Wishing You a Wonderful Summer

“It’s a GOD-thing.” I’ve been thinking and saying that a lot lately as God has worked in wondrous ways in opening the way for us to sell our home in a condo association and buy a twin home.

During an anxiety-ridden week filled with surprises, decisions, and suspense, I read the following post and God calmed my heart to remember that even if He said “no,” it would still be a GOD-thing because He has loving reasons for everything. His heart beats just as strongly with love for us through those “no” stories.

“We all have “no” stories: times when hopes flew and prayers pleaded,
but God said “no.” And in those times, it can be tempting
to doubt God’s heart and to question His love.
But Lamentations 3:33 assures us,
‘… [God] does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.’”

Elizabeth Laing Thompson
When Jesus Cries With You

I probably will not be returning to blogging for the rest of this summer. I’m not certain when, but know you will remain in my heart and prayers. I pray God will fill your hearts with the SONshine of His love this summer and always!

“For His unfailing love for us is powerful;
the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.
Praise the Lord!”

Psalm 117:2

May Hope Whispers

God Promises

“Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us,
because God’s love has been abundantly poured out
within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Romans 5:5
AMP

When I checked out what posts readers are drawn to the most so far this year, I was surprised to see the top three dated back between 2014 and 2016.

God’s Plan Is Greater Than Ours

“However messed up or painful our lives are, God has a plan of love towards us. We will suffer troubles on this earth, and often we will not understand. But He is never going to leave us in them. He will help us through them. And when the pain is so deep, He can go to those deep places in our hearts and heal those broken, hurting places. The incomprehensible suffering He went through for us and His triumph over all evil will get us through whatever suffering we must go through in this life. And someday we will see the bigger picture and see how God’s plan is the most beautiful design we could ever imagine.”
Read More…

Bloom With Love Wherever God Plants You

“Sometimes our focus gets skewed in the muck and messiness of life. We start thinking everyone else is better than we are instead of remembering God uniquely created each of us with a special purpose. Each one of us is needed in His garden. None of us is insignificant in His eyes.

The Gardener delights in each of His plantings. He places each plant in such a way that it will compliment the other in the grand scheme of things. Where one serves a purpose to some souls, someone else brings what is needed to other souls. Plants are placed exactly where God can give the best nourishment to each and they can in turn pass on that nourishment to others.”
Read More…

God Knows Us Better Than We Know Ourselves

Questions we sometimes ask God and His answers.
Read More…

Do You Feel Burned Out?

What We Learn From Burnout – Jennifer Renee Watson

I applaud Jennifer’s courage to bring out the hard things about mental health and faith. We need more of that, so we can help remove the shame many are burdened with.

Beat Burnout – I don’t listen to many podcasts, but I’m glad I listened to this important talk by Suzanne, Holley, and Jennifer.

“The past year has left many of us with a weird kind of burnout. We put words to those feelings, talk through what helps, and share next steps.”

When Your Heart is Bummed Out, Burned Out – Suzanne Eller

“Burnout isn’t just about busyness. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, or spiritual exhaustion.

And that’s when it hit me. That’s where I am. I’m burned out. Burned out from the weight of hurtful discussions in our world. Burned out from trying to make sense of all of it. Burned out from feeling protective over friends walking through such hard places. Burned out from isolation. Burned out from the pandemic and all that it means.

Maybe you feel that way too.

Don’t push down that feeling or make a list of why you shouldn’t feel that way.”

Nature Retreat

“If you look into the mirror of nature
and cannot see yourself in it,
then you are too far away.”

by Camillus Lopez (O’odham Master)

Thank you to my brother John
for these stunning photos.
🙂 Please respect copyright laws. 🙂

Mama Mallard is so proud of her babies.
Common Gallinules
Acorn Woodpecker
Bell’s Vireo
Black-Headed Grosbeak
Long-billed Dowitcher
Greater Short-horned Lizard
Male Rattlers Fighting Over a Female
Cat-faced Orbweaver

God Cares About our Hard Questions

I grew up living in fear of God. No, not the fear that means revering Him, but the quaking fear of being pursued by an unapproachable, vindictive God who sought to harm me. I pictured Him as standing above me with a sword ready to strike me down and cast me into hellfire if I stepped even one toenail out of the way of what the church dictated.

I learned not to question God and not to question the ministers who were set in authority over us, because they were God’s messengers speaking for God. Spiritual, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse from a minister locked me in a prison with no way out.

BUT GOD…

Thanks be to God who broke the chains and did provide a way out. It’s an ongoing healing journey, but God has graciously led me to a way of love through Jesus, a love we didn’t hear much of. God is love. He delights to save us, not to harm us. He doesn’t want anyone to perish, and He doesn’t condemn us.

God doesn’t stop loving us when questions plague our hearts. It doesn’t mean we have a lack of faith or are being irreverent if we approach Him with them. He invites us to pour out all our confusion to Him, even though He already knows what is bothering us. He may not always give us answers here in this broken world, but He cares about our questions and uses them to help us in mourning our losses.

We can’t always trace God’s hand in events in this world and in our lives, but we can trust His heart. His arms are always open for us to run into and to be embraced to His heart of everlasting, unfailing love. He won’t always answer our questions, but it is His pleasure to give us grace to hold His hand and trust His heart and His infinitely higher thoughts and plan. He won’t always stop the pain, but He will bring beauty out of it in His way and timing. He won’t always fix what’s broken while we’re on this earth, but He gives us the courage to let go of our plans as we surrender to His control and remember His love never fails, no matter what.

We are not alone when we ask God “Why?”

  • When the Israelites wailed and complained and blamed Moses about their plight, Moses was frustrated and asked God, Why have You been so hard on Your servant?” (Numbers 11:11) It’s like he asked, “Here I am serving You, God, so why is all this happening? Why are You laying such a heavy burden on me?” God answered by qualifying others to help Moses carry the burden. The people were still discontent, but God strengthened him to carry on.

  • David asked, “Oh Lord, why do You stand far off? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) He was in deep lament over all the sin and injustice against the innocent, the poor, and the helpless. It seemed God was unconcerned and hiding Himself. Though God didn’t directly mete out the justice right then, He did help David to focus on God’s faithful character as the Helper of the helpless. Someday there will be an end to all the oppression.

  • The prophet Habbakuk’s name means “he who embraces.” It was through grappling with tough questions that he came to a firm faith. In the first chapter, he asked God, “Why do You make me look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing?” (Habbakuk 1:3) His heart was pained that God wasn’t immediately exacting justice against wrongdoings. He learned that things don’t happen according to our schedule or our plan but only in the way and timing of God.

  • In the anguish of his spirit, Job asked, “Why have You made me Your target?” (Job 7:20) He lost all his children and his possessions. He acknowledges he is not sinless, even though he had a close relationship with God, but he can’t understand why it seems God is destroying him. Though Job didn’t get his children back and He would continue to feel the loss, God eventually gave him more children and more possessions than before. God restored his spirit and gave him grace to go on, and his faith became even deeper through this devastating trial.

  • The most remarkable question of all was by Jesus who took our place and suffered for our sins. In the deepest soul anguish ever, He cried out to His Father, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) He didn’t just “feel” like God forsook Him like we sometimes do. He really was forsaken. For us. Now even when it “feels” like God has abandoned us, we have the steadfast promise that He never will.

God gives us these stories and so many more to shine like beacons of hope that we are not alone. He will always be with us, even when it seems like He’s not.

Why God?

Before Austin sings this song, he shares how God showed him that it’s okay to ask Him the hard questions.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to Me,
all of you who are weary
and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.‘”
Matthew 11:28

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18