Stone path beside the Pink House - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Safe and sound

Just an update. We made it safe and sound to Glen Eyrie, and at the moment we are settled into our room. I just love this place. I may do a post tomorrow.

Stone path beside the Pink House - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Stone path beside the Pink House – Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

We made it safe and sound. Have a nice evening, everyone! And a safe Memorial Day Weekend!

Hitting the road

Hey, guys! I just wanted to shoot out a quick little blurb. I will try to have a post up tomorrow morning, but I’m going to be on the road to this phenomenal place:

Glen Eyrie Castle - Colorado Springs, CO

Glen Eyrie Castle – Colorado Springs, CO

I will be going back in June for a writing workshop, but that keeps me so busy I don’t have time to enjoy the awesomeness that is Glen Eyrie. So this year, a bunch of my favorite people and I get to go up a little early.

I will be replenishing my store of photographs too. =)

I fully intend to keep posting, but in case they come a little later over the next few days, now you’ll know why.

Thank you all for reading and for all the encouragement you bring to me!

~ Amy

Wheat close up - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Small problems don’t stay that way

Small problems are annoying. I’ve blogged on this before, but I’m a big picture person. Not a detail person. Details drive me up the wall, and I tend to ignore them for as long as possible. So on Monday afternoon on my way home from work when I stopped to get gas, it was unusual that I noticed a detail about my car. It was sitting somewhat crooked. As I filled up with gas, I reset the odometer in my car so I can eagerly check my miles per gallon, and the computer in my car told me that my left rear tire was about 10 pounds low.

Of course, no one in Wichita has free air anymore. So $.75 and a dust stain on my dress pants later, I had all of my tires are pressure, and I was driving home. The tire hold the air just fine all the way home. No big deal. Got home. Sort of slept (not really; I think I’ve forgotten how) and went back into work the next day. The tire was low but not desperately. Even so, I decided to make an appointment with my local dealership to have it checked out.

So yesterday morning, I took my beloved car into the dealer. And surprise surprise, I had a rather large nail pierced right through the sidewall. To make a long story short, I had to buy a new tire.

And I spent a good half hour pondering exactly how a rusty square nail could cost me $150.

Wheat close up - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wheat close up – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Matthew 13:31-32.

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

This verse is a positive verse, but I’m going to take a negative spin with it. Jesus used the illustration of a mustard seed to demonstrate how God can take something small and do something awesome with it, turning it into something great.

Well … you know that can work a different way.

Things that start off small can eventually become big, whether they’re good things or bad things. A nail in a tire is a bad thing, but if you leave it alone and don’t fix it, it can lead to a blow out … which can lead to deaths … possibly even more than one.

Can a petty, rusty square nail really cause someone to die?

If you don’t fix the problem before it becomes unfixable, yes.

Seeds are pretty spectacular little things. They’re so tiny, but after you plant them and take care of them, they become such big things. Trees or wheat crops that feed millions. The law of sowing and harvesting is incredible!

A virus is a spectacular little thing too, but even though it’s tiny–microscopic even–all it has to do is start multiplying, and pretty soon that tiny little microscopic annoyance has become something huge and out of control that can do a lot of damage.

I guess my thought this morning is that we have so many opportunities in life to fix problems before they grow beyond our means to control, but so many times we choose to let them go. We convince ourselves that the problem isn’t that big of a deal or that it will all work itself out. Well, yes, it probably will, but if you would take the initiative to fix it before it spirals out of control, maybe you can reduce the damage.

Everything is a seed. Everything you say, everything you do, everything you think. You’re planting seeds every day, and one day you’re going to watch your crops grow into something much bigger than what you planted. So if you planted something that’s too big for you to control, you need to take steps to control it before it starts controlling you.

It’s like that nail in my tire. I didn’t have to get it fixed. I could have just kept filling the tire up with air and waiting for it to deflate. But eventually that tire would have blown.

Most problems can be fixed while they’re still small. No, it’s not fun. Fixing problems is never fun, especially when it’s your fault. But it’s better to suffer a little and fix the problem while you can before it grows beyond your capabilities.

Believe me when I say if you wait until it’s too late, the suffering is far far worse.

Sun over wheat - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

God recognizes and welcomes people who need help

What do you look like when you’re looking for help? Do you get that blank, worried expression you see on husbands who are seeking peanut butter at the store and have no idea what aisle it’s on? Or do you play it cool?

When I’m looking for help, I try not to look like I’m looking for help. That’s probably silly, and it’s probably a pride issue. But I don’t like to look helpless even if I am. But there are some times when I know I look utterly and completely lost, but even at those times not everyone around me is willing to offer help.

There’s a big difference between recognizing that someone needs help and choosing to stop. 

Sun over wheat - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sun over wheat – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Nahum 1:7.

God is good, 
   a hiding place in tough times.
He recognizes and welcomes
   anyone looking for help,
No matter how desperate the trouble.

God is the sort of person who will help anyone who comes to Him. Satan wants us to think that God will eventually give up on us and that if we screw up too many times, God won’t help us anymore. He’ll wash His hands of us.

That’s not true. Nowhere in Scripture has God rejected a living, breathing person who turned to Him and asked for help. No matter what kind of trouble we get into in this life, no matter how badly we screw up, no matter where the consequences of our actions have taken us, God is always waiting to welcome us home.

Not only does He recognize that we’re in trouble. He is also willing to help us, eagerly anticipating the day when we get our heads straightened out and come to Him. Like the story of the Prodigal Son. God symbolizes the Father. He’s out waiting in the road, watching for the crazy kid to come walking back.

This passage out of Nahum is pretty interesting. If you have a chance, I’d suggest reading all of Nahum 1, but I’d recommend reading it in the Message (which is the version I used this morning). Nahum is one of those minor prophet books that you need to understand the context before the translation will make sense.

Nahum was a prophet that God sent to Nineveh. Nineveh was a pretty evil place. I’m not going to go into details, but Nahum wasn’t the only prophet God had sent there. And the reason God sent Nahum was to warn the people of Nineveh that judgment was coming and if they didn’t repent, they were all going to die rather unpleasantly. If you study ancient history, in all honesty, losing aspects of Ninevite culture wouldn’t have hurt the world that much. But God doesn’t take anyone for granted, and He doesn’t want anyone to die without giving them a second chance. That’s what Nahum was for.

In the Message, Nahum 1 starts out with the phrase, “God is serious business.” And that’s very true. That statement is followed by a long list of what God is capable of doing. How powerful He is. How mighty He is. How strong He is. The Creator, the Sustainer of everything. What happens when He turns His rage on people who defy Him?

And then we get to Nahum 1:7. “God is good, a hiding place in tough times. He recognizes and welcomes anyone looking for help, no matter how desperate the trouble. ”

What other god would give the people who’ve betrayed and hurt him a chance to come home? Not only a chance to come home, but the opportunity to be safe. Nahum 1:7 tells us just how deeply God cares about us, that He recognizes when we need help, that He welcomes us into a safe place no matter how much trouble we’re in. Even if it’s facing consequences of our own stupidity, God is waiting to welcome us.

So whatever trouble you’re facing, don’t hesitate to take it to God. And if you see someone who is in trouble, stop and help them. And don’t beat them over the head with their troubles. Welcome them into a safe place, like God does for us.

Ladybug in the wheat - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Defining glory

I grew up in the church. From cradle to pew to stadium seating, I’ve been in church my whole life. I’m quite comfortable around church culture, but as comfortable as I am there, I try not to stay there. Because let’s be honest: church culture isn’t really relevant to the rest of the world.

But even when I’m trying to expand my boundaries and get out of the church mentality, I sometimes slip back into a nasty habit of using common religious words and phrases that confuse people. It’s the same with any other culture. Groups of like-minded (or not-so-like-minded) people who spend a lot of time together create words and phrases that mean something to them, and when they try to communicate outside their little comfort zones, no one else understands.

I’m a copywriter for a marketing team. I and the other writer in the team often discuss the merits and disadvantages of comma usage, and we quite frequently use terms like nonessential and clause and reductionist. And if you aren’t a writer, or if you aren’t interested in grammar at all, those won’t mean anything to you.

It’s the same with the church. Baptism by emersion. Sanctification vs. Justification. Passing the plate. Fellowship. Giving your heart to Jesus. Terms and phrases like these make little sense outside the church.

Ladybug in the wheat - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Ladybug in the wheat – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 143:11.

For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life.
    Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.

I’ve always loved the phrase,For the glory of your name. There’s just something moving about it. And it fits nearly any situation that you’re going through.

If you’re happy, it’s for God’s glory. If you’re sad, it’s for God’s glory. Whether you’re gainfully employed or not, it’s for God’s glory.  And so on and so forth. But let’s be real about it; no one really knows what it means. It’s just one of those churchy phrases that is great to tack on to any sentence to make you sound like a better Christian.

What does it mean to live for God’s glory? To suffer for God’s glory? To rejoice for God’s glory? What is glory?

Glory is placing value on someone or something by your actions.

If you own an expensive vase or a rare portrait, you’re going to want to display it in a way that brings attention to it. You’re going to want set it up in a place where the light is just right, where people see it and recognize how priceless it is. That is bringing glory to that object.

If you are given the opportunity to host a famous person in your home, you would give him the best room, feed him the best food, make sure he had everything he needed. And you would introduce him to people with the utmost respect, making sure they know who he is and what he means to you. That is bringing glory to that person.

We don’t hesitate to bring glory to priceless objects or famous people. But when it comes to bringing glory to God, we usually find something else to talk about.

Maybe we just don’t know how. Because it’s easy to bring glory to something other people can see. It’s easy to bring glory to a person who can prove their great works. But bringing glory to God is kind of a different story, isn’t it? How can you glorify Someone who nobody can even see? You can’t very well put God on a shelf and shine a light on Him. You can’t very well take Him to a party and introduce Him to all of your friends. Not literally at least.

But what you can do is recognize Him as your motivation.

That’s what it means to live for God. That’s what it means to glorify God with your life. If He is your motivation, your purpose, your reason for living, that brings glory to His name. That makes people stop and listen up because if you can live and suffer and rejoice and maintain that God is your motivation for living the way you do, people will pay attention.

Some people live for money and material wealth. Some people live for people, social interaction and political influence. Some people live for themselves. But if your driving factor for living is give God the credit for everything, not only will other people notice a difference in you, but you will also experience a satisfying life. Because all the money and all the friends and all the selfishness in our culture can’t bring you peace like God can.