Monday, June 25, 2012

Light the Way

Light the Way
O LORD, You ways are superior
Your thoughts incomprehensible
and mysterious –
still somehow accessible
to those who hear Your Voice
and praise Your Name.
In my heart and mind
You’ve revealed Your Word,
Your will, Your plan,
in such a way
that I can understand.
You’ve unlocked Your wisdom
Your Spirit illumines the way
as I determine to follow Your footsteps,
through life,
every hour of every day.
Sometimes I’m bruised from falling
Pricked by thorns when I go astray and
You guide me back to the narrow path
When I cry out for grace
in Jesus’ name.
You never leave me to suffer
nor condemn my miserable, sorry soul
though I’ve flaunted my defiance for all to see.
You won’t leave me in my arrogance
for You’ve given in Your Holy Word
a guarantee
that You will search the wilderness
until You, the LORD, recover me.
I am Your child, Your follower
saved by Your love and grace alone
All that I possess I received from You
I have nothing of my own to give
in gratitude
except my heart, my soul,
my mind,
my willing praise,
and the life I live.

Poetic Response to Psalm 119:105-112
About the pictures:
Parkwood Prayer Garden (July 2009)
Blackwater Falls State Park (May 2010)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Trust In God!

Last week, I had the opportunity to do something incredible. For the first time in my life, I had the joy of attending Vacation Bible School. And while it’s true that you can’t go back in time and be a kid again, I was able to experience VBS through the kids, learn through their wonder and laugh with them in their joy – It really was quite exhausting, but so worth the time. The church I work for asked me to take pictures and put together a little slide show presentation for the last evening. Endeavoring to improve my skill at photographing people, I said yes.

So last Monday through Thursday evenings, while pretending to be the VBS photographer, I was really a grown up kid attending Vacation Bible School. Everyone – kids and their families and the volunteers – gathered for dinner at 5:30 p.m. where there was lots of fellowship and great kid-friendly food to be had. (Just a side note – I had my first corn dog ever Tuesday night! It was interesting. I would have to say that I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either.) At 6 p.m. we all began to gather in the Sanctuary for singing and then off to the different activities over the next 90 minutes. The kids were divided into age groups and the groups rotated between crafts, games or science, storytelling, and music. All the activities related to the theme and at the end of the week, the kids took home a bag full of toys and projects which they made as reminders of their time at VBS. We also had a 3 year old group who stayed in one room as the volunteers provided all the activities in an age appropriate format. Then we all gathered in the Sanctuary again. The kids shared their God-sightings: something that happened that evening that they knew God was involved in like meeting a new friend, or learning something about God and one night we even saw a bald eagle flying over the church.  They also learned about sharing God’s love through Operation Kid to Kid. They learned about mosquitoes and malaria and how they can share God's love and save other kids’ lives by pulling together their change and their parent’s dollars to purchase specially-treated mosquito nets for children in the African country of Mali. What a joy it was to see them give their pennies and dollars with great big smiles on their faces, knowing that they were helping other kids just like themselves.

The one thing that is seared in my brain forever is the incredibly addictive chant the 3 year olds shouted as they traveled from the Sanctuary to the Preschool, from the Preschool to the playground, and from the playground back to the Sanctuary…TRUST IN GOD! TRUST IN GOD! TRUST IN GOD! TRUST IN GOD! VBS taught us that everything is possible with God (Mark 10:27) so no matter who you are …trust God! No matter how you feel …trust God! No matter what people do…trust God! And no matter what happens…trust God! This is one of those truths, I think, that we, as human beings, have to learn over and over again. It’s not that we don’t get it the first or second time, but it is something we need to experience time and again to 1) convince us it’s really true and 2) show us the depth of trust we can have in God. Not that God has ever deserved our distrust – but I believe we are born with our ability in tack to trust wholly and, day after day, life situations and the humans around us give us reasons to distrust until we forget what it is to truly trust undeniably and wholeheartedly, even in God. Once trust is lost – it is almost impossible to get back. Trusting wholeheartedly, without doubt, in God no matter what is a hard truth to absorb and we need to hear it again and again for it to overcome the distrust this fallen world has instilled in us. So I guess I can report my own God-sighting for the week as a group of innocent three-year-olds happily marching about the campus screaming TRUST IN GOD! TRUST IN GOD! TRUST IN GOD! TRUST IN GOD! May it echo in my heart, and yours, forever.

About the pictures:
VBS 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

Not Needed But Wanted

Isn’t the world God made wonderful! It’s a shame in our pride and arrogance, we too often think that our lives are about us, that we are the center, as if the world revolves around our needs, wants, and desires – as if we are the main character when, in fact, God is and we are blessed that he cares to include us at all.

For me, this past week has been about setting myself aside and asking God to bless some very special people as I held them up in prayer, hoping for the privilege of being an instrument of his blessings. I wanted express my love for them and felt the best and only way to do this was by asking God to bless their lives. I took the gifts God has been refining in me and shared them to the best of my ability, in the hope that God would transform my offering with his presence and convey on others the blessings I could not begin to imagine or bring about. As I reflect back on this week, I have to laugh at myself because, though my wanting to bless others was sincere, I now realize that God was the one who instilled this desire in me in the first place – probably his way of including me in the plan he had for these people all along.  He didn’t need me to ask or to offer my abilities to fulfill his plan – I did. I needed to ask to share the joy of the blessing he intended all along.

Too often, I lose sight of the fact that God is what is so wonderful about me – not the gifts he gave me or the things he enables me to achieve. If I am congratulating myself or concerned only for how I am affected as life unfolds, then I am missing the best part of who I am – the One who created me and sustains the very life I enjoy. It really is all about God and, in his inexplicable grace, he chooses to include me. When I set aside myself, my goals, needs, and desires, and step out of the spotlight so that it may shine on the One deserving the attention and glory, I find myself filled with a joy and satisfaction I could never know otherwise – the joy and satisfaction of acknowledging and being in the presence of a holy and loving God who doesn’t need me but wants me. He knows all there is to know about me and wants to love and care for me all the same. Because he loves me, I matter to him and that’s why he includes me in his plans – so that in the act of blessing others, I too will be blessed.

About the pictures:
Pittsburgh, PA (June 2010)

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Beginning

This week, God seemed to be drawing me back to the beginning. It seemed that "beginnings" was constantly being brought to my attention from conversations to situations I was involved in, even to a rerun of sitcom pilot episode. They say that every ending is a new beginning and I've had my share of endings and beginnings in my life, both good and bad, just like you.

As I think back to the beginning of my relationship with God, I may not remember the exact date, but I will never forget the incredible hope I felt when God open the floodgate of wisdom and understanding and I finally got it that Jesus is alive, loving me, wanting to shower me in his grace and forgiveness. He created me to love him and showed me how to love him in return by being the perfect example in the person of Jesus Christ. He didn't demand or coerce my deep affection, but waited patiently for me to make the decision to respond to his unsolicited, unwavering grace.

As I look back now on those first moments of my decision for Christ as Lord and Savior in my life, I can understand why Jesus so often compared the relationship of God and man to a marriage with him as the groom and his people, the church, as his bride. Having been a bride twice, I have lots of experience to draw on. The first time I walked down the aisle I was very young and naive. It never occurred to me that life would be anything other than "happily ever after." The second time, I was a little older and wiser, thinking I was going into it with my eyes wide open and finding that no one can fully be prepared for the unpredictability of the future. I look back over the last thirteen years and I see how much I've grown in my relationship with the Lord. There is a deeper understanding now that as new believer back then, I couldn't have begun to fathom. I think that the moments spent in God's presence worshiping, praying, learning, leaning on and relying on him has strengthen my love for God and my commitment to him. It's those shared moments that hold us together and which we build our relationship upon.

Our relationship continues to grow as time goes on. As mature as I feel our relationship is now compared to when it first began, that's how much more mature it will be in the yearsto come compared to right now. This is a lifetime commitment - a day to day resolve to love each other. Now God being God will never falter or waver in his love or attention and me being human most definately will. But even in my failures, my wanderings, God will be with me and for me. His grace and forgiveness will be available and waiting for me. His promises will remain. Praise God!

In thinking about beginnings this week, the Spirit inspired this poetic picture I want to share with you of that moment thirteen years ago when I gave my life to Christ. Enjoy and be blessed!

My Vow
Professing my love,
I gave my heart,
as if a young bride
looking forward to her new life.
Yet not really knowing
the depths
of the lifetime commitment
I readily declared.
With a new joy
so pure and profound,
I offered all I had –
an impoverished soul
and the days left to come.
I spoke of my love and loyalty
to my Creator,

my Savior and King.
In gratitude giving all I am for
He drew me from the void
of my sin and shame,
forgiven and free,
to the solace of His embrace.
An eternal bond possible
between God and me
by the absolute grace
He so passionately gave
upon the Cross of Calvary.
Yes, even before I knew Him,
God’s amazing love
was calling out for me.

About the pictures:
Ficther Fairy Garden (June 2011)