In the Depths of the Falls

 

I saw a glimpse of something today. We took a little hike to Amicalola Falls and were standing on the bridge, looking up at the falls when I saw it. Looking up, this song started rolling over and over in my mind, and before I realized it, I was softly singing: 

Peace, peace, wonderful peace

Coming down from the Father above

Sweep over my spirit forever I pray 

In fathomless billows of love

As I stood there, listening to the waters rush over the rocks and tumble down below, I began to really see it…The rocks were solid, strong, unyielding. There were sharp places and dark places…green, squishy patches and dry, splotchy parts…even some spots with crackly, dry weeds. Yet, where the water flowed, the rocks were smooth and even shiny, almost like jewels glistening in the sun. The waters rushed over the edge at one place and trickled down, hardly noticeable in another. Sometimes, it would bounce and jump, almost seeming to dance in laughter off the rocks, and in others, that same water swirled and pooled, making little collections of shimmery basins in which you could’ve cooled and refreshed your feet. The falls were simply beautiful, invigorating and peaceful, inviting and overwhelming, all in the same breath. 

As I stood there, tears streaming down my face, I could see the depths of my very soul. The rocks are the image of my soul. It’s solid, strong, and unyielding, sometimes for very good reasons, sometimes for not so good. The water is the Living Water of God. It washes my heart, cleanses my mind and purifies my soul. It causes the green patches of soft, squishy grass to grow.Those are the places where I’m tender and soft toward the things of God. I’m pliable, moldable, easily moved and quickly changed. These are the places where I long to stay, to learn, to grow. 

Yet, there are other areas where it’s not so sweet. His water has to smooth out the sharp, ragged, painful places, those places we’d rather not talk about, those pains we’d just as soon forget. He pours over those jagged rocks of my soul to bring life, restoration and joy.

I was reminded, in that moment, all our souls are in this similar state of being. Some are more, some are less, but we all have sharp, jagged rocks that need His soothing. We all have dark places, those things which are ugly and hidden from the world that need His cleansing. Each one of us has a dry spot or two that needs more water and oh, those pesky weedy areas that are in such need of His purifying. Every one of us has a need for so many more of those soft, squishy, green patches, those places where His love and mercy abide. Our soul longs for those times when we are fully immersed in His goodness and grace.

You see, when we let Jesus into our soul, His rivers of Living Water rush into our lives to show us His love, His grace, His mercy, those things which He’s just been waiting to pour out. Sometimes, the water is so loud, so consuming, we can’t even contain it or comprehend it. Other times, He lets it trickle down a forgotten path, one we thought we’d pushed far into the past to a place never to be seen or remembered again. Yet, He gently lets His waters flow, washing over those places, drawing us back, soothing our soul. 

Just as these falls towered before me, His Living Water towers over our souls. He cleanses us, changes us, and transforms us into a beautiful spectacle for all to see. As we allow His water to wash over the depths of our being, we will know He is God. We will know He loves us; we will experience His grace, and we will be transformed into a new creation. We will become a beautiful waterfall that others will gaze upon and feel refreshed, invigorated, challenged and changed. They will gain strength and wisdom as they see what the Lord has done in our life. Many will long for the same as they see the place where He abides. All we must do is allow His Holy Spirit, His Living Waters to flow into and through our lives. Will you let Him flow today? 

“…And let anyone drink who believes in me.” As Scripture has said, “Out of him (or them) will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38

  

     

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Answer to Friday’s Angle #6

Did you guess it right yesterday??
That one might have been a little tough…

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It’s white legal envelopes photographed from the side!

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Friday’s New Angle #6

Friday’s the day…A new Angle’s our way! 😉

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The Road

  

Up, down, down, up
Go, go, go

Around the bend.
Wheels grinding.
Lights blinding.

Where do they go?
When will it end?

Meaningless motion.
Mindless emotion.
Mindful potion.

Where do they come from?
Who will they send?

Thoughts grimmer.
Hearts dimmer.
This road that never ends.

Go, go, go
Up, down, down, up.

Only you can make it stop.

Wednesday’s Ode #7

IMG_9826This week, I’d like give my ode to books. I love books, and I love to read! Books can take you to lands unknown. Books can take you to places of which you’ve never even dreamed. Books can give facts, and books can give fiction. Books are wonderful!

I guess you could probably call me a book hoarder. I have always loved books, old ones, new ones, little ones, big ones. I buy them in bookstores, online and in antique stores. I’ll even find many treasures in the Goodwill and thrift stores! These are incredibly cheap, too. I love it!! I find those I can actually sit down and read, and some I just buy for a collection. We’ve decided, when we have a “forever home,” a place where we will someday retire, we must make one room a library. My husband loves books, too; so, we have quite a growing stack.

I just love to read. Reading can take you away to distant lands; it can instill wisdom and grace to your weary soul. Getting immersed in a book can teach you new things and can sharpen your skills. It can expand your mind to imagine and dream. You can ask any teacher or scholar, reading books WILL make you smarter!

My heart’s desire has been to instill this love I have for reading and for books into the hearts of our sons. I have bought books for both of them since they were babies (actually before they were born!), and I buy them even now that they are nine and thirteen. I am grateful they have grown to have a love for books and reading as well.

Our, now thirteen year old, got the complete Sesame Street alphabet board books on his one year birthday. He sat in the floor, amidst all those toys, looking through and ‘reading’ each individual book. There were 29 in the series! He now still enjoys some reading. However, school requires quite a bit of textbook reading; so, he has a limited interest, at best. He is reading the Hunger Games series; so, at least the desire is there a little! 😉 Our nine year old loves to read about all kinds of things, but he especially loves his Action Bible, The Hobbit, the Magic Treehouse series, and How I Survived series. My husband is an avid reader. He favorites are The Lord of the Rings trilogy, all Louis L’Amour westerns and most John Grisham novels.

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My reading spans from fiction to non, self-help to leadership and mentoring, biographies and autobiographies, and so on. On my nightstand (actually within my Kindle) right now, I have two books in which I am immersed, and about twenty-five, or quite a bit more, which are waiting “in the wing.” These days, I put most of the books on my Kindle; so, I can take them wherever I go. I absolutely love that Kindle! Oh, but that ode can be given on another day!

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How about you? Do you love books? Do you love to read? What is on your bedside table right now? What are some wonderful books you have found lately? Which is your favorite?

Shadows

Have you ever been outside on a bright sunshiny day and all of a great big shadow covers you like a blanket? You look around to see what is causing the shadow in the middle of the day only to realize a great big cloud is passing overhead, and its shadow was being cast upon you. I want you to think about that image for a moment. Think of how that shadow makes you feel in that moment. Does it cast a bit of fear in your heart from the sudden darkness it brought? Does it bring a sense of coolness, giving you a break from the summer’s heat, or maybe it actually brought about a chill, because the temperatures were a little cooler on that fall afternoon…
Now imagine YOU are that shadow….What kind of shadow do you cast on others?” Is it anger, fear, rest, relief, or joy…
Let me give a few examples of the different shadows we can encounter from day to day…
Shadows can make some afraid…fear comes from the unknown and the concern for danger.
A little child is often scared at night because the shadows being cast upon his bed. He doesn’t know that it’s only the light from the hall casting the shadow on the wall. He imagines a “boogeyman” is sneaking by.
A young girl gets frightened as she walks down a deserted street at night as shadows seem to lurk around every corner. She has a concern for her safety and longs to be in the security of her own home.
To some, shadows can bring relief…relief from the blistering heat and the bright, overbearing sun in the middle of summer. That shadow will cool the brow and soothe the tension.
A farmer seeks refuge in the shade after a long, hard day’s work, taking a break to catch his breath before the evening’s done.
A child seeks solace from the overbearing sunshine on the heated shore. The shade brings comfort and relaxation; so, he might go run and play again.
Yet, to some, that same shade is further pain and bitter wind on a cold and dreary day. On a winter’s day like we had last week, the shadows only bring more misery and bitterness to an already blistering, below freezing day.
To the young, these same shadows can mean a time of playful figures dancing on the wind. These shadows can be translated into beautiful stories and testimonies of happy endings and even fantasies as the children make shadow boxes and hand motions creating animals, faces and even figures with the light and darkness.
So, you see, there are so many conclusions for shadows. Some good, some not so good. It all depends on how that given shadow causes a person to feel…
If you will notice in each of these scenarios that I’ve listed, it wasn’t the source of light that caused the differences of feelings within the person who received the shadow, and it wasn’t even the person, necessarily, as I mentioned, there were children and adults, alike, who responded with a good or bad feeling, but rather, it was the OBJECT through which the shadow was cast!
When we are in the light of the Son, we have the choice to be a “good” shadow or a “bad” shadow.
Your talk can cast your shadow of doubt as you spew negativity and gloom on an already dreary land. Or your talk can cast your shadow of faith as you speak of God’s goodness, His grace and His faithfulness.
Your actions can portray your hope in God above. Your smile can cast a shadow of relief on a weary soul. Or your actions can show your very doubt of His eternal abilities!
In these moments, when I see or hear believers casting “dark” shadows on other believers, I have to ask, “Where is the very hope to which we cling? HE is the Author and Finisher of our faith! We are conquerors through Christ who strengthens us! We can live victorious, in Jesus Name!” We must cast shadows of HOPE, of JOY, of LOVE, of LIFE!!
In the book of Genesis, Abraham cast a shadow of diligent obedience…in sacrifice, he was obedient…in directives (when told to “go”), he was obedient.
Throughout the Psalms and in the history of I & II Kings, King David cast a shadow of passionate worship…in victory, he worshiped passionately (ark of covenant brought home)…in sorrow, he passionately worshiped (death of child)…even after sin, in repentance, he passionately worshiped (Psalm 51)
Daniel cast a shadow of fervent prayer…when intimidated by Nebuchadnezzar, when threatened by the Kings’ court officials, and even when he was about to be devoured in the lions’ den, he fervently prayed.
The Apostle Paul cast a shadow of zealous and bold witness throughout his ministry in the NT…when faced with trials (before Caesar) and faced with imprisonment (in various places).
Even Peter cast a shadow when faced with others’ needs (remember, his shadow cast healed the sick?).
These are the ways that we should cast our shadows upon others. These men have given us examples of what kind of “shadows” to be…
I want to leave you the question with which I began, “What kind of shadow are you casting, or going to cast, for others to follow?”
Anxiety – Is it too tall, too big for them to ever feel success?
Fear – Are there too many expectations, too many demands, or is it only a fraction of what you have received?
Doubt – Is it too small, limiting their dreams to your abilities and only the things which you have achieved?
Anger – Is it full of strife and anger, grouchiness and negativity?
Insescurity – Is your shadow too limited by your own faults and failures that they cannot see Jesus within it?
Or is it a Shadow of….
Confidence – Or is it an inviting shadow, allowing them growth, maturity and wisdom to gain? Rest & Strength – Drawing them close to learn, to develop, to expand and add to their own thoughts and dreams?
Joy – Making them laugh at the face of danger, brandish their swords before the enemy, rejoicing for the days and dreams to come?
LIFE – A shadow that brings animation to their own as the two blend to become one that looks a whole lot like the Savior whom we serve?

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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 for 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.

If we are living a life that is knelt at the foot of the cross, and if we are daily turning toward the cross; then, our shadows will become that of the cross! When the cross is before us, in the LIGHT, which is the Son, we no long are seen, but the cross is seen!!
Let our shadows become the cross; then, all those who follow will only see JESUS!

Why Break Their Hearts

IMG_9834Ya know, sometimes, this world makes me angry at how easily people can walk away from a life commitment. I want to remind them that they made a vow before and to each other, before their family and friends, before GOD. Vows shouldn’t be made flippantly nor should they be taken lightly. Your word should stand for more than just a simple piece of paper that can be shred and burned in less than a minute. Your word should be solid, one that can be passed on from generation to generation.

I understand, there are legit reasons, cases of infidelity, abuse and illegal activities. I got it. They’ve got their reasons, but sometimes, I just want to scream at those who give up for stupid reasons, especially when there’s kiddos involved. Statements like, “Well, I just don’t love you anymore….I’m tired of trying.” These nonchalant attitudes, thoughts of reckless abandonment, these kinds of things should be scoffed at in today’s society, not “understood” and consoled, even congratulated. These are the words that shatter young dreams. These are the actions that implode self esteem and fragmentize tender hearts, and I’m not talking about those who make the decision but, rather, the lives surrounding that decision. Everyone is effected. No one is immune.

Moments fade. Lives change. Hearts are never to be the same. The decision makers think, “All will mend in time. It will eventually be okay.” What they don’t see is the permanent limp they’ve caused, not only to their own life, but to all those involved. Yes, limps can be managed, compensated for, and sometimes, even hidden for a while, but eventually, truth always unveils what is left in the shadows. Water always finds its level, and that is when surviving begins, and thriving is left in the dreamland.

Yes, I know, thriving can come. Healing can come. I am a testimony to this kind of pain and to this kind of healing. It is possible. There is hope thereafter; however, I still experience the pains and the healing…and I’m in my 40’s…and the deed was done just shy of that many years! It’s just not an easy road to travel for those following behind. 

Be careful what you say in anger. It may come back to bite. Be cautious what you do when lonely. It may come back to haunt you. Live your life for the eternal moments more than the momentary pleasures of relief. Live out your days with determination to keep those commitment which matter to those coming behind. Live in such a way that generations to come will be eager to follow.

Answer to Friday’s Angle #5

Could you get yesterday’s angle??

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It’s the end of a hairdryer! 😉

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Friday’s New Angle #5

Friday’s here, and so is its new angle! Can you guess this one??
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Step on Through

”Sometimes, you don’t know when you’re taking the first step through a door until you’re already inside.”- One thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp

“Well said, Ann.” Sometimes, when you’re just walking along, just doing what you’re supposed to be doing, doing what comes next and doing it well, you don’t really know you’re going through an open door to find a precious treasure inside, until, you’ve already arrived inside. You don’t realize the threshold under your feet until a third party walks up and says, “Great job today!” 🙂 In that moment, you come to realize the blessings to which you have been bestowed. You think, “Oh, wow, I actually ended up where I wanted to go.”

It takes obedience in the step, tenacity in the mundane and consistency in the trials to arrive at the goal. Sometimes, during a marathon, you can’t see anything but the next step. You can’t see the finish line that’s around the next bend, you can only see the tag number of the person running in front of you; yet, you press on. You persevere, and in the end, you reach your goal.

That’s how we must be in this life. We may go through trials. We may meet obstacles along the way, but if we’ll just keep striving, just keep going, we will reach those dreams that, so often, try to allude us. Keep pressing forward.

Whatever you do, don’t turn around! Don’t quit! You can do this! You can make it. You’ll never get inside until you step through the doorway, and you’ll never step through, if you don’t keep following the path to the door. So, keep putting one foot in front of the other; keep stepping on through, my friend. Sometimes, it takes the baby steps to get to the giant leaps and bounds. Keep going. You will “be inside” before you know it!