Genesis 2:1-3

“So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested[a] from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” Genesis 2:1-3 (NLT)

With each day there was a boundary established by God, day, night, sea, land, seed bearing fruit, trees, birds, fish. Each creation had a boundary. Then He rested.

For the past two weeks, I have not given myself boundaries. I did not schedule time to write or really exercise. I enjoyed the company of my daughter, her husband and our Little Miss. Each day held it’s own excitement and adventures, even if it was just sitting on the couch watching television and playing restaurant. Each day gave me memories to cherish.

Now, we are home. Today I awoke with determination to get back into full swing of schedules. I have half succeeded. Laundry is finishing, most of the groceries are put away, and although writing has been on the forefront of my mind, these words are my only accomplishment.

I tend to be pretty hard on myself when I am not in a regimen. I look at numbers in my statistics on my blog, each time reminding myself that stats are just numbers. That does not always work for me, because with each number I see a person that has reached out to me. Each person who reads what I attempt to say is a gift to me, after all, they have taken time from their day to see what I have tried to say.

When my stats go to ‘0’ or ‘1’, I chide myself. I see in my mind a finger pointing at me and scolding me for not being where I think I should be. There are a lot of “I’s” in these sentences. It is then, that I remember that this blog is a gift also. My words do not come without a lot of prayer and my Lord sees the entire perspective. This blog belongs to Him and only through Him can I write.

So, after pushing myself to get back on track, fretting and stewing that I am not back where I think I should be, I have heard a gentle voice whispering, “Chill out! I’ve got this.” Followed by my thankfulness that I serve a God who understands me.

New Beginnings

“School is a building which has four walls with tomorrow inside.” – Lon Watters

Last night we went to Little Miss’ school to meet her teacher for this coming year and see her classroom.

It’s been a long time since I was able to participate in such an activity. Her teacher greeted us and introduced herself to our granddaughter, who then took off to talk with friends and explore her second grade classroom.

It was fun to see the manipulatives on the shelves, the books in the library, the signs on walls. Everything was fascinating to me.

I was surprised that this simple trip brought back a flood of memories. I thought of my daughter’s second grade classes and most of all, I thought of my own second grade year. This took me back in time, thinking of my teacher, classmates the ones who remain friends, the ones that were goofy, but now are wonderful people. I also thought of events that happened in my second grade year. Little things that don’t matter much, except to seven and eight year olds.

Time has a way of fleeting by us. Sometimes we think that days, weeks, months or years drag by. We wait anxiously for milestones to occur, we look forward to big things and little things.

Last night I went to meet my granddaughter’s second grade teacher and was flooded with memories from sixty years ago. In the hours after attending, I wondered how the time had flown.

“School bells are ringing loud and clear; vacation’s over, school is here.” — Winifred C. Marshal

Hear That? God is a Gentle Whisper

 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” I Kings 19:12 (NLT)

After Elijah killed all the prophets of Baal, he fled to Mt. Sinai and waited to hear from God. The above verse talks about all the ways Elijah thought God would answer. I love the end of the verse though, and after the fire was the sound of a gentle whisper.

How many times do we expect a boisterous answer? We expect fire, lightening, earthquakes, booming voices, we want the drama. God is capable of all of this. But, often He will gentle whisper. We have to listen carefully, but the answer is there.

The past two days and nights we visited Little Miss’ lake house. It was a quick trip and on the spur of the moment. The late summer weather was perfect for boating and watching Little Miss tubing solo and with her Dad. This morning as we were on the lake there was a feeling of end of summer. The sun was hot, but the air was almost fall-ish.

The past days as we have ventured out on the lake I have heard gentle whispers in the air. I truly felt the presence of God. He whispered to me as I watched a pair of bald eagles circle above us. The majesty of the birds, they symbol of America, strong, independent and soaring.

I heard the Gentle Whisper speak to me as we watched the sun start it’s descent in the west. The Artist of all creation painting the sky. Giggles and laughter from our Little Miss filled me with joy to see her grow in new ways. This too, is our God softly speaking to her, urging her to conquer adventures and new activities.

God, the Gentle Whisper fills us with peace and joy. We sometimes have to slow down to experience this. Like Elijah we expect major things to show us God’s hand. God does not always shout, instead, He leans close to us, and pulls us near Him and whispers.

God in the little things

Recently I have written about the names of God. I will most likely continue with these, but the past couple of days I have seen in action all that God is.

We are visiting Little Miss and her family. During this visit I have seen our God in action in this family. I have seen His protection over this home and extended family. I have experienced God our peace in the conversations and interactions.

God is bountiful. He is present. He protects and defends us. He answers prayer. He is all in all. I rejoice in the answered prayers I have felt.

I often look to see God in all areas and situations. These past few days, I have been immersed in the presence of God.

Walking into this home is walking into peace. It is comfortable. It is filled with teasing and laughter, giggles and snuggles. I have been wrapped in peace and for that I am thankful.

May your day today be filled with all the good things from our God.

“Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9 (NLT)

Isaiah 7:14 ~ God with Us

 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Listen carefully, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will call his name Immanuel (God with us).” Isaiah 7:14 (AMP)

This verse I love. It brings comfort to me, I can’t explain the calm I feel when reading it. It is often read during Advent, the time leading up to Christmas, but it is a promise from Father God that we know was fulfilled with Christ’s birth.

Emmanuel came to earth. He left the glory of heaven, the glory of being with Father and Holy Spirit and became man. He left His home, with all the infinite power and glory and became an infant. An infant that needed to be fed, changed, and clothed. He had to depend on Mary and Joseph, two He created.

Jesus was here on earth, He was with us. He experienced all that we learned as children, skinned knees, colds, the heat of the summer, the cold of winter, hunger, excitement. He felt all that we feel. God with us.

How incredible that the God of the Universe humbled Himself and became man. How incredible for us, that He did. Emmanuel, God with us, while He was on earth as He is now.

A Glimpse ~ God, Our Hiding Place

“You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7 (NKJV)

With a shout of “Ready or not, here I come” the searching begins in a game of hide and seek. We have each played this game, trying to find the best hiding spots. Our granddaughter loves this game and I have played it with her, finding spots where she would not look. She is a great ‘hider’ too. She has stumped me many times.

Hiding in play is one thing, but I remember my youngest would often try to hide behind me when she was around strangers. I was her shield and protection. I sometimes would gently pull her from behind me to introduce her to people and allow her to warm up to them.

I have been known to just hide. This is during times of stress for me, when I need to collect my thoughts and my peace. I usually quietly head to a closet and stand there. If I have to, I take a deep breath and start to pray, sometimes crying when situations have upset me emotionally.

God is our Hiding Place. In times of distress, I can picture myself like my youngest, grabbing onto the robe of God and hiding there, occasionally peeking our from around Him to glimpse at what is going on. As He is the perfect parent, He knows I am there and allows me to use Him as a shield. But, when the time comes, He gently reaches around and brings me out, reassuring me that is it okay and I no longer need to hide.

God is always there. He is always ready to be that perfect place to hide. It is not a fearful place, or an obvious place, but He is a place of security and protection. A perfect hiding spot.

The Lord our Banner ~ Jehovah Nissi

“After the victory, the Lord instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-Nissi (which means “the Lord is my banner”).” Exodus 17:14-15 (NLT)

When we lived in San Diego, our church would have worship celebrations with music and praise and worship. These were wonderful celebrations that took months of preparing. I remember several of them, but one stands out to me. I will try to capture the essence of this time in words, which I know will not give it just due. Click on the paragraph below to hear the music that was played.

Sitting in our pew, the doors of the church closed. The lights are dimmed and it is quiet. Then, music starts, a march, with trumpets resounding. The doors open, the lights are brought up, and children frolic down the aisle, somersaults, cart wheels, behind them, young people carrying small brightly colored flags. Then, there appears banners, large ones, being carried by young adults. The singers are singing. Chills run down your back.

The procession continues, with grace, dignity and a boldness. The group gathers on the platform and the song continues. The theme for this celebration is set. We will lift God our Banner high.

Now, for the most part we only think of God being our banner in the Old testament and in the example of a worship celebration. It’s nice, it’s a good reminder of Exodus, but that’s about all the thought it is given.

A banner can be a sign, an invitation, they also commemorate, bring to remembrance and honor. God delivered His people in a time of war, He was the banner over the situations the Israelites faced. He provided and was victorious.

The same is true today. We may not build altars, but we do tell of answered prayers. We testify of battles won with our finances, our health, our employment, our family. God is our Banner.

We proclaim the goodness of God. We tell of our devotion to Him. We say we are resting in His arms, that He is covering us. We are under His banner. It may not be a visible banner, but it is there all the same.

The children sing, “His banner over me is love.” Yes, that it is, it is also a covering, a protection that blankets us. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and we need to lift Him up in honor, in recognition and praise.

The Lord will Provide ~ Jehovah-Jireh

“Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Genesis 22:13-14 (NKJV)

There is a song we have sung at church by Don Moen, “Jehovah-Jireh”. It talks about our God providing for us. It is a song that comes into my mind often.

Each day we experience God’s provision. It may be little things, food on our table, gas in our vehicles, roof over our head, clothes in our closet. Each of these are provisions from our God. Yes, we have worked for them and paid for them, but it from the Lord’s provision that this was possible.

I try to be cognizant of these daily things in my life. They are blessings to me. There have been times where my faith has been tested. Times when we looked at our accounts and knew there was not enough to meet the need. Other times when illness was front and center in our lives and we did not know what would come next. Times when I have felt like I was locked in a closet without a way to exit, that feeling of hopelessness and despair. The times when my faith was not robust, but still was the size of a mustard seed.

It is during seasons like this, that along with fear and doubt comes self-condemnation, allowing the noise to keep playing in your mind that you are not good enough, that no one cares, that if I only would do (and then fill in the blanks). The enemy of our souls has a good time in these seasons. It is during these times I go to Matthew 10:29-31, “What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (NLT)

Our God is a God of provision. Nothing escapes His attention. He does provide. I have seen it over and over in my life. He has provided Christmas gifts, shoes, formals, groceries, encouraging words at just the exact time they were needed. He has made meals stretch, groceries last, power bills to be reasonable. He is Jehovah-Jireh, my provider. His grace is sufficient for me.

The provisions don’t come with a loud fanfare, it is not announced via a bullhorn for all to hear and notice. No, like providing a ram stuck in bushes for Abraham, He will provide for me and for you. After that provision, your faith will grow just a bit more. In each place we have lived, I have experienced times where I did not think there was a provision for the problems I was facing. I have stood at windows praying for help, for guidance, for provision. And, at each place the Lord would have me focus at what I was looking at while praying, Mt Fuji, Mt. Desert, the Pacific Ocean, ponds with alligators, and comforting woods, all breath-taking vistas. They stood as a reminder of where the Lord had taken me, and what I was enjoying already. How gracious is my God in that while I was in misery, I was in places of awe for most of the world. It would stir me to recognize the great provision I had already received. Then with His perfect grace, God would again provide for me.

“My God shall supply all my needs
According to His riches in glory
He will give His angels
Charge over me

Jehovah Jireh cares for me, for me, for me
Jehovah Jireh cares for me

Jehovah Jireh
My provider
His grace is sufficient
For me, for me, for me

Jehovah Jireh
My provider
His grace is sufficient
For me” Don Moen

Names

My full name is Mary Catherine. If you count my Confirmation name from the Catholic church my name is Mary Catherine Anne. My family has always called me Cathi, well, actually they called me Cathy until I went into my freshman year of high school and I changed the spelling of my name to Cathi. I thought it was fun and cute, never thought it would stick and now I am a 67 year old with a cutesy name… it’s like I need to make certain I have a cute little heart or flower when I write the ‘i’ at the end. In jest, some people have called me Cat-hi.

The nuns always called me either Mary or Mary Catherine. I still have some friends from elementary school who will occasionally refer to me as Mary Catherine.

In middle school, since I was taller than most of the class, I was called Stilts and Jolly Green Giant, sometimes Wilt (the Stilt). But, with age, I no longer claim such titles.

Dale calls me Kate or Katie and sometimes by my maiden name, McCarthy.

Each of us have a variety of names that we are known by. Some are pet names, some are full names, and some are the all important names of Mom, or Grammy. The point being, we answer to many names, each special, each individual, each with meaning.

Our God has many names also. We are all familiar with the common names, God, Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, our Savior, Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost. These are the names most referred to describe God. God is also Abba (Father), God the Son, and again, God the Holy Spirit.

Apart from these there are compound names of God that each mean a particular aspect of God. For the next few days I am going to write about these compound names of God and what they mean to me.

Let’s start with Jehovah-Rohi, The Lord is my Shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1(NKJV) This psalm talks about the Lord leading us to lie down in safety and provides for our needs, how He protects us and shields us. It is a comforting psalm for us. It allows us to see what the Lord, my Shepherd does.

In Luke 15:4-7, it tells us, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” (NKJV)

I love this passage, as it talks about not only Jesus being my Shepherd, He is also my Savior. This description of going and searching for a lost sheep is what He did for me. He saw me as I was heading down paths that were dangerous and not life giving. He found me and picked me up.

A shepherd puts a lamb or sheep on his shoulders so that the lamb can hear the shepherd’s voice. It is during this time the lamb learns to hear what he needs to hear. He is held closely to the shepherd and learns from him. His rod and his staff are used to correct lambs.

The Lord is my Shepherd, Jehovah-Rohi, I have experienced the Lord in this way. He sought me, found me, picked me up and held me. I learned His voice and experienced His shepherding. He has provided for me, a place to lay my head, a place to rest, a place to be nourished. I do fear no evil, because He is with me, protecting and guiding me. I have had to be tutored with God’s rod and staff. I have been corrected because God is my shepherd.

I am still learning all that Jehovah-Rohi is to me. Sheep are stubborn animals and not the smartest. We, as Christians are sheep, He is our Shepherd. He will continue to provide, train and correct me in safety and security until the day that we are with Him forever.

He’s Got This

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;” Philippians 4:6 (NKJV)

I can either be a Pollyanna person, seeing just the best in all situations or a Scarlett O’Hara who will fiddle de de a situation into tomorrow when I will think about it. Neither one is a good solution permanently, there is a need for balance in all things.

I do love this scripture, though, for it’s beginning, be anxious for nothing. I need that reminder often. When I have something to pray for or about, I can find myself being anxious. Eventually, I am able to give over the situations to God. Place my cares, my anxieties, my doubts into the precious hands of our Lord and let Him take care of it.

There is time when I apply all parts of this scripture to a cause or person. I can honestly approach the throne of grace and lay out my concerns, my dilemma, or a loved one placing them at the feet of God. It is in those times that I am comfortable in my prayer and attitude.

Prayer is a tricky thing, I think. What we pray in the natural mind and for what we think is a viable prayer is one thing. Our God knows our heart. He sees beyond the words spoken and looks into our hearts and into the reason of prayer. It is often said that God answers prayer three ways, yes, no, or wait. I also think there is a fourth way that prayer is answered. This answer is beyond our expectations. As I said, God looks at what we praying for, and He sees the person, the situation that is the object of prayer. Our God sees it all. Our heart, our need, our situation. He is intimately aware of the entire situation.

What we may perceive as a wonderful answer for us, may not be wonderful for a situation or a person we are praying for. We tend to ask for a resolution and a positive action. We want it all tied up in a pretty package with a lovely bow on top. Sometimes that may not be the best thing. That is where faith and trust in God comes.

We see with our human eyes and imagine outcomes from our human brains. God is so much greater. He sees eternity. He sees the beginning, the middle and the end. It’s not that prayer is unnecessary, it’s just that in our human ways we can limit God, thinking we know what the best answer is.

When we entrust our prayers to God, we know that He will work all things out. That is who He is. It is then that we must remember to thank Him for all that He has done. How many times do we say, “that’s an answer to prayer”? Do we then stop and thank our Father in heaven for that answer? It is my belief that this is a vital part of prayer. Thanksgiving and thankfulness is a condition we need to clothe ourselves in. As a child I learned please and thank-you as good manners, with our God we can say please often, but is it followed with thank-you?

“in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

Today I had news of an answered prayer I have brought before the Lord for years. It is a prayer close to my heart for someone I love. As I hung up from the phone call, I smiled and said, “Thank You Lord, this is above my wildest expectations. You are so great.” He is great and worthy to be praised.