Sunday, July 29, 2012

Joy Comes in the Morning

Wow...on Saturday, I did something I have never done and I am so thankful, Ron and Ariel Strom went with me. We got up at 4am (except me, who was awake all night because I could not sleep), drove to Table Rock, and hiked up to take pictures of the sunrise. I was so afraid of missing the sun coming over  the mountain as we hiked up what seemed to be a never ending trail of continuous corners and hills. Then we saw it. The last little piece of the trail before a wide beautiful plateau that was just starting to come to life. It was beautiful! We went to the edge of the mountain overlooking the valley and watched. There was a growing warm glow that was illuminating the sky as the horizon faded from dark to a beautiful purple to a soft yellow/orange haze. I started hiking to the center of the plateau to capture more of the top along with the mountains as the sun continued its gentle climb. As I walked I heard Ariel gasp in awe and looked to see the first little bit of light peak it's beams over the mountain. Wow...such a beautiful sight. It slowly continued as I watched the light touch the top of Table Rock and start to crawl over the rocks, paths, grasses, and flowers and the light grew brighter and warm. I kicked into gear as I started looking through the camera lens. What would be the best shot. How could I capture this beauty to share with others. I wondered what Josh would have done?
     Ariel, this line break is for you (-:
     I will take a small step back in time. When Josh died on May 5th taking my camera with him, I had no motivation to ever do photography again. Things are replaceable, people are not. Then, the Lord used several people to help raise the money for me to purchase a new camera. I opened it last Wednesday morning at Josh's grave, sharing with him how I felt and how much I missed him. I told him how much I wanted to thank everyone who helped me acquire the new camera, but yet words seemed so empty. Then, I had an idea. Would the best thank you be using the gift they had all given me? The gift of being able to do photography again. I asked the Lord and Josh to help me know what photograph to take and then it came. One of Josh's last shoots was on top of Table Rock during the sunset. It was the most perfect day they could have had up there and the pictures were breathtaking. There was the inspiration for his last blog about surrendering a precious dream. For me, the best thing I could do was to move forward in life despite difficulty and be a willing vessel for the Lord's use. Psalms 30:5 came to mind ..."weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning." What better way to express what I felt, than the sunrise symbolizing the start of a new day and the joy of the Lord and His everlasting and unchanging goodness. So, back to July 28th.
      Ariel and Ron took in the beauty of the mountain top while I spent at least an hour roaming and snapping pictures of God's handy work. It was the start of a new beginning. I miss Josh. I selfishly wish he was still here, but...Josh is in the presence of the Lord. He would not want to come back to time. He is in the full understanding of eternity. No more human limitations or pain. He has seen the face of God. I thank God for having known Josh and for the work that God has done in my life through Josh's life. Josh's memory will live on. Today I will choose joy and to live the life that God has set before me. Josh is not gone forever, he is just gone from time. I so look forward to seeing him again in eternity. Sorrow will pass away and in the rise of the morning sun comes the joy of the Lord.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Joy, Hope, and Peace or Fear, Loss, and Pain

     I start to feel better, more joy, more hope, more peace and then out of seemingly no where it hits me. Pain, loss, fear. These things I wish I could be rid of. They want to pull me down and never let me breath. How they hide and wait for me. Loss, I lost, within 6 months, two people I cared about. Both unexpected. But....I only lost them in earthly terms. I shall see them both again in heaven for we have all of eternity to share. They just got to the better side of eternity before me. Still, at times I miss them so much it hurts. Pain....How incredibly weak I feel. This week I was striving to be a stronger person spiritually, physically, and emotionally. I was reminded about how weak I am. Outside of God I can do nothing. Outside of God there is no good in me. Why do I still set a standard of perfection and think I need to hit it. Why can't I just let go and let God lead me through each day. That is what I want to do. That is what I need to do and yet.... Fear...I feel as if most of my life has been lived in fear. It sometimes overwhelms, so I ignore it by procrastination, laziness, mindless distraction, and what seems to be a never ending stream of unforgiveness for all my flaws. Who am I to be this way? A fallen undeserving sinner who has been offered the gift of life by Gods grace through faith. Not of my own works, but by God alone. He loves me, forgives me, and supplies my needs. Forgive others so that God will forgive you.(Matt. 6:12) I always think of it as forgiving others, but now I wonder if it is not for me as well. I should forgive myself. It seems so much easier to forgive others, but to forgive can I? Don't you see all my faults? If I can't forgive myself than why should anyone else? I expect people to see my faults and turn away. I do not forgive myself for imperfection. I expect it. Why try if I'm going to fail? So, instead of fighting the battle set before me, I make excuses and settle for complacency. I'm a coward. Truly. But...on my own strength I can not succeed. God must be my strength. If I can believe who He says I am, if I can rely on His strength, if I can live today by His leading....what are the possibilities? Endless. Innumerable. Beyond my dreams. If I can stand on the promises of God and have the courage to proceed despite my fear, what victories can God bring forth? To destroy the lies of the enemy. To replace fear with courage. To replace unforgiveness with forgiveness that releases me from bondage. To truly love others. To be free. To do anything God calls me to. Who am I? 
     I lost a dear friend. I don't want I to lose another, but if I hide myself from friends to avoid the loss, it is a worse loss indeed. A life without love is no life at all. Faith to believe God, hope that His promises are true, love..the greatest. Love your neighbor as yourself. live to love. No greater joy. Lord, give me courage to live for you in true love. Honest, transparent, patient, forgiving, long suffering.  I feel as if those words just now really start to mean something. patient, forgiving, long goes on. It will take the rest of my life. Lord, please replace my fear with peace, my loss with joy, and my pain with hope. May I live a life surrendered to you. May today be the day I stand on your promises and strength and run the race set before me, fight the good fight, and be a light for you to shine through to the world. The battle belongs to the Lord.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

In the Quiet

Wow....there seems so much is going on and I can only write down such a small fragment. For now, I want to process a little about being quiet with the Lord and seeing some blessings I often overlook. The other day, due to the wonderful encouragement of a friend, I went down to the Rogue River and sat and had a two hour talk (out lowed) with the Lord. I need to do that more often. As I sat there and poured out my heart and feelings to Him something wonderful happened. He talked to me. Not in an audible voice, but through His Holy Spirit and through His word. As I told Him how guilty I felt for taking my camera on May 5th and how I had questioned three times whether I should take it and how I felt I had done something horrible by not listening to doubt He gently and lovingly. "Anne, I told you three times to take it." Wow.....I had never stopped to consider that He had told me to take it by my friends including Josh telling me without a doubt I should. What a release. It was not my fault. I had listened to the Lord. He was in control. And He wanted Josh to have it when he died so he would be doing something he loved with a camera he really enjoyed. Wow.....Still...I get overwhelmed with how much God loves me and takes care of me and blesses me and I wonder....How often do I miss it. How often do I get caught up in guilt, doubt, and fear. In trying to do works on my own that I don't rely on the Lord and be a willing vessel He can work through when He desires.
     I am striving to be more and more mindful of the blessings God sends my way. To thank Him for things I would take for granted. I praise God that my phone has a camera. It doesn't matter the quality because I can still snap some of God's blessings. Whether it be special moments with friends, family, or God's nature creation. I am starting to see a deeper level of God's beauty than just what is at the front of my nose. I think striving to seeing a deeper dimension is thanks to another friend who asked me if I could. He asked it in another context, but it got me to thinking. I want to see deeper, love deeper, trust deeper, and see more than what meets the eye. I am so far from there. I have so many flaws. I discover more and more how I can do nothing outside of God. I pray every day to die more to self and live for God. That He can be glorified through me. Not my will O Lord, but yours. I have taken up talking out lowed to the Lord more often. And...thanking Him for things I would often just take for granted. The blue sky, the warm sun, the full moon, fireworks over the lake, a floating candle flower that a friend fished out of the water so I could see, a piece of wheat (I think it was) in a whole field but in and of itself so beautiful, an old historic fence with fields and mountains beyond. God is loving me and blessing me every day and I am apart of the body of Christ. To grow, love, and be a bond servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you God for friends and the blessing they are. For your love and compassion and and saving me. Thank you friends for accepting me where I am at imperfections and all. Just imagine if our society could truly accept people where they are at. They seem to be "trying" to do that and yet their version of acceptance is not accepting...Anyway, that can be a whole other blog idea and not what this one is about. Below are some pictures I have taken with my phone. Thank you Lord for revealing yourself through nature, your work, your spirit, and your people.