Playing in God’s Creation

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God’s Creation

I have spent the last few weeks tasting a different type of living in God’s Creation.  This experience has prompted me back to the beginning and to the scriptures of Genesis 1.  As I study the scriptures again of how this world came to be, I think back to the memories I have from the past few weeks and the surreal and deep experience with all of God’s creation.  Genesis 1 begins with light, so I will begin there as well.

Light

God speaks of the light he created twice in Genesis 1.  First he spoke of light that became the first day in Genesis 1: 1-5,

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.

5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

The second time light is found in the scripture of God’s creation was on the fourth day where the sun and the moon specifically are mentioned in scripture in Genesis 1:14-19,

14And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,

15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.

16 And God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars.

17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,

18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

I have always loved to watch the sunset and watching the sunset is never more beautiful than over the water.  I was able to experience the rising of the sun and the setting of the sun over the water for about 6 days.  Each morning started with the sun peeking up over the horizon and ended as it drifted down below the water.  These are moments of great beauty.  Watching these events with only the rippling of the water, splashing of the fish, and songs of the birds is almost breathtaking.  Words nor pictures can explain how you feel when you leave the hectic pace and disconnect yourself from it all except the beauty of his creation surrounding you.  The stars of the night are spectacular, sparkling  and infinite.  God’s light will mean so much more as I watch it rise and set moving forward.

Water

Genesis 1: 6-8,

6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”

7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so.

8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

Oh how I love water.  Sitting and watching the water move, waves roll, ripples on a lake or deep in the Gulf, all are music to my ears.  The sound is soothing and mesmerizing.  I find my peace by the water.  There is nothing more beautiful than watching the sunset with the crashing waves as the music.   There is something magical in God’s creation of the expanses of water for me and I am thankful that he chose to create such beauty for me to listen to, watch, and swim in.  This is my happy place and one I long for each time I am away.

Land 

Genesis 1: 9-13,

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.

10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so.

12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

Just as water was so important in God’s creation, so was the beauty of the land he created.  Maybe I viewed most it from the water, but finding the nature and beauty of God’s hand can be moments when you can find no words to say.  Even those standing around me just stood in awe and watched it pass.  What a masterpiece he has created?  I long to enjoy even more of his handiwork.

Creatures of the Sea

Genesis 1: 20-23,

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.”

21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”

23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

While cruising through the water and God’ creation the sea creatures and the birds of the air become your constant companions.  Osprey and sea gulls, and then a few unknown birds I need to look up.  Each spread their wings and share their sounds as they show their curiosity of us in their space.  The dolphins in the sea were constant companions either riding the bow of the boat or greeting us each evening as we set the anchor.  Their curiosity was even more than the birds and we knew we were safe as we traveled and saw our daily dolphin dose.  I could not get enough of the dolphins!

Creatures of the Land

Genesis 1: 24-25,

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds–livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so.

25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

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Although this journey did not bring many creatures from the land our way, that we saw anyway.  It does not mean that we did not appreciate the environments we saw which we knew were full of God’s creatures of the land.  We do choose to spend each day with a little dog named Harley which I share just a bit with my readers each week.  She is my constant reminder that God made such companions for man.

Man

Genesis 1: 26-31,

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.

30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Sharing such an experience with my husband and good friends leave no words.  Thank you God for creating me and giving me this opportunity to see your creation up close.  I am hungry for more.

Closing Verse:  

Colossians 1:16, For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Challenge:

Chase your rainbow, I can promise you that you will not have any regrets.

 

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Shine to Serve

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Photo Created using Wordfoto

Winter Blues

Life is hectic and chaotic sometimes and I just plod along and forget that others are watching me.  They are watching me when things are awesome but more importantly when things are not awesome in my life. As the hectic part of this school year is pressing down on all educators, it is a great reminder for me to not let the winter blues block my bigger purpose and calling.  There is a time for everything and during this time it is important for me to take a pause in my life and remember not to let everything get to me so that others see all my frustration.  I need to be sure that I am not allowing this craziness to affect those close to me.

 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.     Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

Re-Focus

I guess that God knew I needed a little re-adjustment in my life and He sent the above picture to me.  Although a great picture, it is the words that have pricked my heart.  What do others see in me?  Do they see someone grumbling?  complaining? exhausted?  or do they see God?  Right now, I am pretty sure others do not see God.  So God sent this picture to remind me that my focus is not on this life but on allowing others to see him so they can find their way home into His glory one day.  How do I adjust myself during this season?  I seek his Word.  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.

Shining for God

Scripture reminds me to shine my light for Christ because “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.  My light should lead others to Christ and then to God.  So during this season of winter, I realize that more than ever I must focus on shining my light for others.  The sun may not shine as bright and feel as warm, but I want my example of Christ to shine and warm others around me.

Serving Others

The last thing this quote reminds me is that I what I do is not for myself but to let God shine.  I should not be boasting about my service for the Lord.  I must remember that I serve him and everyone does not need to know because they will see Him in me.  “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2.

Closing Verse: ‘Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12.’

Challenge:  I pray that might light will shine and help others find their light so that the world can find Christ.

Loss of Innocence

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Loss of Innocence: 

Today is Valentine’s Day and a day that should be filled with loving those you have been blessed to live life with,  but I sit and watch the sadness of another school shooting.  Deep down in my soul I ache and cry for the innocent lives lost and the innocent lives scarred once again.  As a public school educator, my heart is breaking.  I hold the tears back and just wish that I could make the world a better place for every child.  I look back on this year and the loss of two young lives in my community who chose to take their own life to end the pain deep in their soul that could not be filled.  I find myself once again praying hard for the students that I love each day who just need someone to say good morning, call their name, and make them feel important, put clothes on their back, and food in their bellies.  I pray as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 teaches, “Pray without ceasing,”  God has blessed me with  the privilege of watching children struggle and bloom, yet either way I walk in a world where children just have different lives.  I ask the questions Why?  But I already know the answers.

Loving thru the Darkness:

I watch the news coverage of the shooting, and again I ask Why?  Why God is there so much darkness in the world?  Then I remember that Man made the choice that brought sin into this world, and no one is immune from the darkness and pain that sin brings not even an innocent child.  Genesis 2:17 explains, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  It is hard, so hard to watch the lives of so many children, and it is hard to accept the loss of young lives cut so short in their prime.  To know their dreams, their families dreams are shattered in one brief moment, yet I feel so blessed each day to go to work and serve children.  My prayer has always been that I am a catalyst that brings some hope, love, and joy to their lives.  I pray to God that I am an example of your love for these children you have placed in my life and that I am able to touch their lives each day, each month, each year.  As 1 John 2:6 reads, “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” May my walk show Christ.

Walking in the Light

“Walking in the light may sting a little, but it is far preferable to life in the dark.  And on top of that, it is the only way to healing.”   -Jared Wilson.  I read this quote at church on Sunday morning and it just resonated with me.  I have been searching the scriptures this week and seeking the light in the darkness of our world because scripture is clear in 1 John 1:5, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”  To walk in the light is to walk with the Lord.  God’s light is the one true light that can bring healing into my life, my students lives, and our world.  A world that is hurting and in need of so much healing light.  “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”Psalm 147:3.  I know that seeking the light will bring healing in the darkness.   2 Corinthians 4:6, ‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’

Following the Light.

When my heart is broken from the darkness of the world, I seek healing in the light and I find comfort in his word.  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Psalm 119:105.  These words of light written so long ago in such a different time, but yet so relevant today because God knew that the darkness would never leave and his people would need to continue to seek the light.  Comfort is what his word brings to my life.  I pray for a country that will heal in the words of 2 Corinthians  1:3-4 and bring comfort to others, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  I pray that I can bring comfort into the world or at least the lives of the children I love each day.  Ephesians 5:8, “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”

Closing Verse:  ‘Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”‘ John 8:12

Challenge:  Do you find yourself in the darkness?  Does the pain of the world seem hard?  Seek the light of Christ for your life, so you can Be the Light for someone else who needs to find their way out of the darkness.

 

Shining God’s Light

Sharing Christ’s Love

As the new year is beginning, I do want to look toward the future with a brighter lighter.  This new year, I am beginning my day with three strategic ways to encourage myself so that I might be a better example of Christ’s Love for others.  I don’t usually plug specific apps or websites, but I am today, yet I challenge you to find what works and motivates you to get moving everyday for the Lord.  I know for me it can sometimes be hard to get going and put others above myself.  I want others to Christ in me.  I want to serve others not myself!  I want to be the catalyst that brings out the best in others.  Here is how I am starting each day in 2018. Let’s look at one day of my new year and what the Lord delivers to me.  Here was Tuesday January 9, 2018.

KLOVE Radio

I listen to KLOVE radio each morning as I drive to work.  This is a time of worship and prayer for me.  Although it is a short ride each morning, this time is significant for me each day.  Sometimes it is the music as I have written about before and then again it could be a story that is shared, but many times I end my ride in tears with the Lord.  Before I even begin this ride to work, I wake each morning and open my email to read the KLOVE verse of the day.  This past Tuesday the verse read, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you:  God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.”  1 John 1:5 (NLT).  As I began the morning reading this verse, I listened to Jesus sharing his Father and mine with me that God is the light in my life and darkness is not found with God.  I set my eyes on the sharing the light of God.  I challenge you to bring KLOVE into your life just a little each day if you don’t listen to their station now.

Shine Text App

Since the New Year, I read about this app that delivers motivational text to you each day.  I was intrigued and decided to sign up.  There is also an app so you can choose how the text is delivered either through text or notification from the app.  I have really been inspired by these text that I receive right after I get to work each morning.  You get to choose the time that your text is delivered.  I like to get to work, get a cup of coffee, begin my day greeting students, and then receive some more motivation from this text before the day really gets rolling.  On Tuesday, I received this text: ” “Anything we do takes time away from something *else* we could have done, Allie.  Rather than try to tackle *all the things* today, prioritize the moves that matter most.”  Powerful!  What a great reminder as I get my day started to make smart decisions and prioritize my day.  I need to choose what matters for the day and accomplish these task well.  It is better to a job I can be proud of then just to do a long list of stuff!.  What Matters Most Today?!  Another Challenge, if you need some motivation in your life then check out Shine Text.

YOUVersion Bible – Daily Bible Verse

Just before lunch around 11am, I received my Verse of the Day from YouVersion Bible app.  Getting one more bible verse in the late morning hours of my day keeps on the path of remaining focused on the Lord as I walk through my day.  Just another reminder that I want to be an example of Christ in the lives of those around me.  The verse I received on Tuesday:  “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”  Proverbs 16:3 ESV.  On this day this is a perfect verse as I reflect on my work and how I can continue to do what is best for the students and staff that I serve.

Making Connections

As I reflect on the gifts that the Lord gave me just on this past Tuesday, I realize that there are connections.  I began with a reminder that God is the light in my life, followed by the motivation to focus on what matters most in my life that day, and then to commit the work that I am doing to the Lord.  How can I not have a great day each and every day if just Tuesday was this motivational and reflective for my life.  I challenge you to make some connections for your life.  Find some motivation for you each day that will bring you closer to the Lord and show you what is important for your life.  Have a Great New Year in 2018!

Closing Verse:  Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Challenge:  Find Inspiration and Motivation for you life each and every day.  Don’t overlook the little ways God can speak to you.

 

Christmas Traditions

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Christmas Season

Christmas music is playing now everywhere I go and the lights are shining bright.  The season is here.  I want to enjoy and let the stress of the weeks that lead up that wonderful day that is gone so quickly.  I want to remember why we celebrate this season.  I always find myself this time of year thinking about the past.  Thinking about Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my girls.  The fun, the laughs, the surprises, and most importantly the family traditions we have created together and continue to create over the years.  I believe that traditions are important for families and can be past down to the next generation.  Paul reminds me of the importance of traditions in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”

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Family Traditions

My family has a few old traditions like the mouse calendar countdown to Christmas.  Our girls would almost fight to get to move the mouse each day.  They loved for the one whose turn it was to forget, so later in the day the mouse would secretly be moved. This simple purchase so many years ago has brought so much joy to our family.  Even now my husband takes pictures of Harley moving the mouse and sends it our now grown daughters.  It is a special memory and tradition in our home, and one I hope continues in the homes of our daughters one day with their children.

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Jesus Birthday Cake

Another great tradition for our family is baking Jesus’s Birthday Cake and singing Happy Birthday to him on Christmas Day.  Today my girls bake the cake and decorate the cake together instead of me, but I enjoy watching them back home together in the kitchen having fun carrying on our family tradtion.  We still gather round the cake on Christmas afternoon and sing and eat his birthday cake!  This is definitely one of my favorite Christmas memories and traditions!  “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

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Even the Cake Decorations are important to our family.

Sharing Traditions

As an educator, I could not help but wonder about the traditions of my students, so I asked them to share favorite Christmas traditions with me on a Chalkboard in the school library.  It is engaging to hear them talk about the little things their families do together that are important to them.  Here are a few from this years board:

  1. Enchiladas for Breakfast on Christmas morning.  Why?  Her family is from Guatemala and this is just something her grandmother has always done.
  2. Crab Legs for Christmas Eve.  This student was super excited to share how much the night means getting to eat the crab legs!
  3. Lights.  One student just shared how much she enjoys lights and lots of lights.  She and I have that in common.
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These are just a few shared on the board and in discussions with my students.

Over the years I have heard some wonderful traditions that families share.  Some I wish I had even thought of.  Some that brought a great laugh but was still so important to the student.

  1.  One I wish I had thought of is only receiving three gifts for Christmas.  “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11
  2. Several years ago a student shared that on Christmas Eve they had to eat their meal with a different utensil from the kitchen.  This was a long family tradition and brought lots of laughter around the table.  Who knew what you would get?  How do you eat with a whisk?

The Gift of Jesus

Traditions are important in families and even school communities.  God shows us how to celebrate him anywhere.  This is a like a tradition.  Praise the Lord in all that we do as Psalm 150:1-6 exclaims, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! …”

During this  Christmas season with traditions being shared and even created remembering the reason we have this season is the most important.  God loved us that he gave us the greatest gift of all.  He gave us His Son.  He gave us Life.  ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16.

Closing Verse: “Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”  1 Corinthians 11:2

Challenge: During this Christmas Season full of traditions don’t forget God’s traditions and gifts in your life.

Christmas Lights

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Christmas Lights

The tree is up and the lights are beginning to glisten and shine on homes around the neighborhood.  Homes and business are beginning to show signs of Christmas with lights abundantly shining.  There have been times in my past where this time of year would bring anxiety to my life, as my to do list just seemed to grow and I had no idea what to buy or give as gifts.  A few weeks ago when God first touched me with the song “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle​​​​​​​I was sitting at a stop light and reading a church sign on the corner.  It seems funny to me that I can’t remember what the sign said because I love church signs, but only the feeling that this would be a season of enjoying and not worrying.  Maybe it was the darkness full of lights around me as I was driving, that made me think of Christmas and the coming season of lights, but I felt an exciting for the coming Christmas season, excitement, and the lights.  The lights were going to be important this year. I stop and enjoy each new one home that lights up.  I become mesmerized in the beauty of the lights which are reminding me this year of Jesus and his words in John 14:6, “‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The Star

I love the Moravian star.  If I had one I would probably leave it up year round, so this time of year I get to see the star again.  Have you stopped to really look at one and see all the crosses that come together to create this star?   I imagine this is the unusual star in the heavens above the manager.  Matthew 2: 9-10 shares the joy of the wise men when they found Jesus, “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”  As I enjoy the stars of Christmas, I realize that the stars we admire in the heavens are creation of God.  Psalms 147:4 reads, “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.”  Each star including the one that rose over Jesus’s birth is named by God, the Creator.

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Christmas Season

Let’s all slow down this Christmas season and enjoy the lights of Christmas, find God’s peace, and His blessings in the lights.  Let go of the chaos this time of year can bring and stop and enjoy what is important.  Stop and remember that God brought his only Son as baby to walk in our footsteps without sin.  Jesus knows us and understands our walk.  Stop and walk with him through this season.  I know peace will be found and will be infinitely better than the hustle and bustle.  For as John 1:5 reminds us all, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Closing Verse:  Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Challenge:  Stop and Walk with Jesus through the Christmas Season.