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I wander along this path called life.

Stumbling forward, falling backwards, circling around.

Then I remember— I’m not wandering aimlessly.

You designed this path.

I have purpose and direction. I walk in the steps you’ve laid out for me.

I am following Your lead and it is truly a wonder.

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Wonder

The Birds Figured it Out

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When we moved into our home two years ago there were two huge pine trees with lush green needles in our neighbors yard that oversaw our yard. Whenever I looked at the vibrant trees,so full of life and beauty, I instantly felt happy. But something changed along the way.

For some reason, a few months after moving in the rich green needles on the pine trees began to die off.  I assumed they would turn green again but they never did.  Two years later, all that remains on the branches are dull, brown, crunchy needles with seemingly no life in them at all.  Now when I look at the pine trees overseeing our yard I just feel a bit sad.

That familiar feeling hit me again when drinking coffee in my backyard a few mornings ago. I glanced at the lifeless-looking pine trees with its dried up needles and branches and wondered, What purpose do these trees have now?

The answer came swiftly when I looked up.  There, at the very tip-top of the brown pine trees were a handful of birds perched on the branches.  They were chirping and fluttering about, enjoying what God had provided them without any apparent sadness over the lack of green pine needles.  As I continued watching, the birds took turns weaving in and out of the twigs and from what I observed, they were having the time of their lives and more importantly they seemed content.

It dawned on me then, that while the outside of the pine trees did not look the way it once did, though now they appeared dry and lifeless, in truth, the trees are actually bigger than they were when we moved in which could only mean one thing,  Despite outward appearances my neighbors pines trees have strong, beautiful life growing on the inside of them.  The life inside them cause them to stand tall and firm and also give the birds a special place to enjoy with ease.

All this time I had been focusing on the wrong thing.  I looked only at what seemed dull, brown or dying on the trees instead of focusing on the deeper beauty growing on the inside.  With the right focus, I would be just as content as the birds.    If they figure it out, it was time that I did too.

You Were Created to Fly

“For we are God’s Masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10
By Monica Cane

Three years ago my husband took me to Pets Mart to pick out a young parakeet for my birthday present. This was a huge deal because I had been bugging him about buying a bird for at least ten years with no luck. I can’t say the reason for the change of heart. Perhaps ten years of requesting the same thing wore him down or maybe his heart suddenly softened toward our fine feathered friends. Whatever the reason, my husband surprised me that year with the gift of a tiny yellow birdie which I named Lemon.

I made Lemon a nice home in a cage filled with bells, toys, ladders and treats and placed the cage in our living room, so he could be a part of our daily family noise which he seemed to enjoy judging by his birdie chirps.

Once when I was cleaning Lemon’s cage outside my husband called my name. When I turned to see what he wanted the bottom of the bird cage suddenly fell off. Instantly, Lemon flew up and over our house and landed in a tree in our backyard. Fortunately, I was able to climb the tree and rescue him and then made sure to put extra clips on the bottom of the cage so there wouldn’t be another birdie-jail break.

Overtime I noticed that Lemon wasn’t chirping quite as much as he once had and so I decided to give him a change of scenery. I placed his cage on a table next to flourishing herb plants and dwarf fruit trees in our patio and apparently being closer to a natural bird environment was exactly what Lemon needed. He was back to chirping, squawking and singing especially whenever he heard the free birds in the area chirping along as they flew by.

A few days ago, I began my usual routine of cleaning the bottom of Lemon’s cage outside while he watched from inside his cage on his perch. I sprayed a little water above him so he could take a bird bath but what I didn’t realize is that one of his cage doors had caught on a toy and been partially open the entire time he’d been sitting on the perch. As soon as the water touched his feathers Lemon flapped his wings and tumbled out of the open door.

He lopped in the air for only a brief moment as if unsure as to what happened and then quickly realized he was free. Immediately he flapped his wings with vigor, raised-up and allowed the wind carry him. This time Lemon didn’t head toward our backyard instead he flew above and beyond the houses next to us. It all happened so fast that before I could shout, “Lemon Wait!” He was gone.

I scoured the nearby area, made chirpy noises, put out seeds and turned on my water fountain in hopes of drawing Lemon back home. Realizing the odds of finding him, I mumbled, “Why did he have to fly away, God?”

Instantaneously a truthful thought was impressed upon my heart. Without my knowing the door had been opened to the cage the entire time I was cleaning it but Lemon didn’t realize that freedom was available to him. That’s a lot like us. We often sit on our own perch without a clue as to the freedom God has given us through His son, Jesus. (Galatians 5:1)

Once Lemon did realize he was free, he flew like he meant it. In fact, he flew the way God created him to fly.
I don’t know the outcome for Lemon but what I do know is that he flapped his wings and allowed the wind to lift him higher and in turn accomplished what God created him to do.

The same is true for us. As children of God, we must allow the wind of the Holy Spirit to take us to a higher place, to help us understand our purpose in God’s plan so that we too can spread our wings and fly the way God created us to do.

God Gives Fresh Starts

God, make a fresh start in me. Shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.—Psalms 51:10

I’m the type of person who likes consistency.  I like to make plans then implement them so I can maintain a steady flow to my daily routine.  Like a creature of habit I’ve developed a regular way of doing things.   For the most part, I use one of three favorite cups for my morning coffee, I sit on the same side of the sanctuary at church every week, I usually take the same route to work, or school and I like shopping at the same store to mention a few regularities.  Because of my need of consistency, I follow a specific pattern as a way to bring comfortable evenness to my life.

On the other hand, I am also very much the type of person who becomes easily bored with the very routines I implement.  The predictability of my life often causes an inner restlessness because while I like consistency, I also long for excitement and change.  Nothing too crazy or wild just a little something that reminds me I’m alive.

One might think it would be easy to balance these two opposing sides, but honestly, it’s not. Wanting to be stable and grounded while at the same time wanting variety and adventure and expecting others around me to understand how I’m feeling during these times even though I don’t, can stir up some heated frustration, causing me to feel like a bubbling volcano ready to blow until both sides of my nature is satisfied.

As expected, I’ve discovered I’m not alone in my feelings.  Many people want the security of an easy going, predictable life yet find themselves unsatisfied and in a whirlwind of chaos because their bored with their routine and long for change but don’t exactly know how to go about it.

King David understood this self-induced chaos in a different yet very similar way.  The King desired to live a secure, solid, obedient life before God, but he too at times became bored.  Although he sought direction from God on many matters throughout his life, at times, the matter of balancing his desire for stability verses adventurous change were left un-prayed for and lead him to follow paths that God never intended.

In Psalms 51, we find David confessing to God about one of these so-called paths.  David had become bored with the routine of his kingly-life and instead of seeking God for positive change; he took matters into his own hands and had an affair with Bathsheba.

Over time he recognized the consequences of his sin, and confessed the errors of his ways.  He then asked God to cleanse him and give him a fresh start, to take the mess he had made out of his life and to create something right and new in which God faithfully obliged.

God will always forgive a person who loses his way if they repent with a sincere heart but wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier if when the monotony of our daily routine builds up and we need some excitement that we ask God for a fresh change instead of taking matters in our own hands?

While our struggles with our dual nature of wanting stability and adventure doesn’t necessarily lead us to sin against God, it sure can cause chaos in our lives.  Often when we become frustrated and bored with our daily routine, we begin to take it out on those closest to us. We’re snappy, we’re irritated and some days, downright mean just because we feel like we are in a rut and we need change.

When boredom starts to creep into your life, stop what you are doing and ask God to refresh your spirit.  Ask Him for a new outlook, a personal adventure that is aligned with His will for your life.  Something that will add the spice you long for but will still bring the stability you desire.  God is the one who created both sides of our consistent and radical nature and he knows just how and when to put a fresh wind in our sails while at the same time keeping us on course, if only we ask.

Strong Winds Can’t Stop Us

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him will bare much fruit.” – John 15:1

I have a peach tree in my front yard and last Spring the entire tree basically produced only two good peaches and they both splattered to the ground before I could ever taste them. Not knowing much about caring for fruit trees, I asked a friend who seemed to be the green-thumb-type what I should do to ensure the tree would produce more fruit this Spring. My friend explained that all the tree really needed was some regular fertilizing, watering and some extra TLC. And that’s exactly was I did from last Spring until now.

I was so excited when I noticed small peach buds beginning to cover the branches recently. Why just the other day, I went to my peach tree, gently touched the many budding peaches on the biggest and main branch of the tree and whispered in my tender-love and care voice, soon the peaches will ripen and I will make tons of peach pie. Then came the wind.

A day after having my brief but intimate conversation with my peach tree, a big gusty wind blew threw town and the next thing I knew, the biggest branch that held many smaller branches, covered with developing peaches broke off the from the tree and was completely damaged.

My heart sank. An entire years worth of extra TLC and the dream of making dozens of peach pies to share with others were gone with the wind. Seeing broken branches, torn bark and scattered green peach buds all over the driveway, I figured all hope was lost.

I was just about to give up on the idea of ever making delicious homemade pies from my own tree when I stopped at the base of the tree and looked up. There, way up high on smaller branches than the one that had broken off, I saw green peach buds. The higher I looked the more peaches I saw. I couldn’t believe!

Despite the main branch being broken off the tree was standing strong and producing much fruit at the top. Sure the tree was injured but it wasn’t stopping it from baring what it was meant to bare–peaches. I tried to count how many there were to figure out if my peach pie dream could continue but there were too many peach buds to count. Again, I whispered in my best TLC voice, but this time I said, Awe, thanks God.

As I wait for the peaches to ripen and my homemade pie baking-fest to being, I think of John 15:1 “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him will bare much fruit.”

When we make God our foundation, even when strong winds blow through our lives and toss us around, like my peach tree, we can still stand strong and bare much fruit because we are rooted in Jesus, our vine.

Know, Love & Pray for Your Enemies

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. – Mathew 5:44

To love and pray for our enemies can seem like a pretty steep request, don’t you think? After all, when someone we love tramples on our heart or when we are betrayed by a so-called friend, our first reaction is not necessarily to love and pray for them. On the contrary we might feel more inclined to put on a pair of steel-toed boots and give our enemies a nice swift kick, hoping to knock some sense into them.

It’s taken some time but over the years I have come to understand and appreciate the spiritual principles of Mathew 5:44. God’s call for us to love and pray for an enemy in no way excuses the action or behavior that caused them to make it onto our enemy list to begin with. Instead, loving and praying for an enemy allows us to embrace the struggle, rise above it, release any bitter stronghold their wrongdoings may have had on us and begin to heal. It gives God the room He desires to deal with our enemies on our behalf.

Pray for Them

Recently while studying about growing in confidence and overcoming self-doubt, God brought something to my attention that surprised me. Intangible feelings like self-doubt, frustration, anxiety, insecurity and disappointment to name a few, belong on our enemy list as they are enemies of our soul. In fact, these emotional enemies are often a greater detriment to our well-being than any wrongdoing person our enemy list.

I had never looked at it that way but the more I considered this possibility and reflected on how various uncertain emotions have hindered my well-being at times, I realized it was true. To love and pray for our enemy does not just apply to hurtful people but it applies to the emotional enemies of our soul. Fortunately, God has given us the power to recognize and pray for these types of enemies.
For example, when intense feelings of insecurity rise up, it’s not that we are expected to love that feeling, but we can embrace the fact that the feeling of insecurity is present.

We can acknowledge that this emotion belongs on our enemy list and we can pray for that particular enemy with powerful words such as: I may feel insecure right now but “I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.” Romans 8:28.

When that familiar, unproductive feeling of self-doubt shows up we can confront it and pray: I may not believe in myself right now but this is just a feeling and feelings pass. I have no reason to doubt because, I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child. Ephesians 1:3-8.

Whether your enemies are hurtful people or negative emotions when you pray for your enemies, your obedience to God’s request will open the door for healing, breakthrough and a beautiful transformation. Now that’s a worthy request, don’t you think?