Tag: creation

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. 

 

God’s Sabbath is Our Sabbath

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Thank You Lord for Your Sabbath to rest in.

Whether you celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday, here’s some food for thought:

God created the world in six days and on the seventh He rested.

This is something we may have been taught as little children. Or maybe read it in the book of Genesis later in life. For some families and individuals, it’s a very different day from the rest of the week. For some, not so much.

I went to my first Virtual Seminar this Spring, and a wonderful teacher – Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith spoke about her book Sacred Rest.  She has identified 7 areas where we can be lacking in rest.  More than just feeling tired, a lack of rest can impact your health, your relationships, make your thinking fuzzy, cause moodiness, and more.

So we need rest. After talking about the 7 different kinds of rest we need, which you can read about in her book or on her website, she said something that struck me.

God created the world in six days, and on the seventh day, He rested. That I knew.

But He created us, man and woman on the 6th day. So His 7th day, was actually our 1st day after being created.

God made the Sabbath our first full day.  We didn’t have to work for it.  We didn’t work 6 days like He did to earn our Sabbath.  It was His gift to us.

It’s a small distinction, but it’s had a great impact on me.  God created everything out of nothing!  And then he rested. He must have known we would not be able to work for 6 days before we needed a rest, so, in His wisdom, He gave us our Sabbath at the beginning.

It’s the same now. I don’t have to work 6 days to earn my Sabbath. It’s not something I even deserve from working hard. It’s His free gift to me, that one day a week I can come and spend time with Him to be filled, encouraged, and empowered for the coming week.  He will give me what I need so that I am not pouring out from an empty cup.

It’s a small tweak in my understanding, but it’s changed the way I feel about the Sabbath. His gift to me is to prepare me for the week.  And since He knows what my week will holdHis preparation is perfect – if I will just take time to connect with Him.

calendar-660670_640On your next Sabbath, I hope you will set aside time to rest in the Lord: to listen for His voice, to accept His instruction, to revel in His presence.

And to thank Him for your Sabbath.

For more information on the 7 types of rest, take the Rest Quiz

Do you need a rest?

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Do you find it hard to slow down or stop when you’re on a roll and being productive?

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I cut the rosebushes back today. The fence looks so plain without the 10-foot runners spreading out from the base and covering the pickets. And one of my oldest rosebushes, going on 40 years, wasn’t quite ready to give up.

In Colorado we’ve already had a couple of snows and we’ve had a hard freeze but this rosebush still had a bloom on it!

rose-1470263_640It’s hard when you’ve had a productive season to know when to stop to pause for a Rest.

We don’t think of it, but Rest is productive too.

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God gave us seasons so we could watch and learn.

The trees, the flowers and the animals all have their rhythmic behavior.  A season of birth and productivity, fruitfulness, then rest, hibernation and rebirth form a cycle that repeats.  We so often fail to learn the simple lessons God wants to teach us. We don’t want to have our productivity cut short. We don’t want to take time to rest, refuel.

Do the rosebushes understand that the splendor they showed this year was based largely on the rest and the nutrients they drank in over the winter?

Do we understand that we also have a rhythm of pouring out and then needing to be refilled before we pour out again?

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Wisdom is all around us. It’s in the beauty of God’s Creation – the skies, the mountains, animals, plants, the trees. Ask God to show you what your rhythms are.

Do you need a time of rest and refilling? Are you ready for rebirth? Is it your time of productivity?

In my backyard, I’m the gardener. I know what’s good for the plants and bushes, and for the most part I can provide fertilizer, water, and the right place for the right plant. They don’t fight me when I say it’s time for pruning, time for fertilizing, or for cutting back to rest for the winter.

hands-1838658_640In my life, God is the Gardener.

He knows what’s best for me. He places me in the right place at the right time. He provides me with the gifts I need to accomplish what he has planned for me.

He protects and shelters me. He guides me like the trellis provides structure for one of my rosebushes. Why is it then, when it’s time for pruning or cutting back I balk?

Lord help me trust You, my Gardener. When I don’t even know what season I’m in, help me accept Your leading, Your pruning and fertilizing, and even Your cutting back for a Rest.

God Speaks Through a Tree

When was the last time you asked God to speak to you? To give you wisdom?  Direction? Encouragement? Or even correction?

He speaks to me a lot through His Creation. And often trees have played a big part.  This year, this Fall, I’m hearing that it’s time to let go of some things, just like the trees let go of their leaves when the time is right.

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Not that I intend to strip my house bare of items we need to live, but there are some things that we’ve been holding on to that we could do without.

Beyond the physical items, there are more important things I need to let go of:  negative emotions, unmet expectations, anger, regret, hurts, disappointments.  These take up even more space in my life and have a greater impact on it.

How do you let go of past hurts and unmet expectations?  Unproductive attitudes and unresolved anger?

It starts with identifying them. 

smiley-2979107_640Set aside time to think about and write down where your mind goes along those lines and how strong your emotional response is to those things.  Make up a scale 1 – 5 and give each item a number according to how much it bothers you.  These are your leaves.  If you want you can cut them apart so that each issue/leaf has its own slip of paper.

Thinking about it, put a YES or NO by each one indicating whether or not there is something you can realistically do about the issue. 

writing-1149962_640Next write down what action you can take that may lead towards resolving the issue for you.  Praying is sometimes the only thing that comes to mind and is always a good step especially if you’re unsure how to move forward. I realize knowing what you can do and wanting to do it are two different things.   

On a separate paper, start another list.  These will be your branches.  If you indicated a YES, write down any lesson you’ve learned about the issue – like what hasn’t worked in the past and what you’re willing to try or do about the issue now.

female-865110_640If you indicated NO, write down something you’ve learned – a lesson so you don’t make the same mistake again, something you can do that will help you move forward beyond it, a way you can change your perspective so that it’s no longer so emotionally charged or even some unexpected good that has come out of it.

Here’s an example of a Leaf.  My kids moved far away to take a job they needed and it was my expectation they would always live close and I am disappointed, heartbroken.  Because I love them and it affects my ability to be with them there is a very strong emotional cost.  5 out of 5.  No, I cannot change this.

And a Branch.  Lesson learned: always show my love and appreciation while loved ones are near.  And what can I do?  Learn new ways to show my love and stay connected now: FaceTime, Zoom calls, care packages of food or gifts or just small items that say “I care,” cards, actual letters they can read, reading the same book or watching the same movie and then talking about it together, praying for them or even with them over the phone.

If you are the tree, the negative emotional issue is the leaf.  The branch that the leaf is attached to is either something you can do about it, or some lesson you’ve learned in dealing with the issue.

fall-foliage-1740841_640You can let go of the leaf – the hurt, the unmet expectation, the disappointment, the regret.  But you keep the branch – the lesson you learned, or the action you will take.  And the branch will continue to grow and bear fruit in the future.

autumn-212733_640To complete this Leaf exercise, gather your leaves, and taking one leaf at a time, read it out loud asking God to bless you as you name it and the negative response connected to this issue, and then let go of it, dropping it into a leaf bag to dispose of. 

As you drop the leaf, thank God for any lesson you’ve learned from the situation and ask for the strength to take the steps you’ve written on your branch for that leaf. 

Bag up your leaves and put them in the trash!

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Now take a walk. Ask God to speak to you through His Creation. Notice the trees, the wildlife, the sky whatever is around you that He’s made.

Ask him if there’s anything He wants to say to you personally about your life, your circumstances, your relationships, your attitude, or your behavior.

Ask Him to silence all other voices in your head that come from your own thoughts or from the world or from any source other than God.

And then open your eyes and your ears and your spirit to God alone.

When we listen…God speaks!

Googling God

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The perfect answer to all your questions

The answer to your search for direction, peace, power, purpose

A perfect “wireless” connection that is never out of service, out of range, broken, interrupted by weather conditions, satellite position, or earthly circumstances

If you are seeking directions for how to fix something or the answer to a trivia question, if you’re like my kids, you automatically go to Google.

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We might be watching a movie and my husband says – “Isn’t she the same actress that was in…”  And I say “No honey, that was another person.”  My son immediately, in the middle of the movie, pushes pause, and picks up his phone to “google” the answer.  Issue solved.

No more discussion.  No argument.  The facts are confirmed in a few seconds.

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Don’t you wish you had access to answers for the important questions in your life? As easily as that?

Can you imagine saying “Google, who should I marry? Google, what should I be? Google, where should I live? Google, why am I here?”

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Truth is, we already have a connection to the God of the Universe – who created the earth, the stars, the cosmos and everything in it.  He also created us: you and me.  And He has wisdom about you and me that He is willing to share, if we just ask.

 

James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask of God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

To get Google’s answer, you have to have an internet connection and a way to receive that signal.

I believe God is speaking to us, or sending out His signal, all the time, through His Word, His Son, His Creation, and our circumstances, among other ways.  His is a constant, uninterruptible, full-strength signal.  But we need to be receiving it to hear.

God has given us, built into us, a receiver to hear Him.  It’s our spirit.  We are all made up of body, mind and spirit.  As a believer, we have the Holy Spirit within us who helps hear Him even better.  And the Holy Spirit helps us understand what we hear.

  • hurry-2119711_640Try setting aside some time daily or weekly to get alone, to just be still and listen to what God might have to say to you.

Start the conversation with a thank you or a question and then quiet yourself.  For some people it helps to be outdoors without the distractions of the house or apartment.  For others, a quiet room works.

Don’t expect to hear a physical voice, although it can happen.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you sense what God is saying.

  • Observe what is around you.  If outside, are there birds, trees, flowers, clouds, mountains, water, some piece of God’s creation that might have a message for you?  What do you see that shows you something about yourself, or about God?  If inside look at the art, the colors, the items and check any memories or feelings they evoke.

Do you need a fresh look at an area of your life or help dealing with emotions that may have surfaced?  Do you see something outside yourself that reflects some inner truth?

  • hand-453220_640Read your Bible.  Start reading and read until you hear something that resonates with something you are going through – a message of instruction, or encouragement, or a revelation about yourself or God.  A verse may stand out with a new significance or understanding than it has had before.  Or it may shine a light that gives you a new perspective.

Ask what this means.  And what it means to you.  Is there something you need to do, or stop doing with this new understanding?

  • Talk to God.  You can say anything to Him.  Whisper your fears, yell your frustrations, rage against your circumstances.  He can take it all.  Pour out your heart about what you are facing.  Ask for His perspective.  Or for clarification on an issue.

Then pause to hear His answer.  Do you need a change of attitude?  A course correction? Do you hear a word of encouragement?  Direction?  Or feel a sense of comfort?

Nature, the Bible and prayer are some of the ways God speaks.  It might also be through a church sermon, or a book, movie or podcast.  It could be through a trusted friend, a stranger or situation.  And the answer may not be immediate.  Keep listening.

What works best for you?  Is there a place?  A time of day or night?  It doesn’t always have to be the same.  God is broadcasting.  And I believe He has a message just for you.  Will you “tune in”?

Next time we’ll talk about how hearing works with our physical and spiritual ears.