A reflection for Lent. A poem for dark nights and valleys of shadows. A prayer for us all.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
This isn’t a carefully written post. It’s more of a “directly from my heart to the screen” post.
I haven’t blogged for weeks now, because I’ve been driving. I set out from Florida on November first and I’ll reach California tomorrow.
When I first thought about this home assignment and the supporters that I wanted to visit I had a strong sense that I was to drive rather than fly this time around. But to be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure that it was what I wanted to do. I spent a lot of time wrestling over the decision. It’s a lot of miles to cover…alone. Flying would be more…convenient.
Yet, the more I prayed about it, the more certain I became that God was telling me two things.
First, I was to trust Him in this.
Second, that this trip was His gift to me.
Nearly two weeks, three thousand miles and more than fifty road hours later I understand just a bit of the gift that He has given me.
I’ve had hours and days of just me and Jesus time. Oh, I’m not always focused on His presence, but I’ve had the opportunity to be with Him in a special way. I’ve had hours in which to pray and converse with my Lord. Further, I’ve never been alone or lonely for He’s been my constant companion.
I’ve gotten to see people that I wouldn’t have seen if I’d had to buy a plane ticket to get to them. And I’ve met people along the way that I never would have met if I’d hopped on a plane. Just a couple of days ago I went for a meal in a place that was fairly full. A couple asked if they could join me at my table and we got to talking. What a joy it was to share with them about God’s work around the world! It was also an answer to my prayer that I have the opportunity to represent the Lord to the people I meet. Only God can arrange that kind of divine appointment, but I had to be willing to trust Him and follow His lead when driving seemed an unconventional choice.
But most of all, this gift to me has been about seeing His beauty scattered abroad. The earth is filled with the glory of the Lord and I’ve gotten to feast on it for weeks now. Every changing landscape is unique in its beauty and each Jesus follower that I have met along the journey bears His radiant image in their own distinctly fashioned way.
Today the lyric by Rich Mullins kept running through my mind…”So much beauty for just two eyes to see, but everywhere I go, I’m looking.”
So as I embark on my final leg toward California, where I will stay awhile before the long drive back to Florida in January, I want to lift up His name with thanksgiving.
I’m grateful that He called me to this journey and gave me this gift.
He is so good to me.
I enjoy gardening. I admit that I have a deep aversion to dirt underneath my fingernails, but armed with a pair of garden gloves I find myself quite happy to dig in the earth.
It’s not the soil that appeals to me, but the combination of beauty and hope. I have a hopeless attraction to beauty hardwired into my soul. Every shade of green leaf, every delicate petal unfurling, every uniquely shaped and vibrantly colored flower speaks to me of the Creator who loves the diversity that joins together in unity to sing His praises.
Gardens are places of beauty, places where many unique creations come together to form a landscape of unified loveliness.
Flowers and butterflies
Birds and Squirrels
Rabbits and Frogs
Lizards and Leaves
Shade and Sun
All these things and many more come together in the garden.
Gardens are places of beauty.
Gardens are places of hope.
When I dig down and place the bulbs in the ground,
when I handle the barren bare root rose to make a home for it in the rich earth,
when I clear the grass and weeds to create a plot of ground,
I am planting hope.
As I plant, I hope for a harvest of beauty. I till the soil longing for the day when tulips and irises and roses and lavender spring from the ground and bring color and fragrance to my little patch of earth.
This morning I read Second Peter in the Message and I found a beautiful image for the gardener in me.
“Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day – but we’ll hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.”
2 Pet. 3:11-13
God has plans for His garden and He has a message for us.
We’re called to plant our hope in Him through the act of Holy living and the focus of Holy attentiveness. We aren’t to be about planting our hope in the soil of this world. It’s going away! There is no hope to be found here. Instead we are eagerly turning toward Him. We’re looking away from the world and toward the Kingdom. We look toward His beauty and are attentive, watching for Him every moment. We know that our hope is even now sprouting forth and that one day it will blossom in full.
Our Lord offers a future hope that we can hold onto, that we eagerly look forward to:
His garden will be landscaped in righteousness.
No more sin. No more shame. No more decay that seeks to extinguish the beauty. No more of those annoying pests that steal into the garden with intent to destroy the plants through their consumption.
A whole new world landscaped in righteousness.
I can’t wait to see it.
Swan on frozen lake
Walking and biking on frozen Lake Bled, Slovenia
In a recent Facebook post I joked about walking on water in reference to walking across a frozen lake. Here I want to talk about a different kind of walking on water; the kind that comes through faith and a vision of Christ. I’d like to introduce my thoughts with a quote from Madeleine L’Engle’s book “Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.”
…there is no denying that the artist is someone who is full of questions, who cries them out with great angst, who discovers rainbow answers in the darkness, and then rushes to canvas or paper. An artist is someone who cannot rest, who can never rest as long as there is one suffering creature in this world. Along with Plato’s divine madness there is also divine discontent, a longing to find the melody in the discords of chaos, the rhyme in the cacophony, the surprised smile in time of stress or strain.
It is not that what is is not enough, for it is; it is that what is had been disarranged, and is crying out to be put in place. Perhaps the artist longs to sleep well every night, to eat anything without indigestion; to feel no moral qualms; to turn off the television news and make a bologna sandwich after seeing the devastation and death caused by famine and drought and earthquake and flood. But the artist cannot manage this normalcy. Vision keeps breaking through and must find expression.
I don’t completely resonate with every sentiment in this quote, because I believe that there is a rest in God that is always available even in middle of the darkest of nights and the most heart-wrenching of questions. I, perhaps, would say that the artist will never cease to wrestle with restlessness, but it’s really just a matter of how I interpret the word rest. Still, even as it is written, I’d be hard pressed to come up with another quote that could so succinctly get to the heart of my life’s journey.
From the time I could wonder why the sky was blue and the grass green my head has been filled with questions. Maybe it is intrinsic to childhood to wonder or maybe it is more particular to those of us born with the heart of an artist. Regardless, I’ve spent a great deal of my life trying to deny the questions, trying to make the world black and white and controllable, but I cannot. Vision keeps breaking through.
Even my earliest memories carry within them a sense that not all was as it should be. It was years later when the Spirit taught me about sin and the fall: creature and creation all distorted and damaged. And it was in Christ that I found the fullness of vision that had ever tapped at the door of my heart.
In salvation I embraced the mystery, but fallen and frail, my flesh has long battled to keep faith bound and vision constrained to the mundane that we call normalcy. But, Praise God, vision keeps breaking through.
It was vision that whispered and needled and coaxed me to see how I aimed too low and dreamed too small. As John Acuff recently wrote, “Journeys where the outcome is already known are not adventures, they’re errands. And you were created to do more than run errands.”
It was vision that toppled my idols and led me to dream a greater dream, for my idols were woefully inadequate in light of the hope of glory. It was this vision that eventually led me overseas, for how could I “make a bologna sandwich” when so many have never heard the hope of Christ? And it was this vision that set me down the path I am currently on, for once confronted with the “disarranged” reality that so many servants of Christ are fighting their battles all alone, how can I ever turn back?
So errands abandoned and questions embraced I press forward. Vision must find expression in the art and faith of my life. I must walk on water eyes fixed on Christ. Nothing else will do.
We’ve been having colder than normal temperatures and moderate snow here in Hungary, but the weather has been severe all across Europe. Today I’m reminded of the need to pray for those struggling with the cold, especially the homeless, those without heat and those cut off from supplies by the storms and heavy snowfalls.
May we, the church, take every opportunity to remember those who are in need.
The trees outside my window – Budafok, Hungary
It began as an ordinary day, full of lists and tasks and routines. But I couldn’t resist His wooing. His hand outstretched, I heard Him asking me, “Can I have this dance?”
How can lists compete with an invitation from the Trinity? From the beginning of time He knew the purpose of this day and I delighted in discovering that this day was made for dancing.
Or as the poem goes…
“I hear my song at last, and I sing it.” And together we dance.
I go among the trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.
Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives awhile in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.
Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live awhile in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.
After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.
Wendell Berry – A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 – Poem I from 1979
For all my good intentions, I fell short of my plan to do a photo post a day in December. Events conspired and I didn’t measure up to my own desires.
Can you relate?
Today is New Year’s Day. The season of fresh starts. New resolutions.
This year I am looking at things through different eyes. I’ve spent the last year studying, learning and growing in the reality of the knowledge that God does not want us to do better and try harder. That’s the message we often tell ourselves. At least that’s the message I often tell myself. But our Savior has a different message for us as we embark upon the journey of 2012.
“Rest in my grace. Live in my strength alone. Give up on trying to ‘be all that you can be’ and sit quietly on my potter’s wheel.
I am in the business of shaping and forming you. And oh my beloved clay, you can’t assist with this process. All your striving won’t produce anything of value. All I ask of you is that you yield to my touch. Give yourself to me and I will make you into the self that I planned before the foundation of time.
Oh, my beloved child, I have such plans for you! I plan to fill you with myself and mold you into a vessel that will pour my very life out into the world.
You will be full. You will be emptied. You will be filled once again. And you will bring me glory.
So give me all your plans. Give me all your desires. Give me all your dreams. Give me all your heart. Don’t hold anything back.
And I will give you myself.
You don’t fully understand it now, but I am your heart’s desire. I am the greatest dream you could ever dream. And my plans for you are so much better for your soul, your own unique self, than any plan you could ever imagine.
So on this New Year’s Day and in every new dawn of every new day that I give, resolve to seek after me with your whole heart, your whole life.
May every other good thing take it’s proper place after me.
May you yield all that you have and all that you are to the forming work of my hands.
Trust me and be amazed, for I make beautiful things.”
As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch
The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.
Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.
The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.
The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.
Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.
We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.
Excerpt from At the End of the Year by John O’Donohue: To Bless the Space Between Us
Today I’m thankful for the little things, the things that bring an unexpected smile to my face just by the virtue of being what they are.
Like this little guy…
Kierkegaard (1813-1855) said,
…if I could prescribe just one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence. For even if the word of God were proclaimed in the modern world, no one would hear it; there is too much noise. Therefore, create silence.
In my time traveling finding silence never came easy. This Advent, finding silence remains a struggle.
Not only is the world around me loud, my own heart is filled with the clutter of competing clatter: noisy thoughts that won’t be still.
And when I do encounter silence, I don’t always find it a comfortable friend. Sometimes silence is a like a yawning chasm, echoing with emptiness, far from inviting.
Yet, it is often into the silence that God speaks.
The psalmist says:
…but I have stilled and quieted my soul. (Psalm 131)
So I stop. And I pray. And I wait, in the silence of a stilled and quieted heart.
And I start to hear the flutter of wings and the arrival of impossible things.
I was sitting on the porch in Avila and a hummingbird arrived, wings beating impossibly fast, too fast to see, too fast even for my camera, a tiny miracle of creation.
And I stop. And I pray. And I wait, in the silence of a stilled and quieted heart.
Today, I am sitting in my home in Budapest marveling at the arrival of impossible news, impossible events, a miracle of redemption.
In the turmoil of a busy, noisy world – in a town overflowing with travelers arriving for census – in a whirlwind of everyday activities and the extra demands of governmental procedures –a sacred moment was born. A woman had stilled her heart and said, “I am the Lord’s servant.” And the impossible came to pass for “nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1)
The impossible was made possible in Christ! What a reason to be thankful today!
In the turmoil of this busy, noisy world – in a season overflowing with social invitations and expectations – in a whirlwind of everyday activities and the extra demands of the holidays – will you prepare to receive the sacred this Christmas? Will you still and quiet your heart to receive His miracle?
After a couple of really busy days I’m back to my thankfulness journal and today I’m thankful for wonder.
When I was a kid, the tide pools at the beach were the epitome of wonder. All the fabulous, unique and colorful ocean creations sparked my sense of awe and that hasn’t really changed much over the years. A starfish or sea anemone still takes me back to that childlike place of amazement.
Here are a couple of photos I snapped of the sea-life attached to the piles under the pier in Avila.
And today as I write this post I am drawn into an even deeper sense of wonder than the mystery of the starfish and sea life. As I listen to Christmas music playing softly in the background I am captivated with wonder at the mystery of the incarnation. How beyond my understanding is the reality that “the Lord of heaven to earth came down”. The thought takes me to a place of stillness and I sit in childlike amazement as I gaze deeply at a love that is far beyond my comprehension.
Have you stopped to ponder the depth of the beauty of the incarnation this Advent season?
What is it that moves you to wonder?
This little lizard captivated me with a deep truth that resonated in my soul, an illustration of many things that I have been pondering lately. I am thankful for his visual illustration of moving toward life.
- - -
He hides, afraid of predators lurking, afraid of pain, afraid of death.
Self-preservation is evidenced as he hunkers down and blends into his surroundings.
Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.
He moves, tentative now, unsure that it is wise, unsure that it is safe.
We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.
The redeemed heart hungers for beauty. But the sword cuts both ways. While our heart grows in its capacity for pleasure, it grows in its capacity to know pain. The two go hand in hand. What, then, shall we do with disappointment? We can be our own enemy, depending on how we handle the heartache that comes with desire. To want is to suffer; the word passion means to suffer. This is why many Christians are reluctant to listen to their hearts: They know that their dullness is keeping them from feeling the pain of life. Many of us have chosen simply not to want so much; it’s safer that way. It’s also godless. That’s stoicism, not Christianity. Sanctification is an awakening, the rousing of our souls from the dead sleep of sin into the fullness of their capacity for life.
And now he stands in all the beauty that is within him, fully alive, fully displayed for the glory of the One who created him and endowed him with splendor.
All things proclaim Him, all things speak. Their beauty is the voice by which they announce God, by which they sing, “It is you who made me beautiful, not myself but you.”
As I continue to record moments from my travels captured in photos…
Today I am thankful for robins,
and the mornings that they always remind me of,
(although I know that will come as a surprise to some of you).
I’m thankful that every new day is a chance to rise and shine for the glory of God.
Buy Andrew’s CD – Carried Along here
This is my thankfulness journal, a record of thanksgiving, that I am blogging about for the month of December. If you want to go back and scroll through these photos of gratitude you can start here.
In the book Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning speaks of the mystic, saying “Those who look beyond the literal see the world as a metaphor for God.”
Today I’m thankful that God created me to be a mystic.
I’m thankful that I see reminders of God everywhere I look.
This image calls to mind the many prophecies of
The One who has come, the One who will yet come again, the very Truth we celebrate this advent.
Here is a tree.
And a wound.
And a sprout.
I know this post will take time to read, but I’d encourage you to take a moment to still and quiet your soul.
Read these verses in the spirit of Advent. Read them aloud if you can.
Celebrate the Promised One.
They abandoned the God who made them and rejected the Rock their Savior. They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God – gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your ancestors did not fear. You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.
The Lord saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. “I will hide my face from them,” he said, “and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful. They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding.”
“See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal…”
Duet. 32:15b-21, 39a
”Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”
Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”
Then he said to Joshua, “See I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”
Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by.
The angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.’”
“’Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.”
”Come, let us return to the LORD, He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us, on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises; he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD – and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.
The moon will shine like the sun and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the LORD binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshipped.
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David and the bright Morning Star.”
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
What about you? Do you have a bit of mystic in you? Today, where are you looking beyond the literal to see God?
Well, I missed posting yesterday, but I was enjoying that for which I wish to express thankfulness: rest.
To illustrate a moment of rest, here’s a picture I took of a seal sleeping on the landing below the pier in Avila.
And as I embraced my day of rest yesterday this song kept playing in my head…
“From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in thee”
Buy David Potter’s music here
Today I’m thankful for play.
In Avila I could sit on the porch or walk on the pier and see the sea-life at play. Otters, seals, sea lions or dolphins would be joyfully frolicking in the waves.
Seals in the Harbor “playing” on a boat
I took this photo one afternoon during my time at the School of Spiritual Direction in Colorado. I am thankful for moments when I can stop and “seek my center,” which honestly is any moment at all. I am thankful that at any point in any and every day I am invited to meet with God in the very depths of my being. He dwells within me and longs to meet with me if I will just still and quiet my soul.
These verses have become the theme and desire of my life these days.
My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, put your hope in the the LORD
both now and forevermore.
As I remember the moment that I snapped this picture in Morro Bay I am thankful for imagination.
I’ll let you in on a secret. From my first visit to Disney (age 3?) I fell in love with Pirates of the Caribbean. Seriously, I couldn’t get enough of the ride. Maybe it was the treasure room full of jewels, but my deeper suspicion is that it was the boat itself.
To this day I still love boats and that peaceful feeling you get bobbing along in calm waters. I don’t even mind the occasional mini-waterfall or speedboat hopping on the waves. The sound of the water, the smell of the sea, it all feeds my sense of adventure; my sense of wonder.
Like this tall ship in the harbor. My head spins stories as I ponder it’s tale. Where has it been? Where is it going? Where will tomorrow’s sunset find it?
So today I give thanks for imagination and tall ships silhouetted in the setting sun.
Today I give thanks to my gracious and generous God, as I remember this moment with thankfulness.
Photos taken at the Avila Barn
Fall always makes me think of God’s great provision for us. Not just in the bounty of good food from the fields, but also bountiful provision in what we needed more than anything. Salvation. Atonement. Forgiveness from sins. Relationship with Him.
God loved us so that He gave us His only Son and He still gives to us every day. He, Himself, is our very great treasure. And from His great love He sows a crop of grace that we reap with joy.
Today’s thankfulness moment is simple. I’m thankful for family. I’m thankful that I got to spend some time with them. And I’m thankful that I got to be in the US for some special moments (like my grandma’s birthday.)
I have this thing about pine trees. I can’t explain it, but pine trees speak peace to me. (I’m also quite fond of Eucalyptus and Aspens, but pines have a special place in my heart.)
This thankful moment comes from my time at Pioneers in Orlando. After spending some time praying with others I spent some time talking to the Trinity. I lay on my back and stared up at the towering pines, the blue sky and the white clouds. And as I breathed in the scent of pine and picked at the pine sap that had taken residence on my elbow I felt deeply thankful for the love of a personal, relational and creative God, maker of pine trees and bumble bees and moments like these.
If you are just joining me from Ann’s link then check out my month of thankful memories starting here.
These are rather ordinary pictures of rather ordinary birds. But these ordinary and uninspiring feathered aviators gave me a reminder for which I’m thankful.
Every time I glanced at any of these birds they were looking up. Every single time I cast my gaze their way their heads were tilted up toward heaven. It was as if they knew the secret of life and hopped by my beach chair to whisper me a reminder. Look up.
I lift my eyes to the hills-
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
So today I express my thankfulness for ordinary little birds who hopped down the beach with a reminder for my soul to “look up.”
I’m back home in Budapest and turning my thoughts toward advent: the celebration of the arrival of Immanuel, God with Us.
I had a wonderful journey this past six weeks, though it was a highly scheduled trip that left little time to do all the things that I wish I could have done. I wish I could have caught up with each one of you. I’m thankful for those of you that I did get to see, however briefly.
And as much as I hated to leave family and friends once more, there is still truth in the saying,
“There’s nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.”
Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
For the rest of the month I’m going to try a “I’m thankful for this moment: Photo a Day” challenge. I didn’t write much in my thankfulness journal while I was traveling, but I have a lot to be thankful for. So I’ll walk through my photo memories and get back into blogging. It’s good to be reminded of the moments and I’d like to share them with you. It would be a blessing if you want to comment and share your thankful moments with me.
To start, here’s another photo from the day our PI crew went to watch the sunrise and have our meeting time at the beach.
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I’m thankful that I had this moment of sunrise, sand and surf. I am thankful that we could worship together and in community discuss the role of suffering in the life of a believer. Nothing knits hearts together quite like shared sorrow. Few things open my heart to hear from God like the beauty of creation proclaiming His glory.
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