Lessons From a Nature Walk

nature pathWalks are wonderful for exercise and relaxation but sometimes I gain much more than that from them.

My husband and I set out for a walk on a hot summer afternoon. First we strolled along a peaceful path by a lake. Then we crossed through a field of clover where the only sound was the buzzing of the bees as they gathered the sweet nectar.

The scorching sun beat down on us relentlessly and we looked forward to the shade of the treed path ahead.

We soon reached the trees and were refreshed by the light breeze. Suddenly there was a swarm of tiny insects around us. I kept my gaze on the ground, afraid if I looked up, these insects would be inhaled. Although we passed through them quickly, there were several more swarms to be encountered as we continued.

One of the things I learned from this experience was that things are not always as idyllic as they appear from a distance. Many situations look perfect until I experience them first hand. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence!

Another lesson for me was to focus on the positive. There were some minor inconveniences on my walk but they didn’t dampen my appreciation for spending time in nature on a glorious summer day.
I need to remember that the Lord faithfully provides for me every day. His mercies are never ending and my gratitude to him should reflect that.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)

How is Your Water Level?


Not all lakes in Alberta are natural bodies of water. Many are man-made lakes, often in the form of a reservoir. Several of these reservoir lakes are near to the area I reside in. They are used for recreational purposes such as boating and swimming.

One that we frequent has a dam that controls the water level. As the summer progresses, more water is released and the shoreline recedes as the water level rises.

The various public entrances have signs posted warning that the water levels fluctuate. My husband and I looked at the sign and then talked about fluctuation affecting our spiritual lives as well.

There have been times when we have felt filled to overflowing with the love of God. Then there have also been times that we are dry, parched and longing for a drop of his cool, refreshing water.

What we need to remember is that this change is of our own making. God remains constant. His love for us does not fluctuate. I need to search deep within for the dam that is blocking my ability to access this. Only then can I release it and let his abundant love and blessing pour over me again.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38 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)

Is There a Right Time to Bloom?

Christmas cactusIt was early July when my husband and I purchased something unusual from a yard sale. As we perused the offerings, we saw a shelf with several plants. One was a Christmas Cactus with a single pink blossom.

This popular house plant generally flowers in the winter. The bloom caught my attention and we decided to purchase the plant. When we paid for it we were told the plant must be confused and think it was Christmas. My husband joked that it was Christmas in July.

I thought back to a Christmas Cactus I’d had many years ago. In order to produce flowers at the right time of the year, I was told to put the plant in a cool, dark spot and ignore it. A few weeks before I wanted it to blossom, it should be brought into the light and feed and watered.

When I went to retrieve it I discovered that the poor plant had shriveled up and died. I didn’t want this one to suffer the same fate so searched the internet to learn how to properly care for my new plant.

As I often do, I related this experience to life. If I distance myself from Jesus, the light of the world, my life will be in a dark place. When my spiritual life withers I am not able live a productive life. It is by trusting in Jesus that the Holy Spirit is able to make my life will blossom with love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. (Galatians 5:22 NLT)

Later, Jesus talked to the people again. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never live in darkness. They will have the light that gives life.” (John 8:12 ESV)

Do You Take Your Own Advice?

danger signAdvice comes to us from many sources. It can be written or verbal. There are times when it is helpful and others when it is not appreciated.

Recently I saw a sign with extremely helpful advice. It held a warning of danger due to an unstable slope. Heeding this would provide safety from the eroding landscape.

The sign was on a path that overlooked a lake. So much of the hillside had eroded and fallen away that the sign was now in danger of tumbling down to the shore. I pointed this out to my husband as we walked along the beach and said, “The sign looks like it needs to take its own advice.”

This brought to mind the saying Do what I say not as I do. In other words, I expect you to follow my advice but I’m not going to do it myself.

No matter how well intentioned I am, my advice may not be right for someone else. The same holds true for advice that others give me.

There is also the advice that I give myself and then ignore. Following it requires more effort than I am willing to put forth. Sometimes I don’t know what to do. I seem lost and need someone to point me in the right direction.

There is only one that can consistently give me the needed advice. That one is Jesus. He knows the direction he wants me to travel in and the best way to get there. Everything he takes me through is preparing me to live the life that he has planned for me. I may not understand the advice now, but if I have faith the answer will be revealed in his perfect timing.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6 NIV)

Quotes and Misquotes

when was the last timeMy six-year-old granddaughter was singing a popular nursery rhyme when my daughter heard her belting out the words, “Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her courage away.”

We had a good laugh over her misunderstanding of the words.

I wondered how someone could eat their courage away. I pictured a big bowl of alphabet pasta and the words courage and brave being scooped up on the spoon ready to be consumed.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I have probably eaten my courage away. Every time I have the opportunity to be brave and don’t take it, I eat away at my courage. Small bites over time can leave me with very little remaining.

Being brave doesn’t have to involve big actions. It just requires a simple step in faith and trust. The willingness to take chances is courageous. Even what I perceive as failures can be stepping stones to future success.

I read some quotes that illustrate this for me. The first one is from Julia Soul . “If you are never scared, embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take chances.” Bob Perks said, “Expect that if you want to accomplish big things you’ll experience big failures along the way. You’ll know then that you’re on the right path.” These quotes remind me that I can be brave even when fearful.

From an unknown author came, “Your current safe boundaries were once unknown frontiers.” This rings true for me. I am comfortable doing things today that I never would have imagined I could do.

There are many times in the Bible where God has done great things through those that relied on the assurance that he would see them through. When I trust him to work all things for good, my courage will once again grow. If I have any doubts I need only look at his quotes from the Bible.

Be strong, all who wait with hope for the Lord, and let your heart be courageous. (Psalm 31:24 GWT)

Don’t be afraid, because I am with you. Don’t be intimidated; I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will support you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 GWT)

But Christ is a faithful son in charge of God’s household. We are his household if we continue to have courage and be proud of the confidence we have. (Hebrews 3:6 GWT)

Why the Split in the Rock?

cleft in the rockI love the times when something starts out as an ordinary experience and then turns into an extraordinary blessing.

My friend and I were enjoying time together in a local nature park. We explored the paths and took multiple pictures of the creek, small waterfalls and towering trees. Next I suggested we climb a small rock face to see what was on the other side. It wasn’t much of a climb and we were soon at the crest. A few steps later I noticed a large cleft in the rock.

According to the dictionary a cleft is a crack, crevice or split. The split is only partial, usually no more than to the mid-point.

A cleft such as the one I was looking at would be a safe, sheltering space with the rock around it providing protection. I was in awe as I studied the cleft and thought about the story in the Bible where God placed Moses in the cleft of a rock and covered him with his hand to protect him.

Gazing upon this crevice was an example of God’s love for me. He is always willing and able to shelter and protect me when I call out to him.

When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. (Exodus 33:22 NIV)

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7 NIV)

Are You Under Pressure?

sprite bottleThe wording on labels can sometimes evoke a meaning for me that I’m fairly sure is not what the manufacturer had in mind.

Such was the case when I spotted some old glass pop bottles at a yard sale. The Sprite bottle’s green glass had a white banner on the neck with the words Contents under pressure. Handle with care. I called my husband over to see it and said, “Some people should have that warning label!”

My amusement faded when I realized that I have often qualified as one of those people. Too many things to do and not enough time to accomplish everything can put me under pressure. This is usually something I’ve brought upon myself, either by taking on more than I should or procrastinating until I’m short on time. Even so, the pressure builds and those around me need a warning to stay clear, lest I explode.

This doesn’t happen as frequently as it did in the past. I am learning to bring my plans to Jesus. When I ask for his direction on what to say, “yes” or “no” to, my life runs much smoother. By making time with him the number one priority on my list I am better equipped to handle whatever comes my way. His guidance will enable me to keep the pressure under control. There is no better way to start my day than letting Jesus handle it with his loving care.

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3 NIV)

Are Your Roots Showing?

roots showingThere are many variations of roots. Some are exposed while others are well hidden.

Near the end of a walk I encountered an area where several trees had roots exposed. They seemed to reach from one to the next as if providing stepping stones. My husband was not surprise when I asked him to stop so I could take a picture.

These roots seemed to have a greater meaning to impart. I carried on, knowing the meaning would be revealed a I prayed for clarity.

Thoughts that came to mind were of my life being rooted in Jesus. When my roots run deep, I can stand strong and tall. If none of these roots are visible, how will others know that it is Jesus that provides the foundation of my life?

As well as reaching deep, some of my roots need to be exposed for all to see. They can form the stepping stones that will point others to Jesus. This will happen more readily when I allow myself to be open and vulnerable rather than pretending everything is perfect.

Reflecting on this, I believe it is a good thing to let my roots show.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19 NIV)

Campground Celebrations

celebration, Jesus, inspiration, joySome campgrounds have interesting traditions. The one we stay in holds a Canada Day parade the Saturday before July 1st.

Family friendly is a good description of this event. Everyone was encouraged to decorate their sites. Canadian flags and banners were hung. Red and white in the form of streamers and balloons were seen in abundance. We even hung a Canadian flag Frisbee in our tree!

A big red fire truck decorated with Canadian flags led the parade. Behind the truck was campground paradewhere the real fun started. Children rode decorated bicycles; drove battery operated cars and waved flags as they walked the parade route through the campground. Parents walked along with them.

Those deciding not to enter the parade sat in lawn chairs to watch the procession. The lucky ones were able to gather some of the candy that was tossed out to the spectators.

In a matter of minutes the parade had passed. What lingered was the joy of seeing families participating together in this event.

If this simple celebration could foster such a spirit of co-operation and joy, imagine a world where families, friends and neighbours joined together to celebrate and share the love of Jesus. That kind of contagious joy could change the world!

Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; celebrate his lovely name with music. (Psalm 135:3 NLT)

And all the people followed Solomon into Jerusalem, playing flutes and shouting for joy. The celebration was so joyous and noisy that the earth shook with the sound. (1 Kings 1:40 NLT)