Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Time with my Father - Part I

Everyone has a morning routine. It’s what wakes the mind and soul, bringing the body out of slumber. First thoughts could be about work, family, health, spirituality and so on.

My first thoughts as I wipe sleep away are usually wondering what my Father will show me that day. I’ll lie in bed for a good 15-20 minutes savoring that time. Although experts are conflicted about when the mind absorbs the most, I believe the morning is prime time to experience all things new.

Scripture says, “…Each morning He awakens me eager to learn His teaching;” (Is 50:4 CEV).
And that has been the case for me.

However, be aware that God will use any method to grab your attention and let you know you’re on the correct path or need a change of course. It might be through His Word, affirmation of other believers, creative outlets such as art and song, or maybe it could be through rock climbing, and yes, even a donkey (Num 22:28) or a fish (Jonah 1:17).

Here’s the fun part. A friend of mine, Heather, wrote about her connection with God and numbers. Read about it here. Another girlfriend of mine, Amy, learned a bit about patience through one of her spiritual gifts - craftsmanship. Read hers here.

So what's mine?

It’s actually connected with the first thing I do every day. From where I lay, I reach up and pull the blinds open. Without fail, God always speaks to me in that moment. I cannot begin to describe to you the inexplicable beauty I see every morning. Yes, even on what most of us would call gloomy gray days because I know it is meant just for me. The majesty of what I see brings an immediate smile to my sleepy face. I will tell you about one particular morning at a later time.

For now I will leave you with this. God desires to speak to each one of us and because He made each one of us unique, His way of speaking to you will be equally unique. For me, I have to have my time of reading, reflection, and worship either outside or near a window. I know everything God makes is good and He consistently places that beauty along my path every day because He knows I need it. And it always brings me to a place of worship.

 30-33"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (Matthew 6:30-33, The Message)

Find those moments on the path of your day to day walk. Breathe it in like air you need to survive. Feel Him speak to your heart and stir your soul. Worship Him for it. Your Father has laid it out for you, just you, uniquely you.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Silent Treatment?

I've had family with me all week and getting quiet time to sit and write has been virtually impossible.  However, family is here because of family and nothing could be sweeter.

Well, except maybe these...

Family to celebrate birthdays are the best distraction.  Forgive me for the silent treatment. I've been a little busy and thank the good Lord for that!

Friday, March 5, 2010

See Stephanie...again!

To read about my [9littlewords] encounter with Stephanie, go here.


It was now two days before Christmas and I was yet again shopping for ingredients for baking. Thankfully butter was not on the list this time but I was going down the candy aisle.

There she was! Stephanie.

Would you believe me if I told you I wanted to run the other direction? Yes. I did. And I tried. But God stuck out His foot and tripped me!

Ok, no He didn’t. It was me fumbling over the display stand I didn’t see.


To save face, now that I had her attention, I said in the friendliest, it’s-been-so-long-since-I’ve-seen-you voice,

- “Hi Stephanie! How are you?”
- “Good! Thanks!” she replied with an ear to ear grin.

[press the pause button]

What’s important for you to know here is her very courteous personality. Because by my next question, I realized she had absolutely no recollection of who I was. Any sane person would have left me standing there. But not Stephanie. She's much too polite.


- “How’s the job hunt going?”
- “Oh! Thank you for asking! I got the job at [location] and I start on Monday! I’m so excited about what I’ll be able to do there while really using my customer service skills.”

I am jumping up and down in my mind. She got the job! She got the job! And of COURSE it's customer service! My doctor's office should hire her! I might actually like dealing with them and ...eerck. Wait. This wasn't about me and there was a slight tilt of the head from Stephanie (perhaps I wasn’t jumping in my mind and perhaps I was talking out loud?). Awkward silence. Then came the sound of crickets.

Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.

Woops! Sorry, my turn.

-“I’m so glad you got it. I did pray for you.”

That’s when she “saw” me.

- “Oh yeah! Yes! That’s right! I remember you! I got the job the very next day and I thought of you! Thank you! I just didn’t see you again to tell you. But THANKS!”

At this point I think I was overwhelmed with emotion over her genuine excitement that I managed to get out a faint and cheerful, “WonderfulThank God.”

Just in that moment, Stephanie glanced at my cart and the candy behind her. “Yes. Thank God. Merry Christmas!”

As she walked away, I made a quick inventory of the half collected ingredients she saw. NUTS! Again, no rice cakes or carrot sticks. What was she doing in that aisle anyway?! Let me simply say this: God truly has a sense of humor.

But I bet you're jealous of the desserts I made!

Peppermint fudge

Tuxedo Brownies - yup, that's white chocolate in there.

Fancy cupcakes - so good!

Next time I see Stephanie, wherever and if ever, I'm inviting her over for dinner. And to not disappoint her, I'm making sure I have plenty of cookies...or at least bread and ...you guessed it...butter.
Ultimately, this just may be what He intended. Time to slow down, go deeper, relationships with His children and not just the "check out lady".  Isn't that just what a good parent wants? He wants His to get along and love one another.
Thank God for that.

Blue Screen Death

Something has been eating my computer. Not to worry. I won. Stephanie's update is coming soon! Check back again later.

Maybe all that butter and cookies made my computer hungry. Wrong cookies Windows XP!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Butter. Cookies. Stephanie

I enjoy grocery shopping. I enjoy the entire experience. Yes, having a shopping list, coupon box, reusable totes (I get $.05 back on each one I use - yesss!), no pressure on time and an empty cart waiting for treasures, is probably one of the most relaxing outings for me.

Such was one chilly Tuesday night in December after I left my women’s bible study group. I had a short list that would be finished in about twenty minutes and I had forty-five until closing time. Score!

Oh if I only knew the “sweet” argument conversation I would have with God at checkout in a grocery store, I just may have used up my minutes strolling up and down those aisles. But that would be futile, wouldn’t it? His plans are never thwarted. Just wish His timing wasn’t so comical…but He ended up blessing it.

In order to appreciate the “situation” I was about to be placed in, I need to paint a picture of my shopping cart – the unfolding comic strip.

What you don’t know is that it was just two days away from a baking project I was getting ready to undertake. Our women’s ministry was gathering at three locations on three different days to package cookies for our respective community fire houses, police stations, schools and shelter. So, my short list was in fact short but it was butter, eggs, milk, butter, gingerbread mixes, sugar, butter, flour and did I mention butter?

I try to eat healthy so I usually don’t mind what I have in my cart but you would think I would have at least put some rice cakes or carrot sticks in there. But nooooo. I think God kept that suggestion behind His tight loving grin just so He could see me squirm step out in faith.

Back to unloading all that butter.  (Lucky for me there was nobody behind me…yet.)

Just as I was thinking about all the cookies I would be baking and the other women that would be baking as well, AND joyfully imagining all the happy faces of those receiving the cookies, I felt a familiar voice speak to my spirit while I was still unloading.

“Ask her those nine little words.”

Gasp. Gulp. Freeze. Establish no eye contact. Hum. HUM SOMETHING!

“God? Are you KIDDING me? NO. Check out lady = small talk. No time for anything deep. No time. Nope. Not doing it. No way.”  (Humming begins.)

Now this is where the brilliance of no carrot sticks comes into play.


“Asking her might just distract her from all that…butter. Imagine what she must be thinking.”

Eyes bulge. Nuts! Not fair! Rotten move!

“She’s starting to scan your items. Now would be a good time. I’ve got the first task done. Look. Her name is on her tag. Go on. Look.”


I will admit. I was squirming much more than when I asked Hugo just a couple of weeks prior. My problem was not talking to Stephanie or being polite enough to ask her how her day was going. I do always make an attempt to be pleasant to those I encounter at businesses and at the very minimum try to use their name at least once. My problem was beyond saying grace over a soup and sandwich and including a stranger in that prayer. How was I to tell Stephanie I wanted to know her request and I would pray for her? I just didn’t want to go deeper than small talk with her.

Thankfully it was almost closing time and nobody was behind me in line. So I planned what I would say in my mind. I would make a joke of all the…butter…and mention the cookies and mention church and our women and the community…and uh, oh. All that time planning and Stephanie scanning, now there were two men in line. Great! Now THEY would hear me too!

Before I knew it, Stephanie was giving me my total and my joke came out something like this, “Oh, the holidays and cookies.” ...errrch...WHAT?! That was the best I could come up with?! So much for being eloquent.

It was now or never. Where is that EASY button when you need it!

“Stephanie, I want to let you know something. At the end of the day I pray over experiences God has placed in my path and I was wondering if it would be okay to include you. How can I ask God to bless you today?”

Now if you’re thinking that came out beautifully, it didn’t. I was fumbling with my wallet and my mittens that were falling on the floor while my body language was saying, “Really. It’s ok if you ignore me.” And by the look on the gentlemen’s faces waiting in line…a riot was getting ready to ensue or that might have just been my perception.

What actually happened was more beautiful than Stephanie’s long blonde curly locks or all those happy faces I was imagining just moments earlier. She paused, turned to me, stood up straight, face lit up and with such eagerness said:

“Wow! I almost forgot it was Christmastime. Yes you can ask for me. I have three jobs I’ve applied for and would love to get one. Thank you! Thank you for asking!”
I was humbled by her response and to think I was arguing with God about even asking her those nine little words. I kept thinking, “How does one forget Christmas when you are surrounded by red and green decorations, and Santa, and reindeer, and Frosty and…?” Oh, wow.

Might that be what we all sometimes do? We get so busy in our surroundings that we forget our one simple purpose – to love God and love others. Are we so busy “doing” that we forget the Being? Christ was never in a rush to go deeper. He took time for relationships…even if she was just the check out lady scanning butter for the cookies you are baking for everyone else.

Thank you Stephanie for making me stop in my tracks and look richly into your eyes. I went home and prayed for you that cold night, outside, under a clear starlit black sky and I have never felt the warmth I felt that night. I offered up your request to our Father of Christmas and all things good, to the One who gave you name to be placed on tag. I have seen your pretty face dancing in my mind so often since that day. My experience with you has blessed and enriched my thoughts every time I walk into Giant and I am so grateful…for butter :)

Cookies. Hmmm...how sweet the process can be.

Looking upwards, I still see Him grinning.

Yes, Lord. You are wise and wonderful and I thank You.


Stay tuned. I had another encounter with Stephanie a few weeks later…

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Loving UP

 1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
       and the skies announce what his hands have made.
 2 Day after day they tell the story;
       night after night they tell it again.
 3 They have no speech or words;
       they have no voice to be heard. (Psalm 19:1-3, New Century Version)

Part of worshiping in my God’s time is being awed by our Creator’s handiwork and delighting in the freedom to take as many pictures as my heart desires. There are places in nature I sense God’s presence the most and there is no more powerful place for me other than the sky.

I love looking at the sky.

From the brightest, bluest expanses adorned with great white powder puff clouds to sunrise or sunset horizons. Even the gray overcast cover or swirling greens before a hot summer storm, speak to me of His majesty.  Not to mention a clear night standing outside looking up at His handiwork and gazing at the wonder of His hands and I could be missing for days!

Drive by my house and you may catch me simply looking “up” out the window or laying flat on our driveway just as a wicked thunderstorm is rolling in and ready to unleash fury - snapping away pictures. (Hey, I have to stay safe. Priorities people!)

The more I stand in jaw dropping amazement, the more I fall in love with Him. Have I gotten my point across? Good.

Now let me throw in something else.

I can be equally captivated by planes flying through those vast skies. Why? I have no idea. But I invite you to share in some of those moments I’ve captured along my path.

Storms rolling in...

... and coming home...

...for a safe landing

I mean, seriously ? HOW AWESOME!

Soft down feather...

Peeking through...

More planes...I love the blue belly...

...way up HIGH...

...and my current favorite capture...


They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (Rm 1:19, 20)

I remember the above passage as I look at the world around me and try not to take for granted the beauty that surrounds us all...just so I can "see" Him. His powerful wisdom takes my breath away in its simplicity. 

How do you refresh your knowledge of our Creator along this beaten path we walk on?  I would love to read about your..."snapshots".
Photographs by Lisa Arnold