Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fullness of JOY

When we remove ourselves from the mundane of the day to day tasks and find our schedules more freeing we sometimes become covetous of what we are experiencing and somehow wonder, 'why can't it always be this way?'  The warmth of the sun on our faces, the sand under our feet, the giggles of the children that played contented for hours upon hours and to stare out at the vastness of the ocean and sky and stand in wonder of our God and His creation.  

Then the thought comes again and you may even say it out loud, "Why can't it always be like this?"

Our last morning on the Island Jeff decided to have our family devotions on the beach.  As we sat there we could feel the sun rising behind us, sand under our feet, and hear the background noise of the waves slowly crashing upon the shore.  Fullness of Joy??? Jeff opens our sword...the word of God.  We take a detour from our daily reading of Joshua and turn to read a Psalm from David;
"The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;  You support my lot.  The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.  I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.  I have set the Lord continually before me;  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;  My flesh also will dwell securely.  For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;  Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.  You will make known to me the path of life;  In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."  Psalm 16:5-11

He reads it again... In Your presence is fullness of JOY.  Joy is always there to be found.  In the midst of the mundane He is calling us into His presence.  We don't have to be 1,000 miles away or have an empty calendar to pause and stand in wonder.  His creation beacons us...come.  

In His right hand are pleasures forever.  Jesus, God's Son, is at His right hand; His Son is our pleasures forever.  Do we linger long enough to feel the warmth of the Son on our faces?  We are told several times in the Old Testament that Moses' face became radiant or glowed because he 'had spoken with the Lord' {Exodus 34:29}.  Moses then began to wear a veil after being in the presence of the Lord as not to frighten the Israelites.  I think of what happens when we sit in the sun too long, our skin changes color it may even burn and become red...but glowing?  Then in the New Testament Paul tells the church of Corinth;

 "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."  2 Corinthians 3:18 {emphasis mine}

In the hustle and bustle that life can bring won't you pause with me to enjoy these forever pleasures as we set the Lord continually before us?  Won't you linger a little longer in His presence while your face starts to radiate and mirror the glory of the Lord?  And there my friend, right there in His presence, no matter where you are in life, is fullness of JOY.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Vacation Part 3: Lessons From Kayaking

 I wish I could tell you that every moment of our kayaking experience was pure joy.  I wish I could tell you how we were united as a team and worked beautifully together. What I can tell you is that each of us was challenged even tested with external strength and more importantly our internal endurance.  For it is only when we are faced with temptation  and challenges that we truly know what we are made of.

Inside the mangroves was quite pleasant.  The water was calm and clear enough to see the wild life teaming underneath us.  Once we shifted around some children and left the safety of the mangroves we headed for a large sand bar.  In order to make it there we had to cross an open water way.  Off we went.  The goal was that we would all stay together and safely arrive at our destination.  We were rowing against the wind and against the current.   I had Maddie on the front of my kayak and she doesn’t weigh much so quickly we found ourselves drifting behind.  I was rowing with all my strength but spinning in circles trying to keep from being swept off to shore…away from my family.

Jeff looked back to take a quick inventory of his family and found Maddie and I falling behind.  He quickly spun around and threw me a tow line.  Then as we were continuing on our way we found Jack and Rylie becoming increasingly fearful and so we hooked their kayak on to the back of mine, which calmed Jack down.  As we continued on we could see the sand bar ahead of of us.  Jack kept saying, “Mom, we’re almost there, I can see it!”  With much effort we made it over to the sand bar where we had a time of rest, and exploration.  It wasn’t easy for my husband to pull most of the weight but at that moment it became necessary for our goal to be accomplished and for his family to stay together.

My strong and exhausted Bailie who teamed up with Lillie to cross the water and did an amazing job.  The two of them proved to be a good team.

In each of our families we can have times of quiet waters where we find much delight and joy in the calm but life is a journey and sometimes the turbulent waters that we face can take us by surprise.  They test our character and require much of us.  We may even find ourselves spinning in circles feeling like we are using all our strength just to keep ourselves from being swept away.  We may find ourselves needing a tow line or some one to come along beside us to help treed the current together.  I do know that God never leaves us nor forsakes us and He uses those difficult times to help shape who we are.  I’m grateful that God can give us glimpses of hope during those rough-waters to help us stay on course and keep us going knowing that our goal will be reached.  

Parenting is disciplining.   

It is walking with your child every step and explaining to them over and over and over again even when it seems you are getting no where.  

It takes time.  It takes time. 

 It  takes tow lines and carrying more of the weight.  

It requires of us to take inventory of our families spiritual health.  

It takes changing priorities and shifting around schedules.  

It takes seeking the Lord and asking Him to help give you a vision for your family and then being strong and courageous to head that direction...together {and don't be surprised if He has you going against the current or completely different than the world}. 

It takes perseverance and character which comes from the rough waters that you have previously treed and daily communing with the Lord and His sanctifying word.

Thank you Father for the journey and the many tow lines you have sent my way over the years.  Continue to strengthen us as we disciple our children.  May our testing prove you to be faithful.

"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;  when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.   For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."  Isaiah 43:1-3

Linked up with: Raising HomemakersA Wise Woman Builds her Home,

Monday, November 3, 2014

Vacation Part 2: A Stroll & Creativity

The weekend proved to be a bit chilly for playing on the beach.  It was still beautiful, reaching about 71, so we ventured out for a walk in the mangroves and then found a spot on the beach next to a pier for an afternoon of art.


Maddie's creation.

Sam's creation

Jack's creation.

Jeff's creation.

As I ponder over our day of creating I can't help but think of Lord and His way of creating something beautiful out of us.  Our drawings didn't start out beautiful but over time all those lines came together to make our very own masterpiece.  Sometimes in our own lives the lines just don't make sense and we wonder what is going to become of them but as we wait and trust in the Lord we will eventually see those lines join together to make a more wondrous beauty than we could have ever imagined.  I am so thankful that I worship a God of transformation and I delight in the fact that I am His very own masterpiece. 

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."  Psalm 51:10

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Vacation Part 1: Traveling South

We woke the children up early Saturday morning with a surprise that we are leaving a day early.  We started out around 5:30 am heading South.  We made it to Chattanooga, TN around 2:00 pm where we drove up a mountain and visited Rock City.

 We stayed the night in Chattanooga and then left the next morning heading for Ocala, FL where we met up with our good friend Chuck and his wife Barb.  They graciously and bravely invited us to stay with them and were very hospitable. 

We praise the Lord for the opportunity to behold more of His creation and for the safety He granted to us.