Saturday, March 31, 2012
We found this adorable Spotted Salamander on one of our nature challenges not too long ago. I loved her the moment I saw her!!! Truly, a huge smile always finds my face whenever I see this picture. At first, I thought that it was solely due to the fact that it was a special night full of memories, but it didn't take long for me to hear that all familiar whisper.
Thank You, Lord, for speaking to me wherever I look - even days after I've seen something.
Yes, this was a beautiful night. Thinking that the weather conditions might be right for the salamander migration, my daughter and I ran over to the site at the last minute. Although a bit creepy on the hike down, we eventually ran into friends on their way home and were reassured. We pressed on and were rewarded with an almost exclusive tour of the migration that was happening just as we got there! It was so cool to finally see these mysterious creatures on the move. When I got home and saw this picture, I thanked God for such a memorable night with my daughter - a love gift from Him.
Thank You, Lord, for all of the gifts that You bless me with on a daily basis that reassure me of Your love for me.
It only took another day before this picture spoke to me in a different way. I looked at it and realized that it needed a caption saying, "Smile! Jesus Loves You!!!" It was another reminder from Him about the joy I am to have in Him despite my circumstances. There were things that I was feeling less than joyful about, and seeing what looks to be a huge grin on that salamander's face caused me to think (again) that I have plenty to smile about because of Christ.
Lord, as we approach this Passion Week, thanks again for the reminder to stay my focus on You. Let me fully grasp and appreciate what you have done for me. I pray that thanksgiving will pour out of me, evidenced by a joyful countenance.
Fast forward another week or so and the Lord continues to speak to me through this picture. Approaching holidays tend to bring my melancholy nature to a full boil, and lately has been no exception. I don't like feeling sad - it's no fun! Well, it's even less fun when someone lashes out at you for lovingly encouraging them to consider whether some parts of their life are matching up with how He tells us to live in His Word. Yucky words from upset people are no fun! God in His goodness reminded me, "Remember that passage you just memorized, but couldn't relate to? You know, the one about rejoicing when people are mean to you because of Me?" He was right! (Of course!) It did give me occasion to rejoice. And His Word was once again alive to me in a new way - a way that causes me to appreciate Him all the more.
What would I do without You, Lord? You are my everything. I stumble through this life and You are the One who anchors me securely. You are my firm foundation when the ground feels crumbly beneath my feet. Thank You for taking such pains to speak to me so incrementally through this picture. You are so patient with me! I smile to think of Your tender love towards me. It's a small, gentle smile, unlike the broad "smile" on this lady salamander's face, but I'm counting on You to transform it and me. Fill me with JOY in Your presence, Lord, so much so that my smile will make this salamander's pale in comparison. In the name of Jesus, the Name above all names, Amen.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Appropriately enough, I came across this tree while hiking with my daughter recently. It immediately stood out to me, causing my mind to search for what it was that the Lord was speaking to me through it. As clear as could be, I heard the whisper: "This tree is like you and Anna-Frances." I paused to snap the shot, telling her, "I like this. It reminds me of us." Being the attention-starved middle child, this statement caused her to fairly glow and I was rewarded with a dazzling smile. As I walked along with her, I thought of ways that we were like the tree, sharing each with her. Needless to say, it was a very special time!
I thought aloud about how she had started off inside of me, and how she had come into the world, now suddenly apart from me. One had become two. Thankfully, little ones really depend on us for a good while and I somehow always felt for the longest time that my daughter was an extension of me. I think it did help to soften the separation a bit. In so many ways, we've shared moments of "being one" and I am truly thankful for that.
A few things have caused me to think back to when she came into our lives. I was so excited to finally have a daughter. The Lord showed me right from the start the importance of training her in the things of Him. If anyone were to ask me when my prayer life was at its strongest, my answer would be during my pregnancy with her. It seems like all I ever did was pray. It was a time of steady growing in my relationship with the Lord.
As I grew in Him, I thought of this baby growing within me. Soon she would leave the protection of my womb and enter this world. This place where life can be so hard. In an almost desperate act, I vowed to get God's Word planted in her before she was even born. I dug out my husband's ancient cassette tapes of the Bible and played them to her in my belly while resting, doing devotions, or spending time in prayer.
Inevitably, things slowed down for several years after her birth. We still prayed and went to church, but life was beginning to get in the way. We were deeper into our homeschooling and facing different life circumstances. It seemed like curve ball after curve ball came flying our way. I think that the Lord, knowing how I missed that quality time with Him and that "oneness" with her, laid it on my heart to begin reading through His Word with her. He is so wise!!! Our five-year journey through the Bible was truly one of the most rewarding things I've ever experienced.
I reminisced about all of these things while walking with her, realizing how she has begun shooting off from me like the tree pictured above. I know that we have only gotten to where we are today by His grace and strength. I could never have done all that it has taken in my own strength.
My heart overflows as I think of the many times that we've prayed together or when she has been very in tune with the Spirit. I remember how I rejoiced when she made the decision to show publicly that she is His through baptism. And I am thankful to see fruit in her - evidence that she does, indeed, embrace Him as her Lord. Though I will continue to pour myself into her, it really feels like she has reached a place where her faith is her own and she is walking the path He has for her. How exciting! And so we've become two.
Lord, in this quiet moment I bow before You. I am utterly humbled by Your grace. To think that You would bless me as You have fills me with awe. Not only that, but You have instructed and equipped me! You would never call me to something that You did not plan to strengthen me to finish. You are amazing! Thank You for the gift of this precious daughter and for impressing it upon my heart to be intentional about teaching her of the things of You. I am grateful for Your Presence guiding me in the way I shold go. Continue the work that You have begun in each of us, Lord. Let us shine for You, never compromising, always growing in grace and abounding in love. I know that You are able to do more than I could ever ask or imagine. I can't wait to see what You'll do! In the strong name of Jesus I pray, Amen.