Category: Nature

I Love March!

calendarMarch

I love the month of March!  It feels like the year is finally beginning.

 

bloom-blooming-blossom-355663The seasons change and it feels like the world is waking up again…more sunlight, warmer temperatures, and spring flowers begin to show filling dead looking spaces with beautiful colors and aromas.

 

choir-306900_640I remember songs from growing up in Military Chapel services like: Lead On O King Eternal the day of march has come, March On O Soul with Strength, and Onward Christian Soldiers, to name a few. Scripture tells us that spring was the time that men went out to war. And so many of these songs have the word “march” in them, that I associated them with the month of March. 

 

March on O soul with strength, as strong the battle rolls! ‘Gainst lies and lusts and wrongs, let courage rule our soul

Lead on O King eternal, the day of march has come…we follow not with fears…till sins fierce war shall cease

Onward Christian Soldiers marching as to war…like a mighty army moves the church of God…hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross…put on the gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer

We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion

warfarehelmetsI know the lyrics weren’t necessarily referring to the month of March, but every March I’m reminded of them. And it births in me a strong desire to be adequately armed for spiritual battle.

It reminds me that the enemy of our soul is on the move and ready with an attack, and I need to be vigilant in praying for my loved ones. And in praising God that He protects and directs, that He guards and guides, He helps and heals.

winner-4912049_640I am reminded that He dwells in the midst of our praise. So I give Him praise! No matter what circumstances, or trial or sorrow I may face, God will be with me and is in control.

And in the victories, it is His power that allows me to rejoice.

March is coming to an end, but as you see the signs of spring where you are; the snow melting,  the flowers blooming, the trees budding, the birds returning, let it be a reminder to you to armor up! And join in, for the Battle Belongs to the Lord!

Are you thirsting in the midst of provision?

girl snow hatI didn’t want to walk.  It was very cold, and starting to snow.  But in an effort to be consistent with exercise for my body and spirit, I headed out.  I doubted that God would show me anything this blustery day.  The wildlife was in hiding, and the low cloud cover gave a dreary monotonous look to the landscape.  Soon, I had to raise my coat collar and pull down my hat to keep the icy snowflakes from getting into my eyes and down my neck.

fog trailThe flakes grew in size and density until I could hardly see where I was going.  As the snow moved in, the wind died down.  The whole sky was gray with large spots of whiteness drifting down.  I kept my head down and squinted my eyes to keep my feet on the path before me.

The cold air made my nose stuffy and I began breathing through my mouth. Walking on, I realized how dry my throat was getting and became very thirsty. On a warmer day, I would have my water bottle at my side. But not today. Complaining out loud about the cold and dreariness of the day and about being thirsty, I trudged on.

Why had I walked today? If God wanted to speak to me, did I have to be so cold and thirsty to hear His message?

It was then I perceived a voice saying, “Look up!”

When I did, a huge snowflake hit me on the lips. Startled, I flinched my head back down to avoid a face full of cold, wet snow.

catching snowflakes tongueBut in licking my lips and tasting the moisture, I realized this was God’s provision for me! I had heard of “showers of blessing”, but this?  I looked up again, and opening my mouth, made a game of “catching” these blessings coming from Heaven. My thirst was quenched.

What a wonderful lesson!

It wasn’t the birds or the plants or the lake. Today the lesson was me – and how God meets my needs! Provision was all around but focused on my uncomfortable circumstances, I didn’t see it.

How often do we grumble and whine about our needs, when God’s provision is showering all around us? We need to:

  1.  Look Up: take our focus off the problem and put it on God!
  2.  Open our mouth: in praise to receive His blessing

Are you so focused on your problem you can’t see anything else? Look to God.

Are you using your mouth to moan and complain? Use it to praise Him

Are you standing under a ledge of bitterness or rebellion, preventing God’s blessings from falling on you? Step out from under that canopy to catch God’s provision.

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Whatever the weather –

Look up –

Open your mouth in praise –

Receive His blessing.

How do you Shine?

Philippians 2:15 Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 

jesus-and-worldGod made the universe and He made you. He made different kinds of heavenly bodies. He made the earth. The earth is a planet and it does not shine. It can be seen in space because of the light that shines on it.

He made the moon. It is a satellite, and it does not shine. It can be seen because of the light it reflects.

moon starsHe made the stars. Stars shine.

They have the ability to be seen because of what God put inside them. That which is in them allows them to shine. It’s the same with you! What God has put in you allows you to shine.

How do you shine?

We can look at each letter in the word SHINE.

box-159630_640S stands for Spiritual gifts. If you are a Christian God has given you at least one spiritual gift. These gifts are given to individuals in the body of Christ for the purpose of edifying the body. The more you use your gift the more it will be developed and when you use your gifts you will feel like you were meant for that purpose. It’s very fulfilling as opposed to doing things that just drain you and you feel like you’re not good at.

You can google spiritual gifts and find a Christian website that will help you discover what your gift is and then ask God to show you how you can use that gift in a local body of believers – a church.

cardiac-gc09e0931a_640H stands for your Heart. Each one of us is created differently. And we each have specific interests that we are passionate about, that our heart beats faster when we think about or talk about them.

Can you think of one or two things that you’re passionate about – that you have a “heart” for? Something you would stay up late to talk to someone else about? Or get up early for? It doesn’t have to be a spiritual thing it could be an activity or cause. Write down things that come to mind and seek ways to connect with other people with similar hearts.

sunset-2535751_640I is for your Inner self, your personality, how you’re wired. You probably have a good idea about your personality, it helps you understand how you best relate to others. You don’t want to force yourself to be an extrovert and entertain a large group of people if God created you as an introvert and you relate best to one or two at a time.

Have confidence in the strengths God has given you in your personality and use them. Be willing to stretch yourself but don’t feel like you have to become a different person. God made you the way He did for a reason. And He is pleased with how He made you.

to-learn-g3a51bf6d4_640N – and this is a stretch, but bear with me here – stands for your KNowledge. Is there something you have been schooled or trained to know how to do? Is there something you’ve researched, or learned about growing up? Maybe you have skills or abilities that you never had to work at to learn. Or maybe you took lessons – Cooking? An Instrument? Voice?

Identify some of your abilities and skills and look for an opportunity to share with others who may want or need this information or skill.

E stands for Experience. Sometimes positive and sometimes negative experiences will connect us to other people. Something you’ve been through will help you identify with the needs of someone else because you can relate to what they’re going through. Much better than someone who has not experienced it.

star-gdc410a202_640God made you to shine in a specific way

like no one else on earth.

No one else can be you.

Don’t try and be someone else.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Accept yourself as the star that God created you to be

and SHINE !

Does it feel like you are missing some blessings?

Sometimes water is let go from a nearby lake and the water level drops. When that happens, the most noticeable thing is there are fewer birds on the water and rocks lay exposed. At first glance the water looks shallow and scummy and the banks muddy and messy. As if the water was the blessing and it had been taken away.

rock-328783_640

Do you feel like some of the blessings you enjoy have been removed? For a time during Covid, many of us are missing comforts we had before.

When we have the blessing of good friends and family close around us, meeting together, celebrating together, we revel in it. We immerse ourselves in God’s blessing of good times when we have them. And so often, take them for granted. It seems to lose even a little of it would not be a good thing. Like the water level dropping in the lake. This was my brief conclusion.

Ducks_'n_trashWhere the trail comes near the water’s edge, I stepped off to have a closer look. From there I could see things… the ducks and geese had gathered in this inlet to feast on algae that had grown on the underwater rocks, now exposed because of the lowered water level.  What a blessing they were enjoying!

Many bottles and cans that had stuck in the muddy bottom were also now exposed, and a couple of kids had made their way down to the rocky edge to pull them out.  So, this “clean up” effort was made possible by the lowered water level.

If these benefits were occurring when water was withdrawn from the lake, could there be benefits in our lives when we feel blessings have been withheld for a time?

Would our examined lives reveal hidden blessings we take for granted, or that we usually don’t even notice?

If we take the time to look, the answer is probably yes.

Like the algae covered rocks, can we feast on the growth of our faith in God that has grown in the depth of His blessings but is not fully exposed until the level drops?  Yes.

Trusting God in the good times is building our faith and strengthening it so that when challenges arise, our faith can handle them. It’s encouraging to learn that the trust we have in the steadfastness and faithfulness of God in the good times will carry us through the harder times.

Have we allowed things into our lives under the covering of God’s blessing, that we need to remove when we see their trashy presence in full view.  Undoubtedly, yes.

Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time to every purpose under heaven.”  And if you are feeling like God’s blessing has been somewhat withdrawn in your life, don’t be discouraged.  You have a wonderful opportunity for discovery, feasting and clean up before you.

Kneeling-in-awe

Take a moment of quiet, and ask God to reveal a new blessing to you in the here and now.

Ask Him to reveal any attitude, behavior or relationship adjustment that needs to be “cleaned up.”

Appreciate that there is blessing in even this time.

And before long, the depths will return. my-lake

When was the last time…

When was the last time you laid in the grass looking up through the branches and leaves of a tree? Or watched puffy white clouds float across the sky?

To be honest, I didn’t set out to ponder the universe. But after making it up the street to the high school and around the newly reconditioned track encompassing the football field I was beat.

Spotting a bench in the park on my way back to the house my intention was to sit down for just a minute to catch my breath. But the grassy hillside in the shade was so inviting that just moments after I sat down, I leaned back to take in the soft coolness of the grass and gaze up between the branches and the leafy-ness.

I found my thoughts drifting…the branches in the trees with the leaves at the end look so much like the structure of our lungs.  And as a lightning strike in the distance grabbed my attention, I noticed how much it looks like a neuron – a nervous system cell.

I marveled at how much of biology is repetitious with structure and function – like the leaves of the tree help it take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, and our lungs do the same for our bodies – take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide.

But also how no 2 fingerprints are alike and no two snowflakes either.  So much simplicity in repetition, yet so much complexity in individuality.

Made me realize how long it’s been since I laid down under a tree and just watched the clouds go by and pondered the universe.

And how little time kids have to do just that these days…with the minutes that aren’t structured with school and teams and clubs being filled with technology and video games.

Anyway – had a little communing with God about creation and wrote a short poem – dictated into my cell phone, and then came on home.

Here’s the start of the poem I wrote – You’re invited to sit under a tree and finish it – or write your own!

Thank You, God, for the sun
For making trees
For sending the breeze
Thank You for making the mountains so tall
And the sky so blue
It all points us to You

The beauty of the world
The puffy clouds
The gorgeous flowers
The highest peaks
The tiny bee
Amazes me for hours

The complexity eludes me

The simplicity astounds
The repetitiveness amazes me
and the diversity abounds

How about you?  When was the last time you just looked around and marveled – thinking about everything…and nothing?

Get outside this week if you can. Take in God’s Creation. And listen to what it says to you.