The Picture I Show You

idyllic, #inspirationPicture this: I’m sitting on my deck in Mexico, overlooking the sea. My view is of water that changes from green to blue and stretches as far as the horizon, where it meets with a cloudless azure sky.

Three pelicans float on the water. Suddenly they dive under. As their heads emerge I can see the silver glitter of fish in their large beaks. I’m close enough to see them swallow their catch.

A bit farther out, gulls flock around a small boat, hoping to enjoy some of the fisherman’s catch. The only sounds are the lapping of the tide along the shore and an occasional bird call.

This sounds idyllic and it is, but from this vantage point, you haven’t received the full picture.

A few days before strong winds blew in masses of seaweed. It came in with the tide and temporarily has been deposited on our beach. In order to get to the water, I have to walk through piles of seaweed. Some is dry but closer to the water’s edge it is soft and spongy underfoot.#inspiration, vulnerability, picture of life

This picture is an analogy of life. I have the option as to the picture I show you. Will it only be the pretty picture; the idyllic one that leaves you wishing you could experience the same as I am?

How well do you relate to someone who always seems to be under clear, sunny skies? I find it much easier to connect with people I have something in common with. Shared struggles promote closer relationships.

At some point in our lives, all of us have had to walk through weeds to reach our desired destination. The question is, do we turn back or make our way through the unpleasant areas?

I have found it much easier to navigate the rough spots when I’m not alone. The support of others helps me find the strength I need to keep going. When I stumble, it’s nice to know someone will be there to help me get back on my feet. In turn, I can do the same for my companions. This won’t happen if you think my life is perfect.

So, the question is, what picture am I showing to those I want to connect with?

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
― Brené Brown

Surprise Attack

#inspiration, fear, barbsInitially they thought the sudden pain was caused by an encounter with a stingray. A few had recently been seen in our area. When his foot became swollen and the pain was more than he could bear, the couple headed for the hospital.

A doctor cleaned the wound and removed a piece of spiny barb. He then informed this man that the injury was caused by a sea bass.

Information was given on how this happens. The sea bass has a boney spike under its dorsal fin. When it is threatened or inadvertently stepped on, this spike shoots out as the fish turns. The barbs stick into your flesh, causing pain that lasts for hours. If the wound is not properly cleaned, infection can set it.

These fish are bottom feeders and easily stepped on when wading into the sea. The attack in question happened about ten feet from the shoreline. The fish was reacting to danger by fighting back in self defense.

In a way, I’m like this fish. I don’t like to be stepped on either. Even the thought of danger has me heading into self defense mode. The barbs I send out may not pierce the flesh, but they still cause injury. Mine come as sharp words which leave wounds not visible but still extremely painful.

Sometimes the person who suffers the attack is caught by surprise, not even realizing they have stepped on me. Hearing the story of the sea bass attack has been a good reminder for me. Unnecessary injury is caused when I strike out because of fear.

“Most attacks come from fear.” Neil Strauss

Don’t Settle For Scraps

#inspiration, dreams, acheivementThe small fishing boat anchored near shore seemed to be an attraction for several pelicans. They hovered nearby, a few in the air and others approaching on the water.

When we got closer, it was easy to see what was luring them to the boat. The fisherman was cleaning his catch. As he sliced into the fish, the unwanted pieces were tossed overboard. Instead of going to the work of catching their own fish, these birds were happy to feast on the unwanted scraps.

I wondered how often in life I’ve been happy to settle for scraps when, with a little effort, I could have had so much more.

Do I work hard towards my goals and dreams or give up thinking they require more talent or ambition than I possess? Is it much easier to associate with those who have achieved what I desire, hoping some of their talent will spill over on me? Maybe they will have an abundance of what I’m looking for and I can hover nearby for the scraps.

This is not a pretty picture, but one I’m sure I’ve been guilty of at one time or another. Watching these birds settling for scraps was a visible reminder of who I don’t want to be.

What I’m reaching for won’t happen overnight, but given time and dedication, is achievable. If I truly believe in myself there will be no need to settle for scraps.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“All great achievements require time.” Maya Angelou

“Never underestimate your own strength. You were born for a purpose and are blessed with the power to achieve it.” Leon Brown

Hole in the Wall

#inspiration, growth, natureWe were on a walk along the beach when my husband drew my attention to the wall. The solid wall separating two properties had three strategically placed openings. They were in the right places to accommodate the palm trees growing next to it.

It was interesting to see the concession made to nature. The trees would be able to grow and flourish because space had been allowed for them. They had room to spread out as needed.

It made me think of the walls I put up in my life. Do they block me from thriving or allow me space to grow? What I intended for protection may actually be hindering me by holding me back.

When I examine my wall, I see it is built from fear. Fear of failure and fear of rejection are the main building blocks. They are strong, powerful and not easily displaced.

I realize that I, like those trees, need room to grow. This can only happen when I start removing pieces of the wall by opening myself up to new experiences. When the light and space of possibilities reaches me I can grow to the person I was intended to be.

You will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety. – Abraham Maslow

Mountain Reflections

#Jesus, #inspiration, reclaimedA few days in the mountains were just the break my husband and I needed. It was evening when we arrived which made the view in the morning all the more spectacular.

The sun was shining and the temperature mild as we headed outside to explore. We stopped at one directional sign and decided this wasn’t the path we wanted to take. The next sign showed a small lake only one kilometer away. Enthusiastically I said, “Let’s take this one!”

What we discovered was a hidden jewel. The water was crystal clear and smooth as glass. The jagged peaks on the Rocky Mountains were reflected back to us in the water. Golden yellow leaves of a tree in its autumn splendor were also shown in this mirror image. The beauty and peacefulness of the scene before me reached to my very soul.

Quarry Lake had once been the site of a coal mine. The land had been reclaimed and was now a spot for swimming, fishing and picnicking. Once an eyesore, this was now an area of much value to local residents and visitors alike.

As I sat on a bench enjoying the reflection on the lake, another kind of reflection was forming in my mind. My life had also been reclaimed. The day I asked Jesus into my heart the process began. I confessed the dark, ugly stains of unforgiveness and selfishness and they have been washed clean by the sacrificial love of Christ.

He’s not finished with me yet. I am a work in progress. The refining will not be complete until my life is a true reflection of Jesus.

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. (Psalm 32:5 NLT)

But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13 NLT)

How Bad Do You Want It?

#God, #Jesus, #inspirationThere are a few ponds I walk past on a regular basis. Many ducks make their homes in these bodies of water.

One morning I was out earlier than usual and observed several of the ducks were still sleeping. They looked so peaceful with their heads tucked down as they rested on the water.

One nearby was not sleeping, but busy diving for food. It was fascinating to watch the legs and tail flip out of the water. The duck looked as though it was standing on its head.

The thought occurred to me that this busy duck wanted food more than the others did at that point in time. It was willing to do the work needed to have what it wanted.

Relating this to my life I thought of the times I’ve let opportunities pass me by because I wasn’t willing to do the work required. Perhaps I was tired and decided to rest. Maybe it was just something I didn’t want badly enough to put effort into.

Today I consider the goals God has placed in my heart. In the past I thought I could achieve them on my own. The results were not what I’d hoped for. I grew weary and don’t have the strength to accomplish what the Lord desired of me. Now I know that was never his plan. Jesus wants more for me than anything I’ve dreamed of. He is the one who will strengthen me to reach the goal.

Brothers and sisters, I can’t consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14 GWT)

I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:143 GWT)

Safe and Secure

We don’t live in a rural area s#jesus, #inspiration, sheltero I was surprised when my husband said, “Did you see the wild life in our front yard?” I looked out the window to see a large rabbit sitting at the edge of our rockery flower bed. If Brian hadn’t shown me where to look, I may have missed it. The rabbit blended into the surroundings and was so still could have easily been mistaken for one of the rocks.

Other than a slight twitching of its long ears, there was no movement for quite some time. People came and went, vehicles backed out of the driveway and still the rabbit remained.

After several hours it hopped away, only to return that evening.

We came to the conclusion that it must have felt our yard was a safe place to stop and rest.

I thought about where I can go to find a safe haven amid the distractions and dangers that surround me. The answer wasn’t hard to find. Jesus is my safe haven. He calms me and gives me rest. I feel safe and secure in the shelter of his loving care.

The Lord is good. He is a fortress in the day of trouble. He knows those who seek shelter in him. (Nahum 1:7 GWT)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

Feeding Frenzy

#jesus, #inspiration, bible, prayerWe stood at the window watching in amazement. There was a feeding frenzy going on in our small oak tree.

Never before had we seen so much activity at the feeder that hung in this tree. At one point there were even four birds lined up on the fence, waiting for their turn. The branches shook with their constant coming and going. A few more birds sat at the base of the tree, gobbling up anything that fell to the ground.

Later that afternoon a severe thunder storm hit our area. Sheets of rain obscured our vision as the thunder crashed over our heads. I said to my husband, “I guess the birds knew the storm was coming and that’s why they seemed desperate for food. They knew they wouldn’t be able to get to it again for awhile.”

This lesson from nature had me considering how I get ready for looming storms in my life. I don’t have to be in a last minute frenzy if I make plan in advance.

The best way for me to prepare for anything life has in store is to concentrate on my relationship with Jesus. When I pray and read the bible I am storing up food that will sustain me. Jesus is the bread of life and when I am walking closely with him I will never go hungry.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35 NIV)

When the Bloom Fades – Revised

#God, #inspiration, ambitions, life, fruit

I apologize for sending this twice today.  The gremlins got to the first copy so please delete and enjoy this one instead!

A splash of yellow amid the sea of green leaves caught my attention. “That wasn’t there yesterday,” I thought as I hurried out to the vegetable garden to investigate.

One of our zucchini plants had two large flowers as well as a few buds forming. On closer examination I saw a small zucchini with the dried remains of a flower on the end.

I thought about the showy flowers that would soon wither and fade away. As lovely as the blooms are, they have to die before the plant will produce its crop.zucchini and faded blossom

The same holds true for the fruit trees and their blossoms that we look forward to in spring. The petals have to fall in order for summer’s fruit to form.

The analogy to life was not lost on me. There is nothing wrong with promoting or drawing attention to the work I’m doing. After all, I’m pointing others to God and his creation.

There comes a time, however, when I have to die to my ambitions and let Jesus take control of my talents, hopes and dreams. They are all gifts from him anyway.

By thanking Jesus and following his calling on my life, while leaving the outcome entirely up to him, I am putting myself in the background. The fruit produced for his kingdom will be more abundant when he is in charge.

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24 NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galations 5:22-23 NIV)

Break Through

#God, #Jesus, #inspiration, lessons, trustThere it was; a lesson in tenacity right in front of me and I almost missed it.

I was walking along a paved path when my husband pointed break through2out a slight eruption in the pavement. A few steps ahead we saw another bulge in the walkway, this time with a plant pushing through. After a few more steps we saw a plant that had fully broken through and appeared to be flourishing.

My husband commented on the incredible effort it took for this vegetation to push upwards and break through the solid paved pathway in order to reach the sunshine.

break through3If a tiny seed can have the strength and perseverance to overcome such a huge obstacle, why do I give up so easily?

Challenges do not mean that I need to stop trying to reach my goals. The song Through it All by Andrae Crouch, has lyrics that remind me to trust in God no matter what I’m going through. One of my favourite lines is “For if I never had a problem I wouldn’t know that he could solve them.”

These are words I take to heart. There are lessons to be learned in every situation. When I remain open and teachable God will use my reliance on him to enable me to break free from my circumstances and flourish in the love and light his Son Jesus shines on each of us. The Bible says all I need is faith the size of a mustard seed.

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” Mark 4:30-32 NIV