There is Hope in These Uncertain Days… “His Eye is on the Sparrow”

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In the midst of all the uncertainties going on in our world a momma bird has chosen our front door winter wreath to bring her little ones into the world.   First the nest was noticed, then one egg,  then days later two,  then over a week later there are now four eggs!!  Delightfully I laughed yesterday discovering the four!  Wooo weee the Lucas love porch has a lot of hanky panky going on!!!!!  Why our noisy front door with kids in and out, three dogs barking,  two cats that lurk in the window?  It doesn’t seem to be a safe option for the momma bird in my mind, yet here we are.  Of course my winter wreath will be up for the duration as Spring in the truest of forms transpires on our door.  Now I feel a sense of responsibility wanting the door to open and close carefully because of the fragile new life that rests on it!  How beautiful is the craftsmanship of the nest and the eggs.  The security of the nest is amazing in how it doesn’t even shake on the wreath as we open and close the door!  Simply amazing to me!!

As this Covid-19 virus rips across the world I am reminded even more deeply of how fragile life is.  How very precious this gift of life!  Every life, the unborn, the elderly, the special needs, every ethnicity precious and fragile.  We are one race, the Human race, and God is giving us a chance to see how very delicately we all hang in His beautifully created balance!  In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus tells us not to worry.  Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet our Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  The other night on Facebook I watched one of my favorite Christian artists sing “His Eye is on the Sparrow” from her home with her hubby on the piano.  As my tears flowed her powerful voice stirred me to worship and thank God for life itself and my family. (I am not sure about copy writes. I don’t make money from my blog, but search Natalie Grant’s facebook page to listen😏)

One of my favorite songs as a kid was “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”.  This is what I envision now as there is so much uncertainty.  God created us, He loves us, He is in control,  He is the giver of life and gave us free will to choose to love Him back.  The lyrics of this song repeats the same line four times for each verse.  ” He’s got the whole world in His hands.  He’s got the itty bitty baby in His hands.  He’s got you and me brother in His hands.  He’s got you and me sister in His hands.  He’s got the wind and the rain in His hands.  He’s got the whole world in His hands”.   As a little girl I remember reaching out to my dad for his hand on walks or in a busy place for safety.  My dad had big hard working hands that represented strength to me.  How much greater are our Heavenly Fathers hands holding all of creation in balance with His strength, power, and love.

Our front door is essentially the only way in and out of the front of our house so trying not to disturb momma bird is difficult.  This reminds me that there is only one way to life everlasting in heaven.  Jesus is the door.  Our world is broken.  The disease of sin has ravaged the human race since Adam and Eve ate from the one tree that God asked them not to.  We are all under the curse of sin.  Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born from the Virgin Mary.  Making him fully God and fully human.  You see God left the glory of heaven to feel all that we feel here on earth because of our sin disease.  He was fully tempted to sin as we are, yet He never sinned.  This made him the only one that could take the punishment for our sins.  He took our place on the cross bearing all of the world’s sin.  He rose three days later proving that He is God.  God did this out of love for His creation.  He gave us free-will to choose to love Him in return by accepting Jesus as the Lord of our life.  John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”   John 10:9-10 “I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

My prayer is that we as the human race will awaken to how valuable life truly is.  That we will love and care for others again.  Right now the sacrifice is not that great.  Just stay at home and love your family.  My prayer is we will open our eyes and hearts as to what is truly important and what has been a distraction.   God asks us to love Him and love each other.  Our basic human needs of food, water, shelter and love is what is important. We have become so greedy as our sin disease ravages mankind.   God is bigger than any disease, He is bigger than any government, and He is bigger than all of our own personal pride.  I invite you to have a personal relationship with Him and walk through that door of life.  There is hope in Jesus no matter what is going on around us!!

Want to Know How to Lighten Your Load?

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Usually our son is a pretty good hiker.  Today’s journey started out rough!  Usually a good hike is packed full of very valuable life lessons today’s hike did not disappoint!  As we embarked on our adventure our ears were plagued with continuous whining and complaining from our son!  My husband will soon be fifty and I will soon be forty seven,  we reminded our twelve year old of our older more worn bodies pushing through the physical strain.  The complaints continued on.  We had him stand next to me to show that our legs are actually the same length after the excuse of “your legs are longer than mine”, was spewed out! The attitude was rough and put quite the damper on this beautiful day!  Finally God placed a thought in my mind that was ever so true for myself more often than I like to admit.  “Son you are being weighed down by your bad attitude.  It is heavier than your own body is!”  If you take that attitude and throw it far down that hill your load will be so much lighter!!  You are missing the beauty around.  You are missing the warmer air, the sunshine, the fact that you can see so much farther while the leaves are off the trees!!  Even the muddy path is kind of fun!  It’s fun to get dirty!”  It took some coaxing, but praise God the “tude” started to dissipate!  The guy found a pocket knife off the beaten path as he did some exploring!  He even sang a little!  Toward the end of our 6-7 mile travel I heard “the sun looks so nice going down over the river”!

We all really have those moments when our bad attitude and self absorption really weighs us down. It truly weighs down everyone around us!  As I explained to our son I used my hands to tug at my chest and then flung my arms in a throwing/tossing motion toward the steep of the bluff,  I felt a sense of relief within myself even!  Throw that bad attitude away!  It boils down to our bad attitude is actually sin creeping in.  A bad attitude steals our joy and we miss out on the beauty surrounding us.  Even in pain or trials there are blessings God pours upon us if we have our eyes open!

Hebrew 12:1-3 says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

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When Things aren’t Really What they Seem

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We have lived in our home just over two years now and at least the third bird has now flown into our back door.  I had heard something hit the glass this morning and when I walked out to the living room there was a dead bird laying right there on the patio.  Two of the birds have died right a way.  One woke up after about 10 minutes and staggered off, possibly died later of a brain hemorrhage.  Why on earth am I writing about these poor birds?  Of course if I could have saved them I would have.  My heart breaks each time this happens.

This morning has me thinking of how our sin and the sin of others can look so appealing and safe on the surface.  The devil is always working to deceive just like he did with Eve in the garden of Eden.  “Oh this is the way to go, this is safe, one time won’t hurt, it isn’t your fault, it isn’t really hurting anyone, you only live once, you won’t have any friends if you don’t…”   So many lies that lead to death and destruction.

If I could just warn the birds before they fly into the glass…  My conviction this morning… If I could just warn the person before they try drugs…  If I could tell the person that is so down how much God loves them and I do too…  If I could tell the young girl that you are so pretty and loved by God… you don’t need a man’s attention for your worth…  For the used and traumatized by the sins of others… you are worth so much more than that… that is not what defines you…  If I could just tell everyone about the love of Jesus before they fly to whatever is deceiving them that may be a death trap…

It is by God’s grace I am alive and by God’s grace I have been forgiven of my own sin!  Every day God is teaching me more of myself and warning me of what looks good on the surface may be a sinful death trap!

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

My prayer is for God’s truth to continue to be revealed in lives of individuals all across the world, our great country, my family, and within my own life!  Jesus is my hope and I have never known a greater love and worth than my identity as a Child of God!!

Do not Grow Weary in Doing Good

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The older I get the more I love to hike and the more reasons I have to love it!  Simply enjoying the outdoors, I can be “still” and listen to God the best, each hike is an accomplishment that no one can take from me, it is therapeutic, it is a great time to learn more about whoever is with me, it is great exercise, a goal is reached… I can go on and on.

Just a couple weeks ago my sixteen year old daughter was upset about our family’s hospitality being taken advantage of.  One of her statements was “I am tired of our family doing things to be nice and it always being taken advantage of!”  A few years back our now nineteen year old had a similar statement after witnessing me having to take some pretty rotten verbal abuse from a birth parent.  “Mom why was he so rude to you when all you have done is try to help?!”

My answer was and still remains the same.  Just because our kindness isn’t always well received, or we are taken advantage of, even if a thank you never comes, we are to never stop doing good.  When God calls you to something it doesn’t matter what human beings say or do.  If God has put it on our hearts to help someone He has a plan.  We don’t always get to see the bigger picture.  We have no idea what is going on with a person or another person’s heart.   Truth be told anything good that God has called us to is not really about us.  If our hearts our right it is all for God’s glory.  Every good deed He calls us to is sharing His love with a broken world.

Jesus healed ten lepers and only one returned to say thank you. Luke 17:11-19

It has taken fortysix years to be where I am in this and God is continuing to work on me.  Even when someone has a completely different lifestyle, beliefs, and views it is becoming more and more my prayer, “God show me how I can love this person the way you need me to!”   God help me be more aware of this hurting world around me even if the world tries to hurt me.   Help me to point to you, show love, show grace, show mercy, and not cast judgment.

If we have done what God has called us to do then that is it.  Let it go, shake off the negative, and trust that God is using our obedience for the good of His perfect plan!!

Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Like hiking when my muscles are tired and my joints hurt the end result is worth it!  The result is always going to be worth it to continue doing good even when it seems useless.

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What Would you do if you had a Million Dollars?

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One of our daughters just asked me this question.  She then followed with would you buy a different house?  My first answer was no, I just want to have no debt.  We then discussed college expenses and saving then then conversation topic fizzled.

The conversation fizzled out, but the thought of this question continued to weigh on me.  A million dollars does not actually go far in our world today it could be a start.  My self evaluation question became, “If money were no object what would you do?”   Then cycling back to the house question my answer started to turn to a yes.

For years now God has put this burning compassion for children who have been rejected and beat down by this world on my heart.  For one year now we have been in the trenches of Foster Care.  The more of the true story and true pain I see this compassion just grows stronger.  This is definitely a mission field that leaves you feeling like your heart has been torn from you, stomped on then placed back into your body to keep powering through beat by beat.

So this is my vision as hard and crazy as it sounds.  As I sit here completely emotionally exhausted God will not stop calling on this broken heart of mine.  Yes, I would buy a new house.  I would buy a working farm or ranch.  I would want to buy it where there are amazing hiking places.  I would start a children’s home with the proper support staff.  I would hire people with the same compassion and broken heart for what breaks God’s heart.  It would be an amazing place with jobs for the children to be assigned to based on abilities and personalities.  Nothing builds self esteem like a job well done.  I would want to do therapy during hikes because who wants to just stare eye to eye with a therapist.  Something about God’s creation truly relaxes and can cause true communication and healing to happen.

Truthfully I am worn out from just having one child that is in care at a time.  Truthfully I do not have the resource within my own self nor financially to make this a reality.  This one question has started to develop into a dream that God’s timing and provision can accomplish if it is in His will and plan.   My heart aches for children who are “unwanted”, for children who push away the one’s that truly want to help, for the children who feel unworthy of love…  My heart is to give as many children new Hope and a new beginning through the love of Jesus Christ.  So if I had a million dollars or if money were no obstacle I would buy a new house.  A house of Hope!!!!

Just Look How Far You’ve Come

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A couple weeks ago I took all three of my children on a hike in one of our local state parks.  Hiking is one of my most favorite things to do outdoors.  The bucket list of hikes I would love to take is extremely long and gets longer and longer instead of shorter.  This was our foster child’s first real hike ever I am quite sure.  There was severe whining and complaining the entire hike.  This was a very short hike compared to what this momma really loves to do.  All along the way there were little break throughs amongst the complaining and threats from our child.  “I can’t go any further!!!  Oh look there is the same kind of bug you and I saw that one time mom!”   “Oh I hate spider webs!!   Oh my legs are worn out!!!  Oh look at the cool butterfly!!”  All three children missed the beautiful deer that crossed our path right in front of us.  All the way were opportunities to teach about God, His creation, His love, and that in life we need to stop, listen, and look otherwise we miss the greatest blessings from Him.  As the hike grew more intense with inclines so did the complaining.  The story of the Little Engine that Could (one of my favorites)  came in handy that day.  With each step I encouraged “I think I can…I know I can!!”  At one point I turned and looked at our child to keep encouraging and I saw just how far we had come.  I said “Turn and look and see just how far you have already come!!  I know you can do this!!”

We reached the top to see the awesome view and the first response was “wow!”.   Then that hard shell of pride and survival methods from a harsh life went back up.  The guard had been let down just for a moment showing a glimmer of hope that love was winning this child’s heart.  The opportunity presented itself to explain that the reason I love hikes so much is that they are hard.  The girls started telling him how they have even watched me fall down on hikes. It is a goal that requires physical, mental, and sometimes emotional work.  All along the journey God provides little views of His Glory and His Blessings.  Once we have persevered and reached the goal then we get to see something beautiful that we never would have seen had we not made the long journey.   Each hike I have ever taken I have gotten to see more and more of God’s glory, His beautiful handiwork of His creation.

So it is with life and definitely parenting.  Anything truly worth anything takes a lot of physical, mental, and emotional work.  As God directs and leads down new paths it is so hard.  I stumble, hurt, cry, feel like giving up and then He shows little snipits of His glory.  Each new hurdle in life God reveals more and more of His Glory to me that I would have missed had I not listened and taken the path He directed.

Not only was this hike a teachable moment for this young precious child it was one for mom as well.  Just keep looking at how far you have come I can hear my Heavenly Father encourage.  Just keep taking one step and one day at a time and trust me.

It is always good to look back and see what God has brought us through and the prayers that have been answered.  The past is not a place to dwell, but to learn from and press on.

So a message to all parents and especially foster/adoptive parents.  Just look at how far you’ve come!!!

Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

 

 

If I Would Just Remember to Look UP First

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Just a few minutes ago I was out piddling in our yard feeling a bit overwhelmed with a lot of things truthfully.   I sighed as I looked at this tree from the outside trying to see what branches should be trimmed to make mowing around it easier.  As I stepped underneath it I felt like I was in a whole new little world.  As the sun shown down through the green leaves I felt like I was in a beautiful protective green bubble of life.  It was a whole new perspective of this tree I had never known.  I took another picture looking out from the protective green branches.  That view somehow made our large yard less daunting.   As I stepped all the way out from under my green little hut I was looking eye to eye with this beauty.

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Had I not taken the time to step under the protective shield of this tree and look up I am quite sure I would have missed the eye contact made with this beautiful creature.   Yet another reminder from my Heavenly Father God to step into His protective loving arms, look up, and then look out with His perspective at what is before me.

Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”  Psalm 42:5 “Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him my Savior and my God.”

Living Water

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Hiking has become one of my top all-time favorite pass times. Living smack in the middle of Midwest America there are very few challenging trails to embrace. The circumstance of our geographical surroundings leads me to plan as many vacations as I can around this love to hike and explore. It has to be balanced with what the children and my husband enjoy as well. My definition of fun is often very few others definition.
There is something about the anticipation of what will be around the next bend of the trail. The thrill of reaching the goal of the destination set to reach. God’s creation is photogenic as where ever one looks there is such beautiful artwork. There is pain that comes with these hikes. As I age the pains are becoming more plentiful, but that seems to add to the joy of reaching the final destination. Despite the pain in my right knee, despite the pain in my left hip, despite falling, despite pain in my lower back, and despite the fact that my feet now have their own heart beat I am here!!! The climb, the battle, the pain is all worth the views and discoveries.

There has been a particular hike in the Smokey Mountains that I have had my sights on for four years now. This past vacation there was time allotted for my husband and I to set out on this adventure I had been patiently waiting for. It was well worth the wait, the anticipation, and the four mile one way up a mountain trudge. The path followed closely alongside a bubbling mountain stream with the ultimate destination set for a beautiful one hundred foot waterfall. The entire trek was lined with moss and ferns growing in and out of everything. The beloved ecosystem literally houses hundreds of different species of plant life. There were trees that had to of been hundreds of years old along the trail. As we continued to place one foot in front of the other I kept thinking of Living water mentioned in scripture. Life thrives by this beautiful stream as it gives nourishment and the much needed water for these plants to survive.

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Life with Jesus and receiving the “living water” He teaches of and gives believers is what spiritual life, health, and growth requires. You see in a life with Jesus as our guide there is always anticipation of what will be around the next bend. There is anticipation of our final destination of His glory for eternity. Along the strenuous path there will be pain, struggles, and falls. Through the struggles there will be strength, endurance, and a beauty that will prevail as one continues to focus on Jesus and His purpose and plan.
John 7:38 “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
John 4:13-14 “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

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Cling to the Rock

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One place that I can clearly say I feel the closest presence of God is in the mountains. There is a peace and tranquility unlike no other place for me. The size and majesty of the rocky slopes always seem to remind me of just how big God is and how very small I am. While Jesus walked the earth the mountains were also one of His favorite spots to pray. Luke 6:12 “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”

There is a love for the outdoors and the challenge of long hikes that has been instilled in me. I would have to give my father credit for these loves as going on hikes with my father is one of my all-time favorite memories of my childhood and of my “Dadders”. It is now something my husband and I love to do and actually is more of my idea of a date than flowers and an expensive restaurant.

The first hike we went on this year required a pretty tricky steep rock scramble at the end to reach the summit. My husband and oldest daughter scaled the rocky steep like there was nothing to it. The strength and agility they both have has always amazed me. Neither one of them are bulky looking muscle heads, but you do not want them to give you a friendly slug to the shoulder (OUCH!!). Our youngest daughter and our two teenage family friends who vacationed with us opted to stay at the bottom of the steep. Not quite sure how far I would make it I proceeded to see how far the old arms and legs would allow this gal to climb. As I hit the trickiest spot I said a prayer of thanks that the other girls had remained at the bottom. As each limb of mine was stretched in opposite directions to find ledges to cling to I was reminded that this rock was my safety. As long as I clung to the rock I would be safe. One false footing or slip of my hand I could easily plummet to my death and really put a damper on this vacation. Doing my best impersonation of a spider monkey I made it over the tough spot and stopped to rest and to determine if I should continue the climb or not. That spot took its toll on the old arms. Upper body strength has never been one of my “strong” points having slacked on my bench pressing and pushups the last forty one years. Continuing on I had gotten three quarters of the way up and my arms and legs started to do the fatigue shake. My husband and daughter started making their descent and voiced words of encouragement, but the trust of my own physical capabilities and strength was shattered by the tired muscle shakes. Not being a huge thrill seeking risk taker I decided to error on the side of caution and to make my way back down via doing a reverse spider monkey scooting on my rear end. Actually the fact that I could make it as far as I did was thrilling to me after the left side of my body had gone numb just a year and a half prior. During that time my walk resembled Lurch from The Addams Family. Spider monkey on a mountain was such a greater blessing of an impersonation than Lurching around our home.

The connection of my physical safety relying on the rock reminded me that my spiritual safety also relies completely on the Rock. I had to find strong foot holds to the rock, cling to the rock, hug the rock; there were times I just wanted to find a cleft in the rock to hold me. You see scripture describes Jesus as the Rock of our Salvation. From what I can conclude there are over fifty scripture references referring to God and Jesus (God in the flesh) as our rock, our stronghold, our fortress, and our salvation. Psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” There has been no greater safety I have found than clinging to God my Rock. In life it is so easy to slip into paths of destruction both physically and spiritually. As I continue the climb in this life I want nothing more than to cling to my God, my Jesus, my Lord, my Rock, and my Salvation!!!!
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It looked like I had so much farther to go when actually climbing. Looking at pictures I realize how close I had gotten. It was the camera hooked to the bra strap that was the problem….yeah that was it!! Ha Ha!!