Indescribable Beauty

This past week, I crossed three more national parks off my bucket list. My husband and I visited Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks. If I had to sum up the experience in one sentence, it would be this: I serve an awesome God who created an amazing earth filled with indescribable beauty.

My first visit to Montana did not disappoint. We beheld snow-covered mountains, trees of red and yellow amidst the evergreens, along with lakes and rivers. We observed a bald eagle as he left his perch and took flight. Although temps were lower than what I expect in early October, we dressed in layers and enjoyed the outdoors.

Snow and the scent of pine trees put this New Mexico girl in the mood for Christmas decorations. Something that rarely happens until a week before Christmas. We may decorate early this year even though, as I write this, our current temperature is 81.

Inside Glacier National Park, we photographed waterfalls, hiked along a clear stream and mossy trail to Avalanche Lake, and enjoyed a view of the mountains from Lake McDonald.

My favorite sights in Yellowstone weren’t the hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles, or geysers. Although they were remarkable, I loved the wildlife. Plenty of elk and bison. Disappointed we didn’t find a moose, but we saw our first grizzly bear. Exciting, since he was far away!

The Grand Teton National Park offered magnificent sights of snow-covered mountains, lakes, rivers, and autumn colors.

Once again, I thank you, Father, for your creation. You’ve given us so much to enjoy.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

2 Corinthians 9:15, NKJV

Where do you like to travel to view God’s indescribable gifts?

A Clean Heart

As a child and teen, I memorized these verses from a song we sang in church each week. This was King David’s prayer after the prophet, Nathan, confronted David with his sin. Words that became my prayer in times of confession and repentance.  

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence;
and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
and uphold me with thy free Spirit.
Psalm 51:10-12 (KJV) 

David’s repentant heart cried out to God. He recognized his sin and brokenness and asked for a refreshing of joy that comes to us through salvation.

To better understand David’s prayer, I looked for clarification on two phrases: renew a right spirit within me and uphold me with thy free Spirit.

The NIV reads a steadfast spirit within me which means an established, unwavering, and loyal spirit. 

In place of thy free Spirit, the NIV states, grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Other versions read make me willing to obey you (NLT & GNB).

I’ve often sung these words after my attitude turns sour or unkind words spew from my mouth. I’m thankful God hears my cry and forgives. Also grateful for 1 John 1:9 (NIV). 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness. 

God renews my joy when I repent and turn to Him as stated in Acts 3:19 (NIV).

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out,
that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

My prayer for us today is this:

Father, renew within us a pure heart. May we be established in Christ, unwavering in our faith, and loyal to You. We are grateful that you don’t give up on us. We need You as our constant companion. Fill us with the joy we experienced when we first received you into our lives. Make us willing children of obedience who follow You and Your Word. Amen.

Continual Guidance

In last week’s blog, I shared a verse that is one of my go-to scriptures. Many Bible verses have affected my life. I’d like to share one I use for an email address—Isaiah 58:11.

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought,
and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden,
and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail

A perfect verse for someone who moved from the plush, green grass of Tennessee to the dry, brown desert of New Mexico. But this promise became mine ten years before we considered a move.

My husband and I had fostered two children. This led to my hope to adopt. Our two older children were seventeen and twenty-one. The thought of starting over with our family was daunting knowing I’d be older than most when our child graduated from high school. I fasted, prayed for God’s guidance, and read Isaiah 58 where we’re told about fasting that pleases God.

My understanding of what verses 6-7 say is that besides fasting, we are to share bread with the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, and clothe the naked. Several blessings follow beginning in verse 8. I took these verses as confirmation to what God had birthed in my heart. Because of our ages, Verse 11 grew my faith as I prayed regarding adoption.

An orphan in the world needed food, clothing, and a home. We welcomed one into ours. To start over was huge, but God promised to guide and satisfy in the dry times, strengthen in the weak, and refresh when we grew weary.

Our daughter is now twenty. The Lord blessed her with a gift for music. She sings and plays guitar at church, attends college, and is doing well at her job. God has a plan and purpose for her life. I’m thankful to have had a small part in the big things He has for her.

Was it easy? No way. I spent plenty of time on my knees and quoted Isaiah 58:11 to remind myself to continue to stand on God’s promise. The Lord never failed me.

God’s Word contains wonderful promises. I hope you have several you read or recite often to remind you of how good our God is.

He may not be calling you to adopt, but how is the Lord guiding you to share with the poor and needy?

Photo by Monika MG - Unsplash

Strength from His Word

Do you have a favorite go-to verse in times of uncertainty? The first verse I memorized as a new believer was Joshua 1:9.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage;
do not be afraid, nor be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go

This verse became my lifeline as I ventured out into the intimidating world around me. As an introvert, I needed to dwell on the fact that God was with me even though I might be shy and backward in my witness for Him. I found courage as I repeated this verse. Over the years I gained strength as I relied on Joshua 1:9 and other scriptures.

Several years ago, we moved to a new city. My search for a job resulted in rejections and hopelessness. Anxiety filled every part of me. As another interview approached, I looked to Joshua 1:9 and found Deuteronomy 31:6, a similar verse.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them;
for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.
He will not leave you nor forsake you

I read this verse in “The Message.”

Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated.
Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God,
is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you.
He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you

What had been a general encouragement to me to remember that God is always with me, became specific. The verse in Deuteronomy added that the Lord is with me when I talk to people, and He promised to prepare my way.

I repeated multiple times the added explanations, “don’t be intimidated,” and “don’t give them a second thought.” I rejoiced in, “God is striding ahead of you,” and “He won’t let you down.” Prepared for my interview, I proceeded in confidence, because the Lord was with me every step of the way. Through the Word of God, I gained courage and met with a recruiter, completed a multitude of tests, interviewed with the manager, and secured the position. God prepared my way and guided me through the process.

Deuteronomy 31:6 was my go-to verse when I resigned that position and applied for another. I focused on this verse and believed the promise that God goes before me. After my interview, sure I’d messed up, I prayed for the Lord’s guidance. But when the offer came, I praised God that He blinded the eyes of my interviewers to notice what He wanted them to see. They saw a confident and intelligent woman ready to succeed in their company. God’s goodness amazes me. 

When our focus is on the Lord and we call upon Him, He’ll bring us through those times of anxiety and uncertainty. His Word is a storehouse of promises which brings us strength and courage. He is always with us and prepares our way.

What is your favorite go-to verse when you face the unknowns in your life?

Photo by Aaron Burden - Unsplash