Source: Picturas II
I am a lover of nature and its beauty, obvious and ambiguous. I recently purchased a new camera and decided to capture some of the wonder around me.
Take some time this week to enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.
Vade in pace,
“Come Thou fount of every blessing.” This has always been one of my favorite hymns. It speaks to me on so many levels. At times, every day actually, it has been the anthropology of my life. I heard a “remix” of this song recently and it resonated with me.
My relationship with God is a struggle. This is not because He is difficult, it is because I am. I am stubborn, emotional, foolhardy, temperamental, unfaithful. The real me is a mess. My sinful nature keeps our relationship from being tranquil, instead it is tumultuous.
Like the Children of Israel, my journey with God is a series of bumps, missed turns, and detours. I have had many trials and impossible situations that made me doubt the power of God. Every time He comes through for me I am happy and my faith in Him renewed. I am strong, that is until the next impossible situation. Doubt creeps in, I try to solve my problems on my own, and I wonder why God allows such things to happen to me. I forget to “raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come.” Without these landmarks of God’s goodness to me I fall into the same traps over and over again.
Thankfully, “Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God”. I used to think that this verse only referred to who I was before I came into the knowledge of God. Now I know that every time I stray away from Him I become a stranger. My sins put more and more distance between us and I find that forget who He is. I drift while being His beloved creation. I meander while being a part of His flock. I become dangerously close to being lost forever. Yet, “He to rescue me from danger interposed His precious blood”.
“O, to grace how great the debtor (me) daily I’m constrained to be!” I owe God more than I could ever repay. Not just the blessings He has given, though those are nice but the patience He has with me. Patience but also forgiveness. He forgives me before I can forgive myself. He does not hold my sinful nature against me but pays the wages for it. “Let Thy goodness like a fetter, bind me closer still to Thee!”
“Prone to wander”, to the desires of the flesh. “Prone to wander”, to my own understanding. “Prone to wander”, to the easy way out. “Prone to wander”, when I know better. “Prone to wander”, even I hear God calling me back. “Prone to wander, LORD, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”
Here is my heart’s prayer, “Here’s my heart (sinful, prideful, unfaithful). O, take and seal it; seal it for Thy courts above!”
Vade in pace,
We all have dreams, it’s human nature. Some of us are fortunate to see them manifested. Others are not. I have some dreams I would like to see in the flesh. These are not huge dreams by any means but they are dreams all the same.
My deepest desires are not totally under my control. I hate that. I’m not overbearing about my preference for governing power over my affairs. There are several areas where I’m more than happy to hand the bridle over to someone else. But when I want the reins, I want the reins.
When I was younger I had a picture of how my life would turn out. I was so sure of my career and personal life. I just knew that things would fall into place. That has not happened. Nothing has turned out the way I envisioned.
As I look back over the past, I try to find the reasons for these under developed plans. In many ways, I was previously unprepared for success. Mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual preparedness is key to achievement of any kind. If your body, mind, and soul are not ready to manage the changes of life, good things can turn bad quickly.
I asked God show me the ugly truth about myself and He did. The truth? I had some daunting issues to overcome. It has not been easy but I have overcome. Facing your fears and shortcoming is difficult. Looking at yourself honestly takes guts. Looking at yourself honestly and taking responsibility is even more difficult. Allowing God to take over and change you is brutal.
Am I perfect? Not at all. Am I much improved? Yes. Could I continue to improve? Of course. The problem is what? I thought my life would automatically change. I thought all my dreams would fall into my lap as a reward for all my hard work. The ideal job was supposed to descend upon me. It did not. Storybook relationships were expected to unfold before me. They have not.
To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I have had several moments of self doubt. Maybe I’m not meant to have the desires of my heart. Maybe I have more work to do. Maybe I’m unrealistic. Maybe God’s answer is no. Maybe I need to change my requests. Maybe I should just give up.
As time passes and I see my hopes dwindling by the day, giving up seems to be the logical choice. I mean, let’s be real. Why hold on to dreams that probably won’t come true? Why not just be content with what I have? I have accomplished quite a bit. Most people never get to where I am emotionally and spiritually. I could just quit while I’m ahead. It is tempting, quite tempting.
I remember hearing something about grapes that has stuck with me. Grapevines produce the highest quality fruit when the soil is sandy and rocky. This allows for good drainage that isn’t available in denser soil. When the ground is rocky and well draining, the water becomes just out of the reach of the roots. The roots have to struggle and stretch. The struggle for water and nutrients causes the grape to sweeten thus producing the highest quality wine.
I falter, my arms are tired of reaching, my energy is waning. Yet it’s the dreams that were achieved in the toughest of circumstances that produce the greatest rewards.
Vade in pace,
“But then I think about this and I have hope: we are still alive because the Lord’s faithful love never ends. Every morning He shows it in new ways!” Lamentations 3:21-23
This time last year I was recovering from automobile accident. I am by nature a private person, especially when I’m dealing with something traumatic or painful. I did express a thought or two to some close friends but even they didn’t know what going on inside my head.
As a result of the accident and some injuries I was without a vehicle for several months. This loss of independence was a hard pill for me to swallow. I had worked very hard to become a self sufficient person. I was finally standing on my own two feet and then this happened. So many things were out of my control and I was frustrated. I didn’t understand why this happened to me. I was filled with doubt and fear.
Slowly over the course of days, weeks, and months God revealed Himself to me in ways I could not have imagined. I learned about His character in personal and tangible ways. I formed new relationships with some unlikely people. I became less self sufficient and more dependent on God. I spent more quality time with God. I learned to let go of what I couldn’t control and focus on the important things.
At the end of every dark night, God showed me His faithful love. These mornings weren’t always literal but there was a brightness to them all the same. Each dawn brought with it its own beauty unmatched by the one before it.
I’m back on my feet now, a year later. My body has rebounded and so has my soul. Yes, I have a new set of challenges, some more daunting than the last. I do stumble every now and then in my faith in God. I stumble but I don’t fall. With every falter God brings to my mind those verses in Lamentations. He reminds me of the journey we have had over the past year. I reminisce and then I have hope renewed. I turn my face to the warmth of His light and look forward to the fresh mercy that is on its way.
Vade in pace
Time and I aren’t the friends we used to be. In my twenties I thought time and I would simply engage in parallel play until I reached oh, like fifty or something. Now, however still in my early thirties, I learned that I am wrong. Quite wrong. Things aren’t as easy as they used to be. I can’t eat what I want and watch it fall off. Pizza sticks around long after it has been digested. Acid reflux punishes me for the enjoyment of my beloved enchiladas, panir jalfrezi, and homemade tomato sauce.
After stepping on the scale a few weeks ago, I discovered why my clothes were not fitting the same. Time. Well, time, working third shift, and the endless supply of soda at work didn’t help either. I saw a number I had never seen in all my life. So, I mourned the lost my size 2 life and then decided to take action.
Action number one, no more endless work sodas. Working 7p to 7a in a hospital is no joke. The first three hours can kick your butt and make you thirsty. When I planned ahead, I would have a Gatorade to quench my thirst. More often than not however, I made a habit of coming to work without adequate fluids, thereby forcing me to drink Sierra Mists. One or two every now and then is okay but when it becomes your go to, then you have a problem.
I replaced sodas and Gatorade with good ol’ H2O. Lemon-lime infused H2O to be exact. Our bodies are supposed to have 64 ounces of water a day. That’s a lot of water. I had trouble getting that much down at first but now it’s much easier. First, I bought a one gallon container and placed sliced lemons and limes inside. I added water and kept it in the refrigerator. When I get ready to go to work, I prepare 28 oz. and 32 oz. containers with the infused water. The last four ounces I finish when I get home.
Action two, no more snacks from the corner store. My job can be very stressful and when I’m stressed or underfed, I snack. Again, I usually am unprepared for the pit stops. Ergo, the corner store became my lifeline. Doritos, M&Ms, Twix, Lays… Now I realize I could stop snacking altogether. I could but I won’t. Therefore, I chose to change my choice in snacks. I chose snacks I knew I would like and could be consistent with. I also started paying attention to the portions I put in the bags. Healthy food in excess can be just as unhealthy as junk food.
Action three will be exercise. Will be. I’m working on finding methods that will motivate me and keep me that way. Exercise is not my thing but since time isn’t the friend it used be, it looks like I’ll have to make new bedfellows.
Vade in pace,