Saturday, April 16, 2016

Are You Faded or Fancy?

I Peter 1:3-4 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in Heaven for you."

Tucked away in my butterfly garden, a unique whimsical birdbath protrudes above the geranium, yet not quite as tall as the cosmos when they are in full maturity. A small pathway leads to the structure, framed by blue lobelia, white alyssium and purple salvia. 

Checking out a local antique store in the next town a few years back with my sister, we spied the base, a chunky, carved-out pedestal, painted in several pastel shades of blues, corals and pinks. Reasonably priced, my sister suggested it would make a great base for a birdbath. Now the hunt was on for a perfect "bowl" to attach. 

Found it! Stuck on top of a high armoir, a "pink" metal bowl, perfect in shape, size, and price, became my new project--an addition to a butterfly garden I started that spring. With a little epoxy and some cleaning up, it soon found its permanent home, outside my sliding glass door as I come down the stairs. I can see it and the blooming garden as I begin my day. 

This winter, as I cleaned up my plants, culled out the dead and prepared the soil for the new, I noticed what poor shape the pedestal had taken on over the months of watering, weather, and sun. Parts of the design and broken off and the color, faded-- a dull grayish...something. There were no defining colors left, just a blackish mold and deteriorating design. 

My whimsical, garden art no longer looked attractive, alive, new, fun, colorful...but dull and lifeless--UNattractive. 

I decided then and there that this unique creation needed a restoration...again. I would pull it out of the garden and begin the make-over soon. 

Over the last two weeks, I purchased a small wire brush, some blue tape and a can of spray stain-covering primer. The bristles removed the black mold, the dust, and smoothed the surface for the primer. Taping off the bowl, I sprayed it down leaving it to dry for a few days. 

Having several cans of paint lying around,  I knew I wanted to use what I had and not invest any more. That's part of the fun. 

This week, I've been working on a new color every afternoon. I didn't have a design in mind, but as I go, I can picture which color I need and where to apply it, complementing the color next to it. I look forward each afternoon to add another layer of paint, seeing it come back to life! Once faded, now becoming transformed, --alive, vibrant--what it is meant to be. The carvings on the pedestal are defined once again. I can't wait to see it shine, probably better then it did originally! 

I think God does that. He sees us in His beautiful Creation--worn, weathered, faded. He comes to us, picks up the broken pieces of our lives and finds the right way to mend us, fix us up. Sometimes, a little scrubbing, maybe some sanding down of our rough spots, our moldy sins, is His sweet discipline preparing us for the next steps. He primers us with grace and we are made white again, pure in His eyes. Then, he begins to make us into something He designed all along, adding the color back, some which we've had stored somewhere...

He restores the luster and redefines our gifts. He leads us to His purpose, placing us in the midst of a garden full of His encouragers and fills us with His Holiness. Others stop to take a drink, be refreshed and linger awhile to hear the stories of old and the hope of the new. 

Are you fading in your faith? Do you need restoration?  Have you let the mold and mildew of the world tarnish your attitude? Do you think your broken pieces can never be mended? 

As Christians, we have an inheritance that is imperishable! We need tender-loving-care from the Lord to keep us new and attractive, fresh and alive, excited and worthy, but that takes an active plan on our part to spend some time with our Maker. Yes, we are born again, but God has an abundance of glory awaiting us in that decision to submit to the Craftman! Let's ask Him to polish up the fading faith of our lives and give us some bright hope from His Word. Fellowship with others helps us see Your purpose again and God will place us at the window of His will, ready to greet the new days of sunshine, as we stand tall in His favor. 

We are never a finished project Lord, until You call us home. How awesome to know that You are continually working and improving me, seeing me as Your unique creation, and allowing me to be used for Your glorious purpose. May my testimony and commitment never fade, but continue to gain strength and brightness as I learn and grow in You. Thank you Lord for seeing me and putting the pieces together, placing me where I can be the best I can be and surrounding me with beauty in the gardens of my life. Make me fancy Lord for Your glory, not mine, for You are a loving God and my cup overflows.  Amen 

‘Glory Window,’ Chapel of Thanksgiving, Dallas, Texas

                                                   JEREMY CAMP : RESTORED

Friday, April 1, 2016

Be My Miracle!

Psalm 77:13-14 (NIV) You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. 

Typing it into Google, "miracle definition," here is what it read: a surprising event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency." 

Here's another: an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause. 2.such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God, a wonder or marvel. 

The world wants to use other words: coincidence, karma, "at the right place at the right time," like somehow "we" had anything to do with the phenomena. While maybe we pray for such things to occur, The Divine Creator has always had the script written and ready to manifest in our lives--His will waiting to be a testament of His glory and power. 

Yesterday, I went with my two close friends and one of their daughters to see the movie, "Miracles From Heaven." It is the true story of a little girl diagnosed with a chronic, potentially life-threatening illness in her intestines called Pseudo-Obstruction. It is a disease not many are familiar with, a disease with complicated medicines and treatments and life-changing, life altering adjustments. Without giving away the storyline, I do highly recommend this film because it explores human/family emotions authentically, dealing with such a chronic disease, faith, desperation, love, friendship and encouragement...hope. 

And then there is this...MIRACLE!

Having suffered through with a chronically sick child  myself, I could relate to many scenes within this movie, tearing up many times, reliving, remembering those same emotions. But what so filled my heart and my thinking while watching this movie, was someone else, a very close friend and another miracle.

My dear friend, diagnosed with this same terrible disease in her early twenties, is a medical wonder. Forty years now passed, her doctors tell her all the time, she is a miracle, the longest living person to have survived--and SURVIVE she does! Linda is a leader in church, a mentor and encourager to others and my writing partner. When I arrived home, the first thing I did was call her and tell her, in my grateful tears, how thankful I am for her, that she IS my miracle friend. Many people are now learning about this terrible malady because of this movie, hopefully, many will be reminded that God is STILL in the miracle business.  

After the movie, I went to the nursery to purchase a hydrangea, a bush I had been looking for, for a few weeks now. In the movie, one was featured and it reminded me and inspired me to go look one more time. I did find one, planting it today next to my white rose of remembrance, to remind me--to honor the miracles in my life and others. 

My son was not cured from his chronic illness. Linda does not have a cure, but ways to deal with and manage her disease. We learn to cope because we have THE Hope, the miracle of Easter, the Resurrection which opens up the sky for a relationship with God, the Miracle Inventor. 

Miracles from God are intimate, personal and supernatural. I believe I received three this past Valentine's Day, many of you I have shared this with. One friend I saw the movie with, burst into my living room, to share a miracle she received today; so random and yet so precise, "I Love you and I am working things out for you," --God, written all over this revelation. Praying earnestly for her son's frustration, dilemma and demeanor, he received a miracle answer, one he readily shared with her, knowing it came from above, a supernatural source, prompting him to a sincere thanksgiving spirit and drawing him closer, lifting his spirits. Thank you Lord!  

A co-worker couldn't wait to share this with me on the last day of school before break. She had injured her foot a few months back and was still wearing a protective sock around her bandages. She purchased some new socks and that morning had opened the packaging, with the socks inside. Her birthday looming in a few days, she was a little melancholy, as she is widowed and recently lost a close cousin. She put her sock on over her wrapped foot and felt something scratching her, something inside that shouldn't be there. Taking the sock back off and turning them inside out, "Happy Birthday" metallic confetti, several pieces, fell into her lap. She pulled it out of her pockets to show me when she got to school. How does a message of "Happy Birthday" show up in a sealed package of socks? God orchestrated a miracle for her to receive it on that day, at that hour. 

As a believer, God knew her heart and what she needed.  

Linda, though not cured, has survived to serve others and be my miracle friend, to love the Lord and encourage others to tell their story. She will be the first to tell you, her life has not been easy, but she will also tell you her life is a miracle because of God's strength. 

Butterflies come from the trees in my darkest days of grief to surround me and minister to me in such personal God-whispering-love ways that continue to fill me with hope. 

God is still in the miracle business. I could (and maybe should) write about all the miracles that happen just within my circle of faithful friends. Pray believing He has one for you too because He does! Stand at your doorway and look, and be prepared to receive it. Sometimes the miracle is just that, recognizing the Love He has for us and settling down to allow Him to make us into His miracles. Be still and Know that I Am God. Be Still and Be My Miracle!  

Thank you Lord for Miracles from Heaven, butterflies, friendships, socks with confetti, messages that make sense to only us but causes us to see You, for the miracle of Hope and Light in the depravity and hopelessness that surrounds us. Help us to be a miracle in the life of others, to bring your miraculous Love to view in a faith inexplicable by the world, but proven by the evidence Your Holy Spirit leaves in our daily walk with You. I am grateful for the miracles I see and feel everyday. I am grateful to be a miracle, forgiven and filled with hope. Amen.  

Enjoy Third Day, "I Need A Miracle"