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The Joy of the Lord

The Joy of the Lord

Life has been hard, really, really hard.  In chronological order, here’s some of what’s been happening:

1. Rejection that I cannot mention from those you’d think would know better. It was a spiritual issue that went deep but grace has done it’s good work in my soul.

2. My car was side-swiped badly (two doors significantly crushed) by a hit-and-run driver (I cannot afford to pay the deductible and rent a car for 6 weeks).

3. My computer crashed and took most of my creative documents I have yet to retrieve. I am now using a borrowed laptop.

3. More than half of my family members are in crisis emotionally and financially in which I am a part. My son described it this way: “We’re all circling the drain.”

4. My health is in trouble. I just spent a few days in the hospital with life-threatening diverticulitis (it is still ongoing, but I am better).

5. Major setbacks as a writer have made me want to quit.

The result? In the past few weeks, I have felt sapped of energy, ambition, and my sense of well-being has been at an epic low. In short, my joy in the Lord dwindled and dwindled until I felt like sleeping all day and night.

HOWEVER, I have heard God’s voice. It is to be strong in faith and believe in all that I know to be true.

God Himself is my joy and truth.  He gives me hinds’ feet on high places.

Jehovah, my Provider. Rabboni, my teacher and master. El Shaddai, my sustainer. El Roi, the God who sees me and all that involves me. In Him I put my trust, faith, hope, and affection. I worship Him! I adore Jesus, my Beloved. He will lift me up, set me upon His holy Rock. He is HESED (all merciful, abundantly kind, and good). He has almighty power and love.

Three scriptures pre-printed at the bottom of my prayer journal pages today are wonderfully apt:

1. “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Ps. 91:1).

2. “I will NEVER FAIL YOU. I will never abandon you” (Heb. 13:5).

3. “The joy of the Lord is your strength!” Neh. 8:10.

When troubles steal joy from me I become de-energized, unhappy, and lifeless.

Like King David, I cry out: Awake, O, my soul! Look into the eyes of your Savior. He is the joy of my heart and life.

I’ve made a “to-do” list and plan to take back the ground the enemy has been stealing from me.  #1 on the list was to write this blog.

Can you relate?

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Be Still

Be Still

Our world is so noisy. Even what we see is noisy. We are looking at flashing lights, images and words on signs, constant ads and messages come at us at every turn. When we turn things off we’ll find quiet within. We’ll hear God and feel His love.

Open to God, we need to reflect, dream, and think with Him. Silence soothes our minds and souls.

Why are we so addicted to our cell phones? We set notices so we don’t miss anything on our feeds. We’re lost if we are away from the internet, live streaming, email, social media, etc. We’re constantly occupied with something to do, to see, to hear. We can’t be still for long because we’ve formed the habit of preoccupation.

In one of John Eldredge’s newsletters from Ransomed Heart Ministries, he said, “It is as though we are looking, always looking, for something . . . someone. What is it we are craving all the time? Why do we put ourselves out there for attention?”

Some of us are not that hooked up in the ways I’ve described, but what about other distractions? Bingeing on television episodes?—(which I finally stopped doing.)

God is our constant companion. Shekinah is in our hearts. The Lord of glory is being ignored.

The first thing God did after Adam and Eve sinned and hid themselves from Him was to search for them while calling out, “Where are you?”

In the book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster says God continues looking for us.

 

Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation. He mourns that we do not draw near to Him. He grieves that we have forgotten Him. He weeps over our obsessions with muchness and manyness. He longs for our presence.

 

I urge you to stop whatever you are doing for a minute, breathe deeply, and be still in God’s presence and receive His affectionate love.

 

The featured photograph here is by Sharon Brisken. She has such an artist’s eye for beauty. Check out her work at Burning Hearts for God’s – Featured Artist’s page.

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Beauty Cheers the Heart

Beauty Cheers the Heart

Proverbs 17:22 says “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

White scenes of winter soothe me because I grew up in Minnesota and enjoyed a wonderful childhood full of love, play, and no worries. These days, I grieve for children who do not have the benefit of a fearless childhood.

I wept watching the news of the school shooting in Florida. So, so tragic! More loss of innocent lives, so full of promise.  And when ordinary people become heroes and pay the ultimate price . . . we feel sympathy for their families and friends.  We see the funerals on the news. I pray for those who mourn everyone lost and injured. And what about the survivors? They’ll never be the same . . but for God’s grace and help.

Below is a photograph of a scene in Kuhmo, Finland. It lifted me into God’s arms because its beauty cheered my heart. I hope it does the same for you. Scroll down . . . This is a real place.

Even though the horrors of evil abound, the beauty, majesty, and reality of God is greater. One day all will be restored and there will be no more evil. Jesus promised. We will live in a restored, new world where Beauty and Goodness is all we will know.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” Proverbs 21:4.

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The God of Great and Small

The God of Great and Small

In a pottery and glass gift shop in the mountains of North Carolina, I came across a tiny piece of glass art and bought it. When I first saw it, I wondered how the artist managed to make something so tiny, about 1/4″ in size, yet with unique, distinctive parts. Its smallness is what made it special to me. I named her “Suzie the flea” because of the joy she gave me. I also saw she had a destiny to fulfill in God’s kingdom of love. Since then, she’s flown by airmail many thousands of miles across the country to bear witness to God’s creative love and favor. The recipients have sent her back to me after she’s lifted their hearts. Suzie represents to me persons who are “little” in God’s kingdom yet each one holds a dear place in His heart.  Their smallness is endearing to Him. These are the hidden ones who stay in the background; they are not in the spotlight of God’s kingdom. He’s jealous to keep them there for His own reasons. I take great comfort in that. No more striving to be someone I am not. I am confident in this alone: God favors me and has destined to use me with messages of His love. I am small, like Suzie. Yet I am dear and can be greatly used in His kingdom. As can you.

 

 

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The Gift of Free Hearts

The Gift of Free Hearts

I’ve been writing The Art of Loving God and an image of two horses running free along a beach persists and just won’t go away. The symbolic idea has been with me since I first thought about this book idea. Today, I finally gave in and sought God to help me see whatever it is He is saying through it. In fact, going a step further, I thought I’d find a photograph of what I have been seeing and share it here. This picture I bought online matches and now I’m pondering deeply what God is saying through it.

I have been writing about the idea that God gave us free wills and what a tremendous power that is. Some call this free will, but the will is governed by the heart. The greatest gift our Creator has given each of us is a free heart. That gift cost Him. God values what freedom means because love, to be real, cannot be forced or manipulated. He knows our hearts lead us in the pursuit of what we hold most dear.

Most of us cannot wrap our minds around the idea that we are, particularly, most dear to God. Once we get it, God becomes most dear to us. Loving the Lord above all is more than obeying the First Commandment. Our hearts are like horses that run wherever they please, but when our hearts find God’s heart, well, think of two horses running and frolicking on the beach.

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Why I Love Poppies

Why I Love Poppies
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