am safe in His loving arms.  Such great comfort in knowing this about my Heavenly Father!  Oh, how I love Him.  And I know, He loves me...

I encourage to read Psalm 91 for yourself and hear what the Lord tells us all.  

The photo below is artwork created for Psalm 91 and is available from an artist through  The picture is a link to that particular etsy shop - you can click on it. (I don't know the artist, but thought this was an interesting display of most of this psalm - and it can be personalized for a specific person too).

Praying we all live the reality of who God is.  Blessings to you and yours.  May you allow God to work through your life to bless others, even today.

Lent journey: PROSPER

Then the Lord Your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land.  The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as He delighted in your fathers, if you obey the Lord your God and keep His commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 30:9-10

Personal reflections:  Powerful words....  A powerful promise!  

When you read the words above, it's pretty simple.  Really, it is.  

If it's simple, why is it so difficult for me to live these words out when I know what blessing God will bring to my life in doing so?  

All I've got to do is..........  

"Turn to the Lord Your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul."  

Why can't I just do this?  Why do I struggle and fall short of doing what the Lord asks of me?  How do I live on the earth daily, but commit ALL of my heart and my soul to the Lord?  Plenty of people appear to be able to do this, but............

The good news is the Lord knows my struggles.  He knows my weaknesses.  He knows my heart.  He knows every fiber of my being and He loves me.  Oh, how He loves me.  And, in the course of this messy life I live, He does bless the work of my hands and all the rest in the verses above - but there is still heartache, loss, disappointment at times; even when it seems these things are stronger than joy, victory and prosperity. 

Lately though, God is revealing to me that what may need adjustment in my life is my VISION; how I'm looking at my life, my journey and the world around me.  Perhaps I'm seeing a blurrier view of my life and journey and it's clear to God.  Maybe I'm focusing on certain things (negatives) instead of the others that are there too (positives).  So thankful a blog friend of mine stopped by to visit my blog today and left good words to chew on in my BREATH post.  Cleaning my glasses and removing the veil in front of my eyes may be just what I needed, as I continue to turn to the Lord my God with ALL my heart and with ALL my soul.  I am likely to see something very different indeed!

Blessings to you, dear reader...  May you know the joy of the Lord, who is your strength.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lent journey: BREATH

Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you!  As the Father sent me, I Am sending you."  And with that He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
John 20:21-22 (NIV)

Personal reflections:  This morning, our wonderful and gracious Lord opened my eyes to see that He comes right in the midst of our chaos; the messiness of our lives...  He doesn't wait until we have everything in order; the kitchen cleaned, floors mopped, bed made, laundry done, never missing reading our Bible on a daily basis, always remembering to spend time in prayer, praying for our neighbors (that we may like or not), praying for our nation, blessing others, spending time with a friend or loved one, helping someone with their need (even when we have our own), driving a distance just to say hello to a friend or family member, remembering to send a birthday greeting that arrives on time, making a special treat for someone (because you can).... I know you get the picture.  How I fail at every one of these things and more ~ regularly!  If Jesus waited to bless me with peace and the Holy Spirit in my life until I was "totally prepared and had it all together," it would never happen in my lifetime. 

On a personal note, I have been really struggling lately!  Really struggling!  I am so very thankful that God has blessed us with our current rental home and its location.  It is truly a blessing to both Blaine and I.  The one thing missing is being able to "build" Joy Bell Farm; our dream.  Yes, we can grow fruits and vegetables, etc at our rental location - but not as we envision it (biodynamic, value-added products) as it's not our place to do so here (but perhaps God will show us how to).  Yes, we are working on clearing space for a garden.  As of now, it doesn't appear that it will be as large as we envisioned for this year.  Clearing is happening at a very slow pace.  The soil here is very dense and mineral rich (a blessing and a challenge - and oh, so many rocks), but as soon as rain hits it, it's like sticky goo and one can't work in it...., but God already knew that, didn't He?  And, I had hoped to have chickens this spring - but it's not going to happen.  Why not?  We're still living out the challenges/consequences of our past.  While we've worked through alot of the relationship issues, challenges and wounds from the past 6 years, we have one big weight that holds us down.....finances.  We have debt, which really began in 1999/2000 when I became ill (we've had lots of out-of-pocket expenses since that time), we chose to assist Benjamin with his undergrad education (and took on part of his school debt), and we are still dealing with paying off our foreclosure settlement (repaying our retirement fund).  And, we'll need to save for a down payment to purchase our own farm - if that opportunity should come to us.  Most days I wonder..... will Joy Bell Farm ever be a possibility in our lifetime or will it always be a "dream" we hope for?  Will it always remain out-of-reach?  Our focus is paying off our financial debt and until that time, while we'd love for a farm agreement/arrangement to come into our lives, our hands are tied.  Our only hope is God's provision.  Is it His plan for our lives? If yes, He will make it happen.  

Now, I am not seeking pity from anyone.  We ALL have stories.  We ALL have challenges in our lives.  Thus far, there is not one person I've met who doesn't have a story that affects them.  And, even as I wrestle with our story - God's Word comes to encourage and reassure that He is right there in the midst of our story and our daily life!  When I took the photograph for today and then found the scripture and words began pouring into my thoughts of what my heart is feeling, I thought to myself, "I really don't want to share what is on my heart this morning, but it is real.  It's my raw feelings.  It's my personal experience where our life is right now.  It's what I wrestle with daily in my faith journey."  Moments later, I cried out aloud, overwhelmed, when today's God Calling devotional came onto my computer screen. After reading the devotional (see below), a few words from an old song fill my head (and I search and find it ~ and I remember God's anointing on this particular album.....and tears come.....).  The Lord's presence washes over me, my heart rejoices as I know my Lord is near to me and hears my cry and a peace settles over me ~ for I know I am His child and He loves me and is with me in this crazy wonderful, painful, joyous adventure called life.

And I end this morning sharing with you by singing a powerful praise song...

Like a mighty rushing wind, move me.
Like a river of joy, flow through me.
Like a hot burning fire, consume us, Lord.
Touch us and make us like You. 

May our amazing and loving Lord make Himself known to you today with a fresh revelation of who He is; His love and grace abounding to you.  And in His words, "Peace be with you!"

From God Calling Devotional:

April 2 - The Priceless Blessing
I am here. Here is truly as I was with My Disciples of old. Here to help and bless you. Here to company with you. Do you know, even yet, My children, that this is the priceless blessing of your lives? I forgive you, as you have prayed Me to, for all neglects of My commands, but start anew from today.
Study My words and carry them out unflinchingly, unflinching. As you do this, you will find that you are miracle-workers, workers together with Me -- for Me. Remember this, not what you do, but what you are -- that is the miracle-working power.
Changed by My Spirit, shedding one garment of Spirit for a better; in time throwing that aside for a yet finer one, and so on from character to character, gradually transformed into My likeness.
Joy, Joy, Joy.

This morning, I lift my hands, praise God and declare I love Him - once more!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lent journey: PEACE

I Am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don't be troubled or afraid.  John 14:27 (NLT)

Personal reflection:  I have a very sensitive heart.  I think I always have.  My heart is easily wounded by the words and actions of others.  It's possible that others think I overly or unreasonably react to things. I'm certain I do according to them.  I've come to understand that this is how I was made.  It's in the fabric of my being.  I need to remind myself to run and hide in my Heavenly Father's arm for He knows me and loves me just as I am ~ and to embrace the Truth of His Word.  

Recent events in the world have troubled my mind and my heart, but today I was reminded by our friend, Richard, in his post Steps to Peace - Jesus' style (Part 1) that Jesus has shown me the way.  All I need to do is walk in it.  I don't have to worry about anything.  I don't have to be afraid.  I can live in the gift Jesus gave - peace of mind and heart.  It seems our world becomes more complex daily, but nothing surprises Jesus and He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us; right in the midst of it all.  Today.  I choose PEACE.

And, one of my favorite Chris Tomlin songs that reminds me I have no one to fear.  May You, dear reader, experience His peace that is greater than any promise of peace this world has to offer.

Lent journey: CALL

This is God's Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God:  "Call to me and I will answer you.  I'll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own."  Jeremiah 33:2-3 (The Message)

Personal reflection:  I find it completely and utterly amazing that the God of the universe, my Heavenly Father, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords invites me (it's for you and everyone else, as well) to call to Him and He will answer us.  It's a promise and He will reveal, share, help us discover things that I could not do on my own.  When I think of ALL life in its entirety and I'm a little tiny speck, the love He has for me is overwhelming that He cares so much for me and that He wants to share marvelous and wondrous things..... with me. He is truly an awesome God!

I think I've shared the words to a heart song the Holy Spirit inspired in me, but I feel compelled to share again with this post:

I stand amazed. 
I stand amazed.
This life, Your Love...
It abounds.

I stand amazed.
I stand amazed.
The beauty....
The sights....
The sounds....

I stand amazed, oh...
I stand amazed.
Your Creation, for us,
So profound.

I stand amazed.
I stand amazed.
I stand amazed.
I stand amazed.....  

Lent journey: LIVE

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you.
He is your example, and you must follow in His steps.
He never sinned nor deceived anyone.
He did not retaliate when insulted nor threaten revenge when He suffered.
He left His case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.
He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.  By His wounds you are healed.
Once you were like sheep who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.  
1 Peter 2:21-25 (NLT)

Personal reflection:  When left to my own devises, I do have a tendency to wander - just as sheep do.  Oh, how I need my Shepherd!

Reading the passage again and again, I realize these verses are not only difficult to hear, but also nearly impossible to live out in my own human experience.  In fact, I can't do it on my own.  I need my Savior and the help of the Holy Spirit to do my best to live as God has called me to. 

These verses reveal several areas of my life where I find it challenging to be obedient and trust Him; sometimes without even realizing what I'm doing.  Why is it that the things God wants me to do, the opposite is "second nature" for me?  And those words, "live for what is right..."  How I wish God would write me a personal note, call me on the phone or send me an e-mail or text message, so I knew exactly what those words mean to Him.  In my humanness, I stumble about trying to determine what is right (biblically) while the world is shouting really loudly about what "they" say is right.  Lord, help me please!

These verses end with a wonderful reassurance....  I have chosen to turn to my Shepherd and He is the Guardian of my soul.  And, because of Jesus, I am healed!  Our God blesses us with an amazing HOPE that even as we struggle along our journey, He is with us to help us fully LIVE.

And, once again, I lift my hands toward heaven and sing out:

Lent journey: CELEBRATE

This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 
Psalm 118:24 (NASB)

Personal reflection:  Rejoicing in the gift of a beautiful day of life and living!  Fresh air to breath and the beauty of God's Creation all around us.  What a truly wonderful gift!

Lent journey: SEE

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  
See, I Am doing a new thing!  
Now it spring up; do you not perceive it?  
Am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.  
Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

Personal reflection:  Do I see?  What do I see?  Am I seeing anything? 

Definition of "see" ~ perceive with the eyes; discern visually.

How quickly I fall into "the past," just as the nation of Israel did in Exodus (when God delivered them from oppression/slavery in Egypt).  Why is it that I find this so easy to do, when I know God delivers us from places, situations, or people that He no longer desires us to be connected with?  Now, in this case, I'm talking specifically about our home and urban farm in Burien...  There are countless days when I long to go back, to have our urban farm, my chickens, our home and the life we lived there; practically begging God to restore us there.  But, when I have gone back to the place, I know I don't belong there. I don't want to live in that particular place (though I'd like to have some of my old neighbors as neighbors again).  It's just that when where we are today isn't exactly what we hoped for or what we thought was going to be or the journey is difficult - I have a tendency to want to "go back."  It seems like it's human nature for alot of people.  For me, Burien is the place I have lived the longest in one place; possibly my whole entire life!  7 years.  I understand why that particular place seems to have a pull on me.  And yet, I know I can't go back.  I don't really want to go back.  And with this verse, God is reminding me, again, that He is doing something new.  Stop dwelling on what has been lost; on what is no more.  It is time to focus on God and what He is doing here and now and that is super exciting!  I want to go forward......with God......and be in the midst of whatever He is at work doing.  I believe He is doing something new, even as I can't quite focus and see what it is yet.  And now, I'm watching for it!  

God is good. All the time!   

Lent journey: MEDITATE

How well God must like you - 
you don't hang out at Sin Saloon,
you don't slink along Dead-End Raod,
you don't go to Smart-Mouth College.

Instead you thrill to God's Word, 
you chew (meditate) on Scripture day and night.
You're a tree replanted in Eden,
bearing fresh fruit every month, 
Never dropping a leaf,
always in blossom.

You're not at all like the wicked,
who are mere windblown dust -
Without defense in court,
unfit company for innocent people.

God charts the road you take,.
The road they take is Skid Row.

Psalm 1 (The Message)

Personal reflection:  This is my spiritual life passage.  The Psalm speaks life and guidance to me.  And in reading it again today, it makes me feel alive and also gently and lovingly reminds me that I need to get back to being "thrilled" or "delighted" (NIV) in God's Word daily.  While I do focus on God's Word often, the Lord has revealed to me that I am not meditating upon it as He would desire I do.  So thankful, again, for this Lenten journey and all our amazing Lord is sharing with me.

Along my spiritual journey, I've messed up plenty of times.  So glad God doesn't keep score.  But, His Word reminds me of all I am through Christ and as His child. That is wonderful news, indeed! 

And from my Christian Growth Study Bible - a study excerpt about verses 1-3...

Secret of an abundant life:

George Mueller began a ministry that rescued hundreds of starving orphans from death in the slums of England.  As important as his role was in showing these needy children the love of their heavenly Father, the ministry was never Mueller's first priority.  He believed God's highest call on his life was for intimate relationship with Him.  God had shown him that the way to have this was through daily Bible meditation.

The concept of meditation comes from a Latin word that describes a cow chewing the cud.  The grass is eaten, chewed, swallowed, regurgitated, chewed some more and swallowed again.  The process is repeated until the food is fully digested.  Mueller said, "God showed me that I should go to His Word to chew on it early in the morning.  This is not something I do for my ministry, but something for me personally, that I would be nourished."

History testifies to the tremendous impact this meditation had on his life and ministry.  Imagine what God could accomplish through each of us if we started each day by meditating on the Word!

George Mueller's faith life has also had a great impact on my own spiritual journey...

Lent journey: SEEK

"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."  Matthew 7:7-8

Personal reflection:  Determined to finished this Lenten photo journey, but being way behind....., it's time to push through; asking my amazing Lord to show me the way.  Thank You, Holy Spirit, for hanging out with me today and giving me wisdom to get "caught up!"

I fully believe these verses and live them out, I think, every day!  There are things I have been asking, seeking and knocking on doors for years and believe, in God's timing and according to His will for my life - they WILL happen!  I think the biggest failure or disappointment with these verses is that, from a human perspective, we think what we're asking, seeking and knocking should have an immediate answer/provision.  But, God works on His time clock, not ours.  And, we cannot understand everything nor know the whys and why nots - because God alone knows the whole story and is the only One who sees the whole picture...  Even as I/we wait, we continually praise Him!  

And yes, Blaine and I continue to do these things, through prayer, for our 'hoped for' Joy Bell Farm.  How we pray and seek God's provision to take what was an urban farm and bless us with a permanent farm location in Enumclaw (biodynamic, farm stay, JB's Kitchen) for His glory and purpose in our lives.