Tag Archive | God’s presence

Loving Despite Ourselves

It’s been ages since I’ve put up a blog post, but I got a little “divine” inspiration this week!

It was one of those days. You know those days when nothing seems to go right, you don’t feel good, and everyone seems grumpy? Yup, one of those days. To make things worse, I was having some of the worst back pain ever and could hardly get around. Fortunately, I was off work as was my hubby and daughter. Early on in the day, Dave made it clear to Katie that she was to help me that day because of the pain I was having. In the beginning, she was more than happy to get things for me, bring me an extra blanket, whatever it was I needed. By lunch time, her demeanor was beginning to change.

“Katie, I’m going to stretch out on the bed for a while. While I do, could you please pick up the things that are on the floor of your bedroom and straighten up? And…make sure you get all your dirty clothes in the hamper because we’re doing laundry this afternoon,” I requested.

“Do I have to?” she whined.

“Yes, you do.”

“Make me!” she snidely snapped.

Moments later, her daddy having heard the nastiness in her voice offered some “incentive,” and she was grudingly cleaning her room, muttering under her breath and throwing things around in her room.  Soon, her bedroom door went shut and I heard the sounds of Toby Mac being played on her CD player. I knew instantly that the cleaning of her room had ceased.

I got myself out of the bed, which was no small feat with the pain I had, and walked across the hall to her room. I opened the door and said, “What are you doing?”

“Get out!” she yelled. “Get out of my room!”

As I made a quick survey of the room, I saw that very little progress had been made on the condition of her room. There were piles of stuff everywhere I looked and I had no idea how she’d ever get in her bed to sleep that night with all the things she had stacked on there.  I was angry. Not only had she disobeyed me,  but she had also disobeyed her daddy and now was talking back with quite a bit of attitude to boot.

“Is this what you were asked to do?” I said.

“No, but I don’t want to do stuff for you anymore today. I’m bored and I want to do this now.”

Trying to keep my cool, I replied, “You’re not just doing this for me or for Daddy, but you’re doing it for yourself too. Wouldn’t it be a whole lot nicer to sleep and play in a cleaned up room?”

“I don’t care,” she shouted. “I like it this way!”

“You do?” I questioned. “You enjoy sleeping on books and Legos and dirty clothes?”

“Yes, I do!”

David, having heard this interaction, came back the hall and laid down the law. There would be no more music, no more playing, no more goofing off until the room is picked up.  He ushered me back to our room and helped me back in bed and went back over to talk to Katie. “I believe we had an agreement that you would do what your mother asked you to do today.”

“Yeah, but I don’t want to do this!  She’s just being mean to me!”

“No she isn’t.  She loves you and wants the best for you and that’s one reason why she wants you to have a clean room. Mommy can’t clean it for you today, I’m taking care of laundry, dishes and cleaning up the living room and kitchen, and this is your room, so you must clean it yourself.”

“Fine!” she yelled, and proceeded to begin the process of cleaning her room.

Later, Katie came into the room and threw a piece of paper at me. It said, “Do you love me?”

What? I could hardly believe it! I was so upset! Of course, I loved her! How could she think otherwise? I was hurt, frustrated and all that hurt and frustration just seemed to intensify the pain.  I began to cry. Dave came into the room at that moment. “What’s wrong? Do you need more pain medication?”

“No,” I replied, “here.”  I handed him the note.

“I’m going to talk to her.”

“No, honey, don’t. It will just make things worse,” I sobbed.

Towards supper time, Katie had finished up rearranging her clutter (it was far from resolved) and cleared off her bed. I could see from my bed that progress had been made. “Katie?”

“What!” she yelled.

“Come here please.”

“What do you want now?” she snapped.

Disregarding her attitude, I asked, “It’s almost time for supper. If you could help me out of the bed, you and I could go to the kitchen and make supper together. I’ll let you cook.”

She smiled a little at this point. “What are we making?”

“Meatloaf.”

“Cool! And I can make it?”

“Yes. I’ll tell you what you need to do.”

“Just get out the recipe and I’ll follow it,” she said.

“I don’t have a recipe, Katie. I make it from memory, so I’ll have to tell you.”

“Fine,” she said the smile suddenly leaving her face.

She helped the best she could to help steady me as I crawled out of the bed and we went to the kitchen. I sat down at the table and started giving her directions. At several points of the process, I had her wash or rinse her hands at the sink. This seemed to just irritate her further. She got the meatloaf finished and put into the oven and I asked her if we could mix up a Betty Crocker potato mix to go with it. “Nah, you can do that. I’m done with this stuff. I need to go cool off. I’m mad at you.”

“Why are you mad at me now?” I questioned, still wondering and hurting from her written question earlier in the day.

“You wouldn’t let me do the meatloaf my way!”

I explained that when you cook, you have to follow the directions or it won’t turn out right. That explanation wasn’t good enough for her and she stomped off to her room. Soon sounds of Toby Mac were once again flowing out her door.

David walked into the kitchen and said, “Did she help you?”

“Yes, but only for a little bit,” I said.  I shared what had happened.

“I’ll go talk to her,” he said.

“No, this is our battle, David. I’ll deal with her later.”

Supper was delicious! We both gave Katie praise for the delicious meatloaf, but not a word of thanks came from her mouth.  She was sent to get her bath, again with much complaint, but she did go. When her bath was over, I asked her to go get her brush so that she could get her hair smoothed out and also to get ready for bed.  She stomped around and stomped around. “I can’t find my brush!” she screamed.

“It’s in my purse. You gave it to me to hold for you last night in the van and I told you I’d put it in my purse.”

She marched to the kitchen and immediately comes back. “It’s not in your coat!” she screamed.

“You didn’t listen to me!” I snapped back. “It…is…in…my…purse!”

She tramped back to the kitchen. She brings back my bag I carry to work and shoves it at me. “Find it yourself! It’s not in here!”

“I know it’s not in there,” I said, “because this isn’t my PURSE!”

“Aaaah!” She runs to the kitchen again. I’m hearing her grumble and grumble. Next thing I know, she’s walking back the hall brushing her hair.

“You found it I see!”

“Yeah, whatever…” she said.

I could hardly believe it. Here was my sweet 11-year-old acting quite like a moody teenager. And worst of all, she didn’t think I loved her. She was ready for bed and kissed and hugged her daddy, walked past me and back to her room. David was angry. “She needs to tell you goodnight!”

“I’ve got it,” I said and made my way to her room.

I went in and said, “Katie.”

“What!”

“You didn’t give me a goodnight hug and kiss.”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well, I’d like to have one.” I leaned down to hug and kiss her and she did not reciprocate. I was ready to break. I sat down on the end of her bed. “I got a note from you earlier today.”

“Yeah.”

“Did you really have to ask if I love you?” She immediately began to cry, I believe because she knew the answer.

“Maybe.”

“Why do you think I don’t love you?”

“You were asking me to do stuff and you wouldn’t let me just play and goof off.”

“Katie, do you realize that I ask you do things because I love you?”

“What?”

“Yes, I love you! I ask you do things like clean your room and help with supper because I want you to grow up to be responsible and to know how to do things.  I’m not doing it to be mean. Do you understand that?” As I said this, I looked at her dresser where a photo frame was sitting with various pictures of our family in it. My picture was missing. “I see you removed me from your picture frame. Do you want me not to be part of this family?”

“No!” she sobbed. “I was just mad at you. I don’t want you to leave me ever! I’m sorry! I’ll put it back. I guess I was just having a bad day today.”

“Me too,” I said. ” I thought you didn’t love me anymore either.”

I reached out to her and she fell into my arms and hugged me and kissed me. I tucked her in and gave her one more kiss goodnight. “Thanks for talking to me, Mommy.”

“You’re welcome, I love you, goodnight!”

Snow-Love-Wallpaper

I began to think over the events of the day as I laid down to sleep. I couldn’t help but think of how God has many days like this, days where His children totally disrespect Him and act as though they don’t love Him. Yet, he patiently waits for us to realize that He’s still there, He still loves us, and He’s willing to forgive us for our self-centeredness. God would do anything for us. This is made clear in in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (NIV) What greater love could there be than giving up your own Son to cover our sins? That is true love.

So despite our humanity, despite our tendencies to think only of ourselves, despite our inability to fathom such a love as our Father has for us, He loves us anyway.  What a comforting thought.

As I drifted off to sleep, I thought of how I couldn’t wait to share that with Katie in the morning.

♥Miriam

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The Not So Strange People of Walmart

It was the Saturday before Father’s Day. I wasn’t in the greatest of moods. I had seen my doctor the day before and he changed my medications around yet another time and I needed to go pick up my new prescription. I had dropped Katie off at Bible school and Dave was fishing with a friend. I had some time to myself for a change, but instead, had to run errands and part of those errands was getting a prescription I didn’t want.

I was upset that I had to have another medication change. I’ve been dealing with uncontrolled hypertension for a while now, and have gone through countless medications in hopes that one will bring those numbers down. But time and time again, I hear those words from my doctor, “This medication isn’t doing the job, let’s try this.” I dread seeing him any more. I have a medicine cabinet filled with meds that I can’t use….money down the drain in my eyes.

As I drove to Walmart, I was thinking about all I had to do that day and about the fact that part of my day was disrupted again by my need for a new medication. “Wonder how much this one will cost, ” I thought. I pray a lot when I’m alone in my van and driving. (I do keep my eyes open, obviously!) I began to cry out to God and implore Him to help me and my doctor find something that would work to change my chronic issue. I found myself actually whining. I’m sure God wasn’t impressed with my prayer that day…it was mainly a lot of complaining.

Finally, Walmart was in view and I pulled into a parking space. When I went inside, they were out of the motorized carts I’ve come to depend upon to get through the store with my arthritis issues. I was feeling defeated. I was dreading hearing what the cashier would say my total was today.  And, on top of that, I’d have to walk all through Walmart on a day I was having some significant pain.

The pharmacy wasn’t busy so I got to be waited on quickly. “Did you know this medication costs $294?” the clerk said. The look on my face told her I didn’t. I didn’t have a choice though.  I paid my bill and started shopping for the remainder of the things I needed.

I needed to get a Father’s Day gift for David. Katie had given me specific instructions to get him a Duck Dynasty t-shirt with Uncle Si on it.  I went to the display where we had seen them before, only to discover the only size left was small. There would be no Uncle Si shirt for Dave. I had to find something else. This only added to my disappointment in the day.

Cards were picked over….I shouldn’t have procrastinated on that one! I was at a loss to know what to get for Dave. I had my mind set on the t-shirt and now it wasn’t an option. I looked at my list of things I needed to purchase, and decided to look for the other things instead.  As I shopped, I tried thinking of what I could get for Dave. The idea finally came that he had been wanting a small chainsaw. Certainly, Walmart would have an inexpensive one. No. No such luck. The only thing left in that department were weed eaters and he didn’t need one of those.

Feeling even more defeated, I went to the check out line. “Really, there’s only 3 lanes open and about 100 people to check out?” I thought. How could my day get any better? I was just about ready to cry at this point.

Then I heard it. Someone was humming. It wasn’t extremely loud, but it was loud enough that I could hear it. The tune sounded familiar. I moved toward the sound. It was coming from the cashier in lane 13. Despite the fact that I usually avoid lane 13 (call me superstitious) and it seemed to be the longest line, I got in line there anyway.

The cashier continued to hum. I was thinking really hard to figure out the tune. I knew the song, I was sure of it.

About a minute went by, and someone decided to open the lane beside us, about 4 people in front of me flocked to the new lane. I stayed where I was. I needed to figure out the song she was humming. “Change My Heart O God“! That’s what she was humming. I was intrigued!

Finally, it was my turn. She began to scan my items, still humming away at the tune. She looked at me and smiled, still humming. I smiled back, “Change My Heart O God.” I said.

“You know the song?” she said.

“Sure do! It’s a good one,” I replied.

“One of my favorites too!” she exclaimed. “Some people don’t like it when I hum, but I was made to praise the Lord and I want to do it all the time. He is good isn’t He?” she said.

“Yes, He is,” I answered. I felt a little guilty as I said it though. I had really not been very joyful that day up to that point. I whined and complained to God instead of thanking Him for all He was doing for me. I left one thing just ruin everything.  “Thanks for your song,” I said.

“My pleasure! Some days, it’s really hard to be joyful and courteous to some of the people that come in my line. But, I just pray that God will change my heart so I will treat those people the way God would want me to,” she said. “I want to encourage everyone I meet. I believe that’s what God put me on this earth to do…encourage others.”

“Well, you sure encouraged me today,” I said.

“Me too!” said the lady behind me. Up to this point, I was oblivious to who was in line with me. I turned and saw an haggard looking woman, probably in her 50’s with a tank top on, heavily tatooed and missing several teeth. (One of those people you see show up in the pictures entitled “People of Walmart.”) “God is great and takes care of all of us, even when we don’t deserve it,” the tatooed lady said.

“I’m so glad I got in this line today!” I exclaimed. “You both have made my day a little better! Thanks!”

“Any time!” said the cashier.

“Yup! It’s what we’re supposed to do for each other!” said the tatooed lady.

I left Walmart, feeling a bit better and a bit lighter because my burden had been lifted. I went to my van, crawled inside and quickly thanked God for all He had done for me and asked forgiveness for doubting that He was caring for me. My heart had been changed by my check out encounter, and because of two ladies who weren’t afraid to share their faith with others.

praise

The rest of the day went much better and I found an inexpensive chainsaw at Home Depot for Dave. He deemed it one of the best Father’s Day gifts ever!

I Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” I believe these two women were put there just for me that day. God knew I needed some encouragement and He sent two angels, one dressed as a Walmart cashier and one as one of the “strange” people of Walmart. Where ever they are, I hope they continue to share this love and encouragement with others. It meant so much to me!

♥Miriam

The Road I Travel

“The Road Not Taken”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and sorry I could not travel both And be one traveller, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim because it was grassy and wanted wear; though as for that, the passing there had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay in leaves no feet had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.

(Robert Frost)

I have written before about the things I have seen in my travels. But today, something really struck me. My trip to work each day is just breathtakingly beautiful! I especially love turning on to Valley Camp Road as I head to Camp Joy El. What a treat to the eyes! Just a couple of weeks ago, I got to see bunch after bunch of lovely white flowers blooming on the banks as I turned on to Valley Camp Road. Memories came flooding back to me of when I was a little girl and we saw these little flowers blooming one day as I was traveling with my mom and dad and grandma. Grandma said, “Oh look! Dutchman’s breeches!” I thought that was a funny name for the pretty little white flowers. My dad pulled the car over and we got out to look. Sure enough, these little beauties look like a row of white pants hanging on a clothesline!  My mother, who carried a spade in the car for moments like these, dug up one or two of the plants to take home and transplant into her flowerbed. They still bloom there every Spring.

Just as the dutchman’s breeches were beginning to lose their luster, a new beauty appeared. I noticed them first closest to the creek that runs through that area. Clumps of dainty blue flowers dotted the creek bank and the surrounding areas. There were just enough dutchman’s breeches left to add to the loveliness. Virginia bluebells. Again, these flowers evoke a memory. When I was in high school, my best friend, Tammy and a fellow named Joe would go to James Buchanan High School every Saturday in the Spring to help run the greenhouse. One day, Joe brought with him a plant he wanted identified. Mr. Frick, the horticulture teacher who ran the greenhouse project told him to set the pot aside until he had a chance to look up the flower. Joe had put a popsicle stick tag in the pot labeled “Joe Fitz-unknown”. A short time after, my mom came to make her purchases at the greenhouse. She took one look at the pot and exclaimed, “Virginia bluebells!” The plant had been identified, and my mother ended up leaving with the potted treasure. She planted them, popsicle tag and all and each year there after (even to this day) we look for “Joe Fitz-unknown” to come up in our flower beds!

Very soon, there was a yellow flower added to the mix. Wild yellow mustard began blooming amongst the Virginia bluebells. This too evoked a memory of the field around my childhood home that would become a sea of yellow each Spring. The wind would blow through the blooms and it looked as though there were waves of yellow coming toward you as you looked across the land. I recall one field in particular close to my grandparent’s home that stayed awash with yellow blooms for several weeks each Spring. I knew when we got to the field of mustard, we were almost at Grandma’s house.

Another new white flower appeared just days after the mustard flowers began blooming. Star of Bethlehem flowers began to dot the banks adding to the bouquet of beauty. This time the memory these little flowers brought back was an amusing one. My parents had gotten several loads of fill dirt to create a more level area around our house. We spent hours moving dirt and getting it to be “just right”. Grass seed was planted several times, as the birds wouldn’t leave it alone. The Spring after we did all this work, we waited in anticipation to see if the grass had finally “taken”. Instead of a lush thick lawn full of green grass, we started to see thin green and white leaves protruding from the ground. Soon, there were spikes of white flowers everywhere! My mother was annoyed, but I was thrilled! These flowers were so easy to pick for big bouquets of flowers and mixed in with dandelions, looked quite beautiful to a little girl. “Star of Bethlehem flowers!” my mother sighed. “We’ll never get rid of all of these!” She spent many years pulling them out and tossing them away. She eventually gave up….it was a losing battle!

Today, to  my delight, I saw yet another splash of color on the banks of Valley Camp Road. Wild red columbine. I have always loved the various varieties of columbine, but find the wild red columbine is my favorite. It is the first to bloom every Spring and is more lacey and dainty than the propagated varieties I’ve purchased from greenhouses. I have some of this beautiful flower, again thanks to a sighting of this flower by my grandmother. We were driving around one Sunday afternoon over some mountain roads when she spotted it. Again, mom’s spade dug up some of the tender plants and found new homes in her flowerbed. She later gave me some for mine.

Now that we are heading into the month of May, I know I will soon see wild phlox blooming. I love to see this flower in it’s rainbow of colors. I don’t know yet if this flower will appear on Valley Camp Road, but it does bloom heavily on Filer Road which is close to me. So I will get to see the pink, blue, purple and white hues of this flower soon. When my hubby, David, realized I liked this wild flower too, he began to carry a spade with him so that he could dig up some of these for me! I now have some white and purple among the other flowers in my garden!

I just love arriving on Valley Camp Road each day. It is a blessing to my eyes and my memories. I can’t help but think of the verses from Matthew 6:28b-29 – “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” I can’t help but think that there is nothing that man can make that is more beautiful than what God puts on His “canvas” of earth. I also thought of the Robert Frost poem…”Two roads diverged….” Valley Camp Road is not a “road less travelled” by any means, but I like to think of it as a little patch of heaven, untouched by man where God can express Himself and I want to always be able to see His handiwork no matter what road I choose.

♥Miriam

A Prince of a Dad and His Princess

I thought it was time to get an entry on this blog! I can’t believe how many days have passed since I’ve done a post!! Life gets busy and time flies….you all know those cliche’s.

This weekend, I had the privledge to be part of Joy El’s Father/Daughter Connection. (No, I wasn’t a participant….I don’t meet the age requirements for the retreat!) I got to help as a staff member. What a delight to see these daddies and daughters interact with each other!

The theme of the weekend was “A Prince of Dad and His Princess”. The royal theme was carried out all weekend long. Dads and daughters alike were issued sparkly foil crowns to wear. Some dads were really into it and wore their crown all weekend long (my hubby did)! I was glad that my husband and daughter were able to be a part of this special time together this weekend. They couldn’t go last year due to Dave being head coach for Katie’s softball team.  This year was different and they were both excited to be able to come.

This is not from this weekend, but I thought this showed their "royal" status quite well!

This is not from this weekend, but I thought this showed their “royal” status quite well!

The very first evening as the speaker spoke and gave his testimony, the dads had his full attention. During the course of the weekend, I never saw this change. He had them interested in hearing what he had to say about this all-important relationship. That first evening, Prince Scott (the speaker) asked his princess wife (Fran) up to the stage to share her testimony with the girls. Soon, everyone was dismissed for some free time before bed. I went to run the camp store. As a Development Coordinator for the camp, part of my job is to interact with our guests and donors as much as possible, so I was chatting with each one who came into the store. One dad and his daughter came in, and I asked the little girl how she was liking the retreat so far. She smiled at me and said, “I like it a lot.”

Her daddy said, “Tell Miss Miriam the special thing you did tonight.”

She looked at me and grinned, the smile lighting up her face, and very shyly she said, “I asked Jesus into my heart tonight!”

Her dad explained that after the evening session, she asked him if they could talk and she shared that she wanted to ask Jesus to be her Savior. What an honor this princely dad had to lead his princess to the Lord!

Of course, being the emotional person that I am (I get that honestly from my prince of a dad), I immediately got tears in my eyes as I thought just how special that moment was and how neither of them will ever forget it. (I’m getting all teary just writing about it again!)

The weekend wasn’t all about speakers and learning sessions, there was a great amount of fun involved too! The dads and their daughters got to ride go karts, canoe, archery, play games, mini golf, and my husband’s favorite….gaga ball. Now gaga ball is just that….”gaga”. It’s crazy! It’s like a mix of dodge ball, volley ball and foursquare all rolled into one. Everyone is “gaga” for gaga ball.

Dave the "king" of gaga ball!

Dave the “king” of gaga ball!

The pic of Dave playing gaga ball is courtesy of my boss who also attended with his two princesses.

Saturday evening was the highlight and culmination of my purpose in being here for the weekend….the Royal Banquet. What a delightful evening! The “princes” picked up their “princesses” at their cabins, gave them a flower and escorted them to the Royal Banquet where they enjoyed a lovely candlelight dinner. The food was awesome and I had the privledge of being the one to decorate and plan the flow of the evening. I greeted each prince and princess as they entered the Royal Dining Hall and they were escorted to their tables. I truly think each dad appreciated the ambience of the evening and the time spent to make it special for them. I sort of felt like Cinderella at the ball….I didn’t want the evening to end. 🙂

Royal Father/Daughter Banquet!

Royal Father/Daughter Banquet!

This weekend wasn’t just about having fun. It was about building the father/daughter relationship. It was about giving them time to connect and bond away from the hustle and bustle of the world. It was about giving the opportunity for them to share their hopes and dreams. It was about the chance to work on issues in their relationship. It was also, and most importantly, about these men and young ladies being able to connect with God.

I really think that happened this weekend. Seeds have been planted, relationships strengthened, love has grown deeper.

Our theme verse for the weekend was I Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” No one will be able to leave here this weekend not knowing that they can be royalty in the kingdom of God. He is our King and we are His princes and princesses. I know that one little girl came out of darkness this weekend…I can’t wait to hear how many more did the same!

I’m so glad that Dave and Katie got to be a part of this. I’m so thankful for my “prince” of a husband who has proved to be the best dad a girl could ever hope for. I’m thankful too, that my dad has been a “prince” as well throughout my life. He has given me a godly example to follow.  God bless all His princes and princesses of this world! Can’t wait to get my royal crown one day in heaven….and I’m sure it will be much more wonderful than a simple paper crown. It will be so wonderful that none of us will be able to comprehend it’s glory!

♥Miriam

Better Than the Birds

When some people see something they normally don’t see, they will sometimes think it’s a “sign” or an “omen” that somthing is going to happen. I remember growing up the old wive’s tales that my grandmother often would quote, and quite frankly, I think she believed a lot of them. One of those old wives tales was that if a bird hit your house window, there would be a death. There was also one about if a bird got into your house, you’d have good luck. If we really believed these things, we’d leave our windows wide open to allow every bird to enter the house for unlimited good luck.

I love to watch birds! I love to feed the birds! I enjoy sitting at my kitchen table with a hot cup of tea and looking out into my back yard and watching blue jays come in to my large platform feeder for peanuts. They’re really silly looking as they pick up peanut after peanut, shake them, and then finally fly off with one. In a matter of moments, the blue jays can carry off a rather large amount of peanuts!

Blue jays sure love peanuts!

Blue jays sure love peanuts!

Recently, I’ve been able to add a few birds to my list of sightings. These are birds that I never dreamed I’d ever see in any other setting other than a zoo. Now, whether or not you believe in old wive’s tales or not, I felt mighty lucky to see these birds. It didn’t make any difference in my life, other than to make me happy.

My first recent sighting was on my way to work one snowy morning. Imagine my surprise when I discoverd a barred owl in the trees above me. He/she watched me as a I slowly drove by (and I was watching them too!)  What a thrill to see an owl in the daylight! (Disclaimer: the photos were not taken by me, but used from the internet.)

I cannot take credit for this photo, but the barred owl I saw was in a very similar setting like this one.

I cannot take credit for this photo, but the barred owl I saw was in a very similar setting like this one.

A few days later, I saw something I never dreamed I see. A huge American eagle!! They really are a big bird! With the fact that at one point, these national birds faced near extinction, I was more than thrilled to actually see one live close to where I work! (Surely, that must mean there’s a nest somewhere close by!)

Again the photo is not mine, but the setting is the same.

Again the photo is not mine, but the setting is the same.

On another day, I saw a few birds that I had seen before, but seeing them all in one day, just thrilled me as well! First, a red tailed hawk. Dave and I often search for these as we drive to and from various places. We see so many of them along the road in trees. I recall once seeing three of them in the same tree!

Red tailed hawk

Red tailed hawk

Then there was this smaller red shouldered hawk I spied at our babysitter’s house sitting in a tree. I also saw a rabbit there that morning that Katie and I chased out of the bushes in front of the house, close to where this hawk was sitting. Incidently, I haven’t seen that rabbit since! Hmmm……perhaps we helped provide breakfast that day????

Red shouldered hawk

Red shouldered hawk

And then there was a another common sighting that we often see sitting on road signs and electric wires….an American kestrel. What a pretty bird!

American kestrel

American kestrel

And this particular day, I also got to see a beautiful blue heron come in for a landing on a nearby stream.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

There was one other bird I saw just this week. Again, it’s one of my favorites. It’s the “woody woodpecker” – a pileated woodpecker.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Now I’m sure there are probably plenty of old wive’s tales about seeing these particular birds, but you can keep them. I DO think they are God sightings. It seems when I’m having a blah day, just down in the dumps, or even when I’m deep down and depressed, I’ll see some of these favorite birds of mine. I think it’s God’s way of reminding me that He’s there for me. He lets me see these birds so that my spirit gets lifted. It reminds me of Matthew 6:26 – “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (ESV) Yes, Lord, I am of more value than a bird; thanks for the reminder. Even when I don’t think I’m worth anything, You remind me that I am worth something to You!

♥Miriam

Amid the Trials

Several years ago, my church did a bible study on spiritual gifts. We did an in-depth study of what gifts there were and we all took a “test” to determine what our gifts were. My gift turned out to be encouragement. I was also strong in the servant & compassion departments.  Really? Encouragement? Surely the test must be wrong. I’m not one to send out cards for every occasion. I rarely remember a birthday…though Facebook helps remind me of birthdays now….so I don’t really have an excuse. I’m not an encourager. That’s what I convinced myself of.

A few years later, there was renewed interest in what our spiritual gifts were and I did the course again. Certainly, if I took the test again I’d come up with a “better” gift. The results were the same. By this time, I was in nursing school and I thought for sure that compassion should be my gift. Nope…still very strong in the encouragement department.

Time went by and I put this on the back burner. Life was busy, and the test was wrong anyway, so I thought, so why should I care?

There were many trials that I faced in my late teens up through my 30’s. I had some difficult employers who didn’t care for my dedication to God and my desire to go to church and be a part of church activities. I had a boss that lied to other employees and claimed that I had said things about them, which thankfully, these coworkers knew I would have never done or said those things.  By the age of 25, I had lost all of my grandparents and a beloved uncle died of a terrible disease. (He instilled in me a love for birds and flowers.) I was involved in two major car accidents (but thankfully escaped injury both times!). I faced financial devastation several times. I nearly lost my first pregnancy (Katie) to HELLP Syndrome (a severe form of preeclampsia). I lost two pregnancies and a precious baby boy that we were adopting. One thing after another occurred….more than I can list here. Some things were just absolutely devastating and I couldn’t figure out why God would ever allow someone to go through some of these things.

I Cor 10.13

Well, I know now. He was developing my gifts. He allowed these trials to grow my faith. Now in my role as a development coordinator, I get to interact with many people. During the course of my visits, we get to know each other.  These people share their life-stories with me. Many have had similar if not the exact same type of trials that I have been through. I soon came to realize that perhaps, just perhaps, God allowed some of those trials so that I could connect better with some of these people. I could encourage them by sharing how God helped me through those same trials.

Recently, I met a woman who was once fired for sharing God’s love with a patient. She refused to stop, and they fired her. Now, I was never fired, but I was advised to keep my religious beliefs to myself. I could identify with her and we were able to share these frustrations together.

I also met a man who shared about the devastation of losing his first-born baby girl shortly after birth. Again, I could identify. We lost our son when he was 2 days old because his birth mother changed her mind about the adoption. I knew that pain he felt.

Another shared about losing a parent to a debilitating disease that deteriorated her mind and body over time. I had experienced that multiple times in my family, but I sensed a parallel comparrison to her situation and the long illness and subsiquent death of my grandfather.

Why does God allow trials? There are trials we will never know why He does allow them.  Then there are others where it’s painfully clear why we’ve had to deal with them.

When I was suffering pregnancy loss, followed by the loss of our adoption, no one could have ever told me I’d see God in that situation. In fact, I spent an awful lot of time yelling at Him for allowing it to happen. Yes, I yelled at Him.  I’d scream every night on my way home how much He’d let me down. I’d scream on my way to work as to why He’d punish me in this way….after all, I worked for an OB/GYN and those kind of nurses should never have a pregnancy loss. It took a while, but I soon realized that God was allowing me to experience this so that I could minister to other women who experienced a loss. I could help comfort and encourage them.

As we go through trials, it’s difficult to think that something good could ever come of that moment. But at some point, an “aha” moment might come and you’ll realize very clearly that God uses those moments to grow us and to encourage others. So bring on those trials! God has promised us He will never give us more than we can bear. Thank you, Lord for growing us in these trials of life!

♥Miriam

♫Walkin’ in a winter….um…♪ Raindrops keep fallin….okay…..♫ Somewhere over the rainbow….oh please! Make up your mind!

The weather the past two days has been exceptionally weird. Yesterday we experienced pretty much anything you could come up with in a day as far as weather is concerned. I awoke to a beautiful sunrise, soon followed by giant snowball-like snowflakes coming down. This snow (which all the weather men assured us wouldn’t amount to much) started to accumulate and mix with sleet. We soon had around 2 inches! The temp dropped into the 20’s. By lunch time, it had all stopped. The sun came out and everything melted. Then came the rain, but it too was brief. Again there was a period of sun. But then there came a thunderstorm! Who ever heard of a thunderstorm in February….that’s a summer thing! I even heard reports of hail in the area. Once Mother Nature got done with her temper tantrum, it got windy.

Today, it flurried most of the day. It was cold and windy all day. I sure am anticipating spring! In fact, a friend reminded me that there are only 27 more days until we have Spring. (I believe I’ll start a countdown for that!)

The strangeness of the weather got me thinking. I recalled a verse from Hosea 6:3 – Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (NIV) Now, I’m not sure if we had “winter rains” or “spring rains”, but this verse reminded me that in all this, God was here. Did I thank Him for this weather. No, I didn’t, but I did thank Him for the safety He provided as I traveled in the sleet and snow.

I wonder how often God is visibly right in front of us. How many times does he allow something to happen to get our attention so we can feel His presence.  How many times has He been obviously close by, but yet I didn’t acknowledge Him. If I couldn’t tell after the rumble of thunder that rattled the walls of my office that God was present, then I must have been oblivious. I know that He is always with me…there are just times when it seems He’s a little closer than usual.

Yesterday, after all that strange weather, God sent us a sign that He was definitely there. He painted a beautiful rainbow in the sky.

A complete rainbow in our backyard this past summer!

A complete rainbow in our backyard this past summer!

I’ve been feeling His presence in my life more and more lately. It’s undeniable that He’s here. He’s provided for us in so many ways….ways I don’t even know about, but yet there are many ways that I do know. As this blog progresses, I’ll share how He provides in the lives of His people.

I stepped out in faith 7 months ago to take on a job I had never done, for less pay than I was making, and without a clue how I was going to survive it all. But God has provided! Neither my family or I have wanted for anything. We have been cared for by God and He constantly is reminding me that He is in control of everything. Now, if only I would take the time to acknowledge His presence at all times. Keep reminding me, Lord!

♥Miriam