Fall art show in the mountains

Beauty in my part of the country……

These photos display some of the reason I love  fall so much. God has blessed us with four distinct seasons where I live. Each season has its own beauty and varied experiences of delight. However, fall seems to refresh me the most, because for one reason, it follows probably my least favorite season, summer, and precedes my second favorite time of the year, winter. I’m not a big fan of hot weather. :-} Secondly, as I look at the mountains, and the variety of red, orange, yellow colored leaves, I realize I live in an art gallery,  featuring the art work of God. Nature was created as a gift for us, and a way to help us focus on our Creator and His blessings. The mountains are sure doing a good job declaring His glory. I’ve also added some art work from some very creative people, to remember we are likewise purposed to declare His glory.

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Colorful Christianity

Isaac Newton discovered that light is actually a color spectrum.  When light reflects through a prism, those colors are revealed, as the light is broken down into the  seven primary colors that are found in a rainbow. An artist friend reminded me that there are really just three primary colors. But Newton thought otherwise. When you take those three main primary colors  and mix them together in different combinations, all the other visible colors are developed. Now you great scientific minds out there, I know this is a very simple version. 🙂 However, as I was working through some new revelation,  I needed a tangible way to help me understand it more clearly.  I’m not a very good auditory learner. It either has to be hands on, or visible with me. Bear with me as I use this illustration about the relation between light and color, to share the truth I’ve been contemplating.

 John 8:12 (AMP) Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the Light which is Life.

Jesus, the Light,  represents all seven colors found in a rainbow, as well as all the combinations of the three main primary colors mixed together. The number seven, in the Bible, symbolizes spiritual perfection, or completeness. He, in His perfection,  shines through the prism of our heart, creating color or life in our lives.  Without Christ there is darkness. In darkness, colors are not visible and everything appears gray or black.

We may exist, and even appear to flourish, but it is only through Jesus Christ that we truly live, in His beauty and rich color.

It is Autumn time in the mountains. When the sun shines on those ridges and slopes, all the brilliant colors of the season are illuminated. When the sun  goes down, we lose sight of the colors.

Fall in the mountains

Some visible color may be seen in our daily walk…we read our bibles, we talk about Him and share Him with others, we worship Him, we give, we serve, we act lovingly. But the practice of abiding in His presence, elevates who we are, and what we do, to a higher level. Without this unity with Him, the colors will seem harsh, pale or lacking in vibrancy. Who we are, and what we do, must be fully illuminated by Jesus.  Look at the rose pictured below. It has color, but there is something lacking….colors that reflect real life. The greens are vague, and the pink is too sharp. In fact, my eyes are strained if I look at this too long.

If we walk away from the Light of Jesus, our lives will appear like this rose with distorted colors.

Just as our fingers turn blue when we hold blueberries, we become colored with God’s grace, by abiding in contact with Him. The Lord works everything out as we rest in Him. It is in a humble state of waiting, being still, listening and obeying, that He does His greatest work in us. He provides the righteousness  that He requires in us, for His glory.  Seeking God involves a prayerful state of awareness of Him, and a faithful expectation of Him.

Maturing in Christ = Multi colors of Him, His Beauty

A dear friend, and mentor, recently took the time to teach me some much-needed lessons about Christian maturity, or using the illustration, allowing God to cause my life to become painted with His Life colors. He shared with me a tender reminder that it is God who works in and through us.  There is a battle within us to make “pressing on” a priority. After all, God’s word tells us to be persevering. This is true. But if we dwell in the state of pressing on, it is off-balance, just enough, for us to miss the bigger picture.  He wants us to dwell… in His presence.

Jesus, You are welcome into my minutes, days, weeks, months and years.

Living in His presence, daily, means waiting to see what He is doing and listening for His invitation to come take part. Sometimes  that work may just be Him, working in us, and sometimes He may work through us, helping someone else. He leads us to those  He wants us to minister to, He arranges the timing when we need to minister, and He instructs us on how we are to minister. He supplies the ability through His gifts and empowers us to succeed.  He teaches us, so that we are able to understand Him better and worship Him more. It is all about God, through the Spirit of Jesus Christ, working to form us into the image of Jesus. When God does the work, He shines forth in our lives with His beauty, in all His vibrant shades, and we are not just pale interpretation of Him.

Peter 1:2-8 (NIV)Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Confirming One’s Calling and Election

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control;and to self-control, perseverance;and to perseverance, godliness;and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Everything we need, to live life as a Christian, is found in God, through Jesus Christ. There is a flow. It is called resting in Him. Resting means to live, not rebelling, not resisting, but agreeing, trusting and obeying as He leads. New colors of true Christianity becomes clear in our lives as He does His work in us.

A pepper turns from green to red as it matures.

As we mature in Him, by His power, we become vibrant with life….His Life, His Beauty.  He made this world with colors.  We reflect His Creative Heart when we walk in the different colors of Christianity, not pale and powerless, but rich and appealing to the world around us, because we become the reflection of His beauty, within us. There are those who may hate Jesus, but that is only up to the minute they truly meet Him personally. Then that hate is forever replaced with love for a Beautiful Savior.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

connecting, with love

Donna

Life in the Mouth

While working as a dental hygienist, I looked into a lot of mouths.  Although at that time  it didn’t seem funny,  I remember two particular patients that I chuckle about now.  Of course, the humor might only be appreciated by those who have worked in a dental office.  One day I was running late with my afternoon appointments. I looked at the book with encouragement, noting that my next patient was a teenage boy, and not an adult. Adults generally take longer because of possible issues with gum problems. So, I was beginning to relax, thinking I could get back on schedule. Well, I was wrong.  Words can not describe how I felt as I looked into this young man’s mouth. Not only was he wearing full orthodontic metal braces, but he had decided, just before coming in for his dental appointment, that a juicy orange would be a good snack. Without being too descriptive, taking orange pulp off metal brackets takes a long time.

Another time, an elderly man came in as a new patient. I introduced myself and seated him in the chair. I then turned my back on him, as I began setting up the paper work to record his patient history.  However, he had decided it was time to begin work right away, because as I turned in my chair to ask my first question, he had already dislodged his upper denture and it was resting on his extended tongue. He sat there, in that position, with his eyes closed waiting on me to retrieve his denture and start cleaning his remaining teeth in his lower jaw.

I’ve learned to appreciate a healthy mouth, after seeing so many afflicted by tooth aches, disease, malformations, or injuries. This is not an appeal to brush and floss your teeth, although that isn’t a bad idea. 🙂  I want to focus on the mouth because there is an important link between a healthy mouth and our well-being, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Regarding physical significance, when food enters the mouth, the digestive process begins. The mouth contributes to our musical ability, as we sing, hum, and whistle.  By using our lips, we can kiss, blow, bite, and spit.   A damaged or malformed mouth can cause someone to battle with how they view themselves. Dental health impacts the cardiovascular system, our immune system, our ability to support healthy weight, and our enjoyment while dining.

Emotionally, our words, and the tone of those words, display to the world, what is inside us. I heard it said  years ago, and I say it often, to remind myself of this truth, “what is in the well, will come up in the bucket”. If there is anger in our hearts, it will slip past our teeth with the least provocation. If there is bitterness, it will ooze out of our mouth like slime, covering those around us, our situation and our environment. If there is unforgiveness,  our words will sound harsh, brassy and sharp. When hatred is felt,  there is potential for violent, harmful thoughts to be propelled by our tongue, and out of our mouth. People will often interpret our personality by observing our mouth, labeling us with terms like friendly, shy, quiet, loud. Our mouth can show when we are fearful, stressed, in pain, or in trouble.  We can frown and pout and do various other forms of expressions to convey our emotions.

Getting to the spiritual aspect of the mouth, a heart where the love of God resides has the potential to offer words of  love in many flavors : merciful, gracious, forgiving, healing, comforting, affirming, encouraging, edifying, uplifting, blessing and understanding.  The  words we speak change lives, ours and others.

Scripture gives us some promises about the words we utter:

Proverbs 18:20-21 (AMP)20 A man’s [moral] self shall be filled with the fruit of his mouth; and with the consequence of his words he must be satisfied [whether good or evil].21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].

Proverbs 11:11 (AMP)11 By the blessing of the influence of the upright and God’s favor [because of them] the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

Proverbs 12:18 (AMP)18 There are those who speak rashly, like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

How many blessings are we missing by speaking with hopeless, faithless and lifeless words?  How many times do we experience lost opportunities to see God’s favor surround us, when we need it the most, because we speak with unbelief? How would our world look if we spoke the words God leads us to speak, with His wisdom, His heart, and His compassion? How many times have we failed to speak in a way that would encourage, uplift or bless others?

Biblical guidelines for speaking are not merely suggestions to be taken lightly.

Ephesians 4:29 (AMP)29 Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.

Ephesians 5:4 (AMP)Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God].

James 1:19-27 (AMP)19 Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.

Healthy life, physically, emotionally and spiritually begins in our hearts, and is evidenced by our mouths. We, His Body, can impact the world by allowing Him to reign in our hearts and letting His words flow from our mouths. We all face this battle with our tongue, and James states that no man can tame it. These verses urge me to weigh my words more carefully.  By allowing the Holy Spirit to reign in our heart, we are filled with Him and He enables us to speak words that bless and heal.

For a long time, I never really considered that words mattered. After all, everyone is entitled to say what they think and feel. Yes, this is true, but is everything I think and feel honoring to God and to those around me? This has become such a tangible lesson for me.  God has allowed me to see the hurt felt by others from my words, and to experience how other’s  words have hurt me. There is overwhelming frustration as I reflect back over all the useless and unloving words that have come out of my mouth. My only encouragement is knowing the Lord’s forgiveness, and that He is able to redeem and restore. It is never to late to learn what the Holy Spirit is willing to teach, and to expect Him to change, within me, what is not pleasing to God.

connecting, with love

Donna

Mama,Mom,Mother-gift from God

My mother’s  eyes are brown, and shine with tenderness and compassion. Every time I see her looking at me, I feel her love.   She uses her eyes to detect the needs of others,  and to find the positive, more than the negative. Those brown eyes have darted about with humor,  have issued warnings of concern,  have expressed a knowing understanding, and have hinted of  joyous surprises to come.

Matthew 6:22 (MSG) “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light….

Occasionally those eyes have cried with sadness, grief and pain. However, as quickly as the tears appeared, they even more quickly disappeared. She most often has finished a time of crying by saying something funny, or offering a unique perspective, as a way of signaling that despair was finished. Mom isn’t one who spends time talking about others or complaining.  I don’t remember seeing her overwhelmed or frustrated for any length of time.

Philippians 4: 4-7 (NIV) 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

She loves to shop, even if she doesn’t buy anything. She is meticulous with her appearance, and it is always a delight to behold her beauty. She has always maintained a clean, comfortable home and lovely landscaped flowers around the house. Mom can find beauty in the simple, as well as, the profound things of life. Her inner beauty radiates with her words, which are gracious and soft-spoken.  She is utterly supportive of her family, making each of us feel important. Those that know my Mom respect and honor her, because she has first respected and honored them.

1 Peter 3:3-4 Amplified Bible (AMP)Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate]interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes;But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God.

She has sent hundreds of greeting cards to encourage others, and has made countless dishes to serve families suffering from grief or sickness.  Our family continues to enjoy her wonderful cooking as well. Forget the restaurants when she has prepared a Sunday dinner! She is a gracious hostess. I learned how to add water to the gravy and cut the meat into smaller pieces, increasing the amount of portions, when unexpected guest showed up at mealtime… and to smile as you served it.  Have you ever walked into a room and smelled cinnamon, either in the food, or from a candle or incense? It is such a warm, inviting smell. You feel comfort, and you want to stay there, appreciating the scent. That is what it is like to enter my Mom’s home.

1 Peter 4:9 (NIV)  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

At 85 she enjoys  Facebook, email, surfing the internet and playing computer games. Mom and Dad regularly attend a Senior Citizen Center for fellowship meals, special events, and game nights. She is still active on a church committee that provides meals when needed. She has recently acquired a laptop computer. Mom is well-informed about political and world events, and able to converse with confident knowledge. She is a huge Atlanta Braves fan and knows the players by name and by the positions they play, as well as the team’s standings. She is vibrant with life and has a spunky humor. Mom, with all her 5′ 5″ self, can climb up in their Chevy Tahoe, and maneuver through city traffic without a qualm. Her middle name is “I have my bags packed and I’m ready to travel”. She and my husband have a long running joke that she is his favorite mother in law…..actually she is his only mother in law.

Psalm 92:12-14 (AMP)12 The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible].13 Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God.14 [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].

She has spoiled my dad with her devotion and preference to his needs, and he adores her. She is his loyal friend, and steadfast companion. They are such a good team, both helping the other. Their love was a stable foundation for my brother, sister and I, and now a continued blessing for grandchildren and great-grandchildren to witness.

Proverbs 31:11-12 (AMP)11 The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil.12 She comforts, encourages,and does him only good as long as there is life within her.

Now, after listing all these attributes, there remains an even greater asset about  Mom. I can’t say that, in my youth, I ever perceived her as a strong, spiritual woman. She had always held back that part of her life, hidden in her heart. She just lived it and didn’t say much about her faith. Also, I think it was because, most of the time, life didn’t force her to reveal her strength. That is until she was diagnosed with colon cancer when she was 72.

I remember getting the call about the diagnosis. I went to Mom and Dad’s house, dreading having to face her. I anticipated Mom would be fearful and inconsolable, because after all, we had never experienced the threat of cancer within our immediate family. Mom and I hugged for several minutes and she cried. I cried. Then she took me by the shoulders and told me she was going to be fine. As I wanted to comfort her, she was the one doing the comforting. I saw her strength and determination, as her walk with the Lord became clear for all of us to witness.  Her faith was ready to accept that her God would carry her through this  attack of cancer, and He did. During that time of several surgeries, numerous hospitalizations, chemo, IV’s and chest ports, temporary hair loss, mouth ulcers, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and pain, I saw that my mom was indeed a strong woman of faith. She handled every ordeal, with courage and hope because she kept her eyes on Jesus. Today she is cancer free.

Proverbs 31:28 (NKJV)Her children rise up and call her blessed;Her husband also, and he praises her…

I’ve been blessed that I was born into a nurturing  family. As I write this post, I realize there are those that will read this who have not had a good relationship with their mother. In fact, you may have grown up without a mother. Here’s the real message I want to share with you. You are loved by Someone who desires to nurture and care for you, even into your old age.  God’s word states:

Psalm 27:10 (CEB)10 Even if my father and mother left me all alone, the Lord would take me in.

God’s love is able to heal your hurts, and fill that lonely ache in your heart. You don’t have to feel remorseful for what has been lost or stolen from your life. He also says in His word:

Psalm 68:6 (GNT)He gives the lonely a home to live in and leads prisoners out into happy freedom…

With or without a good mother, God can cause happiness to abound. He makes all things right. Coming to Him, through His Son, gives you a home and a family that lasts forever. I thank God for my Mom, and for His love through loving moms, and His love… even without loving moms.

connecting, with love

DK