“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Worth The Trip


As we got closer it seemed as if the 2 hour side trip wouldn't be what we expected.  Anticipating beautiful scenery that had been photographed and enticed us to go out of our way, we were hoping for more.  Trying to joke it off and make the best of it, we conceded that when we had visited Yosemite the beauty had popped out of nowhere and so hoped that this wonder of God would do the same.

The Painted Hills of Oregon.  We arrived and realized why they were called hills... and not mountains.  Waiting for something majestic... we settled in to see what we could salvage of the trip.


Anthony's photography has put him on a treasure hunt.  Hunting for the wonders of God.  And although there is a lot of downtime for Christopher and me while we wait for the perfect photo... we have come to appreciate the beauty of nature in a new way.  Looking at how the sun kisses a snowy mountain.  Or how a tree frames a view of a lake.  Or the intricacies of a leaf.  We have become hunters ourselves... just without the camera.


And so as we drew closer to the painted hills we began to see the depth of the colors and contrasts of the textures and the symmetry of the layers of the hills.  And it was as if we just needed to get closer to have all these things revealed to us.  We needed to be drawn to the hills.  We needed to take the drive out of our way.  We needed to get closer.  We needed to stand still.  And we needed to look. 

And there it was... the beauty was revealed... slowly at first, but then completely.  We had never seen anything like it.  And the longer we stayed... the more we saw... and appreciated.  Not wanting to leave but to bask in the beauty.  Knowing we would want to come back one day... because after all... it was worth the trip.


And as I pondered how we had gone out of our way... and at first thought we were disappointed... but then to see the beauty revealed... reminded me of how I experience God.  There are times when I start to read my Bible and it seems distant and not quite worth the time.  But as I draw deeper into the word and continue reading and waiting and looking... it is then when God reveals Himself to me.  And I begin to see the wonders in His Word.  And I begin to see the colors and textures and layers that are intricately painted on the pages of my Bible... and I am amazed... in awe... of the wonders of God.

It is as if the beauty of His love is revealed... slowly at first, but then completely.  And the longer I read... the more I experience Him... and appreciate Him.  And soon realize that I do not want to leave but to bask in His beauty.  Knowing I would want to come back the next day... because after all... it is worth the trip.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Authenticity

photography by Anthony
Paulina's Peak, Oregon

During our trip to Sunriver in June of 2008, we decided to take some time to explore the nature around us. For those of you unfamiliar with central Oregon, it is highlighted with desert and volcanic rock. We decided to climb (okay, drive) to the top of Paulina's Peak. I noticed tan rocks, green trees, blue water, and white snow. But no other colors... until I looked down.

Authenticity

And there, I saw it... authenticity... it had a beautiful pinkish-magenta color. Here a seed had settled amongst the rocks... on the edge... and decided to bloom... where it had landed. It didn't wait to be picked up and nurtured in a nursery. It didn't hang on until someone gathered it up and took it from this dry and barren place. It didn't offer excuses as to why it shouldn't bloom here. It just did. No one sat around and thought.... "Gee, that plant is just showing off." Or "Doesn't that plant know that it will not be noticed here?" Or "What made that plant presume that it could just go ahead and bloom where others have failed to do so?"

I often find myself thinking that I have no right to presume to share from the depths of who I am. I mean, really, who do I think I am? Do I think that I am special? That my words might offer relief to someone? Or they might bring comfort? Who do I think I am...

And then I looked down... and realized that, I am authentic. There I am. Blooming where it might be unexpected. But afraid to show it. Thinking that perhaps I will appear that I think "I know it all." So, I withhold words of wisdom, comfort, love... why? Because I don't want to assume or offend or be rejected.

That's me. That's who I am. Authentic. Sometimes, I am afraid to let my light shine... but as God is liberating me from my fears, I would pray that He uses me in your liberation, too.



Previously posted this remix from the original.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Creating Beauty, Again... and Again

It is already forgotten... the rain... the dreary... the cold... because today there is sun and blue sky and warmth in the air and every color in the rainbow spectrum.  And I have been spending most of my day on my patio.  And it reminded me of this previous post and that I need to create beauty especially when I have a hard time seeing any at all.

September 20, 2007

In the Garden


Okay, so I've been a little melancholy lately. I decided to give you a break from my grieving. I know you can benefit from it, but sometimes we need to think about beautiful things, right?


On Saturday, I had my quiet time in the garden. I've started a Beth Moore study, Beloved Disciple, and I had some journaling to do for my grief class homework (oops, there I go, again). Plus, I had an e-mail that a friend had forwarded to me with a devotion on gardening. She was so cute! She said, "Ok, I promise I won't only think of you in terms of gardening and won't continue to bombard you with e-mails about gardening. But thought you might have some kindred spirits here." Please, keep thinking of me in terms of gardening! Whatever draws me closer to the Lord!


Anyway, I took extra time to prepare my solitary place. And I realized I was creating beauty. I brought out extra candles. I poured my lemon-flavored Dasani bottled water into a glass. I pulled out the zucchini muffins I had made - heated them - and placed them on a darling little dessert plate and surrounded it with sliced apples. I really started getting into it when I moved two of my Willow Tree angels outside. Prayer and Good Health.


As I sat down to read the devotion my friend had sent me, I could barely read through the tears. Here was a devotion on gardening which was on beauty!
Beauty has been defined as, "things that please us when seen." But why do certain things please us? No answer satisfies me. Perceptions of beauty, I suppose, are instinctive, intuitive, and inexplicable. I know beauty when I see it and that's about all I can say.

The pleasure of beauty, however, is transient. All of us, I believe, have had the experience of finding something exquisitely beautiful and then discovering one day that it no longer pleases us. Beauty is not end in itself, but points beyond itself to something better and more beautiful.

...The beauty of holiness, on the other hand, is "unfading."[1 P
eter 3:4] That encourages me a good deal.



There is other encouragement here: Through the beauty of holiness we may become the means by which others are drawn to God who is the source of all goodness and beauty. Peter puts it plainly, "Live such good (beautiful) lives among unbelievers that…they may see your good (beautiful) deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us" (1 Peter 2:12). - David Roper
So, my challenge to you today is to create beauty for yourself. Yes, it will take a little extra effort, but think about how it will change your outlook on today... and tomorrow. You know, if it would help, why don't you come over and visit my garden?



Monday, June 21, 2010

An Addiction to Freedom


In the future, when your son asks you, 
"What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws 
the LORD our God has commanded you?" tell him... 
The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, 
so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. 
And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, 
as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness."  
Deuteronomy 6:20-25

I don't know how to parent a tween... HE'S GOING INTO MIDDLE SCHOOL!   So I do what I normally do when I don't know what to do... I read a book.  I recently happened upon the book For Parents Only by Shaunti Feldhahn.  An insightful book written for parents of teens... and tweens.  Great detail is discussed about our children's desire... almost addiction... for freedom.  Their need to pull away from their parents... and ultimately... their parents' rules. 

We have tried to be consistent with our parenting... often reminding Christopher why he needs to learn obedience.  Not because it makes a parent's life any easier... but because we want him to learn how to be obedient to the Lord as he continues to grow in our home... and then on his own. As he has grown older we have begun to share with him a lot of the "whys" of our parenting... especially when it is "no."  Still he presents his case... and we express that the guidelines and boundaries we have established are for his benefit.  Sometimes... reason just does not matter to a tweenager.

As I have been studying Experiencing God this week, I have been reading about the relationship between God's love for me and His commands.  How His commands are for our good... and how his guidelines are used to help us experience His love for us.
That is the purpose of God's commands.  He wants you to receive life and have it abundantly.  When the Lord gives you a command, He is trying to protect and preserve the best He has for you.  He does not want you to lose it.  When God gives a command, He is not restricting you.  He is freeing you. ~ Experiencing God
And I think of all the times when I thought that the commands that God has given were to restrict me... and now to think of them as freeing me.  Freeing me to live the life that He has set aside for me.  Freeing me so that I might prosper... and have abundant life.
 
I think of all the times I have stomped my feet and not wanted to hear His "no"... and especially not His reasons for His "no"...  and I begin to see where I fight my Heavenly Father to gain my freedom from Him and His commands... And you know what?  He'll let me have my freedom.  I've had it all along.  And I'll rush off and try to do things my way.  And I'll experience the things that He has been trying to protect me from all along... And then one day I wake up and realize that He really does love me... and wants to protect me... and He does that by giving me commands... that I obey for my benefit.    
 
That I obey for my benefit.  For my own good.  Wow... and I thought parenting a tweenager was hard...
 
...what does the LORD your God ask of you but 
to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, 
to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 
and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today 
for your own good
 
Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Saturday, June 19, 2010

But I will give this name to the Lord:
" You are the Lord God who is my sun."

 For the Lord God is our sun... Psalm 84:11

No kidding... the weather here is front page news.  It has been the wettest June EVER in Portland... and well, that's saying a lot... considering that this is Portland... and that we still have 10 days left in the month.

I've been grumbling.  I admit it.  The dreary weather is not my friend.  Although my friends who are getting a daily dose of sun with extra heat and humidity console me by saying that they WISH they could trade with me... they really wouldn't.  The lack of sun is not good for us.  We need that daily dose of vitamin D... compound it with my thorn of depression... and it just ain't pretty.

Trust me.  I don't sit idly by and allow the weather to control me.  I've been making sure to exercise... eat healthy (okay... healthier)... sit under my artificial sun lamp... stay in The Word... and confide in a few about how I am really doing.  I realize that I have been limiting my communications... including blogging... because my insecurity meter is way high.

I kept thinking that... I've been here before and even blogged about it.  So, I found the post... and here is an excerpt...
I decided to pray about this. Well, I started off complaining... and then just begging... for some sun... for a little warmth... maybe even a little humidity.
And I felt the Lord asking, "Sheri, can you trust me on this? Will you let me be all that you need?" Well, sure... I'll trust you, Lord. You have always been faithful to me.

The next day, I receive my daily e-mail from the national radio station, K-Love. It is always a Bible verse that is meant to encourage. June 4, 2008...

For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. ~ Psalm 84:11, NLT
I'm thinking... you've got to be kidding? Perhaps only this version of the Bible uses the word "SUN." So, I search and find that every version I look at uses the word SUN. Still, in disbelief... I decide to look up the verse in Hebrew. Not that I can read Hebrew, but I can research if the actual word that had been translated would have been SUN. And sure enough, it was the word SUN.

Why is this so important and dear to me? Because in God's Word, it tells me that God will supply for all my needs. Is God truly all I need? Yes, He is even the SUN to me.

I am learning to be content in all situations and I have started to thank God for the lack of SUN because it teaches me to truly depend on Him for all that I need.
As soon as I pray, you answer me;
you encourage me by giving me strength.
~ Psalm 138:3, NLT
And, again, I find myself thanking the Lord for the lack of sun... painful, but true.  Which all fits with my current study, Experiencing God.  This week we are learning about "Knowing God by Experience" and reviewing all the different names of God.  Because when God was given a name... it meant that someone had experienced Him as such.

[Hagar] gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: 
"You are the God who sees me," for she said, 
"I have now seen the One who sees me." Genesis 16:13

So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. 
And to this day it is said, 
"On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." Genesis 22:14 

And today... it is dreary.  But I will give this name to the Lord:  " 'You are the Lord God who is my sun.'  I have experienced you as such.  Even when the bright yellow orb decides to hide behind the clouds... You are with me.  You are faithful... and I will praise You."


p.s. For more information on how to help a loved one who is struggling with depression, 
stop by this recent article by Focus on the Family. 

p.p.s. What's funny is that I really can "read" Hebrew now... 
I took a Biblical Hebrew 101 course at our church earlier this year.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wonderful Wacky Wordless...

Christopher Having Fun at 
the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport Oregon

Monday, June 14, 2010

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010: Verse 12

Newport, Oregon

My son is completing his final days of elementary school.  I am a little weepy about it.  No longer a little boy... he is now a preteen.

"Mommm, I'm a tweenager."

Christopher is changing.  Growing.  My relationship with him is changing.  Growing. 

This past week, I studied what Henry Blackaby calls the second reality of experiencing God... "God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal."  (The first reality is "God is always at work around you.") Thinking of God pursuing a relationship with me... like I pursue with Christopher.  A continuing love relationship... just like I want with Christopher. Real and personal.  Yes, just like I want with Christopher.

Pursues
Continuing
Love
Relationship
Real
Personal

I think the word that touches me the most in that statement... is the word continuing.  God pursues an ongoing, continuous, sustained, persistent, steady, relentless, uninterrupted, unabating, unremitting, unceasing love relationship with me that is real and personal.  Wow!  That makes me feel precious.  Just like Christopher is to me.

My memory verses are taken from units 4 & 5 of Experiencing God.

Unit 4:  Love and God's Invitation

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.
He who loves me will be loved by my Father, 
and I too will love him and show myself to him.
John 14:21


Unit 5: God Speaks, Part I

"He who belongs to God hears what God says. 
The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.
John 8:47

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Today's Horoscope is...

 Where do you look for direction?

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
       but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
Psalm 20:7

 When you go to war against your enemies 
and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, 
do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God
who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.  
Deuteronomy 20:1

Where do you get your direction... especially when you see your enemies' "horses and chariots"?  Do you trust in the name of the Lord our God... the one who has brought you out of your "Egypt"?

Within the last week I have had two discussions about horoscopes...  some think they are for fun... some think they are evil... and some look to them for guidance.  Recently a dear friend of mine who was in the midst of making a difficult decision about a relationship read this horoscope:
Your thinking may have an emotional overtone that could be preventing you from seeing the truth of a certain situation with any sort of clarity. Do your best to tame your feelings in order to let more rational thoughts penetrate to the surface. There is a great deal of stability that comes when you can honor your emotions from a detached perspective, instead of immediately taking action in blind response to how you feel. Consciously think about these issues as you engage with others.
And she asked, "So...are horoscopes from the Devil?  I will pray for discernment and possibly stay away from horoscopes for a while, but then am I being foolish for not looking at all angles?"

Here's my two cents on the subject...

We only need one angle... God's.  To be sure of God's direction we can pray, read Scripture, talk to wise/godly/discerning friends and also be aware of our current circumstances.  I do not find the location of the stars to be particularly helpful to me when I am making a decision... and it undermines what I may feel the Lord is saying to me by causing confusion.

Is it of the devil?  Well, anything that is not of God is not of God.  In the Bible I find that God made the heavens and the stars but He never encouraged us to look to them for answers.  Only Him.

I did decide to do some research and go and look at a website with horoscopes for a couple different signs... and I could probably make all of them fit my life pretty easily.  I was also surprised that they not only give you "information" but they also SEEM TO encourage you to "action"... and that is where I find it to be harmful.  Confusing me into whether I should or should not do a certain thing.

If horoscopes aligned with the word of God... well, something like... "You woke up today feeling down.  You feel like staying in bed.  It would be best for you to avoid confrontation this morning and read God's Word and pray before you do anything else."  Now... that's what I am talking about! 

So I decided to re-write my friend's horoscope... to be a little more accurate...
Your thinking MAY OR MAY NOT have an emotional overtone that COULD OR COULD NOT be preventing you from seeing the truth of a CERTAIN OR ANY situation with any sort of clarity.
A GOOD IDEA ALL THE TIME IS TO Do your best to tame your feelings in order to let more rational thoughts penetrate to the surface.
There is ALWAYS a great deal of stability that comes when you can honor your emotions from a detached perspective, instead of immediately taking action in blind response to how you feel.
IT IS WISE TO Consciously think about these issues as you engage with others.
I am not about do's and don'ts... but I feel this is pretty clear in the Bible.  Anything that brings you closer to God... I am all for that... anything that makes you question Him... I am against that.

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, 
do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 

Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. 

You must be blameless before the LORD your God.

 The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. 

But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so.
 Deuteronomy 18:9-14

 What are your thoughts on the subject?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Third Day


The Third Day

And God said, 
"Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, 
and let dry ground appear." 

And it was so.  

God called the dry ground "land," 
and the gathered waters he called "seas." 

And God saw that it was good.  

Genesis 1:9-10

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I'm Feeling a Little Lost Today...

Be Still, and Know That I am God... Psalm 46:10

I am feeling a little lost today... well, for the past couple of days.  Perhaps it is the weather (which is still daily dreary here)... but most likely it is Kyron Horman... a precious child of God that has been missing for six days now.  

His school is about 8 miles from my home.  He is only 7 years old... in second grade.  And every picture of him... makes me wish I knew him... and could rescue him.  And so I pray.

And I follow the Facebook pages that have been set up concerning his disappearance.  Hoping that there will soon be wonderful news.  But there is no news yet.

And some of the comments just make me wonder... like the one that said they "were keeping their fingers crossed and toes, too" that Kryon would be home soon.  And I've been wondering if that really works.  And decided to try it... but not sure that I can keep that up very long.  And so instead... I pray for this little lamb's return. 

Then today I thought... perhaps I should ask for prayer for myself, because I am feeling a little lost... which I have to be very cautious about... because depression for me is a slippery slope.  But I immediately felt shameful for even thinking it.  Why would I ask anyone to pray for me... when Kyron is missing... and we should be praying for his safe return?  How could I be so selfish?

But then the Lord gently reminded me that... He can rescue Kyron AND He has the strength to calm the storm within me.
...Was my arm too short to ransom you?
Do I lack the strength to rescue you?
By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea,
I turn rivers into a desert... 
Isaiah 50:2

Sometimes my prayers seem insignificant to me... but they are not to God.  He loves me and wants me to come to Him.  And He loves Kyron, too.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more 
than all we ask or imagine, 
according to his power that is at work within us... 
Ephesians 3:20

Dear Heavenly Father,
Today I am praying for You to do what Your Word says You will do... immeasurably more than I am asking or even imagining... for Kyron and his family... and for me, too.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Fifth Day


So God created the great creatures of the sea 
and every living and moving thing with which the water teems,
according to their kinds... And God saw that it was good.  
Genesis 1:21 NIV

We had the opportunity to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium this past weekend.  One of my favorite exhibits to visit at any aquarium... are the jellyfish.  



God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number 
and fill the water in the seas..." 
And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.  
Genesis 1:22-23

I just stand... and watch them dance.  Amazed at their beauty and gracefulness.  Wondering what it must be like to be alive but without a thought... without a care... 

But I was created on the sixth day.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Leaking Window:
My Third Anniversary

Where It All Started - The Portland Chinese Garden

I have been blogging for three years!  Can you believe it?!  To commemorate our anniversary, I'll retell the tale of how "The Leaking Window" arrived at its name.


 In May of 2007, I entered the world of blog. My sister-in-law's blog, FreckledFarm was my inspiration. I love Cammyk's beautiful pictures and unpretensious posts, and I'm not alone in that thought.


Just like any other blogger, I wanted to name my blog something... well, thought-provoking, curious... or even cute. With much consideration, Christopher suggested "CheeseyWheesey." Although cute, clever, and high in protein, it wasn't the trademark moniker that I had envisioned.


A Leaking Window

Around the same time Christopher had a field trip to the Portland Classical Chinese Gardens. During the tour the guide explained to us about these curious windows throughout the garden. Each window has "a unique design depicting nature or a geometric pattern." The windows leak a view. Lan Su Yuan Leak Windows -- a “'borrowed view,' sharing a glimpse of the verdant beauty that lies beyond."

Well, I thought that was just the blog name I was looking for! Letting people have a glimpse into my life through a "window." How perfect... and to be part of a garden... well, you know how I feel about gardening...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010: Verse 11
What is God's will for my life? is not the right question.

 God Is Always At Work Around You
Ethiopia, photography by Anthony

Today was our discussion group for Week One of Experiencing God.   I remember this week vividly when I first took Experiencing God about 13 years ago.  For the first time seeing these words... and realizing that I would never be the same.
What Is God's Will? (Excerpt from Experiencing God)
When people seek to know and do God's will, many ask the question, What is God's will for my life?  One of my seminary professors, Gaines S. Dobbins, used to say, "If you ask the wrong question, you will get the wrong answer."  Sometimes we assume every question is legitimate.  However, when we ask the wrong question, we may find an answer but remain disoriented to God and His activity.  Always check to see whether you have asked the right question before you pursue the answer.
What is God's will for my life? is not the right question.  I think the proper question is, What is God's will? ...The focus needs to be on God, not on my life! ~Henry Blackaby
What is God's will?  What a paradigm shift for me.  Realizing that God has a plan... and it is not centered around me.  It is however... centered around Him... and His purposes.  Imagine that!

Experiencing God, has a memory verse per week, so I am going to commit both of these to memory over the next two weeks.  The verse from Unit 3 is a version of my 2010 Anchor Verse... Mark 12:30.

Unit 2:  Looking to God 

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
       but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.  Psalm 20:7

Unit 3:  God Pursues a Love Relationship
Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God 
with all your heart and 
with all your soul and 
with all your mind.' 
This is the first and greatest commandment."  
Matthew 22:37-38

For me... the benefits of doing a small group Bible Study over the summer are... accountability, fellowship, and having prayer support.  In past years... when I did not participate in a summer Bible Study I would find that by the end of the summer I had started to sink into a mild depression... because I had taken a summer vacation from being in The Word.  I have found that I need to be consistent in God's word throughout the year.  I have to remind myself that not everyone is like me... but I am so glad that there are some who need this as much as I do... and are joining me as I beat the summer slump!