Monday, November 14, 2016

Blossom Abundantly

When we were all a bit younger and first began to dream of our futures, we had all of our life plans mapped out. We knew exactly where we would attend college and what our dream job would be. We made lists of the qualities our mate would possess. We dreamed of the children we would have, when we would have them, and what we would name them. We knew how many grandkids would run around at family functions. And, we had planned for that house on the beach for retirement. At least I planned for the beach house! get the picture. Yes, it's important to dream. To plan. To look ahead. "Where there is no vision, the people perish" Proverbs tells us.  Of utmost importance is to seek the Lord's plans and see where He is working. Ask Him what we should do...or not do. When we listen, He gives us guidance through His Word, through Godly people, and the nudging of the Holy Spirit.

Sounds easy. Right? Just follow the steps. One. Two. Three. Hmmm. Not really. You see, we head down those paths...the ones that we are so sure the Lord has directed us to follow, and somehow...sometimes suddenly...things don't go like they were supposed to. "Wait. What's going on here God? This isn't what I...errr, I mean, we planned. This isn't my dream. This isn't the way it was supposed to happen."

"The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
 the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
 it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing."
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭35:1-2‬ a ESV‬‬
If you're like me, you stop and say "OK, Lord. What now?" In James it tells us "if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God". It goes on to say that He gives generously...lavishly...abundantly...and that the wisdom we ask for will be given to us.

What I've come to realize is that even though it seems as if I might be in the middle of what the world around me would characterize as a desert, my life can still bloom for Him. My life may not look like I had planned.  I may not be where I thought I would be or doing what I thought that God had planned for me.

However, He has allowed me to be in this place...and He is still with me. The surroundings may look a bit different than I imagined and originally dreamed, but I can still blossom. And even blossom...abundantly.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Daddy's Comfort

When in the middle of something you think you can't do, or just don't want to deal with, it's pretty difficult to realize that any good will ever come from it...or that you will even be able to do it. Take for instance that high school biology bug collection. Ewwww. No way was I going to look for bugs, let alone catch them. Yuck. And then, kill them? Not squishing them, which is what I wanted to do, but killing them so you could display them. What?? That meant I might have to touch them. Oh my. My heart still palpitates thinking about it. You know what? I got it done. And survived!!

What about learning to drive the three on a tree pickup truck?  "Daddy, I can't."  But I did. What about dealing with losing Momma. I was only eighteen. I was too young. "I can't do this." But I did.

The "I can'ts" are what tries to slip out of my mouth every time something that appears too hard for me. Those are the times when memories from my Daddy flood my mind. He would always tell me "Gayle Marie, can't never got nothing done!" If he said that to me once, he said it a thousand times!!

My Daddy was an encourager. He was so gentle and kind. He always would see the best in me...even when I didn't. Daddy wanted me to realize that it was all in my attitude. The way I perceived the situation. A decision. A choice. When I wanted to say "I can't", he would always whisper "you can."

Of course, what my Daddy was quietly teaching me was exactly the same lesson my Heavenly Daddy teaches me...every day. Those were hard things. Tough things. Things I didn't want to have to do. But my Daddy comforted me. He walked beside me. He encouraged me. He prodded me when the "I can'ts" reared their ugly head.

So does Abba Daddy. He's right here. All the time. When sickness comes that I don't understand, He whispers ever so sweetly to me "Gayle, you can do this. If you'll trust Me, you'll be just fine." When a marriage of 27 years falls apart, He is right there saying "you can" even before I have the opportunity to utter I can't. When your grandsons become ill and you can't make it all go away, He gently speaks to my heart "it will all be ok".  Even when I don't understand how, I trust He can.

You know what? He's right. When I choose to trust Him. When I choose to go to the Word. When I choose to surround myself with friends that will point me to Him. When I choose to say "I can...with His help".

This is the ever so sweet part about it all. He doesn't make me do it all alone. In Psalm 40 verse 2 (NLT) it says "He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along." ‭Not only does He pull us out of the pit, He steadies us as we walk along!! How exciting is that? And, to top it off, He brings others alongside us who have experienced similar things. They relate accounts of the Lord being and continuing to be, faithful to them. How He comforted them. How Abba Daddy walked beside them. And, they sweetly whisper to me that He will comfort me with the same comfort He gave them as He wrapped them in His arms. When my marriage crumbled, He surrounded me with friends who truly understood. They had been there. Felt the same hurts. Rejection. Loneliness. As the diagnosis of cancer bombarded me, not only did He whisper sweet encouragement and hope to me, but he also brought a great friend alongside me who had walked through cancer ten years earlier. She walked, and continues, to walk with me even now.

The decision in front of me each of those times was to choose to run straight to Him and allow His comfort and the comfort of precious friends and family to engulf me, or choose to be hard and bitter. I'll take Abba Daddy's comfort any day!! He has steadied me every step of the way these past few years after pulling me from those pits. And, you know what? I've been able to share the same comfort with so many others that He has lavished on me. Isn't God good like that? Using something that was a rough season for me to encourage someone else.

I'm quite certain there will be more days ahead where "I can't" wants to spill out of my mouth. However, I can be certain by pondering all the experiences when I chose "I can" and reflect on the times of being in my Daddy's arms, everything will be all right.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort from which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Corinthians 2:3-4

Sunday, September 18, 2016

He stills...


Besides my patio, my other happy place is the beach. The feel of the sand beneath my feet. The warmth of the sun on my cheeks. The salt air breeze blowing my hair. The sound of the waves. Ahhh... My heart smiles just thinking about it. I could sit on the beach for hours on end, day after day, and never tire of it.

Watching the waves roll in and roll back out just fascinates me. Some of the waves are slow and gentle. Some are loud and crashing. Sometimes a few shells wash up with the water. Often a shell or two gets carried back to the depths of the sea. Once in a while, I'll see a crab or jellyfish wash ashore. The grains of sand shift and the patterns in the sand change with each and every wave that rolls in and back out.

That's how life is as well. It is constantly changing. We never seem to know what will wash up into our lives. The things that roll out are out of our control. Patterns and plans change and restructure more often than we can keep up with.

While things seem so uncertain to us, the same God that orchestrates the crashing of the waves and designs the intricate patterns of sand is the same God who has a Master plan for us as well. Just as He stills the roaring of the waves, He stills the tumults of our hearts.

In Psalm 65:7, it tells us that He stills the roaring of the waves and the tumults of the people. Why? Verse 8 says "so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs." ‭

My heart could be in full blown tumult and chaos at any given time if I let it! It doesn't take much sometimes for my mind and heart to run away on a crazy rabbit trail!! That's when I have to make a conscious choice to keep them reigned in, and choose to let Him keep my mind and heart on Him.

Several have asked how I've been able to stay so positive over the last few years. It's all because He calms the "tumultuous seas" of my heart. When I get fretful of the next "jellyfish" that might wash ashore or the next beautiful "shell" that rolls just out of reach, He stills my heart because I choose to let Him still me. And maybe, just maybe, because of that, those who dwell at the ends of the earth...and those close beside me...will be in awe of Him.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sweet Quiet Retreat

quiet clouds
Bright, happy, sunshiny mornings are my favorite. When I wake up, I'm always happiest if it's a sunny day!! First thing, I open the blinds so I can allow the morning rays to shine inside. Better yet, when it's not already 100 degrees out there, I go out on the patio and soak up a bit of that sunshine and sometimes catch a light breeze while spending some time reading His love letter to me.

My patio has a table and a few chairs and is surrounded by a cozy little yard, so I often spend time out there. My favorite mornings are when the birds are already singing and catching their worms for breakfast! There is a pair of doves that live in my neighborhood and they are almost always cooing love songs to each other. Then, there is a sweet little family of bunnies that are usually munching on a bit of grass. I can hear the cows lowing in the pasture just across the way from me. The sights, the sounds, the smells...ahhh. I'm just a country girl at heart, so it refreshes me. 

Then...there is the evening in my happy place. I don't cook as much as I used to since my girls are grown, but I still love to grill. On the corner of my patio sits my well used, half worn out BBQ grill.  My daddy taught me many years ago how to start a charcoal fire.  I love the flavor of the food when it's cooked over charcoal and it's still my favorite way to grill.

This is the time of day, when I'm winding down, watching the charcoal burn and waiting for it get to the just right gray color, listening to the chorus of crickets and frogs, that I get ready. My favorite Artist is about to take out His paintbrush and begin His daily masterpiece.

The sun starts dipping low on the horizon. One of the most beautiful displays of His artistry is being painted right before my very eyes.  The Creator Himself is creating another one of a kind sunset...a true display of His glory.  Creation once again shouting out of the Creator   There aren't enough named colors in my vocabulary to describe all the hues of blues, purples, pinks, and oranges on display before me.  Wow! Just as quickly as it starts, it's done.  Ahhhh...

But wait. The brilliant sky begins to fade and transition from purple to a dark blue. A gentle breeze plays with a few wisps of your hair. When you think His glory is all done for the night, you get a glimpse out of the corner of your eye. You see a twinkle. And then another. And another. Then your heart skips a beat because you realize He is hanging the stars in their places and putting the moon right on course to travel across the night sky!  

That's when I do most of my thinking. As I watch the night skies, I wonder how He did it. It amazes me that with just a few words, He spoke it all in to existence. He put the heavens exactly in order. God Himself, the Creator of those beautiful tapestries of daily sunsets, is such a God of details that He is also the same God who provides breakfast for my family of bunnies and my pair of doves.

The same God is the One who provides for me. And for you. In the book of Matthew in the Bible, Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear. His Father clothes the flowers and He feeds the birds of the air.

"Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?"  Matthew 6:26-30 NLT    

In Psalm 23, the author, David, tells us that "The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need." (Psalm 23:1 NLT) Sigh. Such comfort floods over me in knowing I have all I need to live, survive, and even thrive in this world.  

My patio is a place of sweet quiet retreat for me. Yes, there is rambunctious laughter and picnic lunches when the grandsons are over. There is endless chatter when my girlfriends are visiting. It becomes a makeshift dance floor when my honey is in town.  But is my place to think. To read the Word. To pray. To marvel at Him. To dream. To ponder. Grab some iced tea, some coffee...or like me, a Diet Dr Pepper...and join me as I share my ponderings with you.    

Welcome to PATIO Ponderings!