Heart of Summer

Deep in the Heart of Summer

The heart of summer draws many of us closer to our air conditioners. Temperatures rise, the grass crunches, and flowers shrivel if not watered daily.

The joy of planting flowers in spring is replaced with the drudgery of lugging hoses to keep the blooms alive. Heat and humidity dissolve the ambitions of working outdoors. We wonder when the next pop-up shower will bring relief to the baked earth.

The heart of summer has a unique rhythm.

The schedule is different; sometimes it’s more relaxed with less responsibility, while other times it’s more hectic as different kinds of activities are planned. Birds sing in the morning while locusts chirp in the evening.

Summer blessings abound.

Blessings come from garden veggies, impromptu picnics or camping adventures. We are thankful for different things that are easily overlooked at other times of the year, like drippy popcicles, kids jumping in sprinklers or laying in the grass watcing meteor showers.

The simple actions of today become pleasant memories for tomorrow. Pause and reflect on the fun moments of past summers. As a child, what did you like about this season? What is your favorite thing about summer now?

Recall those blessings from God in this particular time of year as a pathway to praise Him.

Recall summer

My recollections as an adult include my July wedding on a mild day and my father’s memorial service on a sweltering, humid afternoon. Each memory is a special gift.

In a nostalgic moment, I wrote this poem as I thought about the mid-year uniqueness. (It first appeared on Medium).

The Heart of Summer

Summer breezes, scorching sun,

Sweat glistening on an errand run.

Slushie drinks, ice cream cones,

Day-long trips, coming home.

Vacation travels, sights to see,

Memories in making—mountains of sea?

Fireflies and june bugs,

Garden goodies with iced tea to chug.

Children in sprinklers with sparklers at night,

Parents wonder—will bedtime happen tonight?

The heart of summer explodes with heat,

But joy remains from memories sweet.

When winter wind blow strong and bearish,

What summer memories will you cherish?

 

 

 


Refections on Freedom

Reflections on Freedom

Freedom is a key component of life for us. I’m grateful for courage and battles fought during the Revolutionary War. George Washington and others persevered against the odds, facing hunger, disease and lack of supplies.

Several years ago we visited Williamsburg and Yorktown, Virginia. I gained a new appreciation for the valiant bravery of the founders of America. In colonial Williamsburg we stepped back in time, engaging in reenactments of conversations between Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. Hearing the fife and drum corps stirred patriotism in onlookers.

music of freedom

Fife and Drum Corps, Williamsburg

In Yorktown we strolled the solemn battlefield and toured the Moore House, the final scene negotiation and surrender in the Revolutionary War. The Victory Monument  stands as a tribute to courage and determination. The inscription around the concrete reads, “One Country-One Constitution-One Destiny.”

Freedom came through difficulty, problems, and controversy. Monuments and museums document the role of faith.

 I gained of deeper understanding of the cost of freedom.

Freedom plaque Bruton Parish

Plaque in Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg, VA. Men who fought for independence worshipped here.

Faith in God is foundational to the freedom and founding of America.

On July 4th we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the hard-fought liberty. I encourage you to pause and reflect, with gratitude, on the beginnings of our country.

As important as that is, a greater freedom comes through faith in Jesus Christ. He gave his life to free us from the grip of sin and death.

Jesus fought the battle over sin and death securing our freedom for eternity.

We don’t have to stay tangled up in the sins of the past. Through the grace of God we are loved and accepted. By grace we receive forgiveness. The power of the Holy Spirit strengthens us for our daily struggles. In Christ, we can stand firm and live our faith in the daily battles.Freedom in Christ Galatians 5:1

As you reflect on liberty during the Independence Day holiday with cook outs and fireworks, I pray that your heart will also sing the music of freedom in Christ.


Encouragent & Hope Psalm 1

Finding Encouragement and Hope in Psalm 1

Psalm 1 offers encouragement and hope for the person who finds joy in the Word of God.

The Psalmist focuses on the imagery of the flourishing tree.

Psalm 1

The blessed person and the wicked are contrasted. The blessed person delights in the word of God, reflecting on it throughout the day and night. Thoughts of scripture guide this person, rather than the considerations of the world.

The tree described in Psalm 1 flourishes by streams of water. Its leaves never wither.

Recently we hiked in where rushing water flowed through tree-lined banks.

trees by stream

Because of the nearness of the water source, the trees are often the healthiest. Their roots grow deep. This is the picture of the blessed person, who steadily takes in nourishment from the Lord.

 

 

The roots of this tree, spread wide and deep, anchoring it near a lake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But if the roots only go wide and are shallow, the tree is not secure and can topple in a storm.  

Shallow roots will hold for a season, but will eventually give way to excessive rain or rising water.

Psalm 1 encourages us to send our roots deep into the word of God.

Meditation is more than reading words; it implies the action of chewing and digesting the meaning of the words, pondering them and applying their wisdom to life.

Maybe you’re like me, having worries or doubts taking up residence in my mind. When I dwell on those, I get negative, fearful mindset. “What ifs” can take over. Those thoughts spread shallow roots. Although they can easily be pulled up, they grow fast.

When I choose to meditate on the Word of God, the secure roots of faith go deep, calming my anxious thoughts. The deeper roots stabilize my heart, guiding me with the wisdom of scripture.

Psalm 1 offers the hope of fruitfulness.

The phrase “yields fruit in season” reminds me that there is a fruit bearing season and a harvest. There are times when we wait and hope for answers to prayer, like waiting for an orchard to produce fruit at the proper time. The trees are still nourished although the fruit is yet to ripen. For the believer, the times of waiting can be seasons of abiding in Christ. Jesus taught in John 15:4-5:

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

When I need a dose of encouragement and hope to draw near to God, I turn to Psalm 1.

Once again I’m reminded to meditate and apply its truths while I wait for God to produce his fruit  in my life.

How do you grow deeper in the Word of God?

 

 

 

 

 


Seeking God part 2

Seeking God Faithfully, Diligently- Part 2

Seeking God is an intentional act of the will. We grow in closeness to God as we seek his presence.

What keeps us from seeking God?

Many distractions interfere with our spiritual focus.

  • busyness “I’ve got too much to do.”
  • computer devices “I have to keep up email, podcasts, internet news sources…”
  • social media “I’ve got to check Facebook, Instagram, etc.”
  • laziness “I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll do something else.”
  • weariness “I’m too tired at the end of the day to add anything else in my life.”

Each distraction can be justified, but each hinders our growth in seeking God.

Seeking God requires us to walk humbly before him, turning aside from sin.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

In humility, we acknowledge Who God is and who we are. He is sovereign over all; we are not.

Through prayer, we have connection with the Creator of the universe because he longs for relationship with us.

Repenting, or turning from sin, is key for removing the roadblocks in our attitudes and actions that are against God’s ways.

The Word of God gives us keys to seeking God: humility, prayer, and repentance.


Seeking God Isaiah 55:7

God gives grace, promising pardon and forgiveness when we turn from unrighteous ways.

The end result? We are drawn closer to God. He has been drawing us into relationship. Joy emerges from within the soul.

When I lost my precious diamond, I kept looking for it, diligently and faithfully. I hoped I would find it, but also realized it was unlikely.

And then one day…

I was sweeping in the same area almost a year later, thinking about the diamond. With each stroke of the broom I hoped to discover the lost sparkle. Instead I found old glitter and sequins.

With a final sweep, I looked down at the dust balls. A dull, shiny pebble was hidden in the dirt.

Picking it up, I rubbed the dust off of it.

I discovered MY DIAMOND!

Hallelujah! I danced and shouted with glee.

My diligent pursuit concluded with joy.

Likewise, when we intentionally pursue our relationship with God, we will gain great joy as we discover more about him.

How have you pursued God lately?

 


Seek God Faithfully, Diligently

Seek God Faithfully, Diligently

Have you ever lost something that is precious to you? Did you seek after it?

Several years ago, after a long day of spring cleaning, my husband and I took a leisurely walk to enjoy the brisk air. Although the cool breeze felt refreshing, my light windbreaker and knit gloves kept me warm. When I removed the gloves after we got home, my left hand caught on the glove, snagging the fabric.

That’s when I discovered the broken prong of my engagement ring. The diamond was gone!

My heart sank in disbelief. My precious stone was lost.

This incident initiated an intense search for my lost diamond. I retraced my steps with my eyes to the ground. However, I had covered a lot of territory inside the house and outside on the walk through many neighborhoods.

Any time I spotted a shiny glint on the floor or on the sidewalks, I hoped it was the diamond. All I found were old sequins, flecks of glitter, or tiny shards of glass.

As time passed, hope of finding the precious stone diminished. But I couldn’t give up the search. It was never far from my thoughts.

During those months, I sought the Lord for wisdom on life decisions. In searching for my diamond, I discovered some truths about seeking God.

We are commanded to seek the Lord.

In Hebrew, the word means “to find, to secure, or to seek the face.”

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Isaiah 55:6

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

The command is a priority for our Christian lives. Often it’s easy to look for the blessings from God’s hand instead of keeping our focus on God himself.

Many verses ensure that God would be found.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

Seeking God is not a casual cosmic game of “hide or seek.” God desires to be found.

Wholehearted diligence is necessary in our pursuit. As we delve in the Bible, we grow in understanding God’s character and his ways.

Seek the Lord Isaiah 55:6

My simple search for the lost diamond led me to seek the Lord. I had peace that my search toward God would be successful. He revealed more of his loving, faithful nature to me and my faith grew.

But would I find the diamond?

Read more next week…