Thoughts on a Foggy Morning

What is it about fog? It’s only moisture in the air, yet it has something mysterious, beautiful and scary about it. As I sit on my deck this foggy morning, I see lessons all around me in the fog. It’s as if God’s voice is proclaiming through nature basic lessons I have known for years, but need to be reminded of…

Trust me when you can’t see where you are going.

I created all things and I provide the moisture and the needs of each one, even you.

This world is far more complex than you understand, Dear One, but I keep it all running smoothly.

The fog yields more complex, deep revelations to my soul, the inner workings of His Spirit in mine, things I’ll try to explain, but can’t.

The Beauty of Fog. Fog shrouds the world in a curtain of beauty much like a bridal veil. The harsh world looks softer. The plants lose their dryness, plump up, and look fuller, greener, richer. The birds hop on the ground to feed. Surfaces are damp and cool not even hinting at the blistering heat to come as day fully dawns. The owls and roosters and chickens echo more clearly to my ears on a foggy morning. Is it because my mind is stilled and I’m really observing, really listening? In this pre-dawn hour of beauty my soul is restored.

“He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:2-3 NKJV

The Scariness of Fog. Why is fog scary to us? Just a few thoughts: every creepy movie has fog, disasters can be caused by fog, ships are lost at sea in the fog, and search parties are thwarted by the foggy terrain. In the fog could lie doom or success. So why do we focus on the doom? Fear. In our hard times when a fog shrouds our every decision, we are very aware that the world is full of things beyond our control. Fear takes the controls. We doubt God. Yes, that’s it, that’s why the fog is scary. We doubt. We have read about Our God in scripture. We sing the songs and hear the sermons, but when the unexpected comes do we truly believe, or do we just hope? We become fearful because our faith is small and we aren’t convinced the Father is there, is for us, will do good to us, and can even make a difference. Foggy times in life are scary because they are times when faith is absent or small.

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.” Psalm 56:3-4 NASB

The Mystery of Fog. Why is there a mysteriousness about fog? Is it the unknown lying behind the fog? Is it the ethereal quality of fog that makes it seem magical and unknowable? Maybe it’s societal conditioning that makes me see fog as mysterious. Every unicorn or dragon seems to emerge out of the fog. The fog holds the unexpected – it could be negative, but often it is positive. As we walk through foggy times in life let’s not forget that: the fog holds the unexpected. Faith holds the unexpected too. Fog and faith, how do those intertwine? It takes faith to walk through the fog. Faith is strengthened in the fog, the unknown. Faith is taking that next step toward whatever is concealed by the fog. The mystery of the hidden should not alarm us, for God knows the hidden things. We are to have faith to act when we cannot see.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see…. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible…. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:1,3,6 NIV

Let’s challenge ourselves to choose faith over fear. To view the mysteries of life confidently knowing that all things are in His hands and under His control. To loosen our grip of control. To see the beauty in the foggy times, looking for the gifts God has for us in the fog. May your faith muscle be strengthened this week as you exercise it each day in the fog and the unknown of life.

Scripture Memory

Ladies Bible study can have a lasting impact on women’s lives. This week in our study we were reminded of the necessity of memorizing scripture. Necessity? Yes, it is a necessity. How can we live God-honoring lives if we don’t have His Word planted in our hearts and minds? We need the Word to show us truth and to be an instruction book, a measuring stick, and a map for our lives.

In light of that idea, here are links to two of our past blog posts on scripture memory:

Back to Basics: Scripture Memory and Back to Basics: Scripture Memory 2

Read the articles. Enjoy. But more importability take that first intentional step to begin or get back to memorizing scripture! You can do it!

Cicadas

The sound of cicadas is something between a chirp, a song, and an alarm going off, yet it is soothing and mesmerizing. As I sat listening this morning, the thought came to mind: God created those little creatures just like He created me. Why? Could the world not have operated without them? Why did He have them make songs? To communicate with each other? For our joy and comfort? And why that sound? What an intricate world Our Father has created! He cares for every little piece of it, and if He planned and cared for the cicadas, how much more has He planned and will care for us!

It brought to mind a hymn from my preschool days, probably the first hymn I ever learned:

This Is My Father’s World

Maltbie D. Babcock, 1858-1901

Verse 1
This is my Father’s world, and to my list’ning ears,
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

Verse 2
This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

Verse 3
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Was giv’n to show God’s love.
This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad!

Verse 4
This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: The battle is not done;
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and heav’n be one.

Life can grind away at our faith if we aren’t careful. We must intentionally take time to nourish our souls. Time sitting in nature just listening, away from our technology, is necessary. Do we look for the reflection of God in all of His creation and seek out the lessons we can learn through it? We need to allow ourselves time to disconnect from the world and be reminded of God’s love and power. The evening news will convince us we’ve lost the battle and evil reigns, but time alone with God, in nature, in meditation, in His Word, will remind our hearts that Jesus reigns and the battle is the Lord’s and we must stand firm and see His deliverance and not fret!

Psalm 37:1-8

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.

Take some time today to step away and listen to the cicadas or the birds or the rain. Read His Word and rest in the comfort of His love. Be still before Him and trust Him.

Making It Home: Cooking From the Heart

“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31:31

When I think of home, I think of food. I love a good, home cooked meal. Now that there are just two of us, I don’t cook as much. I remember going through cookbooks and figuring out something new to try. I don’t have as many cookbooks anymore. I find it easier to google a recipe and look at the choices that come up. Those recipes are generally very good and easy enough to prepare. But sometimes, getting a recipe off the internet just doesn’t seem good enough.

That’s when I go back to the little brown box with the decoupage rose on top with my mother’s recipes. Some are in her handwriting and some are in mine. Some recipes are on 3×5 note cards and some are on little pieces of paper. Others are typed. I know the typed ones are the ones she shared with others. People always wanted her recipe for Sour Cream Pound Cake, Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, and her Chocolate Pound Cake with Never Fail Chocolate Fudge Icing. I have enjoyed making her recipes and these are some of my family’s favorites. I don’t have to ask what kind of cake my two adult children want for their birthday.

There are other recipes that are special to me too. I want to be sure that even with the convenience of internet recipes, these recipes get saved through the years. I have begun to digitize the recipes in my Mother’s handwriting even with the places that have cake batter and splatters on the recipes. My Mother’s favorite punch recipe and her favorite Date Nut Loaf that she made at Christmas are still favorites of mine. I can smell the smells of these favorite foods in my memories of long ago, or I can make it myself and remember all over again. These special recipes bring my memories of home to life and make me remember what it was like to be a child helping my mother cook and then as a mother myself, to cook with my children. The love shared in the kitchen and the smells of delicious food is a wonderful memory of home to be passed through the generations. 

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Share with us in the comments one of your favorite recipes!

Freedom

We have just celebrated our country’s birth: Independence Day – The Fourth of July. This day 245 years ago set us free from the tyranny and control of England. As our new nation was created citizens were empowered by this new freedom. They could buy, sell, trade, own land and more without having to pay taxes to a government thousands of miles and an ocean away. While we gained the freedom to worship and live as we chose through the American Revolution, we also gained a less desirable freedom, we had the freedom to choose to sin and do evil.

As with humans everywhere this baby country did not live peacefully in joyful freedom, but instead people, as sinful humankind will do, used their freedom as license to take what was not theirs, strike out in anger or retribution, enslave their brothers, and overall allow their freedom to lead to bondage. When men are free they have the right to choose, but they must be careful to choose wisely. Will they choose freedom from sin or freedom to sin?

We have that question before us every day of our life. Will we, will I, in my freedom chose to do evil, to sin? Or will I choose freedom from sin which requires me to self-govern and deny myself and choose to not do everything my heart desires, to reject the freedom to do evil?

Our society today is suffering. We are suffering from sin. People daily choose to do as they please regardless of the consequences. Regardless of whether it negatively affects others. Even regardless of the law. We as a nation are increasingly becoming a people who do what we want, when we want no matter the cost. How can we change our culture? How can we come back to a freedom that embraces honor and respect for others?

First, we must each individually choose freedom FROM sin. We must make it our goal to live self-less, not self-ish lives. We must wholeheartedly obey Jesus, seeking to live out the truths of scripture each day. We must put others first and self last as we are instructed in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” We must become individuals of integrity and character who are lighthouses to those passing by in this dark world.

Second, we must proclaim Jesus to everyone we meet. The only hope for a fallen, sinful society is Jesus. The book of John tells us, “Jesus said…, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…. Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. … if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'” (John 6:31-32, 34, 36) Real freedom comes through knowing the truth. Jesus is the truth. It is through knowing Jesus, the truth, and abiding in Him, making daily choices to live like Him, that we are set free from sin. And that is the only true freedom we will ever have.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John14:6

Making it Home

This year, in conjunction with our women’s ministry’s activities, Priceless will begin a series of blogs under the theme of “Making it Home.” We’ll have to see exactly which direction the Lord takes us. The articles will be focused on the home, our roles as nurturers in our households, and how to make our houses into homes, whether physically, spiritually, emotionally, or even as arms that reach out to our neighbors, friends, and family members. I hope you’ll follow along with these articles and that they will bless you and give you ideas and inspiration in many areas of your life.

Old fashioned “homemaking” has become obsolete. Have you noticed? We love to have beautifully decorated homes, but we often see ourselves more as interior decorators and hostesses rather than the homemakers our grandmothers were. Between jobs, school, church, ballgames, music and dance lessons, leisure activities and such our houses have become simply stop-overs where we change clothes and sleep. (I almost added “eat” in there, but in reality we have lunch dates and dinner with friends, or we eat out while shopping or grab fast food on the way to The Next Thing, so even meals aren’t nearly the focus of the home they were when we were all younger.

We all long for home. When we are away we want to be home for the safety, security, or rest. We long for the security and rich relationships the word “home” suggests, yet we congregate as a family in an angry, chaotic atmosphere or in a building that seems full of loss, regret, and depression. Maybe even within the walls of our houses we long for “home” because the place we dwell does not satisfy our hearts the way our grandmama’s little frame house did. We want to be able to abide in a place where we are known, loved just as we are, cherished, and desired. Yet feelings of anxiousness and distance often characterize our life at home. If we feel this way, how much more must our children?

To have an abode full of joy, care, peace, and nurturing, we must learn to abide. Full joy and love and meaning in living can be found only through abiding in Jesus Christ, having an intimate relationship with Him. All the decorating and entertaining and money spent will not yield joy, contentment, and a happy home. The first home we must build is our spiritual home, that home in our heart for Christ to dwell in, otherwise we are an empty shell like an old warehouse or a burned out building. Scripture relates Jesus’ words to us about abiding, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9-11 ESV) Full joy comes through abiding in Him.

As we traverse this year of articles, we hope your heart will grow into a home where Christ abides, and your physical home will grow into that place of joy, contentment, beauty, and deep healthy relationships. We hope this series will help you turn your heart toward home.

Steve and Annie Chapman – “Turn Your Heart Toward Home”