You Are a Precious Gem

#inspiration, #God, blessings, loveSome precious gens are well known and others are more like hidden treasures. One of my favourites, the opal, is often overlooked.

An opal is made out of desert dust, sand and silica and its beauty comes not from its perfection, but because of defects. It is a stone with a broken heart. An opal is full of minute fissures, or cracks, that allow air inside. This air then refracts the light, creating swirls of colour.

An opal will lose its luster if it is kept in a cold, dark place, but that luster is restored when it is held in a warm hand or when the light shines on it.

By comparing the opal to myself I see that when I am warmed by God’s love I reflect His colour and brilliance. When I am broken inside myself, through my defects, I can give back the lovely hues of His light to others. Only then can the lamp can burn brightly within me and not flicker or go out.

Still, there are times when I lose the luster in my life and wonder how to restore it. What can I do when I need to bring back the shine?

I can pause early in the day to seek God’s guidance. Counting my blessings also helps me see that I am held in His loving hands.

This attitude of gratitude rids my life of the film of frustration, the rust of resentment and the varnish of vanity.

Without God’s touch our lives, there is no sparkle. When we allow Him to work within us, His warmth and light restores our luster. In His hands, we become precious gems that beautify His kingdom.

Good Medicine

cheerful heart, good medicineA dull grey sky and a cool breeze greeted me when I looked outside. The weather forecast for the next few days didn’t appear any more promising.

However, the view from my window did nothing to dispel the joy in my heart.

My husband and I were nearing the end of our vacation. We had experienced the diversity of God’s creation. From the colourful rocks of windswept canyons to more variety of cacti than I knew existed, we saw beauty displayed.vacation, beauty, creation

Friends just met, offered conversation and companionship.

Time spent with distant family staying only an hour away rekindled shared memories.

The bonus of friends from home visiting the same area gave us adventure and laughter that caused tears to run down our cheeks.

An added blessing was the hospitality of a fellow writer who welcomed us into her home for a meal.

Deep contentment as Brian and I walked down the street, hand in hand.

fresh fruit, picked it myselfI was able to pick oranges and grapefruit from neighbouring trees and enjoy the fresh, juicy taste.

Challenges presented by new pastors in a much larger church than we were used to gave me a new perspective.

Quiet moments with my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ restored my soul.
Scripture says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine” and I have received life-restoring, energizing medicine.

#inspiration, #Jesus, scripture, good medicine,cheerful heart

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 NIV)

“For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15 NLT)

Changing View

#God, #inspiration, change, beautyA few days into our mountain getaway I realized the view from our window was different every morning.

The first day dawned bright and clear. Sunshine accented the rugged outline of the Rocky Mountains, inviting us out to explore.

The following morning it was overcast and low cloud obscured our view of the majestic peaks. The drizzle and dreariness lasted throughout the day.

Day three I woke to see the brightness of the sun filtering through the blinds. When I opened them I was greeted by the beauty of fresh snow on the mountain tops. I knew that this beauty was a direct result of the previous day’s weather.

As I thanked God for the scene before me, I felt a nudge in my spirit telling me to apply this to my life.

Not every day can bring the sunshine. I have often felt despair in the dark, gloomy days of life. Hopes and plans seem to either be shattered or put on hold. A longing for the brightness of new promise is palpable.

What I don’t always remember is that God is working behind those clouds of doubt and confusion. Instead of resisting and fighting through with my own plans, I am forced to slow down and surrender to God. That is when he does incredible work in my life. It may not be anything I can see at the time, but when the veil is lifted there is a beauty and purpose in my life that wasn’t there previously. I thank him for the sunshine and the clouds.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV)

Imperfect Beauty

God, Jesus, inspiration, beautyI’ve always been drawn to the shells that I see washed up on shore. It used to be the ones with perfect shape or smooth, shiny surfaces that attracted me. This is no longer the case.

Instead, I now reach for the ones that are unique because of their flaws. The broken ones allow me to see the intricate design within. The gnarled surface of others shows that they have experienced hardship as they’ve been buffeted by the sand and the sea.

It is these imperfections that make them unique. The scars are where their beauty comes from.

I like to think this is how God looks at me. He doesn’t expect me to be perfect. The scars and brokenness beauty, inspiration, Jesus, Godhave been formed by experiences in my life. They are what make me unique.

Everything I go through can be used by him. Nothing is wasted. In God’s loving care my imperfections are turned into something beautiful that can be used to show his love and grace to others. What he does for one, he can do for each of us.

and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3 NIV)

Fields of Sunshine

canola fieldAs we drive I see vast fields of yellow stretching to the horizon. It feels as though the bright sun of the summer sky has come to life in the fields.

What I am viewing is canola crops that are ripening. After those lovely yellow flowers fade away, pods are formed. It’s the seeds in these pods that are crushed to produce the canola oil used in kitchens such as mine. Right now, these crops decorate the landscape.

When I get close enough to the plants to see individual stalks the visual effect is not as striking. It is when they are seen as a large group that their brilliance is breathtaking. I can’t help but be draw to the sight.

This reminds me of my life. It is my responsibility to let the light of God’s Son, Jesus, shine in and through me. He is the one that will enable me to reach my full potential. On my own, I can only share my little light with those I come in contact with. When I join together with other that are blooming with the light of Jesus, our collective Son shine will draw people to the beautiful life he desires for each and every one of us.

Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:6 NLT)

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV)

Garbage Turned into Gems

nature, God,time, experiencesWhen my daughter and I were on our recent cruise we enjoyed browsing open air markets in the various ports. One item that captured our attention was sea glass and the items made from it. At first I just admired it but soon my resistance wore down and I bought a pendant that had silver wire wrapped around a piece of milky sea glass.

Once back home I did a little research on this previously unknown stone. I learned that sea glass is a reverse gem. Traditional gems are made by nature and refined by man. Sea glass is originally made by man, in the form of bottles and jars, but refined by nature to become smooth, frosty gems found on many beaches.

It was quite amazing to think that garbage thrown carelessly into the ocean changes so dramatically. The broken shards of glass spend years being tumbled by the water and sand until their edges are rounded off and the slickness of the glass has been worn into a frosted appearance. The characteristic texture and shape it takes on does not happen overnight.

This gives me new insight into my life. God has done exactly the same thing with me. He has taken my life and made something beautiful out of the broken shards I once presented him with. Through time and experiences, I have been tumbled until my rough edges are worn down. No matter what has happened God can use all of my experiences to accomplish his good, pleasing and perfect will for my life. I am excited to see what he has in store for me!

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20 NIV)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Sundogs

God, Jesus, shine, beauty, inspirationA friend and I were traveling in northern Alberta. It was just after 8 am and a very chilly -19°C. She was driving and I was enjoying the beauty of the snow-covered landscape under a clear blue sky. As we rounded a bend, I witnessed something I’d never seen before. I said to my friend, “Look at the sky. It looks like a rainbow that is going straight up and down.” She told me it was a sundog. She had seen them before but never as vibrant as this one.

It seemed to come down from the sky, stretch across the frozen fields and reach right out to us. It was phenomenal to observe it cast its coloured hues across the trees and buildings we passed. There was nowhere to pull over to take a photo, so we etched this image into our memories as we thanked God for providing this visual gift for us.

Later I researched sundogs and found that they are a member of a large family of halos, created by light interacting with ice crystals in the atmosphere. I saw several pictures of them online, but none as breathtakingly beautiful as the one we had seen.

If God can create such splendor by shining the light of the sun through icy skies, I wonder what he can do in my life. When I allow the light of his son, Jesus, to shine into my cold life, there is no telling what beauty he can produce. My life becomes bright and reflects his glory. This can create a radiance that can not only be seen by others, but will point them back to him. When I live my life in a way to reflect the light and love of Jesus, I too, will shine like a sundog in the frozen atmosphere.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (NIV)

Wilted Flowers

wilted roses2The once beautiful bouquet of flowers had now wilted. Their heads drooped, petals fell and the leaves were crisp and dry. They had been like this for days before I finally disposed of them. My reasoning for keeping them was that even in this state, they reminded me of the beauty and fragrance that had been present in previous days.

As I removed the flowers from the vase, I was reminded that nothing lasts forever. The joys in my life need to be savored in the moment and stored as beautiful memories. Sometimes, like cut flowers, they will be gone far too quickly. Just as these flowers were an unexpected gift, so are many things that happen in my life.

I choose to view my life as the perennial flowers in my garden. They bloom for a season, one lovely blossom being replaced by the next. Then they have a season where they appear dormant. This time of rest prepares them for the next phase, when they will burst forth into renewed life as the seasons change once again.

As I think of my wilted flowers I choose not be sad that they are gone, but to be thankful that I had the opportunity to enjoy them in the first place. They brightened my life in the short time they were here. At some point I will again enjoy a bouquet of flowers. They will not be identical to the ones I had, but will each bring their own beauty into my life. I trust God to provide the fragrance of new beginnings and the season of rest, all in his perfect timing.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1Peter 1 23-25 NIV

Be inspired this week.