Cosmos

Summer’s bright splash of color
Swaying in greeting to wind’s light touch
Quiet conductors with raised wands

Now trills the songbirds’ joy
In harmony with busy buzzing
Neighbor greeting neighbor and
Workers moving in steady contentment

They lead an attentive orchestra
Turning to hear their voices and
Lifting faces to welcome soft touch

So, we move to quiet beat
Giving thanks for day’s harmony
For splashes of color and gentle touches
Work well done and songs well sung

Vistas

Looking out upon such vistas
Endless vault of sky above
Sunshine’s glow and feathery clouds
Or stormy and heavy laden with rain
Night’s darkness broken by heaven’s shine

The earth spreads ever before us
Rolling hills and shaded byways
Surging seas and sandy beaches
And the packed mass of humanity
Rushing past upon busy highways

Light’s beacon beckons life
Sometimes elusive and sometimes bold
Calls us and draws us to security
To calm and quiet our anxious thoughts
Come closer breathe deeply

God’s arms to enfold us.
He weeps. He laughs.
He comforts. He strengthens.
We look upon eternal vistas
And give Him thanks and praise.

Beginnings

“Yaaay!!!” I joined the mob of other kids streaming from the school. Faces were excited and energy was high. The beginning of summer vacation was a long-awaited event! Thoughts of free time, lazy mornings, and summer events filled our minds. Visits to relatives, camping trips, fresh garden food, and (for me) frequent travel to the local libraries to keep my summer reading stack replenished were welcome plans. I still look forward to the warm weather and the change of pace that this season brings. Each season in life is a time of new beginnings.

The Bible is full of stories of beginnings. Some of them were very hard and others were most welcome. What do I do with my beginnings? Times change and events impact our lives, with my family (births, farewells, deaths) … in my work (saying good-bye to a child I have worked with and their family) … my church (as I move from one area of service or commitment to another) … and in the changing responsibilities and seasons throughout the year. Endings mark beginnings.

What thoughts do you have about your own beginnings? As in the excitement of summer, resolve to enter with a positive attitude and assurance of God’s presence and guidance for whatever may come. Whether our beginnings are marked with anticipation or with anxiety, we can take courage.

Ecclesiastes chapter three begins with acknowledgement that “for everything there is a season,” times for beginnings and endings… and new beginnings, and so life goes on. The writer continues with,

What gain have the workers from their toil?
I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with.
He has made everything suitable for its time.
Moreover, he has put a sense of past and future into their minds…
I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy
and enjoy themselves as long as they live.
Moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.” *

As we move with intent in our work and in our rest, I hope that we can look with anticipation and interest. My prayers are that we will take comfort, even excitement, and be strengthened as we face new beginning through our more challenging times. May we remember and know afresh God’s presence with us. As we come to Him in prayer and give thanks for His gifts each day, may we be blessed through our beginnings.

*Ecclesiastes 3:1, 9-12

Forecast

Clear today and not a cloud,
The sun is warm, and body relaxed.
When life is good, I walk about,
And pause to give my thanks.

Sometimes the fog descends on me.
It’s hard to see ahead.
Gloomy thoughts blot out the sun,
And anxiety hovers near!

The wind will often tear and break.
It throws us for a loop!
What’s down is up; all now is snarled,
And chaos strives to reign.

When frigid times do freeze my brain
I find I cannot think at all.
Pain or stress, or simply choices,
Cause me to become immobile!

Heatwaves come and sunrays fry.
No relief in sight amid the drought,
But seeking hope when growing parched.
Where is water to be found?

Clearing air, shows me the way.
Cool soft breezes, touched by friends.
Calming care, to lift and sooth.
Helping hands, to offer aid.

Nurture

“Wow! Look at that! … and there’s another one!” We smiled as we checked out the growing produce from our summer garden. Careful planting, tending, and watering was producing bountiful crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, corn, squash, and much more. A lot of work had gone into the garden and there was much satisfaction and hope for plentiful provision, both for us and to share with others.

Whether tending a garden, caring for others, or looking after our pets or other animals, nurturing is a part of our daily life. When offered in love and compassion, it is an expression and reflection of our Creator, God. A helping hand or an encouraging word can gladden a heart and bring a smile when exhaustion or stress threatens to overwhelm and reaping benefits of hard work and dedication is rewarding.

God nurtures us, both physically and spiritually. I like this passage from the book of Psalms which expresses thanks to God. Think about it in terms of God’s care in our life as well:

You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it. The river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty. Your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow. The hills gird themselves with joy. The meadows clothe themselves with flocks. The valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy. Psalm 65:9-13

Comforting an upset child. Cuddling a pet. Feeding a hungry family. Sitting with a loved one. Protecting those in our care. Being present to support or to share in sorrow. The many small or large acts that we encounter daily offer opportunities.

As we nurture and are nurtured, we can… Pray for those in our care. Rejoice in provision and growth. Rest in God in times of sorrow and drought. Offer thanks and gratitude for His sustaining presence through all things. Acknowledge God’s provision and thank those He brings to us, as we care for each other.

God bless and sustain you through each day. Be encouraged.

Sacrifice

Giving selflessly is not always convenient.
When done in love, this is no loss!

Offered in laughter, pain, or sweat,
The greatest sacrifice is self.

Look then at our world around us,
At those who give in sacrifice,

Parent’s heart or family’s bond
Friendships dear or stranger’s face.

Giving brings the greatest gains,
Healing, helping, lifting spirits.

True sacrifice… It takes more effort
And it comes from deep within.

Love’s celebration. Glad thanksgiving
Greatest sacrifice … Savior’s touch

Majesty, Power, and New Life

Majesty.” That’s not a word that we use often is it? When we do, it is usually associated with some chosen leader or self-imposed ruler and the power they represent. We may use this word too, when describing spectacular scenes and acts of nature.

I am thinking today of the majesty of life itself, the awesome and most wonderful spark which cannot be duplicated by humankind and which is expressed in living things. “And it was good… And it was very good!” the book of Genesis proclaims.

We celebrate new life in the birth of children to family and friends… We treasure the life of our animal companions… And we depend on the life which rises from the soil and provides us with our daily food. There is majesty in the love of God. There is freedom in the discovery of God’s power and presence.

The writer of Chronicles expresses God’s majesty so well in David’s prayer:
10 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours… You are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. *1 Chronicles 29:10-13

How often do I set aside my anxieties to simply sit in God’s presence? When do I release all my expectations and desires to His care? Do I offer up thanksgiving when things seem to be falling apart, when illness or economic stressors loom large? What about those times when I just feel so alone or abandoned? … These are all things which grow large in our eyes, hearts, and mind!

Yet, there’s God. Just God. He sits in His holiness and draws us to shelter on His lap, as a parent holds their child. He comforts us, protects us, and loves us anyway. He is this and more. I am so thankful for Him! This is my prayer. That we will allow God to draw us to His majesty each day. May we experience his mighty power, be comforted, and raise our heart in thanksgiving. May we take that spirit of God’s majesty with us, reminders to be thankful and to fill ourselves with His wonder.

Gratitude

thank you_edited

“Say thank you,” Momma reminded us. Whether it was home-baked cookies, a special gift, or a compliment, the importance of expressing our gratitude was a lesson learned early. Family gatherings and meals were opportunities to be polite as we enjoyed each other’s company: “Would you like some more?” … “Yes, thank you!”

When ten lepers were healed after encountering Jesus, only one returned to him to give God thanks. The fact that this man was also a despised Samaritan, one of mixed Jewish race, was even more amazing… or perhaps it was more understandable. This man knew what it felt like to be rejected on an even deeper level. 

Thanks is also spoken in anticipation of what is yet to be received. When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish to feed the large crowd which had gathered, he offered thanks before the miracle occurred and the food was provided. He trusted that God would supply what was needed. Before Lazarus was raised from the dead, Jesus prayed and gave thanks, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.”

There is something about the expression of gratitude that brings happiness and encouragement to everyone. It is more than a simple thank you, hug, or smile. Gratitude is a recognition of goodness and caring. It acknowledges the act of giving, which says, “You matter!”

How God must love to receive our thanks to Him… that same recognition of His goodness and care and that we His children matter to Him! The ten men were still covered with leprosy, yet they turned to show themselves to the priests, anticipating their healing which had not yet occurred. Isn’t that amazing?! It is so hard to thank God when we are in the middle of our own struggles or grief. How can I thank God in times when my world seems to be falling apart?! Yet, like the lepers, we can confidently go forward… Isn’t it also difficult at times to give thanks to God when we are full and satisfied, when life is restored and good, and to recognize or acknowledge His provision?

Gratitude. How will we express it …and how will we experience it in both the receiving and the giving?

*Luke 17:11-19, John 6:11, John 11:41