A Sanctuary Within

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Walking through my yard this morning with birds and butterflies swooping and fluttering by, an unexpected peace settled over me as the word “Sanctuary” dropped into my heart. Thankfulness grew within as I looked at our little paradise – a not so big home and a way to big yard that has matured over our 18 years of care giving.

     Our home has been filled often to the bursting point at family gatherings. Family has been added and grown to include so many who have truly become “family” though not by any reason other then our love for each other.  As well as the times when we have opened our home to house those in need of a place of refuge. We have often questioned – why us? But we too, have matured as the house and yard have. Now, realizing it has been His love that has drawn the broken, needy and just those who needed a little TLC into our home – this sanctuary. We have simply said yes to His request and invited them in and watched as in some small way we have helped to heal, restore and release people onto the next steps in the journey that God has begun for them.

     Our yard with it’s enormity overwhelmed us many times over these years but my vision of what it was to be has slowly evolved as many hours of work have created our little oasis. I researched and chose many plants and flowers that would draw hummingbirds and butterflies – planting and often re-planting. Every year has brought more work; more plants, more flowers and more ways to creatively landscape. By creating less grass to maintain yet producing our slowly materializing park the vision has slowly come to pass. Today, I look out and see a plethora of birds of all species as well as my hummingbird friends who fill the skies throughout the day. And now joining them butterflies swoop in and out to nibble on my flowers. What began 18 years ago has become an amazing sanctuary for birds, butterflies and me! The peace of God surrounds every area we have lovingly created.

     Paralleling this long-term creation in the natural to my spiritual walk I realized that to truly see and experience the sanctuary that God has created within me and around my life requires TIME. As we continually turn construction over to Him – He digs, plants, moves things in and out – and suddenly His peace is reigning and we begin to SEE the fruit and are blessed to enjoy it. It is always after much has been done and all of the hard work and mess has been cleaned up that the beauty presents itself and fruit is flourishing.

    As we allow the loving hand of Christ to create His sanctuary within us we are allowed the great joy of being part of the same process of creation in others. In love we pour out His healing, His restoration and encourage the release of His children into who He created them to be.

   Our lives then become a place that is filled with love, peace, and refuge, which draws those in to this “God” place of sanctuary.

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An Unexpected Interruption

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     I woke up early this morning with plans to get yard work accomplished before the heat of the day moved in but my morning plans were interrupted by an unexpected visit of three of Gods amazing creatures.

     My love and passion for nature often finds me mesmerized by the tiniest flowers that perch on top of weeds, intricate lacy spider webs and the individual trill that each bird makes; as well as the multitude of other beauties I come across. So it isn’t new for me to be aware of the beauty I find in unexpected places. However, this morning I was stunned and found myself literally holding my breath in awe as I watched the most delicate ballet erupt over my flowers.

     First one gorgeous yellow and black butterfly moved in hovering over the flowers and then the dance began. A second and then a third joined in but not just random enjoyment of their floral feast but connecting one to another. Soon they swirled around like synchronized swimmers – looping, diving, and softly fluttering. I could swear I heard music, as I stood totally amazed and engrossed in what I was being allowed to witness.

     I lost track of time as they continued oblivious of my presence. The obvious joy that this dance provided to them was contagious to watch and joy began to stir deep in my spirit as they presented this stunning ballet to their audience of one.

     But soon, as if on cue the dance was over and each butterfly flew off to different flowers leaving me with a sense of profound amazement, honored to have witnessed this intimate dance.

     The morning plans now weren’t important for God’s plan to pour out an unexpected blessing took me to a place of joy unspeakable.

     I began to contemplate what God’s “deep meaning” must be for what I witnessed and experienced today. Then as if in answer to my question laughter began to bubble up inside of me – there was no “deep meaning” it was His simple gift of love – especially for me. WOW – now that truly is a “deep meaning”!

     My day was filled with unimaginable joy because I took the time to stop what I thought needed to be done and participate in what He allowed to float into my day. My friend – don’t miss God’s unexpected interruptions of love by allowing your “to do” list to distract you from the blessings He has planned for you today.

Photo courtesy of : J.K.Sanchez Photography

Fly – Jump – Run! The Gold Medal Awaits You!

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As a mom it’s been my joy to watch my kids play, jump and run – nothing is out of reach. They fall down, we pick them up; they skin a knee, we bandage it; they even break a bone or need a few stitches in the process. But during this time in these little lives we see a freedom that most of us lose – a freedom to believe we can fly, we can reach the stars if we jump high enough, we can run the “fastest” and always WIN.

Let’s consider an Olympic gold medalist. This winner does not get to the winners platform by happenstance – not because another saw a talent, not because of special treatment but because of single focus. The journey began with love and passion – one step, one direction at a time. When this day arrived, the gun went off, the race began and the only focus was forward; there could be nothing but the finish line. Deep down inside the winner will WIN and so faith and focus prevail!

Once the gun went off was there a backward look to evaluate the “near miss”, maybe just a glance to see the cheering crowd, or for sure, to check out how far ahead of the competitors they were?

NEVER ONCE – for looking back for any reason causes distraction and can quickly end the race due to unexpected failure.

Just as in the natural so is our race in the spiritual. We often live our lives looking backwards. We find ourselves living in past hurts, joys, wishful thinking and regrets – all of which cause distractions and derailment of God’s plan in our lives. The faith for the impossible – the faith for tomorrow’s new adventures, and the finish line wins all get sidelined. We have forgotten that we can fly, we can reach the stars and we can run the “fastest” and always WIN.

When you find yourself in this place how do you get back in the race?

Just like the Olympic winner – it takes single focus! Our single focus has to be on the face of Jesus! He is and always is FOR YOU! Just ask – He will restore what has been lost so that just like a child you can jump back up, get back in the race and make it to the finish line a winner. He can restore the belief that you can fly, you can reach the stars and you can run the “fastest” and always WIN.

Don’t look back – look forward to what He has placed within you!  Get up and move one step at a time into His impossible opportunities in your life.  Run, Run, Run like a child again – for then comes the freedom to believe, the freedom to see yourself the winner that you are!

Fly – Jump – Run for the gold medal awaits you!

Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But, one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
Photo courtesy of chrisroll@freedigitalphotos.net