This morning I couldn’t see the mountains in all their glory standing tall just a few miles from my home. Without a doubt, I knew they were there. But today a thick fog was preventing me from seeing them.
It’s like a thick brain fog made up of worries, troubles, and distractions that sometimes prevent me from seeing God. In my stubborn attempt to be self-sufficient, I try to muddle through the fog on my own. But the truth is, the less I focus on God and rely on his strength to face the worries of my life, the thicker the cloud of fog becomes and the further away from him I feel.
Just like knowing the mountains hidden by the fog are still there, I know God is as well. It’s just when I put him out of sight; many times, he’s out of mind. I don’t like the separation this cloud creates in our relationship. When I’m not seeing or hearing God in my life, I know it’s time to pray and return to his word so the Bright Morning Star will burn away the cloud of fog separating us. It’s like when the morning sunrise burns away the fog hiding the mountains. When the sun rises, it heats the air and ground, warming the dew so the cloud evaporates. Christ the Son shines on our soul, warming our heart, changing our focus, and evaporating the distractions that take our attention away from him.
It was a sunny afternoon as I walked through a small-town festival taking in the sights and sounds. After strolling through art exhibits and vendor booths, I decided it was time for dinner. Checking out the corn dogs, Texas BBQ, street tacos, turkey legs, homemade tamales, and fried corn-on-the-cob along the food truck row, the choice was a difficult one. Being a lover of food, I wanted it all!
I spotted a small pushcart off to the side as I approached the end. It displayed the most beautiful candy apples I had ever seen. The dark, ruby-red shells of the apples glistened in the sunlight. Glancing up, it was obvious the kind-looking man standing at the cart had noticed the sparkle in my eyes.
“Sweetest apples in the county, right here,” he said as he stretched out his arm holding one just for me. The look on his gentle old face was not that of a hard sale. It was more of a warm, no-pressure invitation. One I could not resist.
Taking a few bills out of my pocket, I pay the man, motioning for him to keep the change. Holding the cash in one hand, he smiles and bids me farewell with the other, saying, “Thanks! Have a blessed day.”
I found a quiet place around the corner to sit and enjoy my purchase. It had been years since I had eaten a candy apple. I went for the first bite. My teeth just slid across the candy surface without breaking through the ruby-red. It was time to hold firm, the stick with one hand and the top of the apple with the other, and just go for it! Taking a firm bite out of the center, the candy shell broke and delicious apple juice ran down both sides of my mouth. Aah, the sweetness of the crisp apple mixed with the crunchy cinnamon candy was to die for! I took another bite.
Sitting in my happy place, I had to chuckle. Once again, I found myself eating dessert before the main meal. Friends and family are always razzing me about this peculiar habit. My chuckle turned to a smile as I took another bite, eyes closed this time.
The words, “Taste and see that the Lord is good…,” filled my thoughts. “…blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” These seventeen words from Psalm 34:8 have always been a favorite verse. Rightly so, as food is one of my favorite things.
Thoughts drifted back to times in my life when I experienced another type of hunger, a strong internal longing for something more. Sometimes the desire was known, other times not. Searching revealed I was missing the peace and love that only comes from God. Flipping through the Bible pages, I would search for His truths just like I walked through the fair searching for something desirable to eat. One turn of the page and there it would be in an unexpected passage. Words that filled me with joy. The more I tasted His Word, the more I learned of His satisfying truths.
So just go for it, eat your dessert first. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Let those delicious juices of His love run down your cheeks. After dessert, you can go for the meat. Feeding your intimate relationship with God through reading and prayer that will fill your heart with the hope and joy that only He can give.
#1 Prayer Garden
If vegetable or flower gardens are all that come to mind when you hear the word "garden," I'd love for you to follow me on a journey this year exploring 45 different types of gardens. I've jotted down a quick list, with a few added after a little research. Please note this is my quick list. I may have lumped a few types together in a category that you may prefer to see separated. Other times you may wonder, as well as myself, why one type was not included in a category with another similar types. Let us not sweat the groupings, and just enjoy gardens, as there are many ways to group and categorize them.
Prayers gardens have no specific design. In fact, one could look like any of the garden types we'll be visiting. It's what happens in the garden that makes it a prayer garden. If you are building a prayer garden, it should contain plants and elements that speak to your heart, creating a place of peace and joy. Maybe you're visiting a formal church or community prayer garden. Some of us have our own special place where we go to for prayers and conversations with God. The reason for going is to have quiet time, alone in most cases, where we can talk with God. Sharing our joys, worries, guilt, and sorrows. We may not always have peace when entering, but the hope is we will find inner peace through connecting with God while there. Prayer gardens are great for all the moments in one's life.
(Unless otherwise stated, most of the photos in the garden type section will not be mine.)
Living on a farm, one usually has at least one feral cat hanging around. Currently we have one to two, depending on the day. One seems to have taken up permanent residence in the hen house the past couple of years earning the name Coop for obvious reasons. Graydon is our come-and-go feral cat. Not sure I can technically call him feral anymore as he comes running up wanting to be petted. He even enjoys being picked up and cuddled. He’ll hang around for a while, then head out for new adventures and we won’t see him for days. When weeks pass, we fear the worst as the local coyotes need to eat also. It had been over a month since anyone had seen Graydon.
Then something totally unexpected caught my attention while working in the studio. My head shot around to get a better look at what was running towards the sliding door from the gazebo. It was Graydon! He didn’t make a slow casual approach; he ran to the door meowing loudly in desperation to be seen and united again. It was difficult to tell if he was starving more for food or affection. I was just as happy to see him. We were tripping over each other on the walk to his food dish under the tree, both of us stopping to express our affections with pets and cuddles along the way.
Walking back in the house I had to smile as I realized this is probably how Christ feels when we come running back to Him after being gone for a while. Despite where we have been, or how long we’ve been gone, He greets us with excitement and joy on His face. I wouldn’t be surprised if He even gives us a big bear hug. He sees and understands, without questions, any desperation that may be in our eyes. None of that matters now because He knows if we remain with Him, our mistakes will be forgiven, and our souls can find peace and safety. He’s just glad we came back and hopes we will hang around for a while to enjoy a relationship with Him!
There are so many things going on in our world today for us to worry about. They constantly pop up out of nowhere, or maybe from everywhere. You’re going along having a wonderful day when suddenly something steals your joy. Regardless of what you try, you can’t get it out of your head. Believe me, I’m right there with you. Last week I remembered a trusty method I’ve used multiple times in my life to quiet my mind. I write down my worries. For me, writing them down the old-fashioned way with pen and paper provides a better release than typing them out. I’ve done this twice in as many weeks. You keep writing until you can think of nothing else to worry about. Now look for one or two more in the back corner of your brain. Seriously, EVERY LAST ONE. Now all those thoughts, arguments, and rehearsed comebacks are written down so you can find them if needed. You don’t have to worry about forgetting or losing them anymore. You know right where they are.
When that next worry enters your brain, grab your journal or a sheet of paper and a pen. Maybe grab one of the kids’ spiral notebooks laying around the house left over from last year. You know, the one with only five or six pages used. Rip those pages out. Now go to the kitchen junk drawer and grab a sharpie. Write “Worry Journal” on the outside cover. Open that fresh pad of paper and start writing. Keep writing and making those lists. When finished, close your notebook and take a deep breath. Feel better now? I hope so. I know this helps me, and I hope it will help you as well.
Maybe you are joining me for the first time, or maybe you have followed Our Little Barnyard or Treasured Glances for a while. Those that have followed my former pages know that the two have recently been combined into one. To my new friends, welcome. May each of you find nourishment and blessings for both your soul and gardens here. So much valuable information was shared through Our Little Barnyard that I decided to keep it on this site. No need to repeat and recreate those spokes in the wheel. This can be found in the Gardens tab. As always, your questions and comments are welcomed and encouraged.
There are many types of gardens. The first two most people think of are flower and vegetable gardens, There are also water, rock, medicinal, and meditation gardens. One many don't consider is the garden of your mind. Is your mind garden producing weeds or beauty and nourishment for your soul, body, and relationships? Though weeds have their place in the soil we cultivate, they do not belong in our mind garden. With the grace of God, we can become master gardeners at removing the weeds in our mind.