There are moments in day to day life when I pause to peer at the beauty going on beneath the superficial surface… I look for the extra in the ordinary.
These moments tend to happen the most with family and friends. Recently my immediate family finally got schedules coordinated to spend an afternoon together. As my mom, dad, brother, sister and brother-in-law and I sat around the table, the conversation was a rather normal one. There was nothing deep about it. Nothing phenomenal. But there was plenty of laughter in it... and love underlying it, which is the part I noticed and appreciated when I peered past the veneer of the ordinary.
Another memory that stands out is from Thanksgiving. ...Yes, that was quite awhile ago, but it still sticks out vividly in my mind. Anyway, I was chopping up fruit for a salad, my dad was trimming the turkey, my mom was finishing up mashed potatoes, my sister was setting the table and my brother-in-law was slicing some bread. There was not a lot of chatter, and what talk there was mostly revolved around what needed to be done.
And I thought, how beautiful. This is what really matters… this is the good stuff of life. The bond of family. Being with loved ones. Working together for a common goal… even if it is just to make a meal.
Beauty is brought to ordinary tasks when love is the undercurrent flowing beneath. That time with my family, though no words were spoken about it, I could feel the tie of the love that bound us together as we worked. And my soul thrilled in it.
I have been paying more attention to those moments lately, purposefully looking out for them. When I spot one I take the time to pause and soak it in, and praise God for the gift that it is.
And something else I have noticed… the more connected I am with the beauty in the ordinary around me, the more connected I am with God, because I am actively aware of what God has done for me, how He has blessed me. That in turn has cultivated an attitude of thankfulness and optimism in me. And life is much more enjoyable that way.
Another positive side effect of this awareness is that I have a desire to infuse beauty into the ordinary… paint some color into the common black and white… by spreading love and kindness to those around me. It could be something as simple as a smile, a cheerful word of encouragement, or a listening ear. Whatever way God can use me, I want to make myself ready and willing.
Thank You God for opening my eyes to the beauty in the ordinary… for the ones that occur without any effort on my part, and for the opportunities You provide for me to make it into one.
Linking with spiritual sundays , mondays musings, glimpses link up
And so the last chapter of 2016 has concluded... and the open book of 2017 has begun...
Amidst the pages of 2016 there have been many stories, but the theme running through it all has been "God is faithful."
The beginning of Psalm 40 reads:
"I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God"
God has done that for me. He heard me, delivered me, and restored me. And now I can sing again.
Over the course of 2016, God has been bringing me back to life, healing my heart... and teaching me many things as I found my new song.
I learned that healing cannot be rushed or forced, but must be journeyed through.
The healing just... happened... by me just... letting it... it's not easy to explain... but now I feel free... light... new.
I had to let the pain and bitterness and guilt be felt, bring that to God, and then let myself feel His truth, His love, and His forgiveness. I had to let people pour into me with their encouragement and support.
I found spiritual renewal and healing with God, and received what I call "spiritual hugs" from Him, and I received physical hugs and support in abundance from the wonderful family and friends God has given me.
And it was through those healthy relationships, those healthy emotional connections, and letting the feelings come but then releasing them to God, that healing came and I was restored.
Restored after emotional abuse that almost got physical. Restored after betrayal. Restored after divorce.
Restored and freed.
Focusing on those good relationships, with God and with the people who care about me, brought about the full restoration I needed. I had to let the truth sink in, the truth that I am loved and valued, by God, family and friends. My spiritual relationship with a good God and my physical relationships with good people... those were key to healing.
Over 2016, I have been "loved on" and uplifted by God Himself and the many people He sent my way, and I could not be more filled with gratitude.
God has taken me out of the mire and set me on a rock. He has taken me out of numbness, out of brokenness, and given me joy and peace. He has given me a new song... a song of hope, of freedom, of praise to Him for how faithful He has been.
God made me alive again.
I have learned that time with God is the best balm for my soul, that Jesus is the most patient, loving friend and the Holy Spirit the provider of the comfort I need.
I have learned that true strength comes by persevering, that forgiveness is freeing, and that love is healing.
I have learned that God can revive the heart, and breath fresh life into hopes and dreams.
I have learned that with God, all things are possible, and that His love is very deep, and very real.
O sing to the Lord a new song,
For He has done wonderful things
~ Psalm 98:1
O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
~ 1 Chronicles 16:34
Linking with momentsofhope and whatjoyismine.net
Five Minute Friday time again! (A five minute free write)
Joining the linkup: Kate Motaung and Dance with Jesus
So the word prompt for this one is JOY... 1, 2, 3, GO!
This word is very appropriate for me now... for two reasons. One, the Christmas season is one of joy, and two, for me personally it has been a season of joy.
Christmas joy... this joy is because it represents the moment God stepped into time... into human flesh... so that He could heal the world of brokenness and sin by His perfect love and grace...
And my joy... this joy is because I have been set free...
While I understood the gospel some years ago, and was then set free from sin's bondage and gained entrance into eternal life, and given God's spirit and abundant life for this side of heaven, I was recently set free in a whole new way.
For the first time in a long time, probably about five and a half years, I am completely free of bitterness and unforgiveness, and at peace, and I have complete JOY.
I got a divorce about eight months ago and God has been healing me with His amazing love.
God can take away hurt, and wash away resentment, and cleanse wounds, and restore and bring wholeness and freedom.
GOD IS SO GOOD! He took away tears of pain and gave tears of joy!
Seek God... trust Him... and anything is possible...
I can come to Him, totally undone, steeped in despair, torn apart and broken, and He can release me from it and replace that with peace, hope, and joy.
Praise God for a love that never lets go, never gives up, but instead holds tight, and waits patiently, and steps in to satisfy and overwhlem in the most amazing way.
1 Chronicles 16:34 (NASB) "O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting."
Psalm 63:7 (NASB) "For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy."
And, at long last, I am finally doing a blog post again. Wow time goes fast!
So this post will be a quickie, a five minute Friday link up with Kate Motaung.
And it's on the word crave.
There are many things I get cravings for. Some are smaller... chocolate, a chai tea latte, sunshine, a hug, a chat with a friend...
And some are more substantial... financial security, a sense of belonging, a healed heart, the chance to fulfill dreams...
The smaller things are much easier to come by, but they are also very brief. The larger things may be available for a season, and are wonderful while they last, but these can prove to be temporary as life brings changes.
Is there such a thing as a craving that can be fully and forever satisfied?
The good news is yes, yes indeed there is. The deepest longings of the heart, the desire for joy, peace and wholeness that can be had during any circumstance, can be found in the God who made your heart.
I have been through a lot and I can attest to the truth of this. When I seek God's presence, when I praise Him no matter the situation, that is where I find every craving satisfied.
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." -- Matthew 11:28, NASB
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." -- Romans 15:13, NASB
"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him." -- Psalm 62:5, ESV
Time for a Five Minute Friday finally! (http://katemotaung.com/2016/08/11/five-minute-friday-lift/)
I keep meaning to post more.... but either things come up, or I am too tired or the juices just won't flow........
Anyways, here goes five minutes on: LIFT
Oooh this word has possibilities! What direction to take?
Hmm, well perhaps the best starting place is a verse:
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber. Psalm 121:1-3 (ESV)
Though I am in the rather flat Red River Valley, this is the first verse that comes to mind. It is one that has always given me comfort and pointed me in the right direction faith-wise.
While I have neither mountains nor hills as a physical reference point, there have certainly been many nonphysical ones. And if I recall this verse when I look at those, that helps me remember to look at God instead. When I lift my eyes to God, He reminds me that He is more powerful still... strong enough to save, and tender enough to love me through to the other side, holding me while I wait.
Oh yes, that waiting valley... God has moved more than one mountain for me, but never as quick as I would like.
...But that waiting is where faith is forged... in the waiting when the questions come... the wrestling and the wondering... in the waiting God can seem so far...
...But when hope is clung to after the questioning is through, when eyes are lifted to God and feet are standing on His promises, even when that does not feel true...
God will show just how mighty and faithful He is, and what was weakness becomes deep strength.
I know this full well from experience. I have dealt with mighty mountains... thankfully God proved mightier.
I have been unemployed twice, and that was rough. But the roughest was divorce. And God is still helping me through that as it was only five months ago.
As I lift my eyes to God, He has been lifting me... out of what ifs and whys and into peace... out of bitterness and into forgiveness... out of brokeness and into wholeness...
It is a healing process, but I am uplifted by the friends God sends my way, and by God Himself.
Finally a month later, another Five Minute Friday! ..... Technically, its very very early Saturday........ but I have not gone to sleep yet so for me it is still Friday. :)
The word is Protect.
The first thing that came to mind upon seeing "protect" was the idea of protecting the heart... thoughts, attitudes and perceptions...
There is this idea found in Proverbs 4:23 --
"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life."
Biblically, the heart involves the mind, will and emotions... so all that encompasses should be "protected" intentionally - as much as is possible anyway. It is certainly not easy, especially with emotions.
But as what happens in the heart influences attitude and leads to action - the "springs of life" - guarding it is very important.
I want springs of life that are clean and pure... that resemble a joyful, nourishing, fresh mountain stream... that are life-giving to me and those around.
How does that come about? Well there are several verses to that effect... two of the best, or at least my favorites, are:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
It starts with the thinking... the right kind of thoughts lead to a sense of peace, calm, joy... which lead to actions rooted in care, wisdom and rationality.
I have been shifting to a more positive focus, rooted in God's promises and His love, and I notice I am much happier and better off for it. That does not mean I am in "Lala Land" or am out of touch with reality - I remain fully aware of responsibilities, obligations, and needs that have to be met. But I am trusting God instead of wasting worry on matters. I am figuring out when I just need to wait on God to act, and when and what I need to act on. It takes practice... it's a process... but thankfully God is patient and faithful as I continue to keep a check on my attitude.
And it's time for another Five Minute Friday post! Linking up with katemotaung.com. The word is HAVEN.
1, 2, 3, GO:
Haven is one of those words that sounds like what it is... it is like a peaceful exhale of breath when saying it softly...
Haven... security... safety... shelter... refuge...
What a lovely word!
For me, a haven is where peace can be found, and healing can happen. Chains are undone and wings of joy unfurled.
I have two kinds of havens - one based in the physical, one in the spiritual... one tangible, one beyond normal reach.
The physical is found in the listening ears, the encouraging words and loving arms of family and friends. To be heard, understood, validated and lifted up by people I fully trust... it breathes life into broken areas, it soothes and strengthens... brings smiles and laughter... and firmer footing through reminders of the truth.
The spiritual is found in my faith - not religion, but a relationship with the God of the universe... with Jesus, the Son, and the Spirit... God's presence brings a peace like no other. A relationship with God means He is always available, always understands, and always comforts. When I call on Him, He pours love and joy into heart beyond description.
There are seasons when God feels far away, but I know He is still with me, and after coming out of those, the sense of His presence suddenly is back in a flood of sweet renewal like water after a desert journey, and that is when I realize the strength and grace He gave me all along.
...And God is so good, that though He might feel far away and His haven unreachable, He sends His love through the haven I find in friends and family. And eventually... the wilderness ends and I am enfolded once again in God's haven.
I can go through anything and come through stronger, be renewed, and have all the broken pieces knit together and healed by running to my haven.
One more thing.... this is after the five minutes, but inspired by "Haven" and still a rough draft...
Healing in the Haven
Searching for safe harbor
amidst the stormy seas
Where is the calm
Where is the peace
The exhale of a breath
A cry for calm
A plea for peace
A whispered prayer
A waiting heart
Then a stir in the air
Love is outpoured
From the author of love
The God who holds the world
This God holds my heart
and sends His healing touch
throughout every part
Every part of my being
is becoming renewed
as I am being healed
In God’s haven
I am forever sealed
Psalm 73:28 (NASB)
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge
Psalm 94:22 (NASB)
But the Lord has been my stronghold, And my God the rock of my refuge.
Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)
You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].
One of these days I will actually post more often... but that could be awhile as busy season is about to start at work which means overtime, and summer has arrived which means yard work... and when I'm not working at my job or in the yard, I intend to enjoy the lovely weather before winter is back, walking, biking, and heading to the lakes. :)
Anyways..... this post is another Five Minute Friday.
Here goes five minutes on the word EXPECT.
1, 2, 3... GO.
Expect feels like such a weighty word... but three main things come to mind: 1) expectations change; 2) the unexpected often happens; 3) what can be expected from God.
According to Merriam-Webster, expect is: to think that something will probably or certainly happen. : to think that (someone or something) will arrive or that (something) will happen. : to consider (something) to be reasonable, required, or necessary.
Synonyms: anticipate, await, look for, hope for, look forward to; suppose, presume, think, believe, imagine, assume, surmise
When I was a little girl, I believed that I could step into the world of make-believe and be anything, do anything... and I assumed there would always be a prince to rescue me if I needed help.
As I got older, I anticipated adulthood, excited about the possibilities and freedoms that I supposed came with growing up...
... and then reality awakened me to the fact that being an adult is not nearly as exciting and freeing as it appears from the lenses of childhood. And I just hoped that I could find a career that I could settle into, and perhaps start a family of my own.
During childhood, I certainly never would have expected to be where I am. I would not have believed all the storms that God has brought me through.
I did not expect having to go through unemployment twice.
I did not expect to be married four years then be divorced as of two months ago.
I did not expect the amazing friends God would send my way and the family support He has blessed me with. I did not expect the wonderful feeling of closeness, of peace in God's loving presence.
And now... I expect that God will take care of me, that He will continue to love me, that He will bring healing and wholeness, and that He will keep His promises.
"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21
Wow......... over a year....... and I'm finally back to blogging...
And to kick off the close of the long hiatus, I am joining up with Five Minute Friday (http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/ ) - a five minute free write inspired by one word, which in this instance is: EASY.
So... here goes...
Easy... I wanted to chuckle at that word choice... at the irony. That has been the farthest thing from reality, and what I have been craving most.
Seas have been stormy indeed. I have been tossed about and lost all sight of the shoreline. There was only wind and waves...
However, I was often so distracted by the waves that I missed the One walking on them.
Life has not been easy... but now that the seas have at last started to calm, and light is visible through the clouds, I realize that God was indeed there with me, watching over me, but the storm had to run its course. And if I had realized it then, I could have found more peace in the midst of it.
Thankfully, God is very patient with me, and is proving again and again that He really is good, and He really does keep His promises, though it may involve painful waiting.
Life is not always easy, but God is always good.
And it really is true that through the hardest lessons, the most is learned, and strength is forged.
"I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you.
I will sustain you
and I will rescue you."
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
Well, it has been quite awhile! Too long... way too long...
Anyway, I'm finally posting again, and it's an FMF (five minute Friday), linking up with http://katemotaung.com/
The word is "Send"
On the heels of the holidays, the first thing that I think of when I hear "send" is the amazing grace God sent to the world when Jesus came as a baby.
"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:17
God sent salvation, restoration, deliverance... for all who repent and believe...
That definitely tops any other gift in history that has ever been, or ever will be, sent.
But God sent more than just a free ticket to heaven...
In John 14:16 Jesus told his disciples, "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever." (Amplified Bible)
For those who believe in Jesus, they receive not only eternal life but God sends His Holy Spirit who is always present with the believer, as it says in the verse above, to comfort, strengthen, advocate...
As Jesus said in John 10:10, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." The Holy Spirit empowers those who belong to God to have that abundant life.
And to take it another step further with this "sent" idea...
God sends us who are His to share with the world what He offers and what He has done.
"Then said Jesus to them again, 'Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.' "
So send I you ...
We have been sent the ultimate gift, the miracle of grace, a reservoir of strength and peace to reach into, a place to turn for guidance... us Christians who haven taken hold of that gift should -- and in fact are instructed to do so -- spread this light of truth.
I know I often lose sight of that fact, of the astounding weight of what I've been given.... I need to take my eyes off myself, off of ordinary routine ruts, off of problems, and on to God and how I can thank and serve Him by sharing His gift.
© Seeking Life Beyond
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Hi, I am Angela, and welcome to my blog. I am a woman trying to rise above the tides of this life, seeking to grow closer to God and share His love in the process.