Warm Wednesday Words: Perspective Rescued and Reframed

IMG_9722EditedBecause I believe in God’s sovereignty,  my perspective is constantly being rescued and reframed.  For years I have been closely effected by a roller coaster ride of heartaches due to the addictions and bad choices of a sweet adult child along with turbulence in some of the relationships he became entwined with.  Mixed in with the fun times we all have shared, there have been times that waves of despair have crashed in on our family.  Through it all I believe that God is rescuing and keeping those I have committed to Him, and in fact, our entire family.  (“…and that is why I have suffered these things.  But I am not ashamed because I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.”  2 Tim. 1:12) As Carol Kent points out so well in her book, “When I Lay My Isaac Down”, the entire family suffers when a family member is arrested; i.e. not just with the shock and heartache, but with a taste of the ill treatment that is often dished out liberally to the incarcerated.  From exorbitant phone call charges, visitation lines, changing rules, searches, lies, rudeness, scapegoats, assumption of guilt, etc., we have learned more then we ever wanted to about our system.   As Joseph said to his brothers after his long set of trials at their hands, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result…”  (Gen. 37-45) Seeing things from God’s perspective caused him to be able to forgive his brothers for the evil scheme they had carried out.  It’s not always an easy thing to keep my eyes focused on God’s perspective, but when I do I see clearly His love and mercy even within difficulties.  Then there are the unexpected moments of God’s grace in the hard places, such as when a friend picks up the corner of our stretcher by encouraging words, cards, prayers, hugs (both virtual and real) or sacrificial actions.  There have been some who have sought us out just to help us stand strong in a hard place; as well as those who have essentially left us alone in it.

IMG_9719That thing that I would most like to erase from my circumstances is often the very thing God will get the most mileage from in His molding makeover plans.  This is something not understood by those who have not put their trust in God.  The lure of success, popularity, and power along with the slippery slope of pride can be too strong to welcome or see the need for a trial to sharpen spiritual perspective and increase trust.   Yet the most humbling things that I would choose to avoid, He uses for His glory and my good.

IMG_9707EditedLast fall I planted bulbs, which, like cocoons and butterflies, wombs and babies, and so many other design marvels, illustrate the amazing skill of a Master Weaver to use the dark and hidden places to yield something no less then splendid.  His transforming powers are not at all affected by my ideas of where they should occur, whether behind prison walls built by men or those constructed within hearts encased in a fine exterior in denial of the slavery within.  Meantime, true heart freedom is being forged in the hard places not the easy ones.

IMG_9706The beauty of flowers and spring is like a visual banner shouting God’s handiwork that was done in the hard and hidden places.  I am thankful for following through with the instinctive nudging to plant more bulbs last fall in addition to other landscape specimens already here. Beginning with helleborus, Magnolia Jane and white forsythia defying winter in the midst of freezing temps, the floral processional has begun.  Moving on from  hyacinths, viburnums and daisies to tulips, flowering almonds, spireas, Japanese Maple, lilacs, azaleas, and the unfurling of peonies, I’m feasting on an array of visionary and olfactory reminders of God’s creativity, faithfulness and love.

IMG_9708If the kaleidoscope of colors doesn’t settle the matter, there is the intoxicating aroma of hyacinths, Korean Spice Viburnum and lilacs to further prove He does exceedingly above all that we ask or think.  In “Eyes Wide Open:  Enjoying God in Everything”, author Steve DeWitt says, ‘…every created beauty was created by God to lead our affections to Him.  That’s why He made the pleasures of earthly beauty so fleeting – so that on the other side of the pleasure we might experience either wonder and worship and ultimate satisfaction in God or the pursuit of the pleasure that beauty provides for its own sake.  If we choose the latter, we will only be disappointed again.’

IMG_9701As one wave of blooms fades and another comes on, there is a rhythmic reminder that, like the blooms that come and go, my life, too is a vapor to be poured out in whatever channel He desires.  My response to the course He chose for me is sweet surrender, and yes, even gratefulness.  Since nothing happens to me outside of His permission, He must have confidence that I will  display His glory even in arid places.  Perhaps He has handpicked you for a hard place as well.

IMG_9718A sweet friend encouraged me after a recent turning point in my family’s heartbreaking saga of the loss of a family member to incarceration, “Now you have the framework for the future.”  Her words were comforting and also reminded me that I’ve always had the framework for the future from the time I turned my life over to Christ at age nine.  Through ups and downs, valleys and “mountaintops”, seasons of drought and seasons of showers, God has always been there and been my Savior and my friend.  The gardens have not failed to rescue and reframe my perspective!

IMG_9693How about you?  What hard place are you in right now and how is God reframing your perspective through it?

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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?