Thursday, November 17, 2011

What is Your Perspective?

I posted this last November 8 on my Wind and Honey blog.  It has been on my mind a lot the last few days so I'm reposting it here.

I've come to the conclusion that our outlook on life can be determined by how we look at a tree - or maybe how we don't look.  Have you stopped to look around at the trees and the changing colors?  Have you taken a moment to notice them?  Because they will only be there for just about that moment.  Soon all the leaves will be on the ground and the beauty will have changed.

The tree above is outside of my studio, and this is how most people would see it.  But if you look more closely you will see it something like this.

But I am convinced that the only way to truly appreciate a tree, the only way to truly experience it is to see it like a child.  So first one has to lie down under the trees in the grass.  One has to experience the crunch of the already fallen leaves on the grass.  

And then the magical moment is when you turn your face up and look straight up into the tree thus getting the perspective of a child.  I'm convinced that trees truly love children and children love trees. The love affair that goes on between them gets lost somewhere in those teen years.  So I dare you today to go outside and find one tree to look at with the perspective of a child.  It just might change your day.

Isaiah 55:12
"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Faith So Real You Can Touch It

On Thursday a dear friend of mine will be laid to rest.  But in reality, she's been walking with her Jesus ("My Jesus", as she lovingly referred to Him) for a few days now.  On Monday, Jan Storms graduated from this earthly stage of life.  She moved to the promised peace and joy of truly being in the presence of her Heavenly Father.  Oh the glories and wonders that she is seeing!

Jan's time on this earth was a physical challenge, to be sure.  She battled cancer multiple times.  She was always determined and very strong willed about it.  And time after time, she won.

I have known few people with as tangible of a faith as Jan had.  Perhaps her battles had taught her that.  We can learn from her example.  Jan loved her family and they were the passion of her life.  Her four children and her husband Bruce were in her thoughts at all times.

My parsonage kitchen is being remodeled right now.  I can hear them banging and clanging as I type.  That was Jan's project and plan from the very beginning.  It was a bittersweet moment when they arrived to begin the project just a few hours after Jan's departure.

Jan has been greatly loved, respected, and admired and she will be greatly missed time and again.  But I hope that just for one moment in our grief that we can stop to celebrate with her, to realize that someone we have loved is actually at this very moment in the presence of our Lord.  What an amazing thing.  I think she would want us to do that.

A few months ago, I shared this song with Jan - "Bring the Rain" by MercyMe.  A friend had shared it with me and I immediately thought of Jan.  Those of you that have known her will understand why right away.  She told me she loved the song and that it was how she felt.  And, of course, I already knew that.  Her love for the Lord and her surrender to His Lordship in her life in all areas was obvious. 


"Bring me joy, bring me peace, bring the chance to be free, bring me anything that brings You glory.  And I know there'll be days when this life brings me pain but if that's what it takes to praise you, Jesus, bring the rain."

Thursday, October 20, 2011


One of the songs that plays here on Treasured Sparrow blog is "Blessings" by Laura Story.  Laura's husband has spent the last 5 years in treatments for a brain tumor.  She wrote this song in response to a new perspective they are discovering as they walk this road together.  In an interview, Laura said, "There is a blessedness that comes through waiting on the Lord."  And in fact, Isaiah 30 says, "Blessed are those that wait on the Lord."  

Here are the lyrics.  

BLESSINGS By Laura Story

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things
'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?
What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?
We pray for wisdom, your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?
What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home
'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?
What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dignity, Its on the Third Shelf on the Right

Today in church the Poet quoted studies that claim the average person complains 53 hours out of each year!   FIFTY THREE HOURS!!!   Wow!  That caught my attention.  And truth be told, being a bit of an over achiever in this area, I'm probably above average on this accomplishment.  What a complete waste. 

That eye opening information goes well with what I've been reading - I Second That Emotion by Patsy Clairmont.  Patsy is one of my favorite people.  She has such lively wit and just when she has me chuckling she comes in with a profound thought to cause me to pause and think a deeper thought. I Second That Emotion comes with a DVD that is made up of a collection of snippets from Patsy's presentations over the years.  Each one helps to make the point presented in the study guide at the back.  

I've been moving along pretty quickly until I read chapter 6.  This chapter is about Abigail.  Abigail was a woman of Old Testament times.  Abigail is described as being intelligent and beautiful.  I love that scripture lists that she was intelligent first.  And Abigail was married to Nabal.  I'm pretty sure if you looked the word Jerk up in Webster, you'd find Nabal's name listed there.  Choosing to marry Nabal might have been Abigail's most unintelligent decision.  Of course, in those times, she may have not had a choice.  You can read Abigail's story in 1 Samuel 25:2 - 42.  Patsy makes note of the fact that Abigail was ready for the unexpected.  Her pantry was stocked and her character was equipped for the unexpected.  

There is so much more in the book and you would be blessed by reading it.  But here is my condensed version of what Patsy lists as the much desired traits Abigail held.

Dignity - Dignity can manifest itself in many ways.  In this context it reveals itself in the action of following one's own calling.

Discernment - Learning from our mistakes and from watching the example of godly people .... perhaps lowering that 53 hours to 26 for next year.

Intelligence - There are many ways to show intelligence.  Patsy highlights the intelligence to apply God's Word to our actions and our spoken words.

Self-Control - Choosing balance in all areas of our lives.  This is a big one for me.  How many times over the years have I heard the Lord whisper to me Balance, Elizabeth, Balance.  

Preparedness - The most effective way to be prepared for anything is with the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.  

Fortitude - The prerequisite to fortitude is a decision to be faithful to our God and to our faith no matter what comes our way.  

Patience - Patsy refers to the quietness of waiting on God, His wisdom and His timing.

Humility - Patsy says, "this is the inner strength to serve with grace."

Rather than hurry on to the next chapter, I think I'll spend a little time with Abigail, reading her story and researching a bit.  I think she has something to offer me.

Patsy says, "It is a choice to rejoice."
Today I am choosing to rejoice rather than complain.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Oh To Be Carried

Early in the morning of September 20th, Bob Johnson slipped away to the promised presence of the One that had brought him new life many years before.  Bob was the father of the Poet I have lived with for 30 plus years.  And he has been like a father to this fatherless girl.  I have heard many times the story of the night so long ago when the darkness in Bob's life had grown so large that it was suffocating him and he sought to bring all to an end.  In the process, Bob found instead redemption.  His life and that of his family would be forever changed.  Oh how he loved to tell that story.  

Bob and Verla were married just a few months shy of 60 years.  They were utterly committed to each other and so very in love.  How fitting that his last words to her on Monday night were "I love you."

We walked through last week first facing the shock of the unexpected event, then making funeral arrangements including the fact that his son, my husband, would be doing the funeral service, and then those challenging hours of saying a formal goodbye.  I found myself strangely silent in my attempts at prayer but found solace in the fact that I was seeking and did feel God's presence even if not in the form of words.  
I looked around and saw Verla's heart aching at the thought of never sharing morning coffee with the love of her life.  I saw a poet son who had never known such ache in his sensitive and gentle heart.  I saw a daughter/granddaughter all grown up but feeling much like a lost little girl.  And I saw a son/grandson who grieved over the loss of the grandfather who truly understood him.  And there were others all with shattered hearts held carefully in their hands. What does one do with such abundance of sadness?  I'm a fixer.  I wanted, I needed to fix it.  And yet, there was no fix. 

I found exhaustion waiting for me when we arrived home last weekend.  Sleep did not bring rest and days did not bring accomplishments.  Tonight the Poet observed, "Well, you always take on everybody else's pain."  Ooooh Yeah.  I forget to remember to be aware of that.  

I was called to be present, to encourage. The discovery that I have again taken fixing on as a profession brings with it the need for prayer and confession.  I am reminded that the only way I was called to carry others is to bring them in word to the throne of grace. True carrying can only be done by the One whose arms were big enough, wide enough, strong enough to carry the whole world.  How could I think I could gather them all up in a basket like scattered laundry?  How could I imagine to be a fixer when I am myself in need of being carried?     

Comfort can be felt.  Hope can be known.  Strength can be realized as I allow those wide as a cross arms to carry both me and those I love.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Light of Your Face

We all have a tendency to fill our days, our weeks with stuff.  We are a stuff filled culture.  Whether it is items purchased from a store or the scratchings on our calendar, or the overflow on our plates, we usually opt for more.  Sometimes abundance is good and sometimes its, well, too much.

I have been dealing with abundance on my calendar lately.  My business is moving in some new directions.  These are good directions that I believe are God directed.  But my problem is the overflow in my head. I drag around with me unresolved piles of previous adventures, unsorted boxes of former ideas, and unchecked items on calendar days already passed.  The burden of trying to carry all the excess of the former along with the present creates a weight that soon demands so much attention that my focus becomes skewed and the result is to be overwhelmed.

"Overwhelmed!?", I cry out to God.  "You promised that Your yoke would be easy.  You promised to help us, to give us strength.  What's the deal with this?"  And then the answer comes, as it always does if we look for it, in the Scriptures.  This week I am working on memorizing Psalm 25:4,5.  Now, I have to tell you that memorizing scripture was not easy for me when I was young and had a pliable brain.  Now that I'm past my prime, its a task not taken on lightly!  Who knows how long it will take me to permanently plant these verses into my head.  But I'm determined!  "Show me Your ways, oh Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are my God, my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long."  This has been my prayer, that God would show me His ways as I stumble my way through boxes of former days and packages just arriving of the future.

So, with that prayer on my heart, I was delighted today when I found this verse which reiterates my request, "Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell."  Psalm 43:3  This verse led me to pray all the more for God to show me His truth for my tasks and abundantly filled days.  And, as if in answer to that request, I read on and found these words studded with jewels.  "It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your face, for You loved them."  Psalm 44:3

How cool is that?!  We don't have to figure all this out by ourselves.  We don't have to do it all by our own strength.  Not only will God help us with His mighty right arm, but He will bless us, no overwhelm us, with the light of His gracious loving holy face.  Why?  Because He loves us!