Monday, May 30, 2011

remembering his sacrifice

I'm overwhelmed and deeply thankful for the ultimate sacrifice so many have made for our freedom.  

Today we remember SA David Wieger and his family.  Dave was killed in Balad, Iraq on 1 November 2007. 
He will not be forgotten.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

the LORD is my Shepherd

Sometimes I struggle with discerning what I should share here and what lessons are meant just for me.  While studying the names of God in Kay Arthur's LORD, I Want to Know You, I was really blessed by the chapter defining Jehovah-raah, the Lord is my Shepherd.  In the days to follow my reading, references to sheep/shepherd/Psalm 23 came popping up all over.  In a friend's blog post, children's storybook, facebook post request, movie trailers, TV shows...  I knew at the very least, God wanted me to chew on this particular name of his and perhaps share it with others.  The words still don't seem to be coming clearly but maybe by the time the kids wake up from their nap this post will accomplish some good for his purpose.  Here we go...
Psalm 23 was the first scripture I remember memorizing as a kid.  In the King James Version no less.  Not unlike the Lord's Prayer, sometimes you can get stuck on reciting the words from memory and not actually hearing the truth that is coming out of your own mouth.

What does it mean to be a sheep?  God calls us his sheep time and time again in the Bible.  Can I really know and appreciate Him as my Shepherd if I don't understand what it means to be a sheep?  Kay Arthur does a good job of explaining it.  In her devotional book Beloved: From God's Heart to Yours (which I did not read but she references) she wrote:

"If sheep do not have the constant care of a shepherd, they will go the wrong way, unaware of the dangers at hand.  They have been known to nibble themselves right off a mountainside.  They will overgraze the same land and run out of food unless the shepherd leads them to new pastures.  If they are not led to proper pastures, they will obliviously eat or drink things that are disastrous to them.  Sheep easily fall prey to predators, and when they do, they are virtually defenseless.  Sheep can also become cast down and, in that state, panic and die.  And so, because sheep are sheep, they need shepherds to care for them."

Yep.  I'm a sheep.  In a world that explains our existence as survival-of-the-fittest there still continues an animal so dumb that it has no means of self-defense and is almost completely unaware of its own needs.  It is actually quite heart breaking to think of the many people who "nibbled themselves right off a mountainside" because they didn't know the LORD as their Shepherd.  They got knocked down by the world and panicked.  But those sheep who know a loving shepherd have complete confidence in who He is.  They don't have to think about where their next meal will come from or if enemies lie around the next bend.  They are physically ill-equipped to meet their own needs.  They rely solely on their shepherd.

If we are sheep, why do we fail to trust our shepherd?  He tries to lead us to greener pastures and we insist on staying in our comfort zone even if we have eaten up all the grass around us.  He tells us to rest and enjoy peace and yet we fear the trials and unknowns and bad-guys at the edge of the field.

I want to share a few more sheep-facts before posting Psalm 23.  In LORD, I Want to Know You, Kay Arthur references a book by Phillip Keller called A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 (I know.  I don't want to completely plagiarize though.  Stay with me here).  Keller "tells us it's impossible for sheep to lie down unless four things are true first".  They must be free from:
1) hunger-
  * "They can not lie down as long as they feel a need for finding food".  Think physical needs.
2) fear-
  * "Sheep are helpless, timid animals...they are easily frightened".  Think fear of what could happen.
3) friction-
  * "Tension with others...keeps them on their feet; they feel they must defend themselves".  Think strained relationships.
4) pests-
  * Sheep can be greatly aggravated and driven to distraction by flies, parasites, or other pests which would seek to torment them?"  Think negative influences.

Our Good Shepherd meets all of these needs for us.  We can lie down in peace (free from hunger, fear, friction, and pests) and able to trust our LORD because of it.

Kay Arthur shares several great verses (many you have heard) for each point as it applies to us.  Because the LORD is my Shepherd, my needs are met and my fears are calmed.  I can rest in that.  My relationship with him is able to grow because tension with others is limited and I am not distracted by the pests of this world.  When I submit to his will (die to self), he does all that for me.  He knows.  Thank you Jesus for being my Shepherd.

At running the risk of grossing someone out, I wanted to share another excerpt from LORD, I Want to Know You.  She describes in detail how the shepherd is proactive at protecting his sheep from pests.  Enjoy!

"Sheep can suffer greatly because of the nose fly.  This is a fly that seeks to deposit its eggs on the mucus membrane of the sheep's nose.  There the eggs hatch into small wormlike larvae that eventually work their way up the nose into the sheep's head.  As these larvae burrow into the sheep's flesh, they cause a tremendous irritation, which in turn causes the sheep to thrash and beat its head against anything it can find.  A sheep can become so driven to distraction by the irritation that it will actually kill itself in a desperate attempt to get rid of the source of aggravation. 

"As I (still Kay speaking here) learned this truth, I could not help but think of how men and women can be tormented by thoughts that burrow their way into their flesh.  The eggs of torment are laid by the enemy and hatch into repulsive, destructive worms that work their way into their heads.  Thoughts of fear, rejection, bitterness, hatred, failure, incompetency, sensuality, and greed plague God's sheep, tormenting them, even driving some to suicide. 

"But is this to be the fate of God's sheep?  No!  Just as there is an oil the shepherd can prepare to protect the sheep from nose flies and their destructive work, so our Shepherd has a way to keep His sheep from such torment.  As the psalmist says, "Thou anointest my head with oil" (Psalm 23:5)."

WOW!  It is me again.  Wasn't that good!?  I'm not sure what else I can add to that.      

With this new perspective on sheep, let's read Psalm 23 in the New Living Translation.

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord

We don't have to "feel hunger" because he leads us to greener pastures.  We can rest by the stream because our needs are met.  We can sit in the presence of our enemies (a wolf could be within sight) and still not be afraid even though we are defenseless.  Our Shepherd has a rod to fight off any predators for us.  The staff is gently used to direct us onto the right path.  Such comfort in knowing he is protecting us always.  And just when we feel completely loved, adored, and cared for, God honors us by anointing our heads with oil.  He fills us with overwhelming gifts and shields our minds from toxic influences.


Thank you LORD for being my Shepherd.  Help me to trust you.  To trust you IN EVERYTHING, WITH EVERYTHING!  For without you, I am nothing!

Monday, May 23, 2011


Here's for creating some accountability.  A post to come soon-ish.  I like to keep you all in suspense. ;)  You might have to wait for some inspiration though.  The thoughts are there, but the words are slow to arrive...

mud on the path

 What does the path you are walking down look like?
 Do you fix your eyes on the dark patches?

Or do you focus on the beams of light that illuminate the step just before you?

 Do you see a "mud puddle" in your future?

 One so big that no matter how hard you try it can't be avoided?  One that you must walk through.

When you started down this path you didn't think you would get muddy.  In fact, you expected not to.

Do not be afraid.  You are not alone.

 For the God that made the path you are walking down... 

with all the dark and light patches...

also made the mud.

He WILL carry you through.

For this is the path you are walking down together.

sandy spring streets

The streets in our neighborhood still show evidence of the snow covered winter that once was.  As if to say, don't forget what you have lived through.  Sand that was used to deice slick pavement is still streaked along the side of the roads juxtaposing the lush green grass that stops at the curb edge.  
In some cases we are not meant to forget the difficult seasons behind us.  The harsh winters the Lord carried us through.  For it is in the remembering that we can can truly appreciate the budding growth of spring.

Friday, May 20, 2011

milk bubbles

Oh the joy of blowing bubbles in your milk!  Bundle Brother has really been having fun with this new skill lately.  It isn't that cute at the dinner table, but I didn't mind as much while we were out walking the dog the other day.

The laughter grew as the bubbles grew.

The bubbles grew so much that they came bursting through the top unable to stay contained beneath the lid.

The more air that went into the cup the more milk bubbles came out.

Then a funny thing happened after he stopped blowing bubbles (when there was no more milk to blow).

The bubbles stayed in the empty cup for awhile.

By the time we got back home however, they had all disappeared to reveal an empty cup.

It didn't matter how hard Bundle Boy blew into the cup now.  There was no more milk left to enjoy.

Are you filling "your cup" daily by reading God's Word?  Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to "blow life" into you so that you may experience his joy to the point of overflowing?  Or are you relying on your past knowledge or relationship with the Lord?  Your cup might be hanging on to the bubbles for awhile, but eventually there will be no. more. left.  And until you fill your cup with milk again, it will remain empty.

The does a body good!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

the life of a dandelion

I should have written this post a month ago when it was on my mind constantly but life sort of got in the way.  Perhaps next year when the dandelions are in full bloom where you live it will remind you of this post in His perfect timing.

The dandelions were growing everywhere in our neighborhood recently.  Since we have a big dog that requires regular exercise, we spend time outside daily exploring nature and admiring all the things God has created.  We have enjoyed watching the seasons come through the nearby woods that the walking path takes us through.  After a winter of naked trees and dull colors, the forest has come to life.  Bright greens and thick growth abounds.

With spring came the presence of dandelions.  I remember picking the blooming yellow flowers for my Mom as a kid proud that I had discovered such a treasure from the center of our yard.  It wasn't until later that I learned they were in fact weeds.

During our walks this Spring I noticed many dandelions in different stages of growth.  Some were bright circles hugging close to the ground.  Then there were others that were taller reaching toward the sky.  Nearby there were some that had transitioned into balls of puff that were higher still.  During our many warm-weather walks, I began to wonder when that process happens.  I never remember seeing a dandelion that was part yellow and part fluff.  They are either one or the other.  But it was clear that the ultimate goal was to grow as tall as possible before transforming into its purpose for living.  

Then I noticed that once the dandelion had grown tall enough, there were some that were closed tightly.  Maybe that was when it happened.  One day they were tall yellow flowers.  They had matured from their comfortable place close to the ground.  Then they slowly closed before opening up a new creation.  A ball of puff that is now equipped to be used.

What's that?  I spend too much time staring at weeds?  Maybe.  But I don't think I am reaching too far here.

There is something about that tall ball of puff that makes you want to pick it and blow it into the wind.  We did that as kids and made a wish while sending the seeds sailing away.  Until we grew up and had lawns of our own and realized those tiny floating pieces of dandelion puff land and actually grow more weeds.  Isn't it amazing though?

A plant grows.  It blooms.  It could be content right there coming out of a crack in the sidewalk but it knows there is a greater purpose for it.  It grows taller.  It gets stronger.  And then in the perfect timing, it closes up and emerges a new creation.  After that, it could be content to decorate lawns and forest floors with "cotton balls" but it knows its purpose is still not fulfilled.  A child comes by and lifts it from the earth before sending its seeds into the air.  It is being spread.  Far and wide.  The Breath of Life is using it to fulfill its purpose for it now.

And if a child never comes?  A gust of wind sends the dandelion seeds high on a breeze to the ends of the earth.

Isn't He an amazing Creator?  Who can deny it?

He literally thought of everything!

Are you content being a yellow flower close to the ground?  Are you learning and growing?  Is your goal to be closer to the source of life?  Are you in a time of transition knowing this yellow flower is not all you were meant to be?  Are you maturing in your faith?  Are you a tall, strong, ball of puff that is ready and willing to be used by the Holy Spirit to share God's love with the world around you?

Bring a cool breeze, Lord!  Use me! 

The dandelions are mostly gone in our neighborhood now.  But you can be sure they will be back next spring.  All those little seeds will grow and live and share once again.    

PS.  After I published this post, I find this website that shared some interesting facts.  They are more amazing then I first thought.  Thank you Lord for dandelions!

Monday, May 16, 2011

to be shared

Are you a bush that is hanging on tight to the gifts God has given you?

You want to enjoy them for as long as possible because you know they are only temporary.

They did grow out of you after all.  You deserve them.

What if you knew that the gifts that are too heavy to even enjoy fully on your own... 

could have a new life...

if given away?

They were grown by your Creator to be shared.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

something growing from nothing

Several months ago, my Love chopped off all the limbs of two trees on the side of our drive way.  Our landlord told him they would most definitely grow back and that it was important to prune them in that way for further growth.  I had seen trees cut back like that before, but the change in our front landscape seemed harsh.  That side of our yard looked bare and vulnerable.  Time passed and spring sprung.  Blossoms were blooming and leaves were growing in everywhere around us.  The cut trees remained naked.  There was no apparent growth.  I was worried that we had killed them.  Our landlord assured us they would come back and we should just give them time.

We came back from our trip to Tampa to find this...

Something growing from nothing.

God promises even in nature that he can grow something from nothing.  His timing for everything is perfect.  Are you praying for a soul that you desire to see growing?  Are you worried there is no apparent hope for change in their current bare, dead state? 

Try not to look across the drive way (or sanctuary aisle or hallway as it may) and compare their growth to that of another in the same environment.

The abundant growth of another mature "tree" doesn't negate the timely sprouts found across the way.  Every single evidence of new growth should be celebrated.

Whether it comes when we expect it or not.

Our landLord assures us His timing is perfect.  Keep praying.  He can grow something from nothing.