Wednesday, September 30, 2015


God's country

I love living in North Carolina. There's the beautiful beaches. The breathtaking mountains. And everything in between. 

My favorite by far are the Blue Ridge Mountains. Watauga County. It's a magical place. Breathtaking views. Songs of rivers and waterfalls. Surrounded by clear crisp air. 

Adventures abound. Back country roads. Peaceful riverbanks. Hidden trails. Family farms. Roaring rivers. Wooden bridges. Starry nights. Bountiful wildlife. Fresh mountain air. Tree farms. Cow pastures. Weathered barns. Powerful winds. Dirt paths. Magnificent waterfalls. Old home places. Dense fog. Country stores. Colorful views. Bright sunlight. Pure exhilaration. And awe. 

Some of my favorite moments...
watauga county, nc: sketched

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

lessons in suffering

Today, it was a lesson about suffering.

* Peter reminds us of the suffering of Jesus
* Christ is our example in suffering

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. 1 Peter 2:21

Jesus suffered for me.  He gave His example for me.  I've suffered.  From physical pain. From emotional pain.  Jesus has been with me thru it all.  I know He always will be.

l'm sharing Jen Hatmaker's words on the subject.

Suffering transcends all class, race, ethnicity, culture, privilege. The wealthiest, most successful man on earth could lose his only daughter in a car wreck this afternoon. There is no corner untouched by grief, no demographic, no alliance. If you haven’t suffered, just live longer.

In an attempt to understand the ordinary grief of human life, I fear we’ve reduced a complicated reality 
to an unmanageable burden; we’ve put a yoke of despair on people who mourn, assigning accolades to those who “suffer well” and, in ways overt and subtle, urging our brokenhearted to buck up. Then adding insult to injury, we fall into the trap of explaining suffering, as if any one of us could possibly understand its eternal scope.

Here is what we know about suffering from Scripture:

  • Sometimes people suffer because of self-inflicted misery. Humans have long been their own worst enemies. We are a self-destructive people. Adam, Eve, Jonah, David, Saul, Judas.
  • Sometimes people suffer at the sins of others, which God would never cause, endorse, or initiate. It is contrary to his holy, perfect nature. Bathsheba, Daniel, Tamar, Hosea, The Good Samaritan, Paul.
  • Sometimes people suffer through no human fault at all. The best of God’s saints had their night. This is no indicator of divine disfavor. Life is simply hard. 
  • Sometimes people suffer because people get sick and die. This happens to every person, family, and community on earth. There is zero immunity from death. Even Jesus wept salty, human tears at death and the grief of his friends.
  • Sometimes people suffer because we live on a physical earth involving tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, tsunamis. Natural disasters are a part of any living, shifting, fluctuating planet. (And the longer we irresponsibly plunder and harm it, the greater it will groan and creak and protest, but that is a different blog.)
  • Sometimes people suffer because we have a vicious enemy who hates us and is out to steal, kill, and destroy everything redemptive and beautiful. 
The point is, there is no formula for suffering. There is no one answer. There is no pat explanation. Simply stating that God is sovereign is woefully incomplete theology, as Scripture has clearly identified numerous root causes of suffering, some of which are entirely incompatible with God’s character. We cannot possibly explain sorrow in a 25-minute sermon with three points that all begin with an M.

Monday, September 28, 2015

the world outside my door

I'm sitting here in my den, grateful for a comfortable couch and a warm throw, watching rain drizzling once again. About four or five days in a row and it's in the forecast off and on for the rest of the week, praying for such a rain in California. I know, God is in control.

Since it's such a dreary day, I'll share some pictures of the world outside my door. (That means I took every image either from a window or outside in my yard.)

the world outside my door: sketched

Thursday, September 17, 2015

flowers on the pond

This past Monday, the 14th, marked the 15th anniversary of my Dad’s death.    He died at a place he loved, his farm of around 60 acres.  It was rather wooded, and home to many deer.  It had some springs, a few streams, a small waterfall, and a nice size pond fed by a large spring.

The stream exiting the pond, and the pond itself was plagued with bunches of beastly, bothersome, beavers.  (Say that three times fast.)  He busted up no telling how many beaver dams.  Dad loved nature, woods, rocks, streams, creeks, the mountains, growing gardens, growing plants, and a lot of other stuff.  I share his love of each of these.

Now, back to his earthly death.  He was found there, the pond.  It was definitely a shock, and hard to deal with in the tender days and weeks and months that came.  But it’s a great comfort knowing he is living forever in the presence of God Almighty. 

When the flowers at the cemetery turned brown, me, my sister, and my brother loaded then into the back of Dad’s truck.  We headed to the farm and took the path to the pond.  We removed the flowers from the wires and styrofoam.  We tossed them into the pond one by one.  They floated to our right, gently circled the pond, and headed into the stream.  It was awesome.  I can’t explain that feeling.  But, it was awesome.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

and He loves me anyway

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,  for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Psalm 9:10 NAS
Considering how vast and infinite this universe is, I’m just an invisible speck only God can see.  This world, with a population of nearly seven billion, yet God knows me!  He loves me!  I’m His forever!  I’m His child!  And, I’ll live forever!

He created me
He loves me
He knows my heart
He died for me
He protects me
He saved me
He is with me always
He cares about me
He blesses me
He is my strength
He gave me grace
He has redeemed me
He has mercy on me

Wow!  God knows everything about me, my past, my present, my future, and yet,

He loves me anyway!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

security of the one who trusts in the Lord

Psalm 91 speaks to me....

Many times in my life, I find myself, once again, struggling.  Above all, I especially find comfort in the Word of God.  The knowledge that God covers me, under His protection, His refuge overwhelms me in a reassuring way.  He promised me. He delivered me. He was and is and will always be faithful to me.  I trust in Him with all my heart. I have faith in Him alone.

Even so, it’s often hard for me to see beyond my pain.  When the road has many trials. When I’m struggling.   When I can’t feel hope.  When I can’t see clearly.  When I feel alone.  When I’m stuck. I cry out to Him and He answers me.  When my life is in trouble He rescues me.  Jesus saved me. He gives me strength.  I may never know why I walk the roads of despair.  But, God knows, it is His plan.   

(Security of the One Who Trusts in the Lord.)

Psalm 91 (NLT)

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

Monday, September 7, 2015

little butterfly

 Touched by a Butterfly

Dear butterfly,
Majestic monarch of the sky,
holder of universal secrets and reasons why,
color my canvas, touch my heart before I die,
to live in joy, teach me how never to say good-bye.

As you flutter by, you hear me sigh,
things missed because I forgot to try,
on your serene beauty I can rely,
oh what celestial magic you do supply.

Once you did struggle to be free,
you turned your life around to show me,
amazing my angel how you heard my plea,
you've cocooned my mind so I can see.

Lets fly together both as one,
and sore beyond time, once upon,
our silken wings God has spun,
Souls entwined, our infinite journey has just begun.

Author: Michael Levy

(Eastern Tiger Swallowtail)