He Restores My Soul

6-9 people will sleep in this house each night. The Motorcycle will transport up to 4 people at one time. My world is different from this.

I fell asleep praying and pondering deeply on Psalm 23:3 last night. I awoke praying and pondering the depths of God’s work of restoration when I let him. I think somehow I prayed and pondered in my sleep…is that possible?  I’m quite sure His remake is quite different and beyond what I have in mind. Like the picture above we might be asking for a bigger bike when our house needs a rebuild.

new house
A brand new house in Guatemala

 

On this day of thanksgiving (our american set aside holiday to mostly over-eat), May we say “The Lord is my Shepherd” and allow his remake process to be happening in our lives.

Our team built a new house for a family. Great as it was for them, it’s only a house. Oh the undiscoverable depths God wants to build restoring our soul.

Now that’s something to be thankful for. My personal challenge: Give someone else a reason to be thankful today.

Gary

 

 

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A Reason To Journal.

I re-read this often. You will get the gist. 100 years from now this may matter to someone.

Dad

When I sit to write in my own journal, I often think of you because you first introduced me to journaling. You let me read one of your entries once and I loved the little bits of personality and the depth it allowed me to see in you. I loved the wisdom it so clearly showed all laid out there in your own hand. It showed me that journaling was a valuable and even cool thing to do. It has since been invaluable to me. A means to get my thoughts all out where I can see them and sort through what makes sense and what doesn’t. Sometimes just having to put enough thought into it to form the words was the valuable part. I love that I now have pages to look back at and see the path my own learning has taken so far in life. It leaves a bit of legacy to perhaps share pieces with my own daughters someday down the road.

So, thank you and keep those pages coming, hope this will come in handy.

Love …(and signed by my oldest daughter)

Just a small glimpse of some of my past

Journal entry 1eml

In no particular orderJournal entry 2eml

Journal entry 3eml

Journal entry 4eml

Fair warning, discipline is required but the pay off is immeasurable. Please share your good thoughts.

Gary

PS: for some tips on approaching journaling, Mitch Teemley has some good suggestions. Check it out.  https://mitchteemley.com/2018/10/15/journaling-for-life-2/                                Also, Read Davids comment below…Again, journaling is worth the discipline for the long haul!

 

And We, Like the Bee. Maybe

Sun Set on Soybeans emllessons from a Battered Bumble Bee

Bumble Bee eml

The sun was setting, it was close to dark. I was walking to the house after taking sunset pictures that were odd colored when I noticed a bumble bee on a fall flower. I took a full one second time exposure to capture the light and the bee. An OK picture I thought, but I could not see everything. Sometimes we just do not see the whole picture unless we stop and see. Really see.

Battered Bumble Bee

For the bee this is as good as it gets.  

A bee, clinging to a flower when it should have been in the hive. Old, torn wings, badly wounded leg and foot and feeding late into the evening. A bee on it’s last feeding perhaps? We all end up in tough shape if we live a long life.

This is how good it can get…

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35)
 But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Revelation 21:16)
The promise that came to me as I walked into the house: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. (Matthew 11:28)

Gary

When it Rains

Plans are changed, priorities shuffled and lifes pictures may seem gloomy. We unknowingly booked a vacation for a hotspot of flooding, flash flooding, plenty of power outages and more rain on the way. Yes, the storms even come without warnings or disclaimers. That’s not fair!

Do you know how many camera clicks it take seems to capture a raindrop? Especially repositioning for a raindrop with it’s reflection. That’s ok (not really), I had time (about that). I’m on vacation! (can I get a do-over?)

 

Maybe God helps us pause, prioritize, reposition and see the reflections of our lives to gain what He wants in and for us.

I honestly did not think much of our vacation condo deck or it furniture. I sense that sometimes I am like the old deck wood; old and useable but warped with a few spots that hold water and have some rot. Maybe I am even more like the warped plastic table that cannot even shed water and am drowning in the rains of life.

But, maybe God wants to show his kind of beauty in my life in strange ways. Strange like the blue air in the pictures below after the rain.  Click to enlarge and scroll through the pictures. 

 

Just maybe, God knows I am planted in the crevice of a rock and I need a lot of rain in my life to stay alive and grow. Whatever the reasons for life changing storms and torrents of rain, God is the one who knows what He is doing. In trusting Him I hope when others look at my life, they see reflections of life and hope. Reflections, if only partial or broken up, of Jesus.

After all, if an old warped cheap plastic table can reflect a beautiful image of a tree, could I not in some small way reflect the character of Jesus if I stay close to him?

If a small tree can sink it’s roots into a rock and survive the seasons of life, Could my soul not thrive on the feast available in God’s word?

If some lowly outdated warped deck boards way past their prime can still hold water enough to reflect what is around them after the rain for awhile, I suspect God can still use me somehow as I get older and less useful by human standards.

Sometimes God waits till “after the rain” to speak to us. If you are like me, I am not ready to hear or listen until the rain has passed.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Gary

Your insightful thoughts and comments are greatly encouraged!

Just a Worship Thought

Rocks Cry eml

 

 Luke 19:37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

 Isaiah 55:12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

 Habakkuk 2:11 For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond.

Fire lake
Some places are gonna be loud!

Gary

To DeClutter Life

Clutter before God title 1
Psalm 1: What will be standing in my life when someday I stand before the almighty God? You and I will watch all that is seemingly important fall away.

I watched a leaf fall off a tree this morning, before it’s time, yet not I thought. but Fall is a ways off when leaves die and clutter the ground.

It was 50 degrees (f) on the screen porch where I sat with a bible and a cup of coffee. The hummingbirds were scolding me for being close to “their” flowers and feeders for a backdrop in my morning meet with God. In the distance a Rooster pheasant crowed to add reverence with a dozen song birds chirping in.
I had just had a conversation with my neighbor about decluttering our garages, storage sheds and so many extras. This morning I was reminded to think about decluttering my spiritual life. The to do lists, priorities and even not taking my own thoughts and views seriously unless they really come from God. This is serious stuff when an outdoorsman begins to pray for a smaller boat!

I had opened my Bible to Psalm 1. “Lord I want to be like the tree” I prayed. “Please help me declutter my life from the unimportant”.

I drew out a rough illustrated rendition of the psalm 1 version of  the two things that could happen to each of us when we stand before God. That day is coming. It will happen.  Add your comments to make it personal…Some great insights from fellow bloggers. Makes me feel like a lion in a den of Daniels.

Check out a very insightful comment below from parishdynamics . Also check out some great insight from InnerDialects written from a half a world away prompted by this blog and the concept of decluttering.

Clutter t eml
This is my own little book with blank pages ment for scribbles and bits of wisdom potential. It’s a kind of sort of journal that works for me.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

 Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

 

GARY

 

A Time to Tell

It’s a story that needs telling. Maybe some stories are sacred enough to leave for the telling in eternity. Maybe some can be told as a teaser for story time a hundred years from now. I will leave most things out but you will get the gist.

sunset in the storm eml
  Ominous sunset with a storm coming. I wonder what clashing spiritual forces look like? 

A while after moving to a strange place, with hardly an acquaintance, my wife casually mentioned to me she had an aunt (I had never met) living in the same small town where we lived. Odd situation I guess. Auntie didn’t like any of us or care to meet but she had cancer and was not long for this world. My wife had never felt moved to get to know auntie until now. “I’m going to visit her starting tomorrow” she announced “and she probably will not want to see me”. 

My wife found her address,  knocked on her door and when the door opened a crack with a “What do you want” greeting, she was quick to stick a foot in the door and let auntie know who’s daughter she was, that she wanted to visit and she brought a few cookies. Auntie took the cookies and shut the door.

This went on for awhile until my wife made it inside the door to talk a little longer and visit with one cold old bitter women. Seems Auntie didn’t need sympathy, prying relatives and even rejected her own children half the time. Auntie had no time for prayer or anything to do with God.

Auntie believed that when one dies, that’s it. No after life, no purpose to life, no God, nothing. Burn the body and get rid of the ashes.

In all this, my wife seemed more and more confident that God was pushing her from a weekly visit over time to daily visits by the time Auntie went into the hospital. “She needs someone” my wife kept saying. The nurses drew straws (they actually did) to see who had Auntie duty. Auntie was not a nice lady and even refused to let her grandchildren visit her. She did not want to even know their names or see their faces. When my wife or her  grown children would visit, Auntie would pretend to be asleep. If they tried to hug her she would say “You may shake my hand”. My wife would not ask. She would hug her anyway. Gradually her stiffening at hugs became less like hugging a wooden board.

My wife would sing hymns and read Auntie bible passages about knowing Jesus when Auntie would pretend to be sleeping. Some days Auntie would actually talk to her. She would not let any clergy see her or anyone pray with or for her.

A few days before Auntie died, My wife felt moved to ask her if she could pray for her. Auntie said “I suppose it would be OK”. My wife thanked Jesus for dying for all the things that separated us from God. She prayed the whole plan of salvation as she had been reading to Auntie in the bible. She prayed for Auntie to just believe in Jesus. If she would just believe. When she was done Auntie said something no one had heard from her lips in a very long time, “Thank you”. Then she went to sleep and My wife went home.

The next day some of Aunties kids said to my wife “What did you do to her?” Alarmed my wife said “I prayed with her, why?”

Auntie spent the last few days of her life smiling, thanking nurses and asking to meet her grandchildren. Hugs happened and Auntie was a different person. Auntie never acknowledged praying with my wife or believing in Jesus but there isn’t any other evidence to explain the complete change from an angry and bitter old dying women to a sweet little old cancerous women in pain. She was not getting more morphine. She actually seemed to be living beyond the pain drugs. She died much happier than she had lived most of her life.

“All I did was do what I felt God was telling me to do” says my wife.

My wife and I thought God had relocated us from family, friends and great fishing lakes for a job and better income. Now we are thinking God had far bigger things in mind. It’s very possible that God moved my wife here and gave me a job while He was at it.

  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord  “As the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

Gary

Please comment below, thanks

A Sunset Reminder

I want to share last evenings sunset from our front door to you. I put the light meter on the sun so the camera would soak up the color as we see it live. Slow the speed for saturation, No filters, cropping or color enhancement. As is.

Below is a progression. 10 shots of the same sun over a period of seven minutes. all moving parts of color, lighting, framing, clouds and the sun dropping to the horizon.

See the slide show by clicking on a picture and follow the arrows. What do you see and feel in a sunset? Are you ready for each days sunset? Sometimes I am.

My Prayer: “lord God , I am in awe of your beauty. I want all things to be right between you and I, my family and fellow man. I don’t know when I will behold my last sunset. I am eternally grateful for your greatest Sonrise!”

Gary

Monday Worship

Morning reflection eml
Monday morning, a balmy 40 degrees Fahrenheit  on the screen porch

When I can, which is most days, I approach the author and creator of this universe boldly on our screen porch (or the breakfast table inside). The loud traffic outside comes from hundreds of birds excited over a few patches of ground showing up in the snow (and three birds I have named Martha 1,2 and 3 fighting over a single bird house. I listen and worship today from the book of James. So much peace, joy and worship comes from this screen porch. I suspect someday some will want to ban screen porches.

Where is your place of worship? We all worship something or someone everyday.

Morning Reflections shadow eml
Praising God and reflecting on his word. When hard times (which we see) and God’s goodness (only God sees) collide, we are never the same. We are Gods masterpiece created in Christ Jesus (EPH 2:10) 

Dressed for the occasion in my wilderness wool, blue jeans and moccasins. It is finally above freezing and the screen porch is a great meeting place with my Lord and savior Jesus Christ for now. I am competing with scores of upland song birds vivaciously singing at the top of their lungs. Sometimes God may enjoy their unabashed worship more than mine. Oh that God would melt the snow patches on my own heart and in that melted puddle reflect his glory.

What or who do we reflect?

Woods Reflection spring eml
Morning reflections from the woods as the snow melts. The suns reflection  is noticeably absent

I Pray that the light of Jesus is not absent in the reflections of my life.

James 1:22-24   

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  

I’m looking forward to the eternal display of those masterpieces!

Please add your thoughts as well. Thanks for reading.

 Gary

Weathering Expectations

 

Snow Robin 2cp eml
A sure sign of spring but a few hours later….

It’s supposed to be spring. It’s supposed to be 30 degrees warmer. I should be getting my boat ready for the fishing opener in three weeks. I could go on a longer rant but a couple of pictures will tell the story. This is a huge storm and they happen. It will keep happening for another day says the weather forecaster. Cars are guessing where the road is and hundreds of people are guessing wrong from reports.. Lives are being lost. Maybe it’s just a human condition to ignore messages we don’t want to hear.

 

snow deep ed eml
Is there a “Footprints in the snow” poem?
snow blowing cp eml
This is why the baseball game was canceled

Right now as I write and look out the window, it’s only the weather. It’s bad but it will go away. A few million people are affected but it will pass. I’m disappointed in my expectations but it’s supposed to be spring. I’m not alone but that knowledge is only helping us stay home.

It’s been a day to lay some of life’s expectations on the table for me. It seems there has been quite a margin of error on my part between what is supposed to happen and what really happens as the years roll by. I think I am less accurate than the weather forecasters. I thought this snow was supposed to miss us. I guess I listened to the wrong station.

After six decades of hoping  for life’s expectations I have some disappointments. I should be in better shape physically, make more money at this age, be more prepared for retirement, have more friends around me,  live closer to family and help take care of dad. I guess I thought I would become “More” as a person than I have. There is more, way more but I can’t somehow put those cards on the table yet. Life is often filled with false or unrealized expectations.

There is one message I have not ever regretted following

One pursuit that I have vowed to follow from age 15 throughout my life. I pursue an intimate relationship and daily walk with God. My Creator, Savior, Comforter, Sustainer, Guide, King and Friend for eternity is who I listen to and follow. Yes, I have the expectation of living eternally with God. I am way more sure of the fulfillment of this expectation than any weather forecast. I have experienced His presence, blessings, guidance, peace and even His love for those I naturally wouldn’t. My wife and I talk often of the evidence of God and his hand on us throughout our life together.  The evidence stack is really high. I believed 1 john 5:11 This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is found in his Son.

Conclusion: Believe the right source. Let God design life’s priorities and expectations. Trust God forever. Completely trust God’s revelation to us. There are even real and powerful witnesses. Here is a quick sample.

2 Peter 1:16

 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

 Gary

PS I will be taking a wilderness canoe trip in may (5 weeks?) and the ice on the lakes is over 3′ thick yet. I still have summer plans and expectations (and the BWCAW permit to show for it). The canoe is ready…see!  It’s dark and still snowing and I should have put shoes on, but it’s just for one picture.Canoe 4eml