Friday, October 31, 2008

All Natural

ur Bible study group just finished Jen Hatmaker's book
Tune In, about hearing the voice of God through various means and circumstances.

As part of her last section, "God Haunts" (where God likes to "hang out"), she focuses in on God speaking to us through His creation. She poses a question about whether we hear God through nature. "Are you a 'Nature Girl'?" she asks.

Of the seven gals around the table, five were not nature girls. (Not even the beach! I was stunned!!) The gal next to me didn't comment (I know she goes to the beach but maybe that's where it ends....)

Me? I'm very much a nature girl, though, these days, I find God speaking to me more directly through reading the Bible. But as a girl growing up, God and nature were synonymous. Had I been more assertive (like way more assertive), I could have led a lively debate—"It's not nice to fool Mother Nature when she's a fraud anyway!"

Maybe it was because I spent so much time outside as a kid, playing in the yard. One of my favorite places to just sit was a big craggy rock in the side front yard. Great place to study the trees, flowers, bushes, feel the breeze...think. I always thought that the moon was probably like that rock, and I liked to sit on the moon. I've always enjoyed watching the birds. Still consider them the "pets" of our house (besides the fake stuffed golden retriever).

Hanging out in nature got the creative juices going. It was energizing! It put thoughts into perspective, if not into actual words. Of course, back then, I didn't realize that I had the perfect way to "Be still and know that He is God!"

But, that understanding DID become clear for me as a girl—a Girl Scout, to be exact. We had a weekend camp-out at one of the Girl Scout campgrounds. Spent the entire weekend hiking the trails, enjoying the challenge of following colored markers and spotting wildlife. Sat by streams and had bark boat races.
Made real campfires.

And had "church"...outside, in nature.

We had prepared for a "service" the night before. There would be a flag presentation and some readings. Songs, of course (our high school helpers played guitar). We were told to be reverent, quiet, thoughtful.

So, there we were, Sunday morning. Sun coming up through the trees. We walked in a line out onto the open green, surrounded by these trees. The "service" began. While I don't remember anything specific about what was read, I do remember one song in particular (and was so excited to find it on someone's post in Minnesota!). It's called
"Wonder-Full World" by James Thiem.
"Take care to wonder
at the world through which you wander.
Never hurry by an open door,
for you live in a universe,
full of miracles galore."

And then there were verses. Here are two I remember clearly:

"Look for God in small things:
drops of rain or a grain of sand.
Praise him whenever you
find him in anything small.

Look for God in bright things:
Someone's eyes or the skies at noon.
Praise him whenever you
find him in anything bright."

Standing in the marvelous creation that He made, singing these words, I was completely overwhelmed with the idea that God was real and He made some beautiful things!

Today, when I read through these lyrics, I get totally choked up at the repeated refrain "Praise Him whenever you find Him in anything....." I didn't understand the significance of all the lyric was saying. But, Scripture confirms that we are to praise Him in all things! ALL things. Care to add a few verses to the song? I know we all could.

So, I do take care to wonder, because He does speak to me through His creation.

Yes, God, You are very big! But You still speak to ME, because I'm part of Your creation, too. And I stand, stand in awe of You....

Take care to wonder, indeed!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Life: An A-maze-ing Adventure

Do you feel, some days, like the hayride just dumped you off at the start of the corn maze, and you are scrambling around lost?

The paper in your hand isn't a map. No, it's just a series of questions that you have to answer. "It's like a big game," you say, reading the directions. "I'm supposed to be looking for the answers!??!"

Feeling a little frustrated, perhaps?

Or maybe a little contemplative, if that's more your character.

Maybe you just need to look up!

"The Lord is with you when you are with him.
If you seek him, he will be found by you."
—II Chronicles 15:2

And knowing His very presence, you can take that next step forward in confidence.

"You have made known to me the path of life, Lord;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
—Psalm 16:11

We may not have all the answers. But we have our greatest Help walking with us!

Life is still a maze, but stopping and appreciating a moment of resting and clear thinking, being filled with the Holy Spirit, allows us to keep going forward, and to know peace!

There was a time when Jesus wrote a message in the sand....

But, since He came to fulfill the Law and to set us free from the burdens we carry, we can now call on our God in prayer, in full confidence, and He is with us—no matter how lost we feel.

"You will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here I am.
—Isaiah 58:9

And in that, let us rejoice!

"Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord."
—Psalm 89:15

He will pull us through, and the blessings are ours!

"In the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you."
—Deuteronomy 12:7

Thanks to my girls for the trip through the maze.
And praises to God for getting us all out by His hand!

* * *

Originally published on my MOPS blog, In-between Time

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


An Award-Winning Poem by CJ

Wow! I won a contest.
Wow! I caught a butterfly.
Wow! I hit a homer.
Wow! I gave canoeing a try.

Wow! I got invited to a party.
Wow! I found my missing charm.
Wow! I won my soccer game.
Wow! I fixed my broken alarm.

Wow! I got my first A+.
Wow! I got in a cool club.
Wow! I can chop a pepper.
Wow! I received a new toy sub.

Wow! I bought a new pet dog.
Wow! I trained my own pet fly.
So many reasons to say “Wow”,
So many reasons why.

* * *

Turns out, Daughter #1 did win in a contest. She captured second place in the Intermediate division (3rd-5th graders) of her school's PTA Reflections contest, Literature category! WOW!

Reflections is a program sponsored by the National PTA that focuses on the creative arts—literature, music, dance choreography, video, visual arts and photography. Local PTA's host schoolwide contests and first-place winners advance through the county, state and national levels. A theme is provided (a separate contest; kids actually develop and submit themes), and the kids have complete creative control to do what they wish with it. Indeed, parents need to sign the paperwork saying they had nothing to do with any aspect of the project.

CJ has participated since Kindergarten and loves the opportunity to share her creative work. She was very excited to receive her certificates and a trophy (though the cake with the chocolate mousse filling may have been the real treat of the evening).

As we talked afterward, as she wondered how she came to be in this spot, I said that she had really found her niche. Literature (poems, stories, essays and such) is a category that suits her skills.
And if I had to look back at my own interest in writing, it really hit its first high point with that A+ in English in the last marking period of 4th grade.

Wow.... I just got lots of warm fuzzies.