Weathering The Storm

This post was written by a guest blogger and sweet friend of mine! I think it’s a great encouragement and challenge to us we abide in Christ and journey with Him through our days. Hope you enjoy! Thanks again for sharing, friend 🙂

The other day as I sat down with my cat and picked up my book that I’ve been trying to finish for so long. The words on the pages leapt out at me, as I realized what the author was saying. And, it really hit home for me. Yes, I know!  It’s a lot of reading, but keep going…it’s totally worth it! 🙂

“Actually the tree that day had not been cut down but struck by lightning which had ripped off one leg of its Y shape and sliced a huge area out of the trunk of the sycamore. This had happened in early winter and I had thought the tree could not survive such an amputation, so I was greatly surprised now in early spring to see it covered with its beautiful green foliage as of yore. It was alive and lovely as ever, despite its massive “surgery.”

I wandered on to the edge of the wood, from which I looked over our little hamlet of Boreland, thinking of other trees which had suffered in winter gales. The first was in my first church at dear little Moorton – to be accurate a very large white lilac tree which we were sorry to lose for it was our only white one – and there it lay, broken completely, its roots sticking up in the air. I kept meaning to clear it away, but never got round to it, and was glad I didn’t for it taught me a lesson. When spring came, the fallen bush was covered, as always in beautiful blooms, even though lying apparently dead. How had this come about? I looked more closely, poked about in the ground, cleared away some earth, and found one solitary root still going into the ground, and drawing up from the earth enough sap and nurture to supply the whole plant. It was beautiful as ever, even though now recumbent.

The other tree was even more amazing. It was the main branch of an old gnarled plum tree at Aldermouth, a tree which annually had a huge crop of the most delicious Victoria plums, and the branch lay on the ground seemingly broken right off.  But yet when spring came, the branch blossomed…and I looked at it in wonder. How could this be? I examined it carefully and found just one bit of bark still attached to the parent tree, and through that tiny channel, food and water was flowing, and in due course there was a magnificent crop of plums.

The lilac and the plum, and now the sycamore, were still doing their job…and looking beautiful and fruitful in the process. How could they do it? I was reminded of Jesus’ words: “Abide I me and I in you. So shall you bring forth much fruit, for without me you can do nothing.” The damaged trees were still abiding in the roots.

There are times in life like that, don’t you think? We are jogging along happily when suddenly a gale gets up, often without warning, and hits us. It may be a gale of illness whisking us to hospital for surgery. It may be a gale of bad news, perhaps a youngster we love kicking over the traces, going the wrong way, getting into trouble, causing us terrible worry. It may be a storm of sorrow, perhaps the loss of a parent or life’s partner or someone very dear to us, perhaps a life-long friend. The wind can get up very quickly and flatten us, and it is not always predicted by the Met Office! But if we can learn the lesson of the trees and stay attached to Christ, we can weather the storm; we can still be beautiful for God and others like the sycamore or lilac, and still be fruitful, like the plum, still, come what may…abiding.”

Dog Collar Diary by Alexander Cameron

Come what may, you can still be beautiful and fruitful for God during your highs and lows through Christ our Savior. He is our Redeemer and stronghold, remaining steady through this hard journey called life. So when a storm comes your way, do not be discouraged. Stay rooted in Him, because He loves you and will carry you through these times.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

 

Keep Looking Up- Psalm 13

“But I have trusted and relied on and been confident in Your lovingkindness and faithfulness;
My heart shall rejoice and delight in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.”
-Psalm 13 AMP

“One of the keys to transitioning from depression to delight is choosing to look up, not down.” Such a good word for me today. I often get so distracted and discouraged with worries of this world and caught up with my own struggles and forget to look at Him. Then when I realize what is happening, I feel painfully convicted.The more I stare  at the darkness of my surroundings, the darker my perspective becomes. But when I look at Him, trusting Him to help me shift my eyes, His radiant Love Light changes everything about me and my heart towards my circumstances.The truth is, I can trust Him and give Him praise in the midst of every circumstance because He has been faithful and He WILL be faithful according to His purposes. He is so compassionate and gracious. And I’m extremely thankful for that today.

Hope you are having a good week friends! Keep looking Up.

“If” (Psalm 124)

A couple of weeks ago our church began a series on the Psalms of Accents. As well as reading the chapter for the week and spending time in prayer, one of the challenges is to re-write the psalm of the week in our own words. I will confess I haven’t been very consistent in following along with every daily discipline, but this week’s psalm really hit home for me. These particular psalms have been encouraging to read because they are about fellow Believers on a journey. As they ascended to Jerusalem every year to celebrate their feasts, the Jewish pilgrims faced hardship, danger, and doubt. But still they sang. I admire their honesty, and though their feelings didn’t always match up, they acknowledge that the Lord was their help and hope no matter what. This example challenges me to keep singing real authentic songs to the Lord as I journey. As well as to keep in mind the great hope we have living on this side of the cross. Hope you are encouraged by this as well! Keep pressing on!

This week’s psalm is Psalm 124. Here it is re-written in my own words.

“If the Lord had not been on my side, if He hadn’t been for me-

I will say-

If the Lord had not been on my side fighting with me when men accused me and came against me, then they would have prevailed.

I would have fought for my life while they held it in their hands.

They would have overtaken me in their anger, and the waters of adversity would have overwhelmed me.

The feelings of despair raging inside would have swept over and engulfed me.

*But God.

Praise the Lord who counseled me and delivered me!

He is my comfort and stay. He has not allowed me to be torn apart. He has not allowed my undoing.

Rather, He has provided a way of escape. He has set me free-Eternally from sin and despair.

My help is in the name of ‘Yahweh, the Maker of heaven and earth-Creator and Sustainer of all, and my good Father!

Amen!”

Also, check out Psalm 94 for more encouragement!

In Him,

Laura

 

An Heir of Hope in Christ

Titus 3:7

“So that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

When a tough day leaves you feeling low, or when the sun goes down signaling the end of what seemed like a perfect one, what are you left with? When the feeling of comfort and pleasure fades, what do you turn to? If you’re like me, more often than I would like to admit, I turn to people, temporal things, and or even wishing or imagining to make me feel better. The Word of God has another answer.

It says, thanks be to GOD who has given us a living hope! It says this hope that we receive through believing on Christ and the story of the gospel is imperishable, enduring forever, never ending. This hope doesn’t change with the circumstances or seasons of our life. Nothing can pry us away from this hope. The passage above in Titus 3 paints the picture another way. God says through Paul that we are “heirs according to the hope of eternal life”. An heir is someone who is promised to receive an inheritance. When we become followers of Christ, our promised inheritance is eternal life with Him. When Jesus spoke of eternal life once He said, “This is eternal life that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent…” Our future hope then is that one day we will be with God forever. In that day, all will be made right, and we will be able to enjoy Him perfectly for eternity! And if that’s not amazing enough, our present hope is that learning to know God here on earth is a taste of  the eternal life to come!

When the tough days hit, when we make mistakes, or people fail us, or the feelings fade, let us remember… We have a present hope, and a future one, and nothing can separate us from this hope which is the Love of God!

Will you join me in making it a goal to chase after this Hope? After all, it is our inheritance.

Keep pressing on fellow heirs!

In Him,

Laura

 

“Tread Softly”

Old thoughts, new appreciation. 🙂  It’s encouraging to come across raw emotions and truths such as these sometimes. Looking back on my journey, things that seemed so big at the time never left His hands. And my old thoughts might even be helpful again as I am always learning… Hope they encourage you too!

Laura Clayton 2016

Tread softly young woman, lest you tread on fragile hearts.

If those hearts are tread upon, precious dreams may also be torn apart.

Tread softly young woman, there’s much to be learned, yet there is no class,

Yes, please remember it’s as if you tread on glass.

The older you grow, many people you will meet,

But step carefully, lest you leave a trail of scarred bare feet.

It’s true, you may be their first love, and they yours,

But, choose for yourself a very straight course.

Always look Up and press in,

And remember if you fall there’s a new place to begin.

In the arms of the Father, all wrongs are made right,

For every broken heart, there’s a promise of new light.

Tread softly young woman, the weight of hearts is not yours to bear, \

But rather a privilege for you to share.

 

 

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

Last night I had a few friends over to my house to watch a Christmas movie and hang out for a bit. Sadly,it seemed like I had been struggling all day with anxious thoughts,fears,doubts,and condemnation. I kept trying to bring them to the Father but they kept “creeping off the alter”to bother me. A couple of hours before the get together,I decided to invite my childhood best friend to come over also.It was amazing because as soon as she texted back that she was coming,a peace settled over me. I knew I was going to be okay if she was with me. Any potentially uncomfortable or awkward situation is always better when she is with me! Following that feeling,I began to examine what exactly brought had brought it to come about. Thinking over our many adventures,some good and some bad, I was reminded of our bond,and how no matter what,ultimately we were together and for each other.We have such freedom because we love despite each other’s performance,we know each other so well,and we’re sure of one another. My precious lifelong”Kindred Spirit” and I have stood the test of time so far as we know it.And as far as I’m concerned we will won’t stop.

That’s exactly how I want to be with Jesus. I want to be flooded with peace in all circumstances because I know He’s with me and for me. I want to have walked through so much life with Him that I am sure of Him-sure of His infinite,everlasting Love despite my performance,sure that I am learning to know Him so well that I know what His will is and recall to mind His faithfulness in times past. Oh, what a Friend we have in Jesus! He is our peace and joy above all! Oh how I am learning and will keep learning until I reach eternity the depth of these truths and just how profound they are for my journey!

“What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

2. Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

3. Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.”

Joseph M. Scriven

The Remedy For “Self-consciousness”

Alright, I’ll be honest. I struggle with self-consciousness. I wonder and care too much what others think of me. Sometimes I wonder if I can lose or gain their love and approval because of something I do (or don’t do). I often seem to fear man more than God.  This can be defined as “an acute sense of self-awareness. It is a preoccupation with oneself, as opposed to the philosophical state of self-awareness”.

Thanks, Wikipedia! Ever since I was little my precious mom has encouraged me to be “others-conscious” instead of self-conscious. Making this a habit is so simple yet challenging. Nevertheless, it trains us to see others as more valuable than ourselves-which is good! Sounds like something we’ve heard before!  “It’s not about thinking less of yourself, it’s just about thinking of yourself less.” This has been and will be a lifelong mission of mine.

Recently, a friend charged me with this verse:

“Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.”

Psalm 34:5

Think of that! Imagine never being ashamed-never being self-conscious. I had never thought of this verse like that before.  Chapter 34 begins like this:

“I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.”

This passage tells us a couple of things:

  • Godly confidence and character starts with praising God and being thankful
  • Our confidence and boast must be in the Lord. It is a humble confidence knowing He is greater than we are.
  • Seek the LORD. Talk with Him about your joys and your fears.

Overcoming our struggles and sin starts with making a decision (sometimes moment by moment) to put God in His rightful place and to know our rightful place. Then, verse 5 says those who looked to Him are radiant. When we are abiding in the Lord, our desire for mans or even self approval decreases. We no longer radiate self, but radiate Christ. And because of that, we need never be ashamed!

 

“To Whom It May Concern” (Letter 2)

grizzlybear_trails

Below is a poem very similar to the first one I posted, only it was written this summer…under completely different circumstances. In writing this (and really all summer long) the Lord was (and still is) teaching me the treasure of His presence and relationship in the midst of hardship and loneliness. For that I am so very thankful. It is my prayer that you are inspired as well.

“I saw footprints blaze a trail through the morning dew,

Once again, darling, I started looking, hoping for you,

Only, this path was different from the last,

It was lonely, long, and unlike the hopeful past,

The prints continued but seemed sluggish and wide spaced,

One set in front of the next, yet they lacked fast pace,

As the others had been bathed in light,

It felt as though these were flooded in night,

I thought all at once I might burst; simply run,

But then I looked up and there shone the SON,

Ever steady and true,

It pleaded with me to hope anew,

Overwhelmed by its brilliance and heat,

It seemed to whisper to me, “Don’t worry whose feet,

Though the path seem long and unpleasant at times,

Remember, the Poet uses even long rhymes.”

I smiled at the SON again, delighting in its heat,

Now I know its preparing me for when paths meet…”

“To Whom It May Concern”

Below is a poem I wrote the summer of 2013. I was hopeful about the possibility of having someone who would invest in me and I in them, but at the same time I wasn’t sure I was ready for it. Through this poem I attempted to capture my conflicting feelings and what Jesus was telling me through it all. Hope it is an encouragement!

sk-801

“I see footprints through the morning dew…

And I must say, darling, it reminds me of you.

A new beginning with only one path,

Earth and sky using sunlight for a bath.

As I breathe in the fresh morning air,

I dream of the love we’ll someday share.

The birds merrily sing songs that declare

The beauty that will be – yet warn me to prepare.

Yes, prepare for the day and diligently keep my heart.

Not to be carried away or even given freely on my part.

But, I am to joyfully greet each day with a song.

To heed the sky’s reminder that it is to Him I belong.

And as the grass will again become wet with dew,

So my face will be with tears when I see footprints leading to you.

So I ask you to seek His face and His commands,

And someday my dear, we’ll walk hand in hand.”