Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Me and My Shadow


I decided to go ahead and walk this afternoon since it may rain later.  I also decided to take along my camera so I could capture some gifts of grace along the way.  So, after slinging my camera strap over my head,  off I went; ready to see some great stuff.




As I rounded the curve on Shadblow Lane, I stopped and captured the creek which runs under the street and through the apartment complex in our neighborhood. 

I love to hear the water moving over the sticks, rocks, and sand, as it winds its way through but doesn't have a clue as to where it will end up.



As I made it up the hill to Baywater Dr., I began searching again; a picture of a flower, a flag blowing in the wind, and then, a gorgeous view across the Shadblow Lake.  The water rippling, the breeze blowing; such a calming view.




I turned the corner and onto Swannanoa Dr.  I picked up my camera again to capture what I call the Happy Flower; a gerber daisy standing so tall and straight as if it were saying, "Take my picture."  Well, I tried but my camera gave me the message, "Change battery pack."  I said to myself, "Dog-gone-it!  I knew I should have charged that battery, but I didn't and now I will have no more pictures of this walk."

I scuffed along and resorted to just taking pictures in my mind.

Finally, I made it back around to Blakely Court.  My neck was hot from the camera strap and my wrists were aching from the swapping back and forth of carrying the camera.  (I carried it because the weight of the camera around my neck was bothersome.)

I was beginning to think that this was a lost cause and I didn't really see any grace on my walk until...
a shadow appeared; more shadows all over the street.  The sun was casting shadows of trees and bushes and even me. 

At first, I wasn't very impressed because who hasn't seen a shadow, but then it was like Christ said
out loud, "These are shadows of things to come."

That's it!  He wanted me to see that all of the grace gifts, the flowers, the water, my family, the laundry (read my last post), the sun, the clouds, the sky, the breeze, the water, everything that He gives us every day.... ALL ARE SHADOWS OF WHAT IS TO COME!

"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away." (Revelation 21:1) NKJV

This earth will fade away, but the new earth will be perfect.  Full of God's glory with no room for sin.   No ugliness, no ungratefulness, nothing that is less than Christ Himself.  Fully holy.  Fully beautiful.  Fully Christ.

Even my shadow will disappear, the one the earthly body casts, but my glorified body will not cast shadows; no darkness, for I will be holy as He is holy; perfected in Jesus Christ. 

"For God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all." ( 1 John 1:5b) NKJV

Just as the law was given as a shadow of things to come, so is the glory we are allowed to see here on earth- a shadow of things to come! 

"For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come,..." (Hebrews 10:1 NKJV)

Our salvation will be complete when we see Jesus.  No more Potter- molding. No more battling the flesh. No more asking forgiveness. No more need for faithOur faith will be SIGHT!  When Jesus comes again, there will be no more darkness for we will see Him as He is.

Each day, as we intentionally search and seek for the grace gifts, the beauty and wonder that He reveals to us, as magnificent as it is, it's just a shadow of what is to come.


The sun has set, the moon has risen, and the darkness reappears. As God closes this day of wonder, He has revealed what He wanted me to see for today.  Did I see it?  Yes.  Shadows. 

My Pleasure,
Melanie

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Laundry Cathedral

32 years of vacations to the same little beach house, the same week of Father's Day, with the same family. And the deposit is already paid for year number 33.

What a blessing to get away for a week to relax and enjoy some of God's incredible creations- the ocean, the seashore, the sun, etc.- with the ones we love.


What a blessing to get back home and begin the sorting, washing, drying, and folding of laundry-
for the ones we love.


Laundry?  A blessing? 

I could not have said that with such ease before because laundry has always been an endless, tiresome, mundane chore.  I've always considered it one of the most boring household jobs there is. 

As I have shared previously, I've been reading Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts.  I was able to finish the book while soaking up some rays at the beach.  Her eucharisteo gratitude attitude which evolves throughout the book, has captured my attention in a way that is very difficult to put into words.  Her ability to be completely honest with her readers has a raw, yet tender transparency that is very rare.   

One of my favorite analogies that Ann uses to describe her "ah-ha" moments is "the cathedral moment".  It's being so filled with wonder at what God is displaying before you that right where you are becomes a cathedral- a place of worship. For in that moment you recognize the awesomeness of His presence, even in the most mundane things, and you praise and worship the Lord Almighty.


So I started thinking that my mundane, laundry room can be a cathedral if I would just view it that way.  Each piece of clothing that is thrown in the hamper or onto the floor represents a precious blessing in my life- my husband, my son, my daughter, my own life.  Why should I not use this tiny room to give up large thanksgiving (eucharisteo) of praise and blessing to God while I do our laundry?  My family is my biggest blessing and I should give heaps of thanks for them among heaps of clothes. And where can I go to do so much for them and pray for them more than in my space of quiet and solitude?  My Laundry Cathedral!

In my Laundry Cathedral I reflect on and express eucharisteo for:
-the fun we all had 
-the boy and girl that God blessed our marriage union with
-the 32 years that I have been able to go with this incredible family to the same house, same week


-game nights playing Speed Scrabble, Spoons, and Tarnation
-lunch at noon around the same table with the same basic spread
-laughing at Rick and Turner's antics and the pestering of Mimi



-that my boy had the whole week off from his new job
-his job and the great people that he works for
-travel mercies for all of us


-the incredible weather that we experienced
-magnificent art work given by the Creator to tell us AGAIN how much He loves us


See how the laundry room can become a magnificent cathedral- a place of blessing unto the Lord?  When you view the heaps of clothes as heaps of blessings, then the laundry room transforms into a sacred place of worship, adoration, and prayer. 


 
What a beautiful sight!  Thank you, Lord Jesus, for allowing me to see the gift of laundry!

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (I Thessalonians 5:16-17) NKJV (emphasis mine)

My Pleasure,
Melanie

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Dare You!


Do you love a good dare?  I do.
I'm very competitive, and sometimes daring me to do something
just drives me even more. 

I've been challenged by Ann Voskamp, the author of One Thousand Gifts,
 to take the June Dare and I've jumped in with both feet!
This summer I am beginning a journal- a eucharisteo journal.

("Eucharisteo" is the Greek word for "thanksgiving".)

 "Eucharisteo" produces a grateful heart!

Ann has dared me to begin looking for 1000 gifts
that God places in my life and path every day. 
She has dared me to write down the gifts that I'm thankful for and to number them.

Simple, ordinary gifts.

It's fun, exciting! 
Each morning when I wake up I can hardly wait to see
what God is going to point out to me that day-
 precious overlooked, stepped on, walked around,
 gifts that I've missed so many times before. 

For example:


Watching a thunderstorm develop...


tablets of The Ten Commandments resting beside a tree in a neighbor's yard...


a note of encouragement that came in the mail...


Evidence of a husband who takes pride in his yard...


a fresh flower in the window sill...

just to name a few.

This dare is different from anything else I've ever been challenged to do
because it is a challenge to look for and examine the goodness and greatness of God
as He has displayed it for me to see.

To see them, I have to be intentional- to look through His lens to see His gifts,
just the way He intended-
 extraordinarily beautiful!


A beautiful place to worship with my church family...


and a great choir to rehearse and sing praises with...

the list goes on and on and on and.....

How about you? 
Will you take the dare and begin a "eucharisteo" journal with me and many others this summer?  You'll never look at life the same again.

Go ahead! 
 I dare you!

My Pleasure,
Melanie











Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Last "R"

This past Thursday was the last week of "Renew, Refresh, Refine..." Bible study with the Premier Girls.

This week's study was on "Rejoice"!

Our assignment was to reflect on what God has taught us through this study and then rejoice over all that He has done.


We enjoyed some great fellowship, and some fabulous hamburgers grilled by the best grill masters, Tal and David. Thanks guys. 
                                                                

Let the rejoicing begin!



 Revealing our secret premier girl with gifts was priceless.  Each one shared what the personal notes of encouragement had meant to them during the weeks.  They were so grateful for the timely words of each card received.






The beginning of new friendships and refreshing older ones.
      
 Such sweet spirits.


It was fun-tastic!

If I could share with you one thing that God revealed to me through this study, it was to never underestimate what God can do through you when you are obedient.  Obedience is the evidence of relationship.  Thank you Jesus for our sweet relationship.  You are such a good God!

As we have concluded this study, I pray that Jesus will continue to...

Renew, Refresh, and Refine...
                              your heart, soul, and mind...

as you continue your journey in becoming the woman God created you to be!


(Magnets made by Margaret Lorimer)
My Pleasure,
Melanie

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Core of a Christian

The core of anything is its' center.  It's what the fruit revolves around. It's also where good or bad seeds are found.

Sometimes the core is rotten and has a stench, therefore, the fruit is offensive.  A healthy piece of fruit has a pleasant odor and entices the taster.

The same is true for the Christian.  The good fruit that we bear surrounds a strong, healthy core of something that tastes good. The bad fruit that we bear is a result of a core that is distasteful.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to be offensive.    I want to fill the space where I am with the pleasant aroma of God's presence so others will be enticed to "Taste and see that the Lord is good."  (Psalm 34:8)

In Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, she draws the reader in to examine one's core.  She takes you on an incredible journey as she discovers what's missing in her life and how she allows God to change her condition. 

The thread throughout the book is the word "eucharisteo".  It is the Greek word for "thanksgiving". 
"Eucharisteo" has come to be my focus over the last several weeks as I have begun to read her New York Times best seller. 

Reading through her journey thus far has made me more aware of my surroundings and the glory that God displays for me every day.  I'm already a lover of thunderstorms, rainy days, flowers, green grass, birds, the sun, the moon, trees, going barefoot in the cool of the day, etc... but this author is so much more aware and knowledgable of the tiniest of everyday things.  She dives deep into the observation of things like a bubble in her dish water.  Amazing!  One night she even chases the moon to the end of a wheat field on their farm and lies prostrate before God.  What spontanaeity!  What splendor she discovers by looking for the glory God has already displayed.

A grateful heart in the making.

Her writing is so refreshing, challenging, and in places, hard. It's everything, all at the same time.  Sometimes I just put the book in my lap after a few pages and close my eyes to try and picture everything she has just described.  I force myself to breathe slow.
 As a result of the profound spiritual depth of this small, but powerful, truth-filled book, I will be hosting a Summer Book Club.  We will discuss the eucharisteo in every day life.  We will begin our own "One Thousand Gifts" list in our personal small journals.

Being grateful for the things this good God has already given to you will change how you view your wants and needs.  This prospective on life has already changed my thoughts from me to Him each morning; the One who redeemed my soul. 

Who I am is Christ, the Center.  What I do is based on how grateful I am to and for the Center.

When gratefulness fills the heart of a Christian, the hum-drum routine of life ebbs away.  Being intentional about what I see, and how I see, changes my blurred vision to His perfect vision.  That's the definition of wisdom- "Seeing life from God's perspective." (I learned this from the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar many years ago.)

 When gratefulness ceases to flow from the center of the Christian's perspective, nothing seems to satisfy.  That which satisfies seems out of reach.  All seems lifeless and dull.
You miss the small things that would otherwise direct your focus to Jesus Christ- the One who satisfies.  But contentment is possible when your heart is grateful.


What shape is your core in?  Who is the center of your life and what flows from your core?  Discontentment, unsatisfaction?  Begin to look for the little things to be grateful for and watch God transform you and your thinking.

 "Enter His gates with thanksgiving."
                                                         (Ps. 100:4)   

Would you like for the gates of heaven to open up before you and take your breath away?  Would you like to get a glimpse of Him, the Maker of heaven and earth; the Savior of the world?  Would you like to experience real joy?

Then begin today and every day with "eucharisteo"!


My Pleasure,
Melanie

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Simple, Empty Box

A box.

Simple. Empty.

A gift. 

A simple, empty box given.

A simple gift, eternal.


I've given several of these simple gifts, different sizes, different shapes, to special people in my life and will continue to do so for as long as I'm able.  My latest one was given on Thursday to a special high school graduate.  A beautiful, lanky, sprangly, little girl that captured a special place in my heart when she became a classmate of my daughter's in third grade. 

The box is empty because she is to fill the box.  But she cannot fill it alone.



Life is hard, not futile.  Life is full, not empty.  Life is joyful, not joyless.  The Christian with eyes to see can trust beyond the hard, the futile, what seems empty, and the sadness.  But sometimes in the midst we all need to be encouraged as we struggle through the difficulties of this life.

Encouragement is a gift from God Himself.  He is our biggest Cheerleader, our greatest Encourager and our strongest Advocate.  He helps us to trust Him in the discouragement so He can move us on to the encouragement.

"May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

He loves us.  He made us.  He is our all in all!   His desire is for His children to stay the course, run the race of life with endurance, grow in character through the tough times, perservere, and ultimately be ushered into His presence as He says, "Well done".

One of the greatest things we can do for our brothers and sisters in Christ is to mimick the Lord by encouraging them in this life to live well and to live fully for Christ and in Christ. 

The Giver of life began the encouragement process.  The giver of the simple, empty box continues the process with...

One single card laid ever so gently in the bottom of the simple, empty box.


Now, no longer an empty box.

A message of hope, faith, and love is one that her heart will burn for in times of distress, sadness, and feelings of failure.  A message to help her battle discouragement as it attacks her from time to time. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
(Proverbs 3:5-6) 

Place in this box notes, cards, letters that make your heart smile.  Pull one or more out every time you need a hug or a friend.  These precious hand-written notes will hold much encouragement for you as you walk the walk of faith.  Stay close to Jesus. He loves you more than you'll ever know.  Read His love letters to you every day-your Bible.  Draw from His strength, love, and faithfulness.  Remember only true joy, peace, and satisfaction come through knowing Jesus Christ.
Congratulations!  We love you!


With card safely tucked away inside, the lid prayerfully placed on top, the Encouragement Box is delivered and takes its place among the other gifts at the graduate's table.

As she graduates a year early, my heart aches.  Tears flow because I know my own daughter will be the graduate next year, but my heart is also full of hope for this graduate's future. 

Who has encouraged you in your walk with Christ? 
Who have you been an encourager to?

Why not make someone an Encouragement Box?  Then, make one for yourself.  Encouragement is the gift that keeps on giving.  Let me know if you make or take one.  (OR BOTH!)

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."  (Hebrews 3:13 NIV)

My Pleasure,
Melanie