The God Who Sees!

imageToday is my second time to participate in Five Minute Friday, and last night was my first “Twitter party!” I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was blessed by the real life that I saw. Ladies sharing their hearts about everything from chocolate and bathing dogs to praying for loved ones in crises.

The prompt for today is the word NOTICE. Following is my five-minute free write for this word.

I thought of sweet, young Hagar. Caught in circumstances that she did not create. When Abraham and Sarah could not conceive a child of their own, they decided that Abraham should marry Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar, and have a child by her. Once Hagar became pregnant, typical female jealousies ensued. Sarah was so harsh with Hagar that Hagar ran away into the desert.

I can only imagine her frustration and fear.  Alone. Pregnant. No way to care for herself or her soon-to-be-born child. No hope for the future. Desperate.

But then God stepped in. He saw her and her hopeless situation, and gave her promises for a hope-filled future.

Hagar’s response?

imageGenesis 16:13 “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’”

You can read her whole story in Genesis 16.

We may feel alone, but God sees us. He knows where we are, what kind of mess we are in–whether we created it or not. He doesn’t leave us alone.

He walks us through our difficult times. With a plan in mind.

Psalms 139:1-12

Isaiah 43:2 (NLT) “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

 

Joining the ladies at Kate’s

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Maintain Your Connection

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Photo Credit| Lightstock.com

When I sat down to have my quiet time a couple of mornings ago, I thought, It’s been a while! I had precious quiet times at my beach retreat about a week and a half ago. But I’ve had a crazy, busy schedule before and after that. My “at home time with the Lord” has been hit and miss–mostly miss.

I read about Abraham’s faithful obedience to the Lord’s call on his life, specifically in Genesis 15:2. The Hebrew name of “the Lord” in this context is Adonai, which means “Lord and master.” But you know what? Even though we read a lot about Abraham’s faith, throughout Scripture, Abraham is known as God’s friend.

2 Chronicles 20:7 (NLT) “O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham?” [Emphasis added.]

Isaiah 41:8 (NLT) “… But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend …”[Emphasis added.]

James 2:23 (NLT)And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ He was even called the friend of God.” [Emphasis added.] 

Then came the question, “How intimate are you with the Lord? Are you His friend?” Normally, I would jump and say, “Pick me! Pick me! I’m the Lord’s friend!!” But I just wasn’t feeling it this morning.

(Yes, I know I’m talking about feelings here. But God made me an abundance of feelings; some might say I have an over abundance of emotion. But that’s ok. I’m not offended. It’s who I am. I know that my faith does not rest on my feelings.)

Intimacy KolbIt doesn’t take long to lose your sense of intimacy with the Lord when you have a hectic schedule.

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Consistent time with the Lord is the way back and the way to maintain your intimacy with Him.

By the time I finished my quiet time, I was beginning to feel more settled and in my rhythm. But all the things that upset that rhythm are standing at my door. Next week is Thanksgiving. I’ll probably be OK on Monday and Tuesday. But if my husband is home Wednesday, routine will go out the window for about 5 days. What is my plan? That’s what it gets down to.

I have “my place and my time,” but when Tim is at home, “his place, his time, and his activities” take over mine. I’m not complaining at all. I love having him home. I just need to be aware and prepared with a plan in place so that I don’t find myself feeling disconnected from the Lord during a time when I want to feel securely connected to Him–so thankful to and for Him.

My plan? I’m thinking “my place and my time” will be in my bedroom, rather than the living room where it usually is.

What about you? What are your plans for maintaining a consistent quiet time next week?

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Linking up with these precious women …
Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart
Meredith Bernard at Woman 2 Woman
Woman to Woman Ministries

Peace at the Beach

imageAt the beach this weekend … yes, in November. It’s not sunny and warm. Actually, it’s cloudy and cool. But it is peaceful. When I arrived with friends yesterday, the view nearly took my breath away. I almost cried. I snapped a quick pic and posted to Facebook–including my emotional response. One of friends asked, Why? I might cry. I responded, “In one word, October.” October has always been a busy month for our family. It is probably the busiest month of the year for us. But this year, from the beginning to the end, my heart experienced the gamut of emotions. Crazy busy schedule coupled with emotional highs and lows.

And now the rhythmic peace of the ocean.

I’m here for a scrapbook retreat with some of my favorite women. They stayed up until who knows what time last night. I hit the hay much earlier. Why? In one word, Sunrise. In two words, Sunrise and Coffee. Ok. Three words. Sunrise, coffee, and the oceanAnd my time with the Lord. It’s not often I get to have all of these at one time. So I grab it when I can.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.’”

And so I came.

Indeed, sharing a load with Jesus is much better than bearing it alone. But sometimes life is downright tough–it’s not easy at all.

This morning I was reading Psalm 139 and stopped at verse 16, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

Every moment … was laid out. Each one was known in advance … planned, even.

Verses 1-4
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.

imageFor the ladies who originally planned and organize this weekend, it is their 10th anniversary beach retreat. We are celebrating by exchanging simple gifts. I got this mug last night. And it is perfect!

I love the Scriptures that couple joy with peace.

Isaiah 55:11-12 (NLT) “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!”

Romans 15:13 (NLT) “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

I especially love the last verse.

A cup completely filled with joy and peace, overflows with hope.

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It’s wonderful to be at the beach right now. But it’s not always possible to find respite like this.  So I’m extremely grateful. At home, my special place is in my living room, in my chair.  Where is yours?

 

Five Minute Friday – Turn

 

This is my first time to participate in Five Minute Friday. It will be a challenge, for sure, as I am a grammar junkie and review, review, review before I press the Publish button.

The word for today is Turn …. so here we go!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”

It’s true … when we have our eyes focused on one thing … everything else fades away.

I am easily distracted — by just about everything.  You know … squirrel, squirrel, squirrel.  And it’s hard to stay focused on one thing. And I wonder why I’m not always captivated by the face of Jesus. But when I am, I find that I am much more settled about my life–and the ones I love.

Reminds me of a song my kids like so much right now … “Fix My Eyes” … by King and Country (another one of those cute songs with a fun hand clap that my girls have learned perfectly.)

=> Life is totally different when our eyes on Jesus — because then — we see others.

 

 

Pursuing Contentment

Pile of smart phonesLast year a friend of mine posted the following for her Facebook status: ..Why is it that we feel compelled to upgrade everything in our lives? Why can’t we be more content with what we have and live more simply?

Ironically, in our American culture, contentment has become a pursuit. We think that our lives will be better or easier if we have a better or newer something.  So we embark on our quest.

But we’ve got it mixed up. Contentment is being satisfied with what is—whether it’s our stuff or our circumstances. Pursuit is actively seeking something else—a hunt.

I understand this paradox. Hello, my name is Dianne.  And I’m a tech junkie. But it’s not what you think. The calendar on my desktop computer seamlessly syncs with my iPhone and iPad. The calendars on my portable devices sync to my desktop computer. I never miss an appointment. I have constant reminders keeping me “on task and on time”–allowing me to be freely devoted to what is in front of me. Or am I?

But … I feel the need to justify. Before I had children, I worked in a fast-paced IT environment. My job was all about technology. Some people say, I work on a computer all day at work; when I come home, I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I am just the opposite. I wrote the stuff that made people’s lives better! So, when I see a good thing, I know it and take full advantage of it.

I was talking with my husband about this, and he told me about the Kano Model of Customer Satisfaction. In a nutshell, people are not satisfied even when a company meets the basic, expected needs of its customer base. When a company includes a Wow factor, going above and beyond what could ever be dreamed, it creates repeat customers. People’s level of dis-satisfaction continues  to increase as companies provide new and cooler features. Smartphone companies are a perfect example.

ContentmentI remember when I got my first iPhone–the 4S. I loved it. I came from a device that was, at one time, dubbed a “smartphone.” But compared to the iPhone, it was just, plain dumb. I had countless issues syncing to my PC. My iPhone was like heaven. Eventually, I had the opportunity to upgrade to a 5. I took it! I loved it! Even if the only conceivable difference was the increased size. Here I am, almost two years later, just waiting to upgrade again. The iPhone 6 is bigger and better! But I’m not eligible to upgrade until some time in January.  *sigh*

But it’s not just about technology.

One weekend last month, I found myself trying to create an environment that would satisfy my teenagers, so that they would be content with us at home and not miss their friends too much. (That’s a tall order!) It’s not that creating a warm environment is a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing! But I found myself questioning my method. Last month was October, and my home is already decorated for Fall. (Don’t get me started on the boxes in my attic for holiday decorations! They are another deal altogether!) The pumpkin candy jar has constantly been filled with my teens’ favorite treats. Some “treating” had already taken place, which means more candy. And my choice for quality family time? S’mores on our little backyard pit on the pergola. It was a sweet time … literally. Sugar upon sugar. Teens seem to have an insatiable desire for it. (What am I talking about, I do, too!)

I’m preparing for a scrapbook retreat at the beach in a couple of weeks, and I am in pursuit of the just right embellishments. Oh, you can go crazy with that … overboard … and … out of your mind. The growing pile in my dining room is proof that I’m teetering on the latter.

PineappleIt’s almost time to make fruitcake. When I started purchasing my ingredients, I wasn’t able to get everything in the right color combinations. Sure, candied pineapple tastes the same, regardless of whether it’s red, green, or yellow. But the balance of colors is prettier. I got what I could in different colors and made up the difference in yellow. The other day I was in the store and found more green and red! (I did pass it up, but the urge to put it in my basket was strong.)

All of this is rumbling around in my head and in my heart … and I am not at peace. It probably wouldn’t be such a big deal if all of this weren’t happening at the same time. But all of it is. Maybe God is trying to get my attention. Ya think?

I have to think so, especially when my Bible study for the last couple of weeks has been focused on “where my treasure is.”

Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The truth is that our material possessions can be gone in a moment. I need to know how attached I am to those things.

Our hearts are broken when our treasures are broken.

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 I need to ask, what makes my heart break?

  • Dropping my phone and watching the screen shatter? Or not being able to upgrade?
  • The bleach stain on my good pair of black slacks? (Don’t ask … I know better.)
  • The lost data on my computer due to a failure to back it up?

I need to ask, what overwhelms my heart with frustration?

  • Traffic?
  • The growing, unmanageable pile of stuff that I’m taking with me on this scrapbook retreat? A place where I’m supposed to be able to get away and relax!
  • An overwhelming schedule?

Or …

Does my heart break over other hearts?

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Specifically … the hearts of my husband and my children … my parents, my brother, my sisters? My other family and my friends? The lady I just met in the parking lot last week?

Matthew 6:25-34 reminds us that we are not to worry about all these details of life—not even about the food we’ll eat or the clothes we’ll wear. Our first priority is to seek the Lord. He knows we need all the other things, and He will provide for us.

Matthew 6:33-34 (NIV)But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

None of the above stuff is inherently bad or wrong. But when the pursuit of obtaining it or the possession of too much … causes you stress, there is a problem. I’m coming to believe that sometimes the pursuit simply isn’t worth it. Sometimes, “settling” is best.

Sometimes the pursuit simply isn’t worth it.  Sometimes, “settling” is best.

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I think I’m going to stop shopping for embellishments. Instead, I’m going to look forward to enjoying the peace of watching the sunrise over the ocean.

Image of phones:  Creative Commons

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For more encouragement, check out these other ladies I’m linking up with.

Cornerstone Confessions on their Titus 2 Tuesday
Holley Gerth and Coffee for Your Heart
Meredith Bernard and Woman to Woman
Woman to Woman Ministries

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His … Forever!

2 SAM 7 24

Sometimes I feel alone–and lonely. Sometimes my heart is full with the love of my friends and my family. Sometimes it’s not. I remember when I was in high school–I was the different one.  (My teens would argue that I have no clue what it’s like to be different from one’s peers. Indeed, today’s society is much different than the one I grew up in. But the dynamics of being different and separate are the same.) Even today, I sometimes feel that way.

I think it’s normal–especially for Christians. Certainly we have the love and support of fellow believers, but sometimes life circumstances are such that we just … feel alone.

I’m comforted knowing that God chose me–to be His own. And He chose you! Rest in His love, knowing you are His forever!

God chose you to be His–Forever!!

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Deuteronomy 26:18-19 (NLT) “The Lord has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. And if you do, he will set you high above all the other nations he has made. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the Lord your God, just as he promised.”

1 Samuel 12:22 (NLT) “The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people.”

2 Samuel 7:24 (NLT) “You made Israel your very own people forever, and you, O Lord, became their God.”

Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”

Titus 2:14 (NLT) “He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”

Today I’m linking up with the lovely ladies at Missional Women for a Faith Filled Friday and Essential Thing Devotions. Hop on over for more encouragement!

Missional Women

Wordless Haiku: Green & Red

The prompt for this week’s Wordless Haiku Challenge from Ronovan: Green and Red. Those who know me well, will have no trouble with this. ;) Indeed, it is the very first (is there any other kind of first?) thing I thought of.  Since I’m late to the party … I’ll go ahead and leave the answer below the pictures …

 

 

Haiku Green and Red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rich, heavy, fragrant
Candied fruit, nuts, and Sherry
Time to start baking!

Yep — Fruitcake Day is around the corner!!  And if you want a great recipe, I think mine is the best.  Free free to check it out!

 

 

Image Credits:
http://www.officeclipart.com
http://www.clker.com
commons.wikimedia.org
http://www.freecoloringsheets.net