Warm Wednesday Words: Inside Out

insideout.jpgSitting in church Sunday, I glanced at my husband and was dismayed to notice that his shirt was inside out.  Surprised, but not too ruffled, he exited out the side door right by him and made the switch.  That was actually the second time my dear husband has been an inside out shirt trend setter at church.  The first time I noticed it after we returned to our seats from the alter where we had stood, back to congregation, and prayed for our youngest son on Graduation Sunday, while sporting “Faded Glory” washing instructions across his back for anyone with a keen eye.  While laughing at work the next day about our mishap, a sweet boss told me that it is the sign of a lucky man to find his shirt on inside out.  I don’t know, but I was thinking about the inside out business of being a Christian.

His strength in our weaknessWhen life seems overwhelming, I run to the Rock that is higher then I, and (sometimes after kicking and screaming inside first), I usually find this inside out truth – that His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  I make it my goal to…” take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures because of Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Cor. 12:9-10 HCSB) When I forgive others with the same grace I’ve received, knowing the ground is equal at the foot of the cross, and when I trust God to turn a situation around for the good, He is then willing to go to work on my behalf.

possible with HimHe picks up right where my weakness and faith invite Him in to take over.  Nothing is impossible with Him.

do not be anxiousMost everybody knows worry is a bad thing even in the most upsetting of circumstances.  It might take me a little while to get to a place of peace.  But the most inside out thing of all is to give thanks for my upsets and tragedies.  Not that I am glad for tragedies, but that God can be glorified through them.  For that I can give thanks with His help.

more blessed to give then receiveHere’s another inside out principle….storing up and  coveting more and better without thought for the poor (and that is not necessarily defined by government) can make a selfish and hardened heart, yet generous sharing enriches a soul.  God warns not to live in selfish  luxury and indulgence.  Giving, especially sacrificial giving, definitely softens the heart and just plain feels good.  In another inside out twist, God has actually chosen the poor who love Him to be rich in faith.

rejoice in insults I have been on both ends of rudeness and mistreatment before, (whether intentional or not) as likely anyone whose honest has.  It happens, though the persecutions spoken of here are more serious and horrific around the globe, and on the increase even in our country.  But the inside out perspective is this.  There’s a reward waiting when I leave it in God’s hands and refuse bitterness.

treasures in clay jarsThe cool thing about being a child of God is the enemy can’t win.  He’s already lost.  Even when I’m down.  God rushes to  rescue (soul first and foremost) and uses it all.  When I rally in my own strength this promise does not apply.

those who exalt themselvesWith God, the way up is down...bowed down in prayer that is.  Praying His promises, believing He will fulfill them because I have died to self and live for Him.  Just as a flower dies to drop it’s seed before renewal, so I have to leave my vision in His hands to fulfill or not, according to His best plan.

we look at what can't be seenHere’s a great inside out truth.  I look at what can’t be seen.  But actually, in my faith, it can be seen and I hold onto it through His promises.   Because of this I can let go and worship while still in the storm.  I can “see” with my faith vision, and because of His love for me that I know so well, I know that I know that He is at work.

we fight on our kneesIn my prayers, I go to war with the most powerful weapons not generally known to man.  They are mighty weapons that demolish “invisible”, but very real, strongholds.  They are the weapons of the name of Jesus, my faith in Him, and the Scripture promises that I stand on!  There is nothing on this earth so effective as a devoted child of God praying with “clean hands” and a pure heart (because of Christ) and childlike trust.  It’s here that often dismal circumstances turn with God’s miraculous touch, but whether or not, I definitely abide in His presence and know His love.  No matter how my life is going here, where I am just a stranger, I long for the day I am with Him in eternity and these present sufferings behind me.  I know it’s just ahead and I keep my eye on the prize.

faithful to death - crown of lifeThat seems to be the ultimate inside out deal.  Faithful unto death, gets the crown of life.  Whether it’s death to a thousand little selfish things, or choosing death over denying Christ for eternity’s sake, this is the ultimate call.  So next time you find your shirt on inside out, consider yourself “lucky” to be reminded that we live inside out.  What have you worn inside out or turned around?   Please tell me it’s not just at our house.  What “lucky” application fits?

 

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Warm Wednesday Words: Turtle Time

keep calm and love turtlesI like turtles and turtle shells.  The turtle shell has an upper portion called the carapace and a lower portion called the pastron.  Not every creature gets to go out with a uniquely decorated house attached to his back.  In fact a house that within a second, in some types of turtles, can clamp its occupant so tightly behind the front entrance that a blade of grass can hardly fit through.  These types of turtles have a moveable hinge like joint in the plastron.  What a blessed creature the turtle must be in that regard; i.e. to have an instant safehouse.   According to the Institute in Basic Life “Character Sketches”,  ‘The Hebrew word for tortoise means “canopy”.  It comes from a root which means “to establish”.  This could refer to the fixed “established” home God provided for the turtle in its shell.  The tortoise is safe from its predators as long as it remains inside its shell.  We have the same security in our Heavenly Father.’  “The name of the Lord is a strong tower’ the righteous run to it and are safe.”  (Prov. 18:10)

Edwin with hat

So meet Edwin.   Edwin is a Northern Map Turtle, whose shell does not even close completely.  In natural habitats, his type relies on vigilance, swimming and hiding for protection.  He lives in a plastic “lagoon” that is 5″ tall and 16″ long and wider on one end.  It has a little “island” in the center, where I have put a miniature tree for him, as well as one down in the water with his rocks and driftwood.  In the picture below, Edwin is burrowed in the bottom of his lagoon  among the round, smooth stones. Turtles don’t have a good sense of hearing, but they do have a sensitive smelling ability.  They also have keen eyesight and can even perceive color, favoring red, orange and yellow as the most appetizing colors.

lagoon

Edwin is able to absorb oxygen through the skin on his neck and cloacle area enabling him to remain under water for long periods of time.  Norther Map turtles prefer to catch their food as it drifts near them in the water, and this can be water plants, baby shrimp, mealworms, earthworms, or tiny bits of meat.  Edwin must be very private about his meals, as I’ve yet to see him take a bite.  He enjoys spending time sunning up on his piece of driftwood, which puts him closer to the lamp.  He seems to relish perching on the uppermost portion which can get very warm.

BeFunky_Edwin sunning.jpg

Turtles have been my favorite “thing” for as long as I can remember.  Maybe “The Tortoise and the Hare” made a great impression on me, I don’t know.  I can sort of relate to the turtle.  What I lack in speed, I often make up for in determination and perseverance.  Whether it’s a small task or a 5k run, slow and steady is generally my default.

The tortouise and the Hare

Interestingly, the weight a box turtle can bear on its shell would be similar to me being able to bear up under the weight of a couple of large African elephants.  Since the turtle shell does not allow for a diaphragm, the turtle must move its legs and other muscles to assist in breathing. Some species of turtles are known for making some pretty strange sounds during mating and nesting seasons, and all without the help of vocal cords.

BeFunky_Edwin side view with back feet out.jpgIf you are interested in knowing more about turtles and how they actually defy evolution, check out this link with Answers in Genesis.  What part of creation trips your trigger and how does it point to a Master Designer?

 

Warm Wednesday Words: Hope in the Night

joyful in hopeLast fall I was well into a dark and difficult season of my life in which I needed to cling to every scrap of hope just to function.   I longed for a time machine to jump in and travel to a few years from now and skip this season.  Since that didn’t happen, I did the next best thing and purchased several bags of beautiful bulbs and crammed them in every available flower bed and pot around the house.  Other then the times I was buoyed with the lifeline of empathy, encouragement and time out with family and friends (who are cemented in my personal hall of fame),  my “recreation” centered on bulb catalogs and wondering what mile marker I would be passed when each variety bloomed.  Bulbs symbolize what God, in His Divine Providence, is doing in the hidden realms that we don’t see.  Yet for those who love Him, He is faithful to work all the intricate details out and use them for His glory and our good.  He is a master weaver of our circumstances, even though we can’t see the finished tapestry yet.

pain prefaces birthAmaryllis  gave me just what I needed during the dead of winter to hold me over until spring and outdoors.  It was fun to buy several and share them with some family and a mentor who has stood staunchly on faith and determinedly propped me up a few times, as well.   Our faith filled prayers for God’s glory to be evidenced in difficult circumstances are synchronized as we tend to our amaryllis bulbs and watch their beauty unfold.

BeFunky_IMG_9104.jpgHis creation of the flowering bulb holds striking symbolism of my faith and trust in Him even when I can’t see what He’s doing.  Even the bulb, itself, holds symbolism.  While it is in the cold, dark, earth, it finds it’s sustenance from within to send forth the new growth.  While I am in the dark trial, I must find strength from my inner most core; i.e. the Lord and His Spirit and the comfort, direction, and even sure promises that I can only get from time spent alone with Him

hope that is not seenWhat do you hope for and how long term is it?  What visual reminders do you place in your life to help you hang on to hope?

 

Warm Wednesday Words: Blessings of Coverings

coverings
Tonight a significant portion of the United States population is hunkering down getting ready for brutal winter weather tomorrow with below zero temperatures and 25 mile per hour wind gusts.  No doubt, I am not alone in thinking of what might be warm to wear, what to cover my car windshield with in case of moisture, whether the flap on the heated doghouse is in order and if it needs a blanket over it, as well, whether the chickens will nestle down into the hay until they can hardly be seen, and on and on with thoughts of cover and safety.
In my relationship with my husband, I am usually happy to be covered by his care, protection and authority.  Together, we are blessed to be under our Lord’s covering, authority and protection.
three strands
In church, we are blessed to be under the protection of a pastor, who seeks to shepherd the flock under the will and protection of our Lord, Himself, as we also must strive to do individually.  Another covering from being in a local church, as well as other Christian groups, is the blessing of like minded friendships.  Yet another form of covering within the church is that of operating under the guidelines that God gave us for the corporate church setting, in which roles for men and women differ.  I have narrowed down the list of Christian women speakers and writers whom I truly admire to those who make a genuine effort to submit to those New Testament instructions.  Nancy Leigh DeMoss did an excellent radio program on the subject and it is linked here, and very much worth reading.  Like Nancy, I can only try to honor what God has to say about it, and yes, there is a functional,  hierarchy by God’s design in church and marital roles.  It is often as shirked by men as it is usurped by women with too many lackadaisical bystanders blinded especially to the gray areas and cultural trends.
Sometimes we want to throw off our coverings; i.e. the authority in our lives that may not be operating in truth and according to whatever law or guidelines they were meant to.  Or at the very least we may be tempted to not respect them or their position.  The danger is in how easily we can be led down the path of deception here.  But whether or not changes are warranted, or whether we are free to easily make such changes, (and sometimes it may be necessary), being protected under a covering is a blessing.  If, as a woman, I have a few less roles to perform in, I count it as a few extra layers of covering, and I’m blessed.
promoting beautiful womanhood