One of my favorite mediums of painting is watercolors. I got to thinking about it the other day and just started jotting down some of the life lessons I’ve learned while endeavoring to improve my skills. It is not any easy art form to master by any means, and the life lessons are even more challenging.
A light hand is always more effective and pleasing.
Too much control can be devastating.
Hard edges are unsettling. Relax. Loosen up.
Simplicity. Simplicity. Simplicity. Less is more. Don’t overwork or everything will turn into mud.
Learn how to control the flow…then release it to work its magic.
Identify the source of your light.
Darkness brings out the beauty of the light.
Balance is tricky…it can be overdone.
Perspective is key.
Identify your area of focus.
Learn from others; but being original is always best.
Don’t beat yourself up. You are your own worst critic.
Patience is a virtue.
One step at a time. Don’t rush it.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!
Sometimes you just need to walk away and take a break. Nothing good gets accomplished when you’re too tired.
Train your eye to observe. Mother Nature is the best teacher.
Timing is everything. Don’t try to overwork something that is all dried up.
There are many different colors in the palette. Some mix well; some don’t. Some complement each other; some don’t.
There are many different kinds of brushes; they all respond to different amounts of pressure.
If you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes a mistake can be turned into something unique and charming.
I had only been married a year, when I learned a valuable lesson. Actually, I had already learned it many years prior, but sometimes in the busyness and distractions of life, we have to be reminded. It’s so easy to lose focus of what really matters in this life. Is it because we’ve lost sight of what’s coming in the next life?
My husband Steve and I lived in a rental home in town our first year of marriage, until our landlady decided she wanted to move back in, so we had to pack up and move out. We borrowed a friend’s pickup, and thus began several round-trips to our home in the country. I had taken special care to pack one of our boxes with some of my treasures that were rather fragile. I had planned to make sure this box made it to the inside of the truck, but in all the chaos of moving, I lost track of it and it ended up being packed in the bed of the truck. Just before leaving on our first round, I noticed Steve had not tied anything down; no tarp, no rope – nothing. When I questioned him about this, he assured me that the boxes were so tightly fit together that nothing could possibly wedge loose.
We had only driven a few miles down the Interstate when Steve happened to look in the rear-view mirror and uttered the fateful word, “Uh-oh!” I turned around in time to see that a box had dislodged and was flying through the air. With a sinking feeling we watched as it crashed in the middle of the road and shattered into a thousand pieces. It could have so easily smashed into a passing vehicle and caused an accident. We quickly stopped and jumped out of the truck to retrieve the pieces before any traffic happened by. One glance at the broken fragments and my heart sank: it was my box of treasures! I stood in the middle of the road holding a fragment of an antique plate, and I just started crying. I could tell it was a piece of the plate that had been gifted to us for our wedding by my step-father’s family. It was a family heirloom that had been in their family for over a hundred years. The plate was hand-painted with beautiful white roses, and I cherished it. I couldn’t even bear to look at anything else, and made a quick run back to the truck, still crying, and leaving Steve to clean up.
Upon arriving at our new home, I got out of the truck and just started walking. At that point I wasn’t in any mood to speak to my husband or even help unload the truck. I think I must have been gone well over an hour, walking country roads through the cornfields. By the time I returned home, I had cried a bucket of tears. Our new neighbors had come over to introduce themselves, and I was a hot mess with swollen eyes. They probably wondered what kind of people were moving into the neighborhood. By this time, Steve had placed the contents of the shattered box on the dining room table. I began sifting through the pieces. Everything was totally destroyed…priceless wedding gifts, cherished mementos, high school and college graduation gifts. I couldn’t help but chide myself for placing so many of my treasures all in one box. After all, everyone knows “not to place all of your eggs in one basket!”
Then the most amazing thing happened. I noticed a flat box laying on the table. I opened it up and discovered it was another wedding gift, another plate, only this plate had survived the crash without so much as a crack or a scratch. It was absolutely the ONLY thing that had survived. It was a beautiful Lenox plate with the design of fruit around the rim. It was beautiful, but I couldn’t help but wish the beautiful heirloom plate had survived instead of this one.
Three days went by and I continued to MOPE. That’s the best way I know how to describe it. (Not a pleasant time for my poor husband.) I decided I would go for another walk and try to sort things out. Why had it been MY box of treasures that had become dislodged from the back of the truck? I found myself puzzled about the fruit plate. How and why had it survived? If I had been able to select ONE item to keep, it would have been the gorgeous hand-painted rose plate. I am happy to say that on my walk that day I had an epiphany. All the shattered, broken pieces came together and I finally understood what had happened, and why. On my walk I was reminded of a verse of Scripture found in John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” That was it! The sign of the FRUIT! The fruit plate was God’s gentle reminder to me to hold on lightly to those things I considered my “treasures.” Yes, they were all beautiful and held great sentimental value, but I would never be able to take them with me into the next life. However, the things that are of true value, WILL follow you into the next life. These are the things the Scriptures refer to as your “fruit.”
Are you finding yourself wondering what the “fruit” is in your life? Let me just mention a few things that it is NOT. It is not your education, your awards, your beautiful home or fancy car. It is not your rich apparel, bank account, stock investments, world travels or accumulation of “stuff.” If you can’t think of any fruit in your life, it’s time to take stock. What exactly are you going to take with you into the next life? Remember, that life will last for eternity. Maybe it’s time to take a walk through the cornfields and sort it out. If you have no cornfields around, a walk through the mountains, along a beach, or city street work really well, too. In closing, I will admit, it is nice to enjoy these “little earthly treasures” we are gifted with. They do bring us a lot of joy. We just have to remember to hold on lightly, and when it’s time to release them, we need to let go graciously and gratefully.
A very short time after this experience took place in my life, I happened to share this story at a ladies Bible study. The following week, one of the ladies presented me with a special gift she had made for me – a beautiful hand-painted china plate of white roses.
I cherish this gift and it has hung on the walls of our home, along with the fruit plate, ever since. They are a silent reminder that we are called to “bear fruit,” and it is a fruit that will remain after all our earthly treasures are gone.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
My mother passed away in May of 2016. I remember that following Christmas it was hard for me to feel the usual festive, holiday spirit and joy. For most of us, after all, our mothers were the ones who first introduced us to the joys and beauty of Christmas, and many of our fondest childhood memories are wrapped up in this season. I was struggling with trying to feel the joy, this particular Christmas, but I went ahead and decorated our home and our tree anyway; I knew my mother would want me to.
Once the tree was up and decorated, I noticed an empty spot that still needed an ornament, and the thought ran through my mind…Just like the empty spot in my heart. I looked through the boxes lying around on the floor, but no more ornaments were to be found. I went down to our basement to see if I might not find one more ornament stored in another bin. That’s when I came across the Christmas wreath that I had hung on my mother’s bedroom door. In the center of the wreath, I had hung an ornament. Appropriately, it was an ornament of the word “JOY.” Perfect. I went back to the tree and filled the empty spot with the ornament of joy. As I hung the ornament, I was reminded of our Savior who came into this dark world of sorrow and grief, to fill the empty places of our lives with JOY…and after all, wasn’t that what the celebration of Christmas was all about? The angel announced to the shepherds, “Behold, I bring you tidings of GREAT JOY!
The Psalmist wrote, “In your presence is fulness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11) I decided then and there, that if I indeed had the presence of God with me, then I shouldn’t be harboring grief and sorrow. He hadn’t left me. He had actually promised never to leave me or forsake me. There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is temporary and fleeting, but JOY…well, it is beyond defining; you must allow yourself to experience it. If you allow the joy in, it will dispel the pain. The words joy and joyous are found 245 times in the Scriptures. The word rejoice shows up 150 times, and we’re instructed to be joyful and rejoice nearly 400 times! You can choose to be joyful regardless of your circumstances.
The year 2020 has proven to be rather challenging on many fronts. Consciously, or subconsciously, we have grieved through a pandemic, the unexpected loss of friends and loved ones, political turmoil, riots and unrest, lockdowns and shutdowns, economic distress, natural disasters, loss of personal freedoms, and the list goes on. in the midst of all of this trauma, however, I am reminded of the words of Habakkuk: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, YET…I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18.)
Habakkuk understood the source of his joy, despite the circumstances surrounding him at the time that were rather bleak. This Christmas season, my hope is that you will choose joy…and that despite everything that has happened this year, you and your family will experience a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The body heals with play, the mind heals with laughter, and the spirit heals with JOY. (A proverb)
My husband and I have three apple trees in our yard, here in Edelsfeld, Germany. It is now mid-November and two of the trees are well past producing their harvest. However, one of them refuses to quit. I believe it is the original version of “The Giving Tree.” It just keeps giving and giving and giving….
This afternoon I was gathering apples in my buckets once more…hundreds of them…or was it a thousand? It is this way every day. The neighbors now run from me when they see me coming, wanting to bless them with more apples. Truth is, these are the best tasting apples I’ve ever eaten in my life. They are red, sweet, crispy and juicy – unlike the tasteless, mushy ones sold at the grocery stores. We have truly been blessed with a bountiful harvest – a bumper crop. I stop and look up at the tree and notice the branches are still loaded, and I’m reminded of a Scripture verse found in the Song of Solomon 2:5 – Comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love. I’m afraid my version would read – Comfort me with love, for I am sick of apples.
All jesting aside, every time I gather up these apples, I am reminded of the abundant blessings that have been poured out on my life. I know there are many people in the world who are starving for even a morsel of food, and would love to sink their teeth into one of these beauties. I think of the story of the young North Korean girl who scrounged for her food and managed to stay alive by eating field mice. My mother became a widow when my brother and I were quite young, and I remember some hard times, but I can honestly say I don’t ever remember going to bed hungry, or not having a warm bed in which to sleep.
I climb up to our balcony to get a birds-eye-view of our tree and see how many more apples might be coming. There are so many still clinging, I can’t even count them, and I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness…His blessings are too numerous to count…just like my thousand apples. Oh, I haven’t counted them – just an estimate! Some time ago, I decided to keep a gratitude journal and write one thousand things for which I was grateful. I’m now at number 912. I know once I reach one thousand, I will start over on the next thousand.
I look past our tree to the hills that surround our valley and I think back to a time when this village was not quite so peaceful, and people went to bed in blackouts and shivered in fear as the bombs dropped. A memorial plaque stands in front of one of the town churches, honoring lost sons of the war. And that is another one of my thousand blessings: not once have I ever gone to sleep at night in fear for my life. I’ve known nothing but peace in my life. How many people in the world can say that?
Is that why the original owners planted three apple trees, a black-bing cherry tree, a walnut tree and blackberry bushes? Was it this harvest that sustained them during the war years? I am left to wonder. And on and on it goes….counting my blessings. Then I think about another tree…
You see, the original “Giving Tree” was actually planted on a hill called Calvary, and every good and perfect gift flows from that tree. That tree shows us the WAY…the way through the wilderness we sometimes find ourselves in; the way through the darkness into the light; the way home when we are lost. The fruit of that tree is TRUTH that binds itself around our hearts and our minds and protects us from the chaos, evil and deceit that surrounds us in this present world. That tree gives, nourishes and sustains our very LIFE – a life that is eternal. I hope you have this tree planted in your garden – I do and I gather its fruit every day, and I’m always amazed at the abundance of sweetness and goodness. My buckets are overflowing! This tree just keeps giving and giving and giving…it never stops!
So, these are some of my reflections about Thanksgiving and just a few things I am truly grateful for, but it all started with one thousand apples!
My husband Steve and I recently toured the Borowski Art in Glass Workshop in Boleslawieck, Poland. It is very different from any other glass blowing we’ve ever seen in that the glass creations are very contemporary with a fun, whimsical twist. All the sculptures tell stories about particular situations that often translate into comical compositions and characters. The workshop is located in a remodeled, century-old building.
This is a family run shop owned and operated by Mr. Stanislaw Borowski and his sons, Pawet, Wiktor and Stani Jan. We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Borowski and Pawet during our tour.
Borowski glass gained international recognition in the 1970s with Stanislaw’s engravings and sculptures. There is a photo in the shop featuring the presentation of a Borowski glass sculpture to President Jimmy Carter.
Mr. Borowski opened his first small shop in 1990, and it now ranks as one of the most acclaimed art glass studios in the world, with appearances in many international exhibits.
During our weekend visit to Poland, we noticed that the soil is very sandy. The Borowskis use a secret formula for their glass making, but I’m sure the native sandy soil of Poland is probably the foundational element.
In an online interview, Mr. Borowski described his difficult, early years of working with glass. His studio was inadequate, cold and icy. He didn’t have proper tools, and had to seek permission to use a diamond saw.
His creations are rooted in childhood fantasies. His early pieces were small, and he described them as tiny children he had to raise himself, and then give them up.
“There are some of my pieces on display in galleries around the world that I would love to be able to buy back, or steal…but I had to sell them to make a living.”
“Every step of the way was about gathering knowledge and climbing a ladder.”
“My work gives me inner satisfaction. It makes me feel complete, like I have accomplished something”
“It’s up to the public to decide what’s good and what’s bad. ‘Yes, I like that very much,’ or ‘No. I wouldn’t want that in my home.’”
“All artists need to listen carefully.”
“I’m not a painter. So I have to remember what I see.”
“What about the people? They’re still in pieces. What’s the plan? It’s a piece of architecture”
“When someone asks me what’s the most important medium for my creative work, I always answer “Light!” – Stani Jan Borowski
Steve and I were given a special demonstration of some glass blowing. This particular session was the design of a small, whimsical whale. We ended up purchasing one of these whales as a souvenir.
There is a shop where you can purchase some of these amazing creations, from the smallest pieces to rather large indoor and outdoor sculptures, and there is a garden area that features wooden, clay, metal and glass exhibits of some outdoor sculptures.
All in all, this was an amazing tour, the highlight of which was getting to meet Mr. Borowski and his son Pawet.
Recently I found myself reading quotes from some rather famous personalities regarding their lack of belief in God. To quote a few, following are some excerpts:
There doesn’t need to be a God for me. There’s something in people that’s spiritual, that’s godlike. I don’t feel like doing things just because people say things, but I also don’t really know if it’s better to just not believe in anything, either. – Angelina Jolie
When I got untethered from the comfort of religion, it wasn’t a loss of faith for me, it was a discovery of self. There’s a peace in understanding that I have only one life, here and now, and I’m responsible. – Brad Pitt
Organized religions in general, in my opinion, are dying forms. There are people who interpret the Bible literally. Literally! I choose not to believe that’s the way. – Bruce Willis
A few other well-known atheist film stars include Katherine Hepburn and Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter fame. This is only a small, partial list. What is it, one wonders, that makes the rich and famous so prone to atheism, but, that is a topic for another day.
John Lennon penned the lines of this famous song:
Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try
No hell below us, above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today.
Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too..
Imagine all the people, living life in peace.
The telling line in this song is “imagine all the people living for today.” Brad Pitt seems to echo that sentiment…”I have only one life, here and now.” But what if there is more to life than just the here and now? What if life is truly never ending, and there is such a thing as eternity, and you squandered all your wealth, talents and energy on only 70 to 80 years of it? Jesus poses the question this way,
“What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
Jesus also shared the story of the rich fool who had accumulated so much in the way of crops and produce, his barns were too small to contain it all. He boastfully bragged that he would build a bigger barn to store all of his excess, that he might spend the rest of his years in ease and comfort and just sit back, eat, drink and be merry…enjoy life. The only problem with this plan was, that very night God required his soul of him. All the accumulation of his wealth was left to someone else. The larger, looming question was, what reward did he have awaiting him?
George Clooney was quoted as saying, “I don’t believe in heaven and hell. I don’t know if I believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won’t allow this life – the only thing I know to exist – to be wasted.” Once again, we see the emphasis on THIS LIFE, but what about the next? He claims he “doesn’t know.” At least he’s honest enough to admit he’s not sure.
So, why take a chance?
Bertrand Russell, the famous atheist, mathematician, pacifist and political activist (1872-1970), was once interviewed and asked what he would say when confronted with the Almighty. His response? …
“Sir, why did you not give me better evidence?”
As a side note, I find it interesting that, although he did not believe in God, he had a question prepared for Him. I don’t have to imagine God’s response as He has already addressed this question in the Holy Scriptures. Let’s take a look:
King David clearly recognized the evidence of God in the natural world around him: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)
The Apostle Paul wrote: “Since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”(Romans 1:20)
If you’ve ever looked up at the stars on a clear night and not felt a hushed and reverent Presence of the Almighty, you, my friend, have a hardened heart. Have you never walked an ocean shore, admired the beauty of a sunset, heard the thundering crash of the waves and not felt a deep stirring in your soul? Have you never wondered who set the boundaries for the ocean, and a million other questions?
I’ve always enjoyed beach combing and looking for shells. I remember one time that I chanced on a sizeable pile of shells against a sea wall that had been washed up by the tide. I sat down and combed through the shells for over an hour, totally entranced. I was in awe at the intricacies of design and color. There were perfect cone-shaped spirals of translucent white; shells with red, brown and yellow Indian blanket designs; other shells with every color of a tropical sunset. I had hit the jackpot! I was wishing I could bring in a backhoe and a truck. I left with a small bag of treasures that I still display in a jar to this day. I will never forget thinking this pile of magnificent shells, of such amazing artistry was hidden under an ocean of water, never seen by human eyes before mine…. God had treated me to a private peek into His art studio just for my own personal joy and pleasure. I walked away with such a sense of the love and Presence of God. How could anyone not believe, I wondered?
Even the sand beneath my feet was the exquisite work of an artistic hand. Miriam Drennan describes this phenomenon well:
“Have you ever seen photographs of individual grains of sand blown up 250 times their actual size? Some grains look like red gem stones, others look like icicles; some resemble speckled yellow and brown eggs, and still others seem shaped like corncobs, snowflakes and precious gems. Some grains are square, some spherical, and some flat. No two grains are the same – in fact, you’d never know you were even looking at grains of sand if no one told you.”
That kind of artistry is humanly unfathomable. It resides in the realm of the supernatural; the same supernatural force that scattered the stars through the heavens and hung the Milky Way.
Thousands upon thousands of books, poems and songs have been written about the glory of God as seen in nature. Man truly is inexcusable.
Albert Einstein once stated, “I do not believe in a personal God, and I have never denied this, but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious, then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. “
Yes, even Albert Einstein left a big, gaping IF….the structure of the world was something he admitted he had to admire. Can one admire such structure and beauty and still believe it all came about through sheer happenstance?
Yes, I choose to believe in God because of the evidence I’ve seen with my own eyes of that which He has created. It’s overwhelming. It’s incontrovertible. Is this the only reason I believe? No, but it is one very big reason!
“They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.” Psalm 65:8 (NASB)
Just count me as one who stands in awe of His signs…one who stands in awe of a pile of seashells.
This morning I woke up at 2:15 A.M. Wide awake. That’s been happening a lot lately. I find it interesting that it’s always at the same time. It used to be 3:30. There are times when I realize I ate too much pizza for supper the night before and that I just need to go back to sleep. Other times, like last night, I’m aware there is a Presence, and a Voice of someone wanting to speak to me, and that I need to listen carefully. Now, before some of you get too spooked out…yes, I am one of those who believes God can speak to you. He could speak in an audible voice if He chose to, as He did in Biblical times with Adam and Eve; with Moses on the mount; with Saul of Tarsus who was knocked to the ground and blinded (to try to get his attention.) Elijah was an Old Testament prophet that heard the voice of God. He was told to go stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, and the Lord would pass by. “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a GENTLE WHISPER. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” 1 Kings 19:11-13
More often than not, God now communicates with His children in quiet whispers of the heart, which means you have to be so very, very quiet to hear Him. Maybe that’s why He wakes you up in the middle of the night when there are no distracting lights, no blaring TV or radio, no internet, or a million other weapons of mass distraction. So…you wonder…what did I hear when I was awakened at 2:15 A.M.? From this gentle whisper in my heart I heard the words: JESUS…AT THE CENTER OF THE STORM. The words were so distinct, it was almost as if I had heard them audibly. From this point on I was wide awake, and it seemed as if I was watching a full feature movie playing out various scenes in front of me. When a woman wakes up, wide awake, in the middle of the night, let me tell you – the brain is not quiet. Sometimes I find it quite amusing to see where my mind takes me. At other times, I find it not so amusing, and just wish I could go back to sleep.
Before I go any further, I must warn you…for those who don’t understand how a woman’s mind works. A man compartmentalizes everything neatly in a box. If you were to illustrate a man’s mind you could simply draw a box and place a dot in the center. A woman’s mind, on the other hand, could be illustrated with a box of spilled spaghetti. As I lay awake, contemplating the whisper of my heart, the movie lines played and interwove with each other, like an upended bowl of tangled spaghetti. The first scene that played out was the famous painting “Peace in the Midst of the Storm” by Jack Dawson. This painting depicts a small bird who has found shelter in the cleft of the rock, while a storm is raging. Hidden in the jagged cliffs outside are two images; one of Christ and the other a more sinister looking creature.
Meditating on this scene, the bowl of spaghetti kept filling my box. The next scene to appear was a group of elementary children who had been moved to a hallway for protection from a violent storm. I had remembered seeing this story play out in the news. I heard a group of teachers leading their students in the song “In the Eye of the Storm.”
In the eye of the storm, you remain in control,
In the middle of the war, you guard my soul.
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn,
Your love surrounds me, in the eye of the storm…
I find my peace in Jesus’ Name.
I was reminded of the storm chasers who fly their planes through hurricanes as they chart their path. It is so amazing to see them fly through the eye of the storm where there are blue skies, sunshine, and perfect calm.
As this song faded away, I saw the scene of a man and his dog on a sail boat. I remembered reading this true story years ago. They had started out for a day of sailing under sunny skies, when the weather began to turn. As the man changed his course to head back home, the wind picked up and the waves began to toss violently. He feared for his life and the life of his dog. In his panic, he briefly looked down at his dog and was amazed to see perfect peace and love in his eyes. He was not the least bit stressed or agitated. He was just keeping his gaze focused on his master. The man began praying and asking God to forgive him. “My dog has more faith in me, than I have in you,” he confessed. “Help me keep my eyes on you!” The story had a happy ending, and the man learned a lesson in faith that day, from his dog.
The focus of the action then shifted to a similar scene. It was the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus and His disciples were caught in a violent storm in their small boat. Here, too, the disciples feared for their lives. In their panic, they awakened their Master. Jesus spoke to the storm, “Peace, be still,” and immediately the waves calmed. Jesus couldn’t understand why the disciples were so afraid, and rebuked them for their lack of faith.
At this point my mind was beginning to calm and I was beginning to feel drowsy again, but not before two verses of Scripture appeared on the screen:
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26::3…
and with this one, I turned over and went back to sleep…
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
So, I don’t know if there’s anyone out there that needs to be encouraged or reminded of this today, but don’t ever forget…Jesus is in the eye of your storm. He is your center, and it’s there you will find your peace. Find your center. Find your center and keep your gaze steadfast on your Master. Find your peace in Jesus’ Name. It’s “a peace that passes all understanding.”
My husband and I, along with our German neighbors, and military friends on nearby bases, have all been under a mandated “shelter at home” quarantine now, for over two months, due to an outbreak of the dreaded caronavirus. That, in itself, is not newsworthy, as this state of affairs spread rapidly to many other parts of the world, and at one time Europe was considered “ground zero.” I’m not sure what the status is now, as things are slowly beginning to open back up. However, I am endeavoring to document our experiences while here in this country, so I am making an attempt (albeit a rather feeble attempt) to reflect on these happenings, if for no other reason than to be able to look back, years from now, and have some kind of perspective.
I say “feeble attempt” because it is such an overwhelming topic, and I along with others, have grown weary of the daily news and even the mention of the word. Social media quickly reverted to jokes and lighthearted memes, even divisive political debate about what measures should be taken. I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to enjoying a little comic relief, but can’t help feeling shame at the thought of laughing when I had friends in the hospital who had been infected and were on life support – multiply this scenario thousands of times throughout the world. The world reeled in agony, and many of us sat back and laughed? God help us. Don’t take me wrong. I’m not standing in judgment over anyone. I totally understand the old adage…sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. I experienced that roller coaster many times during the years I took care of my mother, whose mental and physical health were slowly ravaged by dementia.
I guess the hardest part for me to understand is how quickly the world panicked. It only took a week or so, after hearing about the rush on toilet paper in the US, before shelves here in Germany were wiped out as well…no pun intended. Why, everyone wonders? It is, after all, a respiratory virus, not a stomach flu. Once it hit the toilet paper aisle, other aisles quickly followed: meat, bread, flour, sugar, peanut butter and jelly, ramen noodles…ramen noodles? Seriously? There must be a lot of people out there who don’t like to cook. On second thought, that was the Commissary on base where a lot of single soldiers shop.
Well…this brings me to my topic, Kibrothhattaavah. Recently I was reading in the book of Numbers (not my favorite part of the Bible), so when I get to this part, I tend to skip and skim. I landed in chapter 11. The children of Israel had been delivered from slavery and bondage in Egypt, and had just experienced one of the most amazing miracles of God ever witnessed by man – the parting of the Red Sea. So, what was their response? Murmuring and complaining. God’s anger was kindled against them. He had delivered them from bondage and the mighty Egyptian army; He had fed them with heavenly manna (which they had hoarded), but that wasn’t good enough. They wanted meat!!!!! (Ah yes! That seems to be the on-going hot commodity lately, and meat counters continue to remain sparsely stocked.) God got so tired of their complaining, He decided to send them their meat…tons of meat! God said He would send them enough meat not for one or two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days. He sent them enough meat for a whole month, to the point He said it would come out of their nostrils and be loathsome to them. God sent a wind from the sea that brought quail and let them fall in the camp. According to my Bible commentary, the quail was stacked three feet deep around the camp, as far away as a day’s walk.
So, what did the people do? They HOARDED. (Evidently the temptation to hoard has been a common human trait since the beginning of time.) They gathered quail all day, all that night, and all the next day. The least any one person gathered was 10 ½ bushels of quail. There was a total of 6,720 quail to each of 3,000,000 people. There was a total of 2,520,000,000 gallons or 20,160,000,000 quail. (In my mind, I’m picturing the scene of all this quail in a desert environment without refrigeration, and thinking the stench would be unbearable.) Well, it was picnic time in the camp, but the story doesn’t end well.
While the quail flesh was still in their mouths, before they had even chewed, the Lord smote them with a very great plague. We are not told how many died, but the name of the place where they were buried was named Kibrothhattaavah – Graves of lust and greed.
In the New Testament we are taught to pray the Lord’s Prayer – a part of which is a request to the God of Heaven…Give us this day, our daily bread. Another core teaching of the New Testament is…Do not worry about tomorrow. In other words, be happy, satisfied and content with your provision for THIS DAY! This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Tomorrow will take care of itself, when you leave the control in God’s hands.
So, how will our story end? Pray for those in authority; our President, our governors, our mayors, that God give them great wisdom. Pray for our business leaders as they struggle to get our sinking economy up and running again. Let us continue to pray and have compassion over the sick. Continue to pray for healthcare providers and those working exhausting days and nights to provide for our basic needs.
Remember, life is 10 % what happens to you, and 90 % how you respond. May God help us not to fall into the trap of grumbling and complaining and hoarding, and find “Kibrothhattaavah” engraved on our tombstone.
The power of the word is real whether or not you are conscious of it.
Behind every word flows energy.
– Sonia Choquette
Think back over your life. What words have defined you? What words have you ALLOWED to define you? I know children whose parents have told them they were “a mistake.” Do you think that child is capable of ever forgetting those words? Then there are others who’ve been told, “You’re a mess; you’ll never amount to anything in life; you’re not smart enough; you’re not good enough; you’re ugly; you’re dumb; why aren’t you as beautiful and talented as your sister”…and the list goes on. Those words are hard to forget – they leave a scar. They haunt you for life.
Someone once told me she wished she had just a fingertip of my artistic talent. I reminded her that all it takes is the desire, and it sounded to me like she had that. She replied that she had been told by her parents that she didn’t have any artistic talent at all. For years she had accepted those words spoken over her. I talked her into signing up for oil painting classes, and she produced amazing paintings that now grace the walls of her home, but she wasted some beautiful, creative years to get to that point.
In thinking over some of the “defining words of life,” I decided to come up with a list of some of the power players, and then turned the list into a play. Maybe you’ll recognize yourself as one of the main actors. This is literally a WORD PLAY. I’ve entitled the play:
We’re all players on this stage of life. In which scene do you find yourself? I hope you’re allowing the energy of positive, affirming, God-inspired words to flow through your life.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Deuteronomy 8:3
He sent forth his word and healed them. Psalm 107:20
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:3
The very breath that God used to speak forth the creation of the world, and bring light out of darkness, is the same breath He breathed into you to speak forth your words. They can be creative, illuminating, life-giving words, or they can be dark, haunting, destructive words. The power is yours; choose wisely…and remember… “Men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37
Here is how I describe my God…how do you describe yours?
His position is SUPREME Col. 1:18
His greatness is SURPASSING, UNSEARCHABLE and UNFATHOMABLE Psalm 150:2; Phil. 3:8; Psalm 145:3
His majesty is GLORIOUSLY SPLENDID Psalm 145:5
His garments are SPLENDOR, MAJESTY and LIGHT Psalm 104:1-2
He lives in UNAPPROACHABLE light. 1 Tim. 6:16
His presence is BRIGHTNESS Psalm 18:12
His image is INVISIBLE Col. 1:15
His splendor is ABOVE THE EARTH AND THE HEAVENS Psalm 148:14
His glory is GREAT, ALL-SURPASSING, ABOVE THE HEAVENS, and ENDURES FOREVER 2 Cor. 3:11; Psalm 104:32; Psalm 8:1; Psalm 138:2
His kingdom is GLORIOUSLY SPLENDID and EVERLASTING Psalm 145:13
His throne is FOR EVER AND EVER Psalm 45:6
His righteousness is EVERLASTING, ENDURING FOREVER Psalm 111:3; 119:142
His kingship is ETERNAL and OVER ALL THE EARTH 1 Tim. 1:17; Psalm 47:7
His reign is FOREVER Psalm 146:10
His renown is EVERLASTING and ENDURES FOREVER Isaiah 63:12: Psalm 135:13
His wonders are REMEMBERED Psalm 111:4
His dominion is ENDURING Psalm 145:13
His name is HOLY and AWESOME Psalm 111:9
His name is GLORIOUS and HOLY Isaiah 63:14; Psalm 145:21
His name alone is EXALTED ABOVE ALL THINGS Psalm 148:13; Psalm 138:2
His name alone is EXCELLENT. Psalm 148:13
His name is ABOVE EVERY NAME Phil. 2:9
His name is REMEMBERED IN ALL GENERATIONS Psalm 45:17
His name ENDURES FOREVER Psalm 72:17;135:13
His creation is BEFORE ALL THINGS Col. 1:17
His voice is POWERFUL, MAJESTIC, UPON THE WATERS, THUNDERS, BREAKS THE CEDARS, DIVIDES THE FLAMES, SHAKES THE WILDERNESS Psalm 29
His Word is FLAWLESS and ETERNAL, and EXALTED ABOVE ALL THINGS Proverbs 30:5; Psalm 119:89; Psalm 138:2
His Words are TRUE and RIGHT Psalm 119:160; Psalm 33:4
His fear is THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM Psalm 111:10
His law is PERFECT, RIGHTEOUS, ETERNAL, ENDURING, TRUE and DELIGHTFUL Psalm 19:7; 119:91,142,160,174
His statutes are RIGHTEOUS, TRUSTWORTHY, LASTING FOREVER and FOREVER RIGHT Psalm 119:138,144,152;19:7
His truth is ABUNDANT Exodus 34:6
His right hand is FULL OF RIGHTEOUSNESS Psalm 48:10
His counsel is EVERLASTING Psalm 33:11
His promises are FAITHFUL and THOROUGHLY TESTED Psalm 145:13; Psalm 119:140
His faithfulness REACHES TO THE SKIES; ENDURES FOREVER and CONTINUES THROUGH ALL GENERATIONS Psalm 57:10; Psalm 117:2; 119:90
His compassion is GREAT Psalm 119:156
His kindness is MARVELOUS and LOVING Psalm 17:7; 31:21
His teaching is LIGHT Proverbs 6:23
His precepts are RIGHT, TRUSTWORTHY, STEADFAST, FAITHFUL, UPRIGHT and SUSTAINING Psalm 19:8; Psalm 111:7-8; 119:93
His commands are TRUE, DELIGHTFUL, RIGHTEOUS, BOUNDLESS (Even though all other perfection has its limits.) and UNFORGETTABLE Psalm 119:151; 119:143; 119:172;119:96,176
His ordinances are SURE and ALTOGETHER RIGHTEOUS Psalm 19:9
His judgments are UNSEARCHABLE Romans 11:33
His power is MIGHTY, ALL-SURPASSING, INCOMPARABLE and MAJESTIC Psalm 147:5; 2 Cor. 4:7; EPH. 1:19; 2 Thes. 1:9
His works are GREAT, POWERFUL, WONDERFUL, AWESOME, MARVELOUS, FAITHFUL, JUST and TRUE Psalm 145:6; Psalm 111;6-7; Psalm 9:1; Psalm 33:4
His acts are MIGHTY Psalm 145:4
His ways are RIGHTEOUS and PERFECT Psalm 145:17; Psalm 18:30
His deeds are GREAT, GLORIOUS and MAJESTIC Psalm 145:6; Psalm 111;3
His riches are UNSEARCHABLE and GLORIOUS Eph. 3:8; Eph. 3:16; Phil. 4:19
His mercy and grace are GLORIOUS, INCOMPARABLE, SUFFICIENT, ABUNDANT, RICH and FULL Eph. 1:6; Eph. 2:4,7; 2 Cor. 12:9; Romans 5:17; John 1:16
His patience is UNLIMITED 1 Tim. 1:16
His peace TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING Phil. 4:7
His energy is EMPOWERING Col. 1:29
His hand is MIGHTY Exodus 32:11
His gift is INDESCRIBABLE 2 Cor. 9:15
His goodness is ABUNDANT Exodus 34:6; Psalm 145:7
His understanding is INFINITE and LIMITLESS. Psalm 147:5
His paths are BEYOND TRACING OUT Romans 11:33
His Church is HOLY and WITHOUT BLEMISH Col. 1:22
His praise is ETERNAL, ENDURING FOR EVER AND EVER Psalm 111:10; PSALM 45:17
His covenant is ORDAINED FOREVER Psalm 111:5,9
His love is UNFAILING, SURPASSES KNOWLEDGE, ALL-ENCOMPASSING, RICH, PRICELESS, EXCELLENT, REACHES TO THE HEAVENS and ENDURES FOREVER Psalm 32:10; Eph. 3:19; John 3:16 ; Psalm 145:8; Psalm 36:7; Psalm 57:10; Psalm 136:1
His help is EVER-PRESENT Psalm 46:1
His arms are EVERLASTING Deut. 33:27