Finding Joy in Him

Through Every Season

Tag: God’s Handiwork (page 1 of 5)

A Psalm of Jenny: December 7, 2016

God, thank you for tears.. for the creative way you designed us to release emotion. Like a refreshing rain, they release my soul from the muck and mire… mostly because I know that You give them audience. You listen to the prayers I can’t pray. You listen to my tears.

Thank you for collecting them in Your bottle.

Thank You for giving them audience.

God, I need help. I am desperate for help.
There is so much I don’t know..
How much more sorrow is left?
How I am I supposed to face it?
How much more will you ask of me?

I’ve had to let go of so much this year. I’ve had to trust you through such a weighty fog.

It’s hard.. you’re asking a lot.. but I see the proud gleam in your eyes that says that you ask so much because you know I love you that much.

Thank you for speaking to me with your eyes.. for letting the fog dissipate a little.. giving me a glimpse of Heaven.

Lord, I don’t know how much I love you. I really don’t. And it bothers me. I wish that I knew deep in my inner being that I loved you with all of me.

All, Lord? The truth is that losing Joel has taught me that I know very little about what is deep inside of me. My inward parts are so much larger and more unfathomable than I ever imagined.. an abyss.

Consuming love, fierce longing, profound sadness and fountains of joy all fit inside of me? Sometimes, it frightens me.

I possess so little of my heart, soul and mind.

Who can offer or even hold so great a possession?

So much of me is shattered. I don’t know what part will function from day to day. I am continually faced with walking so precariously close to this confounding precipice.

Rope? What rope? There was a rope?

Is that why you asked us to love you will all our heart, soul and strength? To cause us to look inside and be amazed at how little we control.. even inside ourselves?

I am learning to push away the care and worry of this journey. I am freer because you’ve taught me that all I can do is continually:

Put my hope in You..
Fix my eyes on You..
Lean in..
Press up against Your wings..
Cast my burdens..
Come to the only One who has living water for the weary..
Remember that You are good..
that You are holding me..

God! You must be so BIG!

SO, SO BIG to hold so much.. so many!

Lord, I know that it’s good to count the cost.. and that You are asking us to do that now.

It’d be easier to wrap ourselves up in a little bubble. Just the two of us.. off on romantic getaways.. or maybe with friends who like to talk and eat.

Lord, it sounds so nice. But in reality it is shallow.. a broken cistern that holds no water.. a dirty, dusty shadow of a well that can never satisfy the abyss of longing in my soul. Food, friends, talk.. can never be enough.

You are asking for more.. and offering more. It is costly and rewarding. It’s so strange to think about.

I don’t even know what You are asking yet. I only know that it’s going to cost more of me.. more than I possess. I only know that it’s going to mean drawing near to the hurting, hurting with them (compassion – “suffer with”) and comforting (“strengthening”) them with the comfort You are giving me.

Matthew 13:45-46 “Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Lord, thank you for creating us with this incomprehensible worth and loving us so extravagantly. We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made and loved.

Thank You for giving up everything to come..  for being moved by compassion.. for humbling Yourself.. for not counting Your position.. or even Your own comfort as something to be grasped.

Thank You for becoming flesh to comfort us.. to “suffer with” us. Thank you for laying down Your life to redeem us.

Thank You for coming as a babe and for Your promise to come again so that we can be with You in Your Father’s house where He will wipe away our tears and sorrows.. where mourning and death will be no more.

Thank You for being our strength… our comfort.. our joy.. our salvation. Thank You.

Lord, when I meet You face to face, I want to have given all of me freely. I want to obey.. to follow in Your footsteps.. to be conformed into Your image.. to love like You.

Lord, I don’t know.. can’t fathom.. what I have to give, but I want to see it redeemed and used for Your glory. Redeem what is left of me. Work every thing together for good as You promised. The promises that You are working and will return are the promises that consume me with longing. My eyes strain to see them fulfilled.

Lord, help me to remember that the I that I used to be no longer lives. Help me remember that I was crucified with You on that cross.. and that it’s You that now lives in me. Help me to see with Your compassionate eyes and love out of Your extravagant love. Help me to let go of the false comforts that my flesh grasps for, so I may receive the much greater comfort of You living in and through me.

Be with us today.. and every day.. as we are missing Joel and he is celebrating 4 years of living in Your house.

Held together only by Your love,

Jenny

Finding Comfort in the Maker of the Mountains

In my hardest, darkest days the only thing that comforts me is meditating on who God is.

Psalm 121
A song of ascents.

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

When “I lift my eyes to the mountains..” I remember “the Maker of Heaven and earth,” my Helper and Watcher over me. The majesty of the mountains remind me of the Lord.. the Maker of the mountains.. God’s majesty.. the wonder of how the mountains came to be. The same Maker who formed the mountains is the Maker who watches over me.

When I lift my eyes, I find comfort in who God is; in His Glory.

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.

God’s glory is all around us.. in the spring rains.. in flowers.. in creepy crawlies.. under the microscope.. through the telescope.. throughout the universe.. in every person created in His image. His glory is there.. you only have to see.

I lift my eyes to the mountains.. and remember the force that caused the mountains.. that that force.. that POWER.. wielded with the same LOVE that held Jesus to the cross.. is the same power that raised Him from the dead… and now dwells in me. It is the same power that helps me.. strengthens me.. that is a shade for me, and watches over my life, and keeps me from all harm. The Maker of Heaven and earth watches over both my coming and going.. now and forevermore.

I can’t say that I don’t stumble over the “keeps me from all harm” part. Harm has come to me.. through breast cancer and other ailments… and through the worst kind of harm… the murder of our youngest son. But God has been with me. He has been my shade. He has been gentle  and loved me tenderly and spoken the truth in love when I needed it. He will never ever leave or abandon me. He is Love, Faithful and True. That same majestic power that formed the mountains will carry me safely home to no more death, mourning, crying or pain. When I lift my eyes to the mountains, I get a glimpse of God’s glory. The Glory I long to behold and reflect perfectly.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. – 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NLT)

I am known. I am loved as I am. I am watched over by the Maker of the mountains. I am comforted by His nearness. Praying you will lift your eyes and find Him as near as His glory all around you.

Much love,

Jenny

He Doesn’t Skimp With His Traveling Companions

Favorite Picture of Joel in the Smokys

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Heaven, Joel’s last day here, his first day in Heaven and Joel hiking in Heaven.  I’ve found that most of my favorite pictures of Joel are of when we were hiking and really look forward to hiking in Heaven with Jesus, Joel, Mike.. anyone who will love Jesus and His creation with me.

Joel finding pleasure in surprising me.

I been thinking how odd it is that the worst night of my life thus far was the beginning of the best day in Joel’s life.  It was the day Joel saw Jesus face to face.. the day Joel began to fully live.. really live the abundant life Jesus died to give us.. eternally.

God is so good!
Looking up.

Meditating on what Joel experienced the second he opened his eyes in Heaven and looking forward to experiencing what Joel experienced helps me keep reaching toward that day.

I started Joel’s last day here meditating on the Word, praying, and working on finishing a few  songs the Lord had given me on my harp.  Joel came over to visit with me while I played and  I excitedly demonstrated for him how easy it was to play “Away in a Manger.”  He replied, “Oh, yeah, I learned that one years ago.” .. so the master says to the ‘nube’. 🙂  He plays the guitar so beautifully.

That way!

I spent most of the rest of the day worshiping and praying with IHOP streaming and putting up Christmas decorations while he studied for his finals.

Around 10 AM the last of the Kinkade paintings we’d bought was delivered to our door and Joel helped me hang it in our prayer room.  He was impressed with it and walked back and forth between it and our favorite Kinkade comparing their similarities.

Joel with two of his favorite cousins.

Each of the Kinkade paintings we bought are of road and/or river passing by a church or a cottage.  They have an ethereal quality about them which I believe is what attracted us to them.  Deep within, we all long for more than what earth can offer; we long for Jesus, for Heaven for things that sometimes seem intangible now, but will become eternally ours once He welcomes us home.

Hiking near a river in Arkansas

I created my first digital scrapbook pages in 2008.   In each, I combined a photo of the kids with one of my favorite scriptures.  They’ve hung in my Grandmother’s frames in three different houses now.

 

 

I used these verses with Joel’s photo because he loved to dance with all his might in worship and seeing Jesus in Heaven is something to dance about.  We’ve always loved singing, “Better is one day in Your house..”  and Audio Adrenaline’s ‘Big Big House.”

 

I am enjoying meditating on the part in the Message where it says, “He doesn’t skimp with His traveling companions.”  Thoughts of traveling, hiking, up the road to our heavenly cottage, our place of worship near the River of Life where we will see Him face to face are good thoughts.  He is with us always.. wherever we go..  a loving, faithful Traveling Companion.

Playing on mountain near by.

One of my all time favorite educational quotes is from a book called “Ourselves” written by Charlotte Mason.  In it, she talks about Holy Spirit being our guide, our educator, in all we do.. in the “County of Mansoul” (the center of our hearts, souls, minds).

She says,

“The best treasures of the country are kept in the fairest of its buildings, in its churches, which are always open, so that people may go in and out many times a day to talk with God, and He comes and speaks with them. But, indeed, He walks about everywhere in the land, in the workshops, in the picture-galleries, and in the fields; people consult Him about everything, little things and great, and He advises about them all.”

He is so good!

 

After several more hours of studying for his finals, Joel came out for a breath of fresh air, stood in front of the Thomas Kinkade painting that reminds us of meeting our loved ones in Heaven and surveyed the work I was doing putting up the Christmas decorations.  He was smiling, thankful, and full of longing.  He said, “Normally it feels like Christmas.. but it doesn’t yet because I still have these final exams.”

Everyday in Heaven must feel like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, our birthday, Sunday worship and Jesus’ return rolled into one.  Some days our earthly existence just doesn’t feel like Heaven yet.  We long for it, we are thankful for the preparations our Savior is making for us; remembering them brings us joy, but we still have these final exams.  Leaning on our Traveling Companion and looking forward to the day we will see Him face to face will see us through.

I Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in Heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
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8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

Finding Joy in Jesus my faithful Traveling Companion through every joy and trial..

Jenny

Rock City Gardens

If you’ve ever driven through this area of the country, you have seen a ton of barns like this one. 
We finished our Arboretum hike early enough that we had time
to drive up Lookout Mountain and see what the fuss was about.
 
It turns out that it’s aptly named.  Rocks, more rocks; big rocks
with a pathway that took you through
places with names like “Needle’s Eye.”
At one point, we got turned around and ended up going the opposite way of the crowd
which in a way made it more adventuresome.  Who needs maps?
While making our way up stream through the front end of
“Fat Man’s Squeeze” we unintentionally scared a bunch of people 
who thought we were unable to squeeze through and had to turn around.
 
I think a little laughter slipped out as I explained that we’d gone the wrong way.
There were places to sit.. 
Beautiful trees
 Gnomes hiding in caves and little fairy cities.
 
A wooden swaying bridge that I was happy we’d missed in our confusion. 
Then the highlight was a lookout over Lover’s Leap 
where it’s fabled that you can see seven states on a clear day.
Flags were hanging appropriately at half staff for the Boston Marathon victims.
Alabama’s stats.
A nice engraved stone showing where each state is for those of us who have gotten turned around.
Alabama 25 miles south and Georgia where we were standing.
South Carolina 80 miles this way
North Carolina 50 miles with the Smokys. 
Seeing the Smokys stand out from this distance made me love them even more.
Kentucky and Virgina 130 miles this way
And Tennessee half a mile this way.
Proof we were there squinting into the western sun.
More walk through caves.
A tree growing between the rocks.
Maybe my favorite photo.
Rainbow hall: lined with colored windows which allow you to walk through a rainbow.
I so want to do this in my house.
High Falls.. a man made, 140 foot, water fall that flows under Lovers Leap.
Us.  I tried to get the waterfall.. it’s in the very most right corner behind my shoulder.
A very beautiful day that I’d love to do over again. 
Love,
Jenny

Relections on Heaven at Refection Riding Arboretum

Warning: Lots of photos
Saturday after lunch, we went to the Refection Riding Arboretum 
at the foot of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga.
We so enjoyed walking it’s 3 mile loop which you can drive, bike or walk. 
 These horses reminded me of a Canadian TV show we’ve been enjoying, Heartland.
The cool spring breeze was so refreshing.
 Had to get one more with the mountain in the background.  🙂
 The Arboretum has a has a level 4 rating which means
 it has labled at least 120 different species of trees.
 Everything is colored with missing Joel now.  
We could not help thinking about how much he 
would have enjoyed the hike as we walked along.
He would have loved everything about it.. the beauty, the adventure, the history, the day.
Wild hydrangeas.
 As I snapped photos,   I wondered if Joel and Jesus went on hikes together
and if they ever had any need for photos or scrapbooks.  
One room cabin with spring feed water basin.
This cabin was dedicated to John and Margret by their grandchildren with 
Psalm 19:1-3
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.  
Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.  
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; 

yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

 Favorite flower picture.
 I hear that the colors in Heaven are even more amazing than any we’ve ever seen.
 These flowers were growing on a Florida Anise Tree
These mushrooms reminded me of our very first real nature walk together 
at OP Schnable Park in San Antonio.   The Lord so blessed us that day with tons
of different mushrooms, bees and mating garter snakes.

Pages from Joel’s Nature Journal

 Joel was 10 years old.
 We all took turns using our first digital camera.
Joel’s version of what the snakes were doing below.   🙂
 We had to look up what kind of snakes they were
 We were all amazed by God’s creation.
The one below was from a different walk at OP Schnable.  
We went there often; there was so much to see 
and it was an easy drive from our house.
We met our good friends, the Chagoyas, there just last May.
Back to the Arboretum.. 
 We’ve been to St. Augustine.  Glad we didn’t have to walk here from there.
Cherokee monument.
 Joel so enjoyed taking nature photos.  
Will I get to see all the scrapbooks he’s collected when I get there?
 
About halfway through our hike we came upon this rock.. it amazed me.. 
I took half a dozen photos and still could capture the wonder of it so I took a video.
There was water springing up from the rock.. it reminded me of the water God provided in the wilderness for the Israelites and these verses from 
Revelation 21
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away,
 and there is no longer any sea…3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be 
 His people, and God Himself will be among them,4and He will wipe away every tear from 
their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, 
or pain; the first things have passed away.” 5 And He who sits on the throne said,
 “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. 
I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.
I’ve wondered many times how spending time with Jesus will work in Heaven.  
Will thousands of others be sharing my long, quiet walk with Jesus?    
 In Revelation 21:22 John says, 
“I did not see a temple in the city, because 
the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”
 I was glad when I read in Anne Graham Lotz book, Heaven My Father’s House, last night 
that I wasn’t the only one who’d wondered.. and who’d selfishly not wanted to give up 
the wonderful, intimate, daily, individual, fellowship that we enjoy with Him now.
Anne believes that “There will be no place in Heaven 
where God is not physically, actually present!
  Because He is omnipresent, 
He will live fully and completely with me every moment, 
as though I were the only resident of Heaven!  
And He will live every moment fully and completely with 
you as though you were the only resident of Heaven!  
What a wonderful place Heaven will be!”
 Mike noticed, while on our hike, that sometimes the path would disappear beneath 
the forest overgrowth and we would have to look up ahead to find where to go next.
Mike at edge of a bamboo forest.
He said that in life we can get so focused on the here and now 
that we feel lost and have to look up to find eternal perspective again.
Beekeeper hives center right.
 I’ve been meditating on Colossians 3:1-4 lately. 
 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, 
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, 
not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
 I meditated on it before.. to keep myself in check that I didn’t love earthly things too much;
now because earthly things are too unbearable.  
 Mike’s view.
My view.
Wild flowers and dandelions.

 Yet another view.. what’s that in the distance?
 Turtles enjoying the sun.
So nice to take time and listen to the heavens
 and the earth declaring God’s glory.
Dogwood tree.
And for a grand finale an Azalea bush.
Looking up,
Jenny

Spring Break Photos Part 2

Lake by our tent at sunset
 We got home from Pigeon Forge, unpacked then repacked for
 camping Thursday morning with Josh and Patrick.

Our tent.. Josh and Patrick ruffed it along a river.. no electricity or bathrooms.  I like hot showers.

 The National Forest was beautiful and only 1.5 hours from our house.. 
so we hope to go back sometime.
The river was REALLY nice.. clear.. beautiful.

First of many waterfalls.

You can see the river bed.

My very own Texas Cow Boy.
We read that there are over 100 water falls along these canyon walls.

We didn’t get pictures of the boys.. most of the time they were off on their own..

While we were hiking this trail they were running off the road while messing with their GPS getting a flat tire.  We had no cell service so they were unable to reach us for help.  :-/

Spring Break Photos Part 1

Yum Fudruckers

Judi, Miranda and James on the left.  Rebekah, Nichole and Mike on the right.

 Girls in Judi’s car following us bumper to bumper (the norm) in Pigeon Forge.

Our view Sunday evening.

Our view Tuesday morning after 2 days of snow.

Making snow balls.

4 inches of snow on the cars.

Which ball is smaller?

I think this one is.

Our snow person.

Our tongues keep popping out to catch snowflakes.. 

Mountain at the end of our road.

Friendly horses in Cade’s Cove

Cheese!

The church choir.

It was a little muddy..

James was computing while climbing the mud slide and slid himself.. ipad survived the mud.   Judi said, “I have a towel you can use in my trunk.”  James asked, “Where is that?”  Judi, “Attached to the back of my car.”  James wouldn’t budge.. do involved in making sure his ipad was okay.  Judi was so great that she marched down, got the towel and gave it to him… while the girls and I laughed at James for falling in the mud and took pictures.

We are church goers.

Maybe my favorite snow picture.

Or this one.

The barn.

Girls in the hay loft.

both sides.

Jumping down.

I got mud on my rear.. is that from James?

Best cabin yet.

The road behind.

The road ahead.

Did I share enough of these?

Love this one.

Laguna Beach, California

We flew into CA on Memorial Day weekend.. so Savannah 
actually got to spend 2 days with the 3 of us and a third day just us girls.
On Memorial Day, she took us to the Laguna Beach.
 See the mansions up on the hill?  They have a great ocean view.
 We enjoyed wondering in and out the local shops.
 Laguna Beach is a favorite beach for artist to come and paint.
 It reminded us of our favorite beach 
in Florida (Lido Key)…maybe even a little nicer.
Smile. 
Knew this was a good one.  
It was pretty crowded.. Memorial Day 
Mike decided it was too cold to swim.
 
 We learned that Savannah used to go surfing all the time.. 
She said the water in CA is always cold. 
 We should do this again sometime.  
Love,
Jenny

St. Louis Zoo and Goodwill Outlet

Saturday’s forecast was pouring rain, but
 God answered our prayers and after a short rain delay 
Mike spent the day at the Cardinals game with his friend Russ
and James and I spent the day with my friend, 
Ranae and her youngest, Caleb.

While waiting out the rain, we went to 
Ranae’s favorite store: the Goodwill Outlet Store..
where they bring out carts and carts of stuff and sell it by the pound.
I bought 2 tops, a jacket, a skirt, a pair of shoes and shorts for just over $4.
After Chinese for lunch, the rain cleared up and 
we had a beautiful day at the St. Louis Zoo.
Ranae, James and Caleb 
It took me 6 tries to get this picture of this Okapi with his tongue out.
It actually stretches out even farther than this photo shows.
 Giraffes
 Caleb
 They had coolest penguin exhibit.
Cool.. as in a nice break from the heat and
cool because they weren’t hidden behind foggy glass.
Loved the bears and the beautiful day 
God gave us at the Zoo and ball game.
Love,
Jenny

St. Louis Trip

We recently discovered that it is only a 6 hr. drive to St. Louis.  
What a nice surprise and I so hope to see more of my friends there.  
We stopped for lunch in Kentucky at Kentucky Fried Chicken.  🙂  
And made it to the last house we ever rented in Lebanon by late afternoon.
 Mike thought it looked smaller and bluer.. it looked just the same to me..
except it has a nice white vinyl fence now and the apple trees are huge.
The towns around had grown up tremendously.  
Last time we got gas in this area we paid 78 cents a gallon.  
1998 – no kidding.  
This house in O’Fallon was the very first house we ever bought.
1100 sq. ft. for $50,000 now worth over $100,000.
I was actually happily surprised at how both houses were holding up.
With rain in the forecast, we planned as many 
outdoor activities our first day there.
We went to the Missouri Botanical Gardens for the first time.
Well worth the trip.  Would like to go back again.
I got a ton of awesome pictures…
If you don’t want to see them all, skip to my next post.
  Amaryllis
 My alums with some gorgeous tulips.
 Iris
Tons of Azaleas .. we liked the evergreen ones the best. 
Did you know pinecones grow all in a row like this? 
James by the Japanese Garden 
 I want one of these.
Bridge over the lake. 
It was sunny and cool.. beautiful. 
 Lots of little birds hopping around.
On to the Art Museum.
Love,
Jenny
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