Tag Archives: Psalm

creation’s testimony…

As the Christmas holiday passes, and we enter the long winter months ahead, I am reminded of the significance of the winter season in my own life. While many around me dread the snow, I look forward to it. Every time the snow falls it is as if there is a freshness and a newness that comes along with it.

This morning I found myself remembering a December several years ago. The trees were laden with the white of winter and it was as if everything around us had been transformed. It was not at all unusual for my family to be found out on snowmobiles when the snow was like this. The trails were smooth and the scenery was breathtaking. On a cold evening of this perfect winter we set out for a late trip into a backcountry hot springs. We had packed our sleds with the things we would need for dinner and a late night swim. The trip could not have been more perfect.

However it wasn’t the time spent in the more than century old log cabin eating dinner by the fire, nor was it the hours we spent soaking in the pure spring water that made an imprint on my soul. Instead, it was the return trip that would, in a sense, change me. In order to get home we had to cross over the top of two summits. The first was well traveled and known by many. The second was a bit off the beaten path, and that night, there was not another soul to be found on that part of the mountain. As we came to a clearing near the highest point of the trail, we stopped our snowmobiles and sat in the quiet. The sky was completely clear and black. In it there were more stars than the eye could comprehend, and as the full moon shone, the snow reflected the twinkling of the stars as a million tiny diamonds scattered in front of us. Perfection.

I have often tried to dissect that experience. Even though much time has gone by, I am left in awe of the Presence of God I experienced on that late night.

The Bible often talks about God’s creation and how it interacts with its creator. In Psalms the writer talks about the fields being jubilant and the trees of the forest singing for joy (Ch. 96) In Luke Jesus’ disciples are caught up in their praise of God as Jesus enters the city. In fact the Pharisees ask Jesus to rebuke the disciples for their overt display, but Jesus responds, “I tell you if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40) The disciples had seen God move in such miraculous ways that they couldn’t help but give Him the Glory. However, had they chosen to keep quiet… God’s own creation would have cried out proclaiming the greatness of God.

If then all of God’s creation is aware of His greatness, how much more should we, who are created in the very image of God, be ready to sing and dance and praise Him for the great things He is doing in our lives? We can choose to keep quiet, or we can choose to let people know that our lives are what they are because of who God is.

That cold winter night, it was as if God’s own creation was pouring back everything that it was to bring glory to its Creator. And that is what I want. I want those who look at me, and the work that God is doing in my life to be aware of who receives the Glory for the great things they see. I want a testimony of God’s greatness to seep from my very being and back into the heart of my Creator.

reflection…

This week has been a week of reflection for me.  I don’t know if it is because I have celebrated the birthday that marks the last year of my twenties, or if it is because the holidays are approaching.  Whatever the case may be, it seems that ever corner I have turned has caused my past moments to come tumbling back.

If I sit for a moment, close my eyes, and take a deep breath in, I can still smell the hallways of my high school.  A damp mustiness mixed with the aroma of whatever happened to be cooking in the cafeteria.  I can see the library with shelves and shelves of old books that were begging for someone to care enough to turn their pages.  I can hear the sounds of the choir resonate off of the walls of the room behind the gym and next to the shop.  This place was my prison. A place I could only hope to conquer.

This was the time in my life where it seemed that I was struggling to survive my every day.  It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other and my only focus was that of my future.  I was a teenager mind you, and of course everything is much more dramatic when you are a teenage girl, but there were days that even breathing seemed too large of a task.  I felt suffocated by my surroundings.  I felt stifled by the life I was being forced to live.  I lived in fear that I would never become who I envisioned myself to be. I knew that if I could just be in control of my moments, I could do it better.

A few days ago I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to an old friend I hadn’t spoken to in many years.  In the course of our conversation, he shared with me some of the struggles of his newly found faith.  I couldn’t help but be humbled by the words he spoke. His desire to do God’s will is great, and he is earnestly seeking to hear God’s voice.  What a richness! What a hope!

Today, well today I find myself in a place where I could so easily fall back into the struggle of my youth.  It wouldn’t at all be hard to feel suffocated and stifled by the life I am living.  In many ways I feel that I am at the cusp of something new.  I can feel change in the wind.  But to live only for the new, the different, the not now, could again imprison me and trap me.

I want to live my life desperately listening for the voice of my Heavenly Father. I want God’s love to be enough in my life.  I want everything else to wash away.  He has promised to work out the details by His grace.  I want His love to be enough.  No matter my coming or going, no matter the course of my life; I want  His love to be enough.

Psalm 51:12 “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

inside out…

My life to this point has been a strange journey of intersecting paths.  In some ways I have loved every moment.  Learning. Growing.  However,  there have also been moments that I would have rather run over, skipped over, jumped over.

I have been back in my beautiful hometown for the weekend.  I am quite sure that my mountains have missed me. One thing I know is that I have missed the loveliness that I am surrounded by while I am here.  McCall’s crowning glory is its lake around which the town is centered.  If you were to drive into town from the south, you would come up over a little knoll and suddenly the lake would be in your view.  Each time I experience this picturesque panorama my breath catches and I am immediately transfixed by the sight.

This weekend we arrived just as the summer is taking her final bow and the autumn is making its arrival.  Most things are still green and crisp, but every now and then a tree who has already put on its red or yellow colors peeks out.  It many ways it is as if these little trees have been hiding a secret behind their green foliage and they cannot wait another second to share their beauty.

Time is a funny thing.  It can give us fresh perspective on old situations.  I will be the first to admit that high school was not my favorite time in life.  I can remember just wanting to get out.  To run away as fast and as far as I could.  And so I did.  For a long time, I didn’t understand the need I had to run.  However, as the years have passed I now feel like I have a firm grasp on my adolescent feelings.

For the most part, in high school, people generally knew who I was at my core, that my faith was a huge part of who I was, and I even believe that I was well liked because of who I was.  But, I felt much like the green leaves on a fall tree; like I needed to- had to, express the beauty that I held within, and I knew that at that time in my life, my small town of 2000 wasn’t the place I could do that. Thus, my move allowed me to grow and to change and to experience for myself  my insides on the outside.  How liberating and life changing this was for me.  Now, instead of containing who I am within myself, I love to share with others; that I am who I am because I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14) I cannot wait to express the things that make my heart beat to those who will listen. I think for this very reason, now when I come “home” I am alive.  Gone is the girl who was suppressed and hidden by the place that she lived.  Instead, there is perspective, vision, and hope for the future revealed by the very place that once held me back.

In 1 Corinthians 4:2, Paul says, “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

Paul is encouraging the people in the church at Corinth to not hide the Truth that is God’s Word.  Rather to share it plainly.  He wanted them to be bold in expressing who they were as a people of faith, holding nothing back, letting there be no question.

So, today, I encourage you today to look at your life.  Who are you?  Are you excited to share those things that make you “you” with others, or do you feel the need to hide it?  Do you walk boldly forward in who you are? Are you letting your insides out?

(NOTE: I have recorded a companion video for this blog. You can find it here —> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ChXH5Zmp44 )

harvey the elk…

I grew up with a father who hunted.  In fact, I am sure that some years, we only ate well because he hunted.  The fall season for my family was built around the times that he would be gone with his uncles and friends.  My mom and I (and eventually my sister too) would sit at home and wonder where exactly Daddy was, what he was doing, and if he was safe.

While I am sure the men enjoyed the time they spent on the mountain the most, I waited with great anticipation for the day they would arrive home.  The family would gather, the spoils of the hunt would be hung in the garage, and we would spend hours working together to butcher and package the meat. The smell that collected in the air was an intermingling of odors from hunters and the hunted. As we worked, each of the men would recall their moment of glory from the adventure.  We would hear about time spent around the campfire, long hikes up a ravine, and the eventual story of “the kill.”

The purpose of the hunt was always the same; to gather the food we all needed for the coming year.  The only thing that changed much was that as I got older, I was given more responsibility during the butchering, and even my own knife to help with the trimming.  However, one year, my dad had his eye on a larger prize than just feeding his family.  He had been scouting a majestic elk in the forest for several months.  While Daddy had never been a trophy hunter, this was going to be the year he got “the big one.”

As the fall arrived, the men packed up for their annual 10 day trek in the wilderness.   At home, things were as they had been every other year.  Mom and I ate poached eggs on toast for dinner, (something we only got to eat when Daddy wasn’t home) and the time passed SO slowly.  Each day I would kneel on the couch and look out the window straining to see if they were coming yet.  Each day I would watch as my warm breath made foggy shapes on the cold windows.  Each day I would wonder if they would ever return.

Finally, the moment arrived, the men pulled into the driveway, this time accompanied by the carcass  and antlers from the largest animal I had ever seen in my 6 short years of life.  This animal was so enormous and so tough that my mom would later tell us that she couldn’t even pressure cook the meat.  Eventually it all had to all be ground and used for burger, but my dad had captured the animal that he set out to find.

Most great hunting trophies meet the same fate.  The hides are tanned and they are made into some form of  wall art.  My dad’s massive elk was no exception.  This animal that was once the king of his forest soon became “Harvey” a beloved member of our family that hung on the wall of our home for many years.  When Harvey first joined us, we happened to have a place for him directly above the fireplace.  However, when we moved to another part of town, not only did Harvey follow us, but this time, the wall above the fireplace was constructed specifically for him.  There was even a reinforcing bracket on the opposite side of the wall to ensure his security in his place of honor.

Harvey looked on as many memorable occasions took place in our living room.  Parties, graduations, weddings, funerals, and each year… CHRISTMAS.  I do believe that Christmas was Harvey’s favorite event in our home.  (If it wasn’t, he never mentioned otherwise.) In fact, some years Harvey even dressed up for the occasion.  Decked out in ornaments, garland, and a red nose, he became a part of the overall effect of the seasonal ambiance.

And there he remained day in and day out.  Year after year. Clinging to his spot. Never changing while the world around him moved on at a frenzied pace.  About a year ago, my parents moved.  Harvey had to give up his place on the wall and be packed into a moving truck.  Now he sits in a corner of the garage collecting dust.  Yet, the lives around him continue to move on.  My sister, only two when Harvey first joined our family, has a two year old of her own.  My parents married 14 years that autumn, today celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary.  And I… well I, continue to seek out the adventure that might be coming down the street.  I wait with my face pressed to the glass of life, wondering what might happen next.

The writer of the Psalms had had gone through some great trials.  He was king, but he had taken the wife of another man, fathered a child with her, and then had the husband killed.  While forgiveness was an option, the writer was often filled with great remorse for what had occurred.  He worried that God would change,  and that He might not continue to work on him and through him  There are many times in Psalms where the writer cries to God for mercy and compassion.  In Psalms 138: 8 we see a statement that mixes faith and hesitation.  “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever- do not abandon the works of your hands.”

While Harvey could have lived a few more years in the forest, the life he gave provided much for many.  Many nights he was the food on our plates.  Many years he brought us great joy.  His purpose continued on beyond what could have even been expected.

I am often challenged to continuously lay down my own purposes for my life.  I want more than anything to surrender my will to the will of my maker.  I want God to do HIS work in me and not my own.  He sees the bigger picture of my life and He knows how the pieces will fit together and where my place of honor is and will be.  I know he will fulfill His purpose for me, and yet I continually pick things up for myself and go along my merry way.  How much more full could my life be if I would just let God do what He needs to do?  And so I say, “Oh Lord, do not abandon me, the works of your hands.”

a place of stillness…

“Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side. Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change, He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend. Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.” (Katharina von Schlegel- 1752)

Recently, the words to this old hymn have been pouring over my soul like cool running water. While my God is faithful and I am blessed, there have been moments where my soul feels as if it is in the midst of a storm. I find myself tossed about in a sea of uncertainty. And in those moments, the Holy Spirit speaks. “Be still Jennie, be still. KNOW that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

To truly KNOW that HE is God is a loaded idea. It begs for an attitude of faith without need for complete understanding. It is just something that we are to do. In that we can find rest; a “peace that passes ALL understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)

This morning I was meandering through our local farmers market with a couple of dear friends. They have been a great source of fellowship and unconditional love for me in the last year of my life. God dropped them right in front of me when I needed them most. We laugh together, we cry together, and we spend time praying for one another. As we walked together enjoying the smells of the barbeque, the warmth of the morning sun, and the sounds of people caught up in the company of each other, a breeze blew. In that moment I breathed in. There was significance. Nothing, has changed, and yet I could feel that peace. The peace of God. The peace that comes BECAUSE He is God.

I know nothing of what my tomorrows hold. (How many of us really do?) But for now, my soul is quenched and my heart is full. I will be still, KNOWING that God is on my side; pressing on toward a joyful end, where my Heavenly Father will receive the glory for all he has done.

So now, I ask you. Where does your peace come from? Where do you find your place of rest? Do you truly KNOW that HE is God? I don’t believe we ever will come to a place in our lives where this is second nature. I think our human self fights against this, but I do believe that in our every moment it is something we can strive for. And in each of those moments we can feel the sweetness of God rushing over us; a place of stillness.