The Breath of God

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I spent the last day of 2014 as a day of fasting and prayer, attempting to draw close to God and empty my vessel of all the junk I’d allow to pile up throughout the year. I wanted to go into the new year with an empty vessel, ready to be filled with His blessings and used for His glory. I had envisioned a day attune to God’s thoughts and listening so very carefully, I could almost feel His breath as He would speak to me.

The day did not turn out as I had planned. God did not speak to me… He yelled at me.

My day started in the quiet by myself, knelt in prayer facing a beautiful sunrise of pinks and golds. I felt so very close to God in that moment, just looking up into His beautiful creation and pouring out my heart. That was the morning. In the very same day I had planned to fast and pray, I also had a deadline at work which was literally at the final day of completion. I had also planned a New Year’s Eve party for my kids and husband, complete with party foods, fun games and just a night of making great memories. I was working and planning in a house that had been neglected in the clean-up department of late and was just cluttered in every room. It was pretty much total chaos, and I don’t mean organized chaos… just plain old chaos!

Somehow, through it all, I managed to get the house cleaned-up where it didn’t feel like it was closing in on me. I met my deadline at work, only through God’s grace, and I even got the games and party fixins all together without too much of a delay.

But I was frazzled in the midst of it all. God doesn’t want me frazzled.

I managed to get a solid thirty minutes of quiet to myself just as the sun was setting yesterday afternoon. I turned on my Selah Pandora station and let the words of precious praise songs pour over me like a warm shower to tired muscles. God used yesterday’s hours of chaos to yell at me through all the crazy…

My eyes were opened to areas where I’m not disciplined as I should be… work schedule, house schedule, personal time, prayer time. Without being disciplined in these areas, how can I expect God to bless me when I’m not pulling my weight?

Above all, through the chaos and through the yelling, at the end of 2014, I could hear Him saying to me… Draw Close.

This picture is of some greens in our garden that have yet to be harvested. Frost makes them sweeter and more delicious. Job 37:10 says, “From the breath of God, ice is made.” If these greens had been covered or hidden, there would be no frost on them. They need the frost just as they need the light that melts that frost, and God provides what they need where there is no chaos to hinder that provision.

And so, as I sit here with the first day of 2015 coming to a close, I’m drawing close to Him, drawing close to feel His breath and direction to be disciplined, to be the empty vessel waiting to be filled, and I’m so very thankful that sometimes His voice is yelling through my chaos and sometimes it is as gentle as the beautiful frost that covers the earth.

Counting 1000 gifts in 2015
1. 3 Gifts Heard – The crunch of the frosted grass under my feet in the morning, My sweet son as he plays with a simple ball of playdoh and his wonderful imagination, and the quiet, the wonderful quiet nothing of personal time set aside for me in the darkness of night as the world slows for slumber, and the chaos fades away.

Good-o-Meter

I thank God this morning for short work weeks, for holidays that are celebrated by simply resting.

Lots of thoughts about Godstellations swirled in my mind over the past few days, and I have a lot to share this coming week. As if to remind me once again to slow down and remember the heart of this blog, I saw this video and want to share it as today’s post. It says everything I could say and shares my heart’s desire that God use me daily to show others the way to never have to worry about the “Good-o-Meter,” for we can never weigh up. But praise His name, He provided someone Who does if we will just accept the gift He provides.

In all things, beauty.

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It was that time of day when the sun seems to fast-track toward the west as another day is ending. The beautiful golden hour was at hand. Eight feet were walking in the soft, cool grass of evening… four big, four little. Each heartbeat represented a quarter of their family and all beating together made them feel whole. The two littles would run ahead, chasing each other through the taller grass, their giggles filling the air like bubbles of happiness.

Sudden stops would preface screams of, “Look! Look!” as a set of deer tracks were spotted. More tracks brought about conversation of a deer family just like our family. Paths made my tiny hooves carved small crevices into the dense forest which were almost enticing enough to follow, although they decided against it. Wildflowers of big beautiful clover blossoms, delicate Queen Anne’s lace and Purple Passion Flowers were spotted and plucked to make a flower crown for the princess of the family. The smallest feet found sticks along the way which were quickly imagined into a gun to shoot any dangerous critter on our path. The littles were all boy and all girl… and all loved.

Not so full of energy, both slightly stooped from a long day of life in the grown-up world, they held hands as they watched the princess and the warrior exploring ahead. Their burdens felt lighter just as they watched them play ahead of them. Deep, calming breaths were breathed in and blown out slowly. With every step, their souls were being more and more restored. The hardness of the day was being overtaken by the softness of blessings.

As they made the last turn on the path and their faces turned to the west, there it was. The sun was saying goodnight in the most spectacular fashion. The tree line silhouette looked as if they were an audience to the performance before them. The clouds looked as if God had dipped his paintbrush and brushed them on the canvas of the sky.

They all stopped and stood in awe. They soaked it in like dry, flat sponges pulling in every drop of refreshing liquid, and they were refreshed and renewed. It was breathtaking.

And her heart was convicted. Just as breathtaking and memorable as the incredible sunset was before her, so was the flower princess that held her hand. So was the mighty warrior that ran ahead in Hot Wheels flip-flops, shooting imaginary critters with his stick gun. So was the man beside her to whom she had pledged her life fourteen years ago…

…and the grass beneath her feet
…and the cool breeze that touched her face
…and the birds that flew through the air

For they are all examples of God’s beautiful creation, and while the sun would set to bring on darkness, the mighty warrior would turn into a whiny-three-year old who doesn’t want to wash his hair, the flower princess would turn to the 1st grader not wanting to do her homeschool work and the man holding her hand would need washed and ironed clothes prepped for a day of work, in all things there is beauty. In all things there is a blessing.

And she resolved in her heart to be thankful.

Misplaced

This is my mini-me.

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I see a lot of me in her, but also her very own personality is shining through on a daily basis. She keeps us all in stitches, but also makes my heart ache when I see how tenderhearted she is. I know she’ll learn hard lessons, but I also know that she’ll conquer the world if she wants to.

My prayers this morning asked God for daily direction as I am here with them to mold them and teach them, and I asked the same from them in return. They have so much they can teach me, and they prove that on a daily basis. While we were on our evening walk yesterday, she went down a different path from the rest of us. Last night, while reliving our day through words, she said, “Well, while on that one path, I misplaced myself and forgot where I was.”

She misplaced herself. I chuckled as she was telling her story.

She misplaced herself.

How often do we misplace ourselves!?

The to-do list of our days get longer and longer while it seems like the hours in the day get shorter and shorter, and we easily misplace ourselves in the mix. Our kids so often remind us of what’s important and allow us to find ourselves again in evening walks, in beautiful sunsets, in weed bouquets. So thankful they are teaching me just as I am teaching them.

Draw Close

Perhaps the loudest statement I hear from God these days is just two words.

Draw Close.

I know He has so much ahead for me and my family, but I’m convicted of putting up fences as if to keep blessings from coming to me. These fences are of my own making by not dwelling and being consumed by His word. I’ve come a long way in daily Bible reading and studying, but I’m convicted that I’m still so far short of where He needs me to be in order to write a Bible study, or even to use this blog for His glory. He wants me to draw close to Him in everything… every thought, every word, every action.

Yes, my days are consumed with to-do’s on a list that is never-ending, but I know if I want to receive those awesome blessings He has for me, I need to be all in; totally sold out to His calling and for His glory. I will find time when it is sometimes the most scarce commodity of the day. I will turn my face to the sun to the morning, confessing my sins and asking for Him to fill me. I will close my eyes for just a second while cooking breakfast for my kids and ask Him to fill me with His patience for the day. I will let that last load of laundry wait and use those minutes to open His word and feed my soul to its daily fill with His word. I will study those precious words as I read, committing them to my memory and writing them on my heart. I will physically run my finger over the words as if their touch were the source of my strength for another day… and they are.

Our pastor made a comment yesterday that really was just an extra to the sermon. It wasn’t a focus or huge point to the theme, but it pierced my heart life a knife. He recently preached the funeral of a friend where the family gave her Bible to him to use for his preparation and during the service. He spoke of the notes that were written and pages that were worn.

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What would my Bible look like if it were given to someone to preach my funeral?

What kind of path am I leaving behind me?
Will it clearly point people to my Jesus?
Will the verses that speak to me in peace, in joy, in sorrow and in sadness be clear to those who will read it?
Will those pages be filled with notes of how these precious words spoke to me?
Will my life be living testament to these pages?

Will yours?

He is telling me to draw close, just draw close to Him in every way, at every possible moment, and He will fill me and use me. My life will be a living example to others if I will just do it… just draw close.

Saturday’s Song

Music, as it does to so many, holds a very special place in my heart. I would like to share a song here each Saturday that will praise His name and encourage our hearts.

This is a song about the Son of God, the Christ, the Savior of the world, and the amazing truth that He is right here with us.

Gathering Eggs

Top of our priority list when we moved to the country was raising chickens. My husband and daughter had talked about this for months while we still lived in the city in Arkansas. She was so very excited when we settled into our home here and Daddy said, “Let’s go buy some chickens!”

We started out with twelve and through various events lost some then gained others. We have thirteen now which is a very lucky number for us. Chickens are very entertaining to have around.

Our older hens have just reached the laying stage, and a few of those girls are daily suppliers. We average three to five eggs a day right now. By Halloween we should be up to almost a dozen a day.

My girl has quickly fallen in love with everything chicken! She loves to take care of them, hold them, feed them. She doesn’t even complain when she has to clean out the coop, but by far her very favorite thing to do is gather the eggs. If you’re like me, and you’ve never been around chickens, you might think gathering eggs in a morning affair. Well, you’re wrong. It is an all day deal. Usually we see our first egg before 9am, but the others are spread out throughout the day.

My egg gatherer will watch her flock of feathered friends as they roam through the yard. She notices when one has been out of sight for a while then notices when it is back. This is her clue to go check the nesting boxes.

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Sometimes she is disappointed when she finds them empty, but she is joyous when she returns with an egg in hand. With every trip to check those boxes, she’s learning patience and commitment. She’s also learning reward.

She is the little mother hen to her flock, and she loves them dearly. They give her great joy just by being chickens. They aren’t fancy chickens or chickens that can do tricks. They are just chickens being chickens, doing what they were made to do.

As silly as it sometimes seems, I believe everything around us at any given moment has the capability to teach us something knew or remind us of a truth. As children of God, He loves us for being who we are, and we bring Him joy just by that fact. We do not have to be a super hero or do extraordinary things. He’s called us to be His light and love others which we can do in big and small ways. He promises to provide for our needs as we do what we were created to do…

There is nothing you can do to make God love you any more than He does right now, and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you any less.

“God Made that Love”

My soul is hurting today. Words seem so very meaningless right now in a world that seems to be spiraling more and more out of control. People are being killed in horrific ways just because of who they are… executed, beheaded, their very life taken from them so violently.

And so I struggled with posting today, trying to find something to say about being the light in such a dark time. I struggled until I saw this video. Please take time to meet Hollie. You’ll be glad you did.

May we always be real light, true light, never salesmen of Jesus, but living examples of His love for all. Living out that love and light changes lives, and no matter how dark the world gets, the angels celebrate for one soul that comes to Him.

Father, the world needs You. They need to see you in us. Let us be true light, never fake or pushy. Let us be light that causes others to want what we have and use us to bring about many an angel celebration!

The DNA of our Soul

Have you ever seen a pretty car crash? Ever been down the path of sickness with a loved one and say, “Man, that was a pleasant experience!”?

I remember hearing someone say once, not long after my parents were divorced, that the reason divorce is such a difficult experience and hard on families is that our souls were never intended to go down that path. We were not made for that. It’s not in the DNA of our soul to go through those hardships, but sadly that is what happens when you live in a world that is not your home. The seas and waters get very rough to travel sometimes, and God told us this will happen.

We’ve started to work on memorizing Psalm 23 in our homeschooling lessons. I’m reminded how much I love learning right alongside my girl sometimes.

When something is restored, it is transformed to once again be used for its original purpose. It’s returned to its first beauty. While I’ve repeated those words countless times, often as one in a sea of monotone voices in a congregation, it has sounded an alarm in my heart this week. With every news outlet being filled with stories to inhumane for my heart to dwell on, the world is in desperate need of being restored. Lives are experiencing things our souls were not fashioned to see or do to one another.

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His voice spoke light into existence.
His mighty hands formed the delicate rose petals.
The feathers of a bird’s wing, giving the gift of flight, were of His making.
…and yet He calls us His greatest creation.

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“O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

His Word shall not fail you, He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well;
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!”

He leads me beside still waters and restores my soul… not once a day, not once a year, not once a lifetime. He continually restores my soul.

As my family and I visited the Eno River, we sat along the shoreline and listened to the stillness. When you are six and three, this type of adventure holds the promise of water splashing, finding fish and looking for critters. When you’re the parents of those being six and three, your find your soul grasping for the stillness with all your might, stretching with the last inch of your being to catch the peace that is so rare in today’s life.

He met us there. With eyes closed, I heard the silence. The brightness of the sun drove away any darkness that was on my face. The warmth of His light wrapped me like a blanket fresh from the dryer.

Transformed to its original beauty, He restored my soul. In a world where there is great unrest, the unimaginable happens on a daily basis, take time to be led by the still waters. There is no greater peace than a soul being restored.

A Path for Me

We try to fill Sunday afternoons with rest; to really honor the day God set aside for rest and allow our bodies and minds this time to unplug. While I would love to say this is spent napping in a hammock in the yard, that’s not the case, but we do work that is restful to us.

The afternoon was full of sunshine and the breeze gave respite to the heat of the day. It was the perfect setting to hang clothes on the line to dry. I try to do this as much as possible to use less energy, but also for the therapeutic qualities of pulling sweet smelling pieces from the basket to hang them in the North Carolina wind. I pray for the little people that wear the soft cotton threads. The pink gown with rainbow colored polka-dots is my favorite piece I think. It has ruffled sleeves and a bow in the front. She twirls to make the edges fly, and I pray for her soul and sweet spirit that God continues to work in her and prepare her for the life ahead. I pray for the curly-haired boy that wears the bright blue shirt stating he is “Mommy’s Superhero” and he is. Oh Lord, please help me tend the tender soil of his heart that the seeds of Your Word will be planted there and take root in his life.

Under the shade of the oak tree with the breeze blowing, the afternoon is spectacular, but go out into the direct sunlight and the beads of sweat start forming and dropping like rain. This is where my man finds his rest as he works in the yard. Clearing logs and starting to clean up garden plants that have provided their last bits of nourishment, he works and sweats. It is rest for his mind, and he needs it right now.

He knows how I spend the early mornings with dew soaked feet walking in the quiet, talking to my Jesus. He knows how much this time means to my day, to my heart. As I’m hanging his socks, praying God to lead his feet and guide his steps as the head of our household, I notice the roar of the lawnmower isn’t as close as it once was. It doesn’t draw my attention away from my task.

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The loud roar of the engine quieting to stillness does catch my attention, and I watch him walking toward me. His clothes look as if he’s been caught in a downpour, and his face is rosy red from the heat. “I made you a path,” he says. With a puzzled expression, I ask what type of path as he leads me toward the more grown-up area of the property. “I know you like to take your morning walks with Jesus, so I made you this path. I just mowed it pretty high, but I’ll keep it like this so you can have more area to walk and start your day.”

His heart knows my heart.

There’s a lot of weight on those shoulders as the head of the household, and he takes it all very seriously. He knows God will direct our paths, and his faith is always my rock when I allow worry to creep in. He seeks the paths of God, just as I do, and we know He will continue to lead us.

God tells us in His word how our hearts plan our way, but He directs our steps. Our steps are are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in our way.

Dear Lord, guide our steps today and every day. Our hearts make plans for our lives. We dream big, as I believe You want us to do. May we always dream and plan for our lives, but may the foundations of our dreams always be laid with Jesus as our cornerstone. As the mornings come and go, no matter what path we might use to greet the day, may You always walk beside us as our Heavenly Father… guiding, directing, listening.