God is in the Details
As a gardener, I put great effort into making my garden a place of peace, a place of rest and a place to appreciate the awesomeness of God’s handiwork. I move dirt, compost debris, I build rock walls and plant all kinds of shrubs, trees and flowers with purpose. If something doesn’t look right where I planted or placed it, I tell my husband, teasingly that the “Feng shui” just isn’t right and I go back to the drawing board until it has that “just right” Feng shui feeling. It’s true! In the process of creating in my backyard, it has to not only look right, but feel right. Now it might be messy or eclectic, maybe even a little too colorful to some, but for me, the details of what I do are important to create the end result; peace, rest and appreciation.
At first I thought all of the Feng shui fuss was just in my A type personality, but just a few days ago, I was 30,000 feet in the air somewhere over Utah when I looked out the window and saw the vast landscape of canyons and crevasses spanning as far as the horizon of that airplane’s altitude. I was in awe of the detail of creation and thought to myself, I wonder if God pays as much attention to His creation as He does in my life? Well, if you read the Bible with this in mind, God IS in the details of all that we do. He cares about our lives. He sees us and He loves us. God has gone to great lengths to speak to us through nature in various ways. I believe He writes love letters to us and uses nature as his paper.
Have you ever seen a teaspoon of sand under a microscope?
The picture above is that of some grains of sand magnified a 100 times! What we see is just sand, but what God has created tells me that He cares. Why else would He bother? He creates these clues to lead you and me to Himself so that we would know His love in a deeper way than just going to church. He wants to draw you close, to spend time with you, to lavish His great love on you. Why? So that you in turn would show the world that same great love through your actions and words.
You see, we are the hands and feet of Christ, ministering to those who need to see and know Jesus in a real and tangible way. Wether it’s just a smile, an act of kindness or a simple “how are you?” people need that. We’re living in a high tech world now and we are drifting farther and farther away from each other because of it. Don’t get me wrong. I love all things tech and I’m a bit of a tech nerd, but I also am so grateful for the love that God has shown me, and I want others to know this same love. I’m not trying to gain brownie points with God, I’m simply responding because of what God has shown me.
It’s 11:30 pm as I write this. We’re spending our last night in Colorado Springs and heading to our home in Oregon in the morning. A new chapter of our lives is just beginning. We don’t know what our future holds, but we do know that God has called us to show His love to others in all that we do. A new garden to create beauty in, a new ministry to the saints in hopes to lavish others with the same love that has been so graciously lavished on us.
God is in the details and I like it! Because He is so awesome in all His ways, we look forward to the plans that He has for us. A new adventure awaits!
I saw this photo online by, Ron Niebrugge and it struck me how our lives can tend to look like this. Which did you see first? The cactus or the flowers? Life, and all its events can be all about what you see first. Do you see the beauty, the color and the mass amounts of beautiful flowers or do you see the thorny cactus, rearing its spiny self in the midst of all the beauty? How about this? Did you think of the cactus as a desert beauty and the wildflowers strangling it out? Either view can be just as beautiful or just as overwhelming.
If the cactus was in a field with nothing else around it but dirt, would you appreciate its beauty, especially when it blooms, or a single bird finds refuge or even a place to nest? If there was just one single blue or red flower in the same field, would you be just as in awe or not even notice? Taking the time to find value in our life situations, good or bad can sometimes be overwhelming. Whether it’s one single event or a whole days’ worth of stuff happening, it all can play a purpose in our lives. We just have to look for it. Most of us go day to day without even taking in to account the happenings of the day. The people we meet and interact with, or the places we go or the food we eat. Unless something extreme happens, our days just go by unnoticed like a single flower in a field.
So, what you might say; what difference would it make if I noticed more of my daily life than in days past? I guess not much, but think of the person on their death bed, reflecting back on their lives. They always wished that they had smelled more roses, noticed more sunny days, lived more life and loved more people. You can’t do any of those things unless you purpose in your heart to be more “life Intentional.”
This September, I will be celebrating 18 years of being in remission from stage 3 breast cancer. Every year, I try to do something fun or special to celebrate being cancer free. For many years, when we lived in Colorado, I planted a flowering perennial in my garden to remind me that life is precious. Since then, we have moved to the Pacific Northwest. Knowing that we were going to move, I decided that since I couldn’t take my garden with me, that I would get a tattoo to not only cover up the scars from all the surgeries that I’ve had for my breast cancer, but for every year that I am cancer free. I would get a tattoo of a hummingbird and I now have 17 watercolor hummingbirds on my back, front shoulder and my breast. Instead of dreading each year when I have to go in for the painful mammogram, I look forward to adding another hummingbird in celebration of one more year. When people see parts of my tattoo poking out from underneath my tank tops, they ask about it. This gives me a platform to share God’s grace in my life and his goodness and how he has brought me through some extreme ordeals. So, do I see the scars still? Nope! I see the beauty and the potential for the future.
One part of my garden in Colorado
Suicide is a selfish act. It’s not done to save another’s life, nor is it done to stand up for a belief. It’s done out of simple selfishness. I know, I once tried to take my own life.
The person who takes their own life is so consumed with themselves, they are like a person standing in front of a mirror consumed only by their own image and everyone else around them is a blur in the background of the mirror. They are swept up in their own sorrow or grief that they can’t step away, they are locked in just like in a trance.
Unless the mirror is shattered they will forever be consumed with their own woes and convince themselves that life isn’t worth living because that’s all that they see. Call it what you want from a brain imbalance or a life crisis, the end results are the same. People take their own lives because they are consumed with themselves and the woes that surround them.
How can I say this? I was so beaten down verbally and physically by my parents from as early as four years of age that I felt trapped in a loveless home. I was so focused on what “I” wanted and what “I needed” that I stood constantly in front of my own image convinced of the words that my parents told me were true. You’re stupid, a cry-baby, an idiot, worthless, unwanted and dumb and so on. My mind was conditioned at a very young age to believe that I was all those things and as I entered puberty, I was convinced they were my identity.
So how did this mirror get broken in my life because obviously, I’m still here to write about it? When I was about ten, I saw the movie, “Jason and the Argonauts” on T.V. in black and white mind you. It was the classic of the Greek myths brought to the screen to entertain the PG audiences in the 70’s. It didn’t hit me until I was 15 and a friend stopped me from taking some pills to end my life, that I heard the singing sirens in that movie, where they sing Jason’s men to sleep to draw the ship into the rocks to destroy it and then pillage the remains, did I fully get what was happening to me.
It shook me so much that I “woke up” from my trance of despair. I saw hope in the horizon, but even that was fading until I was told about the love of God. Only then did I see that my life had a purpose for something bigger, something grander than just me.
The enemy to all mankind is the devil and his minions. They go about to whoever will listen to their lies until their victim is so consumed by their own sad state that they end their lives at his hand. He strategically stalks his victims and sings in such a subtle way, that his victims have no idea that they are being lured into a trance, staring at themselves in the mirror of despair until they crash. Their souls are either carried to heaven or pillaged into hell to wait out the judgment set before them.
I’m convinced that there is an unseen spiritual presence that is from hell itself, invading the thoughts of men, women, and children all over the world into a trance so deep that those minds can be hypnotized into sadness, despair, anxiety, and anger just to name a few. Young children who are even loved and cherished by their parents can fall prey to this oppression through electronic media only to be diagnosed with some sort of chemical imbalance and over-prescribed anti-depressants because the spiritual world has not been proven, or acknowledged to date by modern man.
The Bible is clear about the fallen angels and their leader. It says starting in verse 6 of 1 Peter, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” 1 Peter 5:6-9 ESV
So, you who are believers in God’s word take note. Satan wants to take us down. He can’t have our souls because they belong to Christ, but he will do all that he can to make us useless for the Kingdom while we are here on earth. We can’t let this happen!
You who do not have a relationship with Christ, note this. Jesus is speaking here, He says;
“Let not your hearts be troubled.”
“Believe in God;[a] believe also in me.”
2” In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
4 “And you know the way to where I am going.”[c] 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
7 “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.[d] From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. John 14: 1-9 ESV
Learn of God, believe in what Jesus did, teach it to our children, share His love and live this truth and our enemy becomes a toothless lion. He will no longer have power over us. Besides that, we serve the bigger Lion, who wins!
There’s nothing like a lazy Sunday afternoon nap to refresh your body and soul. I love snuggling up with a fuzzy blanket, just about an hour after a light lunch in the quiet of our bedroom to take a much-needed nap. The curtains can be wide open, letting the warm sunshine bathe the expanse of our bed, or even a cold and rainy day, with the sound of rain tapping gently on the roof to lull me into a peaceful slumber.
I feel like I’m catching up on some sleepless nights and restoring my sleep bank for the days lost. I sleep my best when I’m alone because I’m such a light sleeper. I think it comes from years of being on call 24/7 as a tow truck driver in the bay area of California. Almost every night while on call, I would get the 3:00 AM call to go rescue a disabled driver somewhere out on the highway between our three large cities or because a drunk driver caused a terrible accident in the middle of the four-lane interstate. Either way, I was accustomed to sleeping light so I wouldn’t miss a call.
I’m glad those days are long past me and I can enjoy not being on call 24/7 through holidays, birthdays and those ever-important cliffhangers on my favorite prime-time shows. Now I can just come home from my job and relax, knowing that if I get jarred awake in the middle of the night, it’s because of something important that needs my attention. Being a tow truck driver definitely, lead to many adventures that I will share in future posts.
Now that spring is finally here according to the calendar, the days are getting longer and new growth is beginning to awaken in the garden. I don’t fully understand how God programmed nature to respond at this timing because, in my book, it’s still winter here in Colorado. As I write this, I just heard that we are due to get 4 to 6 inches of snow this Saturday!
Year, after year, I have watched several trees bud out in March, only to be frozen to death in April. Thinking that the tree was complete done for, I would make plans to dig it out to be replaced in late May, only to find out that despite the hard freeze, it endured and lived. I’m amazed by this. When the garden sleeps for the winter, it’s protected from the sub-zero temperatures, and the harsh winds that can kill a tree for sure, but somehow nature wins in rest.
We too can win in rest. When the forces of stress, irritation, impatience, and rebellion try to overtake our thoughts like a major storm, we can cry out to God in our fear and boldly come to the throne of grace and rest in God’s truth that He is in control of His children’s lives. That no matter how harsh the storm, He will see us through until the end. Rest in Him.
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:6-8 New International Version (NIV)
The freedom to run like the wind helped me through a lot of the pain growing up in a physically abusive home. Back in the 60’s & 70’s, nobody questioned the welts or bruises on me until my coac…
Source: Stay in the Race
I was in the fifth grade and on the track team. My two favorites were the 440 and the 50-yard dash. I was small and lanky, but I was very fast. But the main reason that I chose track was because it was during school time and any after school practice was reasonable to my parents because I could walk home. It was the only sports that didn’t inconvenience their lives.
Most of the time, I would run all the way home just to build up my strength and endurance. It was only 2 miles, so it felt good to release the energy. The freedom to run like the wind helped me through a lot of the pain growing up in a physically abusive home. Back in the 60’s & 70’s, nobody questioned the welts or bruises on me until my coach saw one on the back of my leg as we were sitting on the grass near the track. After practice, he pulled me aside and asked how I had gotten the welt that still stung from the night before when my dad was in a drunken rage and I was the closest target to his anger. As my coach asked the question, it took all I had not to cry. I just looked at the grass and made up a story of falling off my bike. Coach Ed, a gentle man, knew that it was more than a fall from a bike, but he didn’t press me. He’d put his hand on my should and just said “okay” and let me go home.
I hated my life at home. There were no fun family times, no bedtime stories, no birthday parties or dinner time connections, no hugs and definitely no encouraging words from them. My parents were self-absorbed partiers with 5 unwanted kids to feed and clothe. We were an interruption into their freedoms of adulthood.
I watched with envy as other kids had wonderful lives growing up with loving and caring parents, always celebrating as a family or going on family outings. My siblings and I were always looking for ways to stay out of the house so when my dad was on one of his drunken rampages, we were nowhere in sight. Running track was my way to stay away from the house. I would run the neighborhood in the name of track practice. When I would run, I felt powerful and in a team like the 440 dash, my team and I ruled the track. We won meet after meet and made state finals. Coach Ed was so proud of us that he would buy us all ice cream and tell us how good we were. I’d never had that, so I soaked up every word like he was telling me, and me alone.We set out to practice like we always did three days ahead of the state finals. We were at our best in every run. The last run of the 440, I was second to catch the baton. I was in position and ready to dash when my teammate handed me the baton, but in doing so accidentally put her foot just in front of my back foot, catching me and sending me down on both knees and the palms of my hands. The hot pavement of the track dug into my flesh as I skidded to a stop, curling into a ball on my side. Writhing in pain, Coach Ed was quick to my side and my teammates rushed in to see the carnage. I was taken to the school nurse, cleaned up and bandaged to be sent home.
My mom was called to come pick me up. She was not happy, to say the least, and her silence on the trip home spoke volumes to me. Once home, I was told to go to my room and not to come out until dinner. I was whipped that night for interrupting her time at home as she entertained friends. So not only was I hurting from the fall, but new welts on my backside stung like crazy. I was more determined at that time to be in the race that coming Saturday. Part of me wanted to die from such a horrible life at home while part of me wanted to win the race and celebrate with my teammates.
The next day at school, Coach Ed asked if I could still run with the team on Saturday. I told him that I was alright and wouldn’t miss it for the world, in spite of limping a little around my school. My determination to help my team and win the race was practically boiling inside of me. Practice that day was hard, but I pushed through it.
When Saturday came, I rushed to get my gym bag and head out the door to the school where the state finals were being held. The school was packed with people and families were lined up around the track to cheer on their kids running that day. My family didn’t come, but that didn’t matter. I was there for my coach and my team. Still, in bandages I pushed to fight the pain of my wounds, both on my legs and my backside to walk over where my team and coach were waiting. Coach Ed was so proud of us and gave his usual speech of encouragement. Our team was second to run and we waited with joyful anticipation.
As we took our spots on the track, I could hear the announcer call out our school and then our names, one by one. The announcer even made it a point to mentioned my injuries and yet I was still in the race. I felt a rush of red to my race, but I used that to power my legs for the sound of the gun. I ran with all my power that day, as did my team. We won the state championship in our age group and received a team trophy. What a victory for us as we hugged and celebrated. Our coach was pleased as we took our places to receive our medals. The cheering from the crowd was exhilarating.
Suicide is a hard subject to discuss, especially since I tried to take my own life at 15. I couldn’t take life at home anymore. I was done, I just wanted out. I was tired of the pain; I was tired of the family that didn’t want me. I was done with being physically and emotionally abused. I wanted to give up, I wanted it all to stop. Obviously, I didn’t succeed, because I’m here today to write this. Since that day that a friend stopped me from ending my life, and over the years since then, I have suffered divorce, discrimination, unemployment, breast cancer, the loss of my parents and one sibling to disease, failed relationships and setbacks. I am not rich, nor do I have the perfect career, yet I still run the race called “life.”
I refuse to let the pain of my past keep me from finishing the race for the prize set before me. What is that prize you ask? Because I have a deep relationship with Jesus, someday, when this life is over, I will meet Him face to face to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” That is my trophy, to be in eternity with Christ. I will not give up the race, I will not end my life early to escape the pain. I will push forward to whatever lies before me. Why? Sure, I could have given up years ago, but I look at my life since then and all the people who I have helped and encouraged to be better at what they do. The lives that I have touched because I went through cancer. The beauty that I have created through my artwork. The grandsons that I have and will be a part of their lives. Don’t give up my friend. Let God bandage your wounds with his love and forgiveness. Let him be your strength through the pain and suffering. You won’t regret it when you get to heaven and see all the people who are there because of you. Be encouraged today and stay in the race even if you have to be carried across the finish line.
Hebrews 12 New King James Version (NKJV)
12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The Garden Sleeps
I was born on a warm January day in Bakersfield, California. The cooler days of fall get my mind ready to hibernate in my art room as the temperatures dip below 60. Yes, that’s right, 60 is my ideal low and 85 is my ideal high, maybe even a little warmer. I have never tolerated the cold very well, so moving to Colorado some 10 years ago has had its challenges for me, especially in the gardening category.
Since being here, I have learned to let the frost kill the tender annuals and not fret over the garden preparing to sleep for the long winters here in Colorado, and I must say that I am truly amazed that such beauty can return after a few feet of snow and several layers of ice without any help from me! God knew what He was doing when he set the climates all around the earth. I just haven’t found “my” climate yet to live in.
The more that I live here in Colorado, the more I’ve learned about endurance, patience and rest through the example of my backyard landscape. You see, I used to be a person who ran from pain, sorrow, and troubles. I’ve had a lot of those very things in my life and it seems like every year that I have lived, I’ve had some of or all of the aforementioned three in my life. I’m a strategic thinker by nature and I can come up with a solution for most problems even before you tell me your whole problem. It’s the way I’m wired, but I didn’t realize this until just a few years ago. Way back when, my go-to solution to my problems was just to “walk away” or better yet, to run as fast and far as I could go. What I didn’t realize is that when I ran away, I took me with me, never learning the needed skills to face issues until the last ten years.
In the garden, as a plant grows, each season and every stage of a plant’s life has meaning and purpose. If a plant, let’s say a fruit tree, grows to maturity without bearing fruit, the gardener will prune it way back and heavily fertilizes it to force new growth that will produce fruit the following season. It’s not like the fruit tree can just take up roots and leave for another garden because it didn’t like being pruned or dumped on. The outside help of the gardener assists the tree in the right season to promote a bountiful harvest that will benefit many in the years to come. It takes patience, care, and rest.
My life is very much like that tree in God’s economy. Sometimes I need His help to prune me back in my attitudes or ungratefulness and sometimes that involves a lot of crap being dumped on me and then being forced to rest for a season, but I know from experience that only good comes from His gentle work in my life. I don’t like the pruning and I definitely don’t like the “fertilizer” being applied, but I’ve seen the growth, the fruit and the blessings that my life has been to others. I have experienced the rest that comes when my heavenly Father has worked His will in my heart and I don’t feel the need to run anymore. My garden is a beautiful reminder that He cares, He notices me and He desires to see me flourish in all that He has for me. In the times of rest, I trust that the next season promises to bring new life and the ability to stand firm in His truths and to see the beauty of His work.
The Well Worn Path
We were camping a few weeks ago up at a beautiful campground just about an hour and a half west in the mountains from where we live in the Springs. It gave us some much needed away time from the business of work, school and well, just life in general. We were so excited to set up camp and enjoy 8 days and 7 nights of fun, food, fishing and a sky filled with millions of stars waiting to be seen.
I was looking forward to being still and conversing with God. I do that best when I have some alone time, so with camera in tow, off I went on an easy hike around the campgrounds. Lots of wildflowers dotted the hillsides. The wind was blowing softly, but just enough to make the flowers dance out of focus of my camera. I would have to wait until the wind shifted or died down to capture the colorful beauties that blew in the wind, while at the same time, dodging the hundreds of ants that were scurrying everywhere I stood. If the world ever collapses in on itself, blame it on the billions of ants undermining the earth beneath us. I have never seen so many ants, but that’s another story for another time way.
In spite of the windy day, I shot some great pictures of flowers, the lake, the mountains and some rocks, but I captured a picture that hit me like a ton of bricks. It was a picture of a well-worn path that lead from the road to a loop of campsites. It was a short-cut, where many campers and pets cut through to get to their sites. On any other day, I would have walked this path myself, not thinking twice about it, but it was as if God himself stood in the path and asked me a question, “Is this your life?” I cocked my head to one side at the question and looked a little closer at the well-worn path.
It was worn down to just sand and gravel. About a one-foot-wide path with wildflowers and grasses on each side. Ants, lots of ants were scurrying back and forth like it was a super highway. There were no trees or shrubs, just a few smashed clumps of grass and maybe a washed out section from the recent summer rain. “How could this compare to my life?” I asked myself. I stepped onto the path and began to ponder what this well-worn path meant to me. With each step, it was like a bright light was showing me the different aspects of the path and how they related to me. Here is what I took away.
I’m too busy. Like the ants scurrying around in every direction, my life tends to be too busy. Yes, the ants have a purpose and even the Bible speaks of their tenacity in their work, but they do take some time to rest, as I should take some time to rest as well.
I let others trample on me. Sometimes I can be a “means to an end” for people. It happens more often than I realize. It’s one thing to be available and a servant, but the more I’m trampled on the better the chance of burnout happening. This applies the other way too, of me using people just to get what “I” need. I need to be valued and purpose to value others.
There’s no growth. God knew what He was doing when he created life on earth. He took 6 days to create such beauty and put man & woman on it to tend it, not just trample it down to bare ground. My life should reflect growth in its season. I don’t want season after season of bare ground in my heart. Allowing time for gratitude and rest is key to allowing growth to happen. When the path is at rest or no one using it, in time the seeds will take root, the flowers will grow, bloom and life will happen. If I choose to keep going up and down the path of business, sure I will get to the other side, but no growth will happen.
But there ARE paths all over my life. When I got to the other side of the path, I turned and looked back at the well-worn path. Over my lifetime, I have left many paths for others to follow in my footsteps. Some are examples of what “not to do,” and others of directions of which way to “go.” Like a road map to avoid the pitfalls of life or how to navigate bad news, or relationships and all sorts of things. My life will have a meaning to my children, my grandchildren, friends, relatives and even strangers that I pass on the path of life, but can they read the map? Are there visible signs that say, “go here,” or “stay out!”
And lastly, Do I welcome others? Our lives are to be lived to the fullest, but I doubt that means all alone. Hiking through the woods, it’s natural to look for a trail. A sign that someone else has walked this way before me. It gives me a direction to go, maybe a glorious sight to see somewhere along the way. If my husband and I are walking together and we come up to this path, I don’t direct him to take another route. The natural thing to do is motion him to come my way and stay together. Too many couples tend to “go their own way” and not venture in life together. While they may arrive at the same destination in time, it’s just better to go together to help each other along the way, to keep from stumbling or just to enjoy the journey together.
So what kind of paths can you turn around and see behind you? Will others be able to follow? Have you worn one path out so much that it’s time to slow down? I hope today you will seek the path that Jesus walked while He was here on earth. He has left us a road map in His Word and is longing for us to share it with Him. For His paths lead to glorious things to see!