DIAMONDS IN WINTER

“ALLOW GOD TO USE THE DIFFICULTIES AND DISAPPOINTMENTS IN LIFE AS POLISH TO TRANSFORM YOUR FAITH INTO A GLISTENING DIAMOND THAT TAKES IN AND REFLECTS HIS LOVE.”

ELIZABETH GEORGE

Rays of sunlight turned the icicles hanging from a tree into a sparkling jewel against the creek’s green froth. The frozen tree tips had turned an average outing into an illustration of God’s steps to make me sparkle. Hadn’t I asked him enough times to make me a shining example of his love?

The fanciful sight may have been hidden to me had I not been picking my way through the icy side of the waterway as I walked our golden/rottie mix on a break from being indoors that day.

The slush covered dirt pathway made it tricky to traverse the narrow path of the Monocacy Trail.

But, warmer temps and blue skies were too much of a draw for me to venture out with our housebound pet. Had I not stopped to look more closely at the natural wonder, I would have missed out on the pristine picture right by my side.

Winter Seasons are times when we see little movement in our heart’s desires or our unanswered prayers. They can be times of great temptation to be discouraged, depressed or lethargic in doing what we know is right.

Some of the questions I have asked during my winter time are “where are you God?” “What did I do wrong?” and “Please make it stop.”

The last statement may sound exaggerated, but, as I’ve been in that time of seeing little fruit for the hard work of my labor, it has not been fun.

So, these clear crystals hung swaying just above the turbulent white ripples of the high waters in our creek. These nature’s gems stood out to me in the size of the orbs first of all. They must have been hanging out there for some time forming layer after layer of water build-up to produce the golfball sized orbs.

And, then when the wind caught them in a spinning dance, how the light sparkled off of them. They appeared to be diamonds.

The illustration reminds me that even when the landscape of my life seems to bear no fruit or, the work of my hands appear to be for nothing. All of the hardship I’ve experienced during this time like the turbulent waters, freezing winds and harsh elements are actually forming a cluster of treasures. I only needed to open my eyes to see.

GOD'S FAITHFULNESS

My husband and I walked the trails at Jacobsburg Park last Sunday. As we hiked through the beautiful wooded paths, my mind went to the years of bringing our little ones there.

The tree lined route wound closely by the sparkling Bushkill creek swollen from the recent rains. We brought our Golden Retriever Rottweiler mix, Layla, with us and enjoyed a break from the typical August heat.

As usual, I had my iPhone out taking pictures as I soaked in the loveliness of the place while my hubby patiently watched nearby. He's a patient guy.

One particular shot ~ a man-made pile of stones sitting in the middle of the creek sparked my interest. And, I haven't been able to get rid of the image from my mind since.

I tried to "spin" this blog post with a title like "3 WAYS TO SPOT THE HIDDEN TREASURES IN YOUR LIFE" or something like that. But, I could not ignore the niggling thought of how we have seen God's loving faithfulness through 36 years. And, how very blessed we are as a result. 

Isn't that why we are here after all?

Just as the rocks and the trees and blue sky can't help to attest to God's faithfulness neither can I. 

Reminds me of one of my favorite songs which I'm listening to at this moment. Interesting, huh?

It's called 'So Will I (100 Billion X)' by Hillsong. If you get a chance to listen I highly recommend it. 

"If everything exists to lift you high, so will I. If the rocks cry out in silence so will I. I will sing again 100 Billion times....God of salvation chase down my heart through all of my failures and pride... And as you speak a hundred billion failures disappear. For you left your life so I could find it here. If you left the grave behind you, so will I."

The pile of stones, a memorial to his goodness. A place to stop and remember all he has done for me. To praise him for his mercy and his faithfulness to me. I can't let this be left unsaid. Unwritten. Unspoken. 

I have to share the testimonies of why I am here. And, that is why I write. Whether you agree with me or not. That is why I am here. And, why I write. 

If you have a God story to share and have never published it, I'd love to hear it. Post it in the comments below, I know it will encourage another person who needs to read it. Or if you want to share an encouragement, I'd love that too. 

Be blessed!

 

NEW WHEELS OR A HAMSTER WHEEL?

Isn’t it a panicky time when you are transitioning into a new phase of life?

Due to a shift of responsibilities I've been driving more now than I have in the last thirty years. As a result, we've been car shopping for a vehicle to replace the automobile I've used for the last ten years. 

I don’t care if it’s that scary woman teacher in kindergarten who had a mustache and made you sit down with your head on the table. Or, the training you need to undertake on the new job, or that first apartment you rent when you leave your parents house. It's hard to take a leap of faith. 

Life is a compartmented hamster wheel that once you climb to the top there is an inevitable fall to the bottom and then back to the climb.

Our college age daughter just returned from a successful freshman year full of the anxieties of contemporary environments. Learning advanced life skills with interpersonal relationships, untapped subjects in biblical study, technology in her field and her first article being published.

It’s all so exciting!

On occasion the endless circle does come to a screeching halt. When you think you’ve reached the place where you can attain the goal at the pinnacle instead you’re sliding down the back side of the wheel and somehow end up on the sawdust littered floor. We all experience it. 

I’m not sure why my metaphor is so base. Except sometimes that downward fall can knock the stuffing out of you or the wind out of your sails. Cliche upon cliche piles up on the hard work you thought would yield a successful outcome. Where is the pay off?

There is so much more to learn. No more apparent then when you think you’ve seen it all, lived through it all…the unexpected morphs into a different challenge you never saw coming.

The “place” of finally -I’ve- arrived becomes broken dreams. The breather just ahead becomes push harder and longer than you ever expected. The normal response is to wonder if you ever got it right before? 

Awkward self doubt is revisited from early on as puberty but one look in the mirror reminds you that those days are long gone.

What do you do?

You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start over. 

Because surprisingly, life is full of wonders and delights you can’t see while you wait on the hard bottom. Eventually, the air fills your lungs again, strength returns, maybe not like it used to, but something like the first breath when you cross the bay bridge down the shore. Salty, brine tinged cool air helps you recollect  warm sand between your toes, long lazy playtimes in the waves. Or, cool starlit nights reminiscing of other crystal skies in the mountains after a day of skiing, hot cocoa and friends laughter. Times that draw you closer to the mysterious person who set all of this in place for you. 

Souvenirs to relay that this is still a wonderful world. Life is beautiful and God is good. It will get better. I promise. 

So enjoy the ride!

HIS LAVISH LOVE

Even the strongest among us slip up once in awhile.

We assume life will go on as usual in an unconscious attempt to control the universe around us.

Then the unthinkable happens and our crown slips. Just a little. The bills are paid, somehow. Our child gets over the flu, hopefully. Work issues are resolved, eventually. And then, we move on to the next best thing.

Everything is 'doable' at some point. We face the shadows of the valley of death and lose our loved ones. Prayerfully, we hope to see them again on the other side of the veil. 

Our faith can weaken after hits from life's trials. Or, as love would have it, our faith grows strong. 

That is the ultimate in the purpose of our time on this earth. 

We can cover up painful feelings of abandonment, loneliness, or feeling out of control. But, our father is always there. 

Whatever you are dealing with right now~ maybe you are even thinking ... "where are you God?" "Have you forgotten me?" "What possible good could come out of the fiery trial I'm in?"

I guarantee these questions are inevitable. They are also valuable and even necessary to face. 

And, it's not a symptom of weakness to bring your deepest doubts and heaviest sorrows to him. He is rather waiting for you to bring them to him. 

How do I know? Because he tells me so. "Come to me..." "Cast your cares..." "I love you." 

So when all you do is like spinning the wheels on a hamster wheel and your hopes are running dry. Know that this is the time to pour out your soul to the soul keeper. YOUR soul keeper. He will listen, he will answer, he will attend to your wounds. And wash away your weariness. Rest your head on his shoulder for he knows your deepest desires. 

Then straighten your crown, pull back your shoulders and keep going. You've got this! 

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