Church in My Backyard

DSC03385*I won’t be posting next week during Spring Break, but I’ll see you back here on March 28!

I’m not the most observant person in the world. Case in point: We helped move our daughter and son-in-law to a townhome in a new city one November several years ago, visited them on the following New Year’s weekend, and then again over the following spring break, but it wasn’t until the trip after that that I noticed they had a church in their backyard—or side yard to be exact. The point is it’s right there.

Imagine my delight when I looked out the upstairs bedroom window early one morning before anyone else was stirring and saw a church tucked behind the stand of trees lining their development. Wow, I thought. They’ve got a church right in their backyard! I could feel a blog post coming on so I grabbed my camera and started snapping away.

Even though Kristin and Shawn didn’t end up attending this particular church, I was still excited to think they had a church—such a visible reminder of God—standing tall and strong so close to their home. A picture of God, if you will, living in their midst, watching over them, inspiring worship and peace for any who would open their eyes and see (the way I finally did!)

Believe it or not, I have a church in my backyard, too. No, it’s not a building made of stone and brick. It’s simply my yard. But it’s filled with visible reminders of God. The trees, the grass, the birds, the breeze all point to him and remind me that he’s living in my midst. He’s watching over me, and yes, inspiring worship and peace when I take the time to lift my eyes and turn my thoughts toward him.

Amazing, huh? I can’t help but proclaim, “Wow—I’ve got a church in my backyard!” How about you?

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song…” Psalm 98:4

*Where are some places, other than church, where you’re inspired to worship?

*Hope this slightly revised and updated encore post from March 2010 blessed you today!

*My photo

Remembering Trust

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We are now over two months into 2017 so I decided this would be a good time to remember and reinforce my theme word for the year. That word is trust.

In order to spend some time reflecting on and further cementing trust in my heart and life, I thought I’d write an acrostic for it. And if you chose a word for the year, why not write an acrostic of your own? Who knows what God might show us through this exercise? Here’s what I came up with. Hope it blesses you today!

Remember to Trust

Timing is God’s specialty so exercise faith and let him do his thing.

Rest in the knowledge that God knows the future and will bring about what is best.

Urge one another not to worry but to keep your eyes on the Lord.

Sing songs of praise and worship daily, expressing your faith out loud.

Take God at his word and believe in his promises.

If you didn’t choose a theme word for the year, I’d be happy to have you join me in focusing on trust. God may use it to comfort us or challenge us or more likely do both. And we can rest assured it will all be for our good.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

*Besides writing an acrostic, what are some other ways we can reinforce our theme words?

*Flickr photo by Kansas Poetry (Patrick), Creative Commons License

I’ll Be Your Wall

6076879792_800b7d9c5b_zDizziness. Vertigo. An injured foot or leg. Any one of these things can find us reaching out to someone or something for support. I’ve been there before, and I’m sure you have, too.

A friend of mine, in fact, copes day in and day out with a medical condition that makes it challenging for her to walk at times. Not long ago during an outing together, a bad spell struck. The distance to a nearby bench loomed large, but with great effort and the help of the cane she carries for just such times, she managed to make it.

After resting for awhile and taking some medicine to ease the symptoms, she felt ready to attempt the next leg of our journey. I had parked the car as close as to the building as possible, but now it felt miles away. Once again, with concentration and slow steps, she moved forward.

At one point, she paused to regroup and said, “If I just had a wall…” I answered instantly, “I’ll be your wall.” I knew she just needed a steadying influence on her side without the cane. With her characteristic good attitude, she made light of the situation, and I joined in. By the way, no matter what we get ourselves into, it seems we always end up laughing about something. I love that about our friendship.

I was glad to be her wall that day. Happy to be her steadying influence. Heaven knows, she’s been mine time and again. But I guess that’s what friendship is all about, isn’t it?

And let’s not forget, we have another Friend always ready to be our steadying influence, always standing by. Next time a bad spell of discouragement, heartache, or pain strikes you, just turn your thoughts to Him. I bet you’ll hear Him whispering, “Don’t worry. I’ll be your wall…”

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10 KJV

*When has a friend been a wall for you?

*Hope you were blessed by this encore post from Sept. 2009!

*Flickr photo by Jens Rost, Creative Commons License

God Delights in You and Me

8894717141_7c321496d6_z“He will take great delight in you; in his love he will . . . rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph. 3:17 NIV

Isn’t it amazing to think that God love us so much he delights in us? In fact, as the verse above points out, he actually rejoices over us with singing. Now that’s some kind of love, isn’t it?

Over the years I’ve had trouble comprehending how deep God’s love for me is and how he does indeed delight in me, but I read one example recently that has helped me better understand God’s great love.

In the Bible study Living in God’s Will, author Janice Mayo Mathers told how she delights in her little granddaughter. She then pointed out that God delights in us even more. As she described how she delights in everything from her precious granddaughter’s personality to her smiles to her eyelashes, this was something I could understand. Finally, a way that helped me truly feel God’s love and, yes, his delight.

Thinking of how deeply I love and delight in my own sweet grandsons, I can now understand how God delights in me. I’m in awe when I think of how his eyes must light up when he sees me smile or how his heart warms as he watches me love on all my grandbabies. When he hears me call his name, his heart must leap for joy, and when he sees me lift my tear-stained face toward him, how he must delight in my faith during heartbreak. How, in his great love, he must long to hold me and comfort me.

 Yes, God delights in me—and in you. Yes, he loves us more than we can comprehend. Join me, won’t you, in learning to trust and rest and bask in that love each and every day.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1

*How has God shown his great love for you?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out in early February. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by mugenai, Creative Commons License

Love Is Large

7188915268_2eed6d006c_zFriends, on this day of love, let’s think for a moment about the largeness of love.

When we truly love others or others truly love us, there’s nothing small about it, is there? Even when the gesture may be small by the world’s standards, the way it makes the recipient feel magnifies the smallest gesture into a grand gift. Yes, love feels big. Love is large.

Joni Eareckson Tada, contemporary artist, author, and speaker, sums it up perfectly:

“Love is extravagant in the price it is willing to pay, the time it is willing to give, the hardships it is willing to endure, and the strength it is willing to spend. Love never thinks in terms of ‘how little,’ but always in terms of ‘how much.’ Love gives, love knows, and love lasts.”

What do you say—are you ready to go out there now and love? Let’s do it. With Jesus as our ultimate example of large love, let’s get out there and be extravagant. Let’s love!

“‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’” John 13:34 NIV

*When has someone been extravagant in their love for you?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter which includes a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out in early February. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Venkataramesh.Kommoju, Creative Commons License